Sunday, November 20, 2011

The iPhone Chronicles

There's a kind of a sort of cost
There's a couple of things get lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn't know you crossed until you've crossed...


--"Wicked"


We start with the good news: The first installment of "Dirty Laundry," my all-naked comedy show (produced by my dear friend and sleaze-meister extraordinaire Daniel Nardicio) was an unqualified success. We packed the space at 30 Lexington, and the evening was truly one-of-a-kind, high-quality entertainment. I think everyone there would agree. Here's an interview Next Magazine did with me previewing the event.

I'm not sure why nudity and comedy would go well together. But if you really think about it, stand-up is all about stripping away artifice and getting to the real and the true underneath. The best comics -- particularly the comics I most enjoy, like Louis CK -- will get on-stage and expose their true selves to the audience. Appearing on-stage naked is perhaps the logical extension of that. I know for me, being naked while telling stories doesn't make me feel embarrassed or sexual or any of the other things we associate with nudity. But it does make me feel exposed and vulnerable, and that actually enhances my ability to connect to the audience in an authentic way.

In any case, and it'll be hard to understand this if you weren't there, the vibe of the show felt like nothing so much as a bonfire at sleepaway camp, at which people are lounging contentedly around a warm center, exchanging funny stories and laughing. It felt cozy.

Just like this. Only nakeder.

30 Lex is not a bar or a club. It's essentially an empty duplex apartment that's used for various parties and functions. I was hopping around the space busily throughout the show, as I always am when I'm hosting. And at some point, I took some of my stuff -- a pair of socks, a Chapstick, my MAC Medium Dark Blot Pressed Powder (which keeps me from looking shiny on stage) and my iPhone -- and set them on the kitchen stove, which was next to the stage platform. 

This is where the bad news happens.

Immediately after the show, I wrapped a towel around my waist and was engulfed in a flurry of activity. People came up to hug me, thank me, shake my hand, etc. The photographer from Next Magazine took pictures of me and the other comics. And then I sat down for a very long, very thoughtful interview with a reporter from Edge on the Net. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

When the interview ended, I went to put my clothes back on and gather my belongings. Everything was exactly where I had left it: Socks, Chapstick, MAC powder and even my backpack (inside of which were my wallet and keys). 

But no iPhone.

Adios.

I knew instantly it had been taken, even as Daniel and everyone else tried to convince me it would turn up. It shocked me -- and still shocks me -- that anyone who had been part of such a warm, intimate experience would then turn around and steal something so valuable, but to paraphrase Faye Dunaway in "Mommie Dearest, this ain't my first time at the stolen iPhone rodeo.

My first iPhone was was stolen just one month after I bought it. The circumstances were almost identical, except I was clothed at the time. I was hosting "That Sank Show" at Bar-Tini and set the phone down on the edge of DJ booth for a few minutes, and poof! It was gone. The replacement cost me $700. And now, less than six months later, I've got to replace it again.

If I'm being honest, I really do have a troubled past with Apple products. Regular readers of this blog will recall my missing iPod saga from when I lived in San Diego. That story actually had a happy ending, as I got my iPod back, and the fat bitch who stole it lost her job. And this past year has been an especially trying one for me in terms of lost and stolen items of all kinds. In June, I had my wallet stolen out of my pocket at the Eagle (don't even ask the circumstances of that transaction), and then three months later my new wallet fell out of my gym shorts while getting off a cross-town bus, only to be returned the next day (sans cash) by a bicyclist. So this latest theft is just one more giant headache and financial lost to add to my long, sad list.

What can I tell you? As anal retentive and organized and Type-A as I pride myself in being, mine is a scattered artist's brain. And also, I was naked Friday night, so there weren't a lot of obvious places to stow the phone, other than up my ass. 

I've been chronicling the loss of my phone on Facebook all weekend, and a number of well-meaning people have reached out to me to try and offer advice on getting the phone back or replacing it without having to pay an arm and a leg. While I truly appreciate everyone's suggestions, none have been useful to me. So in a preemptive strike against one more person's telling me my insurance will pay for it (and as a sort of primer to anyone out there who may be going through this), allow me to summarize:

1) I didn't have insurance. After I lost the first phone, I inquired about insurance and was informed that Verizon's insurance plan only covers damage, not loss or theft. So I didn't get it, and it wouldn't have made a difference if I did.

2) I did have a passcode on the phone, so theoretically, it should be useless to whoever nabbed it -- at least until they wipe the phone and restore it to its factory settings. More on that later.

