“It got me wondering about what their circumstances are,” said Pino, a Chilean-Sicilian-American entertainer best known for his award winning hip-hop band, ‘Jealous Monk’ and mashup band ‘Jermaine Quiz’. “If he’s a street performer, he’s probably hanging out with other street performers and people who stand still, and I wonder if he has enemies, living statue enemies, and I thought that was kind of funny.”
Those musings were the kernel that became an entire web series, ‘British Quarter Hustler’, which held a premiere party and screening Saturday night at the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.
Pino plays Sir Nigel Higginbottom, aka ‘The British Quarter Hustler’, a big-hearted street performer who must defend his home, the British Quarter, from the French Quarter’s totalitarian No. 1 hustler, Jacques Jean Foulard (Mathew Zarba). With the help of his ‘best mate’, Sir Alistair Bixby (Derrick Freeman), Higginbottom uses his hustles and street performances in a struggle to secure the “Quarters” of New Orleans and make it a home for all nationalities.
According to Pino, the surreal comedy explores the deep animosities that have fueled a centuries-old civil war on the streets of New Orleans. From the French Quarter to the Irish Channel, Spanish Plaza, Piazza d’Italia, Dutch Alley and The British Quarter, a wide array of characters fight for their individual freedoms and to preserve their way of life.
He added that the series is inspired by the beauty of the city’s “gumbo pot” of cultures, but also by the self-defeating atmosphere of division and conflicting personal agendas that have plagued the city and the politics governing it.
Under the moniker ‘Jermaine Quiz’, Pino has produced and performed music in New Orleans for several years. He has also directed music videos for international artists like Galactic, Macy Gray, and Lyrics Born (for which he just won ‘best music video’ from Offbeat Magazine). But ‘The British Quarter’ marks his acting and directorial debut.
“It’s really the first time that we’ve ever done anything like this,” said Pino of his longtime collaborators Freeman and Zarba. “We’ve already collaborated in music for ten years and we all write and we just decided to try it out and see what happens, and we fell in love with it.”
‘British Quarter Hustler’ goes online Wednesday, January 27. Visit http://britishquarter.com to watch.