Sunday, July 27, 2014

Broke and Semi-Famous: The Backstory

I just finally released my first DVD, a huge step in the comedy world. It is something I have been actively working for. Yes, it has taken me the better part of a decade to have the skills to do. Now that I am getting a bit of a name for myself, here I am doing it. Go Team Superfoxxx.

The concept of doing a DVD came after wanting to do it for sometime. It was winter, and I was living the Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Fan mail was coming in, but I was wondering how and if I was going to feed myself. I remember two fans recognized me after a show, and then knew there would be no laundry money because I was spending my spare change getting home. Then fans recognized me on the street, but then I got a friendly email from my bank. My rent check had bounced, so that meant running to make sure there were funds.

I kept telling myself it would get better. But all it did was rain shit. People would write me to book me for gigs that seemed exciting. Buttering up my ego, they would tell me what big fans they were. I would ask them if the opportunity was paid. They would give me the run around. Some promised me a partnership. Which means working for free a lot and then not seeing a dime ever. Others promised me 50 bucks and a burger if I would schlep to hell and back to perform. I would map quest the locale only to find out I was losing money, which doesn’t help when your rent check has already bounced. Or they would offer me exposure. Yes, that is great when you are starting out. However, I had paid my dues. After all, mountain climbers die of exposure.

When I would demand to be paid fairly for my time and skill set, I would be told it wasn’t in their budget. Okay, fair, whatever. But why did you write me in the first place? Others would inform me I should be flattered that I was getting a gig at their shithole establishment. I have done enough 50 bucks and a burger shows to know most of the time they are hellacious nights that aren’t even worth me showing up at this point in my life. Then there were those who informed me I had a serious attitude problem and needed to “get experience.” Read my resume lately, dickhead? I have done things you will never do. Now let me wash my clothes in my sink because I have ten years of experience and no money in my pocked for laundry.
What pissed me off even more was some of these fuckers acted as if I was asking for an extra limb. 

Meanwhile I have comedian friends who do not have my television credits or visibility. But we can both successfully do close to an hour. They have been around twice as long as me, but I have more of a draw.
 How is it that I have to pull teeth to be treated fairly, but they get paid 2 grand for the same theatre show? It’s nothing against them. Truth: They sided with me and told me I was doing the right thing, standing my ground and putting up the boundary. They are actually guiding me on how to have the conversation successfully and from a place of truth and love.

The bottom descended in March. It was the month from hell. I auditioned for a network show, and while I got close to making the cut I did not get the job. Another idea I had almost got picked up by another network, but then was put in the circular file for other reasons that had nothing to do with me. I applied for a grant to do children’s programming, and while they liked the idea they passed on me as well. I also came close to landing three major writing jobs but was passed over. As for the singing telegrams, the phone was not ringing either. Who in my last life had I pissed off?

As if shit wasn’t hitting the fan enough in my professional life, I was hitting another rock bottom in my personal life. Familial drama was at an all time high. There was a lot going on, and I found myself oscillating between anger and concern for some of my relations. Also, because of the nature of this drama, I found old wounds were not only being opened, but a bag of salt being poured on them. I also thought I had finally found the man of my dreams, only to find out he was using me for both a green card and a place to live. So my heart was broken. On top of that, I had the wife of an ex of mine stalking me. When she wasn’t harassing me online, she was calling me up to thirty times a day. Oh, and she would tell anyone that would listen about how I wouldn’t leave her alone.

Yes, I wasn’t getting a break. I would pray to God or whoever is up there asking for relief. All I got was more shit storm. I still remember calling a friend of mine for comfort. She was someone I had taken in when she had no where to live. Instead, I got a scathing response where she told me I deserved every piece of bad luck I was getting and more. At that moment, it occurred to me my friend was not happy for the success I had been getting, and it made her more happy than anything in the world that I was down. When I hung up the phone with her, I had an anxiety attack so terrible I thought I was actually having a heart attack. While I wrote her off and swore never to speak to her again, it was just one more shingle falling off of the roof of the house I didn’t even have.

I tried applying for other forms of employment. Each time I was rejected. It wasn’t my education or experience. Some rejected me because they had seen me on TV, and was afraid I was going to be a distraction. Others told me that they would give me a job, but feared I would leave when gigs picked up. (They were right, I would). So after this happened five times, I was at a dead end.

Broke and at the end of my rope, I was forced to take a craigslist flyering job. Yes, bitch work. A force feeding of humble pie of you will. It was flyering for some shiteous art fair. I remember talking to the guy Robert on the phone. He took himself so seriously. I felt like Job, cursed and plagued because for some reason God and the devil were making a bet on my ass. I wanted to tell them both to fuck off. They both sucked and would lose.

The next day I went to the gig in front of his antique store. I already hated myself and my life, but was trying to think positive in this shit storm my existence had become. I looked around for the condescending smirker I met on the phone, but instead saw no one. This voice echoed from the black van in the morning darkness, “You must be April.” I looked and saw a sadistic looking Santa Claus figure in the van.

“Hi.” I said unexcited.

“Come in.” He chimed arrogantly.

“That is a risky tact for New York City.” I snapped. I didn’t like him. This was bitch work. There was no reason I had to be pleasant.

 In the few minutes we chatted I already could tell I didn’t like him, and this was going to be a long day. I was trying my damnest to hide it, but was failing like a quadruple amputee climbing Mount Everest. “It’s amazing how many people applied for this job. One guy sent me the pictures of all the trade shows he did. It’s amazing how many people are unemployed and looking for work. You are very lucky to have this job.” Robert said. Yes me, NYU grad who had gotten a flowery fan letter the day before and was set to film her big DVD in three weeks at the Metropolitan Room. I was lucky to be working for an asshole such as himself.

