away from the beef-hunk thing
By Chris Wong - Georgia Straight January 5-12, 1990
scenes from the wonderful life of up-and-coming actor, champion
kickboxer, proud Italian and all-round nice guy. Vince "The
at the rear of his father's Calabria Bar on Commercial Drive. Murdocco
tells his life story. In mid' description of his most remarkable
metamorphosis from chubby teen to dashing thespian/jock, he spots
a familiar face. It's someone he knows from the Breck Academy for
the Performing Arts. While exchanging pleasantries, Murdocco smiles,
revealing a marvel of orthodontics and dental hygiene-lots and lots
of perfectly aligned, sparkling white teeth.
At a New Year's Eve rehearsal for The World of Beauty, a zany theatrical
spoof of insidious talk shows In the Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera
mode, Murdocco improvises. (The play, a Fringe Festival remount,
runs January 4 to 28 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island.)
The scene calls for Murdocco, playing the flirtatious hairdresser
Warren, to attend to Brad, one of the show's co-hosts. During a
commercial break, Brad huffs and puffs while Warren smiles and brushes.
Then, in an Inspired and unscripted moment, Murdocco's Warren pretends
to spit into his palm and spread the gooey gob all over Brad's pristine
that old story, the one about the gawky kid-either too skinny or
too fat-who can't get no respect. In Murdocco's case, he was supposedly
a porker. East Van peers picked on him for his girth and consequently
Murdocco suffered badly in the girls department.
went to the beach with this girl, the first girl I ever picked up."
recalls Murdocco. "The jocks of the school said. "Get
out of the way, Vince. I was intimidated. I could never really hold
on to anybody during that period of time. I was really choked, to
tell you the truth."
young Murdocco compensated for his low self-image by becoming the
class clown. He started to lose weight in grade 10 but kept on being
a merry prankster. The apotheosis of his buffoonery occurred in
a much-despised French class at Notre Dame high school. (Murdocco
couldn't see the point in learning a language in which he was already
fluent.) He borrowed a priest's collar and mock-blessed his classmates-
and the principal, who happened to walk in. He was turfed from the
school for that blasphemous transgression, arid ended up graduating
from Burnaby North.
graduation, he worked In his father's cappuccino bar, where he met
"a gentleman from New York" with whom he struck a deal:
Murdocco would give the gentleman free food in exchange for training
in the martial arts. After that fateful meeting, Murdocco went on
to acquire black belts in karate and tae kwon do. Last year he won
the Canadian Cruiser-Weight Kickboxing Championship. He settled
on kickboxing because the sport consists of more than just left
and right hooks and fancy footwork-there's also the sheer thrill
of mid-air 360s, culminating in swift, painful kicks to the opponent.
says it's such a brutal sport. When you're good at it, you kind
of don't see that" says Murdocco. "It's Just so beautiful."
there are benefits outside the ring. "I can walk down the street
with my girlfriend and know I can at least take care of myself and
she'll feel safe." Do I detect machismo rearing its ugly head?
"If I had a daughter I would hope that the guy she's seeing
could handle himself and the girl doesn't have to beat up whoever."
In general, Murdocco lets a lot go by. "I'm a really easy going
guy," he says. "But the odd time I got mad and they deserved
it." He didn't warn the offending parties by announcing, 'Watch
it, buddy I'm the Canadian cruiser-weight kickboxing champion."
It was more like. Listen, just don't mess with me.
Murdocco plays therapist for a moment and examines his behavioral
patterns, "I need to be in control. Wherever I am, I always
try to be a person who instigates, I guess because my childhood
was so terrible. I hated It. It's sad to say, but every time I see
a fat kid. I always say, hey man, you're going to be beat.
While in Miami for a kickboxing competition, Murdocco met a woman,
a top model and actress, with whom he had a cozy long distance relationship.
It came to a crashing halt shortly after she came to Vancouver for
a movie audition. The movie? Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders.
