Tuesday, December 22, 2009
"At the end of yet another failed relationship,… you have to wonder, what's it all worth?" -- Carrie Bradshaw
So here I am at the end of yet another relationship, another year, another decade. I seem to be do nothing these days but ending things: My day job, my last San Diego comedy show, the last time I'll see many of the friends I've made while I've been here. The last time BW and I will sleep in the same bed.
What's truly terrifying is, I have no sense of what lies ahead, beyond the immediate future. Directly looming is my cross-country tour, which has really sort of turned into something, and for which I am most excited. More on that in a bit.
But after the tour ends... what? How will I support myself? Where will I live after my family and I can no longer tolerate suburban cohabitation? Will the NYC comedy world welcome me back with open arms and legs? And will anyone notice that my ass has shrunk considerably over the past 16 months? (People think I'm crazy, but I'm telling you, I've gone down at least one cup size.)
The sane voice inside my head -- always the quietest of all the voices -- tells me I'll be fine. That I've done this before. That I'm a resourceful person. That I have an amazing support network of friends and family. And that squat thrusts can rebuild my sagging ass.
But I'm not going to lie to you: This sucks. I hate goodbyes. It would be easier if I could be like "Fuck you, San Diego!" But I can't. There are too many people who I love out here and who have been tremendous friends to me. And though I never would have believed it, I've actually come to feel ingrained in the local comedy scene.
Friday night I headlined at Ocean Beach Comedy at Winston's.
It was a fun night. I got to hang with Tyson Karrasch and Ryan Shores, two of my favorite straight-boy comics out here whom I love even though they've never shown me their penises. BW and some of our closest friends came out to support me, as did the lovely and talented Karson St. John and her wacky family. And even the Murphys -- one of my families from Lincoln Military Housing -- showed up to laugh.
After the show, a guy came up to me. "You know, on the poster, you look like Christian Bale," he said. "But in real life, you look like George McFly." Ah, showbiz.
The next night was my farewell show at the Dirtbag in Pacific Beach. I can't say enough -- though I tried to onstage -- how much those guys have meant to me. I had truly given up on doing any stand-up out here when I received a random email from some guy named Doc (who turned out to be as sweet and gentle as he was scary-looking), inviting me down to this tiny clothing store where they had launched a comedy show on Sat. nights.
That show... and the other MikDago shows I did with Doc and Fiduce... literally brought me back to life, reminding me why I started doing comedy in the first place. I love them with every fibre of my being.
Sadly, my final set at the Dirtbag was a stinking pile of shit. But as I said, I'm not good with goodbyes.
Although Dirtbag was my last "official" SD show, Sunday night I did a "surprise" set at Christian Spicer's and RJ Dharni's new show at the Ken Club, "Live Comedy Live." (And boy, was the crowd surprised, as in, "Who the hell is this?") I actually had a very strong set, and it felt good to leave on a high note.
Contrary to how it appears, I did not fellate the microphone.
One sec -- gotta put in another load of laundry...
* * *
OK, the tour: Originally, I had this little idea that if I were going to be driving across the country anyway, I might as well stop along the way and do a few comedy gigs if I could -- you know, cover my gas money, pick up a free meal and a place to stay here and there, and so forth. What I didn't anticipate was A) The level of interest there would be among gay bars and clubs in middle-America to have me perform, and B) The amount of help I would receive from friends, friends of friends and complete strangers in putting a tour together.
I will never be able to repay the kindness that I have been shown. You know who you are, but just to name a few: Tommy, Seth, Rich, Kimo, Walt, Brent, Kasey, straight Chad, gay Chad, straight Scot, gay Scott and Michael. If karma exists, you'll all be receiving great riches someday.
Here's the schedule as of now, and it keeps growing:Saturday, January 2nd at 10:00pm
The Closet Lounge
3780 South Fourth Ave
Sunday, January 3rd at 8:00pm
3710 North Oracle Road
Tuesday, January 5th at 9:00pm
(This one can't be advertised, but it's open to the public. Email me if you want details.)
