Friday, June 26, 2009

The Petition (Part 4)

Blogger's Note: Having both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett -- two icons from my youth -- die on the same day, as I'm already in the midst of intense high school flashback, is beyond surreal. I certainly hope Henry Winkler is not planning on swimming with sharks (as opposed to jumping them) anytime soon.

The longer I write this, the more new flashes from the past keep popping in my head. Maybe instead of spending seven years in psychotherapy during the late 90s and early 00s, I should have been blogging. Except that blogs didn't exist then.

I truly hope to wrap this up today, as BW and I are flying tonight to NYC for Pride Weekend and then a visit to my parents on Long Island, and I likely won't be able to do any blogging until next week. Plus, as cathartic as this exercise is for me, it's also incredibly draining. Sort of like... well, psychotherapy.

On with Part 4:

Junior year came to an end. Mr. Stubick threw a little pizza party for the "Tower" staff and its regular contributors at which he handed out personalized certificates of merit to each of us. Mine read: "To Adam Sank.... for confronting anti-Semitism, eating lots of pizza and wearing an earring." I suppose it was a nice gesture, but it felt patronizing to me, fuming as I still was over Stubick's editorial bungling of my penny piece.

(A side note about that earring. Like every other boy my age that year, I had gotten my left ear pierced in attempt to display rugged individualism. My mother's reaction? "Everyone's going to think you're a fag!" As if singing and dancing in all the school musicals were shining badges of heterosexuality.)

My senior year began. "The Tower" resumed publication. I don't remember writing anything for the paper the first several months of that school year, probably because I was busy flunking AP Calculus and writing out my college applications.

Then, in February, I was accepted to join a group of SHS students on a trip to Washington for the annual Close Up program. It consisted of a week-long stay at a hotel in the nation's capital, with daily trips to all the federal buildings and monuments and brief meetings with our elected representatives.

I had a blast. Staying at the hotel with us Summit kids were students from Nevada as well as from Glassboro, NJ, and every night was a party. One night the Close Up organizers threw us a banquet, and I decided to organize a little talent show (with me as the star, of course). Flanked by five other guys in sunglasses, dark blazers and white t-shirts, I sang a parody of "Stand by Me," inspired by our grueling program schedule.

And if this historical monument... that we look upon
Should crumble and fall.
And the White House should tumble to the Sea.
I won't sleep... I won't sleep.
No IIIIIIIII won't.... sleep a wink.
Just as long... as we roll... through DC.

So please don't, please don't sleep... in DC...
Noooooo don't sleep... in DC


It was a hit.

One afternoon, on a bus tour, the topic of apartheid came up. This was 1989, the height of the "Free Nelson Mandela" movement, and there were news reports out of South Africa every day of the week. Yet one of the Glassboro students, a girl named Lori, had no idea what we were talking about. "What's apartheid?," she asked.

"It's a system of government in South Africa where white people have all the power and black people are kept down," I started to explain.

Lori interrupted: "But I thought Africa was a nigger country?"

No one believes me when I tell them that I was almost 18 years old before I ever heard someone use that word in person. But it's the truth. Years later, I would live in Atlanta and hear it on an almost daily basis. But at 18, having been raised by my parents, in the town where I grew up, that word was worse than any swear. It was unutterable.

The force of it literally knocked the wind out of me. And somehow, it was even more shocking when coupled with the ignorance that would lead a high schooler to regard the whole of Africa as a single country.

When I got back to Summit, I felt compelled to write about the apartheid exchange for "The Tower." Having already done a piece on anti-Semitism, it seemed like my obligation as well as my beat. But whereas the penny piece had been an indictment of Summit's own occasional smallmindedness, my new essay, entitled "Lori in Wonderland," was intended as a sort of pat on our back. For of all the things I had learned on my trip to Washington, none were more eye-opening than a fellow Jersey high schooler's assertion that "Africa was a nigger country." It made me both proud of and grateful for my school and my town to realize how far we were from that level of ignorance.

In retrospect, it was a rather arrogant tack to take. "Oh, look how much more enlightened we in Summit are than you wretched souls in Glassboro." Without knowing it then, I was criticizing the sin of racism while simultaneously committing the sin of classism.

