Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'll Be There For You (The Rembrandts)

Monday night I went to Astoria to hang out with my friend Wade. He was insistent that I come over. To give you an idea, back in the day Wade was a Ford model. You may have seen his washboard abs sporting underwear on various billboards worldwide. Heck, I saw him on one before I knew him and developed a crush. Then I found out he was gay, but we are amazing friends. These days, he is doing less modelling and wants to help the environment.

At first when he insisted I come over, I thought he had his heart broken. Wade and I always go for the wrong men. As I came in, Wade informed me he had planned a semi-impromptu get together for my belated birthday. According to Wade, he had heard me whine about turning 30 and wanted to do something special. It’s not that I am unhappy with my life. Time just goes by. One day I was twenty and then poof. Pulling it out of the refrigerator, I realized Wade had spent the last two hours baking me a gluten free birthday cake. One by one, our friends arrived and our little surprise get together got underway. The event and gesture was so wonderful it made me cry.

As a group of gay men, all with perfect voices, Broadway style, sang “Happy Birthday” to me, it made me realize that no matter what happened, I had my friends. Whether 30 brought me more things checked off my bucket list or not, I had the most important thing of all. As I said it, my friends.

This year for my birthday, it seemed many of my friends came out into full effect. I don’t usually celebrate my birthday extravagantly. It’s because over the years I have sang “Happy Birthday” to so many people in so many places. These have included the CFO of the NHL, the husband of the Sultana of Saudi Arabia and the best friend of Forbes Regular Blake Mallen, the song has kind of lost it’s luster for me. Plus I like my birthday to be a calm affair. However, this year my boss Bruce, entrepreneur of the singing telegram company I worked for, called me and gave me a “Happy Birthday” phone gram. Not many can call their boss a friend, but I am one of the few who can. He is an inspiration at every turn.

Heck, my boss and all of my coworkers are. This past summer, I did my book event in which they all took part in. While my gift was writing the book and emceeing the evening, my coworkers lent their tremendous voices, tremendous sense of craft, and tremendous hearts to the event. Their generosity and giving to make my event the success that it was moved my heart beyond words.

My boss’s assistant Laila, who has been a singing telegram person and a cabaret favorite in the city for nearly two decades, helped me organize the event. On several occasions, it looked as if I was going to lose my mind. After a small meltdown, she gave me a pep talk where she quoted David Mamet’s book, True or False, and told me to step away from the event for a little bit. I am like a buzzard, I keep going until I run into the wall. While my work ethic has always been good, it in the end is always my undoing. So I stepped away and felt better. When I returned later, I was able to focus. It was amazing. That’s what friends are for, right?

Add in Nishu and Hedda, my friends from the neighborhood. Nishu is the literal ringmaster of various characters. Hedda is his lady love who keeps him in check. Despite the adventures, and sometimes misadventures we all find ourselves on, Nishu has been there for me this past year. Same with Hedda. Yes, they were present for the book signing. My singing telegram cohort Jeanie and I did a special number for Hedda’s bestie’s surprise party. Was it fun? You bet. Am I sad to see Hedda go to Spain? Ya. Will she be back? Duh. Until then, Nishu and I have some mischief to cause.

I can’t forget Spooky Juice, my super who gives me inappropriate kisses and hugs. At the same time, he reads every blog I write and has bought several of my DVDs to resell to his various friends all over the world. He has also bought several of my books to give away. A magician when it comes to fixing things, he prevented me from getting some dripping disease by fixing my sink.

Then there are the boys at Vibe West who get all my packages. They are always on the stoop smoking cigarettes in between clients. Yes, we all gossip about boys because these are gay men. It’s always nice to see a friend when I come and go into my apartment running about. Sometimes that is what you need during a stressful second, and it might be what they need to as they are smoking their nicotine, the legal choice drug in combination with caffeine of many a New Yorker.

The corner store is another place where I have friends. Of course I have a playful yet flirty relationship with the men behind the counter and the regulars. We gossip about the news and sports, and the dudes always know the NFL scoop as the cabs are hitting shift change. The jokes are raucous and dirty, but it’s a great start to the day as we drink our coffee.

Then wherever I go up the block, past the funeral home, I see a friend. Then to the gym whether it’s the pool I see an acting teacher friend of mine, Trish. A lifetime member of the Actors Studio, Trish has either known, taught, or dated practically every acting teacher I ever had. One day, steaming naked in the sauna, the subject of a player would be leading man I dated briefly came up. When his name was posed, Trish remarked, “Mike could be a good actor, but he’s too into himself.” SNAP!
Add in the girls I brunch with. Plus the girls in Astoria. And my red carpet friends. Damn, I have some serious friends.

Then there are those who have become friends through the comedy world. The people who have given me rides to places and who were so kind they wouldn’t accept my gas money knowing I was broke. Or those who bought me food when I had none. Add in the older headliners who helped me with a punchline or gave me career advice solely because they liked me. And then there are the crazies like myself. How could we not bond?

The wonderful thing about friends is when I haven’t seen them in a while, and they pop up. One friend of mine, Rich, had worked in my college dorm freshmen year. He saw me perform live my first year of doing comedy in the city. Afterwards, he graduated and went to law school. After law school, he joined the Navy and is now a JAG. Last summer, he came up to the city. Rich had purchased my book and was giving it to a friend of his who wanted to be an actor. It was a wonderful reunion.

Another wonderful surprise was at my DVD taping this past spring. After the show my friends and fans were greeting me, and one familiar face stood out in the crowd. It was Derek Judy. A school mate of mine, he had been a stand out as a boxer. We went to the same elementary, middle and high school as well as rode the same bus for our school careers. As a matter of fact, I believe his dad was my mailman. Anyway, he had gone off to West Point and I had not seen Derek, that is, until that moment. He apologized for being an unexpected surprise. While unexpected, he was a pleasant surprise.

At the same show, I had a reunion with Emma Olsen and her sister Betty. While Betty was younger than us, Emma and I were in the same English class senior year and survived a psychotic student teacher with the ultimate eye twitch. The experience not only bonded us, but now we both live in New York. This woman as unforgettable, but it brought us closer together.

As I think of the various people I cross paths with, I think of those I haven’t seen in forever. I see the faces of old cast mates of mine from various projects who I was close with for a time. Then I see the faces of friends of mine from college who pop up every once in a great while. Or friends of mine from writing groups who cheered me on as I penned my book. Then there are puppeteer and filmmaker friends that have shared their genius and knowledge with me such as Guenevere Dean.

I have friends that have gone to jail. I have friends who worship Satan. I have friends who have hustled, sold drugs, robbed armored trucks, you name it. Relax, they aren’t doing it now. It makes for lively conversation. It makes for some laughs. It also makes for people who don’t judge me when things are going wrong. People who fly right don’t always have that skill set.

Then I think of some of my friends who aren’t here. I see the faces of Chacho Vasquez, and hear him talking about his latest sexual conquest in one breath, but then he is educating me on how to screw someone over without getting caught just because he doesn’t want to see me stepped on. I see Joe Cannava, the friend who told me I would be on television someday, and to be patient.  However, I will always remember Joe because he was the one who pushed me to write my book. He didn’t stop until I did mind you, and although he is no longer here in some ways he lives on through the words he inspired me to write. Add in Michelle Dombrowsky, who was a friend to me when I had no one in the comedy world. As I remember her huge laugh and even bigger heart, I just want to tell cancer it sucks. Lest I not forget Ray Payton, who used to give me spots at doing opening comedy for the shows at the TSI Playtime Series. Diabetes can suck it, too. Egardo Rodriguez, how could I forget his quick comebacks and snappy style? Sometimes, I even feel his spirit in front of the salon he once worked at. Otto Petersen, Dear Lord, ventriloquism is nothing without you, Sir. You taught me so much. And lastly but certainly not least, my breakfast buddy Spenser Kimbrough. Yes, we had breakfast every Saturday as the soy milk curdled in my coffee. You were one of the first people to tell me I was funny and should pursue comedy. Then an unknown cause took you in your sleep.

In my 30 years of life, I have met some people who have sucked, yes. At the same time, I have also met some awesome people. Not only it is wonderful they are in my life, it is a blessing. So what is the best birthday present I got this year? Answer: The tremendous people I call friends. Your generosity makes me cry. Thank you for being a part of my life. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mi Vida Loca

Yes I live a crazy life. Mi vida loca. They say 30 is the new 20. They say 30 is the end of the line. They say a lot of things about the number divisible by 3, 5, 6, and 10. Yes, 30, it is an even composite number. It is the number that makes you realize that your twenties are important and they fly by. Thank Jesus my twenties are gone. Thank Jesus the days of being angst ridden, crazy, and having to prove something to the world have evaporated.

