Thursday, September 16, 2010

Video Vanguard

In my mind and in my car
We can't rewind we've gone to far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put the blame on VTR
--The Buggles

First off, some new videos of little ol' me. I FINALLY got the DVD of my set from Comix when I opened for Jennifer Coolidge on July 25, 2010. Even more exciting: I figured out how to rip and upload the video from it all by myself!

Why, in this day and age, it is still so difficult to do this boggles (and buggles) the mind. If I can plug my Flip Camera into my computer and have the video instantly upload with the click of a mouse, why the hell can't I do the same thing with a DVD? In the interest of public service, I hereby direct you to this link if, like I was, you are struggling to rip video from a DVD onto a Mac. (If you've got a PC, you're on your own.) I went straight to "Part II: How to import NON-Commercial DVD into iMovie," but there are also instructions on how to copy/bootleg a commercial release, if such a thing interests you.

Anyway, it worked. A warning, though: Don't try this unless you have a few hours of free time to work on it, especially if you also plan to upload the video to YouTube.

Here, without further Mountain Dew, is the set. It's in two parts. (And if you've seen me perform anytime in the last few years, you've probably seen most of this material before. What can I say: I'm not gonna do new material in front of a sold-out club crowd opening for a movie star.)


Part Un


Part Deux


Coming soon: A video of my set at "Stripped Stories" from July 14, 2010 -- all of which contains BRAND NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN MATERIAL. (Unless you were at that show, of course. Or at the "Stripped Stories" I did back in 2008.)

After a busy and unspeakably hot summer, I find myself with a lot of down time lately which, combined with the cooler weather, is making me nostalgic, romantic, hopeful and a little sad all at the same time. I think I'm ready for a boyfriend again, but I'm not meeting anyone with whom I feel remotely compatible. In truth, I'm not meeting much of anyone. Where do people meet nowadays anyway? When I was younger, I thought nothing of going out to a bar by myself and just walking up to someone. I could NEVER do that now. I can't even imagine going to a bar by myself. What happens these days is, I go out and meet friends, and we stand around in a huddle all night, talking to one another and ignoring (and being ignored by) everyone else.

I don't care what Oprah says; getting older sucks. Last night I plucked three white hairs from my head. Not grey -- white. I don't mind the color -- I find some silver-haired guys really sexy. But the texture of these white hairs is beyond nasty. They stick straight out from my head like jagged bits of fishing line, and no amount of gel will tame them. I'm told the only real remedy for this is to dye one's hair. If I do, any color suggestions from the Peanut Gallery? I think I'm too old to pull off the platinum blond anymore...

 What Ever Happened to Baby Bam-Bam?

With my new-found down time, I've been re-watching a lot of old movies and YouTube clips. Came across a 1988 video of Freddie Mercury performing "Barcelona" live at an outdoor concert in that city with opera singer  Montserrat Cabballé. It gave me chills. Although I must say, I'm sure Montserrat is a great opera singer, but she's no match for Freddie.



Genius.

Unable to get to sleep Saturday night, I watched "My Bodyguard" (1980) on Netflix. Not to be confused with "The Bodyguard" (1992), which is a steaming pile of filmic plop, "My Bodyguard" stars Chris Makepeace as a sweet-but-nerdy high school freshman who is mercilessly bullied at the hands of Matt Dillon (already delicious at 16). Fed up, Makepeace hires the scary, troubled outcast that everyone, including Matt Dillon's character, is frightened of, to be his bodyguard.


Is it wrong for me to lust after a 16-year-old, even if he was older than me at the time and still is?

"My Bodyguard" was one of those movies I watched as a child dozens of times on HBO but hadn't seen in decades. I always loved it, in part because Makepeace looked a lot like my friend Mike Bultman, at least to me. (Mike, email me a photo of you as a young teenager so I can do a side-by-side comparison here.) And it goes without saying that I identified with that character, especially during my traumatic Newark Academy years. Basically, "My Bodyguard" is the ultimate revenge fantasy for any kid who ever felt victimized in school. Which is to say, most of us.

