I wasn't going to write this entry today, but I feel like I must. I received an email from a guy who is active in his gay Christian church, but who went through all the exgay programs. His story was very typical. First, an exorcism to release the "gay demon," followed by exgay therapy programs, followed by encouraging him to "reject" the "gay identity."
Following in faith, he became a leader of exgay programs, got married, endured this marriage even though he never became opposite sex attracted (but was encouraged to marry by those who said that "God would provide") until he finally lost it completely and ended up doing hard drugs and wasting his life in sex clubs until he contracted HIV and almost died. In fact, they had pulled the plug on him. But, miraculously, his lungs healed and he came back to life.
Now, he's happy as a clam, singing at a Metropolitan Community Church and is partnered with a great guy, and they are deliriously overj…
I've been suffering with this cold/throat infection for a number of days now. My head has felt like it would explode, it was so stuffed up. I've really been feeling miserable. Can't think. Can't work. Can't do anything.
But yesterday, I finally got to the turning point. I literally slept the entire day and about midnight, when I woke up, my t-shirt was drenched in sweat and the pressure in my head had finally let up.
The worst was finally over. Yay team!
So, today I'm going to keep on drinking hot liquids, keeping still, and enjoying this relief. It's not over, but it feels so good to reach the peak and hit the other side.
A little social commentary. First, read Arianna Huffington's brilliant observation: With Mike Huckabee's continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush. He's anti-choice, born-again, against gay-marriage, and gets political advice directly from God. So why is the Republican establishment suddenly in a state of near-apoplexy about Mike Huckabee? Shouldn't they be happy? They've been cultivating evangelicals and fundamentalists for 30 years. Now they finally have a candidate who's truly part of the movement. So what's the problem? Actually, that is the problem. The evangelical crowd was fine when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And t…
Someone asked me about my health. So, here's a little update. First of all, today I'm down with a throat infection. I get these every year about this time. So, I have my antibiotics and Jim just made me some delicious chili, which radiates heat in my upper chest area.
I still have a zero viral load, so the HIV is under control thanks to the (occasionally mind-bending) drug Atripla, which is a combination of three anti-virals combined into one tablet. A lot of people can't tolerate the Sustiva, which is one of those anti-virals. It can cause a lot of sleeplessness along with nightmares.
My foot has been okay lately, but I can feel that nerve just waiting for me to step wrong. It's amazing how instantaneous the searing pain can hit. So, I kind of feel like an old man when I walk since I favor that foot. This has also made it difficult for me to exercise. However, I've gotten a few good long walks in.
The test we were going to do on my kidneys didn't happen. I gave t…
Charlotte Rae called us and said she wanted to take us out last night because Estelle Reiner, Carl Reiner's wife, was scheduled to sing a private cabaret at the Gardenia down on Santa Monica Blvd. But, she said, Estelle wasn't really feeling very well, so it was possible that some of the family members -- and extended family members would, instead, fill in and make it a nice evening. Sure enough, Carl got up and emcee'd the night.
First, their daughter, Anne, sang. My favorite songs were written by Leonard Cohen. I hadn't heard much of Leonard Cohen before and it's always great to be introduced to amazing songs by a writer I've always read about but hadn't explored much. He has a terrific way with words. And Anne did a wonderful job on them.
We sat close to Mel Brooks, who we'd met very briefly one time before at the late Stan Freeman's one man show about Oscar Levant.
Brief story: That night, our "dates" were (Dear) Abby Van Buren and Luci…
Many of the gay blogs this morning have picked up on the fact that the Colorado shooter, Matthew Murray, was another failure of the ex-gay movement. He was already mentally unbalanced, no doubt. (After all, if everyone who failed in their dismally ineffective programs went out and shot someone, we'd have a killing spree like this country has never seen.) In fact, he may be a victim of the church's ex-gay reparative therapy program. Having failed to find heterosexuality through Jesus it appears that Murray was booted out of the youth program and out of the church. Crushed by this rejection and overwhelmed by rage and despair thanks to the curse of homosexuality, Murray went on a killing spree that ended with himself.People were wondering why he chose THIS particular church, the one recently pastored by Rev. Ted Haggard, who loved doing crystal meth -- and who claimed to be cured of his homosexuality after a month of "treatment." And, as Matthew says, "...was for…
As part of the Spirit of Broadway Awards this past weekend, Julie Reyburn was asked to sing "Going It Alone" so the audience could get a sample number from THE LAST SESSION, which is going to be produced there in Norwich this coming season. Julie wrote me rather in a panic because she's been on "baby leave" from performing for awhile and she would probably need to use the lyrics. I told her I had absolutely no problem with that and as far as I was concerned she could sing the song and burp the baby at the same time.
