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Entries in East Village (3)

Wednesday
Aug162017

Call Answered: Ralph Sutton: Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll

Ralph SuttonWhenever I listen to the radio or in today's world, podcasts, I think of Nicki French's song "Voice of America," which celebrates the power of radio. I have been part of both mediums throughout my career. In college I hosted my own '50s/'60s & '80s/'90s radio show. Then I interned at WPLJ in NYC. More recently, I've been interviewed for Rep Radio's podcast and hosted my own radio show It's Showtime with Call Me Adam on YTP Radio. I love it all!

Needless to say when I found out about Ralph Sutton & Big Jay Oakerson's podcast Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll, I was eager to find out more about it. I called and Ralph answered! I had a great time learning about Ralph's rise in radio, his partnering with Big Jay Oakerson, the birth of Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll, plus memorable guests and unanswered questions.

Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll airs every Monday at 9pm! Listen on iTunes, Soundcloud, and at http://www.thesdrshow.com! Follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

On August 21, Ralph and Big Jay will welcome comedian and "Mooch" impersonator Mario Cantone! 

1. Who or what inspired you to become a radio/TV host? When my testicles dropped, and my voice went deep – I was told daily that I had a voice for radio, and even did a little stint on my college radio station but kind of walked away from it – then about 20 years ago – while I was a strip-club DJ – Howard Stern was talking about how to pick up strippers, and I called in to talk about it. Miraculously, I got through on my first try (and it was my first time every calling into a talk show), we had about a 2-minute call – it was a great call. They didn’t make fun of me after, it was quick and funny then then all that week people were calling me, asking if that was me on Howard Stern. It was that call that made me want to finally give radio a real try.

2. How did you and Big Jay Oakerson come to create your digital comedy show, Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll? I had been hosting this rock music cruise called Shiprocked – and they asked me if I knew any comedians that would work on the cruise…I suggested Jay – even though he and I were casual acquaintances at the time, I was aware of how funny he was, and how great he’d be for the cruise. They ended up having us host a bunch of events together, and all we did was make each other laugh the entire time. He then suggested we do a podcast together. My uneducated answer at the time was "Podcasts are for people who can’t do radio, and I already have a nationally syndicated rock radio show!" but over the next few months I kept reading about podcasting and how big it was getting. I told him about 5-6 months later that I was down to do it. He said - we need a name/concept/etc. I had the logo, website, and theme already picked out – for a morning show I was going to do – that never transpired…so I just sent him the logo, and he said "done!"

Ralph Sutton interviewing KISS co-founder Gene Simmons on "Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll"3. Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll is a no-apologies, not politically correct, not for the faint of heart show that blends the classic energy of a morning radio show into the new era of digital entertainment. If you were to apply this description to your life, what do you feel has been the most shocking thing you have done that made you go, "I can't believe I just said or did that, and while I should feel bad about it, I'm living my life like my show, so fuck it."? Well the funny thing is of the S, D & R of the show, I am very light on the D. But I feel I make up for it with the S and the R. I also think shocking is such a relative term, what one person finds shocking, someone else finds common-place.   In the last few years since the show began, I have done things I probably wouldn’t have done, had it not been for the show. I also stay on bad dates longer because they might lead to good stories for the show!

For me – because my experience with drugs was so minor – doing mushrooms live on the show was a real bizarre experience for me. I remember drooling – and that’s about it. I also had a minor blackout on the show once too, which was not a fun thing at all. The best part of that story though was that my mom – who is a big supporter of anything I do, and always shares everything I post – shared the clip of me having a blackout on the air…and then was inundated with friends asking her "why the hell would you share a clip of your son having a blackout!"

4. What has been the best part about creating this show and what is the most challenging? The best part has been the difference a podcast listener and a radio listener. Podcast listeners are active listeners. Far more engaged than an average radio listener. I would rather have 1,000 podcast listeners than 10,000 radio listeners. Podcast listeners have launched an app, searched you out, and pressed play. They WANT to listen to you. Radio – usually is just on in the background, in the car, etc. I have been floored by the interaction we get from the show.

The most challenging is booking it! We do it live Monday nights in the East Village…so it’s been difficult finding people to come to my home studio 9pm at night.

"Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll" party5. You recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of Sex Drugs & Rock & Roll. What was the best part of this milestone? In looking back, what is something you can't believe happened that you had initially only hoped for? It really is amazing to me at this point. I spend days trying to come up with ridiculous ideas, and then see if we can make it happen. An idea that I had for three years, that we finally got done, and it ended up being the most listened to episode ever, was the "Oralympics." Where we got a $1000 escort and a $200 escort to donate their services for science. We were both blindfolded and then had to decide was it worth spending the extra $800 – if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to listen to the episode.

