BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
Hello. You caught me at a rather exciting time in the bonus round. I'm helping Jim Brochu stage "Character Man," for my 60th birthday year, I made an album. I'm doing some concerts around New York City and I even composed a concert Mass which will debut on June 7. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve, The Songwriter.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Now THIS is a concert!

Who knew James Brown and Pavarotti ever sang together?



Hat tip: Devin Richards

MySpace

If you're on MySpace, you might have been getting invites to a lot of new sites. Thanks to Wes, one of my pals I met in New York, we have now created (or updated) MySpace sites for Steve Schalchlin Music, Zero Hour, The Big Voice and The Last Session. If your have a MySpace site, please send us a "friend" invitation. We'd love to add you to our growing group of friends.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Get The Glass!

Meanwhile, my brother found this online game from the people pushing milk. It's beautiful and fun! It's called GET THE GLASS!

But beware. It's a time waster!

Much Better Today

Today is a much better day. I woke up feeling bright-eyed and light on my feet. I really do think this was all about, as my mom said when she wrote me, change of climate, time zones, pushing myself hard to get back into shape. It just all came crashing in on me yesterday. And I suspect I'm going to have a few more of these days before it's all over.

But, if you were concerned, it's all better today. Much, much better. Thanks for the emails.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another Crash Day

I woke up this morning feeling like my head was full of rocks. My right leg was hurting like hell from a massive muscle cramp I had in the middle of the night. My stomach was feeling icky. I thought, "Well, maybe I just need to get moving." So I went running for about an hour and when I got home, I was feeling weak. So I made some breakfast and, when it was time to wake up Jim, laid down on the bed and went back to sleep. Jim felt I was just tired and told me to just stay there. We had a quick lunch with Linda Fulton from the Avery Schreiber Theatre where Big Voice played.

I still felt lousy, so I went back to sleep, woke up just now (5pm) and I still feel awful. No fever or anything. Just tired. So, I'm gonna lie back down. Bye.

"Jerry Falwell's God" by Roy Zimmerman

"Defenders of Marriage" by Roy Zimmerman

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My Studio

This is me in my studio working. Oh, wait. No.
It's me giving a tattoo to Lesli Hudson.

It's so nice to be back in my studio. I've been spending an unhealthy number of hours up here in my little loft inputting midi and singing into my microphone. It's like being a monk, except after it's all over, I have music! And when someone else has a studio, it's even better because we can trade music back and forth.

For instance, Devin Richards and I were working our butts off together in his little studio in NY because he enjoys learning my songs (and he's a workaholic -- good god, that boy loves to rehearse). Well, we tried an experiment. One of the songs we worked on was a new one called "My Thankgiving Prayer." We finally sang it at Mark Janas' Salon and then back at Mark's apartment, and it was one of the few songs where we could get our voices to match since he's this powerful bass/baritone and I'm this squeaky little tenor. When we FINALLY, after much work, found the perfect key for both of us (F#), it was too late to make a video, so I got back here and made a demo version on keyboard, sent it back to him in NY, and he recorded his vocals, sent me that vocal track and now I'm working on finishing it here. I love modern technology. It's the first time I've tried doing this -- and it's SO much more fun that just sitting here singing everything myself.

I still have work to do on it, but when it'd done, I'll post it here. Coast to coast collaboration!

I also have more lyrics by Amy Lynn. None of this is easy, but it sure is more fun that sitting on a couch wishing I was back in my studio. As much as I enjoyed performing Big Voice in New York, I was always missing my loft.

I think I mentioned another friend, Wes, who was in NY for awhile with his family. Wes and his mom were volunteering for Big Voice occasionally. Well, they've moved back down to Mississippi and Wes asked me if he could play around with our myspace sites. Since I find myspace's interfaces to be mysterious and impregnable, and since there's NOTHING TO DO in Mississippi, god bless 'im, he has been doing some great work on the Steve Schalchlin Music myspace and a new Zero Hour myspace. If you, reader, have a myspace site, please befriend us. It's the very modern thing to do.

I've also been faithfully running every morning. Yesterday, we discovered that our car had cracked a leak in the coolant tank. So, I drove it to the dealer and walked back home -- walking?? In L.A.?? -- only to discover that the damage would cost $600. Then Jim remembered that we might still be under warranty. He called them and YES! No charge. Thank god we never drive anywhere. That car is a 2001 car and it only has 40,000 miles on it. So, I walked the mile back to the dealership and picked it up.

I also saw my doctor last week. He took gallons of blood. We'll see how my body is doing on that score later this week. I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of running to get myself back to normal. In NY, it was too COLD to hit the streets.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My 11th Blog-iversary.


Today marks several special events. One is 11th anniversary of this blog. I've bragged and bragged enough about that. But I like being historical. How many chances in a lifetime does someone get the chance to be among the first to start a world-changing trend?