But Stubick had no such quarrel with "Lori in Wonderland." Or if he did, he never said so. The piece was slated to run in the next issue.

Except it didn't.


To be continued. I'm sorry -- honestly. If you knew what I'm dealing with today at this hideous job, you'd be amazed I was able to type out this much. More later today if I can.

Homo in flashback.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Petition (Part 3)

Bloggers Note: One of my readers, an SHS alumna, left a comment yesterday in which she correctly named the teacher I'm calling "Mr. Stubick" in this story. As mentioned in my initial note, I've chosen to change his name for several reasons I'll go into at the very end. I hate deleting ANY comments, but in this case I had no choice. I ask all Summit readers to please refrain from giving away Mr. Stubick's real name, either on this site or on my Facebook page.

Incidentally, I've been quite surprised by the interest generated by these postings -- not only from Summit people but also those completely unfamiliar with the people and events described here. I wish I didn't have to post in such short installments, but I'm writing this from my day job and am interrupted an average of once every 30 seconds. It's the literary equivalent of waterboarding.

As a result of these constant interruptions, I may have mangled the chronology. I'm almost certain now that the story actually begins during my junior -- and not sophomore -- year. And that's going to become somewhat important later on. So for comprehension's sake, let's assume I've been a junior and am still a junior at this point of the narrative.

Without further ado, on with Part 3:

My next piece for "The Tower" was an editorial about people cutting in the cafeteria line, something about which I was passionate. Stubick loved it, because it gelled with his worldview of teenagers as either hapless victims or sinister victimizers. But I felt a bit silly having made a big deal about such a relatively inconsequential topic.

Also, the editorial had zero effect. Bigger kids continued to cut smaller kids in the line, as I'm sure they still do today. (Although I will say now as then, where the fuck are the adults who are charged with keeping schools from turning into "Lord of the Flies?" Would it have been so hard to post a gym teacher at the front of the line to make sure everyone waits his turn?)

In any case, my next topic would be far more serious. It came to me in Chem Study class, after I had a minor altercation with a kid named Dwight. I don't remember what the argument was about. Perhaps he didn't properly clean my beaker, or vice versa. All I know is that after our disagreement I left class briefly to go the boy's room.

And when I returned, I discovered a penny had been carefully laid on top of the schoolbooks on my desk.

It wasn't my penny, and it hadn't been there when I left the classroom; of that I was certain. But there it was, staring up at me, like some kind of dark talisman.

This was shocking to me on a number of levels. First, because Dwight wasn't a bad kid. He was just a mild-mannered dork with whom I had a number of honor's level classes. And second, because this was New Jersey, not Mississippi. I was aware that mine was one of the only Jewish families in town, but I had never felt targeted because of it. Yes, Summit was overwhelmingly WASPy and Republican, but it was also affluent, educated and somewhat socially progressive.

Yet at that moment, my mind began to connect some dots. Earlier in the year, I suddenly recalled, while changing classes in a crowded hallway, I had dropped my pencil and bent over to pick it up. "Find a penny?" asked an older boy strolling past me.

I recalled smiling back at him, bewildered, knowing he had made a joke but not getting the punchline.

Then I flashed back to an evening spent months before with my friend Matt in which I had flipped through his Summit Junior High School yearbook. I had attended a private school during those years and was curious about the junior high experience. As I perused the yearbook, I was stopped cold by a page showing a large candid photo of Adam Pechter, an obstreperous boy with whom I had grown up and attended Hebrew school. (He had left for boarding school at the same time I switched back to public school.)

In the photo, Adam stood at a classroom lectern delivering some sort of oral assignment, his index finger extended.

Underneath the photo, someone had scrawled, "Is that a penny I see in the back of the room?"

Somehow, the penny on my desk brought all of these events into clear focus, as if I were putting on new eyeglasses. That night, I wrote an essay which began: "To the person in my Chem Study class who put a penny on my desk: Thank you." It detailed the casual anti-Semitism I had encountered and my subsequent epiphany that while I never thought my religious background registered one whit among my non-Jewish classmates, it apparently did.

