Erv Raible was a promoter of live entertainment, an impresario, a teacher, a mentor, a connoisseur of talent, but most of all Erv Raible was my friend. This is a tough one. The last twenty-four hours have moved references of Erv from the present to the past tense. You see, my friend Erv passed away last night. In the next few days there will be tributes from the New York entertainment press and fellow performers praising his support of talent, and the work he did in opening some of the most wonderful nightspots for entertainment New York has ever seen, The Duplex, Brandy’s, Don’t Tell Mama, and 88’s. This is as it should be, it is praise richly deserved, but I will leave that song to others. I want to write about my pal.
On the table in my living room is my favorite picture of Erv. You wouldn’t know it’s him as his face and hands are covered in a skeleton mask and gloves and he is holding a plastic scythe to Spawn’s five year old neck, but both are clearly having the time of their lives. I love this Erv, the silly Erv who could have fun whether it was chasing a five year old around the living room or going to a formal event in a mink coat and jewels. I believe that the night this photo was taken was the night that, after Spawn went to bed, we dressed all his savage Lego Bionicle Warriors up in feathers and rhinestones and lined them up atop the TV in a kick line. Spawn was not quite as amused by this as we.
He was a creator of adventure, no matter if it was a walk down the street, or a trip to an exotic locale, if the walk happened to combine itself with the exotic locale, so much the better. We’d leave the house for a quick trip to the store to look for something and then somehow return twelve hours later exhausted and laden down with “FAAAABULOUS” treasures. His energy for the hunt was inexhaustible. There was one search for the perfect bustier to go with a tux I had just purchased that spanned three states and at least 35 stores.
For a girl who grew up apologizing if the sun rose in the morning, the fact that Erv was so fiercely himself was a revelation to me. He never apologized for who he was or his opinions. He created the life he wanted for himself and refused to back down. I know of very few who have been able to accomplish this. It takes guts and brains, and he had plenty of both.
Erv gave great presents. He didn’t “do” birthdays, and that was okay. He more than made up for it by giving wonderful surprises at unexpected times. One of my most treasured possessions is a beautiful necklace he had designed and made for me as a thank you gift. There were treats brought back from trips, or things he picked up just because he thought I might like them. I know his heart was in every one.
I will miss all the things he had yet to teach me about art, and design, and wearing earrings proportionate to my head size (bigger is always better, don’t you know?). I will miss picking up the phone and hearing him say “It’s Erv!”, and launching into the details of his latest wonderful find. I will miss the road trips, and laughing and wonderful meals shared. Mostly, though, I will just miss my friend.