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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Gay Culture (71)

Saturday
May282016

Call Answered: Michael Raver: Fire on Babylon Fresh Fruit Festival

Michael RaverAs much as I love getting to interview my idols, I equally enjoy interviewing new talent. It's exciting to talk to them about early projects and learn about their hopes and dreams. Michael Raver is a playwright and actor on the rise. This past April, his play Riptide, received an industry reading in New York city. His latest play, Fire on Babylon, was nominated for The Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Foundation Award for Playwriting, as well as being named a semifinalist for The O'Neill Conference in 2015. Now, Fire on Babylon is making its New York City premiere in the Fresh Fruit Festival from July 12-17 at The Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street). Click here for tickets!

1. Your latest play, Fire on Babylon, is getting ready to be workshopped in the Fresh Fruit Festival this July. What excites you about having Fire on Babylon in the Fresh Fruit Festival? I’ve been working on this play since 2012. After the years of pushing this play uphill, it’s exciting to get it on a proper stage. There’s something magical that happens between the process of doing a reading and fully staging something that is pretty indescribable and I’m so happy that we’ve finally moved the play to that point.

2. Fire on Babylon tells the story of two New Yorkers each locked in personal crisis, while the city is having one of its own: the 2003 blackout. What made you want to set this show in the confines of 2003 blackout? Someone asked me that a few days ago and I honestly can’t even remember. Isn’t that terrible? I do vividly remember that blackout and how, when it first happened, everyone panicked that we were being attacked again. But as soon as the word spread that it was an outage, it became this huge out-breath for everyone. People’s lives paused. Everyone, particularly in New York, got to take a pause from the chaos for a hot second. The two characters in Fire on Babylon are afforded that same opportunity. I’m someone who sometimes needs to be derailed in order to see clearly. It’s uncomfortable, but it can be so revitalizing.

Michael Raver and Jeffrey Hayenga in "Fire on Babylon", Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey3. What do you relate to most about your character, "Christian"? T hat he’s manipulative. I’m kidding. And I’m not (laughs) Seriously though, I think he’s got a questionable value system, which is something I at one time could identify with. Thankfully these days, life has me in a much more discerning place with what I spend time thinking about and doing. He sticks his foot in his mouth, which I can absolutely relate to. I have a propensity for letting my emotions take the driver’s seat sometimes, which "Christian" definitely does. But I try not to judge him too much because it’d make the task of playing him impossible. I’d be winking and nodding to the audience rather than letting Jeffrey honestly rake me over the coals.

4. In this show, your character get into a psychosexual situation with an older man (a couggay if you will). Has there been a time in your life when you've been involved with an older man? If so, what did you learn from that experience? I’ve never exclusively dated someone who was as far away in age as "Hugo" is from "Christian." When I’ve spent any time with someone older than me, regardless of the circumstances, the second that there’s some kind of parenting happening on the older person’s part, I want to run for the door. It can feel patronizing. I’m all about being a student to someone else’s teacher, but romantically, I get the itch to step away as soon as I’m being placed into a surrogate child role. I get that the father/son roles are easy to recognize in Babylon but the play isn’t really about daddy issues. The same way that it isn’t about a midlife crisis either, despite it centering on a middle-aged person in crisis.

Michael Raver and Jeffrey Hayenga in "Fire on Babylon", Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey5. How do you feel the generation gap of these two characters comes into play? The play feels, in some ways, like a pendulum swinging back and forth. The "cat and mouse" thing that’s going on is fun because at any given moment, the roles switch back and forth. Sometimes really quickly. They start the play off in very quintessential behaviors that are indicative of stereotypes for their age. "Hugo" is the rambling older man archetype. A bit of an absent-minded professor. "Christian" is a quiet, potentially simple younger man. But they spend the entirety of the story playing against what might be the obvious behavior for someone of their respective ages. When things get physical, when things get verbal, when things slow down or when things speed up between them, the instigator isn’t always the person who you might assume it’d be. The age gap also proves a really important point: no matter our age, life still can happen to us. At any time and without warning. We can always be embarrassed, feel lust, get confused, lost and also be found and feel love.

6. As the play unfolds and the blackout happens, press notes, say secrets are revealed. What is one secret you have been holding onto that you would like to let go of and finally reveal? Oh shit. I have no idea. I’m a pretty terrible liar so secrets are actually kind of hard for me to keep. I draw a pretty distinct difference between secrecy and privacy though. Privacy is great because I see it as a loving and protective concept. Secrecy is awful because it denotes that there’s some shame somewhere. Shame is harrowing and I’m not into it. Not at all.

