Dennis Haskins, the actor who played Mr. Belding on “Saved by the Bell,” now earns a comfortable living making appearances at bars around the country, where the kids who watched the ’90s TV staple are now disillusioned adults who crave whatever slice of pop culture nostalgia the world can offer them. From Fox 411:
Today, Haskins has managed to parlay his Mr. Belding brand into a lucrative business making appearances at bars around the country.
“The markets I play the best in are the ones with people 20-35. Mr. Belding is universal,” Haskins told Fox411 in an interview about his bar and club business. “Personal appearances are a way many actors from older shows supplement their income, and it is a blessing.”
Some people may think it’s sad that a 60-year-old man has to live in a role he last played 11 years ago in order to make a living, but I think it’s cool that he’s having fun with it. I mean, it’s a little sad, but not as sad as Jaleel White trying to break into other roles and asking people not to call him Urkel.
And there’s more:
Haskins regularly hosts evenings at Chateau and Gallery in Las Vegas and the kinds of bars that are popular with a fratty crowd in New York City like the bull riding saloon Johnny Utah’s, McFaddens and Turtle Bay.
(FYI, Turtle Bay is AWFUL.)
He has also judged a “Naughty School Girl” contest at the club Body English in Las Vegas.
Turtle Bay NYC owner Elizabeth Wittels was responsible for recruiting Haskins to come to her bar and the other New York City watering holes. She says the “Back to School with Mr. Belding” nights hosted by her establishments have become a roaring success.
“He really does attract a crowd,” Wittels tells Fox411. “It is a good fit for our fun party-type bars. He has this weird appeal with a very specific generation of 22-35 year olds who grew up with him. He looks exactly the same, and I feel like he takes the adults back to their youth.”
Haskins declined to comment on what he makes for his bar appearances, but Wittels says most celebs that do these kinds of appearances “make between $2,500 to $25,000 a pop. Once you’re over $25,000 you’re in the super A-list range and most bars can’t afford them, with the exception of the Kardashians which some ultra lounges will pay stupid money for.”
Let me just go ahead and correct Ms. Wittels here. If you’re getting paid to make appearances at bars and clubs, you are NOT an A-list celebrity.
And unlike many a celebrity on the D-list through the A-list, Haskins says he has never taken his fame for granted. “I don’t look away when people look at me. I say hi. I stop and take pictures,” Haskins said.
A typical appearance involves Haskins hanging out at the bar for approximately two hours, usually starting after 10 pm when things are already jumping. He walks in and the crowd goes a little bananas, screaming and cheering. Things reach a fever pitch when they play the “Saved by the Bell” theme song. Haskins takes the stage and gives his signature Belding laugh along with a “Hey, hey, hey” which he became famous for when he would call Mark Paul Gosselaar’s Zach into his office.
“I’m not gonna go sit in a corner and say come say ‘hi.’ I get right in the middle and we take pictures for two hours and sign autographs. It is warm and fuzzy,” Haskins says.
This makes me kinda happy for him. He’s just content with his little sliver of fame, and he’s making the most of it with a positive and friendly attitude. Good for him.
And sometimes he runs into old friends. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on the sitcom the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” is on the same appearance circuit and the two often cross paths and share dressing rooms. “We used to shoot a few sets away from each other so it is a nice reunion,” Haskins says.
And Haskins’ Belding is a much bigger success than some appearances by other “Saved By the Bell” stars. “What is funny is we used to have Screech, Dustin Diamond, come to the bars a lot,” Wittels said. “And I will tell you Belding has a much bigger draw than Screech.”
Well duh, everybody hates Screech.