Second, I want to thank my friend, Devin Richards. He gave me a very thoughtful gift, something I hadn't really thought of. He wrote me an email, "How can you brag about being a total geek and a historical blogger and you don't even own your own name as a URL???" He was appalled. But it's true. I have been using bonusround.com so long, it never occurred to me. So, as a gift for my blog-iversary, Devin bought me steveschalchlin.com. Thank you, my friend! You're not only a gifted singer and friend, but you are a gentleman and a geek. When you click on http://www.steveschalchlin.com, it directs you to bonusround.com.

The last thing is something very personal. Today is also the birthday of my friend Amy Lynn Shapiro. Amy has become very special to me in many ways. I met her, cyberly, quite a number of years ago. She had stumbled upon my diary in the middle of the night and, because she was needing some support and encouragement for some personal issues she was struggling with, she stayed up most of the night reading the entire thing.

Then she shot me a note which I quickly answered and we became almost instant friends. Amy, then a teenager, was a baby poet who wrote blank verse, almost intentionally arcane to the outside reader. She was always blistering with talent, but the poems were obscure in meaning. She was clearly, as a poet, working within an inner world of her own. I always encouraged her because she had a gift for a turn a phrase and it was clear that she was brilliantly smart.

The most time we spent together were at little gatherings of the "TLS family." These were readers of the diary who, through The Last Session, had also joined a discussion list on Yahoogroups called, appropriately, TLS. It doesn't get much traffic these days as most of the participants have grown up and and away. But back then, we had several gatherings around various local productions of TLS: Denver, Baltimore (the wildest one where we all stayed in a bad part of town in a hotel where there was about six inches of space below each hotel door) and in Columbus, Ohio.

Amy and I got to know each other in Baltimore. She carried around a notebook filled with scribblings -- as most writers do -- and I recall one morning when we sat in a bedraggled coffee shop together talking and chatting and making fun of the store next to the hotel that sold brightly colored suits -- 3 for $99!

It was also the last time most of our circle of friends would see Dickie (Richard Remley), our beloved friend and mascot who provided much of the heart and soul of our group, and who died after the turn of the century. Our little group of friends never quite got over the death of Dickie. I still tear up just writing his name down or thinking of him.

Anyway, this past year, when we finally got to New York with The Big Voice, it was Amy who came front and center as our volunteer. She was there at nearly every performance. She helped in the box office. She helped house manage. She ran errands. She sometimes sat in the balcony. Sometimes downstairs. We had numerous dinners and lunches together and she brought in more audience members than I can count. Her circle of friends seemed endless. She worked with the NY Gay Mens Chorus and, as we were there, was even accepted as a member in full standing, proudly singing with them at their most recent concert.

Finally, at one point toward the end of the run, as Amy (who has endless reserves of energy) and I talked -- and I don't even remember how the subject came up -- I suggested to her, or she suggested to me, or Jim suggested to us, somehow the subject came up of her becoming a lyricist.

Just so you know, back in the days of National Academy of Songwriters, I held many songwriting workshops. Sometimes as moderator and sometimes as instructor. Because of my many interactions with new writers, one of the things I learned is that poets usually make TERRIBLE lyricists. To the outsider that might seem counterintuitive, but it's true. In fact, during my tenure there, I never met a single poet who was able to make the transition.

Stephen Sondheim, the great theatre composer/lyricist discussed this once in a lecture. But to put it bluntly: lyrics are bad poetry and poems are bad lyrics. Poems are meant to be read at your own pace and pondered. They are complex. They have multiple meanings. They are usually obscure or, at the very least, not obvious. One reads them, digests the words slowly and then goes back over them again, discovering new layers of meaning. Poems stand on their own.

Lyrics -- especially theatrical lyrics -- on the other hand, are, as Mr. Sondheim put it, hitched to a train: the music. They fly by the listener at a set pace. They are direct and must be grasped and understood immediately. If a listener has to stop for a moment to ponder verse one, then the listener will miss what is flying by in verse two. Lyrics must have structure and form. They must rhyme. When they don't rhyme, the ear hears it and thinks it has made an error of some kind. And it's jarring.

Poets usually hate this kind of stricture. Also, and this is the hardest part, lyrics must be somehow incomplete. They have to allow an opening for music to have a place in the overall message of the song. It's like a marriage. Each person might be fine on their own, but when they meet their mate for life, they suddenly become parts of a Whole and people can't imagine them not being together.

If a lyric stands perfectly well on its own, then the music becomes incidental and unnecessary. There is an art to lyric writing, but the CRAFT of lyric writing is probably more important than the art of it. A great crafty lyric, paired with music that perfects it, becomes the art. On its own, it's a naked child, shivering in the cold. Consider the following lyric (one which appeared in my high school English textbook):

Let it be
Let it be
Let it be
Let it be
There will be an answer
Let it be

Beatles fans will recognize this song as, well, "Let It Be." On the page, it dies a horrible death. But when paired with the music of Lennon/McCartney, it's beautiful. (Our English textbook writers were trying to make the textbooks more relevant for us).

