Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stage, Stars, and Murder!

This is gonna be a (b)ramble I can just tell! So much going on! Caught PROMISES, PROMISES on Broadway just the other night and this is not a show I was planning to see. I was planning to boycott old Sean Hayes! Because you know, during all those Will & Grace years when all other cast members were doing AIDS benefits and charities and things he never appeared because he wasn't out (well hit me over the head with a hammer and call me tweety!) and therefore, Sean Hayes didn't do all that he could have done to help others because he was so busy hiding himself. Then this year, did you read his coming out interview in the Advocate? He came off haughty and over it and above all: ungrateful.

So I wasn't going to support him but Anita got free tickets, so I gratefully accepted!  Sean Hayes bore the brunt of a really brutish recent article in Newsweek about how gays can't play straight on film or on stage, so I went in seeing if he could pull it off and by golly he did! Also in the show was another gay playing straight, who also pulled it off: Brooks Ashmanskus. Fun bit of trivia: Brooks was the big musical theatre star at my high school in the 1980's and now he's a big man on Broadway. All the way from Beaverton! We had the same theatre guru, Mr. Erickson, who put on lavish productions with the help of indentured servant students, and mother helpers from all over Oregonian suburbia.  I played the Tinman in the Wizard of Oz and wore a costume including hubcaps and streetlights.  I was cast as the character without a heart.  Infer what you will...

Promises, Promises I thought was one of those storybook musicals they're so fond of these days. Where you take Frank Sinatra's hits, or Billy Joel's hits, or ABBA's hits and you just shove them, cram them really, into a flimsy story. This time with BURT BACHARACH's song book. I was wrong! This show first appeared back in the 60's. Still, it feels like they're cramming hit songs where they don't belong. When Kristin Chenowith busts into "Say A Little Prayer For You", it doesn't make sense why she'd be saying a prayer for the married man she's screwing? Anyway.

Sean Hayes was likeable on stage even though his voice sounds a bit like Belinda Carlisle or Madonna doing Belinda Carlisle in her Truth or Dare doco (enough vibrato already) and what's truly funny for me is that his character at one point gets called UNGRATEFUL.  But he's fun, the music's great, the story is based on Billy Wilder's classic film The Apartment, and Katie Finneran deserves the Tony she won for the sensational role of his drunken pick-up.  "Do you like my coat? It's OWL." She had the audience howling in the aisles and she gets to do that EVERY NIGHT! 

At intermission, I walked out to see this cute guy who I know, but I couldn't figure out where I know him from so I was just going to hug him and kiss him on the cheek like I usually do to people I don't know where I know them from.  Two seconds away from planting a kiss, I realize I do know him but he doesn't know me.  He's sexy film actor James Marsden. Corny Collins from Hairspray!  He was shorter than I imagined, and way too (we're talking Snooki hue here) but still I should've planted that kiss.  Do you ever do that?  See famous people and think they're your friend?

New York is bursting at the seams this summer!  See that show, and the King Tut exhibit in Times Square.  You get to see a replica of that charred child King with skinny toes and buck teeth.  He looks like a pile of briquets.  His after-life collection is to be envied, of course, but not sure all that truck is worth knowing your brains were yanked out your nostril with a metal hook.  Oh, and his liver had this shimmering little sarcophagus curated with the words "Coffinette for the viscera of Tut".  My liver wants a coffinette!

While we're at it, the Met's exhibit "American Woman" which shows the American woman's fashion aesthetic from 1890 to mid-century.  The Gibson Girl, the Bohemian, the Flapper.  Oh the flapper, who needs a waistline?  Even better than the fabulous garments were the shellacked, stacked, glittering, galactic creations that were the wigs. I kept thinking some queen had a field day the way he went to town on these wigs!  I looked him up just in case he googles his name, Julien d'Ys will find out that someone thought his wigs were the best part of the exhibit!

I made the mistake of googling myself (don't do it) and discovered another Jesse Archer was just murdered.   He was a 26 year old drummer who had his own band in Ottawa.  My sincere condolences.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Judy and Liza praise Cream of Wheat

"Mama, sing the jingle.  It'll be like a present to me!" This is so random and genius, I don't even know where to begin.  Best thing Judy's done in years!

Monday, July 26, 2010

ARTHUR - he does what he pleases!