6. I love the fact that you tape these podcasts live right here in NYC. Why did you want to have a live audience for your tapings as opposed to doing these interviews in a closed-studio? What has been the craziest thing to happen during a taping? We do the show live in my home studio – and about once a month we do a live event somewhere – in front of an audience. Perhaps the most fun in recent memory was our Family Feud 3-year anniversary party. Sal Vulcano from Impractial Jokers, Corey Glover, the singer of Living Colour, Michael Alig, the subject of the movie Party Monster, and a few porn stars and burlesque performers like Payton Sin Claire showed up. It was just so much fun. After the live broadcast of the show – everyone just hung out. Sal DJ’d until 3am, I saw various guests go into the bathroom with various guests, I saw one of the interns make out with a porn star in the middle of the room, it was just decadence and debauchery at its finest.

7. Can you recall any questions that stumped a guest? If so, what was the question and who was the guest? In general, we try to have a relaxed vibe in the studio – the guest usually shows up about 30 minutes before – we offer drinks, we are very casual – I am not looking to bring a guest to tears. The one time it got dicey was when Mina Caputo from the band "Life of Agony" was in studio. She’s transitioning from Keith to Mina – and it was a sensitive subject for her (understandably), and while we’ve had a few transgendered guests on the show – they were usually porn stars who already fully made the transition, and were more comfortable with the general questions that might come up on our show.  And I didn’t’ think Mina was ready for how open Jay can be about it – neither of us are remotely phobic about anyone’s identity, but we do talk relatively openly. So I think she was a bit shocked…it did lead to a great discussion and openness about what she was going through and I think it was a great interview. But it was a bit touch-and-go in the beginning.

Big Jay Oakerson, Jennifer Esposito, and Ralph Sutton on "Sex, Drugs, & Rock N Roll"Mario Cantone as "The Mooch" on "The President Show"8. For this month's show, August 21, your special guest is the hilarious Mario Cantone. What are you looking forward to most about having Mario as your guest? Is there one thing specific you are hoping will happen with him on the show or a topic of discussion that will come up? This is a long time coming.  I've known Mario since I was about 10 or so…he’s like a brother to me, and I had a similar experience recently when Jennifer Esposito came on the show. It’s strange to interview someone you’ve known your entire life. I knew Jen since I was about 19, and Mario since before I had pubes. So it will probably end up being more of a trip down memory lane. Although I was so happy to see how everyone loved his "Mooch" impression. It was so good!

9. Who are some of your dream guests you'd still like to have on the show? Charlie Sheen, Axl Rose, Marilyn Manson. Charlie – because c’mon…he’s gotta have the most bonkers stories out there. Axl – because he is rock royalty. And Manson because not only is he Jay’s favorite, but he and I both dated the same girl...we’re wiener cousins! That’s gotta be something right?

10. As an interviewer yourself, what is one question I didn't ask that you wish I had? (please provide the answer to said question as well). The only question that doesn’t get asked enough is how does this crazy show affect your life directly?

It’s destroyed my dating life. I have to beg girls not to google me or look up my show. As I know if they base my persona on the show – I have no prayer of a 2nd date. My mom puts it best "It’s what he does, it’s not who he is." I will pretty much do anything – if I think it will be better for the show. When we first started, I wanted to do something that I knew would get listeners. Calling a show Sex Drugs & Rock n Roll was the answer to that…and I think I have only said no once on the show to some idea that came up. I want this show to be the inner voice that pushes back against all the crazy SJW stuff, and political correctness that is going on in the world right now. It’s ok to be ridiculous – if you are not doing it from an evil place. It’s OK to laugh at others, as long as you are also willing to laugh at yourself. It’s OK to do things for nothing other than pure enjoyment. Even if you end up blacking out in the process :)

Ralph SuttonMore on Ralph:

Ralph Sutton is a long-time veteran of television & radio with his own built-in international fan base. for nearly two decades – Ralph hosted – The Tour Bus, a nationally broadcast rock radio show that was syndicated in 50 markets across the nation and re-broadcast worldwide on the Internet. The show boasted over one million listeners nationwide. In 2016 Ralph launched the GaS Digital Network - with 11 shows and 750,000 listeners a week network wide.

Wednesday
Aug172016

Call Answered: Gustavo Pace: Naked Brazillian 2016 FringeNYC

Celebrating their 20th anniversary, FringeNYC is back in full swing! With over 200 shows to choose from, playwrights, directors, producers, and actors from all over the world descend on New York City's East Village for two weeks in August to present their work.