I'm happy to report that "My Bodyguard" has stood the test of time. It's as sweet and quirky as I remembered. The teenage actors are great -- look for two supporting roles I had completely forgotten about played by a very young-looking Joan Cusack (!) and a hilariously adenoidal kid named Paul Quandt, who never made another film. Makepeace is completely authentic, just as he had been in "Meatballs" the year before. (Why his career dissolved is a mystery to me.) Matt Dillon plays a terrific and non-stereotypical bully; even when he's terrorizing a weaker kid, you can see he's masking his own scrawny insecurity. And Adam Baldwin, as the titular bodyguard, exudes a deeply sexy, dangerous aura throughout. When he finally smiles, it's like the sun coming out of the mist.

After some research, I was shocked to learn that aside from Dillon, Baldwin  -- no relation to the famous brothers -- has had the most successful career in Hollywood of any of "Bodyguard's" teens. He's made dozens of movies and TV shows including NBC's "Chuck," in which he plays John Casey. I would never have recognized him as the same person.

  
Adam Baldwin then...


And now!

My only real complaints about "My Bodyguard," actually, pertain to its adult characters and the actors who play them. Martin Mull is useless, doing his usual wacky, befuddled Martin Mull thing as Makepeace's single hotel-manager father. Ruth Gordon practically inhales scenery as the boozy, sexually inappropriate grandmother (essentially a cheap retread of her "Harold and Maude" character). And someone named Kathryn Grody plays a hippie teacher whose sole raison d'être seems to be revealing highly personal information about Baldwin's character to Makepeace that should have gotten her fired. None of these people adds a thing to the movie. (The venerable John Houseman also makes a cameo, but I confess I must have dozed through his scenes. I have no idea what he's doing in the film.)

All right, I've rambled on far too long and must get some work done. Don't forget to get your tickets now to see me in my off-Broadway debut next week, hosting a fabulous new scene competition called "Scene It!"

Thursday, September 23rd at 7:30pm
Scene It!
Jerry Orbach Theater
Snapple Theater Center
210 West 50th Street
New York, NY 10018
Click here for Tickets.

Homo on film.

P.S. Just realized my main topic of this post was to have been the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, and I didn't mention a thing about them. Oh well. They pretty much sucked anyway.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Croatianism

I'm Slim Shady, yes I'm the real Shady
All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating
So won't the real Slim Shady please stand up,
please stand up, please stand up?
--Eminem

This week I discovered to my horror that someone in Croatia -- at least he said he was in Croatia -- had assumed my identity on Facebook. Not only was he using my name; he was also using my photos. And, most creepily, his personal information was vaguely reminiscent of my own. (For example, Croatian Adam Sank named Sea World as his employer. While I never worked at Sea World, I did audition to be the host of their Christmas spectacular when I was living in San Diego, something I blogged about here. Croatian Adam Sank listed Ohio State as his alma mater; I went to fellow Big 10 school University of Michigan, and so forth.)

Croatian Adam Sank used an old headshot of mine as his profile picture:


I Call This One "Pit of Despair."

That didn't freak me out as much as the fact that on his wall, he posted an additional headshot with the words, "Here's another picture of me." In other words, he went out of his way to find pictures of me to go along with his fake identity. He also posted clever, insightful status updates, such as, "..fuck,I'm a horny gay bitch,waiting for a nice sexyy hot horny gay *MY BITCH* ;)) :**"

Which is something I say all the time.

