Sakis is now living everybody’s favorite dream. “He is well and fulfils his goals. Even the ones that seem impossible”.
I’ll tell you a story. It’s very old but it has stuck in my mind. There was a guy once, who came to work in our office. A good – looking guy. He wasn’t Brad Pitt or anything like that but he was, subjectively speaking, handsome and sexy, he was always polite but not very talkative, at least as far as his personal life was concerned. He was not the best employee or the most well paid or the best dressed. But he had something that made him stand out. This guy was from day one “the star of the cafeteria”. Every morning that I went to the kitchen to make coffee I always heard people discussing him. “he was dating a friend of mine and he hit her”, I heard a secretary whispering. “He is married and has two kids. He is not wearing a wedding ring because he likes to fool around” another one said, “Don’t be ridiculous. A cousin of mine has seen him in Sodat (famous Greek gay bar). The guy is a sissy”, “I think he is on drugs, haven’t you noticed how calm he is?”, “He doesn’t do drugs, he has psychological problems and they staff him with pills” said a courier. The talk in the cafeteria must have lasted about five months and the legends about this man’s life have reached epic proportions. In our mind it was clear that the guy had a secret. A year later I saw him at the club Privilege. After the typical staff, “Hello, how are you? What are you up to etc, etc” we started talking for real. “I knew all that was said about me”, he told me, “but what was I supposed to do? Start beating people up or fight with every jerk I meet? I was already preparing my resume and was planning to move to England anyway. And yes I did move with my girlfriend there and now I am in charge of the Eastern Europe department”.
When I met Sakis this story had already happened. It was when he had participated in Thessalonica’s Song Festival and a friend of mine, who worked for ANT1 (Greek TV channel) had taken a videotape of the event and we used to watch it over and over again whenever we could. We were of course in love. Both of us, me the “trendy” one and her the more “conservative” one. I think that Sakis was our only common ground. A few months later one of my gay colleagues brought us a record, we were still using vinyl back then, “Sakis has released a record, we should interview him” he tells me enthusiastically. So we start looking for his telephone number. We searched far and wide. We asked around, we asked his record company, we asked the national telephone center, two insane ladies looking for Mr. Rouvas, Anastasios. “he must be living somewhere in Dafni but none is sure exactly where” was the constant answer. To cut a long story, short, we finally met with him in Thessalonica where Sakis is singing with Mary Miliaresi who was really big at the time. So we have a business date with Sakis before he became “the absolute idol”, and I realize that what a friend of mine said about Sakis is true “Before you want to protect him. He brings out your maternal instincts”. The years go by and Sakis becomes “SAKIS” and we lose touch. I’m a freelance for ANT1 and he collects fans by the thousands. One day I met him by accident in Sun Beach Hotel. I’ m with a cameraman covering a happening. Sakis is sitting quietly at the back tables of the restaurant. He sees me and tries to hide. I approach him. “Oh, hi” he says, “Do you have a camera?” Yes, I tell him but I’m not here for you don’t worry. But Sakis is worried. It’s about the time that Sakis joined the army and the scandal was caused. Sakis is not SAKIS yet. He is just a man who has seen his life turn into a front page. I respect his wishes and don’t include him to my story – and I get fired. A few days later, I learn from a guard, that Sakis is a patient at military hospital 424. And a lot of fellow journalists learn this with me. The guard is really proud for the info that he is providingand if he was imaginative he would have embellished his story even more. But that particular guard is, fortunately for Sakis, without any great desire to become an author. Other people on the other hand, have a very lively imagination.
I’m not good with dates, but I think that about that time a paper called “Loipon” (= Well), published an article titles “Ilias Psinakis and Sakis Rouvas are getting married and Laskari is going to be the maid of honor” and Giorgos Tragas, a colleague asked: “So, Saki, tell us, have you married Ilias Psinakis?” “Yes and we have two kids. The boy is going to be a doctor” could have been Sakis answer if he had a sense of humor, but he didn’t. In the meantime I find myself defending Sakis although he kept silent. I was consumed with curiosity and wondered why Sakis didn’t defend himself. Even if you are not a celebrity if you know that the rest of the village is making comments about you, you would probably start shouting back at some point.
“It’s not the same when you are famous” Sakis will tell me at some point. “When you are famous you know that everything is part of the game. So what can I do? People are allowed to say whatever they want”. I have discussed this with many people many times. I have discussed this with Sakis as well. The answer seems plausible but I have a feeling that, that’s not it. Not denying rumors is probably part of his myth. That’s what makes him popular in everybody’s eyes, “The poor kid” they say “How much more could he possibly take?”. And everybody, my 30 year old friend, my gay buddy, my ten year old niece, wants to meet him. Because what is the one thing that sustains a star? What makes him more mysterious than a guy next door? His secrets. I don’t know if the saying “If Sakis didn’t exist we would have to create one” is true but I feel that if Sakis didn’t have secrets we would have to create some to keep his myth alive.
