Old Dude Winter took the opportunity of his last week in charge to drop a final bowel movement on us: a big ol’ pile of snow to which the city adds its own secret ingredients –mostly street juice and dog refuse– resulting in the world’s grossest Slurpee flavor. But hope may have arrived just in time with a new music video from Bigmun & Frost. Shot in July of last year, it’s a reminder of what summertime is all about in Brooklyn– and for John Bigmun it’s not just backyard kiddie pools filled with beer, it’s also the Giglio Feast that goes down every year in Williamsburg at Lady of Mount Carmel. “It’s like the most amazing thing in the world,” he said. “It’s old Brooklyn, it’s the old country.”
Lucky for those of us who didn’t make it out, Bigmun & Frost included clips from the feast in a new music video for “Curse Me,” a track off their 2016 EP Pasta and Veal, so even heretics and Marxists like you and me can join the Giglio feast.
It might be hard to wrap your head around at first, but John Bigmun–a gold chain-swinging crooner and one-half of Bigmun & Frost, an unabashedly cheesy smooth-pop duo–has sincere love for this Catholic celebration and the church that hosts it. “It’s a magical place and a magical event, it’s very special,” he told me. Bigmun grew up Catholic, but by the time he met the woman who would introduce him to Giglio– an 80-year-old churchgoer and Williamsburg resident who Bigmun said has “lived there her whole life”– he had almost joined the ranks of the lapsed. “She found out I didn’t go to church,” he recalled. And you can pretty much guess what happened next.
“I’ve been going back every year,” he said. “And it was my dream to perform on the steps because it’s always these old, old-school guys performing on the steps. So I went to meetings, and it was a huge honor because it’s so much of a tradition there.”
At the turn of the last century, Italian immigrants from Nola (aka Nolanis) poured into the city and brought their “transplanted feast” with them. The Church writes that the Giglio Feast “commemorates an extraordinary bit of southern Italian history” and honors a Bishop guy named Paolino who presided over the city of Nola around 400 A.D. At one point “North African pirates” invaded the city and kidnapped a number of children. Paolino negotiated the safe return of one of the young boys in exchange for his own freedom, and for years Paolino was enslaved by the pirates. Eventually, he escaped and made his way back to Nola. “Overjoyed by his safe return, the entire town greeted him carrying lilies,” or “gigli” in Italian, which the Church writes are “symbolic of love and purity.”
Today at Mount Carmel, the two-week long celebration is more like a wholesome party for the community– even if many of the original churchgoers have had to leave Williamsburg. Bigmun said he went “every night” last year. “A lot of people have moved out to Long Island, Jersey, and Staten Island,” he explained. “They open up the church, there’s tons of food– sausage, peppers– and games. There was a dunk tank, but not anymore. It’s just old, classic fun. It’s timeless.”
Mark Frost was equally as enthusiastic about the whole thing. ‘I remember it well, the air smelled like love and braciole,” he wrote in an email. “Young lovers held each other close while the old people danced. We got very few boos, and that’s all you can ask for. A perfect night. “
It’s romantic, to be sure– but “Curse Me” is a far cry from another video you might remember “Ciudad Nights” a super-sexy, glitzy glamorous romp complete with booty-shaking backup dancers and long close-up shots of Bigmun’s bedroom-eyed visage. That one was filmed at Enrique’s, a Bushwick salon you might not know by name, but have certainly seen if you’ve been anywhere near Myrtle-Broadway ever in your life– the fabulously sparkly, chandeliered and gold-glimmering Baroque masterpiece is kind of hard to miss on an otherwise profoundly scummy strip.
As with Mount Carmel, Bigmun didn’t just walk into the salon and start asking for favors. “I’ve always just admired it and I wanted to bone up on my Español so I started getting my haircut there and just hanging out,” Bigmun told us back in August. “Enrique is a truly amazing guy.” Clearly, Bigmun is a big fan of community, who actually knows his neighbors and even, even befriends them (a crazy insane concept, I know).
Of course, Bigmun added his own flair to the video. With the help of a friend named Darryl, Bigmun pulls up to the party in a seriously slick whip: “I’ve always loved Cadillacs and that dude Darryl, he’s just part of a car club, he’s a great guy, we just started talking one day, and eventually I asked him one day if we could use it.” The scene, “Isn’t totally true,” Bigmun admitted. “But I wanted to make it look like I showed up in a Cadillac— you know, so I could roll up with as much style as possible.”