The Apollo green room buzzes with activity. Mahiro, alone, silently walks to the back of the room, wipes off some sweat, gathers his props, ties his braids into a ponytail, sits cross-legged in a heap on the floor and stares at who-knows-what. Amateur Night at the Apollo opened its 81st season on Wednesday, February 18th; and it had already claimed its first victim.
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Lacey glanced at his oversized silver watch and began tap-dancing across the floor of his cramped dressing room in Harlem. There was pep in his fleet-footed steps. At 55, he moved joyfully among the dazzling costumes and wigs in his dimly lit quarters. Lacey, decked out in a gray silk suit and tilted fedora, said 90 minutes before showtime at the Apollo Theater. He turned up one spit-shined shoe to reveal a tiny microphone on the bottom, and then checked the other. Lacey might have been a breakout star in another era. The Executioner is a dream killer of sorts: When song-and-dance contestants begin bombing onstage, and the audience boos crescendo to a certain decibel, he tap-dances out and shoos the wannabes back to anonymity. He always does so in style, dressed as one of the 30 celebrities he impersonates — Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Prince, Barack Obama and others who have appeared at the Apollo. Lacey, himself a six-time Amateur Night winner, has toured the United States, Europe and Asia with his one-man show of impersonations.
He was 86, although he long maintained that his age was ''a matter of opinion. For decades he was ''executioner'' at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, chasing unpopular acts off the stage on amateur nights, sometimes with a toy gun. He told disconsolate losers about how he himself had to return 10 times before being allowed to finish his act.
Howard "Sandman" Sims January 24, — May 20, was an African-American tap dancer who began his career in vaudeville. He was skilled in a style of dancing that he performed in a wooden sandbox of his own construction, and acquired his nickname from the sand he sprinkled to alter and amplify the sound of his dance steps. From the s to the year , Sims was a regular attraction—a "fixture"   —at Harlem 's noted Apollo Theater , comedically ushering failed acts offstage  with a hook, broom or other prop. As part of the resurgence of interest in tap dancing in the s, Sandman Sims served as a cultural ambassador, representing the United States with dance performances around the world. He was featured in the dance film Tap , along with Sammy Davis Jr. Sims also appeared in a episode of The Cosby Show as Rudy's tap dancing teacher, facing off against Cliff Bill Cosby in a good-natured tap challenge. In her review of the play based on his life, New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote, "Sims is a virtuoso among virtuosos—in a class by himself. To say Mr.