Michael Raver and Jeffrey Hayenga in "Fire on Babylon", Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey7. Press notes also state that the character of "Hugo Thomas" is a recluse. Was there ever a period when you were a recluse and if so, how did you emerge back into the world? When I was about fifteen or so I was dealing with a lot of things and stayed in the house for most of the summer of that year. Wasn’t eating much either. My poor family didn’t know what to do. I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve wanted to drop off the radar. It’s a hard thing for us to do, right? We’re addicted to our phones and our computers. And I get it. We like feeling connected to each other. Communication is one of the great advantages to being human. I’m also temperamentally highly sensitive so the idea of being without connection to other people can totally freak me out. I do also need the balance of alone time and as surprising as it might seem to people who see me as extremely talkative, I have plenty of long stretches where I don’t open my mouth at all except to eat or brush my teeth.

8. In addition to writing this play, you are also starring in it. How do you divide actor/playwright when rehearsing and performing the show? Do you ever blur the lines or are you able to keep things pretty separate? I think the only thing I need is a clear picture about the story I’m trying to tell and to be directed by someone who wants to tell that same story. And trust. Respect also goes a long way on both parties. Thankfully, I have a truckload of respect for Paul Mason Barnes and I’m greatly relieved that he’s trusting me to wear both hats. I’ve taken the "kill your darlings" concept to heart as a writer and am not precious about any one, single line. I check for accuracy as opposed to better-ness. As long as the text in the script is accurately telling the story, then I’m all for it. As a castmate, Jeff Hayenga has been super helpful with that too. Neither of them are afraid to tell me that they don’t like a certain line or that something needs to get cut. At the end of the day, my job as a writer and an actor still have to deal with one very important bottom line: is this the truth?

Michael Raver and Jeffrey Hayenga in "Fire on Babylon", Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey9. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright/performer? I love this question. I never thought there was anything odd about wanting to do more than one thing. It wasn’t until I got out of school that I was ever given a "should" or a "you can’t" by anyone about it. For some reason, culturally, we celebrate Bob Dylan, Sting, Alanis Morissette and Lady Gaga for writing and performing their own material. Richard Pryor wrote his own jokes. The performers on Saturday Night Live are expected to write sketches. But there has long been a stigma against actors writing work that they perform. Shakespeare did it. And thankfully, the multi-hyphenate thing is starting to normalize a little more. Thank you Lin-Manuel Miranda. Thank you Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. Thanks Kate Hamill. Renaissance people. I respect when playwrights don’t want to perform their own work. But I think to dogmatically say that it’s not possible to be in my own play is a bummer. Trust can go a long way.

10. 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? Staying in the present moment as much as possible. I think I’ve got my head up my own ass a little more than I need it to be. I have moments of being an ostrich and I’d be willing to let some of that go. I’m down for it.

Michael Raver, Photo Credit: Paul GregoryMore on Michael:

Michael Raver is an actor, playwright and journalist. His performance as a young "Richard Feynman" in the film How We Built the Bomb received rave reviews. His Off-Broadway debut was in Ellen McLaughlin's adaptation of The Persians with Tony Randall's National Actor's Theater. His most recent television appearance was on TURN: Washington's Spies. As a playwright, his adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray was produced by Sonnet Repertory Theatre at the Signature Theatre Center in 2012, and a reading of his pre-WWII adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull was seen at the Pearl Theatre Company. He has also served, for three years, as a judge for the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction. He regularly contributes cultural arts journalism for Classical TV, as well as pieces for Hamptons York Monthly, Dance Magazine, Cool Hunting and Nature's Post.

Friday
Jul172015

Call Answered: Comedian Margaret Cho: THE PSYCHO TOUR in Provincetown, MA

I grew up watching Margaret Cho's career rise. I remember when she came on the comedy scene and when All-American Girl premiered on ABC. I admired Margaret for always being who she was. Margaret was a pioneer for so many people! Now, "Call Me Adam" chats with comedian, three-time Grammy nominee, and Emmy nominee, Margaret Cho, about her new show/tour THE PSYCHO TOUR: THERE'S NO I IN TEAM, BUT THERE'S A CHO IN PSYCHO which is making a stop in Provincetown, MA on August 13 at Town Hall (260 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA)! Click here for tickets!

THE PSYCHO TOUR is about insanity and the anger of everything happening in the world right now, from police brutality to racism to the rising tide of violence against women.

For more on Margaret be sure to visit http://margaretcho.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: Lindsey Byrnes1. On August 13, you are bringing THE PSYCHO TOURTHERE'S NO I IN TEAM, BUT THERE'S A CHO IN PSYCHO to Town Hall in Provincetown. What excites you about returning to Provincetown with this new show? It's all about the insanity going on in the world, and this is what I love the most - doing standup comedy that is relevant to the moment. I have been doing this for a very long time and finally figured it out!

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this tour? I hope people feel that it is cathartic and cleansing - and that they come away with a new perspective on everything!

3. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see THE PSYCHO TOUR, what would that reason be? It's very funny.