3) I did download and launch the "Find-My-iPhone" application before the phone was stolen. Apple trumpets this app as a sort of LoJack for phones -- a way to track your phone's location, send messages to it, or lock/wipe it completely from a remote location. I'm here to tell you that Find-My-iPhone is fucking useless. Unless the phone is kept charged and turned on, the app won't work. And whoever has my phone turned it off within an hour of acquiring it and has kept it off ever since. I know this from my Verizon usage reports, and from the fact that I've tried using Find-My-iPhone about two-dozen times, day and night, over the last 48 hours. All it tells me is that my phone is "offline." At this point, I've done everything the app allows -- including sending a sound and a "Return to me!" message to the phone, locking it and wiping it. All the site tells me is that my commands will be granted if and when someone turns the phone on.

4) Apple will not replace my phone. In fact, they don't even have any more iPhone 4 32G's left. I could purchase an iPhone 4 8G -- essentially a downgrade -- for about $500. Or I could reserve the new iPhone 4S and pay $700 whenever it arrives. Nor does Apple keep track of lost or stolen phones by serial number. In other words, if the thief takes my phone(s), plugs it into his Mac or takes it to the Apple store, he can simply wipe out my settings and data and start over again with his "new"phone. This is another reason why Find-My-iPhone and passcodes are bullshit security.

5) Verizon, however, does keep a list of lost/stolen phones by serial number. I spoke with Monica, a truly exceptional customer service agent at Verizon, today, and she actually looked up both the serial numbers of my first and second iPhone and confirmed that nobody has tried to activate them using a different phone number. And now they can't, because I've reported them stolen. This won't necessarily help me get my phones back, but at least I know the evil cunts who took them won't get to use them either. (The poor saps they sell them to are another story.) In addition, I registered with a site called iTrack, which is essentially a national lost-and-found directory for Apple products. Supposedly, iTrack works with pawn shops and law enforcement to prevent the resale of stolen devices. And I've offered a reward of $100 via the site to anyone who turns in the newer of the two phones. We shall see.

6) I don't have renter's insurance. I don't rent.

7) My homeowner's insurance doesn't cover items that weren't stolen from my home.

8) I am not eligible for a free upgrade (to the 4S) until October of 2012. Monica told me she could bend that by a month or two, but not an entire year.

9) For the time being, I'm back to using my ancient, teeny-tiny Verizon LG VX920V03 phone. It's like using an Etch a Sketch to talk, text and email.

I Love the 90s.


And that's basically where it's at now. I'm thinking what I'll do is try and find an iPhone 3 or 4 that someone's not using anymore -- my beloved cousin Stacy said I might be able to have her old 3 -- or purchase a used one online. Then, when next October rolls around, I'll upgrade to the 4S for free. If anyone reading this happens to have an iPhone they're no longer using and wants to donate it to me, please email me. I'll be eternally grateful. I am also accepting monetary donations to the Adam Sank Sad Foundation for iPhone Loss (ASSFIL). You can donate by clicking here:

Actually, if every reader of this blog gave just $5.00, I could probably buy myself a brand new 4S. (I'm assuming I have at least 140 unique readers.) Any leftover funds will be donated to AmFAR. How 'bout it?
 
 
Oh, and one last thing. When I got back from the Apple store and the gym today, I walked into my apartment and smelled a strange and sickly mildew odor. I followed the smell into the bathroom, which I found covered in dirty water. Apparently the old French man who lives upstairs had left his bathtub running indefinitely, and the water seeped through my ceiling and light fixtures. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Homo phone home.

Come see me tomorrow night at Rock Bar! Details here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun With Scanner

Look at this photograph
Every time I do it makes me laugh
How did our eyes get so red?
And what the hell is on Joey's head?
--Nickelback

I know my recent extended trips down Memory Lane have bordered on the pathologically narcissistic, even for a blog titled "Sanktastic." But since so many people from my past have reached out to me in the last few weeks -- and since I recently rediscovered a trove of old photos and figured out how to use my sexy Canon MP495 Pixma to scan them online (no easy feat, by the way) -- I decided to do one last nostalgic photo-blog. If you didn't find my Frat Life series entertaining, you might as well skip the rest of this post. But if you're at all curious about seeing some of the people I described (along with myself as a fresh young thing) read on.

The photos are from a big grey album I made and kept all through college. It's really one of the gayest things you've ever seen. Each page is organized chronologically and by theme, and I had cut out funny little pictures and phrases from magazines and glued them into the album to accompany the pictures. If you've ever seen one of those collages 13-year-olds make to commemorate a bar or bat mitzvah, it's that sort of thing. (At least that's what we did back when I was on the bar mitzvah circuit. Kids these days are probably far more high-tech.)