The rest of the half-hearted crew came. Like me, they were trying to disguise the fact they would much rather not be there and were failing worse than I was. We rode in the car to the art fair. Sitting in the front, I chatted with Robert trying to make friendly conversation. He mentioned he wanted me to use my puppet Don Juan. Perhaps this would be an okay day, and I was just letting my ego dampen things. I had known cast members of big shows who still worked as cater waiters when things were slow. Maybe I just had to put on my big girl pants and shut up.

As Robert and I spoke, I mentioned being in Art Forum. I wanted to let this moron know I knew my shit. It had only been a few months earlier, and the whos who of the art world got featured. My puppets and I got a nice mention. Robert had never heard of Art Forum. Then we began talking about art. I mentioned my favorite was Damien Hurst. Robert didn’t know who he was. Anyone who knows art knows Damien Hurst. I took a breath and ground my teeth. Not only was this man an arrogant assweed but he was also a tremendous poser. I just wanted to die at that moment and go to heaven. Why? Because I was already in hell.

As if things were not bad enough, Robert asked “How is the career going?”

He knew the answer to that question. After all, I was working for him. No, I was not there by choice. At that moment, I wanted to cry. Everyone had warned me about this when I decided on this career. I told them they were all wrong. However, I worked hard and sacrificed most of my twenties. Maybe I had wasted my time after all. Sure I had been on TV. Sure I had written a book. Sure I had worked with some of my heroes. I thought things would be different to say the least. Maybe I had done everything I was supposed to do with comedy and writing. Maybe it was time to go back to school, get another degree, and get a real job. Theatre students come in handy all the time in non-performance related fields. This was just a nightmare, and I didn’t have it in me to continue.

Then I mentioned my writing, blogging for the Huffington Post. That is when Robert asked me if I wanted to do some art blogging. I lied and said yes just because my head hurt and I wanted him to shut the fuck up. I had no intention of art blogging for him. I wanted the fucking day to be over. Then he said, “You have all these skills. You need to transform them into an actual living.” Shit, this was like talking to my family. I felt the pins and needles being shoved into my heart and soul. I had entered the darkness and saw no way out.

When I got to the destination, I was partnered with a girl who was trying to be an actress. She was a gorgeous black girl named Gina. Living in the city for nearly ten years, student films were the most experience she had. It was a shame, because she had a great look. For the most part, she made her bread and butter from promo gigs. I remembered the days when promos paid a lot of my rent too, and thought I was past that. Her boyfriend, who was a standup comedian I never heard of, obtained some agent and got a callback for a national commercial of some sort but didn’t book it. Robert told me my job was to perform with Don Juan, and told Gina she was to wear a sandwich board. When the sandwich board comes out, it’s a job that is going to be bad. Illegals are forced to wear them. They can’t protest because they can’t work on the books. So yeah, it was starting to suck more and more.

The day was sucktacular. Within minutes of us being out there, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped like it typically does in the bipolar New York spring. I was worried. Despite being someone who layers, it had been super warm in the morning. My Obamacare had yet to kick in, so I knew I was risking my health. To top it off, the snotty art fair people did not take our flyers, and yelled at us because we were a rival art fair and that was a no no. Robert was not only an awful human being and an idiot, he was an art world pariah. AWESOME!!!

Gina and I began to talk. She said Robert had told her he would pay her at the end of the day Sunday. He told me we were getting paid at the end of the day Saturday and then same Sunday. I was hoping at the end of the day Saturday. I had no intention of returning for more fun Sunday. I told Gina my feeling was he was trying to rip us off. Gina pointed out he was an old man.

I began to grumble. It was cold and this whole thing sucked. Gina and I decided to move up the block. No one was taking our flyers and it was warmer. Sure, I had done all these things. I was forced into servitude at the hands of a fucktard. Bills had to be paid though. And in three hours I would be out of there. Maybe there was a silver lining.

We broke for pizza. I took my time eating. It was cold and only getting colder. While I was trying to be optimistic, I knew I wasn’t going to last the whole day. When I got back outside, I got an angry phone call from Robert. The old bastard claimed to be looking for us for an hour. I explained we had moved up the block. No one was taking our fliers and we were cold. So Robert said, “I DIDN’T PAY YOU TO COME UNPREPARED!!!!!!!”

At that moment I knew my instincts were right. We weren’t seeing the money, and I wasn’t lasting the entire day. Additionally, I wasn’t like those other flyer people. I had done things and didn’t have to take his shit. What landed me there was fear I wouldn’t have enough money. Fear was also keeping me in self-pity. This was why things weren’t getting any better. At that moment, I stopped being afraid. Calmly, I said, “Sorry, I don’t think this is working out.” Then I hung up the phone.

“Where are you going?” Gina asked.


“Was he mad?”

“Yeah, and you are probably never going to see that money. So you should leave to. And here are his flyers.” I said dropping them on the ground. I then hailed a cab, heading home. I didn’t have the money to pay for it, and was living on credit cards anyway. But I wasn’t afraid. I knew whatever happened next was going to be okay. I just had to keep moving.

From there, I spent every waking minute preparing for my DVD taping. I hit the open mics, bar shows, and then practiced in my room. I sent invites and terrorized everyone I crossed paths with until they agreed to come. I also began to talk to myself more positively. Each day, I woke up and told myself I was going to do this. I had paid my dues, I had earned my fans, and now it was time I stopped working for shit money and for free. I was not being a diva. I was being reasonable. To prepare for my event, I also watched Rocky every night for the next two and a half weeks. Not only did it make me feel good, but it made me believe anything was possible, especially getting out of my own quicksand.

Slowly things got better as I stopped feeling so sorry for myself, and the event at the Metropolitan Room was a success. My show went before Annie Ross, and that evening I found for years I had been using an Annie Ross line without even being aware. Some say this was coincidence. I believe it was fate. For as tired as I was at the end of the big night, I felt things beginning to shift for me.