I was just on set of Arthur.  They're re-making that 1981 Dudley Moore flick about a rich playboy, this time around starring another brit, Russell Brand.  Which got me thinking - what the hell is old Dudley Moore up to?  Then I discovered, he's dead!

Russell Brand is way sexier.  And alive.  And funnier, IMO.  The script is going to end up mostly his improv.  We were in a jail scene together, and they told us to show up as a jail "character".  So I arrived with cowboy boots and short jean cut-offs and told wardrobe I'd been soliciting all night!  

Between each take they sprayed us down with OIL and water.  We were supposed to be sweaty?  They did it so much and so often, I kept telling the makeup lady I was in jail, not a sauna! We're in there with Russell Brand and he's in one of those muscled-out Batman costumes with that paunchy latin deadpan comedian who's in everything (Luis Guzman) as Robin.

Do you love the liquor artillery belt?  Russell Brand was actually sniffing a water bottle filled with yellowish liquid between the takes.  I thought it was PISS he was huffing, and was kind of let down when someone asked him what it was and he said, "Cognac, or whiskey -- whatever I can get." 

He must be an addict, and good for him for having such self control because the way he relished each inhale, he really needed it, and I get that a sniff will do ya good.  When I was starving myself on that ridiculous Beyonce master cleanse fast, I would sniff at a food cart and somehow it sufficed. 
Eating my pal Kohl.  
Russell was really very cool, and made the set a joy to be on.  His character even sprung us all out of jail.  Even Tina Turner.  Everytime she walked by, I couldn't help singing "You better be good to me!" 

I'll never forget the theme song from that 80's film.  Arthur he does what he pleases/deep in his heart he's just, he's just a boy!  Do you remember that Christopher Cross number?

As a kid growing up in Oregon, we went to "choir" class at CF Tigard Elementary school and our teacher, Mr. Fay, made us sing that song.  The chorus:

"When you get lost between the moon and New York City, 
the best that you can do...the best that you can do...is fall in love!" 

Now even as a kid thinking that was really vapid attempt at poetic license: Between the moon and New York City?  Really?  Mr. lyricist really thought he was channeling Keats when he came up with that one.  But what really killed our whole fourth grade class was that last line.  "The best that you can do is fall in love."  We couldn't ever finish the song because we all busted up laughing.  

Mr. Fay took this really bad.  I remember distinctly thinking he was over-reacting, when he would say, face screwed up and near tears, "One day...ONE DAY you kids will want to fall in love.  One day you will understand there is nothing funny about love!"  Which was, of course, the funniest thing we'd ever heard. 

The next year, when we were in fifth grade, Mr. Fay taught us that Neil Diamond song "Heartlight" from the movie ET:


Turn on your heartlight, in the middle of a young boys dream... 

Now if the idea of getting lost between the moon and new york city was dumb, can you just imagine how we felt singing about a "Heartlight"? We changed the lyric to "Fartlight" and killed ourselves with laughter. Mr. Fay was beside himself.  Shortly after this, our class was informed Mr. Fay had suddenly quit CF Tigard Elementary - after suffering a "nervous breakdown" that we were partly responsible for.

Today I imagine Mr. Fay lounging in a velvet bathrobe, downing (certainly not sniffing!) a piss-colored liquid, until he arrives somewhere between the moon and new york city, and, heartlight on his sleeve, muttering melancholic: I'll bet those kids understand now about love...


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Behind the pretty peepers of Loretta Young

I get mail from the most interesting people!  One is a gentleman by the name of J. Lee Cline who lived in California back in the 1960's.  He told me what gay life was like back then.  Something that I keep thinking over and over - how can we record this period which was itself so secret.  This generation is still around to tell us - documentarians take note!

In his words:

Gay bars were always here - hard to find as they didn't have signs outside and the door was in an alley, secret like a speakeasy.  But once you found them, they remembered you and you always had a friend. The clubs were routinely raided, you could not dress up for Halloween, the vice squad was everywhere.  They had a red light that would flash and men would stop dancing together when a raid was about to happen.  If there were lesbians in the bar, we would switch partners. 


The Canyon Club in Topanga Canyon was opened by a policeman so his nephew could dance.  Can you imagine we had to sneak to clubs in the mountains to "dance"?  Only by 1970 could you dance with another guy, in the open on a dance floor. 