My tone wasn't angry but deadly serious: This penny-pinching stereotype, something with which I in my sheltered upbringing had been only vaguely aware, had roots in Nazi Germany, where it had been used in part to justify the genocide of 6 million Jews.

I submitted my penny essay to Mr. Stubick the next day. He read it with great approbation but offered some constructive criticism, specifically with regard to the Germany bit. Yes, the Nazis regarded the Jews as greedy, he pointed out, but the stereotype was much older than the Third Reich, dating back at least to Shakespeare's Shylock.

Contrary to what some may believe about me, I am very receptive when someone offers me thoughtful feedback, especially when it makes my writing stronger. So I immediately went back to work on the piece, revising the section about the history of the Stingy Jew and making other changes suggested by Stubick before resubmitting it to him for publication.

But when the piece ran a month later in "The Tower" it was my first draft that appeared. Stubick had somehow misplaced my revised version or forgotten that I had made revisions in the first place. Or something. He offered me a shrugging apology but no real explanation.

The piece made a big impact. A number of students approached me with apologies for things they had said or done of which I hadn't even been aware. A local synagogue reprinted the essay in their newsletter and asked me to speak about it. And Miss Johnson, my Chem Study teacher and one of the dearest people at our school or any school, expressed her horror to me that such a thing would happen in her classroom, as if she could have somehow prevented it.

But I still felt wronged by Stubick's carelessness. I couldn't fathom how he could have mishandled a piece that was obviously so personal and important to me.

Our war was brewing.

To be continued.

Homo in flashback.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Petition (Part 2)

My relationship with Mr. Stubick began auspiciously. I was a sophomore in my first year at Summit High , and he had recently taken over as advisor for the essentially moribund school newspaper, "The Tempest." Mr. Stubick did a radical redesign of the paper, renaming it "The Tower" (which had been the paper's original name) and turning it into a handsome-looking tabloid.

I didn't have Mr. Stubick as a teacher that year or any year, but I was familiar with him. My sister Anna had taken sophomore English with him half a decade before and loathed him, which should have served as a warning to me, as Anna and I tend to share the same opinions of others.

But he seemed harmless enough -- a very thin, boyish-looking schlub given to wearing suspenders and oversized pants. He had written several novels of the "young adult" genre and was known to assign them to his classes, which struck me as odd at the time given that other 10th graders in Summit were reading "Jane Eyre" and "Romeo & Juliet."

It was clear he fashioned himself one of those hip, young teachers who could really relate to his students -- like Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society." Except unlike Williams's ebullient optimist, Mr. Stubick was a misanthrope who seemed to view everyone but a select few with thinly veiled contempt. If I had had the vernacular back then, I would have called him a bitchy queen.

God, this was a great flick.

But as I said, things began auspiciously between us. I approached Mr. Stubick about writing for the newly launched "Tower," and he was receptive. In fact, he handed me what may have been the most plum assignment ever: I was to review all of Summit's pizzerias and judge which was the best. Not exactly Woodward and Bernstein material, but fun, right? And it was.

"The Tower" caused a stir, and not just because of its new packaging. Alongside the usual student and faculty news and features (and my pizza review, in which I named Rosa & Sal's the winner) were some provocative columns.

The most notorious of these was called "The Unknown Sophomore." It purported to be the rantings of a disaffected, highly sarcastic juvenile who took shots at just about everyone. The teachers had bad breath. The athletes were dim-witted bullies. The cheerleaders were vapid ditzes. And so forth.

This was a good 10 years before the horrors at Columbine, and it's hard to imagine a school newspaper intentionally dispensing such vitriol nowadays. But at the time, I guess our principal -- a dim-witted bully himself named Dr. Geddes -- viewed it as harmless free expression.

I cannot overstate the furor that "The Unknown Sophomore" caused among the student body. For many weeks, it was all anyone could talk about. Angry letters poured in to the newspaper office. Death threats were made against the anonymous writer, should he or she ever be unmasked. Several teachers told me in confidence that they found the column's publication disgraceful.