The months of May, June, and July proved to be busy. So much so the rent has basically paid itself and I have not longed for anything. Also, I now work with a manager, who not only helped me secure a job that paid well and that I liked doing, but now helps me have those difficult conversations about money. Additionally, I inform people I will not work for free, and now they no longer ask. But as I said, things have been so busy in a good way that now I am finally releasing my DVD. Also, I am starting to learn how to save money for when the inevitable shit storm comes again.

In a bittersweet salute to the terrible, long, cold, brutal winter and the events leading up to my taping, I decided to name my DVD Broke and Semi-Famous. When people around me heard the title, they thought it was very funny and they laughed. That is when I knew in my heart the hellacious last few months were really a gift in disguise. Without them, I wouldn’t graciously be able to receive what is in front of me, but also wouldn’t have busted my ass to make the event the success it was. I have already sold a few. Click here to check it out.

Also, if you are reading this, please don’t quit five minutes before the miracle. Sometimes you just have to keep going. Sometimes for as tough as if is, you need to stop being afraid. Fear is the devil/negative/whatever. Fear wants you to give up and go home. Fear wants you to settle in self-pity. 

Someday I will be on HBO and will play Carnegie Hall. No, I am not giving up and going home. Yes, someday I will be rich and totally famous. Yes, I am bringing my damn spooky freaky puppet children with me. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wind of Change (Europe)

This past weekend I was home to visit my family. Some it was to get some much needed dental work done, some of it was to see family members. Things were kind of crazy my first day there. I was off the plane, into my mom’s car, and then sitting into the dentist’s chair.

I had the dentist telling me that yeah, I wouldn’t need novacane for my little bottom tooth that was so infected. However, the other two top teeth would need novacane. As she said this, I figured it would be a breeze. Then she started drilling. It was like that scene in the movie Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman. I was expecting her to break out a phony German accent and ask, “Is it safe?”

Finally after a few seconds, and me wincing in pain like a Jew in a Concentration camp that met with the drill of Dr. Mangelev, she asked, “Do you need novacane?” I wanted to yell and scream government secrets that’s how much pain I was in. No wonder torture worked. As she hit my jaw with a needle for novacane kind of hitting my bone I heard her and the hygienist talk about Tim McGraw and his too tight jeans. I wanted to scream at both of them to focus on my damn teeth. The hygienist mentioned there were “more gays than ever on TV. That is why everyone’s jeans are tight.”

No you stupid cow. The gays didn’t just magically appear! These days they get to be themselves without getting locked in a mental institution, and it’s actually against the law to beat them up. Now it is safer and legal to be themselves. Ever thought of that shit?!?! On second thought, nevermind, FOCUS ON MY FUCKING TEETH PLEEEEZZZZEEEE. As I was protesting them, it hit me. My coffee drinking, sugar consuming, and other post-college stupidity put my teeth in this mess. If I would have taken better care of my teeth, I wouldn’t be at the mercy of this woman who missed her calling torturing POWs. Fuck adult responsibility.

Later that night, I went to my parent’s neighbor’s house, The O’Flannery’s. To give you an idea, the O’Flannery’s are super Catholic, but not in that scary way. They are into their faith, but in the way that they also practice what they preach. Generous to a fault, they would give their shirt off their back and last dollar to any stranger that needed it. The O’Flannery’s met my parents when my brother played football with their son Jonah, who is now a priest. Jonah was a few years older than Wendell, and received the calling from God in college. This in addition to a bundle of grandchildren was a blessing for the family after the death of their son, Martin.

A third year medical student at Vanderbilt, Martin had been diagnosed with gastric cancer and died only months later. A handsome fellow with a nice smile and sense of humor, Vanderbilt recently developed a scholarship trust in his name for medical students. The article appeared in the university magazine only days before my visit. I was able to see this because my mother showed me. Also, my sister Skipper is a resident at Vanderbilt so she had given my mother the head’s up, asking if it was the same family.

Either way, The O’Flannery’s were throwing a party to welcome our new neighbors, Greg and Denise. My dad mentioned in passing that they were about my age. It could have been a casual observation, or a slight dig because I live a Princess Pan existence in New York. Because my sister Skipper is on the marriage track with her boyfriend Boomer, my parents have been extra obsessed with my dating life as of late. Puppets apparently don’t count as boyfriends. I had a fiancĂ© when I was younger. Anyone can be married. I don’t know what the big deal is. Most of the time a significant other is just a child who has an adult’s body that you always end up babysitting in my experience.

The second I saw Mrs. O’Flannery I gave her a hug and told her that I saw the article about Martin. She was touched. It’s tough to lose a child. When you lose a spouse you are widowed. When you lose a parent you are an orphan. When you lose a child you have no title. It’s because the pain is too awful for words to describe. Of course, Dr. O’Flannery was there was well. Both were in jovial spirits, ready to cater the dinner party. Originally, my mom was going to try to get me out of it because my schedule had been so busy and I had the shit drilled out of my mouth, but Mrs. O’Flannery told her to bring me. Plus as I mentioned, some of the kindest people you are ever going to meet.

The pain of having the living shit drilled out of my mouth faded as Dr. and Mrs. O’Flannery told stories. I found myself laughing my head off as usual when they talked. They told stories about traveling the world, as Dr. O’Flannery lectured on infectious disease, his area of expertise. They talked about all the places they had gone. Of course, I also met Greg and Denise. They seemed like a nice young couple. Definitely about my age. They had taken the leap to the marriage and house without feeling they were leaping off a cliff. This is how I knew I was outside of New York.

Dinner was fun, and my dad came late because he was working. As dinner progressed, my jaw began to kill me. Yes, the side they stuck the needle in. Plus the last three months of a work schedule that didn’t stop like the drum solo In-Da-Gaga-Davida were catching up to me as well. So I was nodding off. Mrs. O’Flannery offered to let me sleep on her couch. Because we only lived next door, my mom told Mrs. O’Flannery she would walk me home.