One of the shows in this year's FringeNYC is Gustavo Pace's Naked Brazillian. How could I not want to interview Gustavo? I mean, I love boys, I love Brazillians, and who wouldn't want to be naked with Gustavo. But in all seriousness, it was Gustavo's story that really attracted me to this show. Naked Brazillian tells the tale of a young man journeys from Rio to NYC to make a case for his own destiny, struggling against his father’s wishes to become a lawyer. Along the way this boy faces many obstacles including sleeping in Central Park while struggling to find a home, almost dying by drug dealers in Rio, having to visit dangerous prisons in Rio, and living with an alcoholic father.

With just two performances left, Naked Brazillian will play on Friday, 8/19 @ 9:15pm and Sunday, 8/21 @ 8:30pm at 64 East 4th Street Mainstage. Click here for tickets!

For more on Naked Brazillian be sure to visit http://www.nakedbrazilianshow.com and follow the show on Facebook!

Gustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.comGustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.com1. Naked Brazillian is being presented in the 2016 FringeNYC and tells the hilarious and heartwarming story of a young man's journey from Rio de Janeiro to New York City (and Harvard University) in pursuit of his dream. What made now the right time to submit this show to the Fringe Festival and what does it mean to be showcasing it in this festival? Considering the Olympic Games in Rio, I felt it was the right time to bring the reality of Brazil to New York. It's a great pleasure to be
part of the FringeNYC. It's a fantastic festival with great artists and crew. I  think we live in a time where the young people are losing their true passions and dreams. So the play is dedicated to those who have a life dream and work hard to achieve it.

2. In this show you discuss the many different obstacles you encountered during your travels including sleeping in Central Park while struggling to find a home and almost dying by drug dealers in Rio. What did you learn about your survival skills from sleeping in Central Park? As you were on death's door at the hands of drug dealers in Rio, what thoughts were going through your head and how did you manage to get away? I learned that in the most difficult situations you have to breathe, imagine that things will get better and laugh about it. I think a great way to survive the pain is to laugh and see the light. The drug dealers had a big knife and a gun, but somehow I was able to communicate with them clearly and they robbed everything. So I ended up wearing only my underwear in the middle of Carnaval and people thought it was my costume.

Gustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.comGustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.com3. This show also talks about how you wanted nothing more than to entertain people, but found it hard to fit in. When did you finally feel like you fit in? It happened when I just graduated from Harvard and accepted the challenge to fight to be an actor despite success and money. It happened in New York where people are open to diversity and to whom you truly are. I felt home. 

4. What did you learn about yourself while writing this show? I learned that I'll be happier when I follow my own dreams and not my father's or anyone else's.

5. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I don't want to criticize myself as much as I do. I want to trust more and more (1% better every day) that being honest and sincere is enough to get the best out of life.

Gustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.comGustavo Pace in "Naked Brazillian" Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.com6. Since you've titled this show Naked Brazillian, what's your favorite part about being naked? My favorite part is to get my soul naked.

7. If you had to give people one reason why they should come see Naked Brazillian, what would that reason be? Naked Brazilian, performed in both English and Portuguese, giving us a glimpse into attitudes towards topics such as masculinity, sexuality, and family in Brazilian culture, in a physical and darkly comic performance. The play has a strong message about fighting for your life dream.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have tickets to the last week of the Olympics, you can pretend Copacabana beach is at 64E4 MainStage this week in the final two performances: Friday, 8/19 @ 9:15pm and Sunday, 8/21 @ 8:30pm.

Gustavo Pace Photo Credit: Jim R Moore/Vaudevisuals.comMore on Gustavo:

Gustavo Pace graduated with his MFA in Acting from Harvard University’s professional acting program at the American Repertory Theater. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for Theater/Acting. Previously, he attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. He graduated in Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

He received the Brazilian International Press Award in 2013 for his achievement in Theater in the United States and in 2015 the Portuguese-Brazilian Award at Lincoln Center for Achievement in Theater, Film and Television. In 2014 he appeared in The Idiot, at the Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of Marina Brusnikina. It was also in 2014 that he appeared as "Ivanov" in an adaptation of Ivanov and Uncle Vanya entitled By Chekhov directed by Igor Zolotovitsky, which was part of a play festival held at Melikhovo in Russia, in the house that Chekhov wrote many of his most famous plays. He appeared in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Anya Saffir in Cambridge in 2015 and recently performed his solo show Discovery at the Abingdon Theatre, as part of an All for One Theater Production. He appeared in the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing in the Riverside Park in New York.

