Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time Flies

"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time..."
--James Taylor

First, some business: If you're either a drag queen or a straight guy who plays in a rock 'n roll band -- or know someone who is -- I need your help filling out a brief survey. The questions are general and designed to find out your likes and dislikes. Answers will be kept completely anonymous, and the entire thing shouldn't take you more than five minutes. Please contact me here if you can help.

Note: I am looking for drag queens OR rockers.
I am not looking for drag queens who ARE rockers.

And a bit of self promotion:

I've got some cool shows coming up that you should check out if you're in the area.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, I will be making my off-Broadway debut (of sorts). I am hosting a musical theatre scene competition called "Scene It!" at the Jerry Orbach Theater. Playbill did a really nice write-up about it here. I'm extremely proud to have been asked to be a part of this, and I am way psyched!

The following Thursday, Sept. 30, I'll be telling my coming-out story at Shawn Hollenbach's fabulous "Closet Cases" show at The Tank.

And on Sunday, Oct. 24, I'll be doing my first ever Connecticut show, "Homos Without Borders," in New Haven, along with the aforementioned Hollenbach and fellow whores Paul Case, Danny Leary and Chris Doucette. It'll be a hoot.

Bonus points for anyone who can guess what we're actually drinking.

But before any of that happens, I'll be appearing at the GNI group's annual retreat this Friday. GNI stands for Gay Naturists International. And by "naturists," they mean nudists. Yes, I will be performing in front of hundreds of naked men. And for once, it'll be comedy. (Ba-dum-bum.) Butt seriously, I am kind of nervous about this, y'all. Will my comedy go over in a room full of nakedness? And will I myself be naked on-stage? Stay tuned...

On to the today's actual blog theme: Time.

Lately my life has been in a perpetual state of rewind. It's like my brain has its own private YouTube library, and I can't find the "stop" button. It's freaking me out.

Sunday night, before I guest-hosted at Therapy, I watched "South Pacific" on PBS's "Live from Lincoln Center" Series. Deeply, deeply moving. First of all, it's the greatest musical of all time, in my opinion. (And fuck you, anyone who prefers "Gypsy" with its tedious storyline and largely forgettable melodies Maybe if Sondheim had done the music instead of just the lyrics... but as it is, feh.) Secondly, the Lincoln Center production, which I got to see live before moving to San Diego, is as perfect a Broadway production as you'll ever encounter. Kelli O'Hara and Paulo Szot are the ideal Nellie and Emile. (I never bought Mary Martin, who looked to me like a grizzled old dyke, as the gorgeous but ignorant southern belle.)

Please, Mary.

The entire supporting cast and ensemble are also splendid. And more than anything, the mood -- that incredibly somber, romantic, haunted, tropical mood -- was flawlessly effected. Watching it alone in my apartment, I wept. I wept when Bloody Mary sang "Bali Hai." I wept when Cable met and made love to Liat. I wept when Nellie told Liat that Cable had been killed. And when Emile returns at the end to find Nellie serving dinner to his kids, Ngana and Jerome... well, I dissolved into a puddle on the floor.

Here's a clip they showed on "The View."

But fabulous production values aside, there's another reason watching "South Pacific" affected me so. It's because when I was eight years old, I played Jerome in Summit High School's production of the show. It was my first musical. And though it's a tiny role -- Jerome and Ngana don't do much other than sing "Dites-Mois" at the top of act one -- it began for me a lifelong love affair with Broadway musicals and with performing itself.

I remember having a crush on the 18-year-old girl who played Nellie -- whose name I can no longer recall. I remember Tom Conway, who played my father, always being so sweet and gentle with me and Stephanie Hodde, who played Ngana. And I remember every night the exhilaration of hearing the overture begin and knowing I was about to perform in front of (what felt like) throngs of people.

And as I was reliving this experience in front of my television set, it hit me: That was more than 30 years ago. Almost half a lifetime ago.

For some reason, that made me start thinking about my 30th birthday, in 2001. My parents threw a big party for me at their home on Ridge Road in Summit. All my closest NYC friends were there, along with my sisters, one married, the other single. Also attending were a contingent of coworkers from Fox News Channel. My boyfriend of one year, with whom I would spend another three years, got up and sang a song he had written for me -- shocking me and absolutely everyone else.(He was usually very shy in public.) I had never performed a comedy set, nor had I ever dreamed of doing such a thing.