I jumped into bed and my jaw hurt again. Yes, I texted my damn mother and dragged her away from the dinner party. Time for King Vicadin. Note: Greg and Denise wouldn’t have to call their mother’s from a dinner party because they were in bed with a medical issue. Yes, I am a Princess Pan.

I ended up having a weird dream where I was in a castle in Germany and partying it up with the World Cup Soccer Team. Pasta II, a local eatery in my hometown, was catering. Then I woke up. Yes, with a slight hangover and stomach ache. Still, the dream was sweet. No wonder people do sexual favors for that shit. Damn. Then as I got sick because it was wearing off, I felt like an idiot. Why? Because it was time for more dental work.

The next dental visit was my bottom teeth. This time I got the doctor that I liked, Dr. McManus. A gay man, we talked about Hope Floats and he made some jokes about my mouth being banged up, and that’s why my jaw hurt. He was kinder and gentler with the drill, although I will admit I still felt like an asshole for doing this to my teeth. Then it hit me, as my mouth was being drilled, I was getting older. If I didn’t start being better to my mouth I wasn’t going to have my teeth. That’s a sucky realization actually. Still, Dr. McManus mad me laugh and made my dental angst not so terrible.

Later that day came some updates in family drama. My Aunt Amelia, who is developmentally disabled/learning disabled, is between houses. She lived with my grandparents and took care of them I their final days. Anyway, my grandparents house had to be sold, and when it was being shown my Aunt Amelia was living in her car. This was about as terrible as you could imagine. She hasn’t worked in years, both a combination of a bad last boss but also because being my grandparents in home caretaker has been her full time duty. She was there when they both passed, which was this last year, months apart from each other. The house was left to her, but unfortunately the upkeep would be too expensive to take care of. 

Right now, Amelia is living with another aunt of mine. Of course, part of my duty this weekend was reconstructing her resume. It’s because now that she is going to be on her own, she needs a job. In looking for apartments for my aunt, her request was a backyard for a fairy garden. Yes, she goes to the Ren Faire. Most people want a sidewalk view, be near a store. But she wants a fairy garden. I suppose we all have different needs. However, this is a need that is indeed, well, different. Still, we all have needs, and a fairy garden is an important one for her happiness.

Of course I was receiving this update while stoned on painkillers from my dental adventures. While it is partially astounding, it also sounded amazing. Actually, damnit, I wanted a fairy garden too. Of course, on occasion, because my aunt is 50 going to 18, she won’t answer her phone when my mom calls. It drives my mother crazy. I want to encourage my Aunt to say, “You aren’t the boss of me!” Now that would be amazing.

As the craptacular ideas spun in my head, I felt as if I could fly I was so loopy. Suddenly, I wanted to be a fairy in my aunt’s garden. Fuck New York. Fuck Ambition. Fuck the house and the man. If I was going to do this Never Never Land thing I was going to commit with ever fiber in my being.
Then the painkillers wore off.

In between those adventures I was in the pool with my parents, getting sun on my breakout skin. I felt like a teenager again. Of course, I am Skipper’s maid of honor, so dips in the pool were spent planning the wedding. I told my mother, as my casting director hat came on, that we needed to work with the talent that we had. We have a cousin who will be three when wedding time comes. My mother and I debated if she could be flower girl. Going back and fourth, we wondered if she would still be too young. Then I suggested the Craigslist Flower Girl. Yes, go on craglist, rent a flower girl, and pay her fifty dollars. Granted, it would probably be one of Aunt Amelia’s Ren Faire friends but still. Oh the shittily brilliant ideas painkillers give a lady.

In between all of this, my dad asked me when I was getting married. In between my break neck work schedule and my apartment that is an occupational hazard, I never thought much about it. He gave me some speech about getting older and wanting his daughter to be taken care of. About settling down with a decent man. Meanwhile, I had been shitting myself silly the week earlier because I had run my body down so massively. And now I was drooling because I couldn’t feel either side of my mouth. A decent guy would throw me change and this point, and that would be it. And then I thought of Greg and Denise. I was not ready to go to dinner parties with significant others just yet. And then a sliver of drool came down my mouth. Oh yeah….

Sunday there was a mixup into who was supposed to stay with my Mema Ralph, my dad’s mom and my last remaining grandparent. My dad and his remaining siblings take shifts. Somehow there was a mixup because another aunt of mine went on vacation or something. Either way, we rushed over Sunday to take care of her.
Mema Ralph, who is going to be 90 this year, was working on a puzzle. Yes, she works on puzzles. Despite touches of dementia, she is still pretty much with it. She has arthritis in various parts of her body, so she was using a spaghetti stirrer to help her reach the puzzle pieces. On the television was Murder She Wrote. Yes, it’s an old people show. However, it’s based off of Agatha Christie.

As a family, we all got sucked in. It was as if time had stopped, and I was 10 again. We were at Mema’s, and this was her favorite show. And there I was, misfit and wannabe writer as well as avid Ms. Marple fan. As a family, we all would guess the killer. My dad and I usually were able to crack the case. It was a time machine back to when times were simpler. When if I had a cavity, it was still a baby tooth so they would let it fall out. My big worry was the drama at Andrew Jackson Elementary School, but my big triumph would be winning the Biggest Reader Award.

Now my worries were would I book that job? Would I get turned down because the producer of the event doesn’t like ventriloquism? Would my article/screenplay get accepted by whoever? Would I get to do what I wanted, or fade quickly into obscurity, not earning a place in history? Would I be damned to worry about money forever, and if my health insurance, or lackthereof, would cover whatever was wrong with me? Suddenly, moving into the fairy garden seemed like a great idea.