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that Amy agreed to allow me to tutor her in the ways of lyric writing. We had only two weeks left in New York. I quickly gave her some pointers and an idea for a song. I said, "Write a comedy song about someone auditioning for a show and on their resume is every possible job you can imagine. Then end each phrase with..." and I gave her a punchline. Miraculously, she went off and returned about two hours later with an almost perfect lyric. Seriously.

So, examining it, I shared it with Jim and we gave her a couple more ideas for the song and how to end it. Very GENERAL notes. I didn't want to write the song for her. I just wanted to direct it in a direction and let her do the work. An hour later, she came back with the rewrite.

And it was just about perfect. Jim gave it a funny title and a final little punchline -- as he does with my stuff commonly. And suddenly a lyricist was born! Over the next two weeks, she turned in 14 more lyrics. 14! Like many new lyricists, she stumbled here and there, but each new turn gave us the chance for another lesson in craft. What impressed me was how skillfully she rewrote. And even more impressive, how she hungered for criticism.

She would coax me, "Tear it apart! Destroy it! Tell me what's wrong!" It was as if she fed on the negative comments. And each time, she would come right back at me with a rewrite. Over and over again. Suddenly, I was besieged, "Give me another idea!" "I want another concept!"

So, I dedicate this blogiversary to Amy. I know she's going to have a long, brilliant career.

HAPPY BLOG-IVERSARY TO ME!! Happy birthday to Amy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ghost Rider & 300.

"Hey, big boy. Can I give you a back rub?"

Yesterday, instead of sleeping all day, I decided to turn my exercise period into a chance to just clear my head and see a movie. I've been wanting to see Ghost Rider, even though I knew it was supposed to be a bad movie. It's just that I used to read the comic book and always liked the character. I mean how bad could it be?

Real bad. Worse than bad. Mind-numbingly, boringly bad. The kind of bad where you know whoever made it had no idea of how to create characters, build tension, shoot a scene or make anything remotely dramatic or believable. God. Deadly, deadly dull.

Disappointed, I left the theater and noticed that "300" was playing. I knew it was supposed to be bad, too. And I thought, well, as long as I've already paid to be in here, I might as well see if it's as bad as Ghost Rider. So, I called Jim to make sure nothing was happening at home, and it wasn't. We got our boxes in from New York with the rest of our stuff, including my studio microphone (YAY!), so I got some popcorn and a Diet Coke and plopped down in my seat listening to Leo Laporte on the iPod while ignoring the massive Sony pre-show ad campaign playing out on the screen.

300 wasn't as bad. It was like a big moving painting of a gay orgy where everyone chops off each others' arms, legs and heads instead of having sex. Lots of sweaty naked, muscle men bonding together wearing S&M costumes while pledging fealty to each other and Sparta. It was spectacularly beautiful and dream-like. But it was also consisted of little more than two hours of fighting. And lots of screaming out loud about "glory" and "honor" or something.

All the Spartans were white gym-bunnies wearing red cloaks -- haven't we already learned how heavy and clumsy cloaks are? -- and all the "Persians" were either black or brown or monsters. The colored hoards East overwhelming the good white people of the West.

Or something.

After it was over, I had a good, long walk home as part two of my exercise routine and then spent the late afternoon recording vocals to the new songs I've been working on. Yes, folks, new songs are on the way. I will be presenting some soon. Just hang on. All will be revealed.

Tomorrow is my 11th blogiversary. Living In The Bonus Round was created on March 24, 1996. Are there older, longer running blogs out there? Maybe. But only a handful.

Oh, I have so much to tell...

Mike's Table is Back!

Joe.My.God. reports that Mike Jones' massage table is BACK up on eBay, and, of course, some busybody ministry wants it taken down because "it's offensive to Christians." I notice that this time there's no mention of the Project Angel Heart charity, but Mike assures us that the money raised will go to them. (I'm guessing eBay had some technical rule about how charity auctions work which Mike didn't or couldn't fulfill).

No, Rev. Booth, whoever you are, YOU are offensive to Christians. You are offensive to everyone who thinks that by hiding behind your collar, you can suddenly become some paragon of spirituality. But, as Joe put it, you're just another typical "fundie-obsessed with homosexuals" phony baloney "minister."

Go away. The adults are trying to live their lives with integrity.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What I Did Yesterday.

Worked on some music.
Went running.
Ate.
Woke up Jim. Gave him coffee.
Took a nap.
Ate.
Decided to go see "Ghost Rider," even though I know it's going to suck.
Took a nap. Missed "Ghost Rider."
Ate.
Took a nap.
Went to bed.
Got up at 2am.
Worked for a half hour.
Went back to bed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Wrong Massage.

Hypocrites in Action:

A so-called "ministry" devoted to destroying the lives of gay people has convinced eBay to take down the massage table that Mike Jones was auctioning to raise money for Project Angel Heart. Ex-Gay Watch has an excellent post on the subject, noting that "Transforming Ministries," which began the protest has not offered to raise money for people with AIDS in lieu of the money that won't be raised for them.

