My One Degree of Separation from Stephen Sondheim

David Holliday

When I was a wee twink, I was in a production of “Camelot” starring Broadway veteran David Holliday as King Arthur. Every night, 8 shows a week for two months, I got to wear tights on stage as a paige to King Arthur, and best of all, at the climax of the show, I had the great honor of bringing King Arthur his famed sword Excalibur.

Now it might have been how great my 18 year old behind looked in those tights, or maybe not, but one night David asked me to dinner at his place. Like most actors, he was eager to share his Broadway bona fides.

His most famous role was probably opposite Katharine Hepburn in the Lerner and Lowe musical “Coco”, followed by “Sail Away” with Elaine Stritch. (You can hear his lovely voice on those cast albums.) He was also in Man of La Mancha on Broadway, and he played the King in a TV movie of “Sleeping Beauty” starring Morgan Fairchild (he played a lot of Kings). And he was the voice of Virgil Tracy in the first season of the cult British show “Thunderbirds”!

David’s Virgil Tracy from “Thunderbirds

But David got his start with Stephen Sondheim, who cast him as a Jet in the original production of “West Side Story” and as the understudy for Tony. Later on, he got to play Tony in the London production of WSS with Chita Rivera and again for the 1966 London revival.

He was a pal of Elaine Stritch and David loved the story of how one day, out of the blue, Judy Garland called him up to invite him to a birthday party she was throwing for Stritch. He was also besties with Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise.

He would send me Christmas cards every year for awhile (those tights were magic). But sadly he died in 1999 from cancer.

As Don Quixote

Anyway, here’s the cast album of West Side Story with David Holliday as Tony. He starts singing “Something’s Coming’” at the 4:08 mark.

David Holliday from “Coco”
A video tribute for David Holliday with his gorgeous voice singing “Dommage Dommage”

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Wasted Away In Lake Geneva-ville

This pic is from a camping trip to Lake Geneva I took with my friends Tom, Giovanni and Jonathan. Unknowingly, our trip coincided with a Jimmy Buffett concert nearby and just our luck, our camp site neighbors were “parrot heads”.

We did not know this embarrassing fact about our neighbors until they loudly returned from the concert around 2am.

While I’m a very sound sleeper, my tent mate Tom was awakened by their loud, drunken campfire antics. I might have even slept through all their obnoxious laughing and yelling, were it not for Tom yelling every 5 minutes:

“Shut up!”

“We’re trying to sleep!”

Their parrot party went on past 5am, despite frequent warnings from the camp ground security guard. They would quiet down for a few minutes after getting a warning, only to start back up again when the coast was clear.

They finally passed out around 5am and the campground was at last quiet and we were able get some sleep

When we woke up around 10am, our noisy neighbors were loudly snoring in their crowded tent, their site littered with crushed beer cans and their campfire still smoking.

So we started packing up our gear to go home.

Loudly.

Each time we closed the car trunk or car door, it was with a bang; and I also kept “forgetting” to turn off my car alarm, so that every time we opened the trunk the alarm went off blaring.

Then I couldn’t find a lost shaker of salt, which required us to unpack and then repack the car, setting off the car alarm a few more times.

On our way out, with the car fully packed, we wanted to say good bye to our neighbors. So we paused the car in front of their tent and blew our horn until someone poked their head out.

“Goodbye!” we shouted painfully in unison to the bleary eyed, hung over Buffett bores.

My fear that our revenge scheme might have also annoyed the other campers was dispelled when we received a standing ovation from the other campsites as we rolled out of the campground.

Now I’m hungry for a cheeseburger. Hold the paradise.

Praising Pelosi

There’s a media drum beat against Nancy Pelosi, one of the most effective parliamentarians to ever hold the Speaker’s gavel. Don’t fall for it.

The reasoning goes that because the GOP use her as the boogeyman in campaign attack ads, Dems should dump her.

The truth is the Republicans would vilify anyone in that leadership role. They love to use Pelosi to stir up their base because she is a woman representing San Francisco, so there is a lot of underlying homophobia in their demonization of her.

