Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rico Mambo (The Breakfast Club)

Today was a big day. It was the screening of my friend Carlos Valentin's film The Lottery. To give you a little bit of  background, Carlos and I have been friends for a while. We know each other through my cousin Bill. Anyway, Carlos and I clicked. A while back he mentioned he was making a film called The Lottery. To make a long story short, The Lottery is a Checkov story. However, Carlos redid it with a gay couple winning the ticket fierce as they could be. Needless to say they pretty much almost killed each other before a surprise ending.

When I first auditioned I just did it because he invited me. I had no clue whether or not I was going to get a role. Either way, since college I had followed the ventriloquism and standup thing and really, aside from a murder mystery and a film cameo in 2009 and a film role a year ago I really hadn't done much acting. Sure, I had moved to the city to act and even have a BFA saying I can, but the comedy doors opened much quicker. Plus standup gave me a way to write my own stuff thus creating my own work. COWing it if you will.

Needless to say I did in the office scene as eye candy. It's not huge but it's nice screen time and I am sort of hard to miss, front and center. The filming was fun. Crazy thing is, when you do a piece of any sort for a friend it is either really good or really bad. Both has happened in my experience. I went to the Anthology Film Archive on Second Ave fresh off of a big week. Not only are the wheels in motion for the audio version of my book, but also I put my book in the library of the LGBTQ Center on 13th Street. In addition, I also got to deliver a singing chicken to Martin Scorsese's assistant. While Marty as they refer to him was not present because he was working due to the millions of dollars they pay him-he said he thought it was funny.

A little background on Anthology, the last time I saw a film there, that of my friend Kate Greer, it ended up making the festival circuit in an impressive way. Needless to say, now my film was being shown there. Anthology is the largest avante guarde film archive in NYC, housing works such as Flaming Creatures by the late Jack Smith. In addition, it regularly shows classics from some of the greatest of our time.

Before the film began I helped Carlos and his crew set up. His husband Patrick was there as well, and they make a cute couple as always. Carlos is very high strung and funny, whereas Patrick is more laid back. Nonetheless, he is supportive as hell. I would be lucky to find a guy that good.

The film screening started with Carlos falling from the director chair. He claims he was tense and it warmed him up, but the thing got a HUGE laugh. Carlos claims he didnt have it planned but I think he is lying. From there we saw a preview of his next film, a documentary about OP-Art, a Puerto Rican arts organization which nurtured Carlos and his creative talents. He had started as a visual artist and then used his storytelling and comedic talents for use on the camera to tell a story. As the documentary rolled and the founder was speaking, several visual pieces with Carlos appeared in crazy masks and wigs which made everyone laugh. After that was a beautiful and deep music video with Dimitri Minucci directed by of course my friend.

Finally the film began. Not only was it good, it was excellent. Work of genius was an understatement. The shots and colors were specific. These days you don't see that handiwork in a film. The filmmaker from our era to even attempt that is of course Martin Scorsese, my new found almost friend this week. Everyone was dressed in certain colors for certain reasons. The camera tones were brighter at some points and more gray at others. There were parts of the gritty New York City landscape. My mouth dropped open. My buddy was channeling Scorsese. While Carlos and his concept were original, it was an attention to detail that was nothing short of genius. Working with Carlos was not only a wonderful experience, but an honor and a privilege.

Afterwards, at the dinner, I spoke with some of the casting people about technique and art and such. From Sense Memory to costume usage to other things, I had not had a conversation that deep in some time about acting. It also made me miss acting. Yes, I had made my lil splash with the standup and ventriloquism. I had been a reality television star and an internet television station talked about talking head. I wrote a damn book. But there has been a hole in my heart lately. It is because I am not onstage using my instrument. And it is because there are too many bitter ass actors in my life and not enough people with fresh ideas who care let alone know about art. And tonight was the beginning to finding that part of myself.

At dinner I mentioned to Carlos that his work reminded me of Martin Scorsese, and relayed the story of the singing chicken. Carlos almost jumped out of his chair. He mentioned when he graduated from the New School Martin Scorsese had given the commencement speech. And he said he admired Scorsese and was flattered by the comparison. Chills ran down my spine. Marty and I had almost met earlier this week. He went to my alma mater. Now my friend Carlos makes a film with the same attention to color and detail. On top of that Marty spoke at his alma mater.

Hmmmm....Something leads me to believe that both of us perhaps will meet our friend Marty again. Not to mention Marty shares a birthday with Joe Cannava, my late friend who got me to write my book. Coincidence, I think not. Or maybe it is.

Either way, this is just the beginning of great things for Carlos, who had people from festivals there.  I was pleased not only to be able to show up for my friend, but also flattered he thought I even had enough talent let alone creativity to be a part of things.

Happy Birthday my sweet friend. To the start of another great year!

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon
Available on as well as Nook
Portion of proceeds go to RAINN in honor of National Stalking Awareness Month

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