Side note: I did not shoot much or any video this weekend. It wasn't that I didn't want to include all of you, but I was dreading the thought of having hours and hours of footage to edit, knowing I would have to put it off given the fact that I'm focused on this big project which is using up all my waking hours.
However, I did manage to put my weary fingers around the camera when Julie got up to sing "Going It Alone" and I will g…
This weekend, Jim and I will be the emcees at the Spirit of Broadway Awards in Norwich Connecticut. I'll post lots of pictures and video! Mark Janas and popular NY cabaret singer Julie Reyburn are going to be performing. And, if I'm not mistaken, Julie will be singing "Going It Alone" from The Last Session. The last time she sang this... well, here is the description from my diary:
Then it was time for "Going It Alone." After a brief introduction, Mark began the chords TLS fans know so well. But he was pacing it, carefully breaking the beat and just laying down a sound pallet.
Julie entered the song with great care. You could tell her entire heart was wrapped up in it from the first note. The audience went dead silent and we were literally bathed in beauty. Mark stayed with the basic chord structure, but every once in awhile he would find something that gave it a little emotional hit. Julie, meanwhile, was starting to soar. I could feel my throat tighten and,…
(This was in the days, pre-blog, back when we early public adopters of the Web were kind of out there on our own. Geocities was one of a handful of experimental sites. At the time, it had an entry level rudimentary website building feature but I taught myself HTML code -- or, rather, how to copy underlying code from a page you like as a template -- and made my own design.)
Since the idea of personal websites were completely new to the non-geek community, people had no idea what to do once they set a website up. The Web was a frontier settlement. It wasn't books, it wasn't TV and it wasn't movies. It was a new artform completely. The early adopters had to make it up as they went along.
In my case, because I was so ill, I found myself inadvertently creating a little virtual community…
We are well into the third decade of a scourge that has expanded exponentially beyond a small specific group to almost every corner of the globe. Whilst in some areas, incidence may have turned, prevalence continues to rise and will do so for a long time- more young people will be infected, more orphans will occur.
Yet, today still 70% of infected people don’t have access to life saving therapies. Many still face stigma, economic deprivation and rejection because of their infection. Many still don’t have access to basic information or simple interventions that will reduce risk. This is not the time for complacency nor apathy. It is the time for compassionate leadership that recognises that the voiceless are often those who suffer most- who can they turn to if their leaders do not listen and heed their cries.
I had my meeting today. The important one. It involves a very big project I have been focusing on for more than a few years. It's a dream I have been carrying for a very long time. And, unless I'm a completely deluded person, it went very, very well.
I want to divulge the full details of the meeting, but at this moment, because it involves more people than just me, I'm going to hold off making any formal announcement. Also, I'm superstitious about discussing stuff too soon.
But the reason I'm saying something here and now is not to tease you, but to mark the date.
What I can say is that if it works out, it will involve hundreds of voices, an orchestra and a very large concert hall. But even more than that, it will be a part of an anniversary celebration a historically and artistically significant musical institutions -- and the anniversary of one of the most important political figures of my world.
When we were in Tucson, we met a filmmaker named Scott Griessel who gave me an advance copy of the film he had just finished, a documentary called "The Asphalt Gospel" about a group of self-described Christians who walked from Phoenix to Washington, DC.
I loved it so much, I did something I don't remember ever having done before. I formally interviewed him. Now, frankly, I don't think anyone is ever going to mistake me for Regis Philbin, but I did enjoy the challenge of turning a half hour of conversation into a five minute interview. What do you think? Do I have a new career?
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people.
[Photo from San Francisco DOR 2001]We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prej…
I haven't posted a lot of personal blogs from here because I keep thinking I'll make videos. But then I've gotten so much footage and have gotten so backed up on putting them together, it all starts to get too overwhelming. And then days go by. And it's just too much to remember.
So, first of all, Zero Hour is doing really well. In the first week, before anyone knew it was here, there was little or no pre-sale on the box office. So, this run -- which was scheduled at the last minute as a fill-in show because Ed Decker loved it so much -- is starting to take off. The reviews, as you have seen, have been extraordinary. And it's so nice when the audience begins to show up and really enjoy the show.