The media obliges the GOP in this endeavor by asking every Democratic House candidate if they support her as House leader. But they never ask Republicans about Mitch McConnell, who polls 5% lower than Pelosi. That’s sexism. And how come we don’t see the media asking every Republican candidate how they are “wrestling” with their vote for Jim Jordan for House Speaker?

The Bernie left hate Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, because she supported Hillary. Well guess what, Pelosi not only got the Affordable Care Act and Dodd Frank passed, she also managed to pass the public option to the ACA that the same Berners accuse Dems of not supporting – though it passed the House and got the vote of every Senate Democrat, but failed in the Senate when newly Independent Senator Joe Lieberman blocked it. The Bernie folk would be very lucky to have her around to pass their proposed single payer bill if we retake congress. She has the track record of passing complicated bills. The Senate is where progress goes to die, not the House under Democratic control.

The best part of this is Pelosi has given her approval for red state Dems to say they oppose her, because she understands winning those seats is more important than her ego or career.

I can’t think of a male politician who would be as pragmatic a team player as Pelosi.

Voter ID Laws: The Latest Poll Tax

No, you do not need an ID to buy groceries – for the moment anyway. But some states require you to produce a specific ID card for you to exercise your constitutional right to vote.

One of my former hobbies was registering people to vote. I’d do it at street festivals or events and I’d even bring my stuff to parties. It was cool to register first time voters.

So, I have an opinion on voter ID laws, which are just an attempt to suppress minority votes and votes of other economically vulnerable people, who may move often and can’t afford $20 for a government ID each time they relocate. The discriminatory intent of these ID laws is plain to see when you notice they usually allow NRA membership cards but not college IDs to vote.

A person establishes their eligibility to vote when they register to vote, not when they attempt to participate. To register to vote, you have to establish your identity and address. Just like a state ID card, you do this by providing a postmarked utility bill or some other official correspondence received at your current address along with a birth certificate or some type of a photo ID.

You attest to your eligibility to vote when you register and swear under penalty of perjury that the info you provided is correct. When you go to vote, a copy of your registration is there that contains your signature. If a person’s address and signature match, that person should be allowed to vote. Voter ID laws are a thinly disguised attempt to suppress minority voting.

Here are Illinois requirements to register to vote.

Buzzing for Jesus

So, this afternoon some kindly, well dressed Christian lady with her equally well dressed two young daughters just randomly buzzed my buzzer hoping to talk to me about Jesus. I was expecting a UPS delivery, not deliverance.

She was already on thin ice when she greeted me with “I’m so sorry, I see I got you up from a nap.”

Instead of replying,” No bitch, I always look tired and disheveled, thank you very much,” I was gracious.

Refusing her religious pamphlet, I politely informed her I was comfortable with my decision to burn in hell; and unless she had a package from Amazon, she should please move on to her next address.

She then asked me which buzzer was mine, as she was planning on ringing the next apartment in my 7 unit building. “Maybe they want to hear the Good News I bring.”

“Look,” I said, getting a bit annoyed, “I know my neighbors, and they’re also comfortable burning in hell. We’ve made a pact.”

As they left the lobby, I complimented her two young girls, both adorably dressed in their church best.

Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Barbies


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One night, back in college sometime in the late 1980’s, a buddy and I were hanging out at my apartment with a camcorder, and some beer, along with construction paper and a few dollar store Barbie knock offs; and we decided to make a movie we called “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Barbies“. (We were both huge Russ Meyers fans.)

The plot centered around Varla, a deranged, stiff armed, dollar store Barbie who – out of bitter jealousy over her lack of bendable arms and legs, plots revenge on the real Barbie who can bend and pose anyway she pleases.

A sub plot involved a kinky Ken and his dominatrix interior decorator named Barb Wire. Yup, we beat the comic book “Barb  Wire” by 6 years!

Enjoy!