On the other hand, change is the only constant in one’s life. As I grow up, I know now to take dental care seriously, because it sucks to have that many cavities. I will know to take better care of my body, because it sucks to be so tired it breaks down. Additionally, I will have a new brother in law, Boomer, soon. Greg and Denise probably just took the plunge but are just like me, holding on to the bumper wondering how the fuck to do this whole adult thing without killing themselves or someone else.

Throughout life, you need to have a sense of humor and past time. For my Mema Ralph it is her puzzles and dominos. She weathered the storm of raising 7 kids and losing a husband to a heart attack while she still had little ones at home. Not to mention she buried my Aunt Margaret, her oldest, ten years ago after losing a battle to cancer.

Or you could laugh, like the O’Flannery’s. While the death of Martin wasn’t easy, they keep his memory alive by being grateful. Not to mention they tell awesome stories too, knowing that unfortunately life comes with good and bad. Same with my parents. My mom laughs about my Aunt Amelia’s antics, because what else can you do. And my dad laughs about my Mema Ralph’s outbursts. Life is too short. Nothing is that serious.

Life is a sailboat ride. Sometimes you will get calm waters, sometimes it will be choppy, sometimes it will be a water fall. That is as deep as we are getting here, kids.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dental Work and Other Adventures

This week has been all about dental work. Yes, drilling and screaming. Later making love to the rich and handsome King Vicodan. When he isn't available, it's Queen Codine who takes his place. It's a weird and toxic love triangle.

Yesterday was interesting. I had my teeth drilled, and the dentist and her assistant were talking about Tim McGraw's tight jeans. The entire time I am thinking, "You just hit a nerve or jaw bone with that needle. Put the drill down."

Afterwards, I went to get ice tea because that was the only thing I could have. I am at the counter, with both eyes black with circles under them. Some of it is from no sleep, and my face is puffed out an saggy from the dental work I just had done. Plus I was trying hard not to drool, and needed something cool to drink.

So this is how the exchange with me and the girl behind the counter went

Girl: Excuse me, are you that Puppet Girl from My Strange Addiction?

Me: Yes

Girl: That is awesome! I am such a fan. Did anyone ever tell you that you are amazing?

(Amazingly, I somehow managed not to drool although this was quite a challenge).

Me: Oh thank you

(Still trying not to drool)

Girl: Do you have one of your puppet children with you?

(I pull Officer E out. We do a small show. Her and some of the others laugh)

Girl: Can I have a photo with you?

Me: Sure.

(We take a picture)

Girl: My manager is here but I don't give a crap.

Me: It's all good.

Girl: Oh, and I will ring your ice tea up.

Me: Thanks, just had some dental work done.

Girl: This is so awesome!

Fan encounter was cool, dental work not so much. Oh, and while I love being recognized by fans because I am an egomanic, why did it have to be after dental work? Why couldn't it have been when I looked divalicious or when my hair was almost combed, and my makeup was almost done? Instead I looked like I had a drill that had been stuck in my mouth. My mom always says be ready. But still, I didn't expect it after the dentist. May Wilson would have rocked it.

Last night was a pain killer induced sleep. It was the only way this puppet mistress was getting through the night. I kept dreaming I was partying with the World Cup German soccer team. Perhaps I have been spending too much time on Ranter. I have the app back on my phone. I am ranting again. I also got a new phone yesterday too. This kid is explaining how it works and there I am nodding off like the junkies I used to date. Good times.

Today I had more work done. This time with the doctor I like. My whole mouth hurt from yesterday's adventure in dentistry. He explained these things happen. Then he said, "April, you are falling apart of me." It made me laugh. I needed to laugh.

Still dental pain sucks. You don't want it. I woke up to the email of a show being cancelled. Oh well, I have another one next week. Need to get back onstage. And I will.

But first this pain killer needs to wear off.

However, I am making use of my semi-altered state. I am going to get my hair done.

Good news, movement on the DVD release front, YAY


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Date With Nazi

I remember about three years ago, a friend of mine set me up with a guy. The premise was that we were both crazy about history. Hell, I think a man who likes history and the war channel is as hot as a McSizzle on a New York summer day. I still remember seeing John's picture. He was cute with dark hair and lady killer blue eyes. We spoke on the phone beforehand, and he said he was looking forward to meeting me. I remember he worked in finance, a good job with lots of money.

We ended up at this fancy Italian Place, and immediately, he began to show his stripes as a history buff. He claimed he went to Penn, another good school. Right away, we began talking about World War II. I still remember the words I said that set the course for a set of events I will never forget.

As a kid, my father read us Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire before school. What I said was World War II was more about race and national pride, and these issues went back thousands of years. Additionally, history shows Germany and Austria had been violently Anti-Semitic, and unfortunately Hitler's view point gained popularity because of centuries old sentiment. Also, Germany had only been an independent country since 1863 give or take. These were centuries old issues that blew the powder keg. Thus they simplify something quite complicated in schools, thus making people's understandings of the true facts at hand problematic.

That is when John looked at me, Lady Killer eyes and said, "Yeah, I am with you. Most people don't understand the issues at hand. Most women dont understand let alone like World War 2."

"Love the War Channel." I told him.

John then said, "You know, while we are on the subject, Hitler was misunderstood. You see, he wanted to be a good ruler to the German people. Hitler was one of the good guys."

My jaw nearly dropped. In my explaining that World War II was often oversimplified, I didnt mean to imply the dictator that killed several million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other undesirables was good in any way. There is no way someone with a rational mind and a decent heart can condone such thought let alone behavior.

"You're kidding?" I asked, hoping he was being sarcastic.

"No, I am not. You see, Hitler wanted to get rid of the Jewish problem. You see, they were like the Hiltons. They just got richer as everyone else got poorer. The Jews controlled the banks, blackballed governments, and were responsible for The Great Depression. They were also illegal immigrants in Europe that chose to stay. You see, they were kind of like the Mexicans and Texas. But the Jews slant history. They always do. They write the history books and make Hitler look like a bad guy, never talking about all the good he did for the German people."

