Episode 8

The Skin Game

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Richie and Potsie plan to go to a strip club. They get the idea after listening to Ralph Malph tell of his experience watching Bubbles McCall ‘take it all off’ down at Eddy’s Pink Palace.

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To get into the club, Richie and Potsie need fake ID cards. They ask Fonzie for help. He organizes a visit to Richie’s house the next night, accompanied by his friend ‘Pockets’ who is a skilled forger.

The next night at Eddy’s Pink Palace, Richie and Potsie gain entry using the fake ID cards. They seat themselves at a table and wait for the main act to start. While waiting, Richie overhears a loud sneeze from the audience. The sneeze sounds familiar. He turns around and realizes his father is there as well.

Bubbles McCall performs her routine. Contrary to what Ralph had led them to believe, she definitely does not ‘take it all off’. When Richie notices Howard has gone to the bathroom, he and Potsie make a quick exit. Outside the club, Richie wonders what his father was doing at a strip-club.

When Richie arrives home Howard is inhaling hot steam under a towel to soothe his flu. Richie says goodnight, but as he goes to walk up the stairs, Howard says, “You forgot your souvenir”. He hands Richie a silk stocking that was draped over him as part of Bubbles’ act.

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Richie asks what his father what he was doing at a strip-club. Howard explains that every time a client of the hardware store comes to town he drags him along to the same place. “The better the stripper the more nails I sell him.”

The next day in the carpark of Arnolds someone approaches Richie and Potsie and asks, “I heard you two went to see Bubbles McCall. What’s it like?” Potsie replies enigmatically, “You gotta see it to believe it.”

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The actor who played master forger ‘Pockets’ was Frank Sivero. Among a great many film roles, he played gangster characters in the films THE GODFATHER (1972) – THE GODFATHER Part 2 (1974) – and GOODFELLAS (1990).

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In 2014, Sivero brought a $250 million lawsuit against Fox Television Studios. The lawsuit claimed that a mafia-type character named Louie that had begun appearing in THE SIMPSONS in 1991 was a direct copy of the appearance and mannerisms of Sivero. The actor had been living next door to writers from THE SIMPSONS at that time.

Sivero alleged that his likeness was being infringed in violation of California’s publicity rights law. The case was dismissed in August 2015, with the judge asserting that the character Louie was a parody of several Mob characters.