Instead, they simply have preferred to try to continue the cover-up of shame and hypocrisy of the Ted Haggard situation. The "Rev." Haggard, of course, who enjoyed paying for gay sex with Mike, has stopped being gay after three weeks of therapy, according to his statement.

It's okay, though. Mike's book will be out soon. We'll learn all about the "real" Rev. Haggard.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wayne Besen on The Daily Show.

It has to be seen to be believed:

Hittin' The Streets.

I have already broken my promise. Today, I went running and I wasn't wearing shorts and sandals. It's COLD here in the mornings! And there was a cold mist in the air. But I was still wearing shorts and a t-shirt. It felt so good to be hitting the streets again.

Saw my doc yesterday. High levels of blood sugar in my urine. Not good. So, I go back to my routine, listening to Leo Laporte on my iPod and Dan Savage (who took a misogynistic gay guy to the chopping block). Man, he can be fierce.

He also probed my prostate (excellent condition!) and checked me all over, then took a gallon of blood. So, we'll see what my blood looks like after four months of no doctor visits. Can musical theater make me healthy? We'll see!

Jim did not win the award last night, but then, it's kind of an honor to lose to Lynn Redgrave. Just to be nominated with her!

Okay, lots of work to do. Thanks for all the great emails and comments.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home and Dry.


This is the last picture taken of me in New York. Amy and I were rushing into a bodega to get some roses for Carl and Dale for their first performance in The Big Voice.

We made it home intact, although we waited on the ground for TWO SOLID HOURS before our Jetblue plane took off. They were having problems getting the luggage balanced. Fine with me. It'd rather make it here in one piece after some waiting than crash and burn due to unbalanced luggage. (What a inscription for the tombstone: Died of Unbalanced Baggage.)

It felt so good to be in our real bed. The bed in New York was a tiny twin bed. Jim actually fell out of it the other night. The end of the bed hit us at about our knees and it sagged in the middle. Our bed here in LA is HUGE. It was like sleeping on a football field.

The cats look good. Thurber's having some digestion problems. He's not eliminating very well. He is 18 years old, that feisty little thing. So, we'll see what we can do to help him.

It feels to me like New York was this big amazing dream. And it's even more glorious that we found Carl and Dale to continue the run. Once the script and everything becomes second nature to them, I suspect the show will be better than ever. They are so, so very talented. And even more than that, they are unbelievably professional, the way they memorized and performed the entire show after only a couple of weeks. That's a LOT of work because it wasn't just the script, but the music and everything.

Today, I have a doctor's appointment. Now we'll see if I'm still alive. And tonight, we have the LA Drama Critics Circle Award ceremony where Jim is nominated for Best Solo Performance up against Lynn Redgrave and Jay Johnson. How's THAT for classy company?

So, all is well. We are home and dry. I can't help but feel, though, that New York has become my true home. I miss Mark and Amy and Devin and Stephen (Wilde) and Rhe De Ville (with whom I shot some video just before we left), Dale and Carl, Ed, Murphy, Paul, Jeff.. and many, many more. I feel like in a short four months we made an entirely new life for ourselves. I already miss everyone.

But one thing I won't miss is the snow. I'm going to run around this town in shorts and sandals for the next three weeks. And that's it!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Crying Lady.

Today, we attended Carl and Dale's first performance as "Jim" and "Steve." They were, in a word, hilarious and wonderful. But the one thing people wondered was whether the emotional impact of the show would be retained. We needn't have worried.

After the show, there was a woman who stayed around afterwards at the door, tears streaming down her face. She was an actress who said it was one of the most moving pieces of theater she had ever seen in her life. It was really touching.

Watching the show was amazing because it was our first time to actually SEE it! Dale was hilarious and droll. Carl, who plays all these little side characters was hysterical. Clearly, he had thought through each one and made them all different. (I never really was able to do that very well, I have to confess).

So, we leave New York knowing the show is in good hands. People seeing it for the first time won't even know we were ever in it. There were some people there who had seen it before and they told us they thought it was just as powerful. Just as funny.

So, The Big Voice stands on its own. And I know that after Dale and Carl have more stage time, they'll start finding newer and fresher moments. Man, what a treat. What a glorious send-off.

Next stop: Home with the cats.

How To Get Out Of Iraq.

Friday, March 16, 2007

NY Big Voice Video Diary #26: Meet Carl & Dale!

Meet Carl Danielsen and Dale Radunz who will be taking over for us in The Big Voice! This was the only time I turned the camera on them and they jumped right in. For one thing, they both have worked together before, and you can tell that they really like each other. They have a natural comic rapport.

Steve & Jim on Broadway Bullet This Week.

The wonderful Broadway podcast, Broadway Bullet, is now featuring the podcast we recorded with them. You can find it here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Our 100th Show.