I discovered Croatian Adam Sank by accident when I was typing my own name into Facebook's search bar. Why was I searching for myself, you ask? Because I have two pages on the site: The first is my primary profile page, which is simply called "Adam Sank." The second is my fan page, which is called, "Adam Sank, Comedian." The fan page is actually a public page, like one owned by an organization or social group, so there's no way for me to "log in" to it other than to search for it and click on it, the way one would go to a friend's page or that of a group he wanted to join. This is one of the many annoying things about Facebook. (Why I even have a fan page when I'm only half way to the 5,000-friend maximum on my profile page is a conversation for another time.)

Needless to say, I was shocked and amazed when I saw my own name and armpit staring back at me, and living in Croatia no less! I should point out that while Croatian Adam Sank listed Croatia as his current location, he also listed British Columbia as his home province. So who the hell knows? I immediately sent Croatian Adam Sank a message demanding to know what gives. I also reported the profile to Facebook as a fake and alerted all my friends and fans to do the same.

Meanwhile, my mind bubbled at a possible Croatian connection. You see, more than two years ago I received some Internet fan mail from someone supposedly in Croatia and calling himself Zlatko Patacko, along with his request for my "autogram." I blogged about it at the time because I thought it was sort of funny... and then never gave it a second thought.

But in discussing my Facebook impersonator with comedian Shawn Hollenbach the other day, I discovered that he had received the exact same email... as had Dave Rubin, Adam Lehman and Danny Leary, all of them gay New York-based comedians. (Paul Case revealed to me that he was devastated to have been left off Zlatko's list.)

Maybe it's just a coincidence. But the fact that Croatia has now come up twice in connection with me (and other gay comedians) makes me think that Zlatko -- or whoever it is calling himself that -- could also be Croatian Adam Sank.


The Official Flag of Croatia.
I particularly like the goat on the ring finger.

Having an impostor feels very strange. On the one hand, it's flattering to think that some stranger out there thinks enough of me -- or at least about me -- to want to "be" me, at least in a virtual way. On the other hand, it emphasizes how vulnerable each of us is to manipulation (or worse) if we put our names and faces out to the world. After all, Zlatko, or whoever he is, could have pretended to be just about anyone on Facebook. The fact that I'm a public figure -- albeit a very minor one -- increases my chances somewhat, but who's to stop the Zlatkos out there from assuming any identity they want? Even yours?

Certainly not Facebook. I was discussing this Saturday morning with "comic" vulgarian Brad Loekle as we sunned ourselves on my roof. (Brad was clad only in boxer briefs. I shan't give further description lest any of you be eating while reading this.)


Me and the Bald One.
Sept. 4, 2010.

Brad was telling me that Whoopi Goldberg and her lawyers have apparently been waging a campaign to get all her fake Facebook profiles removed. According to what she said on "The View" -- which Brad watches religiously -- Whoopi herself isn't on Facebook. And yet there are a dozen people on the site calling themselves Whoopi Goldberg, using her photos, and essentially commenting on her behalf. (This one has over 20,000 fans!)

But I'm not sure why Whoopi's having such difficulties, because after a single weekend of having my peeps report Croatian Adam Sank to Facebook, I am happy to say that his profile has been deleted. Leaving me, the one and only Adam Sank, to continue toiling in obscurity.

And working on my Croatian comedy tour.

Homo one and only.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Feast of Flesh (Part 3 - The Full Monty)

Before I conclude the story of my naked weekend (which I sense has been of interest to absolutely nobody), a quick literary detour which has nothing to do with anything:

I just finished re-reading Andrew Holleran's "Dancer From the Dance." The tragic tale of circuit queens living 1970's-era NYC, "Dancer" is one of those novels I read again every few years (along with Larry Kramer's "Faggots," which came out at the same time and is in many ways a companion piece). As always, I was struck by the lyrical, poetic beauty of Holleran's writing. He's the only author I know who can set a scene in a bathhouse and make it come out like something out of Dickens:

Malone stood at the window, looking out at the falling snow through the web of ice crystals that had formed on the windowpane, watching the snow fall on 28th Street, on the tops of garbage cans, the silver throats of the streetlights; while against him brushed the bodies of muscular men who wished to catch his eye, thinking that once Malone saw him, they would have him. But Malone continued standing there, within the house of flesh, the Temple of Priapus, staring out at the sparkling snowfall. That was it. That was Malone -- standing in the crush of voluptuous limbs, enthralled by the cold, lonely, deserted street.

