ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? – Behnam Gerami Interviewed

Updated: November 1, 2007
From starting forced to compete at a local TGI Fridays Flair bartending competition to making the finals of some of the biggest Flair competitions in the world… Behnam Gerami. He has a style and direction all his own and now in the pages of Flairbar.com, we get to know a little more about Behnam with “Are you talking to me? ” as he shares with us his insights on the world of Flair bartending today… So sit back, relax and indulge in a Skyy Vodka or Finest Call cocktail and enjoy…

Age? 33.

Where are you from? Originally I am from Iran, but I have been living in the states for the past 24 years.

How long have you’ve been Bartending? I have been bartending for 10 years.

And Flair Bartending? Pretty much the same time 10 years.

Where do you work? I currently work in Vegas at the Rio Casino in the I- Bar.  

What got you into Flair Bartending? My first job was TGI Fridays and they forced me to compete in our in store comp and I got last place. It was Horrible, I was so embarrassed in front of all my regulars. If you think I drop a lot now you should have seen me then (actually I have tape). Anyhow I started to practice and the following year I got last place again. I was determined to win. I started to watch old TGI Fridays videos with John Fiore, Joe the Rocket Perera and Leigh Miller (The Man). I went to every local comp and watched people like Rich Richie and Steve Hurst. I practiced every day, I finally thought I was ready to compete, but our in store comp got canceled. My friend Rich told me about a comp in Vegas named Legends and we all went to Legends 2. I got 56th that year. That was an eye opening experience seeing people like Pat McNamara and Big Mig walk on glass and Flair so fast (ooooh that rhymes). I practiced really hard and came back the following year for Legends 3 and I got 14th place. By that point I was hooked.
How did you start out learning to Flair? See answer above. No I basically watched tons and tons of tapes. Anything I could get my hands on. I remember going to Voodoo Lounge and I would record Ken and Allen do working Flair all night. I know Ken remembers the annoying kid with the camera. When I was a much younger I use to watch Bruce Lee movies and then go beat up my sister with all the new moves learned. I did the same with Flair I would watch all these videos and then go practice and break all the stuff in my moms house.

Tell us about the Flair Bartending scene at the Rio Hotel & Casino? To be honest It’s not like the good old days when we had Rodrigo, Adriano, Vache, Justin, Mr. Tedesco, CoCo, etc.. Now we have three Flair bars. Voodoo Lounge dominated by Tom Alley. The Village Bar with Franchise, Danny (Napoleon) Vanderwater, and Matt Mays. Me at I- Bar, and Mr. Knock Out Nick on extra board.

Describe to us your style of Flair? Hmmm a Fine question. I’m not sure how to answer that one. I can tell you that I work very hard towards having a style. In the past I have always used the example of Shadow Bartender. If a bartender would Flair behind a screen and all you can see is the shadow, would you be able to tell who the bartender is? and if you could then that person has a style. Recently Tom Dyer told me that he recognized my shadow on some Internet video. I was very honored.

Behnam_quote1What makes you stand out from other Flair Bartenders? One thing I do use to try to stand out from other bartenders is the use of music. I spend a lot of time and money trying to find music that fits me or my style if you would. When I first started to Flair I would only use hip hop (what’s my name, what’s my name) Recently I have been using more dramatic music which gives me lots of energy. By the way I would like to give a big shout out to Vache Manoukian and Steve Dorsey for editing my music for that past few years.

What do you hope to get out of Flair? I have gotten plenty out of Flair, I think it’s time to give back. Because of Flair, I have a Job, a house, two dogs, and I have met some of the greatest people. Our network of friends through out the world is unbelievable. I am very grateful.

