Elements of Style: Continental Club’s Goodtime Smith

Say what you will about club manager John “Goodtime” Smith’s wardrobe, but it certainly doesn’t lack panache.

By Kerry H. December 31, 2013 Published in the January 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

John “Goodtime” Smith was the drummer for The New Duncan Imperials, a band who “loved rock enough to know how silly it is.”

Image: Felix Sanchez

“Oh,” says John “Goodtime” Smith, while giving us an extensive tour of Midtown’s cavernous Continental Club, where he’s the manager. “That’s the Velour Monster.” The Velour Monster would be a wall-mounted, velour-covered, motorized, plaster of Paris creature that opens and closes its mouth while pointy red lights emerge and retract from its eyes. Goodtime looks a little bored by this object, a gift he received as drummer in the band that defined most of his life, The New Duncan Imperials—a band, according to their record label, “who loved rock enough to know how silly it is.” It was the kind of band that sang songs about velour. Actually, it was the kind of band that would write a song in which the only lyric was “velour,” intoned over and over again, until at least one fan was inspired enough to sculpt a dragon-esque work of art.

Goodtime’s wardrobe, we have noticed, does not lack for this particular textile. Nor does it lack shimmering metallic suits, Colonel Sanders ties, jacquard smoking jackets, lit-up Christmas lights or perfectly tufted pocket squares. We interviewed him in the club’s back room, while he counted out wads of cash from the night before, and the Monster jawed in silence a few rooms away. 

What are you wearing?

Bow tie by Giorgio Brutini, Levi’s jeans, shirt by Urban Rebel, loafers by Urban Trends, pocket square of unknown origin.

Where do you shop?

I’ve always gone to thrift stores. Part of New Duncan Imperials was, we used to thrift a lot when we were on the road. If you’d see a thrift shop, or a go-kart store, you’d have to pull over.

Are you an impulse shopper?

I bought a purple Christmas tree the other day. I walked out of the store, actually, took five steps, and said, “I have to get that tree,” and turned back around. And got it.

Is there anyone whose style you admire?

Paul Shaffer. Sometimes I look at him and say, “Oh man, I’d love to have that suit.”

And yet you chose the drums. 

I can remember being five years old and holding a stool over my lap and pretending I was a drummer, probably Ringo Starr. I don’t know why. I think because I like hitting things. 

People are so obsessed with your clothes, they’ve started a Facebook page exclusively devoted to them. Isn’t that a lot of expectation to live up to?

It is! Sometimes I can come in when I’m tired or don’t feel well, and if I’m just wearing a shirt or something, I hear it from my bartenders. 

What does Halloween look like for you?

I have a lot of different costumes and masks, and I will change them throughout the night, and the bartenders will make wagers as to how many outfits I am going to wear. I have many different masks—KISS masks, clown masks. I’ll change suits with it too. I’ve got Superman, I’ve got a French maid outfit—that’s usually for late at night. This Halloween, as it turned out, I was performing with my polka band, Polish Pete and the “Polka? I Hardly Knew Her!” Band. So I was in lederhosen, but not because it was Halloween.  

You must have a seriously large closet. 

I have a walk-in closet, a full bottom rack of coats and suits, half a rack of regular shirts, half a rack of dress shirts, and then a whole rack of suits. My wife has the other side, but I threaten to take up her side before long.

What about shoes?

Oh, shoes. I have a lot of shoes.

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