The album also serves to demonstrate just how abruptly and completely I came out. Sophomore year ends with a number of romantic, kissy-face photos of Jane and me. Turn the page, and there's me and Will shirtless at the Ann Arbor public pool, looking like we just came from a Pride parade. A few more pages, and there's me with my first boyfriend, Tony. From Jane to Tony in one year. I wish I could rebound from relationships now as quickly I did then. 

I found the album at my sister Laura's house in Summit. Laura and her family own a large barn in their back yard. At one time long before they owned it, it was an actual barn, with horse stables and a chicken coop and so forth. Now it's just a dark, drafty place where they store stuff. When I moved to San Diego in '08, I stashed about six boxes of my belongings, mostly old files, in the chicken coop. In the ensuing years, a number of creatures -- perhaps raccoons -- have made a comfortable home for themselves in my boxes, and a lot of the stuff I left behind is shredded beyond recognition.

Fortunately, the album survived. And now, on with the slide show. (You can enlarge each picture by clicking on it.)

Painfully hung over in my freshman room in East Quad.
I was REALLY skinny -- 5'10'' and about 140 lbs.
And I could eat whatever I wanted.
Little bitch.

This is not Jane. 
Her name is Heather, and she was my first college girlfriend.
Despite that terrible late-80s Michigan hair, she was actually rather beautiful.

The cast of "Best LIttle Whorehouse in Texas."
Future Tony nominee Hunter Foster is in the front row with his hands in the air.
Jules is diagonally up and to his right, wearing glasses and a pink top.
I am dead center at the top of the picture. 
No idea why I'm wearing Mickey Mouse ears.

My first picture as a frat guy. My big brother, Steve, is far left.
Jules is to his right.
On the other side is Becky, who was one of closest friends and roommates through most of college.

Surrounded by chicks at one of my first Chi Psi parties.
Lodge president Bill Lewis has his arm around me.
(At least, I think that's him.)

Jane and me soon after we started dating.
Faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.
Yes, that is a dangly earring hanging from my left lobe.
And check out my hairy chest. 
I hadn't yet discovered man-scaping.

With Colin at a lodge halloween party.
I had removed the wig and pillow by that point in the night.
Colin is -- I think -- Billy Idol.

With Steve and an unidentified Alpha Chi at the lodge's "Great Gatsby" party.
This is why I loved Chi Psi. 
What other fraternity would have had a "Great Gatsby" party?!


At the Chi Psi formal in Windsor, Ontario, with Jane.
I refer to this picture as the last straight one ever taken.

Told ya -- it gets gay really fast.
With Will at the pool. 
There was another Chi Psi with us that day whom we were both convinced was gay . 
But he's now married with kids. 
I cut him out of the picture so as not to incriminate.

All gussied up with Elizabeth,
Sh was an older woman who played a big role in my coming-out summer.
And a mighty mysterious character, indeed.
Someday I'll write a whole blog about her.

With Colin at the lodge formal in Chicago in '92. 
I had come out to him and my other close friends --  including my date -- by then.
I don't know why it looks like our shirts are glowing.

Dipping Colin on the dance floor.

With Tony in Saugatuck, about three weeks after we started dating.
I had never been so in love and rarely have been since.

The final evolution in my becoming a homo.
It's not what you think.
I had the lead in a campus production of "Torch Song Trilogy."
So actually, it kind of is what you think.

And that's it, kids! Hope you enjoyed these.

Homo in pictures.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Going Once, Going Twice...

I've got the brain, you've got the looks
Let's make lots of money
You've got the brawn, I've got the brains
Let's make lots of money
--Pet Shop Boys

I'm baaaa-aaaack. And trying to get back on the healthy living track, although the official Life Cleanse has ended. Since many of you have asked, here was my final cleansing tally, as it were:

30 days without alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.

That's it. That's what I accomplished. Which is nice, but on the flip side, I failed to meet my goals in terms of eating, working out, television, writing and casual sex. I was unable to stick to a program for even 30 days in those areas. Which, if nothing else, clarifies for me where my challenges lie going forward.

A number of friends in various recovery programs tell me it was a mistake for me to try giving up everything at once. Recovering alcoholics, for instance, are instructed not to try and quit smoking during their first phase of sobriety. But honestly, for me all of these vices are equivalent, in terms of the purpose they serve. I use each of them (to varying degrees) to numb, soothe and distract myself from the business of living life. And each of them keeps me from having to do any mental and emotional heavy lifting. They keep me stuck. So avoiding one while continuing to partake in another feels like switching from Big Macs to Whoppers. Either way, you wind up feeling like shit. (For the record, I prefer the Whopper.)