Marget Cho on "Drop Dead Diva", Photo Credit: Kevin Lynch4. When creating this show, was there one particular event that happened, that made you go, "I need to do a show about all this stuff happening" or was it more the culmination of a few different events? My shows are always consistent in that it's a constant conversation between me and the audience - since I do shows all the time - it has no beginning or end - it's always happening.

5. What is your favorite part about putting a show/tour together? Everything! I love my work and all the different aspects of it!

6. What do you enjoy most about touring as opposed to working in film/television? I usually do both at the same time and I love both, but doing live shows is gratifying in a very immediate sense. You get to feel the reaction right away which is amazing.

7. One of the things I admire most about you is the way you keep moving forward even during adverse times. Where do you think that strength comes from? I am a very positive and optimistic person, so I think it might come from that. Cynical but happy!

8. You've had an incredible career and have been a pioneer for so many comedians. When you look back over your career and see all your success, what goes through your head? It seems like it was a long time - but then I think it went by very fast! I am not sure if I am young or old anymore!

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: Mary Taylor9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Open with your silver, close with your gold - and it applies to everything in life I think!

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a comedian? That I picked the right job for myself.

11. How do you want to be remembered? As a girl who was fun to be with.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying seems general but also very practical!

13. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? Oh I love a nice lime soda - that is the juice of a lime mixed with seltzer water - it's sour and perfectly refreshing.

14. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Selene Luna twice before for "Call Me Adam." I asked her what the best about working with you was. So now, I'd like to ask you, what was the best part about working with Selene? Selene is one of the funniest comics in the world and also my friend, so we always have a fabulous time!

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: PixievisionMore on Margaret:

Margaret Cho was born Dec. 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. "It was different than any other place on Earth," she says. "I grew up and went to grammar school on Haight Street during the ’70s. There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the ’60s, drag queens, and Chinese people. To say it was a melting pot – that’s the least of it. It was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time."

Her grandfather was a Methodist minister who ran an orphanage in Seoul during the Korean War. Ignoring the traditions of her patriarchal culture, her mother bravely resisted an arranged marriage in Korea and married Margaret’s father who writes joke books – in Korean. "Books like 1001 Jokes for Public Speakers – real corny stuff," Cho says. "I guess we’re in the same line of work. But we don’t understand each other that way. I don’t know why the things he says are funny and the same for him."

What Margaret did know is that she didn’t love being a kid. Racing toward adulthood to escape bullying, she began writing jokes at 14 and professionally performing at age 16. Getting picked on, and feeling disenfranchised, is a subject that’s very near to Margaret’s heart. She has become a sort of "Patron Saint" for Outsiders, speaking for them when they are not able to speak for themselves Along with advocating for gay rights and bullying, Margaret recently began working with Homeless people on the streets of San Francisco as a tribute to her dear friend, Robin Williams.

Soon after starting her Stand Up career, Margaret won a comedy contest where first prize was opening for Jerry Seinfeld. She moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s and, still in her early twenties, hit the college circuit, where she immediately became the most booked act in the market and garnered a nomination for "Campus Comedian of The Year." She performed over 300 concerts within two years. Arsenio Hall introduced her to late night audiences, Bob Hope put her on a prime time special and, seemingly overnight, Margaret Cho became a national celebrity.

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: PixievisionHer groundbreaking, controversial, and short-lived ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994) soon followed. Oddly, while chosen because of who she was – a non-conformist Korean American woman with liberal views – the powers-that-be then decided they wanted her to "tone it down" for the show. Challenging Margaret’s feelings for both who she was and how she looked, she soon realized that though she was an Executive Producer, it was a battle she would not win. "For fear of being too 'ethnic,' the show got so watered down for television that by the end, it was completely lacking in the essence of what I am and what I do."

The experience was a traumatic one, bringing up unresolved feelings left over from childhood, and Margaret developed an eating disorder as a response to criticism about her body. She was so obsessive in her goal to try to be what she thought others wanted, she landed in the hospital with kidney failure. Through out a period of self-abuse, Margaret continued performing to sold-out audiences across the country in comedy clubs, theaters, and on college campuses, working to channel her anger in to something more positive.

In 1999, her groundbreaking, off Broadway one-woman show, I’m The One That I Want, toured the country to national acclaim and was made into a best-selling book and feature film of the same name. After her experience with All-American Girl, Margaret wanted to make sure she would only have to answer to herself, making sure she was responsible for the distribution and sales of her film. The concert film, which garnered incredible reviews, broke records for "Most money grossed per print" in movie history. In 2001, after the success of her first tour, Cho launched Notorious C.H.O., a smash-hit 37-city national tour that culminated in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. Notorious C.H.O., hailed by The New York Times as "Brilliant!", was recorded and released as a feature film. Both films were acquired by Showtime Cable Networks, and produced by Margaret’s production company, a testament to the success of Margaret’s bold business model.