One of the nicer visitors we had was a young 15 year old named Anthony, who is undergoing a great deal of health issues. His father wrote and said that Anthony was a true Zero Mostel fan and could we meet afterwards. The answer, of course, was yes yes yes. Such a smart, artic…
Zero Hour, a one-man act being shown at The New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) recounting the life of actor Zero Mostel, is a mesmerizing and refreshingly witty show from beginning to end. Under the direction of Brendan James, the stage is dominated with boundless confidence by Jim Brochu, recipient of three L.A. Drama Circle Awards and personal friend of the late Mostel. The scene is set in Mostel's cozy art studio shortly after the successful release of The Producers. Brochu plays the larger-than-life actor and creates a tone of immediacy by addressing the audience directly in an explosive voice. The questions of a beginning reporter from the New York Times who is assigned to interview Mostel are answered with brutal sarcasm, perfectly timed comedic wit and, most powerfully, genuine honesty. From the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Mostel spent his early youth painting, reading literature a…
Just before "Zero Hour" tonight, Jim got a package in the mail. It was a certificate that read, WINNER! The Lee Hartgrave Fame Award for Best Actor in a Play in 2007.
Lee Hartgrave is a critic and reporter in the San Francisco area. After we got home, we looked for his online review of "Zero Hour" to find out more. Here is what he wrote:
It isn’t Jim Brochu that comes out on the stage – its famed actor Zero Mostel. The play starts with Mostel in his Studio, where he paints. This is also his retreat where he can get away from the world, except for the occasional phone call from his wife demanding that he stop and get something from the store for her. There is a knock at the door – and Mostel yells – “What do want? Who is it?). Finally he gets up and lets the visitor in. It is a Newspaper Reporter (N.Y. Times) who is here for a scheduled interview. An interview that Mostel forgot about or wanted to forget about. Right away, we get the feeling that Mostel is a miserabl…
[Forwarded message from The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' electronic eNewsletter - please feel free to repost where appropriate.]
Just about everyone who knows theater knows GYPSY, the landmark 1959 Broadway musical based on the life of Burlesque show stripper, best-selling author, and larger- than-life personality Gypsy Rose Lee (1914-1970). The Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has videorecorded the show several times over the years, including productions starring Tyne Daly, Bernadette Peters and, most recently, Patti LuPone as Mama Rose (the character based on Lee's mother), supported by various actresses in the title role of GYPSY. However, some researchers may be surprised to learn that TOFT also holds 76 episodes of Gypsy Rose Lee's own talk show, taped in California in the mid-1960s and hosted by the real article herself. Lee was making TV appearances as early as 1949 and hosted her first talk show in '58, but her most successful and long-lasting progr…
Obnoxious can be funny if it's safely on the other side of the footlights. One is grateful for that unbreached fourth wall in "Zero Hour," which has Jim Brochu reincarnating the force of nature known as Zero Mostel. An autobiographical monologue disguised as an interview with an unseen reporter, the one-man show visits Mostel just before his abrupt 1977 demise. Scheduled for Gotham early next year, the modest but engaging solo show stands a good chance of connecting with older theatregoers for whom the subject's name still carries currency. A larger-than-life personality who would be unbearable if he weren't just as entertaining as he thinks he is, Mostel is found in his dingy "sanctuary" of a studio -- painting being a lifelong passion, even more than performing.Brochu (Off Broadway's "The Big Voice: God or Merman?") first impresses with his stri…
Review: 'Zero Hour' a fitting tribute to theatrical force of nature Robert Hurwitt, Chronicle Theater CriticTuesday, November 13, 2007CRITICS CHOICE ZeroHour: One-man drama. Written and performed by Jim Brochu. Directed by Brendan James. (Through Nov. 25. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. One hour, 45 minutes. Tickets: $35-$40. Call (415) 861-8972 or go to www.nctcsf.org.) Jim Brochu must have had a charmed life. Not only did he grow up knowing Ethel Merman, he also had a fairly long friendship with Zero Mostel. No matter how many other theater legends he's known, it's almost impossible to top that combination.Actor and playwright Brochu made good use of his Merman intimacy in "The Big Voice: God or Merman?," the long-running off-Broadway hit he co-wrote and performed with his partner, composer Steve Schalchlin, delightfully reprised at New Conservatory Theatre Center earlier this season. Now he's back at NCTC in a pre-New Yo…
A band video of the song "Workin' On The Night Crew." Steve, Daniel, Marta & Ned along with KC who couldn't play cuz he had smashed his finger the night before. It sucks to have a job. Everything was done in one take cuz we were too tired to fix any mistakes. Oh, and Daniel's still looking for work. He's the insufferably cute emo-looking straight boy on guitar. Marta, Ned, KC and Steve have a once a year gig in a band called Preocuppied Pipers, part of the International Pop Overthrow.