Monday
Apr292013

Jill Campbell: Chemistry of Love Interview

Jill Campbell began her career at The Public Theater during Joseph Papp’s reign. She spent three formative years in the UK, where her first play Forgive Me Father was produced at the London Fringe and at the Dublin Fringe Festival. 

Her latest play, Chemistry of Love plays at La MaMa (74A East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue & the Bowery) in New York City's East Village from May 2-19. Chemistry of Love strips bare the process of making art, revealing the toll it takes on one’s self and peers. Click here for tickets and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and http://chemistryoflove.net!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I’ve been involved in theater in some way my entire life. I initially wanted to become an actress. I studied acting when I was a kid at places like Usdan where Mark Blum and Austin Pendleton taught or guest lectured. In high school, there was this program that BOCES sponsored on Long Island. It was equivalent to the High School of Performing Arts in NYC. It was run by theatre gypsy Bert Michaels. Bert had appeared in the original West Side Story and Saturday Night Fever films. He was the real deal. He treated us like professionals and we worshipped him. He never candy coated the profession and he worked us hard. I went to my high school in the morning and in the afternoons I would study at BOCES. It instilled so much discipline within me. It taught me what it meant to work hard. I also took an acting class with Geraldine Page when I was 17. I had to audition for her and she accepted me. This rocked my world. I received my BFA, moved to NYC to pursue an acting career, had several bad experiences (the casting couch did exist) and one day decided I didn’t want to act, but I wanted to produce. I got a job for Straw-hat Productions and later at the Public Theatre. I had also always written from a young age. I have journals full of short stories and plays; I loved to write, but I was not confident enough to share my work. My grammar was atrocious. I had to teach myself good grammatical tools (I’m still learning). I took the odd writing class, but it wasn’t until I moved to the suburbs of New Jersey, that I wrote my first play, Supurbia. I was very depressed and missed NYC terribly. I couldn’t understand how I had ended up as a New Jersey housewife harboring contradictory dreams. I signed up for a playwriting class at Gotham’s Writers Workshop and that was it. I was hooked and felt that I finally found my niche in the land of theatre. People seemed to respond to my work. All my proceeding theatrical experiences fed into my writing. It felt very natural. I was obsessed with the work of Eric Bogosian, Sam Shepard, Harold Pinter and Christopher Durang.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? That is such a tough question, because I just want to continue to work and write in whatever way possible, but I could start with the dream list of directors listed in this New York Times article: http://theater.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/theater/female-directors-more-prominent-in-new-york.html

3. What made you want to write Chemistry of Love? The play is about a mid-career artist, Lara, who has had some success, but never the acclaim her work deserves. When she is nominated for the $500,000 grant it forces her to dig deep within and analyze what success really means to her. We also follow Lara’s mentor, ex-boyfriend and best friend. Each has an unexpected reaction to her impending success. Can they deal? Was it easier to accept her as a struggling artist instead of a successful one? What will this do to their relationships? Are they really happy for her? They each seem to want a piece of the success she’s worked her ass for. But do they deserve it in some way? They have been there for her, supporting her emotionally, sexually, introducing her to the right people.

I am also a mid-career artist dealing with similar issues. I have at times neglected my loved ones for the sake of this obsession. Was it/is it worth it? Should I have remained a New Jersey housewife and dedicated my life to my kids? That’s art too. Why am I doing this? I love playwriting, but it’s a brutal profession, especially for someone like me who has not gone to grad school and who doesn’t always have the time to network the way one needs to in this profession. I used to think that all you had to do was write the play. That’s only the first step. I’ve had to take a hard look at why I am doing this and what success really means to me. What theatre means to the world. Why do we need art in our lives? These are all questions, the lead character in my play deals with while dealing with the reactions of the people whom she is closest to in respect to her $500,000 grant nomination and her impending success. The nomination alone has created buzz and now everyone seems to want a piece of her. It’s amazing how a little success changes everyone’s attitude towards you when you’re an artist. You leap in their minds from hobbyist to artist. These are all things I am exploring. Saying that, there’s a hell of a lot of humor in this play. I have been laughing my ass off in rehearsals.

(L-R): Dennis Parlato as Florant, Jenne Vath as Karen, Kim Merrill as Lara and Matt Baxter Luceno as Tyler in the World Premiere of Chemistry of Love. Photo credit: Russ Rowland4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope they continue to think about it long after they have left the theatre. I hope they flip it around in their minds, connecting the intricate dots. Laugh, smile, and cry. I hope they have more compassion towards anyone who devotes their life to art. The play is also an interesting study on contemporary conceptual art and how technology is infiltrating our work. It looks at three generations of artists. One in his sixties, one in her forties and one in his twenties plus there is the person who is not the artist. She’s the one "they do the work for."