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: Austin YoungIn March of 2003, Margaret embarked on her third sold-out national tour, Revolution. It was heralded by The Chicago Sun Times as "Her strongest show yet" and the CD recording was nominated for a Grammy for "Comedy Album of the Year." In 2005, Cho released Assassin, which The Chicago Tribune crowed "Packs passion in to each punch." The concert film premiered in select theatres and on the gay and lesbian premium channel Here! TV.

In 2007, Margaret hit the road with Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and Erasure, along with indie faves The Dresden Dolls and The Cliks, to host the True Colors Tour, benefiting the Human Rights Campaign. A true entertainment pioneer, Margaret also created and starred in The Sensuous Woman, a live variety show featuring vaudevillian burlesque and comedy, which she took for an extended off-Broadway run in the fall.

Margaret returned to TV in 2008 on the VH1 series, The Cho Show. Describing it as a "reality sitcom," Margaret said at the time, "It’s the closest I’ve been able to come on television to what I do as a comic." The Cho Show followed Margaret, her real parents, and her eccentric entourage through a series of irreverent and outrageous experiences, shaped by Margaret’s "anything goes" brand of stand-up.

The aptly titled Beautiful came next, exploring the good, bad and ugly in beauty, and the unattractive marketers who shape our world. The concert premiered in Australia at The Sydney Theater, marking the first time Margaret debuted a tour abroad. While touring through the US, the concert was filmed at the Long Beach theatre, aired as a special on Showtime in 2009, and then released as both a DVD and a book. Venus Zine hailed Margaret, and the show, saying "her fierce activism, which addresses bigger issues such as what it’s like to be demoralized by your country and culture…(left) no subject too taboo for the fearless stand-up queen."

Margaret Cho, "Dancing With The Stars", Photo Credit: ABCIn 2009 Margaret nabbed a starring role in the comedy/drama series Drop Dead Diva, which aired for six seasons on the Lifetime network. Margaret enjoyed being part of a team, and not necessarily having the sole responsibility for keeping things afloat. "(Drop Dead Diva) was very fulfilling. It’s a lot about the things I talk about, like body image, and women feeling good about themselves, and learning to be visible."

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Margaret stepped right up to the proverbial plate when asked to do Season 11 of the highly- rated Dancing with the Stars. Paired with pro Louie Van Amstel, Margaret was on one of the show’s most controversial seasons. "I really wanted to do DWTS so much. I love the show and I love dancing. It seemed like it would be very exciting, which it was. It was also very difficult because I was touring as well." Margaret got a very strong reaction to her Rainbow Dancing Dress during a time when the issue of bullying, especially among gay teens, was all over the media. "I am very proud to have been able to wear a gay pride dress on a show that is so conservative. It is a wonderful thing to have every one remember me by. I wanted to send an urgent message to gay teenagers to make them feel included and loved. That dress was my statement to them about pride."

2010 culminated with another high honor, a second Grammy Award nomination for "Comedy Album of the Year" for Cho Dependent, her incredibly funny collection of music featuring collaborations with Fiona Apple, Andrew Bird, Grant Lee Phillips, Tegan & Sara, Ben Lee and more. The album received critical acclaim, with The Oregonian stating, "This was a chance to see and hear an already drop-dead funny diva growing, flexing new musical muscle, and fearlessly mature." The album is funny, yes, but also quite musical, featuring not only her surprisingly strong singing voice, but her skill on the guitar, banjo and dulcimer. "I was inspired to make beautiful music with a comic edge. I took this very seriously, taking vocal and guitar lessons while I was touring. I was very devoted to learning and understanding how I could accompany myself."

Margaret self released Cho Dependent on her own Clownery Records, and was encouraged by the acclaim, as there are only a handful of people putting out albums of comedy music – "Weird" Al Yankovic, Flight of the Conchords, The Lonely Island, to name a few – but no women. In 2011, Margaret released the live concert film of Cho Dependent, which also had its cable network debut on Showtime. Audiences who caught these performances live can attest that Cho hasn’t lost any of her edge. Shot at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA, Cho remains uncensored, taking aim at the Palin family, her stint on Dancing With the Stars, smoking pot and living in a world with "sexting." The DVD is characteristically no-holds-barred Margaret and instantly a classic.

In 2012, Margaret spent whatever free time she had crafting her all new standup show, the uproariously and aptly named MOTHER, which kicked off with both a US and European tour. According to Margaret, "MOTHER offers up an untraditional look at motherhood and how we look at maternal figures and strong women in queer culture. There’s nothing we don’t discuss, including race, drugs, sexuality – gay-straight-everything in between, celebrity, culture, politics – nothing is sacred – least of all this MOTHER."

Paradox not lost, Margaret had to re-schedule some of the shows she had booked mid-September so she could attend the Emmy Awards with her mother. Nominated for a Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Guest Actress" in a Comedy Series for her hilarious stint on 30 Rock as gender-bending North Korean leader "Kim Jong Il," Margaret was thrilled with the role and the nomination, and with Tina Fey. "Tina and I did a pilot together, Cabot College, and I was so happy to be working with her again. She is such a force, and I am grateful to know her. I will take any opportunity to team up with her."

