Saturday, July 30, 2005

Shitzu? I Don't Even KNOW You!

I have spent the better part of the weekend dog-sitting Casey, the puppy that belongs to my dear friend, Amy Slotnick. Casey is a shitzu -- the kind of tiny little frou-frou dog that celebrities carry around in their purses. (Remember "Best in Show?" The gay couple had shitzus.)

She's a sweet animal, but rather high maintenance. For one thing, she scratches and gnaws at herself constantly. Amy's taken her to the vet several times, and he's ruled out fleas or fungus or anything like that. At this point he thinks it's food allergies.

I find this explanation rather unlikely, as Amy feeds the dog nothing but 100% natural gourmet dog food any homeless person would kill for. And for as least as long as I've been taking care of her, she eats about 3 oz of the stuff a day. (When she takes a shit, which is quite rare, it's like one tiny twig. I'm talking about Casey now -- not Amy.)

The other bizarre thing about this animal is that she hates going on walks. Or, more accurately, she hates walking. She's only too happy to be carried down the street, but the moment you let her precious paws hit the pavement, she collapses like a fluffy white water balloon and won't budge. This leaves one with the option of either picking her up again (which is what she wants), or dragging her down the block on her belly, which looks like some sort of horrific canine hate crime.

This may sound cute to you (and believe me, passers-by find it absolutely adorable), but I promise you, it gets old fast. Fortunately, Amy returns tomorrow, and I head off to Sedalia, Colo. to spent 8 days with the extended Sank family on a dude ranch. My sister, Laura, has undertaken the task of making personalized T-shirts for each of us, complete with our ranch names. Mine is "Homo on the Range."

Last night I got up at Rose's Turn for the first time in about six weeks. I was well into my third Tanqueray and tonic and teetering dangerously close to messiness by the time I took the mic, but, lo and behold, I had my strongest set since Carolines with Hal Sparks. (And Thank God; I was beginning to worry my comedy career was over before it even started.)

I did all-new material, including a bit based on the fact that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts once played Peppermint Patty in his school play. That reference had laid a big egg on my blog, generating only a single yawning comment from you, dear jaded readers, but the crowd at Rose's Turn actually applauded when I got to the punchline. I also did a quick rif on Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee getting back together. Also a hit. And then somehow, despite the fact that I hadn't sung a note outside the shower since June, I hit every note.

The wonderful Michael Isaacs actually stopped me from leaving the mic and asked me to do another song; that's tantamount to having Carson ask you to sit on the sofa for a chat. At least it is in my sad, sad life.

Again, thank God: My next gig is a pro spot in Rehoboth Beach, a venue I've never played before. It'll be nice to head down there with warm memories of my last appearance, as well as some new, crowd-approved material.

(Sidenote: I have spent the last 40 minutes trying to upload a photo of Casey, the shitzu, before finally admitting defeat. Amy has a Mac, and so the fact that I've even figured out how to get to the Internet should impress you. The last time I used a Mac, it was to compile a list of the first-ever MTV Video Award show winners in 1984. Yes, I was lonely child.)

(The best I can do is reproduce the following image of a generic shitzu whom Casey closely resembles:)

"I have a better life than 99.9% of the world's human population."

Speaking of lonely, today I committed the ultimate in loserdom and went to see a movie by myself. (And no, it was not the kind of movie one usually sees by one's self.) Actually, it was "The Aristocrats," and I loved every minute of it. It reminded me why I want to do comedy. I won't spoil any of it for you, but I will tell you to look for some surprisingly hilarious ad-libs from 87-year-old Phyllis Diller, new-found respect for Gilbert Gottfried and perhaps the best performance by a mime EVER. Also -- under no circumstances should you leave before the closing credits. (My one complaint: Where the hell was Joan Rivers? Even Pat Cooper and Larry Storch climbed out of the grave long enough to tape an interview.)

With that, I bid you adieu. I don't know if the Internet has reached Sedalia, Colo. yet, so it's likely you won't hear from me until my return on Sunday, Aug. 7.

Let's hope my horse is easier to handle than this damn shitzu.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gayest Week Ever

FINALLY! At long last (and long after all of you stopped caring), my dear friend and webmaster, Adam Grey, has taught me how to post personal photos on this here blog thing.

At the risk of pissing everybody off, I have therefore re-posted this blog from July 11 with all photos intact. If you were dying to see the picture of my sweaty armpit next to Hal Sparks in the dressing room at Carolines, here's your chance. If not, skip this and move on. (Although there is a surprise bonus photo at the end!)
All right, already -- I know; I haven't posted buttkiss in weeks. I've been telling myself, "Self, you're simply too busy to keep your millions of (read: 10) blog readers entertained." But tonight, when I found myself watching "Hell's Kitchen," a truly awful reality show in which a hateful British chef tortures a group of cooking students, and I actually started thinking to myself, "I could cook that," and proceeding to look through my recipe books, it dawned on me that, well, maybe I'm really not that busy.