What struck me hard this time was a paragraph from one of the two unnamed characters whose correspondence to each other frames the story. (I don't think I'm spoiling the book here for anyone who hasn't read it, the narrative being almost beside the point.):

You can't love eyes, my dear, you can't love youth, you can't love summer dusks that washed us out of our tenements into the streets like water falling over rocks -- no, dear, madness that way lies. You must stick to earth, always, you must love another man or woman, a human lover whose farts occasionally punctuate the silence of your bedroom in the morning and who now and then has bad moods that must be catered to.

Oh, God, it's just so good and so real. If you have never read it, you simply must -- especially if you're a gay man, and most especially if you're a gay man, as I am, who has ever partaken, in any small or large way, of the circuit lifestyle -- that crazy existence that brings constant expectation, extreme physical sensation and little else beyond heartbreak, addiction and loneliness. That's really what "Dancer From the Dance" is about for me: The futility of the circuit, and the basic need for human intimacy.

Good Stuff.

So back to the GNI retreat:

When the group had originally asked me to do the show, I was told by the booker: "You're not required to be nude on-stage, but I can tell you our membership would greatly appreciate at least partial nudity, if only as a curtain call." This presented me with a quandary. On the one hand, I really didn't want to perform nude. My experience performing for gay men has taught me that the more clothes I have on, the better. This goes along with my theory (recounted in a recent Next Magazine article) that gay guys like to keep their comedy separate from their sex lives, as evidenced by the popularity among gay men of drag queens, John Waters characters and other grotesqueries. In short, we don't want to fuck that which makes us laugh, and vice versa.

On the other hand, I have always believed strongly in respecting my audience. When I do a synagogue show, for instance, I clean up my material and heavily emphasize my own Jewish upbringing. (Although as Robin Fox can attest, I recently hosted a temple show in Jersey in which the crowd wasn't responding much to my clean, Jewy stuff. When I finally pulled out the dirty card, doing my Vagisil bit, the punchline of which includes the phrase "stank pussy," I received an applause break from the entire audience, the rabbi included.)



The Vagisil bit, performed at the Dirtbag in San Diego on June 6, 2009.

So as I said, I believe n respect. I also believe in acknowledging the room. A gay show is not the same as a straight show, a resort is not the same as a comedy club, and a group of naked people is not the same as a group of clothed people. It's incompetent and lazy not to adjust one's act accordingly.

Also: I'm an almost-40-year-old gay man living in New York City. There aren't a lot of things about which I can say, "I've never done that before." This would be one of them.

And so:

I got naked.

After a fashion.

What I did was to begin sort of semi-nude, clothed in only a vest, a bow-tie, boxer-briefs, shoes and socks:

Note Jared, horrified, watching from the wings.

I explained to the crowd that I was afraid to perform completely nude, both in terms of how my comedy would be received and because of my less-than-impressive endowment. But, I told them, the harder they laughed, the more clothes I'd take off. This was met with thunderous applause. Cheesy ploy or genius? I'll let you decide. All I know is, it was one of the best, most successful times I've ever had on-stage, and I did wind up completely starkers -- at least for an instant.

Off came the tie and vest...

...and later, the undies, leaving only a jockstrap.

I can't tell you how unsettling it is to perform comedy in a jockstrap. Never before had I realized how physical a lot of my stuff is. (I don't regard myself as a physical comic.) When I'm imitating Heidi Klum Fortunately, the GNI membership felt no such weirdness. Nudity, after all, is their preferred state. So all they did was enjoy it.

I left the stage after about 25 minutes, bringing Jared up for his contortion act. He destroyed.