 I was so shocked I couldn't move. He wasn't kidding. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears. As if that wasn't enough, John went on to say, "Well the Jews also made up the concentration camps as well. Hitler never planned to kill them-"

At that moment I said I had a stomach ache and had to leave. He offered to walk me home but I said that wasn't necessary and ran out of the place. Breathing fresh air with people of all shapes, sizes, and colors living in some sort of peace was a nice landing back to reality. I don't know what was worse, the hate he was spewing or the fact he believed it? Did he intern for David Duke one summer? Oh and the concentration camps were real, and they did plan on eliminating the undesirables. My great uncles helped liberate the Jews. Yeah, it was worse than the pictures. No, they just didnt sit around making this up to punish the Germans. If they did, they must have had a lot of free time. Oh, and it is so hack and unoriginal to blame the Jews. That is so overdone.

Prince Edward was so handsome and he had such a heart to abdicate the throne to be with his love and we all said how romantic. That is, until it was revealed that he was a Nazi sympathizer. Charles Lindburgh was  a great pilot and a hero. That is, until it was revealed he was a Nazi sympathizer. My date was smart and sexy, until it was revealed he was a Nazi sympathizer. Maybe he found his dream Eva Braun after I left. Either way, the friend that fixed us up became an ex friend.

So beware ladies, if a guy is sexy, get to know him. Make sure he isn't a Nazi. Nothing is as unsexy as a Nazi.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Some Good, Some Bad

This past week has been up and down as far as everything is concerned. In some ways, I feel like my career is in free fall. The week began with me losing a theatre gig because I asked to be paid a certain amount. I wasn't being greedy. I am doing almost an hour. I have friends who would charge a few grand for that and they haven't been on television and don't have the writing credits I have. I am hardly being greedy. They get their asking price, and don't have to argue. On the other hand, I have to beg people. So after finding out the producer was being paid a decent amount and the sound man was making more than anyone, the producer told me he would "pass on this one." He didn't even try to meet me half way.

Me at the start of last week, poised like a star. 

After that, I was passed over for another gig. Yeah, as in not chosen. Don't have the look. I never really book print stuff anyway. On top of that, I met with a VO Agent. He said I needed tweaking, etc and my voice was better for cartoons. I am up and down about the whole VO thing. Some actors are into it, and some only do it as one of the many things they do. And then to get a demo is such a pain in the ass. Most people producing demos have no business doing it. I hear I would be good in that market, but then again, is it a rainbow I want to chase?

 On top of that, there was an issue with my device so I couldn't cover the World Cup like I wanted to. Basically, last week sucked careerwise.

Me at the end of last week. Oh how things change in the life of an egomaniac

So it makes the fact my refrigerator is broken and there is a small pond under my sink because my sink is leaking all the worse. However, the good news is I am a ventriloquist of note. I was featured in a positive light. They have said some God awful things about me on Vent sites in the past. It is usually Christian Ventriloquists. As if a skill from a horror movie couldn't get any scarier it just did kids. But they said kind things about me. It was a surprise to find I am not a pariah in my own community as some have claimed.

When we aren't making diva demands according to some we are quite cute. 
Additionally, we made several cabaret websites that are hard to get onto. People are also telling me how proud they are of my event at Don't Tell Mama. I really did look good that night. I am also amazed that everything turned out so well. However that is when the fatal stomach crap started. No wonder I look so damn skinny in this pic. 

Oh yeahski!!!!

I was sick all weekend, and I couldn't leave the damn toilet. However, I watched every Karate Kid movie there was. I think we should make bracelets that say, What Would Mr. Miyagi Do? (WWMMD?) The man is awesome, especially in the first one when you think he is some humble super. However, he knows karate. And when Daniel-son aka Moron From Jersey gets himself into trouble, it's Miyagi that is like Spider Man and beats the ass of the Cobra-Kai. Mr. Miyagi foreves.
Forever my sensei

Additionally, I watched the World Cup and Germany won!!!! This made me so happy because I thought the Argentinian Team were a bunch of idiots. Oh and the players that I loved looked great. Thomas Muller winked at the camera during the national anthem. And then managed to get more grass stains on his shirt than anyone. Schweinsteiger shined and then got a bloody eye from a dirty Argentinian player. His singing during the national anthem was committed, but however, was off key. Ozil was silent during the anthem, staring off into space with those Lil Bug Eyes of his. On the field he was as strong as ever. Mario Gotze scored the goal. They operated as a unit and additionally are dead sexy. 

FTW-For the win
Don't Mess With Bug Eyes
Basti is gettin nasti. 
You have scored for Germany and scored with me, Hot Stuff

And of course being a woman, these men are the sexifacation of my lonely, overworked, career woman dreams. I don't get out much, and I need things to look forward to. So I am tossing each of these men a teddy bear.
Tossing two at once to see who catches them
Who will catch this and make a lonely woman happy?
And a bear who looks like he can take care of himself. 
And because I watched Karate Kid, I remembered no bear comforts me like Teddy Ruxpin. 

So now I am back to the grind. Maybe this week will be better with the career. I have no other life. In other news, the stomach crap has started and I have been away from the toilet for several hours. The final for my writing class is shaping up. The telegrams have me running around like gang busters which means rent is paying itself. And I will be back on Ranter at the end of this week when my phone is updated.

Also, today is my Grandmother's birthday. She would have been 90. It is also the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. I miss my Nunni. Somewhere she is making a new friend. They just sold my grandparents house too. Oh well, her spirit is with me. And I know she would love the fact I am about to go to a TV show audition. 