Produced by Vinnie's Vipers at Timbertrout Studios in Oakland. (Which would be us in KC's garage). Shot on a Sony Handydam with a broken automatic lens cover. KC Bowman: Engineer (with the big glasses), background vocals. Ned Sykes: Drums, background vocals. Marta Sykes: Bass, background vocals, but she is one of the most awesome singers in the world). Daniel Bernstein: Guitar (we didn't actually know he could play -- Steve brought him along to hold the video came…
The full review is not out, but Jim was given CRITICS CHOICE today in the SF Chronicle. This is the full blurb:
Jim Brochu, who channeled an impressive Ethel Merman in The Big Voice: God or Merman, takes on another theatrical legend he's known in his one-man tribute to the great Zero Mostel, as the actor looks back over his life on the eve of rehearsals for what would be his last play if he'd lived for the opening. The setup is trite and Brochu's performance is mannered at times, but this is a very funny, often moving and suitably outraged account of Mostel�s life, his wonderfully anarchic humor and the terrible impact of the cultural and political purges known as McCarthyism. --R. Hurwitt
This past weekend was one of the most fun weekends of my entire life -- and that's saying a lot. First of all, Jimmy was dazzling on opening night. Seriously. I know I brag about my husband a lot, but Saturday night, he had that audience whipped into a frenzy. And he did it again on Sunday afternoon. It was absolutely electrifying. Here are some screen shots:
After the show, Daniel (yes! THE Daniel) and I drove over to Oakland to Timbertrout Studios where we recorded the most garage band version of "The Night Crew" you could ever imagine. It was KC, Marta and Ned, along with two dogs and Daniel. Now, the reason I dragged Daniel along was because he was so good on the video before, I thought he could tape us recording the song. Who knew he was a great musician? He picked up the guitar and kicked our asses.
So, I will have pics, video and music of that adventure soon. Stayed tuned!
Lately, there have been numerous stories on various websites and in local newspapers about men getting caught by authorities having "gay sex" in public places, Senator Larry Craig being the most famous.
But all over the country, Republican politicians are getting caught right and left engaging in public, illegal, anonymous sex. You cannot believe how many of these stories are popping up. And all of these people have things in common:
1. They are vehemently anti-gay in their political views. So, they stand and tell the masses how "evil" homosexuality is, and how they stand for "family values" (because, presumably, there are no gay people in anyone's family).
2. They are closeted.
3. They are in denial about their gayness.
I read recently that in all the "sting" operations conducted by local police on places where so-called gay men are having public sex, almost NONE of the people were actually OUT of the closet gay men. In one sting there was not a…
And Zero is on! That's me trying to do "Zero eyes." I just don't quite have it.
It's been fun getting settled into San Francisco again. We have our favorite grocery store (Cala Foods up on California Street). The cats (that's Steinbeck above) are enjoying the new place the theatre has stashed us. Jim has been focusing very intently on the script for Zero Hour and has made some really nice changes that are getting big laughs in these previews.
Jim does "Zero eyes" pretty well.
People have been asking about our plans to take Zero to New York and the answer to that question is that I can't discuss it yet. I can tell you that there are plans. There are other people involved. But there is no venue or date set. But the people who are interested are very serious and it's not a pie in the sky dream. I would love to tell you more, but it's not my place. But stay tuned.
Jim had his first preview last night and the audience went absolutely nuts. There is a theatre next to us and the actors told me later that they could hear the laughs all the way into their room.
However, given the fact that this is a last minute booking, the lead-time for promotion has been very short and so we're trying to get the word out to everyone in San Francisco that the show is here. If you're a reader of this blog, and you can get there tonight or tomorrow night during the previews, we'll give you a $20 ticket. Just call the box office, tell them you read about it on the Bonus Round blog and that you'd like the special advance preview price.