Hold the onions.

Anyway.

Here's the best thing to come out of the Life Cleanse: I'm still not smoking. And I'm not going to start again. There's just no reason for me to pick this habit back up and a million reasons not to. I've always been a freakishly light smoker -- a pack would typically last me two weeks -- but I've been smoking more or less continuously since I was 14, when one of the older kids at Newark Academy let me take a puff of her cig in the smoking section of the school cafeteria. (Yes, we actually had one, available in the mornings to students 16 and older. Ah, the 80s.) I switched from Marlboro Lights to American Spirits about 10 years ago, and though I remain convinced that the latter brand is far less harmful, the whole enterprise is horrible and deadly and stupid. Twenty-six years of smoking is more than enough for me, and since I clearly didn't miss it during this 30-day period, I might as well make a clean break.

Farewell, old friends.

Beyond that, my goal moving forward is to live as cleansily, if not perfectly, as possible. Only good can come from less TV, less casual sex, less partying, etc. With one exception:

I am a better comic after a few drinks.

I know, I know, that sounds like classic addict rationalization, and I can hear the collective heads of my AA friends exploding in unison. But it's simply the truth.

Look, I've never been a big drinker. Two drinks, and I've got a nice buzz going. Three drinks, I'm sleepy and slurry. Four drinks, I'm dizzy and unable to speak. Five drinks, I'm throwing up. End of story. I've never been able to understand people who just keep drinking and drinking -- people who start with a bloody Mary at breakfast and are still pounding shots late into the night. I would die. Literally.

But just as alcohol works as a lubricant in social situations (pervy readers, please refrain from the obvious jokes here), having a cocktail or two loosens me up just enough before I get on stage. The jokes flow more easily. My timing improves. I am more spontaneous and more able to engage in crowd work. It feels more like I'm at a party talking to friends, which is how I always want to feel on stage.

This became clear to me this past Saturday night. It was my first night off the Cleanse, and it was also the night I was acting as MC and auctioneer for 125th Anniversary gala of the YMCA in my hometown of Summit, NJ. The auction was co-organized by my eldest sister, Laura, and she had roped me into hosting it several months ago.

"We can't pay you anything," she said, "but it's for charity"

Although I am always hungry for cash, I was genuinely happy to do the gig in this case. The Y raises a ton of money for disadvantaged children and families. And the truth is, my life is sorely lacking in community service. I could stand to do a whole helluva lot more for the less fortunate, and it's one of the areas in which I hope to improve.

Still: This was A LOT of work. First there was the monologue. It had to be both clean and YMCA-related and had to appeal to the wealthy, largely conservative crowd that would be in attendance. I had performed thrice before in Summit at the Elks lodge, each time to great acclaim. (Seriously.) But the Elks are a very laid-back bunch, and I could be as nasty as I wanted to be with them.

Part 1 of my first Elks show opening set on May 1, 2010...

And Part 2.

The Y crowd, as I said, was going to be a whole different animal.

Then there was the auction. After my monologue, I was to auction off about a dozen items that had been donated by various individuals in the community, plus some community sponsorships. The hard items weren't the usual material things you see in auctions, like high-end appliances or works of art. One, for example, was a pool-and-pizza party at the Y. Another was a catered brunch for 12 at the town's Reeves-Reed arboretum. They were all really creative and interesting, but that made the details of each item incredibly difficult to remember, especially since I had written specific jokes about each one. And I don't like to ever read off notes. To me, there's just an instant turn-off factor when a performer reads from a sheet of paper. In the end, I did wind up using note-cards with bullet-points on them for the auction section, but most of it I did from memory.

My first panic attack came when I saw the room. My sister and her co-organizer, Carolyn, had done an incredible job transforming the Y's gym into a ballroom, along with the caterer and florist. But it was still a gym -- with the incredibly high ceiling and echoic acoustics that go along with it. And standing atop the stage, I could see I'd be performing in front of a long, narrow room of round tables. This is perhaps the worst set-up possible for stand-up. A comic wants to play to as wide and as shallow a room as possible, and he certainly doesn't want any backs to him.

The second panic attack came with the cooler-scooter.