 

music credit: “The Rich Man’s Frug”

I wish I could credit my friend, who  painted Barb Wire using White-out and magic marker and supplied her voice. I came up with the idea of shoving a coat hanger up her ass to give her some movement. Also, note the funny visual of Barbie on the phone, while literally being on a phone

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Introducing Barb Wire

Quiet Please, There’s A Lady on Stage

Karen Mason

There’s a line from the musical “Gypsy” when Mama Rose accuses her daughter Gypsy of trying too hard to sound like an intellectual, telling her “You read book reviews like they were books.”

Like Gypsy, I used to read concert reviews like they were concerts. Though I loved music, I didn’t have the dough to hang out in cabarets and piano bars. Instead, I lived vicariously through Howard Reich, the Chicago Tribune’s long time music critic whose column over the years introduced me to a multitude of musicians and helped nurture my unquenchable taste for Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, and thru him I also found out about a lot of new singers I might never have heard of, like a fresh faced newcomer named Madeleine Peyroux, whose debut CD “Dreamland” I rushed out to buy after reading Reich’s glowing review of her back in 1996.

Another artist Reich adored was a singer named Karen Mason, who got her early start singing in Chicago’s cabaret scene (according to her Wikipedia page, she was once a singing hostess at a place called Lawrence of Oregano!) before graduating to better things. If you’re unfamiliar with this 12 time MAC Award winning vocalist, it’s time to get you up to speed. In addition to being a famed cabaret artist, Ms. Mason’s credits also include starring in several Broadway shows, such as playing Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”;  she also originated the role of Tanya in “Mama Mia”, and she played Velma Von Tussle in “Hairspray”. Additionally, Karen has appeared on TV in “Law and Order: SVU” and she was in the film version of “A Chorus Line”.

Though I became familiar with her name from reading reviews of her shows at the Park West or at Davenport’s, I never got to see her perform live until she was booked as the entertainment at an AIDS Benefit.

At the time I was hitched to a pharmacist and we attended so many of these events, as his employer Walgreens was a major sponsor and would buy up multiple tables and distribute the tickets to their pharmacists and executives. Over the years of attending these benefits, we got to see a lot of great acts, like the B-52s, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Koko Taylor among others.

No offense to the pharmacy profession, but pharmacists make for lousy audiences. I remember that one of these events was hosted by Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider, who was very pleasant and graciously introduced himself to my group of already over-served seat mates, who kept embarrassingly insisting he do the “making copies” guy from SNL, which he declined.

With the B-52s, these overpaid drunks got a band they knew, so they behaved, but Koko Taylor got no such respect. Neither did Karen Mason.

I was so excited when I found out Mason was performing at one these benefits because I’d read so much about her amazing vocal talent, but had never heard her in person.

Well, the pharmacists weren’t fellow readers of Howard Reich, so most of them had never heard of Karen Mason. Instead of shutting their free wine holes or leaving the room when Karen took the stage, these philistine boozed up bozos proceeded to talk over the music. Now, when they did this to Koko Taylor the year before, the event organizers went around chastising the loud mouths, but no one was coming to Karen’s rescue.

Except me.

I shushed more than a few of those professional pill pushers that night and despite their antics, I still managed to enjoy the vocal prowess of this amazing talent. Whether Karen noticed the talkative bores, she never let on.

When she concluded her set, I felt an impulse to apologize. I spotted her heading to the escalators and followed after her. There she was, a glittering gowned diva all alone riding a hotel escalator. So I sprinted up to her, “I’m so sorry that people were so loud, I really enjoyed your singing,” I told her.

Then I explained that these weren’t music lovers, but just a bunch of drunks who got free tickets and didn’t appreciate great music.

Anyway, Karen Mason is in town at Davenport’s this week and I’m so excited to be going. And if a mother fucker opens their mouth while she’s singing, I’m going to throat punch them.

Here’s some samples of the great Karen Mason, whose new album “Its About Time” is now available. Check her out and witness the perfect example of a great singer who is also a gifted actress.

Karen Mason in Sunset Boulevard

Karen singing “This Nearly Was Mine”

Karen celebrating equal  marriage, “It’s About Time”

My Coming Out Diary

coming-out-title

It’s been several years since I’ve “come out”. After telling my immediate family and close friends, and experiencing the liberating feeling attached therein, I  made it my mission to come out whenever possible to whomever possible. This is an excerpt from My Coming Out Diary.

