Do you love and/or hate Obamacare? Then I have news for you. Richard Cheese (my all-time favorite Vegas lounge act) is alive to perform today at Sunset Station partly thanks to Obamacare.
Two years ago, his band, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine, was performing lounge versions of pop songs in Orlando, when Cheese was rushed to the hospital.
A crazy infection was taking over the back of his neck.
Cheese had MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus, which doesn’t get better with antibiotics.
Or as Cheese puts it dramatically?
“I almost died. It’s like Ebola. All of a sudden, I couldn’t move my neck. They said, ‘You have to go into surgery right away; otherwise it’s going to go into your brain or down your spine.’ ”
He chose surgery over death.
What’s more, last May, Cheese got a corneal transplant in one eye (a cornea “from a dead guy,” he explained gruesomely), because he finally could get insurance.
“I can proudly say it was Obamacare that got me through these operations, because I had insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act. I’m absolutely happy about that,” Cheese said.
“Originally, I wasn’t even eligible (for insurance), because I had a pre-existing condition with my eye. They said, ‘You can’t get insurance, because you’re going to need an eye operation, and we don’t have to cover you.’ ”
So, Obamacare got him insurance, which helped him speed through the front doors of an ER to save his life from MRSA; and after that, he could finally get a replacement for a cornea he couldn’t see through most of his life.
“Thanks to Obamacare, they had to give me insurance. I used it. And it was great. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. It put a safety net under me that I didn’t have, because I’m an independent guy. We don’t sell records. And when you’re sick, you can’t do shows.”
As for MRSA, Cheese advises to avoid it.
“It’s the coming apocalypse, one of the seven things that is going to destroy humanity,” he said mildly.
The bright side: Cheese and Lounge haven’t performed in public in so long, they had private time to arrange new lounge covers of pop songs by Iggy Azalea, Muse, Taylor Swift, and Daft Punk.
His band plays lounge covers of rock, pop, rap and country songs, most famously Dean Martin-esque versions of “Baby Got Back,” “Gin & Juice” and “My Neck, My Back.”
The group was the house band on NBC’s “Last Call with Carson Daly” and has played “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and even the Obamacare-hating Fox News.
I have never understood why Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine isn’t a mainstay on the Strip. But whatever. I’m going to see him at 10:30 p.m. at Sunset Station to see if he still has the magic touch to make me laugh and sing along. (He also has an 8 p.m. show today.)
He joked that he might have caught MRSA when he performed “Down with the Sickness” in the 2004 zombie flick, “Dawn of the Dead.”
“I’m living a zombie movie,” he said. “I had tonsil surgery 10 years ago, and I had hernia surgery. Then I had the neck thing and the eye thing. I don’t know why I’m alive, to be honest. They keep trying to kill me, and I keep coming back!”
Contact Doug Elfman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman. Find him on Twitter: @VegasAnonymous