It also dawned on me that I have never made spaghetti sauce from scratch, and really -- how hard could that be? Here's a recipe from the 'net which I plan to attempt soon.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm stalling. Oh, I know -- here are some photos you haven't seen!
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Look! Me and Hal Sparks in the dressing room at Carolines! Note the
lovely pit stain under my arm and the fact that my tanktop makes me look
like I've had a double mastectomy! Hot.
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Look! It's me onstage, entertaining a table
full of very fat people!

OK, so here we go:

Sunday, July 3, I hopped a train to Sayville en route to Fire Island. For the uninitiated among you, Fire Island is a tiny land mass that runs more or less parallel to Long Island. People think of the entire island as Homo Heaven, but the reality is that out of a dozen communities on the island, only two are gay -- the Pines and Cherry Grove.

But oh, how gay they are.

The Pines is what you might call "New World Gay" -- beefy muscle boys with tribal tattoos pumped full of steroids and every other substance you can think of, partying their asses off and humping everything in sight. It is not a place to bring Mom and Dad.

The Grove, on the other hand, is "Old World Gay" -- elderly gentlemen left over from the pre-Stonewall era, drag queens, artsy-hippie straight types and lesbians -- lots and lots of lesbians. Big lesbians and small lesbians. Old lesbians and young lesbians. Lesbians who go topless in thong bikinis and lesbians who dress like my father when he's working in his wood shop.

Drag is not only the highest art form in the Grove; it's a way of life. The drag queens are local celebrities with fierce followings. There are contests and pageants and titles, and these are all taken very seriously.

I was to perform in the Grove, specifically at the Ice Palace/Grove Hotel, a decades-old institution. My ferry docked around 1 p.m., and after checking in and finding the way to my room, I headed to the pool for a 4th of July weekend tradition: the Make-Your-Own-Bikini Contest.

The masters of ceremony for the contest were Isaac Steven Vaughan, the hotel's owner and a dear friend of mine, and Ariel Sinclair, the Ice Palace's drag queen in residence. I served as a "celebrity judge," along with several local merchants and another friend of Isaac's. Ariel came out, lip-synched a song about the benefits of boobs, and proceeded to introduce the judges. When she got to me, she said, "And our next judge is a standup comic from New York City... what's your name again?"

A bit of a comedown after Carolines, yes, but I grinned and bore it.

There were 15 contestants: 13 lesbians, one drag queen and one man dressed (more or less) as man. We were instructed to separate them into three categories -- male, female, and drag queen -- so two of the contestants had odds in their favor. Some of the bikinis were actually quite clever. One woman made hers out of pasta and garlic cloves; she called herself Penne Rigatoni. Another made her suit entirely out of "I NY" shopping bags. But by far the best contestant was Hairy Boobina, a statuesque lesbian with giant blonde wigs covering her breasts and crotch. We judges awarded her "Best Female" and "Best Overall."

Ariel Sinclair -- best introducer ever.

That night I planned to head over to the Pines for "Dancing On the Bay," a kick-ass outdoor party and annual fundraiser for the NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (whew!) Community Center. A number of my friends would be in attendance. Only problem was, I hadn't got myself a ticket in advance. They were $125(!) a piece -- and sold out. Not to worry, said Isaac: A friend of his who lived right near the party had an extra ticket for me. "His name is John, and he lives on Sail," said Isaac, referring to the name of the walk, "and there are only three houses on Sail. His is the house in the middle."

"What's the house number?" I asked.

"I dunno," Isaac replied. "But you can't miss it -- it's the house in the middle. Just walk up to the house. If they've left, let yourself in. The ticket will be on the kitchen counter."


So dressed in tight, red party pants, a red-white-and-blue bandana and nothing else, I hopped a water taxi and hightailed it over to the Pines. After docking, I began the long walk toward the party amid hundreds of other partygoers, the strains of house music getting louder by the minute. Finally, I arrived at Sail -- and an enormous blockade. Nobody was getting onto the walk without a ticket. "Um, excuse me, excuse me," I whimpered -- "I have a ticket, but it's in somebody's house..."

"Yeah? Which house?"

"Um, some guy named 'John?'

"Later, queen."

I tried to remain calm. Hiking up my ridiculous red pants, I thought, "What would Jesus do?" (That would be Jesus Alvarez, my most resourceful friend.) Hmm. Well, for one thing, contrary to Isaac's instructions, there were more than three homes on Sail. Since I couldn't turn left, toward the bay, maybe I should turn right, toward the ocean. At least that direction wasn't blockaded.