 

Monday, February 5

I came out to the cable installer today. He was quite surprised at first – a reaction I’ve come to expect after coming out to the Sprint operator earlier today. Despite my hopes for furthering understanding, the cable guy ignored me, saying, “I’m just here to install your cable.”

I could tell by his avoidance that he was in deep denial and desperate to hide from the shocking truth that one of his cable subscribers is a homosexual!  I followed him about as he hooked up the lines, relating how horribly misunderstood gay people are and how tough it was for me to reveal such personal information to strangers, but also how important it was for me to be honest and open in all my dealings. His discomfort with my truth must have overcame him for in his haste to leave, he accidentally hooked me up with free HBO, Showtime and the Spice Channel. I sure hope HBO reruns that Streisand concert!

Wednesday, February 7

It was Margarita night and I had quite a few of them. So many, I found myself “coming out” to the bartender, before remembering I was in a gay bar. The bartender cut me off.  On my way home, I came out to my cab driver. He was very understanding, and then he told me his own personal tale, some of which I actually listened to. Evidently, his native country’s culture demands absolute purity from their women, and thus the men find it difficult to release their sexual energy. At some point, he pulled the cab over and asked me for a blowjob. Afterward, he drove me home and do you know, he had the guts to charge me full fare? Of course I didn’t tip him.  You know, some cab drivers really leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Thursday, February 8

Home alone – again. Feeling bored. Nothing on TV. Just a bunch of jiggling breasts on the Spice Channel.  What is it with soft porn? They give you every conceivable view of a woman, frontal, back-al, you name it. It’s a complete breast fest, but you barely get to see even a guy’s ass. This is wrong and another example of the unfair treatment for LGBT. I’d call and complain, but I’m getting the channel for free.

Thank God the doorbell rang! l was greeted by rug rats selling Girl Scout cookies. I politely explained to the green skirted children that I reserve my charity contributions for gay related causes only, but as they were walking away I spied a box of Thin Mints, so I relented.

Friday, February 9

I met someone! He’s a cashier at Burger King. Granted, it’s not a profession I  imagined my future husband to be involved in, but he’s in college. Our meeting was tender and memorable. l had just ordered my Whopper, careful to specify no onion (you never know who you’re going to meet). When he saw my Pink triangle lapel pin he asked me about it and I explained that the pink triangle was a symbol of homosexual oppression in Nazi Germany and that in recent times had been adopted as a gay rights symbol, adding that not much has changed and homosexuals are still being oppressed.  He looked at me quizzically and responded, “I just wanted to know where you got it –  mine just broke.”
Well l almost fainted. I heard strains of “Some Enchanted Evening” and thought l was dreaming until l realized it was just the Muzak. Well, to make a long story short, we agreed to meet tomorrow. Oh,  and he threw in an order of free chicken fingers!  I never noticed before, but those burgundy polyester uniforms look kind of hot. I hope he doesn’t wear it on our date.

Monday, February 12

Chip and I had our first date. It wasn’t as romantic as I’d hoped, but we’re both between paychecks so we dined at Taco Bell. Chip spent a good part of the dining experience commenting how much nicer the uniforms at Taco Bell were and how he wished his Burger King had free drink refills so he wouldn’t have to deal with it.  I got really bored by this. Then he let it slip – the deal breaker. He wasn’t “out” to his mom and dad!

As someone who “came out” just last week, this infuriated me. I told him off right there and then about the importance of coming out to your family and how if everyone came out we wouldn’t have the discrimination we encounter today. He then lets it spill that he’s an orphan – just my luck! I said that was no excuse and he stormed out.

Tuesday, February 13

Went to pick up my clothes at the cleaners. I just got my “Gay Dollar” stamp and stamped all my currency with it at breakfast.  The woman who owns the cleaners was there and I handed her my ticket. She’s usually a nice little old Asian woman, but she didn’t seem so nice after I carefully counted out fifteen dollars all stamped with my pink and glittery “Gay Dollar” stamp, which I had to count out twice because she didn’t see my political statement at first. “Notice anything?”