As for me, I didn't like "The Unknown Sophomore" either, but not because I felt personally slighted by anything he or she had written. What bothered me was, I was certain the writer was not a student. The words rang trite and phony and seemed intended solely to provoke a reaction. The piece read like the bad fictions of an adult trying to impersonate a young person after watching "The Breakfast Club" too many times, replete with predictable angst and adolescent stereotyping. "The Unknown Sophomore" offended me on an intellectual level.

And though I had absolutely no evidence to prove it, I knew in my heart that the Unknown Sophomore was Mr. Stubick.

To be continued.

Homo in flashback.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Petition (Part 1)

Blogger's Note: My 20-year high school class reunion happens next week. I won't be attending -- not to make any grand statement but simply because doing so would be logistically impossible. But the occasion has stirred up a lot of recollections for me, some of which I would like to share with you.

The events I describe are as true as my memory allows. And while in some cases I've used only first names, I haven't altered any names entirely save for one, for reasons I'll explain at the end.

Brace yourselves; this is going to be a long one.

Occasionally in my stand-up, I'll make reference to how hellish my high school experience was. But when I talk about this, it's solely for laughs' sake and not factual. In fact, I have mostly positive memories of Summit High, which I attended from 1985 to 1989. Yes, I had some dark times, as all adolescents do. I was teased and taunted and bullied a bit. My senior year, someone -- I never found out who -- repeatedly shot nails into the tires of my Jeep while it was parked in the student lot. And it goes without saying that I struggled mightily with my sexuality and the fact that I was different.

But I also had a hell of a lot of fun in high school. When I think back to those years, it's play rehearsals and late-night parties and cruising through the Watchung Reservation on warm spring nights with the top down that I recall most. It's singing with the New Jersey All-State Chorus in Atlantic City and ballroom dancing through the school hallways with my friend Rebecca and road tripping to the Jersey shore in someone's old station wagon. It's phone calls with friends that would last up to five hours because, it seemed, no matter how long we talked we never ran out of things to say.

My senior yearbook photo, circa August, 1988.

As I said, there were dark times. I have a particularly high number of negative associations with a bug-eyed classmate named Josh who was neither friend nor enemy but frenemy. Josh and I ran with the same social circle. We did theater and choir together and shared a close friend, Matt. Also, we were among the only Jewish kids in town.

But despite all that (or more likely because of all that), Josh seemed determined to humiliate me on a regular basis. The worst example of this occurred after a sleepover at his house senior year in which Josh and Matt slept in Josh's bed while I slept on the floor.

According to what Josh told a number of people after the fact, I arose in the middle of the night, walked over to the bed and grabbed Josh's crotch through the blankets.

This was an incredibly hurtful rumor to spread because I was, of course, a gay kid, and surely Josh was aware of that on some level. But it was also complete and total bullshit.

In the first place, if I were going to make a pass at a guy in high school (and make no mistake: I did make passes from time to time), I certainly wouldn't have done it in front of a witness, sleeping or not.

Second of all, I wouldn't have just grabbed an unconscious boy's crotch. I may have been a horny teenager, but I wasn't a fucking rapist. My approach at the time was far more subtle. A little wine, a little pot, maybe a game of Truth or Dare. "Hey, how big is it? Let's see..." and so forth. If I met with the slightest resistance, I ceased all efforts immediately.

And finally, even if I had been some sort of creeping midnight molester, given the choice of crotches I would have chosen the one belonging to Matt, who was extremely hot, and not that of ugly-assed, bug-eyed Josh.

But that unpleasantness aside, there is only one high school event that sticks with me these two decades later as traumatic and life-changing: The events surrounding my petition against the school newspaper's advisor, Mr. Stubick.

Many of the details of my war with Mr. Stubick are fuzzy to me now. Even more fuzzy is why I chose to go to war with him in the first place. Maybe it was because he was a pretentious asshole. Maybe it was because I was a narcissistic teenager who had to have things my own way. Or maybe it was because he was a closeted gay man, and I was a closeted gay boy, and the year was 1988 -- a perfect recipe for mutually assured fear and loathing.

In any case, what transpired between us has haunted me for 20 years, and I truly don't understand why. In finally writing about this, I seek that understanding.