Yet there is also this feeling that comes with 30. It’s a reminder that you are an adult. It was the same rude reminder I got at 20. What is cute at 16 is no longer cute at 20. At 20, you are expected to have half a brain. Looking back, 20 is in fact young. However, the state can stick a needle in your arm for your crimes. At 30, if you make the same mistakes you did when you are 20, it’s no longer cute. It’s a cautionary tale. Yes, in some ways I probably am a cautionary tale.

My house is dirty. As for my refrigerator, I think a monster lives in there. I do battle with a mouse named Mordeci who is the closest thing I have to a man. Add in the friends I have who either have tested the judicial system in some fashion or the laws of nature in some way. Not to mention I have no man, and the two men I fell in love with were absolute disasters. One I have a different mailing address because of, the other was technically a fugitive until several months ago. Factor in that I am chasing a pipe dream living  a Princes Pan type existence as my normie friends from high school get married, buy homes, and produce babies. There are some woman who at my age would be freaking out at the sight of my bank statement, house keeping, shaky career, lack of a love life, and little stability on the horizon. Not I.

There is this fear that at 30, people will lose their looks. They lose their vitality and youth. When I said I was turning 30, more than one person put their arm around me and said,  “Welcome to the club,” jokingly but not. It’s as if mortality has become real, and time and space collided. In their minds they say this because the believe it all goes down hill from here.

But does it?

In the last 72 hours, I have had more people hit on me than ever before. It all started the day before my birthday, a dirty old man overheard me talking about being broke. He grabbed my arm and offered to pay any of my bills anonymously. I didn’t know what to say except, “Wow.” Something in me knew better and I thanked him and left.

The next day was my birthday. I was at the pool taking a swim when a female lifeguard, bushy taled, gave me this mega watt grin. I recognized it as school boy developing a crush. I looked down awkwardly, as if to shy away from this attention. While she was quite cute, I wasn’t prepared for whatever was going to happen next. She walked over and asked if I had a lesson with George, the Jamaican head lifeguard who rules the pool with an iron fist but is also an Aquatic Einstein. When she saw this advance failed, she apologized sheepishly and remarked she liked my suit.

Later that evening, I delivered a singing telegram to a 14 year old kid in cheerleader form. At first his friends were lukewarm. But as the performance continued, they got into me. One kid asked if I was varsity. Then I put my arm around the birthday boy, who was so shy and cute. This same buddy yelled, “Now that’s varsity!”

When I sang to the kid, I gave him a red lipstick kiss on his cheek. His little friends, who by this time would have kept me all night if they would have been allowed, swarmed in for the close up. Barely letting the celebrant breathe, they zoomed in with envy to get the red mark on their friend’s cheek. Oh yes, I was a hit with the young and sex starved. Either way, it felt cool and awkward at the same time. While the guys loved me, I could also be signing up for a certain registry if I wasn’t careful. However, I don’t think they would have stopped that show.

On my way home, I got hit on by a creepy man while riding The Metro North. His opening line, “Hi, I’m Nick. What’s your name?” Excuse me, that is rather bold. Wow! So I moved. It was strange. It was weird. It was WTF?!?! This was more sexual attention than ever. WOWSA!!!

The next day, I was over a friend’s house. He wanted to show me a song he wrote. After having battled various demons, by buddy now wants to perform drag, don’t ask. As he sang his song for me, his neighbor came over to borrow some sugar. The neighbor, a big man built like a tank, sat down and talked to me while my buddy took a phone call. He proceeded to tell me he used to be a skinhead and the beliefs of his people prevented race mixing. However, his skinhead ideology was being tested because he found out he was part Puerto Rican. Also, he liked to sleep with black girls. Then he told me about some of the crimes he committed. Then it hit me. This dude thought he was impressing me. WOW! I made some excuse to leave. Something about a dude being a member of a racist skinhead gang is such a no. On a positive note my friends song was good.

Just then, I decided to go to the deli and get some octopus as a treat. As I entered the deli, the dude behind the counter started hitting on me. Yes, the little Russian from wherever asked me if I spoke English and any other language. What kind of question was that? Then I realized he was only 16, and then he wanted to know if I wanted my octopus fried. I was like wow, what a terrible pick up line.
Sunday started peacefully, until a homeless dude cat called me. I wore a blue sundress to church, figuring it was one of the last Sundays. With it I wore red classy Marilyn Monroe heels. As I walked into church, I made myself comfortable in a pew. As I was ready to ask God for guidance and perhaps see my crush Church Boy walk in, I was confronted by a nun. An old shrew of a woman, she had the classic habit and evil eye my father speaks about when he recounts the horror of his Catholic School days. Thus this is why being Catholic is like a heroin habit. It’s bad for you, but you can’t quite kick it no matter how hard you try. Even if you do, you always end up back where you started.

“This is church!” The woman sneered in a heavy accent from somewhere in the former Communist block.

I nodded my head aware of where I was. Yes, church.

“This outfit is not appropriate for church. It’s appropriate for the outside, for amore.” She glowered. Now her eyes were so red I wanted to call an Exorcist. I was a slut in the house of God.

I said nothing. I wanted to tell her I was homeless and this was the only thing I owned. I wanted to point out a woman on the other side of the church was wearing something more scandalous. Oh, and maybe I should have told the old corpse that at least I was in attendance at the House of God unlike the rest of those who lived in our sinful city. Not to mention some people would probably enter in short sleeves, cargo shorts, and flip flops. Perhaps they deserved her sermon.

When I didn’t respond to her crazy, she yelled, “PRAY!” Then she made a shooshing motion with her hand and off she went. After which she made her way to the back and made some fuss to a parishioner who was old and overdressed and not to mention overweight. The parishioner, who still had some grounding in reality, escorted the piece of driftwood out and gently reassured her at least I was in attendance. Either way, throughout my 20s nothing like this ever happened to me.

After exiting church, I was walking to my deli and a white haired dude in a car hit on me. He asked me where I was going and if I needed a ride. I told him I was meeting my mother which made him speed off. Either way, between being yelled at by a nun and now this. Wow.

Then I went to my deli, and got hit on again by a Russian dude. He asked me what I was doing later, and if I could help him with a home improvement project. It wasn’t even eleven o’clock and I had already had quite a day. In my heart and in my mind, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.

Junior high had been dateless and high school there were no men in site. My twenties saw the earlier part either with men who didn’t want me, crazy men, or bad choices in general. Towards my mid and latter twenties, the focus became so much so on the career that I neglected to date and most nights when I wasn’t performing stayed in. I did more in those years than I thought possible, and did little to seek male attention. And now it is flying at me. Actually, male and female attention.

Later I called my pops. He asked if my plans included a date or boyfriend. I told him I had a record number of men hitting on me. He asked if any were worth anything. I told him I didn’t know, I was still getting over the shock. However, I left out the part about women hitting on me. Hey, you have to keep all your options open I suppose.

I told my friend about the time I had been having. She told me perhaps the universe was telling me it wasn’t the end of the world, but the beginning of another chapter.

My friend’s granddaughter said, “Or April looks good. She’s not too fat, she’s not too skinny. She’s just right.”


Saturday, September 27, 2014

30 Things I Learned in 30 Years

Yeah I am 30. Yes, the big 3-0. Ought oh. Oh no. Here she goes. Yes, NYC's very own puppet girl is 30!!!

Now here are 30 things I have learned in 30 years. You ready?.....

1. When in a depression, it is amazing how a shower and fresh clothes can make things better.

2. The cooler and sexier you try to be, the most desperate you come across. #truefact

3. Getting fame and recognition for your gifts is a wonderful thing, but don't get hung up on it. There is no substitute for the work.

4. Negative people are like quicksand. They will always try to drag you on down.

5. When in doubt, close the blinds.

6. Some people get lucky for whatever reason. And sometimes they continue to get lucky. But if you work hard, you will pass them up, because luck doesn't last forever.

7. If a guy has a 1-800 number, lose his number fast.

8. If a guy is right out of prison he will be well behaved. Not just because this is his first chance with a lady, but he also needs a place to stay.

9. Always tell someone you love them when you do. And if you fight with someone you love make up with them. It's beyond words when it's too late.

10. People who continually belittle others and cattily gossip about what successful people achieve will never be successful.