The highlight came when Jared asked a volunteer from the crowd to put him in a straitjacket.
This is truly a man comfortable with his sexuality.

After Jared's act, I came out to to the stage again to say good night and thank you. At this point, I was wearing only a towel. After some hemming and hawing, I turned my back to the crowd and dropped the towel, revealing a completely naked backside. The crowd went wild. I slowly turned around to reveal... a sock hanging from my johnson! I paused for a moment, whipped the sock off, and got the hell off stage as fast as I could.

This photo is dedicated to my dear friend Tommy Raniszewski, who begged me not to post it because he felt showing my blurry tush would somehow damage my non-existent career.
Tommy, this butt's for you!

In the end, I have no regrets. I faced my fears, had a terrific set and made lots of new, naked friends. So thanks, GNI!

Homo exposed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feast of Flesh (Part 2)

Hello,

You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at http://www.facebook.com/help/?topic=wphotos.

--The Facebook Team

The forbidden photo cited in the above message, which I received this morning upon waking up, was the one showing a large group of naked men having cocktails... as seen from about 1,000 yards away. Seriously, how prudy can Facebook be? I've seen more titillating nudity in National Geographic. Facebook needs to grow up -- and maybe take a cold shower.


OMG, Titties! Scandalous!

So back to my GNI story: Once Jared and I had shown ourselves around and done a quick tech run-through, we still had hours to kill. It was a gorgeous day, so I decided to take a dip in one of the two camp pools. I moseyed on down to the one where the cocktail party was NOT happening, as it was barely occupied. And, in front of the four or five guys who happened to be lounging around down there, I stripped down to my birthday suit and dove in.

It was nice -- I'm not going to lie to you. The water felt wonderful. Though I must say, as I did my laps, I kept wondering how my ass looked bobbing up and down along the surface of the pool. It had nothing to do with the other guys; they were minding their own business. It was just my own self-consciousness. And when I got out, I immediately wrapped myself in a towel and stayed that way. (I also didn't want to burn my balls.)

After that it was off to the gym -- one of the most primeval in which I've ever worked out. They had one of those ancient exercise bicycles with actual wheels on them, and the dumbbells were so damp and moldy that the metal flaked off in my hands.

But you know what? Working out shirtless -- I put my shorts back on for this activity -- is the greatest thing ever. Lifting in front of the mirror, I was so much more conscious of my form than I normally am and was able to use my muscles in the optimal way. Now I sort of understand those people who work out in spandex and other skin-tight get-ups, even though I still think they look ridiculous. In any case, I had the best workout in recent memory, and had the sore parts to prove it for the next five days.


I'm going to wear this next time I'm at the gym.

As I did cardio on the creaky elliptical machine, I was visited by a number of GNI staffers and volunteers, all of whom were, of course, naked. And it struck me that the challenge of hanging around with naked people is trying not to look at their dicks while having a conversation with them. Not because I didn't want to look -- as a gay man, I can never see too many dicks -- but because it just seems rude. I kept waiting for someone to say, "Hey, my eyes are up here -- not down there." But no one did.

But I'll tell you this about dicks: Spending 18 hours with the GNI members and their members really drives home just how much variety there is in the dick kingdom. I haven't seen too many vaginas in my life, but I can't imagine they come in so many different shapes and sizes. There seem to be as many different varieties of penis as there are penises. They're like snowflakes!

Oh, the things you can find on Google Images!

After the gym, I showered and headed, still shirtless and shortfull, down to the cocktail party. The theme was Eye Candy, and I spotted a number of highly creative costumes.

Incredibly, Facebook has no issue with this photo. At least not yet.

The GNI guys were, to a man, warm and friendly toward me. But a number of them wondered why I wasn't nude. I pointed out that, in fact, wearing only shorts and sandals, I was as nude or nuder than many of them! But to this argument, the GNI-ers simply smiled shook their heads. Apparently, naturists have a penis-only policy, and I wasn't making the cut. So to speak. 