Soon it'll be 2011. My parents no longer live at the home on Ridge Road. I am no longer in contact with most of those people I once regarded as my closest friends. My ex-boyfriend and I have been broken up for seven years and have both started and ended long-term relationships with others since then. I don't work at Fox News Channel and haven't produced TV news of any kind since 2003. My once-single sister is married with two sons and two step-daughters. I'm a comedian.

All of this -- this ridiculously fast, never-ending passage of time -- would be easier to accept if it were only a matter of decades or years. But lately I can't fathom where the months and days are going, either. It seems like just yesterday I was driving my Toyota Yaris across the country, stopping in places like Albuquerque and Little Rock to perform comedy. But that was seven months ago. Now that car is sold, and I work at a staffing agency. Next month, my father will be 75. In February, I'll be 40.

In "Six Degrees of Separation," Ouisa asks:

How do we keep what happens to us? How do we fit it into life without turning it into an anecdote?

Or in my case, a joke?

That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Homo reflective.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Potato Chips

This is for my childhood friend, Mike Bultman -- and perhaps no one else. Yesterday Mike left the following post on my Facebook page.

"hey there. Just wondering if you've given up your blog, are doing it somewhere else, or anything. It brings joy to many and I'm sure that many of us miss it! Time is a factor, I'm guessing. Hope all is well!"

Again, I am dubious as to there being "many." But it's nice to know that at least Mike misses this thing. And the truth is, I miss it, too. It's been eating at me for months that I haven't blogged. Yet I haven't been able to bring myself to do it.

Good ol' Mike.

I could blame a number of factors: The fact that I work longer daytime hours than at any other time since I began this blog; the fact that I moved yet again and have been busy furnishing an empty apartment from scratch; the fact that the comedy's been picking up, and I've been traveling frequently for weekend gigs; the fact that this has been a brutally hot, humid, hellacious summer, and all I've wanted to do is draw the blinds, crank up the AC and watch horrible reality TV.

All of the above are true, but they don't explain why I haven't been writing in this blog. The simple fact is, I haven't been writing because I haven't had anything to say. And then the longer I don't write, the harder it is to start writing again. Even coming up with these few lines has been a tremendous effort. It's like my creative muscles have atrophied (along with my actual muscles, but that's another story). So it just becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy: I don't write because I don't feel like writing, and then because I don't write, I can't write, and because I can't write, I don't write. (Is that a self-fulfilling prophecy or a catch-22? See? I suck! I've lost all mastery of even the most cliched idioms!)

Also, I blame Facebook. Truly. Remember, when I started this blog in 2004, there was no Facebook. There wasn't even MySpace! (I think Friendster was around, but that site was just sad.) But I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Facebook these days. It has become my primary medium of communication. (Although I still don't understand why close friends of mine send me Facebook messages instead of just emailing me. That's annoying)

The point is, every passing thought I have winds up on my Facebook page in the form of a status update. By day's end, I have nothing left to say. And while this is satisfying on one level -- the comments from my 2,479* Facebook friends provide instant gratification  -- it ultimately leaves me rather empty. Sort of like nibbling potato chips throughout the day but never actually sitting down for a meal.

Mmm... Carbs.

On the other hand, I wonder if anyone even READS personal blogs anymore, Mike Bultman notwithstanding. Just as Facebook has hampered my ability to construct a fully realized blog, it has also contributed to America's ever-growing attention deficit disorder. After all, with so many status updates to get through every day, why would one take the time to read anything longer than 140 characters?

Essentially everyone with a Facebook or Twitter account is a blogger now. Or at least a micro-blogger And the shorter and snappier your updates are, the greater the likelihood that someone will read them. And comment on them. And God knows, we gotta have those comments. Just like those potato chips.

And yet... and yet... there is a price to all this, at least for me. Because while I always loved getting comments on my blog posts and watching the number of readers climb through the years, at the end of the day I wrote what I wrote for one person: me. It fed me -- and not just chips. It offered perspective on and gave meaning to my life, certainly as much as the comedy did, and probably more. It made me a better writer and a better comic. And probably a better person.

So I have to start doing it again. I just do. Not blogging is as detrimental to my psychological and spiritual self as not working out is to my physical self. It's a grind, to be sure, but the results are worth it. So thank you, Mike Bultman. Yours was the gentle push I needed to get off my metaphysical fat ass. (My actual ass is, sadly, not nearly as fat and bulbous as it used to be, but that's another story.)

And now, for no reason whatsoever, I'll leave you with a photo of me and a giant dog name Chloe:

At my boss's barbecue in Hauppauge, Long Island.
Aug. 21, 2010.

More to come.

Homo back.

*And counting.