11. Ice cream cures the blues

12. Most men believe they are 10's in bed, but most men are mostly 5's.

13. Be yourself. You are the most unique gift the universe has to offer.

14. The only way through the darkness is to keep going.

15. If opportunity does not knock, build your own door.

16. Friends are more important than lovers. They will be there when the loves screw up. And trust me, your lovers will.

17. People will tell you that you have no future or imagination. You must know you have a future and imagination. If you know this, these people will continually eat your dust.

18. Always learn. Always sharpen your tools. You never know what might come in handy.

19. Wear the captain's jacket even if it scares you.

20. If you are betrayed by a friend, write it off as a loss. Know for the one friend lost, ten better friends are out there.

21. Sure, it is a man's world and the paradigm oppresses women. But we all have a strike or two against us and we need to work with it the best we can.

22. Revenge is sweet, but kharma is much sweeter and more creative than you could ever be.

23. If you have a goal, go for it. Don't ask questions and don't think it through too much or you won't do it.

24. Despite what others say, don't settle.

25. When in stress, remember one day what you are stressing about won't matter.

26. You don't need a relationship. Anyone can be married.

27. Alcohol, drugs, food, and copious amounts of cigarettes and caffeine solve nothing.

28. Sometimes the best thing to do is reach out to a friend and talk when you are feeling stressed.

29. If you do your 20s right, you will look back and say, "Jesus, 22 was fun but never again...."

30. Tell your hair dresser all your secrets. They don't work for the CIA and will keep them hidden.

Check me out

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Half Full

Two years ago nearly to this day, I had just recently published my book. About a month afterward, I was making the rounds. Many of my comrades in the theatre and comedy community had generously offered me various platforms for my publicity. One came through a show at a well known NYC comedy theatre. 

It was the weekend before Sandy hit decimating New York. I stood with two former Tischies from NYU. Both of them had interned with a well-known theatre company. One girl, Megan, had trained at Experimental Theatre Wing and had SNL dreams. The other, Tilly, had done her training through the Meisner Extension. Both were disillusioned I soon found out as the conversation unfolded.

Megan had given up acting after her experience interning, because she felt burnt out. She also expressed that NYU had been artistically and academically so rigorous that now she was working as a makeup artist. In the next breath, Megan admitted that while she was burned out on acting, she missed performing and wasn’t happy with her work. She grudgingly did it because it paid the bills.

Tilly had been a star at the Meisner Extension and then ended up at the Classical Studio for her advanced training. In between, she did the summer at this theatre company like Megan had. Like Megan, Tilly too was burned out on acting but was somehow still doing it. Since graduating, Tilly had abandoned some of her aspirations in the theatre and was doing plays wherever. She relayed that she was in rehearsal for Sex With Zombies and Aliens: A Space Aged Drama. I could already tell this contrived piece was penned by a writer that was trying to be a comedian but the jokes were probably bathroom humor level. While I did not have a crystal ball, I could tell this painfully desperate piece was a craigslist effort in the making.

As they both spoke, they seemed to cut me out thus I functioned as the middle woman in this boat ride on the River of Broken Dreams and Self-Pity. At this theatre company, they apparently played favorites. Both Tilly and Megan were not on the favorite end for one reason or another. These things happen in the acting world. I know from experience. There have been times I was a favorite, but there have been times I wasn’t. It was like these two were stuck on a snag and resentment based on their experience at this place. I wanted to tell them this wasn’t the only theatre in town. For Goddssakes this is only New York City. I wanted to recommend that they go to where it was warm.

 I did after a hellacious training experience my first year at NYU, and ended up at the Lee Strasberg Institute where I believe I had some of the greatest teachers in the world, hands down. My father petaguagean had a simplistic way to get into character, hence the term The Method. I still speak to my old classmates and teachers and fondly remember those red doors. I rarely think let alone speak about my first studio. So yeah, why the hell were they looking for oranges in the hardware store? Not every theatre or director will like you. It’s what being an artist is.

Then Tilly lamented, “You are either one of the cool kids or you aren’t.”

This is true. However, the cool kids always change on a dime. My first year doing comedy, I saw people who were on Last Comic Standing shine and be lauded as the next big stars. Years later, I see them aimlessly wandering around Brooklyn looking for spots. Then Megan asked Tilly, “Are you frustrated.”

Tilly mentioned she was. Frustrated. It’s a feeling I know all too well as an artist. The phone isn’t ringing and the less deserving are moving ahead. The ideas are popping out but no one is listening. You are well trained but no one knows about you. Yes, as a woman in comedy I know the sensation of getting kicked in the gut when I am bumped by a less talented male headliner because the producer is afraid I will ruffle his feathers by outshining him. I have experienced all these things and more. Add in being passed over for things on a technicality.

Then she mentioned she was. I asked Tilly what she was going to do about it. Only two years earlier I had felt her pain, one of the many comedy cattle in the city of New York. After being sexually harassed by a male booker, I felt discouraged. Male headliners propositioned me for sex over and over. No one wanted to listen to anything a girl carrying puppets had to say. I was being worked to death at a hole in the wall comedy club as an open mic host, and being given the worst spots one could get. The club owner wasn’t giving me what I wanted.

So at my friend Joe Cannava’s urging, I wrote my book. Then I published it. I focused on what made me who I was and stopped feeling so damn sorry for myself. These things were my personality, my puppets, and my ability to create my own work. Basically, I got out of my own way. I had chosen this profession, no one else. It is one where you are told you are likely to fail going in. When I asked the million dollar question, Megan and Tilly looked at me as if I informed them they had a flesh eating virus and only minutes to live. How dare I crash the boat ride on the River of Self-Defeat? Then I excused myself. Nothing new was going to be gained from this conversation.

At that moment it occurred to me that this is why a lot of people don’t make it in my field. It’s not lack of talent or lack of dreams. It’s a terrible attitude. Some of it is a sense of entitlement based on where they trained. Then add in the competition is in fact staggering. Of course it is a thousand mice going for one piece of cheese, and only one can have the cheese. But it is the defeatist mantra where you focus your energy on what you don’t have rather than what you do.

Aside from self-defeat and negative whining, jealousy is another trap performers fall into. I had an acting teacher in a summer theatre program, Jay O’Bierski, who used to tell us not to gossip. He would make a sing a song that went, “I’m going to get, out of the shit, yes, yes, yes.” At the time, this was a crazy concept. We were teenagers. We wanted to gossip. We were at a theatre camp, it’s what you did. Years later though, it all has sunk in and made sense.

Early in my comedy career, in my 50 dollars and a burger road gig phase, I used to go on road trips with other comedians. We would begin talking about say Bob Jones and how someone did a gig with him. For the first two minutes the conversation was nice. Then immediately, it turned into an assault on Bob and his character. Then someone would mention Bob was on TV. Suddenly, Bob wasn’t all that funny. Then it was Tom and we would go down the list. It felt superior to trash others in those days. I was fearful, I was insecure, and I had dreams I wasn’t sure would ever materialize. However, my dreams were not materializing because I was focusing on others and not myself.

When I began creating my own work, my fate changed and so did my outlook. Doors opened because I built them, and people with things to offer began to knock. While I would like to thank talent, it was more or less action that put me in a favorable position. As my luck altered, I found myself on  the other end of the gossip stick. Those who had given me car rides were now spewing venom about me. When word got back to my ears, it hurt. My little heart was shattered. It shouldn’t have surprised me. 

These bottom feeders were just being who they were. In a twist nearly out of the Bible, one young woman I had severely character assassinated came to my defense when my so called friends so badly about me. She mentioned she didn’t know anyone more deserving with more of a work ethic. Over time, the rumor mill has claimed both she and I have had a lot of sex that we weren’t present for. However, maybe she got ahead because she had a good attitude and didn’t associate with “the shit.”

Part of getting out of “the shit” is not letting bottom feeders drag you back down to their level. About a year and a half ago, I had several people insult me at an open mic due to some of my progress. Some were digs at my writing, and others at my ventriloquism. It got me depressed, and I began to lose my passion. After a chance facebook chat with a comedian I looked up to, I lamented my pain. My comedy angel informed me there was only one way to deal with negativity, and that was to starve it. He told me that if I fed into it, this would only make it worse.

Days later, as if in an effort of some flight of angels, I saw a former college classmate of mine on the street. This young woman was on Broadway at the time, and has a voice that is soulful like that of Whitney Houston. As she saw me, she hugged me and complimented me on my progress with my puppet children. It flattered me, because her life was going so well, but also because she was so positive and it seemed no one, anywhere was going to be happy for me. Then it hit, the magic word was me, me, me. And to think, she was the damn singer here. Point being, successful people are able to be happy for and appreciate the gifts of others. They realize that while they might have one gift, someone else can have another and we can all exist peacefully. In case you didn’t realize it, a performer that isn’t catty is more rare than a black diamond in NYC. After that two day universe God shot from the theatre and comedy worlds, I no longer indulged in “the shit” and haven’t been back since.