My grandma colorful as ever in the hat


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moving Stone

I have always been a hard worker. Ever since I was a kid, it was the only script I had in my head. You work hard, you live well, you go to sleep. A lot of German American families are like this apparently. Irish Americans as well. You see, in America, there is this thing called the Protestant Work Ethic. However, there is also The Catholic Will To Succeed. I was raised a Catholic. I am shame and goal oriented to a fault.
Kicking the Catholic shame and goal orientation is like kicking a heroin habit. You make plans to stop but you just can’t. Even if you get out, the scars from the track marks you once had stay on your arms. Some consider it a brutal lot. Others claim it makes them who they are. I, however, feel a mixture of feelings from both camps. People say recovering drug addict and recovering Catholic, like you never quite escape. No, you don’t escape.

Growing up, to be called lazy in my home was a worse insult than stupid. Stupid people could not help themselves, but could serve as delightful cautionary tales. Yes, just like my cousin who had been struck by lightning three times and survived. He reminded us that once we heard thunder, it was time to go inside. No, we could not all be Benjamin Franklin. Ben Franklin was also bright and discovered electricity and was done running in the rain. My idiot cousin, he had to do it two more times. He even has fern marks on his arms. You should see it. No, this is not a bit I am trying out on my internet audience.

Lazy people on the other hand were the lowest of the low, worse than the Untouchables in the Indian caste system. Lazy people swam in shit, created messes, and expected other people to clean it up. They expected others to do the work for them. I remember once we met the significant other of a female relative of mine. Allergic to work, this man wore alligator skin shoes and expected women to bank roll him. Ne’er-do-well would have been a compliment to describe this leach who somehow obtained the ability to walk upright and speak. I still remember afterwards my disgusted mother said to my sister Skipper and I, “Never marry a man like that girls. See how tired she is.”

To which my dad piped in, “Never be like that either.”

Growing up in the ivy covered house on Foxtail Lane, you studied. That way, you could get into a an Ivy League, or a college with ivy on the front which meant it had roots that went way back. To us, hard work was everything. My parents were in the older half of a litter of a bunch of kids. To them, college was not an assumed right. Rather, it was something one had to earn with blood, sweat, and tears. There were no college funds for them.

My dad especially. You see, my grandfather, who I never met because he died before I was born, worked as a master machinist in the mills of Pittsburgh. While a skilled tradesman who was especially good with detail, he worked in an environment where many like him got cancer or other health issues of some sort. A Depression kid, he dropped out of high school so he could work to support his family. It’s just the way it was. When my dad was a kid, he worked night turn, sleeping during the day. Because he was a naturally brilliant tradesman, he was up for promotion at the mill. By this time he worked day turn, which was a coveted prize. At night he went to school, working to earn his diploma. He and my dad graduated from high school.

Jeff Foxworthy tells a joke, “You know you’re a redneck when you and your dad walk to school together because you are in the same grade.” For the record, it’s just a joke and my dad laughed when it heard it. Still, there is probably also a little bit of sting in those words for some blue collar families. Nonetheless, my dad went to college and worked his way through with little or no familial support. His old man died his sophomore year, and as an added bonus he became a father figure to his younger siblings. However, he earned his MBA and later went to law school. My father was the first in his family to go to college let alone obtain an advanced degree. His siblings would later follow suite.

So in my house you worked. You didn’t complain about it. You just did it. My brother Wendell labored at football practice. Caked and covered in mud, he would shove some high protein meal in his mouth and get cracking on the Honors/AP course load he took. Often, like one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, he worked into the night. Skipper excelled in soccer and track, but then had a gifted project she had to do. My father was usually never home, because he was working seven days a week himself. And then my mom was helping and assisting as a chauffeur to activities, and as a proofreader/study buddy.

I was no exception. During the week, I was an honors/AP student at my high school. Additionally, I filmed a TV show at the local access station once a month. When I wasn’t doing that, I was penning my monthly column for the local paper. And when that wasn’t happening, I was performing ventriloquism for small children and old people, or rehearsing for a local play. Hours not spent in action were spent in training, community classes in acting and dance at Point Park College on Saturdays and then voice with Jean Beiswenger. My schedule wasn’t free and clear just yet. Aside from having a lead in our spring musical at my school, I also was editor of the literary magazine. Oh, and I was active in National Honor Society. And then when I had free time I worked as a babysitter, bagger at the supermarket, and lifeguard. Rest was for the weary. Did I get tired studying late into the night? You bet. We all did. But we kept going. There was no other choice.

However, both my brother and sister ended up attending Brown, and I ended up at NYU. My book is currently in both of their collections.

I remember arriving in New York, and getting the guts to perform in the comedy clubs. It was scary, but I killed during the first set I ever did and was hooked. I was twenty years old and knew no one. There were nights that were so terrible because I bombed worse than any daily action in Baghdad. And then there were people who spoke down to me because they could. Add in the male headliners and bookers who would try to get me to perform sexual favors for stage time. I never did, but it made me ill that they were coercing me. Everything seemed like a dark maze. I didn’t look like a Playboy model. I wasn’t a man in a profession dominated by them. I wasn’t a whiny woman who constantly spoke about her period. And my family wasn’t in the industry. However, I was going to do what I had always done, and that was to do what was necessary.

I wrote jokes, and had notebooks full. During the day I went to school, and at night I performed. I didn’t complain even though sometimes I felt I was never going to get where I wanted to go. There were those who were kind to me and noticed how hard I was working. Some gave me cab money, and put me in a taxi so I could safely get home. Others bought me food. Then there were those who served as surrogate aunt and uncle figures, giving me moral support when I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. 

I never gave much thought to this until I went on a site where they were saying terrible things about me. I still remember the sting, because I had viewed many of these dissenters as friends once upon a time. Then someone on the thread remarked that they had followed me, and they said they had never seen someone who worked harder. It was a surprise to me. Up to that point, I had given no thought to my work ethic whatsoever. It was amazing how no one on the page dissented that observation of me, and it almost shut them up.