In case you don't keep up with such things, the Writers Guild of America is now on strike against the film and tv producers. I learned early on when I moved to Los Angeles how abused and disrespected writers are. It was glaringly apparent in the world of songwriting where credits were routinely left off of product, where writers were constantly being asked to take a lower royalty, and where ruthless singers demanded a portion of the song copyright in order to put that song on their record.
In the world of TV, the writers finally just started demanding a producer credit on tv shows in order to find a way to make some kind of living wage. In other words, it wasn't good enough to be a writer. You have to step "up" on the ladder to producer to get any kind of respect.
Mark Evanier has penned an excellent blog entry about the history of how the writers have been, well, gutless cowards in the past, allowing their wages to continually be rolled back -- or allowing themselves …
I had a great chat with Ken McPherson yesterday, happily reconnecting with him after too long a time. There was a time when we were Cyber Siamese Twins. (I met Ken about 10 years ago through the Net. At the time, we were mostly discussing the political aspects of the continuing Christians vs. Homos / gay vs. exgays debate. However, as we became friends, I discovered that he is a talented lyricist, arranger and singer who set aside his career in the mid-80s to become an AIDS activist, creating and manning an AIDS education booth on the street corner at Hibernia Beach in the Castro in San Francisco.)I was happily congratulating him over the fact that this past year, he helped write (and received a featured solo role in) a new piece written and performed by the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus called USS Metaphor which, among other things, wickedly uses Ken's knowledge of the issues he and I have been talking about for years. I didn't get to see the performances, but I have discovere…
Another big offer has come my way, and I'm not sure if I can officially announce it yet. If it does come through, it will be among the most challenging and meaningful things that could ever happen to me. It would be a dream come true. So, I don't want to jinx it by saying too much.
On that note, the also challenging and meaningful show Amy, Jim and I have been collaborating on is moving along nicely. We have 20 songs or more ready to go. Since I've been home, I've been working on them constantly while checking in with the medical professionals who keep me alive. I've focused on music rather than this blog. Or video. Now that I have 114, or whatever it is, videos on YouTube under the name steveshack, I actually have video fans! Or fan, anyway.
Healthwise, the new shoes are working out fine. I still favor my right foot when I walk. I'm always aware of how it's hitting the pavement. Knowing where that pressure point is, I want to give it every chance to heal. I …
I was approached by someone very seriously and passionately committed to seeing it all the way through as a movie. With electronics getting so cheap and with the current resurgence in musical movies, I really do feel like the time is now. As much as I might enjoy all the other songs and things that have been a result of finger tapping on keyboard or keyboards (music or computer), the music from this show means the most to me. In fact, the entire show means the most to me. Weirdly, even though The Big Voice was our most specifically personal project (being an autobiography and all), it's The Last Session that FEELS the most personal. I can't sing those songs without losing it.
On our cruise to Norway, a bunch of the people we had met on the ship -- both gay and straight; one woman who was a cancer survivor -- gathered together one afternoon and asked me to sing my "AIDS songs" which I had been talking about so much.
It was a tear-drenched afternoon in that little lounge…
Funny what happens when you surf the Net. Jim discovered this clip of a production of The Last Session. Whoever this is, they totally kick ass. Apparently, it's from a production that was done in Florida featuring Gary Waldman as Gideon. I gotta tell ya. This group is really good.
The air here in the San Fernando Valley smells like smoke. Last night, when we went out for dinner, it was burning the back of my throat. Today, with all the TV newspeople telling us to stay inside as much as possible, I stepped outside to just take a look at the sky and the above photograph shows you what I saw. A thick cloud of dark, reddish tinged smoke lying across the Valley. On the horizon, you can see the blue sky and what it would look like if the fires weren't raging all around us.
We are not in any danger zone with regards to the fire, but the smoke is something else...
I recently received a fascinating email from a reader who saw some of my blogs writings about musical healing, and about how writing and singing the music for The Last Session, had a measurably healing effect on my body.
From Stuart Vail:
Steve, I had a chance to read some of your writings online and was intrigued by what you had to say about the healing aspects of music. You may be interested in an editorial I wrote in my Internet magazine, of which this is an excerpt: A French scientist who became interested in the connection between frequencies and sound discovered that a molecule can be broken down into a chain of amino acids, each possessing its own frequency, which is a vibration measured in cycles per second. In music, the "A" above middle "C" resonates at 440 cycles per second, therefore any molecule can be translated into musical terms. The scientist analyzed the frequencies of the amino acid chain for the molecule prolactin, a milk-inducing hormone, and nota…