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: PixieVisionProductionsAlthough the pilot wasn’t picked up, Margaret’s creative side is moving ahead at full speed. First up – honoring her late friend, Robin Williams. "I found I couldn’t stop grieving Robin. He was an idol of mine before he became a friend, and he was an amazing advocate for homeless people, raising over 70 million dollars for homeless Men, Women and Children through the Comic Relief comedy Specials. He’d also stipulate in his movie contracts that a certain percent of the crew had to be homeless. Robin was a naturally compassionate man and he understood implicitly that what these people needed was to be treated with dignity." When the sadness of his passing overwhelmed Margaret, a mutual friend told her not to grieve Robin, but to "Be Robin." The hashtag #BeRobin was born, and Margaret began setting up shop in different places in and around San Francisco, putting the information of where she’d be on her Facebook and Twitter pages. "It’s very simple, all I do and create a distraction – comedy and music – for several hours. The generosity of people has amazed me. Hairdressers and nail technicians have come down to give services to the Homeless community, we’ve had incredible food donations, sanitary supplies for women, clothing, money and more. Our motto is 'If you have, give; if you need, take.'" Margaret has a GoFundMe page for the project: http://GoFundMe.com/BeRobin.

Incredibly, the #BeRobin project has led to more music from Margaret. She recently decided that her next two albums worth of material would be an outgrowth of the work she’s doing for the homeless community. "I am performing some new songs with the #BeRobin events, and wasn’t really sure how I was going to release my next set of music. I was waiting to see what the right thing was, and this presented itself." Margaret takes her musicianship very seriously, taking lessons, practicing and working with top musicians. Produced by David Garza and Garrison Starr, the next album will be a comedy-music hybrid not unlike Cho Dependent. "I have so many friends in music, and it’s such a big part of my social life, so I am always recording and finding ideas for songs. Now I have a plan, and all the proceeds will benefit this cause."

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: Mary TaylorMargaret is also excited about the new talk show she has debuting on TLC in January called All About SEX. Margaret is part of the panel of hosts that include comedian Heather McDonald and actress Marissa Jaret Winokur. "All About SEX is a late night talk show where viewers call in and ask questions about sex. I cover sex toys and alternative sexuality. I understand that world from the inside. In fact, I was on the Board of Good Vibrations, a pioneering sex toy store for women that removed the stigma of women not only buying sex toys, but experimenting with what makes them feel good."

2015 also brings Margaret back to the Stand Up stage, as she films her next comedy special, There’s no I in Team, but There is a Cho in Psycho, at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City in March. "This show is about insanity, about the anger I feel about everything happening in the world right now, from police brutality to racism to the rising tide of violence against women. I think everyone has a feeling about that mania and that rage. This show is the advanced version of MOTHER, the Wolf Mother." One of the things Margaret is most excited for is the artwork for the show, a portrait she commissioned that was painted entirely in her own blood. "The artist Vincent Castiglia did an amazing portrait of me using my blood. I found it to be very symbolic since There’s no I in Team, but There is a Cho in Psycho has a lot to do with anger, rage and blood letting. It’s a very beautiful portrait and I am really proud of it."

Margaret Cho, Photo Credit: Kyle Christy/TLCWith so much going on in her artistic life, Margaret has never turned away from the causes that are important to her. She is incredibly active in anti-racism, anti-bullying and gay rights campaigns, and has been recognized for her unwavering dedication. She was the recipient of the Victory Fund’s 2008 Leadership Award and the first ever Best Comedy Performance Award at the 2007 Asian Excellence Awards. She also received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU of Southern California, and the Intrepid Award from the National Organization for Women (NOW). Throughout her career, she has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and PFLAG for making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity. In June of 2011, Margaret was honored by LA Pride, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing an individual whose lifetime body of work has left a lasting major imprint on the LGBT community.

Through her hard work, Margaret has had the opportunity to be heard, to extend her point of view and become regarded as a true pioneer in her field. She takes none of it for granted. "It’s a wonderful thing to be known as a 'safe haven' for people. A lot people who come to my shows don’t necessarily consider themselves traditional comedy fans. I seem to be a safe alternative for people who don’t think they’re being represented in society. They come because my point of view satisfies a lot of what needs to be said out there, and that makes me really proud."

Wednesday
Oct152014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with Stephen Land, Real Men Wear Pink Calendar

Stephen Land ("Mr. April"), founder of "Real Men Wear Pink" Calendar, Photo Credit: Michael Craft of Twisted ImagesStephen Land and Call Me Adam, Photo Credit: Logan Vollmers"Call Me Adam" went live on location to Shadow Boxers in NYC to talk with New York City Nightlife Entertainer Stephen Land about creating the Real Men Wear Pink Calendar as a response to his mother being diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. All proceeds of the calendar go towards those who can not afford Breast Cancer Treatment.