Thursday, January 7th at 11:00pm
The 212 Club
212 SW 6th Avenue
Friday, January 8th at 10:30pm
2120 Northwest 39th Street
Oklahoma City, OK
Saturday, January 9th at 9:00pm
1900 West 3rd Street
Little Rock, AR
Tuesday, January 12th at 8:00pm
1907 Division Street
Friday, January 15th at 10:30pm
Rainbow Mountain Resort
210 Mount Nebo Road
East Stroudsburg, PA
Sunday, January 24th at 10:00pm
348 West 52nd Street
New York, NY
Ramble Redhead Show (Radio Interview)
9:00PM ET, 6:00PM PT
Pride48.com Internet Radio
Monday, December 28th at 8:00pm
The Derek & Romaine Show (Radio Interview)
Sirius-XM OutQ 109
8:00PM ET, 5:00PM PT
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The first time I actually heard Howard Stern on the radio was on the late bus home from Newark Academy. I had been in rehearsal for a musical -- I was always rehearsing for some musical or other -- and boarded the bus that would drop me at the Summit train station.
Fast forward nearly a decade. I was driving home from my junior year at the University of Michigan for summer break. I was actually nervously driving a sports car belonging to my friend and fraternity brother, Will, who had just graduated (and whom you can read more about about here) while he drove a U-Haul containing all his worldly possessions. We were heading in tandem up the Garden State Parkway on our final leg of the drive when I stumbled upon Howard on K-Rock.
He was interviewing Richard Simmons, a frequent foil on the Stern Show in those days. Richard was trying to plug some healthy breakfast cereal, and Howard of course kept torturing him.
"Jesus, Richard, could your shorts be any shorter?"
"Howard...," Richard protested.
"Seriously, Richard, I can see your scroto-sac."
"Howard, I want to talk about this cereal..."
"I don't want to hear about your stupid cereal. It's probably loaded with crap."
"No! Howard, it's filled with healthy nutrition! Look at the ingredients on the box! Look at the box, Howard!"
"I don't want to look at the box. When was the last time you saw ANY box, Richard?"
At this point I was laughing so hard I could barely keep my attention on the road. I happened to glance over at the small truck in the next lane, only to look up and see Will in the driver's seat.
And he was laughing his ass off, too.
That's the genius of Howard.
From the first day I arrived in New York City in 1995, I was a daily listener. I would awake at 6:30 a.m. in the Brooklyn railroad apartment I shared with my friend Henry, click on K-ROCK on my bathroom radio and try to savor every moment of profane silliness before I had to leave for my long day toiling at Miramax Films.
Henry was a thoughtful, intellectual type who had served as editor of our college newspaper. "The Michigan Daily," and would go on to eventually become executive editor of one of the biggest magazines in the country.
"How can you listen to this?" he would ask me.
How can you not listen?
I've heard people argue that Howard is racist, sexist and homophobic. These are the same kinds of people who regarded "All in the Family" as a racist, sexist and homophobic show. Either they've never really listened, or they're completely missing the point.
Howard couldn't be less of a bigot. But he is delighted by the bigotry of others. He finds it hilarious. And when put in the context of his ridiculous show, it is hilarious.
One example: Daniel Carver. The Georgia-based Carver is a frequent telephone guest of the Stern show. He also is -- or was -- the Imperial Wizard and Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and someone whose oft-repeated slogan is "Wake up, white people!"
Any other talk show that would book a Klansman -- and many have -- would treat the interview as a somber event and a cautionary lesson about the evils of racism, replete with audience head-shaking and tsk-tsking.
Instead, he turned Carver into a movie critic. And he made sure Carver's only subjects of review were either Afrocentric films or anti-discrimination message movies. And so listeners got to hear Carver's take on "Do The Right Thing," "Boyz in the Hood,""Mississippi Burning" and so forth. At the end of each review, Carver would give the movies a score of between zero and five burning crosses. Invariably, he hated the movies Howard sent him and complained bitterly that they were always about black people.
Howard's show would begin Carver's segment with a special theme song:
Well, he's a bigot, a hateful man
Daniel Carver from the Ku Klux Klan
Movie reviews, bad and good
Daniel will review with his white hood!