For the next 20 minutes, I ran from house to house, knocking on doors. "Excuse me, excuse me? Is there a guy named John here? Who's friends with Isaac from the Grove? Who has a ticket for a guy named Adam for the party?" At every door, heads were shaken. Pitying glances were thrown. The general consensus seemed to be "This queen is cracked out of her head, and what's with the pants?"

At several homes, there was no answer, so I let myself in. (Nobody ever locks their doors in the Pines.) At one house I was nearly mauled by three attack dogs, and at another I saw what looked like really good weed in a lovely ceramic box. But on no kitchen counter was there a ticket for me.

Now frantic, sweat dripping down from my crunchy, heavily gelled, bleach-blond hair, I ran back toward the blockade and began to flail about: "Please! Please! You must let me in! I've come all the way from the Grove!" This as thousands of the cattiest, nastiest muscleboys you ever saw paraded past me, each turning to his friend and whispering unkind remarks. "I don't know -- she's some comic or something. Used to have a share out here. Now has to beg for a Bay party ticket. Sad, really."

And just as I was ready to throw myself down into the sand and cry, I spotted three old acquaintances -- Rusty, Francisco and Perry. "Ohmigod, you guys, you guys..." I blubbered my sordid tale. They nodded and smiled, Stepford-like, trying to move away from me and toward the party entrance. Finally Perry, a self-made multimillionaire, put an end to my hysteria. "Oh, for God's sake, here," he said and threw a ticket at me.

After groveling in base gratitude, I hurried into the party in search of my friends. I scaled a scaffold and there -- by the water -- lo and behold -- they were: George, Jeff, Fred, Ivan, Bill, Peter, Michael, John, Josh, David and many many more.

Success at last. The party was a blast -- complete with a picture-perfect sunset and fireworks.
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Begging strangers for a ticket.

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With my friend, Bill.

That night I passed out on the sofa at my friends' share house, after eating all their leftover barbecue chicken, stinking up their bathroom and breaking their hot tub (don't ask). I awoke at sunrise and scrawled out a quick note: "If anyone's still speaking to me, please come see my show at the Ice Palace Tuesday night. Love, Adam." With that, I tip-toed out and made my way down the beach back to the Grove.

Coming soon: Chapter Two, in which Adam excels at trivia but fails at comedy.

Surprise Bonus Photo:
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It's Enormous-Breasted Allison Tilsen and I inside
Therapy Bar ambulance at Gay Pride!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bye Bye, Blond Sheep

My set at Don't Tell Mama last night was so-so at best -- frustrating because the house was full and the crowd was good and I had nobody to blame but myself for sucking. To drive this point home, virtually all the other comics in the show delivered bang-up sets.

I was actually kind of excited to go on because I had some spanking-brand new material I wanted to try out (particularly after spending the day on a nude beach in Sandy Hook, NJ). When I got to the club, though, Ron Poole was running around warning us not to work out new stuff in front of the sold-out crowd. "Just your greatest hits," he kept repeating, and I knew from experience his was good advice.

So I changed plans on the spot and decided I would just deliver the same set I did at Carolines for the Hal Sparks shows. This is never a good idea, and I should have known better. It's one thing to repeat tried-and-true bits; it's another to do a verbatim set you've worked up for a previous show at a different venue. The audience could smell my hackness as one smells dogshit, and they responded accordingly -- politely, but unenthusiastically.

Even the bleached-blond hair stuff fell flat, and so today I took my follicular revenge and had my Russian barber shave it all off. (First, though, he demanded to know where I had gone and how much I had paid to get it colored. When I told him the dye job alone cost me $100, he was aghast. "I do it much cheaper!," he insisted. Then, as he gleefully sheared my scalp with his electric clippers, he kept repeating, "Bye-Bye, hundred dollars!")

In any case, I have gone from looking like a gay surfer to a straight Yeshiva student; I'm not sure that's an improvement.

"Papa, can you hear me?"

I am happy to report that among the other comics last night was our own Robin Fox, who quite simply killed. I am most impressed by her unique stage persona, which continues to evolve and grow in strength. And I credit her with the single best line of the night: "'Fuck you' is the new goodbye." I also had the pleasure of hanging out with her after the show, after discovering that my father was once her daughter's pediatrician.

David Hodorowski also killed with his cheap umbrella routine -- an inspired bit of physical comedy -- and Courtney Knowles
wrapped up the evening with a slew of fast-and-furious pop culture material -- the kind of stuff I'd be writing if I could get my lazy ass in gear. Also, Ron Poole's crowd work was inspired as always.