Come join Stephen and all the models for the Real Men Wear Pink Calendar release party on Wednesday, October 22 from 6pm-9pm at Shadow Boxers in NYC (40th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue).

Pick up your calendar at http://www.realmenwearpinkcalendar.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

 

"Call Me Adam" interview with Stephen Land:

Stephen LandMore on Stephen:

Stephen Land is a NYC Nightlife Entertainer and Model. He works professionally in Specialty Retail Management and Political Public Relations. In the Nightlife industry he is known as GoGo Stephen NYC. His work entails Hosting and Promoting parties, Dancing, Singing, and Producing events. Stephen's work can be seen on Instagram @GoGoStephenNYC1.

Friday
Oct032014

Call Answered: Anthony Inneo: All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield

Antony Inneo"Call Me Adam" chats with playwright, actor, and director Anthony Inneo about his new show All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield, an homage to Dusty’s talent and vocal versatility. It is a fast-paced rock concert that presents not only her famous hits but introduces many of her unknown songs. All Her Faces plays at Workshop Theatre Company's Main Stage (312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor, between 8th & 9th Avenue) in NYC from October 14-26. Click here for tickets!

For more on Anthony be sure to visit http://www.anthonyinneo.com!

1. From October 15-26, your show, All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield is being presented at Workshop Theater Company's Main Stage Theater in NYC. What are you looking forward to most about having this show, in it's current form, on it's feet? That it will work exactly as my blood, sweat 'n tears (to coin a phrase) and imagination predicted. The original version (to see if it had "legs") was 50 minutes with 16 songs and a very slim narrative; this version is 90 minutes with 32 songs which has been fleshed out, considerably, and is ready to be moved into a 299 seat Off-Broadway house.

2. What made you want to write a show celebrating Dusty Springfield's voice/music? Why did you want to write this show more as a concert as opposed to a bioptic piece? Short answer: I’m not interested in anyone’s dirty laundry; never was. I make that perfectly clear on the website and in press releases: I wasn’t interested in presenting her life. Anybody could write that today, especially with all the information available to us. I purposely decided to leave the troubled yet gifted singer to the voyeurs of Hollywood and create All Her Faces to celebrate a vocal instrument and its versatility which CANNOT be duplicated. The confidence Dusty exuded on vinyl was a facade that masked severe insecurities and addictions to drugs and bouts with self-mutilation and fear of losing her career if she was exposed as a Lesbian. Personally I think Lesbians should be very proud of Dusty and what she's done and the musical legacy she left all of us. Lesbians and Gays alike - particularly the young ones - should unite and come running to see this show, if only to found out how Dusty, by sheer talent and tenacity, raised the bar for people (like them and all of us) with an extraordinary talent way back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was not in vogue or fashionable.

Dusty Springfield3. Aside from All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield, being more of a concert piece, what made now the right time to present this show, considering the Off-Broadway show Forever Dusty just finished it's run in 2013? TIMING. I’m going to say this a lot, I guess. All Her Faces is not unlike any musical being presented on Broadway or Off. It is scripted and has a "book" with a plot that tells a story. To make that interesting, I placed it within the conceit of a rock concert. The other show was a prime example how the so-called "creatives" can fall into the trap of making all the mistakes a bio musical could make. Since 2005, I made it a point to know my competition; I knew every show and film that was being considered, written or performed about Dusty. So when the other show appeared at the New World Stages (which I saw three times), I had to put All Her Faces on hold and wait until the "dust" settled. Pun intended. Now is the perfect time to resurrect Dusty and show the world what she was really made of. I am constantly saying and will continue to say: All Her Faces is the only way you want to remember Dusty Springfield.

Anthony Inneo4. Since you are the writer and director of All Her Faces, how do you separate yourself from writer/director during the rehearsal process? Do you ever have trouble letting go of something as the writer, but as the director you know should be cut?

No. I’ve never had that problem. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. I know exactly what "hat" I’m wearing and when I’m wearing it. I’m constantly aware of what’s best for my babies and will adjust accordingly. Actually I’ve learned to rely totally on the creative process within ME - and it has served me well. I have just finished the final draft of a full-length dramedy that explores that very topic: "Orange Juice and Bagels." Of course, there are always tradeoffs that have to be made, but the project - no matter what it may be - will always (in my hands) come out the winner.

5. What excites you about having this cast help bring this show to life? They're new, they’re young, they’re talented, and by being present and working on the material, they’re helping me see beyond what I may have been thinking.

Dusty Springfield6. What do you relate to most about Dusty Springfield's music? How has it influenced your life? Her choice of material - the songs she chose to sing. Dusty didn’t compose; in fact I think she only penned one or two songs. During my research, I discovered that the songs she’d perform and record actually helped her tell her story - which BTW is how I found the "hook" that the lead singer guitarist, JESSE, uses her hit songs in the show to conjure her back to life.