As a matter of fact, the essence of theatre and film is the collaboration of talents. During my book signing event this summer, it happened due to the fact I wrote a book. My skill as an emcee made the event move smoothly, and May Wilson made an appearance. However, my fellow singing telegram company comrades shined by lending their talents to the cause. Some had superior vocal ranges that I will never have, and belted out a song and musical comedy routine that made the audience applause. Others were daring, dressing in drag or doing burlesque, two things I have yet to master. Then my boss lent his knowledge of the industry as well as his love for both his employees and clients alike. This was the only way this could have ever happened…..appreciation for others.

Then of course sometimes we sell ourselves short. We believe we will always be the bridesmaid and never the bride. That it will never be our turn. I felt that way when my book went into the NYU Bookstore and the Brown University Bookstore. At NYU, my alma mater, I was shelved with a comedienne who had just sold her book rights to a Hollywood studio. At Brown, I was shelved next to a MacArthur Fellow. Both made me feel intimidated. I would never be that successful. Damn them both. Then it hit me, I was sharing shelf space with them. I had written a book. If I kept on my journey, maybe I could sell my book rights to Hollywood. Maybe I could be a MacArthur Fellow. They were winners, and if I kept on course I could be a winner too.

Then I remembered my early days in the city, where I followed people who are now on network television. Or at the time, they were making the rounds on network television. The truth is, while it scared me, I learned a lot. In order to get good, you need to be around good. Heck, Sir Laurence Oliver lamented in his autobiography about his understudy, a bright young actor named Anthony Hopkins who was the bane of his existence because he was daring and talented. While this was true, imagine the dread poor young Tony from Wales must have felt waiting in the wings, ready to replace the genius and legend if something were to happen. Those were big shoes to fill.

This being said, of course we get frustrated. Of course it’s not fair. Of course it is oh so tempting to give up. That is when you have to look at the big picture. If a door is not opening, maybe it is time to build one. That way, knocking can occur. Don’t focus on what isn’t happening, focus on what is. Stuck, feel inspired? Take a class. I took several this summer and one recently that refocused my energies and changed my life. Waiting for the phone to ring? Write. Have a thought or idea, get it on paper before it flies out of your head.

Yes, there is so much that is intangible. Yes, there is a lot you cannot control. No, you should not and cannot be defeated.

There is a difference between powerlessness and helplessness.

Powerless you may be. Helpless you are not.

Remember those words on your journey and walk through a life in art. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

This Charming Man (The Smiths)

Things have been strange lately regarding someone from my past. It’s not someone I had a deep involvement with. Friendly acquaintance and school mate would be more apt terms. I met him when I was 18 and new to the city. Then again, he was 18 and new to the city as well. We were starting first years at NYU. 

The whole place seemed weird. This had always been a dream of mine, to study acting in New York. Here I was at the studio I had always dreamed of too. The doors were glass and the place smelled as if there were hopes and tears of aspiring theatre students in the floors of each room engrained in the wood. I still remember meeting him, and how he just had these piercing, dark, mysterious, eyes. In a way they scared the hell out of me, probably because deep down I feared I was some sort of phony and the university had let me in by mistake. Years later, I would find out I suffered from what is known as Imposter Syndrome.

The fellow with the piercing, dark, mysterious piercing eyes seemed confident in a way I wasn’t. He knew himself in a way I didn’t. I had to convince everyone of everything, including myself. He didn’t have that problem. Maybe it was confidence. Maybe it was life was easy for him and he was blessed that way. Maybe it’s a man thing, part of being on the upper end of the paradigm where they are born without the self-doubt women are gnawed and plagued with on a daily basis.

There was a light about him, and he shined first year. He wasn’t like the others who shined first year that would later burn out on acting never to pick up a play let alone enter a theatre again. I had a feeling the whole theatre thing would be good to him. Life would be good to him. Again, he was blessed and lucky that way. Maybe the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes had magical powers unbeknownst to me.

I wasn’t so lucky or so blessed. I wasn’t born with his natural charisma or charm. First year was a nightmare for me as New York handled me like a misbehaved puppy dog. Over and over, the city that was supposed to make me a star was taking my dreams and puking them up on my over made up face, monochromatic wardrobe, and uneven fake eyelashes. Each day, I oscillated between anxiety attacks where speech was hard to depression so terrible I could cut myself. I never did cut myself, I was too chicken.

I wasn’t like the people around me, so arty and attempting to be different they were asinine balls of conformity. I hadn’t gone to prep school or boarding school. I wasn’t a slut, I wasn’t a prude. I felt the existential Esther Greenwood crisis, somewhat self-centered yet universal as I struggled to forge an identity away from my parents and hometown. Not to mention I loved puppets and still do. Most thought they were weird or laughed them off. The one with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes thought they were neat. It was during one of the few times I had the guts to speak to him my first year. It was one of the few times I had the guts to connect to another human being. One of the few times I didn’t take the emotional cowards way out and escape.

After my first year I ended up leaving the studio I was in. The place was unbearable for me. It emphasized imagination. They said they welcomed art and original thought. I found real quick that was a lie. My teachers were failed actors for the most part, bitter they had to teach and took it out on their students whenever they could. I especially found I was unhappy, putting myself on diet after diet to quell the pain I felt from being stifled.

More often than not, I butted heads with my teachers. My imagination wasn’t grounded in reality, translated, they wanted a boring choice. Boring like themselves. Boring like the dreams they still had about the careers that never materialized. My choices had no truth they said. Neither did the boring choices of the sheep who blindly followed them, nor did the choices of the dippy girls and pretty boys they favored.

One teacher in particular made my life hell, Ariadne. A frustrated, tired, worn out shell of a woman, she looked like Meryl Streep if Meryl Streep had a crack baby clone. Ariadne, named after the Greek Goddess by her theatre critic father, had the talent to make it but didn’t have the guts to take it. Then again, most bullies never do. Ariadne Schwartz had studied with our blessed mother petagauge before her passing years ago and had been a prized student. From day one, Ariadne had an axe to grind with me. She informed me I had no imagination whatsoever, and no sense of craft. Over and over again, we did these stupid exercises, and in return for her insulting me I would roll my eyes and make it obvious I was tuning her out.

Ariadne was eager to see me kicked out of the studio for some odd reason. I had done nothing to the woman except exist. In any case, she would go to the head of student affairs and claim I wasn’t listening to her which was a complete lie. She wanted to terrorize me, and did so because she was in a position of power. Most of the time, my choices were original and she couldn’t stand that. I had more of an imagination that she did.

 “You have no future onstage.” She said to me calmly during the conference we had at the midterm. I felt crushed. This was my dream. I just cried. Her bug eyes fixed on me, as if she defeated the plant named Audrey and now bug girl could reign supreme.

Ariadne looked satisfied that my soul and spirit were successfully crushed. I was looking at leaving New York, and my parents suggested I maybe switch life goals. Deep in my heart I knew this was right. Someone at Tisch suggested Lee Strasberg and off I went. I went to a place where the teachers loved to teach, and the learning environment was healthy.  My refuge was an artistic home where the Method made sense, and our teachers didn’t trash talk other techniques. No one such as Ariadne would have been allowed on faculty at Strasberg. Since Ariadne, I have gone on to perform comedy and have been on national television several times. I also write and star in my own work. The best she ever did was no pay theatre work here in the city.

Who has no future on the stage now, bitch?

Either way, when I left that studio, I left the boy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. He became a face filed in a part of my life I wanted to forget as things steadily got better for me. Slowly, the wardrobe saw more colors. The lipstick became less loud, and the fake eyelashes became a thing of the past. So did any thoughts of the comrades from my old studio.

I would see friends from that place, and we would still be friends of course. Inside, they brought back memories of something I sought to forget. Sometimes I would feel anger about what I had experienced the year before. Other times, I would get this sense that they were mad I left, and that in some ways I had left a cult. Then again, that particular studio was a religious compound in a sense. You were either one of them, or you were not. They were intolerant of other forms of the Method and other techniques. I was at Lee Strasberg, the evil empire. It was time they condescend or completely ignore me.