The last time I saw him was in Paris ten days ago, to get his interview. I was worried that I was going to get stood up and in the end I was late. “Where are you? I’ll be at the Ritz in a minute” he tells me on the cell phone “I have no idea” I reply. “I’m carrying a million bags, I can’t find a taxi and I’m speaking Italian with a French accent to make myself understood by the taxi drivers”. He laughs. I tell him of a street next to Le Maree and he comes to pick me up with a driver. When we reach at the Ritz, I’m like a fan who has fainted in one of his concerts. “Oh, you are that famous greek singer” says the maitr of the restaurant. We talk about terrorism, the war and other irrelevant things. We eat, we take a desert, we listen to a lady playing the harp but still no word for the interview. Time is running out. I’m flying to Athens in a few hours. I start questioning him. One question after the other.”why don’t you speak when the tape recorder is on?”, “I don’t like talking about myself”, “Why?”, “Because I like to let my work speak for me. Whatever I have to say, I say it on stage”. He is growing up. “You are getting 30, right?”, “Does it matter?” I catch myself telling the story of a parallel decade. Instead of him, I’m the one who speaks. Two almost 30 year olds trying to balance between our twenty year old self who wanted nothing and our thirty year old who must want everything. He gives me advice. I’m six months his senior and he talks to me with such a maturity that he reminds me of my father. Who? The eternal teen idol.
We are walking in Paris. A bus with a huge advertisement of Sakis, promoting his album passes by. “How does it feel to be a star at a country that until recently you couldn’t even speak the language? He is smiling. A Greek lady stops by and ask us directions to a certain street. She recognizes Sakis. This doesn’t feel like Place Vendome but Omonoia Square!
We are talking about his concert at Olympia at 24th of October. It’s basically his first public appearance to the French audience but I don’t see him nervous. In the afternoon, I visit Virgin Megastores at Champs Elysee and I realize why. Huge posters of Sakis and a stand dedicated to him and French girls reading articles about him are a guarantee that everything will be all right. Without divulging any details I understand that universal has made a whole plan about his career that isn’t localised in France only, but is spreading throughout the world. But, the world is not enough is it?
Sakis in his own words.
What I’ve learned about Sakis in A day in Paris.
- What does it mean “The things a man must do before he gets 30” or “Before he gets 40”? Why must a man do something? Why must he become something? I don’t believe that in this life we must become something. We have come to this world to evelve ourselves. If there are two things that a man must learn are to be fair with others and true to himself.
- Untill I was eighteen I was an athlete. My idol was Sergei Boumka I imagine he was an idol for all athletes. What I have kept from that time? I think discipline and a sense of purpose. I think it’s a mistake to say what I have kept. I think that my whole life has been an athletic competition. Even my way of thinking. Sports ended for me when I had to make a career choice. That time an athlete couldn’t support himself if he didn’t work on the side. It’s allright. Everything in life happens for a reason. I didn’t quit sports. I just replaced them with something that won me over.
- I have worked in a car repair shop, barman in Corfu, in construction … All of our experiences are means for us to evolve. Whether you are a Hollywood star, or a singer or a waiter everything is a road trip where you have to learn yourself. I learned that there is always something new to learn.
- When I was a kid, I loved Elvis The way he was singing, the way he was dancing, the way he was expressing what he was feeling and the way his audience felt when they were watching him. No, I wasn’t practicing his moves in front of a mirror. We didn’t have a mirror in our house.
- I don’t think that sex is a simple matter. It’s not an insignificant thing to join with another person You learn from that person, you give him your energy and you take his or hers. Isn’t that important? Of course it could be just a physical thing. In that case you could have a very pleasant experience. But when there are feelings involved you also get pleasure in a mental sense as well.
- I had wonderful times with money, and I had wonderful moments when I was broke. That’s not the point All right I no longer visit the super market and I don’t have to wait to get a taxi. But I have lived as an anonymous person and someone who had to work hard to earn his keep. I know what it’s like.
- I don’t think that fans are fainting because of me They faint because of the intensity of the moment that has been created when I’m on stage. I mean that fans participate in what is happening. Even what they think they can take from me is not really mine. It’s something we create together. Besides what I’m giving them, if I’m giving them something, I get it back. And for that I am truly grateful.
- I have seen all of women’s sides, all of their reactions, but no, none has made a fool of herself in front of me I wouldn’t allow it. I think I have found a way to stop their “humiliating” reactions before they happen. I just walk away.
- There is a way to stay young forever: to be young in your soul The physical and biological aging are a natural. They will happen. What you must do to stay young is the moment you feel your body weakening you strengthen your soul. That’s how you have balance. And it doesn’t have to do with beauty. It might seems like a cliché but I truly believe that there is no objectivity when it comes to beauty. A work of Bacon is beautiful. A work of Michael Angelo is beautiful. But they are different works of art and I can easily enjoy both of them.
DOWN TOWN, 10/10/2002