To be continued.

Homo in flashback.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Odds & Ends

Text message conversation between myself and bloated substance abuser Brad Loekle:

Me: I'm watching Japanese puppet theatre. Help me.

Brad: Im in my 3 fucking show.. KILL ME!

Me: Your 3 Show? You mean your 3rd show?

Brad: Wow. Really? Ur gonna correct grammar in a text? U know this is why people don't like Jews.

* * *

BW and I decided several weeks ago to buy a new mattress. Our old one was as hard as a rock, and I got tired of waking up wracked with pain. After purchasing a nice, new soft Ortho mattress, we listed the old one for sale on Craig's List.

I personally would NEVER buy a used mattress, so terrified am I of bedbugs and such, but I figured someone out there might be disgusting enough to do so. So I composed the following ad:

LIKE NEW: Full-Size Sealy Reserve Mattress

Full-Size Sealy Posturepedic Reserve "Thistle Meadow Cushion Firm" Mattress for Sale.

Immaculate, stainless, spotless, no holes or rips, in perfect condition.

Owned and slept on for six months by an extremely clean, hygienic couple.

Asking $200.

Here was the only response we received:

I am a pro tattoo artist in San Diego and was wondering if you would like to trade for tattoo work. I am offering you 100.00 more than your asking price in credit for tattoo work at our shop. You can check out our shop and work online here:

Hope to hear from you soon!

It was a tempting offer, but in the end we decided to go for cash rather than tattoos. So we lowered the price to $100.

Yesterday a woman agreed to buy the mattress at that price for her adult son, who's moving back in with her and her husband.

"I'm sure it will be comfortable enough for him, and if it's not... well, he needs to get his own place eventually anyway," she confided to me through gritted teeth.

Poor guy; I can just picture him now waking up in his parents' home on that slab of cement wondering exactly how and when his life turned to shit. At least he won't have bedbugs.

* * *

Did my first show in Coronado last night with the Dirtbag boys. It was a blast, but in order to get there I had to drive over the Coronado Bridge. I'm a total freak about bridges; nothing frightens me more than having to drive over one. And if you've ever seen that bridge, you know it looks like the world's scariest roller coaster. Oh, and it was raining. For the first time in months. Needless to say, it was nearly raining in my pants as well.

Highway to Hell

This is pretty much the face I made driving over the bridge.

Video clips of the show if and when they become available.

* * *
Thank you to everyone who left comments on the last blog. And sorry for calling you ungrateful shits. I was in a bad place that day. Coming soon, an epic blog post -- an old high school memory -- that's been churning in my head of late. I'm not ready to write it yet, but I'm getting there. Bear with me.

Homo random.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pictures! We've Got Pictures!

I know I'm overdue for a real, honest-to-goodness blog post -- complete with wry, witty anecdotes and dry, pithy observations -- rather than just a random collage of photos and video clips, but the truth is, I'm sort of feeling like none of you deserve it. I worked damn hard on that Dame Edna story, and a whopping four of you were moved to comment. Only two of you commented on my first video clip, and then none of you --ZERO -- left a comment on my hilarious Vagisil clip!! WTF!

In contrast, I posted that clip to my Facebook page and received feedback from seven people and counting.

So why work so hard for you ungrateful shits if you're not going to show me a little love in return? (And don't give me this, "I don't know how to leave comments," Sarah Humphries, because that's just retarded. Ask someone who's ever used a computer before to show you how.)

What most of you obviously fail to understand is that I am an incredibly needy, neurotic person who fears he will disappear from the earth if I am not paid constant attention. In other words, a comic. So if you enjoy this little exercise I call Sanktastic and would like to see it continue, take 30 seconds out of your day and leave me a comment. Nuff said.

In the meantime, a few things that have caught me eye recently, and then some new pics:

David Letterman hilariously trashed the Palins on his show Tuesday night, and predictably the Alaskan governor and her family are now pretending to be shocked and offended, which is what right-wing Republicans do best. Among the other jokes on his Top 10 list, "Highlights of Sarah Palin's trip to New York," Letterman said:

"[Palin] bought makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her slutty flight attendant look."