When he's not reviewin' a movie he's watched,
He's wearin' his hood or burnin' a cross
This week's movie o-kay-kay?
Ask Daniel Carver from the KKK!
Wake up, white people!
Not only was this funny -- and it was; truly, madly, deeply pants-wettingly funny --it was also incredibly subversive, in the best sense of the word. Because as with "All in the Family's" Archie Bunker, the joke was on the bigot. Rather than coming across as a frightening bogeyman, Carver was shown to be the ridiculous, foolish, backwards hillbilly that he was, utterly out of touch with the times. And the best part was, you never knew if Carver was in on the joke, or if he honestly believed his appearances on the Stern show would further the cause of white power. Or both.
That's the genius of Howard.
There have been countless times over the last 20 years when I have found myself literally weak with laughter from the Stern show.
A few examples:
1) During the Jenny Jones talk show murder trial, in which one of Jenny's guests was murdered by a fellow guest after the former confessed a "gay crush" on the latter, Howard said:
"Wouldn't it be great if the jury came back and said, 'Your honor? We've reached a verdict. We feel Jenny Jones should be executed.'"
2) After it was revealed that Kathie Lee Gifford, one of Stern's favorite bêtes noires, was using third-world child labor to produce her clothing line, Howard and his people came up with a song parody to the tune of Kathie Lee's Carnival Cruise commercial jingle that went in part:
3) When "The Insider's" Pat O'Brien left filthy voicemails, laden with sex and drug references, on the cell phone of a woman who was not his wife, Howard's show called a phone sex line and played snippets of the messages to an operator, creating what sounded like a live conversation to uproarious effect. This is a frequent trick of the Stern Show, and it always kills me.
That's the genius of Howard.
Howard Stern is the ultimate egalitarian. He treats every guest the same, whether it's an A-list movie star, a truck driver or a prostitute. (I've heard him interview all three.) He is particularly fascinated by people on the fringes of society -- porn stars, drug addicts, shut-ins and the mentally or physically handicapped. I have heard people accuse him of gross exploitation, especially of the latter group. To those critics I ask: On what other nationally broadcast program do you ever see or hear these people at all, let alone with an opportunity to tell their stories?
Does he test their intelligence, ask embarrassing questions about their sex lives, tease them, taunt them and humiliate them? Sure. He also does that to Heather Locklear when she's on the show. She always seems to enjoy it, and so do they.
And that to me is far better than the patronizing "very special" treatment pop culture usually bestows on these people.
This morning's show was a classic example. Howard held a "Saddest Virgin" contest, featuring three adult males competing to see which one would get to have sex with porn star Kayden Cross. Each contestant was "afflicted" in some way, to use Howard's terminology. The first was a slow adult who worked as a car-loader at a Lowe's store. The second was fully capable mentally but suffered from severe cerebral palsy. And the third was just a regular guy whose face and body were covered in hairy moles.
I realize in typing this how absolutely ghastly it makes Howard sound -- like a latter-day PT Barnum, ruthlessly profiting off a freak show. But when you listen -- really listen -- to the CP guy explain to Howard that his penis is fully functional but that because of his condition he can neither masturbate nor load porn into a DVD player, or that he has no interest in dating other CP patients, the show transcends mere prurience and becomes something bigger. It becomes a looking glass into the human condition, an acknowledgement that we're all the same -- that even a guy confined to a wheel chair who can barely speak or move is still just a horny guy who lusts for women more desirable than he.
That's the genius of Howard.
Howard has been talking all week about his Sirius contract being up in a year, and how he might soon leave radio forever. I hope and pray this does not happen.
I don't know how I could ever start my day without him.
Homo listening. ♥
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sun. Jan. 3: Tucson, AZ
Monday, Jan. 4: El Paso, TX
Wed. Jan. 6: Santa Fe, NM
Thu. Jan. 7: Amarillo, TX
Fri. Jan. 8: Oklahoma City, OK
Mon. Jan. 11: Memphis, TN
Tue. Jan. 12: Nashville, TN
Wed. Jan. 13: Louisville, KY/Columbus, OH
Thu. Jan. 14: Pittsburgh, PA/Morgantown, WV
Since I'm barely blogging lately, what with dealing with a relationship-breakup, an impending move across the country and trying to plan the aforementioned tour, all while continuing to work my insufferable day job (which seems to be getting worse every day), I figured I would turn this space over today to a dear friend, Walt from Little Rock.