I didn’t have that experience with the boy possessing those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. He always waved when he saw me, not forming an opinion as to why I stayed or went. Unlike many busybodies, he seemed to have a life. I saw him twice really to be fair, once he was playing guitar with an upperclassman in a hole in the wall joint in Chinatown. They looked like the young Beatles. I was set for perform with May Wilson, and I looked like some tranny had kidnapped me and did my wardrobe. They came and left and I went on two acts afterward.

Then I saw him again at some party where I was relatively drunk. The poison helped calm the nerves that were still ever present in my young body. I said something to piss him off, I know that much. It was pertaining to a theatre company a classmate of mine started. Feminist voiced, they put on weepy pieces where everyone was raped in some way, shape, or form. “There was a lot of rape going on, and I didn’t have time for it,” I stated. He didn’t find it funny. I only know this because someone told me later what transpired.

Third year we had an academic class together. He still had those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. The hair was a mix of a young Beatle still but now with a smatter of aspiring Beatnik. There were a lot of folks from my old studio there. I felt weary to and from class, feeling a ripping in my stomach. It was the same gut wrenching kick I felt whenever I walked through the glass doors of the hell I had tried to escape from. Sometimes in my mind I felt them judging me as inferior. Like the haunts in Harry Potter, I always tried to run from them after class had dismissed.

I judged them too. After all, I felt it only fair and justified. Sure, my life was working out, but they reminded me of everything that had gone wrong that first year. As the semester went on, I found I was actually quite hard on them, and they were not evil at all. That time in my life wasn’t happy, and I found it easier to vilify them than to let go of the resentment I felt, and let them symbolize a place that had wronged me. Actually, they turned out to be imaginative, fun, and engaging. The one with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes turned out to be the most insightful and he also had a wicked sense of humor. Thus we became friendly once more.

One day, through idle chatter I found they had elected to leave the studio I had escaped from. At NYU, two years of primary training is done, and then one elects to do advanced training. I had broken the mold after being put on probation by my primary training studio, and thus the first year counted as part of my advanced training. My two years at Strasberg, however, were more artistically and academically successful. As we talked, the group revealed that they had the same thoughts I did about the studio I left. They felt it was a mecca for maladjusted, frustrated actors who were afraid of the industry that were now teaching, and frankly were angry about it. Some of them even told me they admired my courage to jump ship when I did. The young man with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes was most vocal.

Through the conversation, he mentioned he was doing Experimental Theatre Transfer Track and he was much happier. Then his eyes lit up, yes those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes, as he mentioned possibly studying abroad. I found myself comfortable, as if I were relaxed among a group of peers. That part of my life suddenly didn’t hurt as much. I didn’t want it to, and it didn’t have to.

Life was crazy in other ways, still. The gnawing anxiety and feeling of never being enough still ate at me. Most of the time, although it was only once a week as opposed to every second of every day, I still felt like an imposter. While school was better than it had ever been, my life choices dictated that I didn’t like myself so much. I was in a so called “adult” relationship that progressed to the level of dysfunction of a bodybuilder on steroids. Slowly, I isolated from my friends and school became harder and harder. Yet somehow, I still maintained A’s for the most part. Needless to say, as the quicksand of that craziness pulled me down, the boy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes was just a member of the chorus in the operetta on my stage.

For the rest of college we didn’t cross paths. We graduated, and the continued gnawing anxiety and feeling of being an imposter cause the bottom to fall out in my life in ways I never imagined. School became an idyllic memory as the nightmare of the reality I had tumbled into smacked me in the face. Things got worse, and I almost made it my business to forget the past and the people in it, good or bad. I didn’t want to be judged, and feared they would do that. On the other hand, I was behaving so terribly perhaps I deserved a little ridicule.

I did see him once, and I was having a day. Running, I had spilled coffee on myself and he waved. That was the beginning and the end of our encounter. I don’t know whether or not he took note, or if he reported to the sources at the camp I was a bigger disaster than ever. I doubt it. I think the hello was just a hello.

As I struggled to climb out of the grave I had dug for myself, combination of bad decisions and low self-worth, I saw him on the front of a magazine. He was in a show. Yes, I knew them, those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. There was a part of me that envied him, and how things had always come so easily. Then there was a part of me that downright hated him, because his life was so good and my life had become such a struggle. Yet there was a part of me that wished I had his ease, the one someone has when their self-worth is at a healthy level. Yes, the ease that men have more than women. I was also happy for him. He was truly talented. I could say I knew him when and happily grovel like a peasant.

Life continued to treat my friend with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes kindly. We spoke once, and he was in another successful show. It was a fun, cute, but rather short conversation. I couldn’t tell whether he wanted to talk to me or was eager to lose me. Later that day, I would deliver a Hershey Kiss singing telegram proposal to a bride. In my adventure I would risk getting struck by lighting. This would help spark the inspiration for my book. Life would continue to get better for me. Maybe one day I would join the party that he was at.

We both popped up in each other’s news feed from time to time online. Other than that, our paths never crossed. Once again, in my life he became an afterthought as those who are out of sight, out of mind typically do. Recently though, things have gotten a tad strange if you will.

For the past several weeks I have been threadbare, what else is new? Before bed, I went on facebook one more time. Apparently Mr. Piercing, Dark, Mysterious Eyes is in a new play and seems to be doing well like he always is. Never a hard day in his life. Not that I wish that on anyone, and maybe I just see ease and no struggle because I want to play the eternal, professional victim. Either way, then I went to bed.

Well the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes appeared in my dreams. Except in my dream, he was my boyfriend! WTF!!!!????!!?!?!? He wasn’t even my type. For one, he has goals that he fulfills, and has never been to jail or drug treatment even once. There was no way someone like that would ever want me for real. Of course this was a dream. I had never been into him like that either. He was just a classmate. This was so bizarre. The Sandman was up to something and I didn’t know what.

Yet he was the best boyfriend ever in the dream. He didn’t have a criminal record or drug problem, and he still wanted me. Not to mention he was a good boyfriend: patient, kind, caring, and I trusted him. This never happens with the dudes I date. At the same time, he was a complete guy and didn’t let me push him around. We laughed and had a good time, and had mad, passionate sex. Yes, I looked into those piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. No, I didn’t feel tempted to cheat or to ask for an open relationship. No, I wasn’t my typical I will be mean and nasty the second you are nice to me self.

Then I woke up. Shit.

Wondering what the hell had inspired what went on, I went to his facebook page. Life was good to him as I suspected, no rough patches in his extensive feed. I was happy for him. Still, why was I dreaming about a dude I had never previously been attracted to? I had had rough, raunchy, jungle dream sex with an old school mate that I was acquainted with at best. Granted, the dream sex had been sweet but still…..This was risky dream behavior. He did buy me dinner in the dream, though.
I also saw he was dating a gorgeous, leggy Argentinian model. There was no way he was lusting or holding a torch for me when he could go home to that. I didn’t expect him to be. We hadn’t spoken in years. Still, I had sex with her man in my dream. Did that make me a dream wrecker? Dear God this was a mess. Piercing, dark, mysterious eyes could have his perfect luck, his perfect life, and his perfect looking lay. I had errands to run, and I had to shake off this dream before it occupied the rest of my day.

I told myself I had manufactured this because the winter had been hard, and the summer had been sent bingeing on work, wearing the career like a full body tattoo instead of a loose garment. As of late, my career was in freefall and I was on thin ice with my boss. Of course I needed an escape. I also told myself it would never work. He’s an actor, a man who says someone else’s lines. He’s a guitar player, a real suavecito. He’s a DJ, need I say more? Not to mention he is a Capricorn, a true ram in the china closet and wants to be in charge all the time. His perfect life and perfect luck would get under my skin. I would resent Lady Luck’s constant favor in his direction. I would give him all the bad days he never had. Maybe he has had some, but I would just give him more because I could. And when he was kind to me, I would rebel. I would eat him alive, ha!

After my errands, I stuck some new photos and videos online. My usual people commented and messaged me telling me they liked Mortimer, my new blue monster in the closet puppet pal. However, I got one new message. It was someone from my past. Someone I hadn’t thought of for some time really until my dream last night. It was someone who’s passionate albeit imaginary kiss I felt deep on my lips and deep into my core. Yes, the guy with the piercing, dark, mysterious eyes. My jaw dropped open in complete shock.

I called my mom to tell her about my dream fling. E Harmony had expired and this was the best I was doing at the moment. My mother agreed, this was indeed freaky. It was almost as if he had read each other’s energy streams. Either way, this was easily a “holy shit” moment.