It was also a lesson in why so many don’t get ahead in this world. It is a thing called entitlement. These people thought they were owed the things I was getting although they were doing nothing to get them. It was much easier for them to sit on their asses and call me names rather than focus on their own goals. It was much easier to accuse me of being “succeed at all costs” and being stealthy rather than chase their own dreams. It was a sad and jarring lesson about how entitlement warps people. And then they whine about how they don’t get what they want and it’s everyone else’s fault. And it was a relief to lose them as friends, entitled people are annoying.

I wanted to write a book, I got off my ass and I did it. I wanted to have a career as a ventriloquist, I got off my ass and I did it. I support myself in entertainment, I continue to get off my ass and make that happen. Someone recently told me my work ethic was “legendary.” While I appreciated the compliment, again, I never gave it much thought. If that was the case, both my great-grandfather and my grandfather who slaved in the mills of Pittsburgh had a legendary work ethic as well. As did my Pop Pop, who ran a life insurance business and coached each of his children in swimming. And let’s rank my father who still works seven days a week there too.

No, I just do what I have to do and don’t whine about it.

Last week, I made a highly trafficked ventriloquist site. Apparently I am a “Ventriloquist of Note.” I was featured next to a beauty queen and a young man lighting up Britain’s Got Talent. It was a pleasant surprise. And then my show got featured on a cabaret directory that is hard to get on to. Oh, then there are the folks who never gave me much thought before and now are knocking on my door. I told my mom this, because it was a surprise I considered lucky. To which my mom said, “Yes Sweetie, but you also worked very hard and earned these things.”

As I forge new frontier in my career, there are things I have to do. The tasks seem never ending, and the mountains seem like insurmountable foes. Additionally, the competition is intense in a way it never was before, and lots of people want to see me fail. I will do what I have always done. I will shut the fuck up and do the work. It’s the only answer I know, and it’s the only thing that is constant. No one, dissenter or decision maker, can deny that.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “It is no use to say we are doing our best. We must do what is necessary.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

7 Minutes in Heaven

When I was in junior high, we played a game called seven minutes in heaven. Well I didn't but everyone else did. Basically, it was pretty straight forward. There were seven minutes, and it was usually in a closet or somewhere dark so it wouldn't be awkward. And then you would make out for seven minutes. I remember in sixth grade, a girlfriend of mine played with this eighth grade hottie.

 Of course, we were on our historic cemetery unit. Yes, walking through the Whiskey Rebellion Cemetery. Located at the back of Bethel Presbyterian Church, it has all the old graves in the area. The Whiskey Rebellion was a minor skirmish that occurred in my backyard literally. Basically, the Pennsylvania Farmers refused to pay whiskey tax, and the federal troops were sent in. The year was 1791 or something so America wasn't very old. To make a long story short, the uprising was squashed quickly. We had one fatality. He wasn't shot. Oh no. He was an old man he heard a gun shot, had a heart attack, and died on the spot. Anyway, I remember our teacher giving us this info, and my friend giving me details of the makeout session. While history has always intrigued me, and I was one of the best history students in my class, I found this much more interesting.

Anyway, my friend was telling me this, and my attention was quite divided. Finally, our teacher said, "SHHHHH!!!!!" And made us stands on different sides of the group. Hey, the people in the graveyard were dead. When they were alive they probably did nasty shit in the back of the barn because that is what they had then. And then I realized the church was old, very old. Did anyone ever make out in the choir loft? Or maybe they did more......HMMMMM.....

Fast forward several years later. Here I am now, the career is finally starting to do things. These days I am starting to get followers and fans. Sometimes I brag about them more than I should. Sometimes it still feels strange. I think I brag and it feels strange because I still see myself as a little fattie pre-teen unworthy of any male attention. Yet here I am, with a growing fan base of mostly men. To me what's most ironic is how they write to me and comment on my pics. In real time, if I went on a dream date with any of them, I wouldn't know what to do or say. Actually, I would look like a complete goofus.

Anyway, most of the time, I don't view myself with anyone who has any needs whatsoever. Instead, I just keep working. Even when work sucks, which it can, I just keep going. Yeah, my critics talk about the terrible decisions I have made in my past and crucify me for my lust for the spotlight because they are entitled. However, they always have to credit me for my tremendous work ethic. So last week, as my workload was crushing me, I spent my days screaming at my assistant. Anyway, as things started to wind down, someone walked me home.

This someone is a combination fan boy and friend. Without divulging too much about him, he got me to update my website and this is how my fans know what is going on with me. When shit gets busy I forget sometimes. So anyway, this fan boy/friend gave me a little bit of a back rub which felt good. It made me feel much less tense and homicidal. And then the fan boy/friend offered to walk me home.

So when we got to my door he kissed me on the head. We hugged for a second, the physical chemistry out of this world. And then he kissed me on the lips. I kissed him back. We stood there looking at each other like, "AHHHHH!!!"

I informed him that he kissed me first, and then he said I retaliated by kissing him back. And so then we kissed again. Next thing I know, I am in the door way of my lobby making out with this dude. I never make out in my lobby. We were up against the wall, hiding. It was kind of crazy, strange, and fun at the same time. There were periods during our makeout session where I would just plain start blushing and apologize for being my dorky self. And then he would kiss me again. That is when it hit me that shit, I have groupies. I am a big old dork with groupies. Someone called me a quirky sex symbol. Yeah, she means big dork with groupies. That would be about right.

Finally, he admitted he had to leave. Work. Yes, work. That thing that pays the rent, shortens our life span, and the thing we are damned to do until the day we die. Work, the cock block joy kill of my evening. Fucking work. He kissed me one more time before he left. I checked my watch.

Seven minutes exactly.

I had my seven minutes in heaven.

Haven't heard from my momentary Romeo but that doesn't matter. The educated feminist is off for the summer, and she will bring her rusty vagina with her when the cold comes. For now it is summer and I am having fun.

Somewhere, my sixth grade self is also giving me a high five.