He also made several jokes about Bristol Palin, including the following:

"One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game. During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

Of course, the Palins are pretending Letterman was referring to 14-year-old daughter Willow, who actually accompanied the governor on her trip (as opposed to Bristol), and accusing Letterman of advocating child rape. Come on.

So Letterman took up a nice long chunk of his show last night to defend himself (while simultaneously offering a lukewarm apology). It's kind of fascinating television, and because I love Letterman and loathe the Palins (who I feel typify everything wrong with this country), I link it here. Enjoy.

Fun stuff, right?

In other news, a Fox News writer is (perhaps) in hot water after (allegedly) ramming a Central Park cyclist with his car... intentionally. The writer in question is one Don Broderick with whom I had the displeasure of working for my entire six-year tenure at FNC. Don was always a loose cannon -- totally chill one moment and then exploding with rage the next. He was verbally abusive to the production assistants and totally disrespectful to his senior producers . Toward the end, I sometimes had to serve as one of these and can remember one memorable occasion when he began screaming at me at the top of his lungs in the control room during a live broadcast because I told him we wouldn't have time for one of his stories.

I complained about him to management a number of times because I honestly felt he was capable of physical violence. In typical fashion, the higher-ups did nothing, and Broderick has remained there for more than 10 years. There's no real point to my mentioning this here and now except to say... the whole thing kind of tickles me. I hope he goes to prison.

The root of all evil.

Finally, Chastity Bono has decided to become a man. Given her mother's iconic status, there are a lot of jokes that could be made about this, and some of them will probably be made by me at some point. But the truth is, there's nothing really funny about the struggles of transgender folks. The social pressures for them are like the ones for gay men and lesbians... times 100. I wish Chastity -- or "Chaz" as she is now called -- well.

And I hope they build her a nice thick Bono. (OK, I couldn't resist one.)

And now, some photos of me hosting from last week taken by Sarge, a Dirtbag regular. I post them here mainly because Sarge is a good photographer. And also because I think the outfit I wore that night was strangely flattering and gave me a deceptively large package and biceps. It may become my standard on-stage costume.

Homo packaged.

P.S. I have a number of gigs coming up -- three in San Diego and one in NYC. Details follow, and check my web site for details!

Saturday, June 13th at 8:30pm
Dirtbag Comedy Night
1135 Garnet Avenue
San Diego, CA
(No alcohol served here, so make sure you get good and drunk beforehand. See attached photo.)

Monday, June 15th at 9:00pm
Jason Bang's Comics That Kill at Club Riley's
2901 Nimitz Blvd
Point Loma, CA
(Lots of alcohol served here, and I'm going up first, so don't be late! And make sure you tell 'em at the door you're there to see me! Me! Me! It's all about ME!)

Monday, June 15th at 9:30pm
Cock & Balls Comedy Tour at Island Sports & Spirits
104 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA
(My first time at this venue, along with the Dirtbag boys.)

Sunday, June 28th at 10:00pm
Brad Loekle's Electro Shock Therapy Comedy Hour
348 West 52nd Street
New York, NY
No Cover Charge, No Drink Minimum.
(A Gay Pride special event, with awesome headliner Karith Foster and $6 cosmos all night!).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vagisil Commercial

Yet another clip has surfaced on YouTube, this one from my hosting set at the Dirtbag this past Saturday, June 6. (One of the best things about performing at this place is that I don't even have to record or post my own sets -- they do it for me!)

It's only about two minutes long and consists entirely of my bit about a Vagisil commercial I saw on Bravo. Again, NSFW, for mature audiences, etc.


Homo clipped.

Monday, June 8, 2009

New Video, Old Jokes

Happy Monday. If you're interested, here's part of my set from the Dirtbag on May 30, 2009. Probably nothing new for those of you who have seen me before, but at least you get a sense of the place.

Watching it back, I'm surprised by how much I'm swearing. I guess I was feeling the ethos of the room. In any case, this is probably NSFW and definitely intended for mature audiences.


