Thrilled to be up and moving, Gene DiNapoli said, “I’m coming back and the ailment has subsided, hopefully for good.”
DiNapoli will make his debut on stage at a sold out show June 11 – 12 at Michael’s Italian Family Restaurant, located at 4300 Boston Post Road.
A performance in late June at Tottonos Restaurant in Yonkers and an October appearance in California are also on DiNapoli’s upcoming schedule.
As a result of the severe acid reflux disease, the entertainer’s vocal cords and esophagus were burned, forcing him to stop all performances in November of 2006.
The road to recovery was particularly difficult for the impersonator, as he couldn’t enjoy his passion.
“I really missed performing,” said DiNapoli, whose insurance would not cover the necessary procedure. “Last year was a roller coaster of emotion.”
Along with the inability to exercise his talent, DiNapoli said he struggled with the financial burden of not performing.
At a high point in his career before the illness, the New York Post wrote a profile story on DiNapoli, which he said dramatically increased the demand for appearances.
Unfortunately, his unexpected condition forced him to turn down lucrative offers, one of which was performing on a cruise ship.
A low point hit when the television program, Hollywood Heat, came to his house to interview him, not knowing of his debilitating ailment.
Still saddened recalling the meeting, DiNapoli said, “The guy said, ‘What’s wrong with you? We can’t put you on T.V. like this.’”
Dispirited by the loss of the joy and financial compensation of his performances, friends, families and hundreds of supporters held a benefit on October 30 to help get DiNapoli back on track.
“The benefit really lifted my spirits and did a lot of good,” he said.
He is particularly grateful to the event’s main organizers friend and fellow performer Patrice Norell, and friend Lori Centeno, along with his wife, sister and parents.
Many Bronx merchants helped with contributions for the benefit, including Jerome Ragusa, the famed “Cannoli King” of Gino’s Pastries on E. 187th Street in Belmont.
DiNapoli looks to the future. “I want to start acting,” DiNapoli explained, “but music is always my first love.”