Going into our last weekend of performing Big Voice in New York, we were curious to see if anyone would notice. What would our ticket sales look like? Would people come out just to see us and say goodbye?We got the early word that, yes, tickets were going fast. I was getting inundated with emails from people who had been holding off on seeing the show, wondering if they could get in.

The Saturday shows were very full, indeed. We needn't have worried. Carl and Dale both came to the early show to watch the blocking and make notes.

On Sunday, we got to the theater and it was a near sell-out. Not only was the orchestra seating filled, but there were people in the balcony. The buzz in the room was amazing. People came from all over. One woman and her husband flew in from Texas just to see us. "We didn't want to miss this!" she said excitedly to me after the show.
CJ, a longtime from of mine, drove up from Washington DC with his new boyfriend.

The reaction to the show was explosive from the very first word. In fact, all three shows over the weekend were like this. But, probably because it was such a special occasion, Sunday's audience was over the top. Most in the audience were seeing the show for the first time. Many had come based upon word of mouth from friends. But there were also a lot of people who were seeing the show for the second, third, fourth and fifth times.

For us, it was pure fun.

We felt like rock stars.

It felt like the show went by in seconds.

Jimmy totally cracked me up during one of the scenes. I barely managed to hold it together.

This is the kind of performance/audience exchange that rarely comes along. You never want it to end.

I felt so free!


The emotional scenes got to me, especially. I was feeling much more than just what was happening with the scene. The entirety of the whole night, the four months in New York, the amazing critical response, the way friends came over and over, the singers wanting to sing my songs. It was all getting to me.

And it was fun.

For many actors and performers and writers, moments like this are rare. Whether they happen in your back yard or at a community function or a small theater or at, like us, in a beautiful off-Broadway space, you live for these kinds of shows, these kinds of audiences.

As ready as I am to be home, sleeping for the next week, I also didn't want to leave. I wanted to just stay and play. It will happen. We really do feel New York is just as much our home as Hollywood. Who knows? Maybe we become bi-coastal. Maybe we'll move here, lock, stock and barrel.

But one thing I can guarantee for sure: We will be back. Thank you, New Yorkers. Thank you for embracing us, loving us, cheering us on and accepting us into your world, making us feel like we truly belong.

This has been the experience of a lifetime.

(And the best part is that this is the only the beginning...)

A Favorite NY Memory.

Last Sunday night, we all went down to the Rouge Wine Bar to celebrate "Big Voice" night at Mark Janas' weekly Salon, a gathering of singers and songwriters. I decided to debut a brand new song that night called "Triple Threat," lyrics by Amy Lynn Shapiro. (I've been mentoring Amy as a lyricist). Crouched on the floor in this image is a wonderful singer and actress named Donna Coney Island. She had brought her two kids with her, both of whom also sang a hilarious song.

So, early in the evening, Mark invited me to sing a couple of songs and I pulled out "Triple Threat" which is a song about an audition. I was explaining the song and just getting into it when I looked up and there, standing in front of me, was this adorable child, totally mesmerized. I hadn't realized that Jim had snapped this photo until I was finally downloading all these images.

I'm so glad he did.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm Totally Exhausted.

We had the most spectacular day yesterday. So much happened, almost all of it emotional and mental, that I'm just totally exhausted. I woke up early, did a little catch-up photo stuff for our publicists, and then went right back to bed. Slept almost all afternoon.

People have been asking me how I feel about this whole thing, the 100th performance, the change of cast, what it felt like to do that last show, whether we are happy about it all. etc.

The only way to accurately describe my feelings is that feel so incredibly happy, it should be illegal. It was always our goal -- our fantasy, really -- to open our show in New York, get fantastic reviews, get a healthy run, and then hand it off to two great actors to bring it to a new level so that we can go home, replenish our energies and make new plans. Already, Jim has started writing the book for a new musical and it's nothing like anything we've done before.

For one thing, it will have a cast of 11. Our first show had 4. Big Voice has 2. Now, it's time to get some dancin' boys into the act! It's also going to be, as our others have been, a completely original story. Much of the score has already been written. Now, it's just a matter of pulling it all together and finishing the book.

I'm also thrilled to announce, if I haven't done so already. Jim will be performing "Zero Hour" in Houston at Stages Repertory.

And the other big announcement: THE BIG VOICE in SAN FRANCISCO in AUGUST 2007 with Jim and me reprising our off-Broadway roles at New Conservatory Theatre.

Okay, I'm going to bed.

More photos.

Taking bows at our last NY performance.

Joyce Randolph ("The Honyemooners") poses with Jim and Steve at the 100th performance.

Jim & Steve answer questions at the talkback afterwards.


Amy Lynn Shapiro with Steve.Posing with the famous Flat Stanley!

Let us eat cake!

Joyce Randolph poses with Steve & Jim.