7. What do you get from writing that you do not get from acting? As Writer - control over what’s being said, literally and figuratively, and being afforded the opportunity to add my personal take on a subject. As Actor - free to apply and express my most intimate FEELINGS through what the writer has written. When you think about it, both processes are the same and very liberating in their own way!

8. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I wasn’t "inspired," not in the true sense of the word. Well maybe I was in a way. 40 years ago, as an actor I became acutely aware of how I was being treated and rejected for the most inane reasons that one can imagine. This topic, in and of itself, is one of the MAJOR injustices I’ve written about in my screenplay trilogy: Thank You, Thank You, Too, and You’re Welcome. Anyway, I needed to find a way to express the pain I was harboring before I’d go completely bonkers, so I took to writing. I was in therapy at the time and showed some of the stuff to my doctor. The following week I anxiously returned to my session hoping to hear him say I had the makings of a Miller or Albee…instead all he said was, "Don’t stop writing." I knew exactly what he meant, so I continued and developed an absolute love for the craft, learning more about my strengths and weakness and my particular writing "style."

Dusty Springfield9. What's the best advice you've ever received? On what? Life? Writing? Acting? Relationships? What to eat? How to dress? I’ll assume you mean advice on writing. I was doing an awards ceremony show (as an actor) and the writer was well-known in TV & film & theater. So on our lunch break, I asked his forgiveness for interrupting and told him I was seriously thinking about writing and if he had any advice. He slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) lifted his pad in the air with one hand, then (just as SLOWLY) lifted his pencil in the air with the other hand and brought them together as in a very romantic "kiss." Then he said don’t go to any writing classes, just write. Find your own style and maybe then take a class or two on structure. Needless to say, that’s exactly what I did.

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright/actor/director? That no matter what I’m doing in theater, being alive and creative is (as in life) a learning curve. And that as much as I think I’ve learned everything there is to learn - I know NOTHING compared to what lies ahead.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The power to heal.

12. If you could be any original Life Saver Flavor, which one would you be? I was never into Life Savers - except people who did it for a living. My favorite flavor, however, is Cherry. I can fall madly in love with a good homemade Cherry pie.

13. How do you want to be remembered? That I was kind - despite my faults.

Anthony InneoMore on Anthony:

Blessed with the best training, Anthony Inneo was a student of Sandy Meisner, Bob Modica, Uta Hagen, Mira Rostova, Lehman Engle, Terry Schreiber and Philip Burton (Richard’s father) for the classics.

He starred on Broadway as "Zach" in A Chorus Line, as well as London, Hawaii and on tour with Donna McKechnie. Off-Broadway roles range from "Polo" in A Hatful Of Rain, to "Lucky" in the original production of Dames At Sea. Anthony was prominently featured in roles on As The World TurnsAll My Children, Guiding LightOne Life To Live, and Law and Order - SVU. He also starred in a never-be-released independent film, Ingrid.

As Playwright, The Center Ring was successfully produced in LA and is being adapted into a musical and looking for a composer/lyricist. His Evaluating Woody was produced at the Mint Theatre - Jack Nicholson is on his "Bucket List" to play the lead.

Whether he’s producing, directing, performing or writing, Anthony’s bio is…"to be continued."

Friday
Sep262014

Call Answered Again: Alec Mapa: I Remember Mapa

Alec Mapa"Call Me Adam" once again chats with actor and comedian Alec Mapa. This time around we discuss the revival of his one-man show I Remember Mapa, which recounts Alec's experiences in film, television and performing in the original Broadway cast of M. Butterfly. It is the comic journey of a gay Filipino American actor struggling for work, love and acceptance that examines the role of Asian American actors in American culture. The piece also touches on his humorous and moving recollections of his mother.

I Remember Mapa plays on Saturday, October 11 at Baruch Performing Arts Center in NYC (55 Lexington Street, 25th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue). It is part of Baruch Performing Arts Center's LGBT month celebration. Click here for tickets!

For more on Alec be sure to visit http://www.alecmapa.com and follow him on Twitter

Alec Mapa performing1. On October 11, you are reviving your one-man show I Remember Mapa at Baruch Performing Arts Center as part of their LGBT month. You are performing this show on National Coming Out Day. Does doing the show on this specific day add any special meaning to the show? Absolutely. My show  is about finding a place where you belong in a world that appears to have absolutely no place for you. The decision to be completely authentic when everyone else is trying to fit in, is always an empowering one.

2. I Remember Mapa is about your experiences as a Filipino American actor in film, television, and on Broadway in the original cast of M. Butterfly. What excites you about reviving this show? Has it been updated since you last performed it? Obviously I've had to update it. Jokes about Courtney Love and Vh-1 aren't quite evergreen. But the story of my journey from misfit drama nerd to Broadway to Broadcast TV is essentially the same.