Besides Canyon Club, J talks about another refuge, a place called the Raincheck Room.  It was a place where out of work actors, dancers, and singers hung out waiting for their agents to call.

I've been reading this (thanks, Lee!) multi-generational fictional epic of gay life, How Long Has This Been Going On which begins in the 1950's Los Angeles.  It begins in the safe haven of a bar called Thriller Jills, and I wonder if its author, Ethan Mordden, based this place on the Raincheck Room?  

One lady, about 70 years old who acted 27, would occasionally swing into the Raincheck Room and vamp it up when she was feeling blue.

Says J:

Someone would come in and say, "Here comes Mae!" and the fun would begin.  Drinks were on the house, and we all got to see Mae West perform some of the songs she had done in film.  I remember Minnie the Moocher was her favorite and she would camp it up.  She always said she owed her style to drag queens she had seen growing up in the 1890's.  

Each visit, rare as they were, was a performance I think she planned out and enjoyed. Mae had her one liners, rolled her eyes, and wore like 5" platform shoes to make herself 5'5" or so, she was tiny and always supported by a muscle guy who drove her white limo.  I think her driver was named Chester, a really nice guy, really gay, and I had never met a muscle guy who was a queen so that was over the top for me.  But he could butch it up and was fun to talk to while Mae was doing her "thing". 


She just loved being adored.  If you ever get a chance to see Sally Field in a movie, think it was called SOAP, where she plays a soap opera star.  She has a scene where she goes to a shopping mall when she feels blue, just to be noticed and praised.  Mae was in that mode when she was at the Raincheck. 

Doesn't that almost make you want to live in that era?   Kind of?  I'm still confused about the drag queens of the 1890's.  I thought Joan Rivers was a real woman? 

A very different kind of star lived around the corner from the Raincheck Room: Loretta Young.  J says he'd occasionally see her drive out.  My grandma was particularly fond of Loretta and her lovely eyes.  And eyelashes!  They were quite mesmerizing.

Loretta was a strict Catholic, but this didn't stop her from having affairs with married costars.  It's been said that before going out on a night with married men, Loretta would stop by the cathedral to confess and get absolution.  If a priest failed to absolve her, she went down the block until the next priest did!

When lovely Loretta had Clark Gable's love-child, she went to great lengths to conceal the fact.  She claimed her daughter, Judy Lewis, was adopted and even had her inherited Gable-esque ears pinned.  When daughter finally confronted mother about what all of Hollywood knew, Loretta had a little puke.  Then she called her daughter a "walking mortal sin".

It's hard to imagine what a woman like that went through.  Secrets that sicken her, which she can't help using to sicken others.  All because of this ridiculous notion of sin.  Before our brains are fully formed, notions of SIN are crammed down our throats.  This is actual child abuse, IMHO, but as I get older I do understand that the religious are victims, too, and begin to resent them less.

The resentment surges back when I see them refuse to stop leaking onto other people.  How about this story of a Christian student trying to get a degree in counseling.  She's suing the school, ASU, because she says they are trying to get her to change her beliefs and accept homosexuality.  If she can't or won't be impartial, she should be a Christian counselor, not a secular one.  Yet she has conversion duties!  Can you imagine some suicidal youth going in to a counselor (thankfully I never did), finally fearfully admitting he's gay, and the counselor instead of listening says: "you're wrong"? 

Becoming a Christian counselor would inhibit this student's ability to leak onto impressionable and/or suicidal young lives. Loretta Young, for all her "sins", never stopped leaking.  She had a son who was arrested around the era of the Raincheck Room for making gay films.  She disowned him.  And, as one of the first women in television, she promoted her religion on The Loretta Young Show.

In the 70's, she sued (and won) NBC when they aired re-runs of her series, without omitting the opening entrance where she swishes out in the latest gowns.  Being seen in outdated fashions, she claimed, damaged her reputation.  And there you pretty much have it.  It's not the premarital sex with married men, the child out of wedlock, the lies, the child abuse, but the garments, baby, that sully her reputation!

Hypocrisy is the ugly child of the overweening (some would say sinful) need to keep up appearances.