Maybe this was the beginning of some crazy love triangle I would end up entangled in, one that would end in murder/suicide. Maybe this was just be being lonely and pathetic, knowing in my heart I would be too awkward and shy to pursue him for real. Or maybe the universe is gently reminding me that while enemies come out of the woodwork, so do friends, new and old.

Also, perhaps it was an amends to myself for the mini-nervous breakdown I have experienced this past month. It’s a reminder to be gentle to myself, I am only human. The fact I push myself is my best and worst quality. People might love me or hate me. I can only do my best. If that isn’t good enough they can eat shit and die. My imagination is my gift. If only it could clean my socks.
When I sleep, maybe Mr. Piercing, Dark, Mysterious Eyes and I can have more hot, steamy, imaginary sex. 

If he reads this blog, I think I might die.  Hopefully, he won’t read this blog, because he might get a hot, steamy, real life restraining order. “Officer, security, I am telling you, it was only a dream.”

Then again, actors aren't the biggest eggheads let alone readers. So he probably won't see it, after all, he has the Argentinian model......


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Waiting Out the Shit Storm

Lately, everything has been a challenge. I cannot tell you why. It just has been. Life has been difficult. There are days when I will admit, I would jump into the Hudson River, except the only thing stopping me is that I would live. Then there are days where I would want to get a semi-automatic weapon and do away with those who piss me off, except bullets and guns are mighty expensive these days. Basically, it has been rough.

The last several weeks have seen a shit storm. My landlord and I got into a shouting match on the phone, and I feared I was going to be evicted. After which I had my refrigerator replaced after becoming deathly ill. Apparently when the top half only works as a refrigerator and the bottom does nothing, you can get sick. Oops. On top of that, someone who talked me out of a rough time in my life had hit one in his. To solve his physical and emotional health crisis, he took his own life. As if that wasn’t enough rain, I experienced a rift in a group of friends of mine with a crazy bitch and her mean girl toadies that are jealous of all they have done. Every time I see them, they are always trying to start beef with me. It’s been work not to strangle them accidentally on purpose, so in order to save my sanity I can no longer do some things I wanted to do.

On top of that the career has been kind of stupid as of late. Everyone is dragging their ass with my work that needs to be done. Then there are some things in the air which has left me waiting. A film of mine should have advanced in this thing. Yeah….

Then there has been the no money coming in game, and the paralyzing fear of losing my apartment. As things pick up, people I have been dealing with have been absolute ass weeds. One producer for this project has just been a dick who jerks me around. I can’t stand him and I almost want to tell him, “Consider someone else please.”

The talking head job I had dried up which sucked. I enjoyed it and worked hard. Not to mention I was the most popular person on the app. However, my bosses were idiots and ran themselves and their funding into the ground. They invited me to stay on for free, truth. I was like, no thanks, bye.

Another woman playwright who’s work is probably shit invited me to audition for her contrived piece, but the way she had the invite there was no way anyone could schedule anything. Needless to say, I emailed her and she told me the audition slots were full. Maybe it’s better I didn’t work with someone who took her hackneyed piece so seriously.

After that, I was almost set to headline a theatre when the producer tried to talk me down from my original price. He mentioned the sound man was getting 900, him 600, and me 300. I have friends who don’t have my TV credits that do the same job for a few grand without getting shit. I was replaced by some local hack who later backed out. HA!

There have been a few signs things are getting better, but they never last. Friday I did a job for a family who owns an overpriced bakery in the Bronx. I have been there and the place is DIRTY! As a matter of fact, I believe they gave me food poisoning once. Not to mention their servers are notoriously rude. Anyway, the woman picked me up from the train and she was ghetto. I get there and did what I was supposed to do. Nevermind these people didn’t know which train station was which. The girl taking me back to the train was surly as a mofo. Not to mention she relied on me getting her to the train station, when she lives and works in the town.

Then my boss called me and asked how it went. He explained the client called and was super pissed and wanted her money back. My boss said she told him that they pretended to enjoy the show but they didn’t. It was all just an act. My boss asked them if they tipped me to which they replied they did. Basically, they were trying to rip my boss off and had planned this all along. Every once in a while, we get these clients.

Well so it goes. My boss told me that lately I have been snippy on the phone and he wondered if I took it out on the client. No, me being snippy had nothing to do with the client. Just the fact my life and everything about it has sucked. But maybe I should have taken it out on the dumbasses.

I also explained that they couldn’t get me to and from the train they were so dumb, and I was lucky I got out of that town because their stupidity could have killed me. My boss then asked if I took that out on the performance. No, but maybe I should have. In the end, they still tried to rip us off anyway.

On top of that, my boss asked me if I still enjoyed the job. When the clients aren’t assholes I love it immensely. For the whole summer, most of the people I delivered to were better than dreams actually. But when I get assholes wanting a free show or some axe to grind because they just do, no. There you go, honest answer.

I still got tipped, I still got paid. Those fuckers can turn on the television and see me from time to time and choke on their fucking poison canoli’s. Just for fun, I went online and apparently one of their employees made racist comments towards a bi-racial customer. Then the owner explained his dark skinned assistant was, “Trying her best for someone who was that way.”

Friday ended splendidly. I got into a street fight with a stranger. As I was having a meltdown on the street of New York, I was cussing at the top of my lungs. After all, the only thing stopping me from diving in front of a train is I might live and become a cripple and have real problems. The stranger yelled something and I told him to go fuck himself. He told me I was pathetic and he had more money in the bank than me. I screamed, “You do! You probably do! Congratulations, you win!!!” To which he didn’t know what to do or say.

As my life stands, it looks like I am on thin ice at my job. My career is at a standstill. There is a chunk of people who were once friends I can no longer call friends. My landlord hates me too. Not to mention while rent always gets paid, this is one of these months where it will probably happen by some act of something else.

On the flipside, I am dancing in the storm. I am writing like I have never written before. Not to mention I am also taking steps to produce and direct as well as star in my first short, and get funding. I have some amazing things on the horizon. I have also been taking classes with some amazing teachers, one being DW Brown, a Meisner expert in Hollywood. My support system has also been amazing. They have been the only reason I didn’t take the plunge from the GW Bridge.

The thing about killing yourself is you don’t give life a chance to get any better. While things feel like cold, hard concrete at the moment, that also functions as a proverbial trampoline. What comes down must come up. So now that I have hit cement and am banging my head there I am going to bounce back up. I have to. I just don’t know when.

By next week my landlord might not hate me. I might be back on my boss’s good side. My money situation might improve. My career might not be at a standstill. The world might end, but could we all be so lucky? Either way, as the shit continues to rain I am no longer protesting it. I am just letting it hit because soon enough this too shall pass.

Alas, and so it goes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Odd Couple

About a month ago, I introduced my friend Keeley into my blogs and her roommate Bobby in Matilda Rides Again (http://missaprilb.blogspot.com/2014/08/matilda-rides-again.html) . However, I was talking to a writer friend about them recently, and they informed me this dynamic duo needed their own blog.

Enter Keeley. She is a makeup artist and hairdresser who has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Originally graduated from NYU film, she is like a great many alumni from our sacred institution, brilliant at what she does but an otherwise maladjusted, somewhat entitled, art struck nutcase who will take the most dramatic route possible. After film school, Keeley discovered her talent for special effects makeup and this led to makeup in general. So she found a niche.

For years, Keeley subsisted as a successful makeup artist and has a lexicon of tales. She was successful, living in midtown after having struck a great deal in a luxury high rise. But all good things come to an end as the building was sold. Her rent got jacked up to market value. The place was spacious, and Keeley could have gotten a roommate or even moved to Queens where a guy she knows owns a building. However, she decided to fight the increase in a court of law.

Keeley is a Pacific Heights type of tenant, a nightmare for any landlord. Like the Michael Keaton character, this was not her first rodeo in eviction court. Keeley had lived rent free for a year in each of her previous domiciles as she battled her landlords. However, she had stayed in this particular place for nearly a decade without incident. Wanting to save money, Keeley reschooled herself on tort law and battled her landlord in court for two years. While part of me reviled her tactics, she was also a bit of an inspiration to become a complete dead beat.

Keeley fought the law, but the law won. So she was forcibly removed from her apartment by the marshal. Keeley went through a series of apartments. One was a swanky pad of an old friend on the Upper West Side where she basically had the first floor of their three floor duplex. Keeley got into an altercation with the daughter of the owner and her Puerto Rican pot smoker boyfriend, and there was alleged money laundering going on anyway. So the mother sold the place and Keeley was evicted. Then Keeley had a brief affair with an old Jewish fellow who had been successful in real estate, and she moved into his Yorkville apartment. Suspecting his maid was not in fact deaf but rather working as a spy for the government, Keeley got into a shoving match with her. An Occupy activist, Keeley insisted the government was sending spies, and this woman fit the profile. Once again, Keeley was thrown out.