Stage Manager John "Abernathy" Atherlay, producer Paul Kreppel,
Steve Schalchlin, producer Murphy Cross, Jim Brochu,
Production Supervisor Jana Llynn, Amy Lynn Shapiro

Taking A Last Bow in New York

(Photo by Matt Yohe). The curtain call of our 100th performance. (More photos on the way).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

How Cute Are We?

Jim Brochu & Dale Radunz, Carl Danielsen & Steve Schalchlin.

Jim Brochu & Dale Radunz, Carl Danielsen & Steve Schalchlin.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Our Last Weekend.


I have such mixed feelings going into our last weekend. Part of me is sad that we have three shows left to perform. I have loved our time here in New York. From the first scary days where we wondered how New York critics would take to us, the first previews where audiences walked into the show not knowing what they were going to be seeing, feeling them begin each show with a "Okay, we've seen it all. Show us what you got" skepticism to the first chuckles of laughter to outright falling down laughter, to hearing the sniffles and the tears to the big roar that comes at the end. It was nerve-wracking every single time.

Our preview period was short. We didn't have a lot of money in the production budget. All we could do was toss the show up on the stage, open the doors, invite the critics and cross our fingers. After all, no matter how well we might have done with critics in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and elsewhere, none of that matters when you come into New York.

I still remember the night we stayed up until 1 am, after opening night, to read the one everyone says matters the most: The NY Times review. And what I remember most was our utter elation that not only had we matched our out of town reviews, but the New York reviews EXCEEDED them. It was like a bowling game from heaven, where every pin got knocked down, paper after paper, reviewer after reviewer, gave us startlingly great notices. There were also naysayers, of course. But what I noticed was that the negative reviews were just as viciously negative as the positive reviews were triumphant in their praise.

I took that as a kind of badge of honor. I would rather be despised than ignored. Reviled than dismissed. And the critics in New York either LOVED us or HATED us. No one was lukewarm. They tell me that this is what art is. Something that is both praised and hated. And, after all, the NY TIMES did say, "Art is achieved with light hands." I like being art!

So, this weekend, we reach our 100th performance. A milestone. Another show is moving into the space soon. But because of our great success, the producers have negotiated a stage-sharing deal where we'll run three times a week, allowing The Big Voice to continue on. And best of all, the dream we had from the very beginning, to eventually replace ourselves with great New York actors, will come true. Carl Danielson and Dale Radunz aren't just good. They're fantastic. Jim and I are going to stay an extra week to help them get comfortable with the music and the staging. We'll see them open on the 17th, and then we'll make our way home on the 18th for what I feel is a well-deserved break.

We also have some big news for people in Houston in San Francisco. But that's for another blog entry.

The Sunday matinee will mark our 100th show. Tickets are going fast but there is still space available. Then afterwards, we are all going to march down to the Village to the Rouge Wine Bar at 100 Bank St. and for The Big Voice night at Mark Janas' Salon where anything can happen...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Southern Baptist Leader Supports Eugenics.

It sounds like something out of Nazi-era Germany, but it's actually real and the reason it's so startling is that it's done in a sober voice by one of the main spokespersons and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest group of Protestants in the United States. Here's how it goes:

Rev. R. Albert Mohler, the president of the prominent and influential Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky -- a man you've seen on CNN many times debating against gay people -- has issued a statement that he supports medically engineering fetuses to make sure they don't turn out with "homosexual temptation." And why does he support this?

The logic is pure religiopathy. See, according to Rev. Mohler, he is beginning to believe that homosexual tendencies might have a genetic origin. But rather than accepting this as simply nature doing what it does, his position is that this is part of God's punishment upon mankind for Adam eating the forbidden fruit. Here is the money quote:
"Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the human genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God's judgment."
How sick is this man that he actually believes this? Or more, how sick is a religion that would teach this?

And this is not some wild-eyed Fred Phelps type dancing around the edges of madness. This man is one of the LEADERS of the Southern Baptist Convention. His words will influence MILLIONS.

And then they wonder why gay people won't shut up and go back into the closet.

Hat tip: Joe.My.God.

Own Some History

Mike Jones, our favorite evangelist massage expert, has finally put "the massage table" up on eBay. It's a piece of Presidential history and, yes, the money raised will be going to Project Angel Heart, which delivers food to sick people in Denver. Bid away!

Monday, March 05, 2007

New Cast!

I'm happy to be the first to announce the new cast of The Big Voice.

Dale Radunz (pictured) will be playing the role of "Jim."

Carl Danielson will be playing the role of "Steve." (Photo posted below).

They came to the auditions and totally blew us away. Dale is a tall, deadpan veteran actor with this stentorian voice. When he started reading the lines, we were on the floor, hurting. He has this ability to slay you with a glance. He will bring an amazing new dimension to the role because he approaches differently from Jim, but has all the same ability to keep you in stitches.

Carl is a brilliant musician and is totally adorable. Again, he's completely different from me, which I consider to be a really good thing. He'll be able to create a new approach and it won't feel like he's trying to recreate what I do.