Like Nellie Forbush, Walt is both a cockeyed optimist and a nurse.
And he has a more-than-passing resemblance to her.
Anyway, about two years ago, Walt had a horrific experience on Manhunt, the gay online sex site with which many of you are all too familiar. It was such a not-to-be-believed story that he wrote it up and shared it with his closest friends.
Cut to last week, when Elizabeth, a reporter-friend of mine from the Wall Street Journal, emailed me for help on a column she was writing. She asked if I knew anyone who had ever taken revenge against someone through online means. (Why she thought of me for this assignment is a question for another blog, but there you have it.)
I told Elizabeth that though I didn't personally know any such vengeful sociopath, I did have a friend named Walt from Little Rock who had a story that might lend itself to her column. Walt shared his story with Elizabeth, and she, too, was thrilled by its hideousness. She was all set to use it in her column, and then, at the last minute, it was cut by her editor.
With that in mind, I now give you, in his own words, Walt From Little Rock's Manhunt Story, entitled, "Seriously."
Take it away, Walt.
Like many guys, I am often on manhunt.net, sometimes for a hook up, sometimes out of boredom and sometimes to perhaps meet a real person (I know, manhunt is not the place to meet real people). A few weeks ago, I came across a profile of someone I thought looked interesting, “Sammy64” (the actual screen name, check it out, but the pictures are different now).
So I sent him a message and he replied. Quickly we started chatting back and forth, sharing pictures and then we started using Yahoo Messenger to talk. He told me about a previous marriage he had and previous boyfriends etc. One of the pictures he had shown me was him lying almost nude on a brown leather couch. Well, something about the couch looked familiar, that’s when I realized it was a picture from Tom Bianchi’s book, “On The Couch”.
I asked him about it and he said yes, he was in the book and that he knew Tom. I explained that I had recently met Tom on an Atlantis Vacation and also had met Mike and Billy. They were the boot camp trainers on the vacation. He said that yeah, he knew them. He had lived in San Francisco and that’s when Tom had found him and asked him to pose on the couch. Yes, I will admit, this was a bit of a red flag that he actually had posed for Tom Bianchi and was in this particular book, especially when I asked him if he had any of the other pictures he could share with me, he basically said that he didn’t have them saved on the laptop he was currently using, ok, I guess that could be true.
We continued to talk online and on the phone a few times. I shared various aspects of my life with him, likes/dislikes. Also explained in detail about my job and what organ donation was all about. He seemed genuinely interested in knowing more about me and my life and he shared more about himself. At one point he told me he was going back to college and was currently taking a night class on Mondays.
Time goes by and we continue to chat often, then he tells me a couple of weeks ago that he is planning a trip to Little Rock for work. I asked what type of work he did and he explained that he dealt with some type of family business, electrical retail type stuff?!?! OK, whatever. He said he dealt with several stores in the northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma area but he comes to Little Rock occasionally to deal with a supplier. Sounds reasonable I guess.
We had talked about where we might like to meet up on a Thursday evening after he gets checked into his hotel, Italian perhaps, or one of the places downtown in the River Market District, where he would be staying. We had talked on Wednesday evening and he agreed that he would give me a call when he got into central AR and was heading to the hotel, probably around 6pm. He stated again how excited he was to get to finally meet me face to face. This was the second or third time he had mentioned that he really was excited about getting to meet up face to face after so much talk back and forth.
Thursday comes and I sent him a text message mid afternoon, “Have a safe drive down”, he quickly replied with “Thanks, see you soon”. I left work a bit early that afternoon, got home and decided to take a little nap before he called me to let me know he was in town. I even turned down plans with my cousin for a home cooked meal, since I already had plans with David Cowan (yes, that’s his name).
