Ask anyone who’s ever met me and you’ll likely to hear the same response: ‘That BN, he’s an old soul.’ I’ve basically dealt with this title my entire life (well, that and being told my ass could single-handedly solve the unemployment issue). It’s something I’ve gotten used to, although it took awhile for me to fully understand. When you’re in your teens and twenties, being told such a thing comes across as a rub, a veiled way of feeling ‘old’ far before your time- Condemned to a lifetime of Golden Girls reruns on Lifetime, quoting Tin-Pan Alley show tunes and wondering why Art Linkletter is no longer doing Life Alert commercials.
Was I destined to become The Man in the Chair? At 22, I sure as hell hoped not. Time naturally passed and now, at 30, it doesn’t sting as much anymore. Once a barb, the compliment of now being called ‘an old soul’ is taken with a knowing smile. It’s not that I consider myself over-the-hill at this particular number, but I know that having spent years honing my ability to control and feel comfortable in just about any situation, I’m learning that holding onto eternal youth is fleeting… And impossible. For a community that longs for broad acceptance in the mainstream, our own self-acceptance and how we treat our own kind is absolutely atrocious: It’s youth-culture at it’s most obsessed with Ken doll aspirations and depressing realities. Nowhere, other than perhaps the fringe element of the Mormon church does 30 sometimes feel so incredibly old.
Now, why in the world did I decide to write this coming-of-age confessional? What was the tipping point that led me to share this publicly? It took one of my first Pride events, held this past week in Key West, to open my eyes. As someone who has usually stayed away from being part of the face-front, gay rah-rah movement- instead opting to work quietly behind the scenes with HRC and Trevor Project- this past week of Pride was an eye-opener to me in how segmented the community really is. If being called ‘old’ means I have too much self-respect to hook up on Grindr, get odd looks from 20-somethings for publicly enjoying Judy Garland songs or don’t want to be pawed by random strangers during a foam party, then sign me up for the raisin ranch. I’m ready for bingo hour and the never ending plates of gruel!
That being said, I ended up having an absolute blast this trip to KW, opting for a quiet experience, venturing out only to hit my usual haunts for dinner, a daily visit to my gym and also to catch Christopher Peterson’s ‘Eyecons’ production in the cabaret room of LaTeDa. Chris is an unexpected addition to the summer schedule in Key West, but the city is lucky to have him for the next few months. His uncanny ability to impersonate everyone from Lucille Ball to Judy Garland to Lady Gaga is fantastic. Peterson’s banter with the audience is very natural and he allows the viewer to watch him transform from one character to another, as his ‘changing room’ is right on-stage. His best lady he saves for last- a duet of ‘New York, New York’ between Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland. It’s jaw-dropping. Peterson then finishes up the show with a couple of songs totally as Garland. It’s unreal, as he looks, sounds and moves exactly like her. He’s got every nuance of her performance style down and what’s best about it is that he does it justice instead of ever making fun of her. Rumor has it that Chris is looking to take his show to the Vegas strip after this Key West run, which should allow him a broader audience and much more exposure. Overall, Eyecons is a great evening of entertainment… Highly recommended.
A great big thank you to those who have submitted questions to my Q&A site. For those who still have questions unanswered in the pipeline, please know that as long as they aren’t too personal in nature, they will be answered. I’ve gotten around to answering almost 200 of your questions and can’t wait for more. In an industry filled with people who sell their muscle but not their minds, this is a great way to see another side to things. This new site has really given me a chance to dig deeper into myself, connect on a more one-on-one level with my readers and, most importantly, have some fun.
Like millions of other gay men and teenage girls, I too was glued to my television this past Sunday night for the 2011 TONY Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris (aka ‘NPH’). In shows past, TONY has suffered from a too-long show without the star power or musical performances to keep the attention of viewers. Cutting to the chase, ratings tanked. Heads rolled. New directors were brought in (Bill Condon of ‘Dreamgirls’ film fame), TONY attracted better hosts (Hugh Jackman) and things have improved. This year’s show was packed with live performances, solid hosting and loads of Hollywood celebs turning up to walk the red carpet. Ratings were solid. It seems that the rest of America is beginning to come back to the theatre (and that’s a good thing). Some quick thoughts on this year’s ceremony…
* Congrats to Frances McDormand for single-handedly attempting to bring back Debbie Gibson-era denim jackets. What, no side pony-tail? Brilliantly talented as she is, perhaps she thought she was showing up to Tony’s Pasta House in Little Italy, not the TONY Awards. I’m guessing she lost a bet. Luckily for Frances, her now-famous jacket has its own Twitter account and is taking applications for upcoming awards ceremonies.