Damage Loretta's reputation here:


And here's the most perfect anectodal antidote to that false-face with the pretty peepers:

I saw the broadway tribute show Sondheim on Sondheim, which closed last month.  It was pretty good, what with the star wattage of Vanessa Williams and only a modicum of the usual tribute cheese.  They had clips of the legendary lyricist, narrating different parts of his life and work.  Sondheim's mentor (basically his dad) was Oscar Hammerstein, so despite his epic talent you can't help but think he had an unfair advantage.  Hey Sondheim, need an apprentice?

In one of the clips, Sondheim talks about a time he was on the Loretta Young Show with the uncouth, brassy, foul-mothed Ethel Merman.  Sondheim explained that Loretta Young had a strict no-swearing policy on-set, and she had a little pot where she collected a quarter from anyone she overheard swear.

It wasn't a minute into rehearsal set-up before old Ethel let roll a "fuckin hell!" Loretta swiftly sashayed over and said, "Now Ethel, you know I don't allow swearing on set.  I'll take a quarter for that offense."  Ethel was a bit taken aback, but ok - she dug into her purse and gave Loretta a quarter. Minutes later, Ethel couldn't find something, and "goddamnit!" she had to surrender another quarter. The rehearsal proceeded, but old Ethel couldn't help herself from letting rip another, "goddamnit!"

Seeing Loretta approach, Ethel dug into her purse and handed over a bill.  "Loretta, here's ten bucks.  Now go fuck yourself!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Little Helper Fairy

Probably NOT the best idea to make the nightcap a double shot of Jagermeister.  But I hadn't seen this particular friend (Xavier, not the Jager) in quite some time. After the double shot, we separated and I realized it was quite early (just before midnight) so I get this bright jager-inspired idea to go grocery shopping!

The grocery store is about 6 blocks from my place and late-night is the best time because you can just breeze on down those aisles.  Usually I'm pretty good about not getting too many liquids because that stuff is heavy and I still only have two arms.  I drunkenly load up on the milk, the soda, the orange juice, all sorts of canned crap.  $100 later, I've got 8 twenty pound bags of groceries and even the jaded Latina ringing me up is like, "You gonna be alright?" because she sees I haven't got any granny cart. I've made it this long without a granny cart...

I am riding high on that I am invincible feeling, but a block later things are not working out so well.  I stop to call Bam Bam a million times but of course he is already asleep.  The bags droop; I stagger, they drag, I stop.  I don't think that maybe a taxi would be good here.  Instead, I slowly sink into the filthy, grimy, dog-piss infused sidewalks of New York.

I read in a survival book that survivors always treat their situation, no matter how horrible, as their reality.  The sidewalk is already looking like home.  I'll start with drinking the milk, that's the heaviest.  But first where are those gummi lifesavers? 

Then, out of the blue from behind, a woman's voice: "Let me help you with these." This nice lady stops and picks up two or three of the bags, asking "Where do you live?" and I swear I almost cried.  In this city of mass millions, I never would have expected help from a stranger.   She walked me the remaining four blocks to my home and on the way told me where to get a granny cart for $9.99.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Steamboat Willies!

It's magic!  Had a 2 bottle-of-champagne lunch ("It's a business meeting!") with producer Mich Lyon, and we're now forging ahead to shoot a new comedy web-series I wrote with my friend Sean Hanley!  The investor proposal is currently in the making on "Half-Share" - our new series set on Fire Island, where anything can happen.  And often does!  

Seriously.  Last time I was there, my friend Matt Tague had his birthday on a paddleboat!
Would you believe the ship was titled "Delta Lady"?!!!  We went all around the bay and back.  The party theme was "Steamboat", which in my mind translated to Mark Twain and Huckleberry Finn.  In the RSVP I asked, "Are you going to set me adrift on a raft with a big burly black man?" Then I got to work digging up the necessary patchwork pants....

everyone else brought corn-cob pipes and straw hats out of hiding!
Who said there's no women on Fire Island?  Here we are with the lovely Leslie Jackson.
 
Make that 2 beautiful women!
The birthday boy and his beautiful beau Ross.
Windy American Flag.  Best dance partner EVER!!
Patchwork OVERLOAD.  Good thing Dan was holding himself.  I never would have made it under!
Justin and Cooldan rock the boat
Happy Birthday to you!  Victor frosts Matt.
Matt and Jesse.  Summer lovin - had me a blast!
Dan had a wardrobe malfunction.  Which functioned perfectly.
Tattered, torn, and happy to be here!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fire Island Pines on the 4th

The 4th weekend on Fire Island is one long neverending affair.  After the amazing invasion (last post), it was pool party time!  

