Robert Romanus as Mike Damone, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Courtesy photo
You probably remember Robert Romanus, better known as Mike Damone. He was the smooth-talking, ticket-scalping "prick" extraordinaire from the '80s classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Cameron Crowe's coming-of-age comedy kickstarted the careers of Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage (then known as Nicolas Coppola), and propelled Phoebe Cates into the mega-babe stratosphere. But of everything the film gifted us with, it is perhaps Damone's five-point-plan that has stood the test of time. And well, yeah, "the pool scene" is pretty great, too.
"Everyone wants to know what was Phoebe Cates like and was I there when she filmed the scene?," Romanus tells Metro Times. "The answer is yes, but it was a closed set."
Though Romanus has pursued acting most of his life, one might be interested to know that music actually came first. He was working in L.A. as a singing waiter in a restaurant before catching the acting bug, which eventually led to his breakout role opposite Jodie Foster in the 1980 film Foxes.
"I was really shy so it was hard for me to get up and sing in front of people. So, I took an acting class," he says. "And from the first class, I fell in love with it. I could be anything I wanted to be. All the things I have a hard time being in real life, I can be up there."
Currently, Romanus fronts a band called Papa's Kitchen which he describes as "California pop with wit and whimsy" and plays guitar in another Americana band. Since graduating Ridgemont High, he has owned a coffee shop and spent eight years as an elementary school teacher where he worked with kids who had been kicked out of the Los Angeles school system for behavioral problems. Most recently, he has been lending his improv talents to the UCLA nursing program where he assists in training nurses in bedside manner by acting out scenarios as a patient.
When asked about America's infatuation with the 1980's, Romanus says he can't be sure.
"It's everywhere," he laughs. "The '80s is such a popular decade. There's a real passion for it."
"I’m always amazed, to be honest with you, that people love this movie so much," Romanus says of Fast Times fans. "And what's not to like when someone comes up to you and tells you they love your work? It makes people happy and they're excited. And it's funny because I'm just me."
Totally Tito’s Awesome 80’s Dance Party is Saturday, June 16 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market; Party goes from 6:30 p.m. till 10:30 p.m.; 316 East Eleven Mile Rd., Royal Oak; 248 246-3276; Eventbrite.com; $15 Early bird tickets still available, $20 at the door.
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