Now Keeley found her way into the shelter system. A conspiracy theorist as we established, Keeley surmised from her findings that the government wanted to keep the homeless in their current state, and she also felt experiments were being conducted on her. Unwilling to be stepped on, Keeley decided to stage a revolution in the shelter. Keeley enlisted the help of two schizophrenics who believed Obama was following them, and an unmedicated bipolar woman who had delusions that she could read the minds of politicians on television. Add in the crack head who fancied herself a female Robespierre. Needless to say, they were all evicted from the shelter.

Homeless with no where to go, Keeley moved into a storage elevator in the facility her things were being kept in. She survived for two weeks by stealing food and using a friend’s shower. However, a storage elevator is no place to sleep. Keeley slipped and fell, and had to go to the hospital. Yes, she fractured her hip. Keeley, needing money and justice, attempted to use her legal skills to sue the facility. The case was thrown out of court. It was illegal for her to be sleeping there to begin with the judge said.

After getting out of the hospital and having her legal prowess humbled, Keeley needed a place to stay. In her desperation, she hit up my friend Nishu, the fairy Godfather and literal ring master of any and all uber eccentric New Yorkers. The Keeley drama, he decided, was too much for him to handle. Nishu was having drama of his own.

When he moved to America from India, Nishu had gone on a lease with a woman named Sandra in order to get a more favorable rent deal. A 35 year old who claimed she was 23, Sandra was his significant other on lease only. As per their agreement, Sandra could come and go as she pleased. Desperate for love, she dated racist Marines from PlentyofFish.com, and one was even trying to join the KKK when he was discharged I believe. This ended when Sandra faked a pregnancy in order to keep him. Needless to say, Sandra had spiraled out of control, and her stalkers were now harassing Nishu.

To make matters worse, Nishu was still in his playboy phase and had a bad habit of dating web cam models and other women who took their clothes off for a living in various fashions. One had even tried to kill him with a steak knife and was led away in a straight jacket. So Nishu’s ladies and Sandra’s stalkers were starting to meet, and disaster was unfolding. He needed to move and quick. Nishu needed to start his new place off with no drama. That is when Bobby enters the picture.

Good old Bobby is a low budget porno producer. Cam girls star in his films when they are getting their start and going up, but also when the sex industry has beaten the crap out of them and they are headed downward. While he is an operation that is low tech, he fancies himself a Vivid Video director. Bobby had met Nishu in his wildling days long before Hedda came into the picture and laid down the law. At the time, Nishu had done computer work for Bobby. In exchange for the hard work, Bobby paid him well and fixed him up with some of the women that worked for him. These women all turned out to be very damaged as all porn stars are. Yes, Bobby fixed him up with the one who tried to kill him.

Bobby’s films do no pay well. As a result, many of his women must resort to exotic dancing and prostitution. They feel Bobby is only a mere step up on the ladder of XXX films. However, the na├»ve ones truly believe he is someone. Often in exchange for roles in badly written flicks, Bobby forces the women to have sex with him. For the record he is about 300 pounds, never bathes, has greasy brown hair, dawns dark To Catch a Predator glasses and wears a fanny pack. Most of the models cringe when they speak of their sexcapades with Bobby. But in his mind, Bobby is a sex tiger. In addition to being a boss who pays his undressed help in slimy quarters, Bobby never pays his assistants. I know, what a guy.

Nishu and the rest of all unanimously are skeeved out by Bobby. Hedda in recent times has also put her foot down.Yes Hedda, the female zookeeper who had caged the buck named Nishu and tamed him  This is because Bobby brings his old, weirdo friends to Nishu’s parties and they eat all the food, drink all the beer, and are so strange they scare the regulars away. So Bobby is that friend no one likes. However, the only reason Nishu has even kept talking to him is Bobby has a boat. We all party on the boat several times a summer, and we hang out on there until the sun comes up. So yes, we kind of use Bobby. Hey, when casting a play in hell you don’t get angels as actors. The boat is dirty because Bobby is a slob, so even that excuse gets old, though.

After some thought, Bobby agreed to take Keeley in. They agreed that because Keeley was destitute, she could not pay rent. However, in exchange for free living space, she would buy him food with her newly acquired EBT card and clean. This worked out because Bobby is a complete slob and Keeley is a neat freak. Bobby’s building is a co-op of sorts, so a person living there who is not on the lease could get him evicted. Right away, there was some confusion on the move in date. Keeley came, and Bobby was not home. He believed it was the next day, and was shooting a short with one of his models. Keeley, angered and confused, settled every dispute the way she always does. She called the cops. The cops arrived, and all was settled. Bobby narrowly managed to avoid getting evicted, and Keeley moved in.

About a month into her journey under Bobby’s roof, Keeley had her jewelry stolen by one of Bobby’s girls. Employed as the star in his latest flick, Cucumber Love, a bondage laced narrative where the leather clad lady shoves a cucumber up her derriere, she had taken Keeley’s expensive earrings, bracelets, and dresses. Nevermind that Keeley could have sold these things and have some money to live on. A girl has to have a few things I suppose. Anyway, to his credit Bobby came completely clean and was honest. Yes, the hooker stole her things. However, unlike Keeley this working girl had a job and she had to look good for the nightly clients. Bobby admitted that there might be plans to return the merchandise, but he was not sure.

Keeley was not taking any chances. After Bobby grudgingly gave her the address, Keeley arrived at the house of the John. Unlike Bobby’s house which pretends to be a place of ill-repute, this was an all out brothel. Jade, the name of the porn starlette/prostitute in question, saw Keeley coming and panicked. She had been wearing her dress all evening and had performed a job in it. In a flurry in a head already filled with many bad decisions, she threw off Keeley’s clothes hoping the angry woman would not notice. Furiously, Keeley pounded at the door. She wanted her things back. Jade decided to tap into the dim light bulb on her head for one more suggestion. So she answered the door stark naked, implants and all hoping to prove a point.

Keeley was determined. She made her way into the brothel and demanded her things back. Jade denied having them even though Keeley saw them out of the corner of her eye. That is when the John, an Italian greaser, stepped in and settled the dispute. Keeley got in his face, and he did what any man in his position would do, he pimp slapped her. When Keeley got home, she was angry and demanded Bobby get her things back. Bobby refused claiming he wasn’t responsible if his women stole her things or not. So Keeley did whatever she could to thwart the production of his porn films. This included calling the Department of Health.

Finally, Bobby was sick and tired of this. The two got into an all out shouting match in which Keeley tried to trip him. Angry, Bobby decked her. A frantic, panicked neighbor, an older woman called the cops. Bobby was taken away in handcuffs and spent the night in jail. Out of spite, not fear, Keeley pressed charges and filed a restraining order. Meanwhile, during Bobby’s night in jail, Jade returned with the jewelry and dresses. She said she thought they would make her more money, but failed to impress her gentlemen callers. Jade, wanting to be an ambassador of good will from the world’s oldest profession, told her she was sorry for the pimp slap. She explained Rocco was protective of his women.

Bobby got out of jail. There was no way he was going to make Keeley leave. Sure, she had gotten him arrested and now he had a court date. However, the free food and maid service had spoiled him. Keeley couldn’t leave either. She had no where to go. Periodically though, she would remind Bobby she had a restraining order and could kick him out at any time.

Bobby was at the end of his rope with Keeley, and attempted to enlist the help of Nishu and Hedda by-proxy. During a very tense, bizarre, and awkward brunch, Bobby begged Nishu to control Keeley.  Present during this occasion, Hedda was rather vocal about how Bobby made her skin crawl. Putting her foot down, she informed Nishu that Keeley had dug her own grave, and perhaps these two deserved each other. Putting the nail in the coffin of his life pre-domestic bliss, Hedda told him he was not to interfere anymore with this drama that was a mix between soap opera and psych ward gone wrong.

Meanwhile, Keeley and Bobby returned to getting along. Keeley came to regret her quick decision to get a restraining order, and wanted to drop the charges. The DA, who was a young jack that wanted his conviction rate up, kept pestering Keeley and refused to honor her request. They were given a court date for September 11th. So off those two went, wasting tax payer time and money.