I woke up around 6pm and no phone call yet. Around 7:30 pm, I sent a text message and asked “U here”, no response. Hummmmm, I guess my suspicions were correct, from the beginning I had thought, this guy seems too good to be true, but at the same time, seems very genuine, friendly and interested in meeting me. This is why I have stopped getting any hopes up when meeting someone new in any way (online, in person etc.) Again, later in the evening, around 11 pm, I sent another text message (after having left him 2 voice mails) saying “hello? What happened?"... Nothing, no response, at all.
The next evening, I sent one final message saying “Can u text me back to at least let me know U are alive?”, then I was about to head out the door to mow the yard, when the phone rings, the caller ID showed “David Cowan”. I was already over all this and didn’t want to deal with listening to excuses on the phone. A few seconds later, the phone dinged that I had a voice mail. The message was something to the effect of:
Hello, Mr. Walt, this is Michael Mays, I’m David’s cousin. I’m not sure if you are a friend or someone he works with, but I’m trying to contact people he was supposed to meet with in Little Rock and I don’t know if that’s how you know him, but anyway, I’m rambling, what I need to tell you is that David was in a serious car accident on his way to Little Rock yesterday and was air lifted back to Rogers.
I quickly grabbed the phone and called back, but it went to the voice mail. Now, this is where things start to not seem right. For some reason, at least to me, the voice on his outgoing message sounded similar to Michael Mays (David’s cousin), but then again, if they are family, they may actually sound similar, so, I can deal with that.
I sent a text message asking him to please call me back. He did and I began to ask questions about what happened. He said that David was on his way to Little Rock, on I-40 and there was either some road construction or mowers and that David had ran off the road into a ravine and was not found until the next morning (Friday).
Now, here are a couple more issues with this story. I-40 is a very busy interstate, the entire route that he would have traveled. If someone had ran off the road, SOMEONE would have seen this happen, especially since this would have been the middle of the afternoon. Secondly, he never really could tell me exactly what had happened to cause this accident. He said David was in the hospital with all sorts of tubes and wires hooked up to him.
I asked if he was on a breathing machine with a tube down his throat and he said, yes, he had that and a big bandage around his head. Well, yeah, this makes sense, if someone had a wreck and then had a severe head injury, he would be on the ventilator and might very well have his head wrapped.
I asked Michael, what hospital was he at, he was not totally sure of a name other than Mercy Hospital and that they were in Rogers, AR. I thanked him for calling me and asked him to let me know if there are any changes. I told him I would stay in contact with him to follow David’s condition. He mentioned he would have to find a charger for David’s fancy phone and try to learn how to use it better. Several people had called and he was trying to respond to everyone. Again, I told him if he needed anything to let me know.
Then I had to call my friend Ter and explain this to him. I think I had already mentioned to Ter that I was stood up by this guy but that I was not 100% sure about this story of being in a car wreck. Ter really thought this had to be legit and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Would someone seriously take the time and effort to make up such a story?
I mentioned that David knew what I did for a living and that I honestly could find out if he really was in the hospital and just how sick he was. Ter and I both agreed I should not use my work connections to find out information about a hospital patient. I decided yeah, maybe Ter was right and I would just check to see how David was doing over the next couple of days.
But another friend of mine did remind me that a hospital can at least tell you if a person is or is not listed as a patient within that facility. I then started to call 2-3 of the hospitals in that area; there was not a patient anywhere to be found with the name of David Cowan. I also stared searching the AR State Police website for accident reports along with the state newspaper for any stories about a car wreck in the area. I was not finding anything. I also was able to find out that “David Cowan” does exist and has an address in Bella Vista, AR and was born on 11/5/1964
(I can’t share how I was able to find out this information, but believe me when I know its accurate). So, basically, I had a few reason to seem to think this was for real and a few reasons to think, something is up. But then, as Ter had said, why would someone make up such a story...
On Sunday, I called again, same out going message and I was unable to leave a message, as it said he voice mail was full and no longer able to take messages. Again, the outgoing message sounded a lot like this cousin, but I just let it go and sent a text message to “Michael” asking him to call me when he could to give me an update. In the mean time, I still found no story in the paper about a car wreck etc. and this is Arkansas, just about any significant wreck on the interstate is a newspaper story waiting to happen.
