Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carving My Own Path

My name is April Brucker. I will admit I idolize Mae West. We are kind of built alike and have the same look, although I could only dream of being as awesome. I still remember the first time I saw her on my screen. I was ten years old and my family didn't have cable. Instead we had three channels and PBS. To live on Foxtail Lane you were a thinker. We were not television watchers by any means. Instead, we read. I was in fourth grade and had a high school reading level. It's not that I was smart. I was simply anti-social.

However, we were decorating our Easter Bonnets on the rare occasion we were allowed television. Sometimes my home could be like a POW camp. TV was a reward for a week's work. You could lose your reward through bad grades, bad behavior, and even worse, a run in with the guard aka my parents. Gluing the flowers on my bonnet, I remember a beautiful woman graced my screen. Talking through the side of her mouth she said, "Come up and see me sometime, any old time."

My dad explained that was Mae West. He said she was a comedian and actress well known in her day. The film was in black and white. This was different than the noisy, color television and cartoons we were sentenced to as modern beings. I was sucked in. My dad asked if we knew how old she was. We guessed her 20s. My Pops said she was in her 40s. Wowsa she was hot.

My favorite Mae West pic of all time

Fast forward to high school. I still remember having pictures of my idols, specifically Mae West, plastered all over my mirrors and walls. Sometimes they were even on my ceiling. I read about her, and did lots of reports whenever I could on her. What I liked is that the world was closed to people like us. People like her because she didn't look like a flapper at a time it called for that. People like me for the same reason. I knew that if I were to go anywhere, it would be my own way. I had puppets and I had dreams. Call me crazy but hey, it worked for Jeff Dunham.

Years later, fast forward, I moved to New York City. Things seemed to come together and fall apart all at once. It was shortly before I turned 26. Chacho and I had a falling out, and shortly thereafter he died a brutal drug related death. My roommate Nikki had a nervous breakdown over a man and moved back in with her mother. And I was set to do a show in Woodside, Queens at Neirs Tavern. It was a stormy night, and a tornado had come through that borough. Going to and from the gig was going to be quite difficult. However, my life sucked. I had to go. Getting onstage always made everything better.

When I got there I remember being the only comedian who showed up. May Wilson and I did a set. They asked me if May was named for Mae West and they said no. Then I was informed once upon a time before she became who she was, Mae West had performed there. My mouth dropped open. When I was 17 the cards were down and I was cast as the Witch in The Wizard of Oz, a musical containing a twister. My hero had been Mae West. Could this be another turning point?

Two weeks later I got a call. My puppet children and I had been chosen to be on TLC.

From there we did a press tour, I worked at an online television station, and I wrote my book. I also covered a song that was number one on internet radio.

Now I am at another turning point. I have dreamed of playing theatres since forever. A year and a half ago, shortly before the release of my book, I was ready to quit standup forever. I could do music and would make my videos. I could write. Then another comedian suggested that I do theatres, and told me that's where I belonged. Immediately I remembered dreaming about that since forever too. But how would that happen?

Pic inspired by the one above

Recently, it has been happening. I filmed a DVD and am doing my first big theatre gig on Long Island this weekend. The idea of being under the lights and having adoring fans is every performer's dream. But what if they hated my guts? This is a real fear in my line of work. Walking down the street, I had a panic attack and lost my ability to speak. Tears began to fall down my cheeks. I felt like the awkorkable ugly duckling from Foxtail Lane again.

Then I remember what we fear most never happens. Another dream I had since my brother Wendell played high school football was working in sports broadcasting. This was cemented in my mind when I attended the Heisman's with my sister Skipper. Recently, this door has opened through Ranter. I feared the male talking heads would regard me as an inferior. That hasn't happened yet. Every once in a while I make a joke and mix things up in my mind cause I think fast. But I haven't been dropped yet, and am starting to fit in quite well.

When I got home I looked at my bathroom door and saw a familiar figure, gleaming smile and black hat. She was giving me her blessing to take the next step. Yeah, I have always been a big mouthed woman in a man's world. I have always been the only one like me, which sometimes works to my favor but sometimes has been a detriment because people don't know how to peg me. Yeah, I have always been an oddball. Yeah, I have had some rough shit happen in my life, too. However, I lived through all of it and came out still slugging. I was always a fighter, and will always be.

I didn't let fear of failure stop me from moving to New York and chasing my star.

Mae West didn't let hederosexism and the myth of youthful supremacy stop her. Hell, she didn't even let jail get in her way. And we both like to cause trouble on a national scale. Watch my Rachael Ray clip.

As she smiled my way, I knew I was going to be alright. I knew I wasn't being taken this far in order to be dropped. I am going to the next level baby!

Now for the love of God, God don't drop me!!


Come see me at the Soluna Theatre, May 30-31 Happague, Long Island
Buy my book I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Check out my DVD Broke and Semi-Famous coming soon

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