A cooler-scooter, for those who don't know, is a little motorized beer cooler. It was one of the items being auctioned off -- part of the "Tailgater's Dream Package" -- and the plan was for me to make my big entrance riding the cooler-scooter up through the crowd to the strains of the Village People's "YMCA." I have no dignity.

Well, for one thing, there was no "up through the crowd." The tables were spread out all over the place, and there was no discernible center aisle. Moreover, I soon found during tech rehearsal that I was not very good at piloting the cooler-scooter. I could drive in a straight line without difficulty, but whenever I tried to turn, even at a slow speed, I tipped over.

Carolyn tried to convince me I could still enter from the back of the room, but I put my foot down and said "No." I'm game for a lot of things, but crashing head-on into a table full of wealthy conservatives is not one of them. Unless Roger Ailes is at the table.

It was therefore decided that I would make my entrance from the side of the stage, where the caterer had set up a staging area, drive around (slowly) in circles, park the scooter and begin my monologue.

Then it was time to go home, shower, change into my tux and stress.

The event began at 7:30. I huddled with my family, devouring the amazing hors d'oeuvres being passed by the even more amazing waiters and tried not to talk to anyone. It's hard to explain this without sounding like a complete asshole, but I really don't like talking to anyone before a show -- especially a show for which I have a lot of new stuff to remember. There's a great documentary about Phyllis Diller's final performance in which she talks about this. People would always come up to her before a show wanting to chat, and they didn't understand how much concentration it took for her to do what she did on stage. Any energy she gave someone during a chat was energy that would be lost during her show. Without ever wanting to compare myself to the legendary Phyllis, this is exactly how I feel. If you see me before a show, please leave me the fuck alone. We'll talk afterwards, I promise.

Plus, there were practical considerations. I had done one auction before -- a bachelor's auction at Splash several years ago -- and had gone home at the end of it unable to emit a sound. An auction is the vocal equivalent of a marathon.

So, as I said, I stayed close to the family, stuffed my face with food, ogled hot waiters (one of whom I recognized from the steam room of my gym) and drank Pinot Grigio. Two glasses, to be exact.

The Sanks, all decked out.
Phy, Laura, Me, Anna and Lew.

The evening continued. Dinner was served. Speeches were made. I felt a growing sense of dread. "This is not going to go well," began to repeat in my head. I took my position on the cooler-scooter and waited. Hot cater-waiters bumped into me every few seconds, confused as to what the hell I was doing, sitting on some strange little vehicle directly in their path. "YMCA" began to play. Laura made my introduction. And out I scooted.

I went for it. Completely blinded by a giant spotlight which followed me everywhere I rode, I scooted around the gym as fast as I could, weaving my way around tables and praying I wouldn't crash. I waved my arms and pulled faces and lifted both my legs straight out in front of me and generally behaved like a lunatic.

The crowd went wild.

Ditching the scooter by the stage, I grabbed the wireless mic and dove into my monologue:

"Hello, Summit! How are you guys tonight? I hear you've had a tough week after that freak snowstorm. No power. No heat. No hot water. Now you know how the other 99 percent feel. I heard even Governor Chris Christie lost power. Which is awful! How is he going to microwave his Lean Cuisine?"

Applause. I had 'em.

As I continued, I began to walk around the room, circling tables like an old-style lounge comic. Anytime I passed one of the giant centerpieces, the spotlight momentarily lost me, which became a running joke as I dodged to and fro to stay lit.

"We're here tonight to celebrate the Y's 125th Anniversary. And who better to host a gala for the Young Men's Christian Association than a gay Jew who hates sports? This would be like having Herman Cain host a party for Ms. Magazine."

Thunderous laughter, extended applause break.

The auction began. First up was the Tailgater's Dream Package.

"Now, I must tell you," I said, "when I first saw the name of this in the program, I though it said the 'Taliban's Dream Package.' And I was surprised that the Taliban would be donating so generously to the Young Men's Christian Association. And also, I was thinking I'd be a little nervous to open that package."

They ate it up. It was truly exhilarating. And we ended up raising $90,000 during the auction -- far surpassing expectations.

I was overwhelmed by the reaction I got after the show. A seemingly endless procession of people came up to me to tell me how much they had enjoyed what I did -- that it was so much more entertaining than any auction they had been to in the past. (And these are people who go to a lot of auctions.) A number of people asked for my card, and there was talk of my doing other upcoming events. Stay tuned.

A few minutes ago, Laura texted me. The board of directors of the Y wants to thank me. They're sending me a check.

Guess I'll have to come up with some other form of community service.

Homo going, going gone.

To see me perform in a VERY different kind of show next week, click here.