Next day, Monday, I was sitting at Backyard Burger with a co-worker grabbing some lunch before we started working on a case, suddenly the phone rings and caller ID shows “David Cowan”. I answered and it was “Cousin Michael” again, I asked him how things were going and he said, not well, David had died around 4 am that morning and now the family was at the funeral home making arrangements.
I said I was very sorry to hear and asked what funeral home. He gave me a name that I didn’t recognize and I didn’t write it down at that time. In the back of my mind, I knew something was up right then. Earlier that morning, I had checked our computer referral system for work (all hospital deaths are to be reported to the organization that I work for). I had not seen his name anywhere and none of the other listings came close to matching anything that might have been him. I looked again as soon as I was back at a computer, still he was not listed. This was when I really believed this just couldn’t be true.
Later that evening, I went back onto manhunt.net when Ter had told me that the “last logged on” time is listed on everyone’s profile. When I tried to locate “Sammy64” the profile was gone.
Wait, does manhunt know when people die and immediately delete them, oh, wait, I’m sure his family would quickly want to make sure no one else tried to hook up with him now that he is dead. Ter was then able to find his profile and sure enough, he had logged on that day…
YUP, this person had faked their own death, to avoid meeting me in person?!?!? I mean seriously! Ignore me, tell me to go to hell, tell me you have changed your mind, tell me you are to busy, just about anything I would get over it, but FAKING YOUR OWN DEATH!! How fucked up is this person that they have to fake their own death online?
The next morning, Tuesday, I checked manhunt again; I was unable to view his profile, under MY screen name, but what would happen if I created a new screen name, that’s when “CountryDude1968” was born. I even pulled a fake picture from a vast collection of sexy man pictures. This particular picture was just a naked back picture, no face, nothing to give away the identity of who is in the actual picture. Sure enough, as soon as the new profile was created, I was able to view Sammy64 again and he had logged on that day also. Wow, who knew you could log onto manhunt while dead.
I sent “Sammy64” a quick message from “CountryDude1968” saying something about how much I liked his profile and wondering if he ever came to the Little Rock area. Today, I got a reply along with unlocked pictures. Sure enough, he said that he does make his way to Little Rock occasionally... what is my next step... hummmm.
So, a couple of weeks later, I see our friend Sammy64 online again and asked him when was he going to be in Little Rock, guess what, he said he was in Little Rock now. Naturally I suggested that we hook up now and he was all for it. At the same time, I saw one of the other guys who I knew had been trying to chat him up a bit, I asked him to see what type of response Sammy64 would give him if he asked if he was in Little Rock, he said he would be in Little Rock in a couple of days. Then I asked for Sammy64’s phone number so I could call him and set something up for sure, I called, from my home phone, and after 4 rings, it went to voice mail. Asked him again online, what was up, he said he had left his phone in the car and he would go to the parking lot and get his phone.
An hour passed by and nothing from him, so after one last non response, I finally busted him out and told him who I really was and that this CountryDude68 profile was really a fake and that I knew everything he had told me was a huge lie. Within about 10 minutes, my profile had been blocked from him and I was unable to see him once again.
Well, I decided to use the fake profile to share the news about Sammy64 to the rest of the world. Here is what the profile looks like:
DANGER: Sammy64 is a Liar and a Fake!
FYI - Sammy64 here on manhunt is a liar. He actually went through the process of faking his death after we had planned to meet in person. (this was after several weeks of talking on line and on the phone.) If you would like to know more information, please contact me here, I can share the entire sad, pathetic story with you. Just don't let yourself get involved with him in any way!
So, I have made sure everyone I know has seen this, and some of them had forwarded this information on to others, Sammy64 may be getting “hate mail” from all over the place. Also, it’s been rather interesting to hear from other people who have had some type of similar experience with Sammy64, from the fact that he doesn’t look like his picture to lying about meeting up with people.
Thanks for sharing, Walt!
Homo guested. ♥