Forty years ago, Linda McCartha Monica Sandy-Lewis, best known by her sobriquet Calypso Rose, won her first ever Road March title and took the country by storm with her song Gimme More Tempo.”
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Uncle Ellis gets ready to rock it in snow
Most people know Uncle Ellis (Ellis Reid) as the funny man dancing in front of KFC, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. Last week, the T&T Guardian sat down with Reid and heard about his struggles overcoming drug abuse and the stereotyping which goes with it. This week, we focus on what he has accomplished with his signature dance moves, and where his manger Dion Gomez and friends, calypsonians Salty (Dillon Charles) and Akeem “5.0” Newton plan for the 58-year-old dancer.
He may not have ever left the shores of Trinidad before last month, but Ellis Reid’s future sure looks like it has taken off! In fact, the small-boned, 58-year-old man, known fondly as “Uncle Ellis,” is apparently a brand across several countries. There is even a Youtube video of a man performing Reid’s signature dance while in the snow.
If the words of his manager, Dion Gomez, is enough to go on, then Reid will most likely be doing his own dancing in the snow soon.
Gomez, who accompanied Reid on the interview, said there had been some obstacles in trying to obtain Reid’s personal documents, but they were slowly being ironed out. In the meantime, Reid is being booked for several regional Carnival and requests are pouring in for him to perform at local party hotspots.
And while the average person has at least two Facebook accounts, Reid has three, his own fan base on Instagram, a website, and several Youtube sites.
“Hey, is Uncle Ellis, Amber, look it’s Uncle Ellis!” shouted Black Chyna of US fame, during the annual Baewatch beach fete on Ash Wednesday. He felt his arm being tugged and then he was posing for pics with the two curvaceous women. Those photos were uploaded to his various social media pages and so the cycle continues.
Recently, Reid took his first flight on a plane, when he was invited by footballer Dwight Yorke to his post-Carnival fete at Pigeon Point, Tobago. Dion Gomez, Reid’s manager said this was not only about him being or remaining famous.
Gomez has appointed himself Reid’s part-time caretaker. He acknowledged Reid’s past drug abuse, but said everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves. It is this thought which is driving Gomez and friends, soca stars Salty and Akim 5.0 to look after Reid’s business interest. It is their goal to see Reid reach as far as his newfound fame will take him, Gomez said.
“We recently got his new Identification card, a friend of mine applied and got a copy of his birth certificate, and now we are going to help him set up a bank account so he can manage his own money whenever he has a gig.” When asked, “So he gets paid?”
Reid interjects, “Of course, but I don’t need much money in my hand all the time. Just for the little things I need, so they tell me we have to go to the bank and I was waiting for the ID and thing. Is just now I will have bank book and thing. This is God, you know, doing this for me,” he said. There were times during the interview when Reid rambled and then quickly reverted to his gap-toothed smile and jovial manner.
“Oh yes, I used to use drugs and the police took me a couple times, but I clean now and feeling good about myself,” he said. He said he had stopped abusing drugs for quite a while. And while he could not say how he became rehabilitated, Gomez said Reid was recently given a clean bill of health from both doctors at St Ann’s Hospital and private physicians.
All of these issues had to be cleared up as they were in the process of obtaining Reid’s passport and the necessary visas so that he could benefit from the same opportunities as Salty and Akim.
“This is not just about here and done. I know there are those who are speculating that he would be used for the Carnival and then they would see him back by KFC. That’s not so, not when you looking at one of the most popular man in T&T,” said Gomez, shaking his head and laughing.
As for the detractors, Gomez said while it bothered them, Reid appeared unfazed. Take for instance, Reid’s recent snapshots on FB posing in a pool with a bevy of women in sexy swimwear and the speculations about the ladies’ intentions. Gomez sought to clear the air and explained that they were in fact his friends from New York invited over to celebrate his 29th birthday at the Hyatt Regency. Reid was invited and the women just took the photo in fun.
“Oh yeah, that (a girlfriend) will come, I just have to wait,” Reid said with a grin.
No one knows what life has in store, but according to Gomez, Reid will soon benefit from every opportunity to tour alongside Salty and Akim 5.0. “He is in demand right now, from all over,” said Gomez.
Reid’s international fame came when he opted to dance to Justin Beiber’s Sorry rather than the usual soca songs. Gomez said the video went viral and many of the comments on Reid’s social media and Youtube pages were from around the globe. Some comments, he said, were not even in English. The video became extremely popular.
At the end of it all, Gomez said he wanted to make Reid’s family, particularly his sister Linda proud of what her brother had become. T&T and the rest of the world can certainly look out for more of Reid’s brand in the near future, he assured. A grinning Reid, still sipping his tea, then invited Guardian to have Sunday lunch with him at his new home at Cascade, St Ann’s.
• CORRECTION: Last week, in the first half of this two-part article on the life of Ellis Reid aka Uncle Ellis, the reporter incorrectly wrote Salty’s name as Winston Smith, who is in fact Dillon Charles, and Akim “5 Star” Borneo, when in fact it should have been Akeem “5.0” Newton. Guardian apologies for any inconvenience caused.