As the court date loomed, Keeley used the restraining order as blackmail whenever Bobby didn’t honor her wishes. Bobby then got back at Keeley by doing things to annoy her. In the sweltering summer, as she slept, he would turn off the air conditioner and roast her out of bed. During this time, Keeley got a job as a makeup artist and began to get on her feet. She was having a check mailed to the house, and Bobby promised her that one piece of mail wouldn’t make his landlord suspicious. Bobby got his mail daily, and denied Keeley’s check had come. Keeley’s employers had proof they mailed it. Then Keeley had the suspicion that Bobby stole it. Thus she reminded him of the court date looming, and he returned the check. Then they made some roommate rules, Keeley could not halt production of his pornos and he could not steal her things, and neither could his girls. It was time for order.

As one would believe, the court date proved to be a disaster. The DA was angry that Keeley was living with Bobby despite the restraining order, and told her she was in violation herself. Keeley in turn explained neither one wanted to go to trial. The DA stated he didn’t understand. Keeley said they were getting along and the state needed to butt out of her business. The DA, self-righteous and straight out of law school, explained he took the upper hand against scummy men like Bobby, and no woman in his town would have a man like this. Keeley explained Bobby wasn’t her boyfriend or husband, but a friend who kindly took her in and this resulted in and this was a roommate fight gone wrong. The DA now was flabbergasted. With a mix of an axe to grind and still wanting to get his conviction rate up, his assigned this twosome another court date.

After this episode, there was more drama. Bobby’s ex Janae came to visit. Back in the day, Janae had been a live booth girl in Times Square. Her aspirations had been Playboy. However, her teeth were crooked and while her boob job turned out well, her face was kind of odd. So more or less, she had to settle for the back pages of Hustler where all the well-endowed marginal looking women go. Janae had worked for Bobby when she started, and for a while he had managed her. The two fell in love and started dating.

The relationship was a disaster because most women who work in the skin industry are insane as we established. However, Bobby still held a candle to Janae. While she had put her adult film and centerfold ambitions on the back burner, Janae had other dreams. The shapely red head from West Texas had gone to cosmetology school, and worked as a hair dresser in a high end salon but then was fired after burning a customer’s forehead with a curling iron. This was in combination with giving the woman the wrong hair color. Mind you this was an Upper East Side Salon.

So now Janae had her dreams set on being a screenwriter. She wrote a horrid drama about a woman from West Texas who becomes an adult video star. It’s fictional, Janae was never a star. Anyway, during a luncheon years ago, Keeley had tried to assist her. Janae informed Keeley she was nothing but ancillary and couldn’t have any input. The screenplay is collecting dust as it should be.

Bobby hoped to rekindle his flame with Janae, and all weekend made Keeley leave the house so he could have a chance. It didn’t work out. Janae wanted to use Bobby to fund her never released screenplay still not produced ten years later. When Keeley returned home, Janae had cooked all of her food. Apparently, Janae is a terrible cook and burnt the bottom of all of Keeley’s pans. It was late, and Keeley wanted to wait to do the dishes until the next day. Janae was not having it though.

She waited until Keely got home and reamed her out. Janae claimed because Bobby was spending so much time in court with her, he couldn’t produce her film and it was all her fault. Additionally, she made fun of her for being homeless and informed Keeley that she was everyone’s maid. In a move to be nasty and get the ultimate shot, Janae informed Keeley she gained weight since their last encounter. Ouch, them fighting words.

Angrily, Keeley snapped back and called her a has been porn supporting player. She also told her she had crooked teeth. Janae stepped forward, and Keeley was on the assault. A grudge match was about to go down when Bobby stepped in and stopped it. He separated the two, and ordered Janae to the bedroom. Bobby comforted Keeley, and Keeley confided in him that she was tired, in pain, and had cramps from her impending ladies days.

Bobby has this supply of oxycotin that he claims he got years ago after a car accident. While he claims he does not sell it, Nishu has expressed his doubts. This among other things is why many of us don’t associate with him unless we have to. Bobby, feeling pity upon his friend, gave her a 60 mil tablet. Now that’s a lot of opium in case you don’t know. Anyway, at first she felt woozy. Then she began violently vomiting until blood came up.

Bobby began to panic. What if she was accidentally overdosing? He debated taking her to the hospital, but he had a domestic violence charge hanging over his head. He didn’t want to be in court for an actual felony. Janae, seeing this, decided it was too much for her and bolted. Keeley didn’t overdose but instead just had a bad reaction. Then she admitted that this compounded with other drama and now she was due in court at the end of the month again with Bobby.

Keeley lamented her existence, and told us once she had done the makeup of Melissa Etheridge who hit on her. In the tirade, Keeley reflected on her encounter with the Sapphic sister, “I should have slept with Melissa Etheridge when I had the change. I should have let her munch my rug!!!”

As she was bemoaning her life, Bobby called. He needed her home early. During accidental near overdose, he had neglected to mention Janae had nearly destroyed the bathroom. Bobby, although he refused to help her when she could have become an overdose fatality, was trying to be sensitive to her needs. However, now she was fully recovered and he needed his domicile dusted. So off Keeley had to go, back to being Bobby’s belligerent butler.

He could kick her out. It’s his house, but alas, a maid you don’t have to have sex with is just too good. She could leave, but alas, free room and board with the adventure is a small price one has to pay in New York. Part of me wants them to get married, but then it would all make sense. Either way, these two give me a lot to write about so the little devil inside me wants the crazy train to keep careening off the tracks.

Until next time.

Cue Odd Couple Theme Song.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bad Service: A How Not To Guide

Recently, I did a show in the Bronx. It was part of Farragosto, an Italian Festival on Arthur Road. Each year, I am part of a commedia dell’arte troupe. We basically operate in ensemble style all day, and from festival start to strike we perform with a lunch break in between. Each year, we go to this market where the customer service staff is so rude but the food is so good.

The cast of characters includes a surly father, his rude, spoiled surly daughter, and a grandfather who doesn’t want to be there either. All are very old school Italian mind you. Sure, this is the way we would all like to do customer service. But if we did customer service this way, we would be fired.

Begin scene, my boss Jessica steps up to the counter to order.

Jessica: How much is a plate of broccoli raabe?

Counter Girl: How should I know?

Jessica: Well how much is it usually?

Counter Girl: I dunno, you gotta weigh it.

Jessica: How much is it typically, let’s say for a pound?

Counter Girl: You’re acting like I know. You gotta weigh it. He’s the one that’s gotta weigh it and he’s busy. You got to wait your turn.

Jessica and I exchange a glance.

The Counter Guy Enters.

Jessica: Excuse me, how much is a plate of broccoli raabe?

Counter Guy: I dunno, you gotta weigh it. And it’s her job to weigh it, but she don’t want to weigh it.

Jessica: Can you weigh it?

Counter Guy: I can, but I’m busy weighing all the food my daughter doesn’t want to weigh.

The Grandfather enters. He is tired, possibly from dealing with his idiot son and moron granddaughter. 

Grandfather: Alright, I’ll weigh it. 

Grandfather weighs it and rings Jessica up without incident. 

I am up next. The Counter Girl is having a yelling match with another customer.

Counter Girl: You gotta wait in line.

Guy: But I just wanted a slice of pizza.

Counter Guy: Yeah, but the line is over there. NEXT!

Counter Girl turns to me

Counter Girl: What do you want?

Me: Octopus salad.

Counter Girl: Okay, you gotta weigh it.

Me: How much is it usually?

Counter Girl: I said you gotta weigh it.  Didn’t you hear me? You gotta wait ten minutes too.

Me: Okay.

Stepping to the side, I see I have no choice. The Counter Girl begins fussing and swearing because she is forced to do her job. Other’s approach

Man: I want a plain pie.

Counter Guy: We don’t have a plain pie.

Man: You don’t have a plain pizza pie?

Counter Guy: What do you expect me to do, pull it out of my pocket? It’s just the three of us working here.

Man: Then I guess I will go eat somewhere else.

Counter Guy: You go do that. Look at this man, he wants everything, he wants nothing, he wants everything again. He can’t make up his mind.

Man walks away peeved. The line continues to grow.

Grandfather approaches me

Grandfather: Sweetheart, are you being helped?

Me: Yeah, just ordered. I am wondering where my ocopus salad is.

Counter Guy: We’re taking care of it.

Counter Girl: Next. Come on, step up. I got things to do.

My octopus salad arrives.

I pay.

I escape to my table. Yes, it is delicious and was (almost) worth the hassle). 

Now do these people all need fired, or do they need a medal or doing and saying what anyone and everyone with a customer service job has wanted to say.

You decide.

The End