Homo profane.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dame Dreadna

Friends of BW's and mine offered us comp tickets Tuesday night to go see Dame Edna's latest show, "My First Last Tour" at San Diego Civic Theatre. I was thrilled, first because I love going to any free theater event, and second because I had always wanted to see Dame Edna live.

There is nothing like a Dame.

BW, on the other hand, was dubious. His theater-going experience is extremely limited; when we met it consisted solely of his having seen "Mamma Mia" and one installment of "Cirque du Soleil." And he regards anything involving live performance as "artsy-fartsy."

I can't say I've been much help here. I've dragged him to various theatrical events, always promising, "You'll love this!," and time after time they've turned out to be hideous. The first of these was literally a week after we first met, when he came back to New York from DC to visit me. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take him to see Pinter's "The Homecoming" on Broadway.

Now, I consider myself fairly sophisticated in the ways of theater. I've performed in dozens of plays and musicals and gone to see hundreds more. I studied theater history in college and read everything from Aeschylus to Tennessee Williams. But I can honestly tell you I had no idea what the fuck was happening on-stage during "The Homecoming. Not for one moment.
Consider this monologue excerpt from Act 2:

LENNY. Barefaced audacity. (Pause.) What led you to be so... vindictive against your own brother? I'm bowled over. (Pause.) Well, Ted, I would say this is something approaching the naked truth, isn't it? It's a real cards on the table stunt. I mean, we're in the land of no holds barred now. Well, how else can you interpret it? To pinch your brother's specially made cheese roll when he's out doing a spot of work, that's not equivocal it's unequivocal. (Pause.)...

And on and on for two hours. Needless to say, I was bewildered, and BW was in Hell.

Since then, Pinter has been the barometer by which BW measures anything to which I take him. He'll turn to me grimly as the lights come up and say, "Well, at least it was better than Pinter."

Utter meaninglessness.

And it seems like I just can't catch a break when it comes to attending theater with BW. For instance, a couple weeks ago I went with a bunch of friends to see San Diego's Diversionary Theater production of "The Little Dog Laughed," starring my good friend Karson St. John. It was fantastic, and Karson was particularly spectacular (as critics writing here, here and here all agree).

BW couldn't make it. And I just know he would have loved it.

All of which is to say, BW was more than a little skeptical when I told him he would enjoy Dame Edna. "She's a drag queen!" I told him. "It's fun, silly, light humor! And she's world famous!"

Then I made the mistake of adding, "And she picks on the audience!"

More than anything, BW hates being singled out in public. He doesn't even like watching other people get singled out, so like nails on a chalkboard it is for him. Ironic that he wound up with a stand-up comic, no?

"We better not be in the front row," he said. "Or so help me, I will leave."

As luck would have it, we weren't. In fact, we had the opposite problem.

Our view of the stage, as seen from row 2,018.

Yes, kids, it turns out the Civic is the size of an aircraft carrier -- not exactly the best venue to watch a one-person show by a 75-year-old Australian-accented falsettoed drag queen.

And to be honest, Edna (Barry Humphries) has seen better days. Yes, her crowd work is inspired and a must-see for any aspiring comic. And it's truly amazing that Humphries has been doing this character for some 50 years. But that's sort of the problem. It feels old and rather tired, particularly when Edna sings, at which point she becomes incomprehensible. (A number of old codgers up in our nose-bleed section gamely cupped their ears for the first half-hour before finally walking out in disgust.)

Even thousands of rows up, BW couldn't tolerate the crowd work. When Edna dragged four audience members onto the stage for an extended talk-show style format, BW had to look away, burying himself in his program.

"You're hating this, aren't you?" I asked.

"Um hm," he nodded smiling, cementing another failure on my part.

Sorry, babe.

The show ended. Humphries, appearing on-stage out of drag, took what felt like the longest curtain call ever. And as we descended the endless flights of stairs to the lobby, BW leaned over and laid on me his kiss of death:

"Pinter was better."

Homo defeated.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Well Do You Know Me?

If you're on Facebook, click here and take the quiz!

(Yes I am bored today.)