5. Why did you want your play to be at La MaMa? What do they offer that another venue would not? I do feel one lands where they’re supposed to. Everything about La MaMa feels right to me. It’s not corporate. It’s still quirky. They remain true to Ellen Stewart’s dedication to the experimental artist. One feels very free and supported there. My play is not safe. There’s some stuff that will freak some people out, but La MaMa is willing to take risks in artists and their work. The director of my play George Ferencz gave me a DVD of Elizabeth Swados’ La MaMa Cantada, it took me months to get around to listening to it, but when I did, I realized why he wanted me to hear it. I am so in the right place, I just wish I got the chance to meet the welcoming, exacting, inspiring, ass pinching, bell ringing, green vetoing, power house who would welcome the audiences to the theatre each night by ringing a bell and saying, "Welcome to La MaMa Experimental Theatre, dedicated to the playwright."  "Never apologize, never be sorry!" Thank you Ellen!!!

6. What did you learn from working under Joseph Papp's reign at the Public Theater? The Public was my first professional theatre gig. Every waking moment I spent there was a learning experience. There are some moments in my life I have forgotten completely, but I remember times at the Public so clearly, from walking into first rehearsal for Taming of the Shrew with Morgan Freeman, Tracy Ullman and Helen Hunt; running lines with Morgan (joy). Learning how to make the perfect 50-cup pot of coffee. Mainly, I remember running the budget reports for each show and being shocked at how much was in the red. Nothing made money. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but then discovered the importance of funders. Like La MaMa, they are dedicated to the art, the work - if it’s good, the money hopefully follows. If it’s not, at least they went for it!

7. You spent 3 years in London, how do you feel that time helped your playwriting to grow? The city of London was my version of grad school. My ex-husband was transferred there for 3 years and because of visa restrictions, I could not take on a job. This was around the same time that I had begun to write plays, so I decided to use every bit of my time taking classes, attending lectures and going to as much theatre as possible. I met playwright Bernard Kops’ who had been teaching playwriting from his apartment for twenty years. I learned everything from him. The Brits, I feel, are much more language oriented and more sub-textual than Americans. I learned to experiment with form and language. I learned how to thread subtext into my work under the surface of my words. I learned how to deal with exposition or to get rid of it entirely. I probably saw three shows a week for three years. I went to everything, everywhere from the West End to The Bush (Kane, Churchill, Kops, Pinter) and it influenced me immensely. When I returned to the States, no one got my work. They seemed to want very plot centric material. I think Chemistry of Love is a perfect balance of both. I do think you need plot, but it should not overwhelm character or interrupt the magic. It’s about the balance. Also, pub culture made it really easy to meet people in London. You would see a play and meet half the production in the pub next door afterwards. I met Max-Stafford Clark and John Caird that way and asked if I could send them my work. They both called me in for meetings. I was floored. There is a private bar backstage at the National for cast, crew and friends. It’s amazing. 

8. What is your favorite part of the creative process in writing a play? I love when you get to the part where you know the world so well, that the play starts writing itself. I go into this trance and later I look at it and I’m like, "when did I write this?" I also love infusing research into the work. I find that very inspiring. Also, of course the first time you hear actors read it is always a blast.

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? I’m smarter than I thought I was.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received? Don’t be lazy. This is a brutal art form. One will write a million drafts and sometimes you just want to be done and to have it read and to submit it, but if you have anything niggling in your mind about the work, don’t submit it. Take your time, do another rewrite, ask yourself the hard questions. Always go one draft further than you think you can.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? This is a freaking hard question that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Maybe to be able to predict the day the world will end, but if I could do that, no one would believe me anyway - they’d think I’m a freak and would try to commit me, so maybe it’s something simple, like eliminating global warming. That’s simple right?

More on Jill:

Jill's plays have been produced or workshopped in New York at La MaMa, Mabou Mines, New Georges, Cherry Lane, Mind the Gap and Easthampton Playhouse, and at The Side Project and Women’s Theatre Project in Chicago and Luna Stage in NJ. She has been a resident artist with Mabou Mines and is a current member of the PDU at The Actors Studio. Campbell is also a documentary producer who has worked on Dancing Across Borders directed by Anne Bass and Never Stand Still, filmed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She’s the Assistant Producer on the documentary Out of Print, narrated by Meryl Streep, which premieres at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. She is currently writing and producing Hamlet of Canfield Gardens about the life of her mentor, British playwright Bernard Kops.