Krammer Keeps on Smokin'

Seinfeld Muse Reflects on His Failed Campaign to be NYC Mayor

By Buck Wolf

Nov. 8, 2001 --   Despite popular opinion, when he lost his bid to become mayor of New York, Kenny Kramer didn't light up a big, fat joint. However, he wouldn't mind it if you did.

"I've smoked so much dope in my life, that I could fill a beanbag chair with the seeds," he told The Wolf Files on Election Night.

"But I've stopped. That was a personal choice, and I think drug use should be a personal choice. That's one of the reasons I threw my hat in the ring."

Disco Jewelry and Other Kramer Schemes

At the Manhattan Chile Co., Kramer watched the last hours of his campaign as the Libertarian candidate, surrounded by party members, friends, and Seinfeld enthusiasts.

"Sept. 11 kind of took some of the wind out of my campaign," he said. "But now I think we can start to think about promoting what's good about New York. I can guarantee if I were smoking a cigar in the mayor's office, we'd all have a good time."

The man who inspired Seinfeld's Kramer bears a close spiritual resemblance to his TV counterpart. He's a lanky, long-haired slacker, who's proud to say he's never had a full-time job. His celebrity is largely based on living next door to Seinfeld co-creator Larry David in New York's Hell's Kitchen. It was there that David and Jerry Seinfeld conceived the idea for the blockbuster sitcom.

The real Kramer is a 58-year-old Bronx native who has supported himself over the years through a string of get-rich-quick schemes. These included stints as a purveyor of glow-in-the-dark disco jewelry, a voice-over artist for X-rated CD-ROMs, and a standup comic.

"That electric jewelry lasted years after disco died. I built a little nest egg there," Kramer says. "Unlike the TV Kramer, my harebrained schemes work."

With great presence of mind, Kramer trademarked his name before Seinfeld became a hit. While he didn't make a dime off the show, he makes a living marketing himself. He's got books, T-shirts — and a "reality" bus tour through Seinfeld's New York. If you must see the cranky chef better known to TV viewers as "The Soup Nazi," Kramer is your man.