Behnam_sm2What is your favorite Flair Bartending competition and why? I love all competitions Legends, Nations, Quest, UFBC Flairmotions Head 2 Head but if I had to choose one it would have to be Roadhouse. Why? it’s easy, I love the freedom. It’s a true international comp, the mother of all balls out Flair comps. People from all around the world show up every month and they are not restricted by sponsors bottles or any other crazy rules. You can use what ever bottle, and what ever pour spout you like. If you want to use a wine bottle because that’s all you practice with in your country, cool. Just come and show us some shit. The setting is awesome, the crowed is a bit tough, but if you pull some shit out they will give you love. Tug and Andy have provided a real cool atmosphere through out the years and they treat everybody like Christian Delpech. I can go on all day.

Who do you look up to in this Sport?  I have always been a fan. When I first started I looked up to people like Steve Hurst and Leigh Miller, he was my idol. Then I was inspired by by people like Ken Hall and Allen Mays. Then after I got my hands on that Dubai Tape, NOW !!! that tape changed my life (Scarlets I ). I saw Nicolas St. Jean in the practice room unreal !!!!. People like Francesco Leoni (Biaaatch) Steve Nitro Smith, Ben Martin, Olly Pluck the list goes on. Christian and Rodrigo Delbiatch will always be my favorites. Big Mig, Adriano, The Neal’s, Tom Dyer, Liam Metcalf who was very influential in my life. Now you have people like Sebastian and Rafa the Polish dudes Tomek and Marek and last but not least the Area 51 crew who inspire me everyday. Vladymir, Dario, Tom, Justin and Vache. Brandon Stewart from Carnival Court who is also from my home town of Lake Forest California. This list is never ending.

What are your thoughts on the FBA Pro Tour? Well if you know me, I gotta keep it real and my first initial thoughts were what a scam. I don’t necessarily feel like that anymore because it is a very smart business move. Nobody likes to see their name at the bottom of that list so it forces you to go and compete. Even though the FBA Pro Tour does not claim to be a world ranking, many people like our boss view it as such. FBA Pro Tour is the only ranking system we have which unfortunately is not that accurate. Am I the number 4 bartender in the world? NOT!!!!! so you see what I mean. But for now it’s all we got and I think it has pushed Flair in the right direction. It even brought back Christian this year which ended in a tight race with Danilo. Congratulations to both of them.

FBC_Video_ButtonTell us your thoughts on finishing forth overall on the FBA Pro Tour? I always do the comps that I want to do. This year I did Best in the West as a warm up for Legends plus it’s a real fun comp. Legends because it’s Legends and I haven’t missed one since Legends 2. Blue Blazer because I had never done a Mixology comp and I work at a Mixology bar, so I had to do that one. I did Nations and Quest because I love these big comps were all the big boys come out and I like to test myself. I tried to go to Bar stars in Moscow and Bar Giants in Germany but I had some visa issues. I did however go to Bacardi Pro Flair in Moscow which was one of the best organized comps I have ever attended. So at the end of the day was it worth it ? Yes. Did I chase it ? No. Did I expect it ? NO but I am very proud to be right after Christian, Danilo, and Rodrigo.

Where do you see the future of our sport? I see big things for our sport, I watch ESPN and I refuse to believe that Hot Dog eating contests, these people who stack these cups on top of each other as fast they can and the Rodeo is more interesting then Flair. I personally think if we can get bigger prize money for these comps, the more national attention it will get. Just like Poker, nobody watched poker five or six years ago because it was smaller purse money then, and the same few pros were at the final table every year. Now it’s a new face every year, and every average Joe feels like they can be the next Champion. We need to create that same feeling in Flair were everybody feels like if they push themselves they can win. That is the American dream. That’s why all these guys practice countless hours to try an get a job in Vegas because they have seen people like Mig and Christian succeed and that list is still growing.

Behnam_quote2What are some common myths about the profession of Flair bartending? That we are all party animals, we are all players, and that I know EXACTLY how many bottles I have broken before I got this good.
How often do you practice? Not enough!!! When I had a girlfriend almost never, now that I’m single again and I had Vladymir the UKRAZIAN living with me for a while I practice way more. I try to average about two to three hours a day. Does not always happen, but I try. It also depends on the comp if their is speed round involved or not. I’m fortunate that not only is Flair my job it’s my hobby.