We start rehearsals tomorrow and I am so excited, I can't stand it.

Also, after Jim's and my last performance, this Sunday at 3pm, we will be having a talkback session. So, bring your questions!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coulter: Missing The Point

Joe.My.God. reported this morning:
Coulter herself has tried to downplay her remarks, telling the NY Times that she was joking, saying, "I would never insults gays by comparing them to John Edwards. That would be mean." (Anybody buying that?)

The issue isn't that Coulter called Edwards "gay." The issue is her free and denigrating use of the term "faggot."

Let's take this another way. What if she had called Barack Obama a "nigger?"

That's the issue here. She had a room full of "Christian" conservatives cheering the use of the term "faggot" and cheering the fact she "dared" to use the term, as if she were some brave champion of free speech.

She didn't call John Edwards "gay." She called him a "nigger."

A One-Act?

We had two explosive shows yesterday as we count down to 100. And because it was Purim at the temple, we had to compress the show in order to give them space for their festivities. So, we got rid of the intermission -- as the big Ethel moment was happening, I turned and said, "STOP! STOP! I have a confession to make... our relationship began with a lie!" (which is one of the opening lines from act two) and we cruised right through to the end of the show.

And, whaddaya know, it was a much better show!

People had been telling us they thought it might work better as a one act, and they were right! it does. We've decided to continue doing it exactly that way. Whodathunk it?

I love when little accidents like that happen, forcing you to improvise, and you end up with a better product.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Calling Someone is a Faggot is Funny if You're a Conservative.

While THE BIG VOICE and McNally's SOME MEN are demonstrating a compassionate and carefully human view of what it means to be gay in America, in love, and wanting to marry the partner of your choice, the Conservative Political Action Committee is cheering Ann Coulter on as she declares Democratic candidate John Edwards to be a "faggot." Don't believe me? Go here.

It's all on video.

These are the people who have declared themselves to be the "Christian" wing of the Republican Party. These are the ones who are telling the rest of the country how to act morally. These are the people who put Bush in power. These are the people who, until this last election, was running this country.

Welcome to JesusLand.

Friday, March 02, 2007

SOME MEN by Terrence McNally

We were invited to a dress rehearsal of "Some Men," the new play by Terrence McNally and I thought it was an absolutely brilliant. Theoretically, it's a play about gay marriage, but it's really, as all good plays are, about so much more. It's about the lives of several generations of gay men and how both they and things have changed over time.

It begins with a gay marriage ceremony where we're looking at eight men watching the ceremony. It's a brief scene that sets us up for some very non-linear storytelling where we start to meet these men in oblique ways. At first, it seems like it's just random vignettes, but then we start to recognize some from that opening scene. As it skips around in time, we start to get a really full image of the modern history of gay men as seen through the eyes of New Yorkers.

And what a FANTASTIC cast. They play central characters as well as random side characters and are able to delineate each one perfectly. I never felt confused a single moment, even as I was trying to get all the stories straight, if that makes any sense. I think it was because each scene stood on its own merit and made its own internal sense.

But it all adds up to a beautiful "whole" and I was laughing so hard during much of it -- so was the rest of the audience -- and I was deeply moved in several scenes and at the end.

This could easily have been a diatribe about how gay people deserve the right to marry, but instead it was a character study that progressed across time and generations. By the end, you realize that people survive under all circumstances. Love will find its way no matter how many laws or cultural walls are thrown up in its way.

They said at the beginning that this was the first time they'd had a full runthrough. I thought it was flawless. And again, this cast is astonishing. Breathtaking.

Terrence McNally is a national treasure.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Let's Help Gabi

From Beth Reis:

Dear Friends,

Gabi Clayton, whom I know many of you know and love (and whom others appreciate as the Safe Schools Coalition's web spinner and longtime speakers' bureau volunteer) has been hospitalized twice in the past two weeks. She had another big seizure weekend before last and then chest pain a couple of days ago. She has missed a bunch of work -- she has a very part-time private counseling practice in addition to her contracts with SSC and others for web services. And she doesn't have health insurance, no less a full-time job. Neither does her wonderful partner, Alec. Alec's health has been up and down for a few years, as well.

Gabi and Alec lost their son Bill to suicide after a brutal gay bashing on school property in 1995 (see http://www.youth-guard.org/gabi/). Since that time, both have become very involved in PFLAG. And Gabi's also volunteered for the Safe Schools Coalition, Youth Guardian Services, Families United Against Hate, and Stonewall Youth. She created the Safe Schools Coalition web site out of love, long before we were able to pay her to work on it. And even now, she only has a very part-time contract with us. She's personally responded to scores of suicidal youth who are moved by Bill's story and email her for support. She's given so much of the last 12 years to the queer community.

It's time for everyone who cares about Gabi to step up. As much as you can. I just opened an account in her name at Bank of America. You can make a donation at any branch to the "Gabi Clayton Funds" account or mail your donation to Bank of America, 9019 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 ... made out to "Gabi Clayton Funds". For those preferring to make an electronic transfer, it is account number 30657357 and the routing number is 125000024.

