I just got off the phone interviewing Randy Miller, who at 17 – not yet out of high school – launched a new beverage company with his dad: Original New York Seltzer. The brand played a big role in making seltzer hip in the 80s and introducing the idea of flavored seltzer in a bottle to America.
Through our interview Randy, who was very generous with his time and stories, turned me on to many things from the 80s of which I had no idea.
One was Zeltzer Seltzer. Anheuser-Busch, who was negotiating with ONYS for a purchase, decided to make their own, which ultimately failed. Check out this crazy radio ad:
When I asked about Randy’s famous jump – featured in the ONYS ad below – I learned about Alphy’s Soda Pop Club. But first the ad:
Turns out the jump wasn’t filmed FOR the ad. Rather, it was done, in part, for Alphy’s Soda Pop Club, and later used for the ad. Miller was the sponsor for the Club and, having always wanted to be a stunt man, used the opportunity to do his thing. But what, you might ask, was Alphy’s Soda Pop Club?
A regular attendee, who did this great but sad interview with fellow attendee Corey Haim about it, described it this way: “Alphy’s Soda Pop Club, the one and only disco designed for kids ‘in the industry,’ enjoyed a Hollywood lifespan of three years, from 1986 to 1989. With a clientele aged 16 and under, the club guaranteed a dance floor full of the hottest teen stars as well as all the free soda you could drink. It was the ultimate teenage wonderland.”
In the interview Corey talks about holding Miller’s tiger for him during his jump and about how close they were.
Randy Miller is one of the coolest people I have ever met… I hung with Randy a lot. He was one of my best friends. I will forever love Randy.
Yes, Randy not old started a multi-million dollar beverage company that changed the face of seltzer, he also had a passion for big cats.
One time, Randy, myself, and two other people—we were in a limousine with a jaguar, and Randy passed me the leash and said, “Hold it from here, and if he gets out of line, just hit him lightly on the side of his head and say, ‘Down! Down! Down!’ Just give him the commands I’m giving you.” And then suddenly the jaguar woke up in the limo and let out a RAAAAAWWR, so the vet who was in there had to shoot him up with a little bit of a tranquilizer. I mean, you’re talking about a wild animal in a limousine! You know what I mean? Everybody could have been dead! But by the time we got out of the limo, I was holding the jaguar and everything was cool.
How do I spend more than a decade writing this book and not learn about such a fascinating piece of seltzer history until now?!!