Call Answered: "Gay Geaser" Ira Lee Collings: "Life Is A Song - So, Why Not Sing It?" at Don't Tell Mama
Ira Lee Collings, Photo Credit: Winston Leonard PhotographyWhen someone proclaims they have "Gay Geaser Power," how could one not want to find out more! At 82-years-old, Ira Lee Collings is showing us you can do anything at any age. After a 25-year absence from show business, Ira has returned to his performing roots and is delighting audiences with his cabaret show Life Is A Song - So, Why Not Sing It? at Don't Tell Mama.
His final show is this Sunday, 10/29 at 7pm! Come celebrate Ira's last show as well as his 82nd birthday! Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor/singer? As the youngest of eight kids in a small town in Indiana, most of my brothers and sisters, six boys and two girls , sang or played an instrument. My sister Elouise and I sang together as teenagers. She was two years older then me. My Mother had twins the easy way, two years apart. We sang together until the Wonder bread man who brought bread to our little store married Elouise and we went from Lois & Lee to just Lee-me.
2. This Sunday is your final show of Life Is A Song So Why Not Sing It?. but it is also your 82nd Birthday. What are you looking forward to most about this special performance? The joy of performing for my friends and family and hopefully some new friends. John M. Cook, my musical director is wonderful to work with. So, let them eat cake!
3. Ten years ago you came back to singing after a 25 year absence. What made this the right time to come back? During those many years I did dinner theatre during the 70's. I had a part time job at Forbes Magazine in the Statistical department. I would get a show and go to the deep south for several weeks and when I got back they would take me back to the statistical department. At 52 I took a full time job at Forbes for 10 years and I retired at 62. I started doing showcases for ten years and one day I called Sidney Myer at Don't Tell Mama. He met with me and encouraged me to do my own cabaret act and I have been doing cabaret shows there ever since.
Ira Lee Collings, Photo Credit: Winston Leonard Photography4. Why did you take a 25 year break? During that time did you ever want to quit your day job and go back to performing? What made you stay at your job? I had to pay rent and eat. Dinner theatre gave me a creative outlet and Forbes was very helpful letting me do part time work when I was in town. Finally when I hit 52 I realized I wasn't going to have much social security if I didn't take a full time job. Forbes liked me and gave me that job for which I will be forever grateful!
5. You are known around town as Gay Geezer. How did you get that title? I call it Gay Geezer Power. Back home anyone over 50 is a geezer. So Gay Geezer wasn't such a jump! My whole town knew I was Gay before I did. What did I know. There were boys and there was girls. What else was there? Excepting my Gayness was a very painful experience. When I think back I can see an arc starting with self hatred and fear moving up to Gay Geezer Power. A close friend ask me one day if I didn't think that calling myself a Gay Geezer was putting my self down. No, I told her, it makes me proud to be who I am!
Ira Lee CollingsMore on Ira:
Ira Lee started singing as a child in front of the rabbit hutch in the make-shift barn which was a garage in his home town of Kingsbury, Indiana - Population: 250 people. He loved singing for the rabbits - no criticizing! After finishing high school, he moved to Chicago where he studied with the great Russian teachers, David & Bella Atkin, at the Goodman Theater. The "Stage Manager" in Our Town was his favorite role while there.
Moving to New York City after three years at the Goodman, he did Dinner Theater. For his work in Pajama Tops, critic Lane Crockett said: "Collings is a standout! - he walks away with the play!" In Play It Again, Sam, critic Alan Moore said: "Next to Woody Allen himself, I can't imagine anyone better in the role of Allan than Lee Collings."
After many years of Open Mic's in New York City, he took a 25-year hiatus from show business and re-emerged ten years ago in Cabaret with his full name, Ira Lee Collings. And now at age 80, come and see "Gay Geezer Power" at work in this show!