3. What makes Baruch College the perfect place to revive this show? What does it offer you that another venue might not? Colleges are such idealistic places. It's easier to do a show about believing in your dreams to a college audience instead of a bunch of bitter old drunks.

Alec Mapa on CBS' "Some of My Best Friends", starring Jason Bateman4. You were the very first openly gay Asian series regular on CBS' Some of My Best Friends starring Jason Bateman. What did it mean to you at the time to be the first openly gay Asian series regular on network television and what does it mean to you now? How does it feel to be a trailblazer? I didn't feel like a trailblazer at the time, I just needed a job really bad. The Broadway experience had been years behind me and I was so broke. I really needed something wonderful to happen so I wouldn't quit. In retrospect I realize it was kind of a bigger deal than I thought. Network TV didn't employ a lot of people who looked or sounded like me, so it was a big leap forward.

5. You have been a role model for many people who got to see you open doors for those who have come after you. Who do you feel opened the door for you? There weren't really any Gay Asian role models when I was growing up, so I just wanted to emulate the people who made me laugh. Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Paul Lynde, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler always fascinated me by how much they stood out and how shameless they were. I wanted to be a funny lady. It all kind of worked out.

Alec Mapa and family6. If you were just starting your career out today, do you feel your experience would have been different? I think it  would be harder! The audience is now so divided over so many media platforms. It's the difference between trying to find an audience on three channels as opposed to three thousand.

7. I Remember Mapa also touches upon your relationship with your mom. What do you miss most about her? If you could have a conversation with her today, what are the most important things you would want to make sure she knew about your life today? I miss her optimism. My mother always believed in a better future and she always got one. She was my safe place. Moving ahead without her reassuring presence was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'd want her to know most of my dreams came true. I got married, had a kid. I'd want her to know my hair is greying in exactly the same way hers did.

Alec Mapa, Betty White, and Vanessa Williams on ABC's "Ugly Betty", Photo Credit: Dean Hendler/ABC8. Out of all the television shows you've been on either as a guest star, series regular, or recurring role, which ones were your favorite? What made them your favorite? Playing "Suzuki" on Ugly Betty was like winning a prize on a game show. The cast and crew were so much fun. I got to be mean, which is always fun to play. I got to fly to NYC first class twice a month and stay in a fancy hotel and work for two days at a time. While in the city I'd visit with friends and see shows. It was a pretty cushy gig. I'm a work to live sort of person. If a job sends me to a nice location with per diem, color me happy.

Alec Mapa, Photo Credit: ContactMusic.com9. What do you hope is next for Alec Mapa, both career and personally? I'm visualizing a series regular role on a hit TV show that runs long enough for me to fund my retirement and my son's college tuition. My kid is heading into his teens shortly, so I'm praying he's not a total douche when that happens. As I head into my 50's my therapist said everything resets and you become a very young old person. I'd like to think I may live out the rest of my days as a very young old person. Wise, curious and absolutely ridiculous.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I don't want to fly, because heights give me vertigo and I don't want super hearing because I'd probably get my feelings hurt. I always thought knowing every single language would be a cool super power. I'd also like to give anyone an orgasm just by shaking their hand. How much fun would THAT be?

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could be any original Life Saver, which flavor would you be? What are the ones that make sparks in your mouth? I'd want to be those.

12. How do you want to be remembered? Thin and in my twenties. I was so pretty.

Alec MapaMore on Alec:

Alec Mapa’s television career has gone from desperate to ugly with recurring roles on ABC’s Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. On Wisteria Lane Alec is known as Gabriel Solis’ personal shopper "Vern." On "Ugly Betty" no gossip report would be complete without the latest from Alec as fashion reporter extraordinaire "Suzuki St. Pierre."

Audiences first discovered Alec on Broadway in the Tony Award winning production of M. Butterfly. He guest starred on over 40 television series, including Alias, Friends, Roseanne, Seinfeld, and NYPD Blue. Alec played network television’s very first gay Asian series regular role on the short-lived CBS sitcom Some Of My Best Friends. He then starred in four seasons of the UPN sitcom Half and Half. Film audiences howled at Alec as N’Cream in the wildly popular drag queen musical Connie and Carla. Other films include Playing By Heart, Marley and Me, and You Don’t Mess with The Zohan. Alec’s stand up comedy specials Wisecrack and No Fats, Femmes, or Asians continue to air on Logo and have gained him a huge cult following.

Alec has entertained live audiences with Rosie O’Donnell aboard her R Family Cruises and all over the world with Atlantis Cruises. Alec was awarded the prestigious Davidson Valentini GLAAD Award for promoting equal rights for the LGBT community. A tireless fundraiser, Alec has toured the country on behalf of The Human Rights Campaign and The Matthew Shepard foundation earning him the unofficial title of "America’s Gaysian Sweetheart."