By the way, in case you're wondering what Jared was up to all this time, the answer is, he was keeping a low profile up in the cabin. I did run into him on my way back from the cocktail party, stretching out in the gym. It takes Jared hours to stretch our prior to a performance, which is just one more reason why contortionists have it tougher than comedians. While he was lifting his legs over his head, I was on my second Pinot Grigio!

Now it was time for dinner, which would be followed by showtime.

To be continued.

Homo shirtless.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Feast of Flesh (Part 1)

"Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly."
--Rosalind Russell


Last Friday I performed for the Gay Naturists International's 27th annual gathering in the mountains of Pennsylvania. "Naturists" is another word for nudists... and quite nude they were.


Bringing Up the Rear

Except the funny thing is, they weren't completely nude, as evidenced in the photo above. Apparently being a Naturist doesn't mean utter lack of clothing; it just means letting your junk hang out. Butt I'm getting ahead of myself.

My day began shortly after noon, when I met fellow performer Jared Rydelek at the rental car place in NYC. Jared is a professional contortionist. I had never met anyone with such a vocation, and it made for fascinating conversation in the car. It's not every day, after all, that you hear someone say, "I think I'm going to have a light lunch, because I may be swallowing swords later tonight." And especially not a straight guy.

Just Jared.

Jared was a trip, to tell you the truth. Really sweet and off-beat, with a great sense of himself. And I asked him a million questions.

Here are a few things I bet you didn't know about contortionism (and about Jared):

1) Swallowing swords and pushing nails up one's nose are actually two sides of the same coin. The former involves controlling one's gag reflex -- the latter, one's sneeze reflex. In both cases, it is essential that the contortionist avoid hitting anything solid. Also, novice sword swallowers will often vomit. (This is a particular occupational hazard for Jared, as he is emetophobic, i.e. one who fears throwing up or being around others who throw up. Did you know that was an actual phobia? I didn't. It turns out emetophobia is the seventh most common phobia in the world!)

2) Contortionists are notoriously competitive with and nasty toward one another. As a comedian, I understand this all too well. We compete, after all, for extremely limited resources. But I would think being that there are relatively few contortionists out there, there would be enough contortion work to go around to keep them all on friendly terms. Apparently not.  

3) In spite of this, Jared does get all kinds of work. He performs at sweet sixteens, comedy shows, burlesque extravaganzas, fashion events, you name it. He's been paid as a contortion consultant on films. And once, for a Purina dog food commercial, he squeezed himself through a doggie-door. In addition to swallowing swords, inhaling nails and contorting his body, he also eats fire and walks on glass. Just another day at the office.

4) Many contortionists are hired as dancers and/or background scenery. Human art, if you will. They are expected to silently do interesting and unusual things with their bodies while music plays and events happen around them. This is not Jared's thing. He started out as a magician and still possesses a showman's sensibility on-stage, with a great deal of audience interaction. 

As I'm sure I've piqued your interest by now, here's Jared's promo reel:


Jared and I arrived at "camp," as it is known by the GNI members, around 3PM, after an easy drive. The weather was perfect, and we immediately surveyed the scenery:

The lake...


The festivities...


And the nakedness.

A few words about that nakedness:

I am certainly no prude. Quite the opposite, actually. And I've been to nude beaches before. I have nothing whatsoever against nudity, and in fact, I myself have been known to traipse around my apartment naked for hours on end, particularly on hot days. I recognize that we're all born naked, and that clothing is an artificial barrier to our physical selves.

All that said, unless you're a naturist, nothing can quite prepare you for this:


Gives new meaning to the phrase "cocktail party," n'est-ce pas?

Nor could anything have prepared for me later that night, when I myself would be performing comedy on-stage in front of hundreds of men... wearing nothing but a smile.

To be continued.

Homo uncovered.