* Book of Mormon’s performance didn’t translate into excitement for me. Based on that number, I wouldn’t want to spend $200 a ticket on this show. Luckily for Mormon, they’re sold out for the next year (so I’m told) so my disinterest is meaningless. I’m just glad it’s an original musical and not another jukebox film-adaptation.
* Would someone please put Memphis on a milk carton? This is the second year in a row we had to suffer this craptastic musical and it hasn’t gotten better with age. That number was a blatant rip-off of Hairspray’s ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat.’ I’m bitter than this show survives and shows like Drowsy Chaperone and Gypsy closed so quickly. May the shoeless ghost of Bea Arthur haunt those who forgo seeing quality versus yet another film-adaptation Broadway musical.
* A prime example of making it look effortless versus showing the audience just how hard you’re really working would be Sutton Foster’s performance against Daniel Radcliffe’s. She made an intricate tap number (with live belty vocals) look like a breeze, holding the audience in the palm of her hand and knowing it the entire time. Radcliffe, on the other hand, felt forced, nowhere near larger-than-life and while he handled the choreography, you could see that he was trying very hard to sell it. It’s uncomfortable for an audience member to watch this for three hours, no matter how much of a marquee ‘name’ the person might be. Congrats to Sutton for her second, and very deserved, Tony win.
* Priscilla was ridiculously lucky to be given a spot, as it’s likely they won’t be around next season to have a formal TONY performance. Since they decided to give the spotlight to Martha Wash instead of the actual performers in the show, it felt a little confusing and was all over the place. Was that a Broadway musical I just saw or just another drag performance sponsored by Splash Bar? Sure, Wash still sounds great on one of her signature songs and the gays go gaga for Nick Adams, but hers was a needless guest spot, as the three ladies who sing most of the actual show are quite vocally capable. It made the whole show feel like a theme park novelty and totally took away from the fact that Tony Sheldon is giving an awesome performance as Bernadette each and every night. All things considered, it was good to see one of my favorite performers up on the TONY stage with Priscilla (Keala Settle).
* I like that they moved back into a real theatre (the Beacon) for this show, as it gave a nice sense of intimacy. Anyone who’s been to Radio City Music Hall knows that it’s basically a gigantic cave (and the only location that could make the original broadway cast TONY performance of Ragtime look small). The Beacon was the right venue, but whoever was responsible for the camera work on this telecast should be forced to fact-check for Michael Riedel. It was just horrible. It appeared as if they didn’t place cameras in the right locations, ending up with disorienting and somewhat up-the-skirt shots versus clean, whole stage pictures. Some great choreography got lost thanks to this very lazy oversight.
Overall though, I enjoyed the show very much. I’m not as enamored with NPH’s hosting abilities as others, but he was serviceable. The opening number was cringe-worthy, cementing every stereotype of musical theatre and making me think ‘that’s why they hate us’ more than a few times. The duet with Jackman was inspired. Interesting to see someone like Hugh Jackman, who’s an actual trained song-and-dance man versus NPH, who’s a screen actor with some theatre credits to his name. While NPH did a fine job, it was Jackman who made it look effortless and really just fun. That’s what being a trained professional is all about (and I hope his upcoming San Francisco concert run transfers to Broadway).
I’ll be spending this week in Manhattan and part of the next week in Chicago. The rest of this month keeps me traveling each and everyday, which is pretty typical of my summer schedule. While I’d like to say that I’m available in every city I visit, unfortunately all of my current travel is by-request only Unlike many other guys out there, I do not ‘set up shop’ in a metropolis and take multiple clients. I don’t fault those who do, but it’s just not the way I like to handle my business. That being said, I’m always open to discussion and if you have anything you’d like to ask, always feel free to email me. As Frasier Crane liked to say… I’m listening.
Two new recommendations for those who are Y2K-compliant with a touch of gadget obsession like myself: iPhone/Android app ‘UberCab’ and Android app ‘Postagram.’ Uber, a San Francisco-based startup company, is a program that uses your GPS coordinates to immediately send a sedan for you. All done flat-rate, tip inclusive. From the time you request a car to the time you get out of the vehicle, it’s a cash-less transaction (requiring you to setup an account beforehand on their website). Brilliant interface and I’ve used it all over the States for quick, stylish and reliable transportation.
Postagram is more of a novelty, but an interesting concept: Snap a pic with your cell phone and send it to anyone in the world as a glossy, high-quality post card. Pretty neat. I’ve sent a couple test cards to myself and the result is impressive. At only $1 a pop, it’s an inexpensive way to let someone know you’re thinking about them (and also a very creative, now-tech idea).
Here’s wishing my readers a most excellent summertime: Hope that all of you have exciting plans for the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Be safe always,