Behnam_comp2What is your advice to some of the new people wanting to start competing, any helpful hints? Obviously take the blue pills at night before you go to sleep. Ha Haaa Ha There is no secret really. Practice and practice hard. The most important thing is to not only practice what you like, that is fun and I understand that, but it is impotent to practice what you need to work on. For example my weakest routine is my three and four bottles. So when I practice, I practice three and four bottles first and I get that out the way in case my practice is cut off short because of some Biaaatch. Just kidding that never happens. Also compete as much as you can because that failure for me was a boost to go practice harder.

Tell us about your first Flair Competition and your experiences there, What were you feeling, Did everything go as planned? I kinda talked about it earlier my first, second, third, fourth, comps were all horrible. Nothing went the way I planed it. But when I look back at it, I had a lot of fun doing them. I can’t explain what I was feeling, I just know that I liked it. However I was never satisfied and to be honest I’m still never satisfied. Their is not one tape of me that I can watch and say “Wow that was really cool”, unless it was edited.




Tell us about your experiences competing internationally? I love it !!! I wish I could do it more but as I mentioned earlier I am originally from Iran which makes it real FUN for me to travel. I have more security stickers on my passport then you could imagine. I need a Visa for Texas. Kidding but it’s a long process Getting letters, bank statements, health records etc… But in about a year I will get my American Passport and I will go crazy and travel the world just like Boogie or should I say (Green Dog) That’s his new nick name.

Tell us about Area 51 and your involvement? Area 51 is a group of guys who are close friends and practice together. It all started when Vache, Justin, Tom and I were practicing in my house for Legends 8. One day Vache got a call and I have really bad reception in my house and he said “This place like Area 51 I can’t get any reception.” So as a joke we represented Area 51 that year at Legends. The name kinda stuck and we have been using it ever since. We now have two new members my roommate Vladymir (who recently moved out DADYMIR ) and Vache’s new roommate Dario.

What can we expect from the Area 51 DVD? The DVD is going to be great. One of my best friends Steve Rad who has been involved in the Flair community for the past few years is the director. He has done all of Christians instructional DVDs the Flair house promos featuring Juan Llorente, Christian Oldan, and Francesco Leoni (Biaatch) And the Flair Devils Promo. I basically pitched him the idea of doing another Flair Devils Promo type DVD but with the Area 51 crew. Also adding lots of personality and fun stuff, like shooting a Cribs episode for each member, plus some funny out takes and extras. The DVD is going to be Jam packed with loads of RAW FLAIR footage. The Goal of the DVD is to entertain and hopefully by the time you finish watching this video you will want to go to your garage and practice much like that Dubai tape did for me back in the day.

Behnam_quote3If you could help influence Flair to change our sport somehow,
what would it be and why?
I would love to make the Sport more mainstream and all the players house hold names. Whether we want to admit it, the movie Cocktail did a lot for our sport. I think it’s time for a new movie like that. Those who know me, know that I am very much into movies and I have been working on script ideas for some time now. Obviously more Flair oriented then Cocktail but still a solid storyline. I don’t want to give away too much, but everyday movies come out about sports, dancing, etc… movies like Drumline, Bring it on (Cheerleaders) there is even a movie about spelling bee competition. Why not Flair?

How do you come up with your original Flair moves and style? I have always enjoyed the creative process. When I was younger I used to draw. As I got older I use to enjoy making up my own moves in Soccer. When I played the Guitar, I enjoyed writing music. Flair is another extension of that. Like most people I get inspired by my peers and the people I look up to. However I always try to take the idea and make it new or improve it. When the Radio came out they improved it to TV. Then they made color TV. Then wide screen, flat screen, plasma…. That is the way we need to push Flair and allow it to grow. Also I always try to improve or up grade my own moves, so I can stay within my style. Like most people a lot of my mistakes turn into moves. The secret is not to let them look like mistakes.