Homo familiar(?)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Headlining the Dirtbag: A Photo-Blog

But first, a few random observations:

My second-favorite reality show, "So You Think You Can Dance," has returned for its fifth season. As I've mentioned previously in this space, there are many things to love about this show, and this season is no exception. With one exception. And I pose it as question: What the hell has happened to Tyce D'Orio?

For the heterosexual among you, Tyce is a young choreographer who in past seasons put together snappy little Broadway-style routines for the show. They weren't the best routines -- those would be the ones choreographed by Mia Michaels -- but they were fine. And Tyce himself always seemed like a genial enough fellow.

(Or as my friend George and I refer to it, "So You Think You Can Mince."

That is until this season when Tyce sat in with judges Nigel Lythgoe and the always annoying (but knowledgeable) Mary Murphy for the Miami auditions. Whereas in the past Tyce sort of blended into the scenery, this season the producers apparently instructed him: "We want you to act like a flaming asshole." Which would be fine, if he were a funny flaming asshole or an interesting flaming asshole, or even a flaming asshole with something to say. But he was none of those things. Instead he just ranted on and on at the hapless contestants in this weird character voice -- a sort of Chicago gangster meets Chelsea queen -- saying things like, "What what what what what... I mean seriously, what? I mean, like... I mean, what what what what...?!"

I watched this in horror, praying it would stop. But it didn't. At one point, the show actually featured a Tyce-As-Flaming-Asshole Montage!

The moral here is, a good choreographer does not necessarily a good judge make. And obnoxious behavior is not in and of itself entertaining. Off with you, Mr. D'Orio, until you learn how to be a better judge. You could take a lesson from Miss Debbie Allen. (And when will they bring her back?!)

(Interestingly, I just scoured the Internet in search of a video clip or even a photo of Tyce D'Orio. There are none. Weird.)

One more word on reality TV: Last night I caught a few moments of NBC's new installment of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here," which is like "Survivor" meets "Surreal Life" on crack. And "surreal" is the only word that adequately describes the experience of watching Patti Blagojevich defend her corrupt husband to the likes of Janice Dickinson and Heidi and Spencer from "The Hills (and then watching Heidi pray to Jesus on the Governor's behalf).

But then Lou Diamond Phillips popped up on the screen, and I got really sad. One has to think that when Lou was starring in "La Bamba" and "Young Guns," he could never have fathomed that one day he'd be on TV competing in a bug-eating competition with someone named Sanjaya.


And, now, without further doo-doo, the photos:

Dirtbag Comedy Show, Pacific Beach, May 30, 2009.

My never-before-photographed pre-show tub soak.
Trust me when I tell you this was the most tasteful version BW took.

My dear friends Jim & Erik, who met me beforehand for dinner at World Curry (where the Teryaki chicken is out of this world).
Jim & Erik are historic figures in that theirs is one of the 18,000 gay marriages still recognized by the state of California.
Also, they like beer.

Psych! Like I would ever eat a plate full of white rice.

Our adorable, unsuspecting waiter.
"You're my first lefty," he said smiling, after I signed my Visa bill.
My mind reeled with possible retorts.

On the way to the Dirtbag; possibly the worst name for a taco stand EVER.

All the Hillcrest boys who came to watch me perform:
Andrzej, Keith, Erik, Jim & Stephen.
Andrzej needs to buy a vowel.

The beautiful and talented Larry "Fiduce" Fiduce, Dirtbag star, known for his catchphrase, "Cock and balls."
Also for his fine, fine bod.
You can't tell, but I'm trembling beside him.

Another hilarious Dirtbag regular, pint-sized bodybuilder Mike Wentz.

Rob Stuppy gets violated by Chris Meza.
This is what happens when you tell two straight-boy comics that they're being photographed for a gay blog.

The incredibly cool Jared "Doc" Egan.
He makes all of this possible.

MC Fiduce rocks the (typically full) house.

Me on-stage! Doing some actual new material!
I think someone videotaped my set, so I'll post clips when they become available.

My Heidi Klum bit. Yes, I'm still doing it.

Imitating a drunken girl in the crowd.
I should really never make this face again.

Curtain call, baby!

I'm so happy to have found these guys and this place. I'll be hosting the show this Saturday, June 6.

Homo photographed.