I'm on a bit of comedy sabbatical for now, at least until my mid-August engagement in Rehoboth Beach. I'm hoping a week-long vacation with the extended Sank clan on a Colorado dude ranch beginning next week will lend itself to some new material.

If not, maybe I'll go back to the nude beach.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

John Roberts is a Drag Queen

Today's New York Times has an extensive, highly flattering profile of Bush's supreme court nominee, written by Todd S. Purdum, Jodi Wilgoren and Pam Belluck.

One passage stood out to me:

Besides being an academic star, [Roberts] was a scrappy athlete, a captain of the football team despite his mediocre play, and competed in wrestling and track. In a small school of about 125 students, John Roberts was also on the student council executive committee (he lost the race for senior class president to his best friend), the student activities committee, the editorial board of The Torch student newspaper and the drama club.

The school yearbook from 1972, his junior year, shows he played Peppermint Patty in the production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

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At first I was struck by the fact that this all-American, corn-fed conservative would appear in drag (as a lesbian, to boot!) in front of his entire high school. But it was later pointed out to me that his Indiana boarding school, La Lumiere, was all-boy. So I guess it wasn't that unusual to play a chick in the school play. (And what a gay name for a boy's school, anyway.)

But here's what's even weirder: There is no Peppermint Patty character in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." The musical pre-dated her. Its only characters were Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and some generic girl named simply "Patty." She's not Peppermint Patty; she doesn't call Charlie Brown "Chuck"; she doesn't wear boys' clothing; she doesn't have a lover named Marcy. She's just Patty.

I know this for a fact because I was in the show in high school. Unlike Roberts, however, I played a boy's role: Linus.

So we're left with a mystery: Who did Roberts portray, and how many other times in his life did he don a dress and heels? I suspect we'll see a correction in The Times tomorrow, if not some pointed questions about this matter at his confirmation hearings.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hitting The Sauce

I had hoped that by now my photo issues would be resolved, and have resisted posting anything else until they were. Sadly, it looks like it may be a while before anyone will be able to see the pictures posted along with my last blog entry. You'll see them as soon as I can figure out how.

I had also wanted to continue my Fire Island tale, but this whole photo fiasco has taken the wind out of my sales, and now I just don't feel like it. If it seems there's some interest in it, I guess I'll force myself.

In the meantime, I have turned into Betty Crocker. I spent today cooking my first spaghetti sauce from scratch, which I'll serve over spinach fettucini tonight. I also baked and frosted my favorite dessert -- yellow cake with chocolate icing -- and am about to prep the garlic bread. Why this desire to cook overcomes me is a mystery and probably something I should discuss in therapy. I will say there's something incredibly satisfying about being able to create something and then devour it all in the same day. Sort of like being a little tiny God.

Otherwise my weekend was pleasant, if muggy. Friday night I joined my friends George, John and Michael at a new pan-Asian restaurant in my neighborhood called "Xing." There was much debate over how to pronounce the name -- I thought it was either "ECKS-ing" or "Schwing!," but the waiter eventually informed us it's "Zhing." Anyway, it was tasty, and they served our drinks in little Buddha statues. I assume that's a bonus.

Then it was off to Therapy for continued drinking and then beddie-bye.

Saturday I went on a long-overdue laundry and cleaning binge. Unfortunately, I washed my new red-white-and-blue bandana -- the one I wore to the Dancing on the Bay Party -- along with my color load, and now every light-colored piece of clothing has pink splotches on it. Très façonable.

Then I went with George and Fred to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I must say, I was disappointed. It's good -- particularly the scenes with Charlie's family -- but just doesn't compare to the original. And Johnny Depp, whom I normally love, annoyed me with his whole Michael-Jackson-meets-Carol-Channing routine. Plus, these Oompa Loompas (really just one guy digitally replicated) don't hold a candle to those creepy orange dwarves from the first one.

"I'd like to thank the little people...'"

And then Saturday night I had some friends over for frozen drinks on the roof, which was about the only cool spot in the City. It was so humid and foggy that we couldn't see the top of the Empire State Building. Very "Ghostbusters."

Hmm... what else did I want to tell you? Oh, yeah -- there was a really terrific (if overdue) article in last week's Entertainment Weekly about Mitch Hedberg, whom the magazine calls the "Kurt Cobain of Comedy." I've linked it here.

Well, the garlic bread is calling and I should probably change out of my sauce-splattered shorts before my dinner guests arrive. (That's TOMATO sauce, you pervs.) Come see me AND fellow soapboxer Robin Fox at Poole Party at Don't Tell Mama next Saturday night at 11 p.m.!

P.S. Just read this blog over from the beginning; it may be my most boring ever.