Her eyes widened in fright, pushing my cash away, “You defaced money – that’s a crime!”

“No it isn’t” I insisted, now wondering if it was.

But she didn’t want to be part of a crime, so I had to find a cash machine to pay for my dry cleaning. Note to self: try the Gay Dollar trick on someone who isn’t holding $500 in dress shirts hostage.

Today

After cross checking on my computer the names of people I know against the people I’ve “come out” to, I’ve come to realize that there is no one left. Short of waiting for some employee turnover at Burger King, for the near future everyone I know knows.

Briefly this though left me in a fit of despair until I spied the telephone book. Then it struck me – there’s a whole lot of people out there I don’t know! My God, there’s billions of Chinese alone who I don’t know and who don’t know that I’m gay! So, I picked up the phone and started dialing the A’s.

Hello world, I’m coming out!

 

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Don the Con: The Cheapest, Sleaziest Bastard Alive

How’s this for a grift:

You start a tax exempt “foundation” in your name using other people’s money. Then you go around donating that very same money as if it came from your own pocket! You get the glory and the headlines, but you still have those extra millions in your pocket to buy back your repossessed yacht.

Donald Trump brags about donating money to charity – but it’s never his own money. As Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has uncovered, Trump gets other people to donate millions to his tax exempt Trump Foundation, which he then loudly donates to other charities in his name, and then accepts all the acclamation, press releases and “thank you” plaques that comes with big ticket philanthropy.

If that isn’t a perfect enough con, throw in Trump using his phony charity to buy himself expensive gifts, like $12,000 in luxury sports memorabilia or blowing $20,000 of his charity’s money on a grandiose 6 foot tall oil painting of himself to decorate his golf course.

image(Trump’s charitable gift to himself -with altered hands!)

The Trump Foundation paid $20k for this vainglorious painting, but it could have gotten it for $5 bucks, as Melania Trump opened the bidding at $10k, and when there was no counter bid, she upped her own winning bid to $20k.

Can you imagine if the Clinton’s bought a 6 foot oil painting of themselves with their foundation money?

Trump also used his tax exempt foundation to buy Tim Tebow’s game worn helmet and jersey for $12k at a public charity auction in 2007. Trump got the applause and the merchandise, but his charity got the shaft.  The last anyone saw Tebow’s jersey, it was decorating Trump’s business offices, which means he used charity money to enrich himself. It has since disappeared from public view like Tim Tebow’s career. No one even knows where it went. Like Tim Tebow’s career.

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Donald Trump  has a long history of enriching himself at other’s expense; from cheating poor contractors to squeezing well meaning social elites to donate to his lousy charity. He also brags about extravagant gifts he never even gave. One journalist has recently estimated Trump has lied to the IRS about giving to over three-hundred different tax deductible charities.

In the case of buying himself gifts with tax exempt charity funds, it is We the Taxpayers who helped Prince Donny acquire his $20k narcissistic oil painting of himself and his $12k in now worthless sports memorabilia.

Then there is his opportunistic and illegal “donation” to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s re-election, who then conveniently dropped her investigation of his Trump University scam just days after cashing her $25,000 Trump Foundation check.

Get this: Bondi actually called Trump directly to ask for the cash the day after she announced her investigation of him!

Yet there was media crickets about all this. The most damning evidence of Trumps sleazy operation is documented! Trump used $25,000 from his charitable foundation to bribe the Attorney General of Florida. Trump is so cheap he steals from charities to bribe public officials!

I wonder how many 9/11 widows Trump could have helped with the money he blew on himself?

Everyone thinks you’re a swell guy when you give money away – except none of the money was EVER  his.

Donald Trump is a fraud. Let’s compare:

The Clinton Foundation provides AIDS drugs to 11 million people.

The Trump Foundation bribes public officials and buys Don the Con expensive tax free gifts.

The Clinton’s have donated $14 million dollars of their own money to their charity.

Don the Con hasn’t contributed a dime to his since 2008.

Vote Hillary Clinton – America’s future depends on stopping this bigoted maniac.