Area51What are your thoughts on the amount of drops you seem to accumulate during the finals of major Flair comps? Who says these are just generic questions !!! This question was made for me and no one will ever get this question again. If I knew the answer to that I would probably be a world champion by now. HA HA Just kidding I do know the answer to that question. For the most part it’s lack of preparation. For example looking back at my Quest finals routine. I changed the music last minute because I was not happy with my results for the qualifying round. I thought I needed to do more so I changed my routine last minute. Big mistake on my part. At the end of the day I do comps to make myself happy. I am very stubborn and I want to do it my way. It’s not that I’m not a SMART competitor, I would not be happy with a safe routine that I have been doing for the past three years. I would not enjoy myself. So the best thing for me is to find the right balance were I can be proud of a routine that I’m doing and yet not risk that much. When I create a new routine or a move, I want to show it to the world. I get very excited, and usually that move is not ready to be shown.


Behnam_quote4What are your plans now? I just started practicing for Roadhouse finals in December. I really want to go to Brazil for the Diego’s comp as well. I would love to meet Christian Cordoba.

What obstacles do you see our sport of Flair Bartending encountering in the near future and in your opinion, how can we overcome them? Greed, as they say money is the root of all evil. Right now we need more people like Tug, John Arishta and yourself (Rob Husted) who put countless amount of hours into something that they believe in. I’m not saying you should do it for free, but we as competitors shouldn’t feel like we are getting ripped off and believe me a lot of competitors feel that way. Doing it for the love of the sport and giving back, that’s what this is about. I know your not getting rich off this magazine, but I want you to know that this is very important work that you are doing and every month I look forward to reading Flairbar.com.









With the Pros do you feel there is still that warm Flair family environment or does it seem like more and more competitors are only out for themselves? I think that the Pros take this Flair thing seriously. When they were amateurs they might have gotten hammered at the meet and great, showed up drunk the next day and dropped everything. I can remember standing next to Steve Hurst at Legends 2 and Bill Long asked what’s your time for speed and we were pretty drunk at the time and said as fast as I can? I didn’t know that people actually practiced the speed and pour rounds. I think at that time very few people took it that seriously and that’s why there was such a gap between competitors.

Now a days when you are a Pro you take things a little bit more seriously because there is a lot at stake. We spend a lot of money to travel, pay expensive entry fees (which is unheard of around the world). Many hours of practice and mind you most of us have jobs. I have to go work eight hours a day, five days a week and then go and compete against guys who just practice eight hours day. People need to understand that the Pros are not just out for themselves, they just need to be focused. At the end of the day when you don’t see the results, it does hurt, because of all the hard work you put in to it. This year at Quest I had several people tell me this was going to be there last comp for some time. Why? Why does the number of Pro competitors decrease every year?

What are some common obstacles you face as a Flair bartender opposed to a regular bartender? They assume that you are just all about the show with no substance. That’s why I think comps like Legends are important because it show that we are complete bartenders. We are fast, efficient, knowledgeable and we can put on a show and entertain you while we make you a drink.

Do you think corporations and sponsors investing in Flair bartenders is an effective way to promote and educate and why? Who else is more qualified to show off there product then a Flair bartender. Look at some of the commercials out there. Nicolas’s commercial for Midori, Francesco’s commercial, I think they look great. Unfortunately they get no air time at least not in the states. As a bartender we have a lot of power and we can sell anything. So it would be wise for them to support us and we can show them the results. To be honest if you make a drink properly with style and Flair by the time you are done making that drink you will have the guest mesmerized, and everybody around will want to know what you just made and ask if they can have one too. Believe it or not that happens everyday. So as bartenders we have a lot of power.

What is your favorite drink? Depends where I’m at. If I’m at Carnival or Roadhouse I want a E-poo. (SKYY, cran, splash of red bull, lime) If I’m at a Mixology bar what ever the bartender recommends because they know best. Everywhere else a bottle of water mate. Cheers!



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