Murdocco drove the woman to the audition and ended up going for
a screen test himself. They made a pact, both had to get parts or
they walked. Murdocco got the role of Flesh; the woman got the big
rejection. At that point, the silly pact meant little.
wants to get one thing straight. "Okay, the movie is not a
porno it's funny, when I say Flesh GordonMeets the Cosmic Cheerleaders,
everybody thinks it's a porno." Murdocco also had his doubts
after viewing the original Flesh Gordon. "It was semi-porno
and it was so terrible, I didn't want to do it. But don't print
that. Well, you can print that. It wasn't terrible, it was just
different. And where I come from, I've got my fan club (consisting
of about 40 percent prepubescent girls), I'm Italian, my parents
are a big thing, I couldn't have their respect if it was like this."
was assured of the movie's relative respectability and accepted
the part. "This movie is clean enough. There's going to be
some breasts showing, but it's nice." Filmed primarily In Burnaby
and Los Angeles, the sequel to Flesh Gordon is a wacky, farcical
adventure movie, according to Murdocco. Cheerleaders from a planet
cursed with impotence kidnap the virile Flesh. Flesh's girlfriend
Dale tries to save her beau and gets nabbed herself by an evil guy.
Flesh and the evil guy eventually have a big showdown.
gives the movie, due for release next summer, an unqualified thumbs
up. "It's so funny, it isn't funny. I mean, you can't believe
it, it's so funny."
Murdocco do any nude scenes?
"I'm lying on a bed and there's a towel over me and these girls
are saying, "What a specimen. Jeez, this guy is good looking."
And all of a sudden I wake up and run for the door
this cloth In front. They show my butt. I figured
guy? Mel Gibson. I love Mel Gibson. If he showed his butt, I can
do it too,"
father, Frank, doesn't know much about the content of Flesh Gordon
Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, but he has faith in his son's judgment.
Frank also sees the movie's central action-busty, lusty cosmic cheerleaders
chasing after an A-1 stud-as a kind of cinema verite. "That's
what happens in life too," says Frank about his 23-year-old
son, who still lives at home. "Even at the house, everybody
phones for him. All the women are after him."
loved playing he lead role in the movie but says he never let status
go to his head. "I had my chair, it said Flesh on it but honestly.
I didn't want feel like, 'I'm the star. I'm here, you're there.'
I'd eat with the cast. I'd eat with everybody. I never wanted to
be separated. So it was a big happy family, even with the extras.
I'm trying to get way from that beefhunk kind of thing and do some
serious acting," says Murdocco, who works as a shaping coordinator
at Western Stevedorlng's North Vancouver office. He's making his
stage debut with The World of Beauty, which also features Brad Gough,
Denise Lane, D.O.A,'s Joe Keithley and Karen Campbell. And he is
up for a major part in Kickboxer 2. But he hopes to do something
more dramatically complex. "I'd really like to do a play. You
know what I mean by a play? This (The World of Beauty) is great.
This is a great way to get my feet wet, but I want to do a play
where they say, 'That was acting.'"
don't want to be, 'Vinnie, he's good for kickboxing, he's got a
good face, nice body, a bull hunk type of guy.' I want to be respected
as an actor."
the notion of respect. Granted, Murdocco could face somewhat of
a dilemma. The combination of his good looks, relentlessly upbeat
manner, and unique athletic skills seem to doom him to perpetual
there's that pervasive motif of what it means to be Italian. Murdocco,
who speaks Italian and names Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro as his
favorite actors, places his heritage and family ties above all.
"To me, Italian stands for authority. Italian clothes are the
best. Italian shoes are the best. Italians search for perfection.
Maybe people say they're sleaze balls, you know, Guido. But they
bring up their kids properly. Family is the most important thing.
That's what kept me going."
said, what would Murdocco do if he got rich and famous?
funny, this is the one thing that I've always thought about ...I'd
spoil them. I'd do like Elvis did to his mother. I'd buy her everything.
To me, I can be broke. Even the money I've made so far, I've spent
it. Not on me, on everybody else because I figure if they're happy.
I'm happy. I'm so happy on life, I don't need money.'
to Pops, blissfully smoking a stogie before going to a hockey game
with his son, for a final word Frank obviously has great pride in
his boy's accomplishments. Blown-up photos of Vince in action have
prominent spots on the wall of the Calabria Bar. "We support
all of our sons," he says of himself and his wife. "But
him we've got to watch more than the others
He's more on the
wild side. But deep inside, he's a very nice boy I've got no complaints."
Wong -' THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT", January 5, 1990