Bear hammock in the shade! 

 Cooldan distracts, while I go for the not-so-surreptitious reach.  Where is my boyfriend??


There's my boyfriend!  Bam swipes Cooldan's moneymaker (all major credit cards accepted and some minor ones too, in a pinch).  Casper took a look at this photo and declared, "It's strange to think that these people are all around 40 years old?"

But that's what is so amazing about being gay.  I recently walked into Brooklyn's gay Metropolitan bar, and in the big back patio there were fifty middle aged men playing with Yo-Yos and I thought, Damn I love the gays!  Someone there was giving out Yo-Yos in exchange for email addresses he was collecting to send information about an HIV vaccine trial.  Thing is, for a free toy, he could probably have given the gays an HIV vaccination trial shot in the ass. So long as you don't mess up my Yo-Yo rhythm!

Onto the Reflections house "Independance" charity!  They always put on a stunner of a party and this year was US Navy themed.  Surprise, a house full of seamen!

I dug deep and found a sailor-themed bikini.

Pretty Sailor.


Dan hasn't quite mastered his sea-legs!

We went for a swim in the bay

Somebody scored a VIP ticket!

It wasn't Bam Bam or Anita.  Hi boys!

The Fire Island fantasy.

Yes, I woke up the next morning.  And after wandering about aimlessly for a few minutes, I declared to Bam: "I've lost my bikini, flip flops, and my best friend!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fire Island Invasion 2010 Photos

Cooldan and I made it out to Fire Island for July 4. He has yet to make it back!
We did our annual 4th of July Survivor Weekend - but thanks to our pal Travis we didn't sleep under the boardwalk this year!

For the annual Fire Island Drag Queen invasion we headed over to Cherry Grove (through the mythical Meat Rack) to catch all the girls getting ready to pack the hull and cast off!

Hallelujah!  It's raining men!
Sheweed washed ashore!!
Aquarific!  This bathing beauty sure does sparkle!
Is that a HO in your pocket are you just happy to see me?  She promised a rose garden, and delivered!

Dawn Dishsoap!  Disperse gently into the Gulf.

Go Green!
Peek-a-Boo!  Fashion shouldn't cost a lot.  Pick up a Leveler Blind, Scarlett, and call it a day! 
Grisabella is ready for her RETURN! 
Redundant?  A Wendy Williams drag queen!
I had to ask what the hell was going on here.  I'm sorry I didn't recognize the doll as Princess Leia. Here is  "Jabba the HUT"!  In Margaritaville?
Servin' it up -  A most popular dish: The Deli-Contessas
Mad about the Mollusk!
It's Tsunami Debris!
Gulf clean-up sure knows how to hoover! 
It's Yabba-Dabba Doo Time!
The luscious cherry, Miss Grove!
Major props to the sea princess who road in on her own seahorse.  Unbelievable!
She pulled EVERYTHING out of the drag box and, yes, MADE IT WORK!
STRAWBERRY BEEFCAKE!
Lesbian drag!
Pansy.  She (and her wicked tongue) runs the whole show. 
My favorite drag queen last year was wearing a tutu with a third false leg in plie.  You actually couldn't tell which legs were hers it was so genius.  So I went around asking, "Where's the 3-legged Ballerina?" until someone answered, "She's a lobster this year." I should have known better than to figure she'd recycle an outfit. 

Slap some butter on THIS! 
Diamonds are a crustaceans best friend!  Miss Coco rocks our Independence Day!!

With this sizzling outfit, Miss Coco threw the competition in a pot and boiled it! 

We raced back through the hot sands to the Pines Harbor in time to catch the actual "invasion"!

We got harbor-side seats!  Cooldan, Ethan, Jesse, Bam Bam, Anita
This pretty girl decked me out with some eyeliner.
We ended in the harbor ourselves for a hot second.  Cooldan shocked to see his suit is off.
The girls sail on in to the packed harbor.  The most vibrant, colorful, jubilant thing you may ever witness in your life!  Goosebumps every year!