Please forward this to anyone you know who knows Gabi or Alec … or to anyone who appreciates allies who give much of their lives to The Movement for LGBT equality and justice.

Thanks,
Beth

Beth Reis
Co-Chair, Safe Schools Coalition

Patient Safety Blog

Wonderful blog I've discovered called the Patient Safety Blog. It relates stories about medical situations and then offers, at the end of each entry, solid advice to caregivers and patients about how to interact with medical professionals.

This entry is a particularly good example. How a 10-year old disabled girl told her mother that the doctor had misdiagnosed something in her condition. Unfortunately, the mother listened to the doctor and dismissed the little girl's concerns, resulting in the death of the girl. I liked this advice at the end of the entry:
Advice to parents: You know your child better than anyone; you are their primary care provider. Keep the courage of your convictions when you see medical professionals disregard a key sign about your child. Go to a higher authority in the hospital if you think the doctors and nurses are making a serious mistake.


I learned early on that *I* was my primary caregiver and that I had to take personal responsibility to listen to, and pay attention to, my body and what it was telling me. Jim has lived with me long enough to know that I don't complain unless there is something that needs to be addressed -- and that it's up to me to partner with my doctor and deal with whatever's going on. I don't just sit there waiting for the doctor to tell me what to do. We work everything out together. He's just as human as any other person and it's up to me to deliver to him the information he needs to make the proper diagnosis and issue the proper treatment.

Dinner with Joe and Mike.

Last night, we had a fun dinner with Mike Jones (the man who outed Ted Haggard, and who was in town for a taping of the Montel Show) and Joe.My.God., my favorite blogger on the net (and who helped find Mike Jones, setting up a support fund link for him after the election and everyone had forgotten all about him).

AND I FORGOT MY CAMERA BECAUSE I WAS RACING TO GET OUT THE DOOR. ARRGGGHH!!!

Joe is lively and funny and full of stories in person. It's our first time to really just hang out. We promised to get together again before Jim and I take off from New York.

Mike told us about the Montel taping and I hope, when they edit the piece, it's as good as he described. For one thing, they invited several "exgay" types to join him. One couple backed out when they heard that Montel was going to talk about the husband's number of sexual couplings (over 500) before getting married to a girl.

On the air, though, Exodus shill Alan Chambers got nailed by Montel for his frequent dissemblings. Alan has this problem, see. He never tells the story exactly the same way twice. When he's on right wing political sites, the number of "exgays" is in the "hundreds of thousands." Then when he's elsewhere, the number goes down to "tens of thousands." When he's in the mainstream media, the number goes down to "thousands." Daniel, over at Ex-Gay Watch has put together, for instance, this video demonstrating Alan's inability to be consistent:



I'm not saying Alan himself is a bad person. But I am saying that their movement is designed around propaganda and their belief that they are SO right that they have to support their rightness by saying whatever they need to say to keep the contributions flowing and to keep parents of gay kids turning out for their dog and pony shows in conjunction with Focus on the Family. (Actual gay kids almost never attend these conferences -- it's all about corrupting the minds of the parents).

They are in a mode of thought one can only be described as "the ends justifies the means." They'll say ANYTHING to keep the farce of their movement afloat.

Mike told me that Montel became so frustrated with Chambers that he had his staff go to the Exodus website and print out Alan's words. Then he thrust them in his face during the taping. I hope all this gets into the final edit.

Mike said, also, that his book is going to reveal a lot of things about our Rev. Ted Haggard which is going to be quite incendiary. For the record, I adore Mike Jones. He's a simple, easy and sweet guy. But he is also smart and sharp and funny, with a great wit. He's not some simpleton himbo by any means. No matter what you might think of people in his former profession, this man is not a pushover and not stupid. Behind those blue eyes is a very honest and forthright person who spoke out because, in his words, "he had to."

BTW, he is putting his massage table up on eBay -- a massage table I said belonged in the Smithsonian -- and all the proceeds are going to Project Angel Heart in Denver, which feeds people with AIDS and other life debilitating diseases. Look for it.

Just Like You. Only Gayer.

When The Big Voice was first playing in Los Angeles, we had a lot of invited audiences that were mostly older, straight couples. Afterwards, we'd greet them at the door and they'd say, "We've learned more about gay marriage in the past two hours than we've known our whole lives. You're just like us!"

Joe.My.God. points to a new ad campaign that brilliantly illustrates this:

Three ad spots about gay marriage.

NY Video Diary #25: Charlotte Rae Sings

Last Wednesday, we caught Charlotte Rae singing at the "Any Wednesday at Barnes & Noble," hosted by Bart Greenberg. She was celebrating the reissue of a wonderful album she recorded back in the 50s called "Songs I Taught My Mother." I recorded this great song by Sheldon Harnick called "The Ballad of the Shape of Things."