Friday, October 31, 2014

"Demi! Demi!"

When I was nine, I had a horrible trip to church. Granted, most trips to a house of worship have this potential, because no one goes for fun. It’s not a water park after all. Oh, and children are forced to sit there and be obedient as crazed adults say nutty things to us afterwards. Not to mention out of touch clergy inform the congregation as a whole that God secretly hates you and that you are hell bound. Ahh yes, church.

It was Christmas Day, and my mother insisted on dressing my sister and I alike in green dresses and green capes. The green was a Christmas Tree green, and the matching wardrobe made no sense to either of us. My sister and I were hardly twins. I struggled with my weight and even had a trace of cystic acne at that age. Skipper on the other hand, had a thin frame that weight never stuck to and was on iron pills. She also had clear skin. The two of us looked so different and acted so differently there was a theory amongst school mates that one of us was adopted.

That day, I had a terrible stomach ache. I wanted to stay home. After begging my mother, she told me that if I missed church that my dad wouldn’t let me go to the family Christmas party we were having. My mom is the oldest of six and my dad the second of seven, and my aunts and uncles were bringing all my cousins. No way I was missing that. So I decided I would suffer through church.

On our way to mass, Skipper blurted, “April tried to get out of church.”

“I had a stomach ache.” I informed her in the back of my dad’s overheated Buick.

“Whatever. You just didn’t want to go.” Skipper told me. That is when I reached over and smacked her.

“There will be no hitting or getting out of church or you aren’t going to the party.” My dad said as we got out of the car and Skipper tried her damnest to manufacture crocodile tears.

It was a normal Christmas Day. All the regulars were there, decked out in the best clothing possible. They would be seen as nothing less. After all, God was watching as well as the rest of the congregation. Then the CE church goers filed in, yes the Christmas/Easter crowd. They make their appearance twice and year, but then sleep in every other Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation. The CE crowd is special, because there are several young men who were regulars at Choice Cigarettes and several young women dressed like they should have been swinging from a pole instead of swimming to communion. Needless to say, we were all there.

As mass dragged on, I began to feel hot. I began to feel hot. Queasy and barely able to stand, I asked my mother to take me to the bathroom. Grudgingly, she took me. My father shot her a look of consternation, probably believing Skipper’s lie. In part it was because my trips to the bathroom were so frequent people were staring, but also because he probably felt I was just trying to get out of church. Communion finally came. It would be this and then I could go home and lay down for a bit. This was my mom’s promise to me if I got through the entire mass. Sure, I felt like I was dying. Still, being a Catholic is like having a heroin habit. You go no matter what, and no matter how the church informs you that God hates you, there’s no way you can ever stop.

Walking up to communion, I began to feel worse and worse. My stomach lurched as if I were on a roller coaster. Finally, bile came up my throat. Turning my head so I wouldn’t hit the old lady in front of me, I puked my guts out. Green vomit shot out of my mouth on to the pew to my left. Church ladies in the middle of prayer looked in shock and horror. People in the communion line stared at me, the ghost white child in the green cape with lime green  spew springing forth from her tiny mouth. Then, as if ashamed of their gawking and remembering where they were, they returned to prayer.

My mother, shocked, whisked me from the communion line and back to the church bathroom we went. Now my father was ashamed of shooting us the dirty looks during my repeated trips to the facilities. I was in fact ill. Despite the fact church bored the hell out of me, I wasn’t trying to get out of it. No, not on the day where the big family Christmas party was to take place. Of course, as this was going down my parents had a screaming match in the bathroom. “If you knew she was sick, why the hell did you bring her to church!” My dad thundered. Now it was all my mom’s fault. Convenient and typical.

“You wouldn’t let her go to the party.” My mom replied, innocent and doe eyed, knowing her people pleasing had put us all in an awkward spot.

“Now I can’t let Linda Blair go to the party. Not after that episode at communion. Your dad has a compromised immune system after his hospital trip. She’ll be puking everywhere, all her cousins will have random germs and they could kill her grandfather!” My dad was angry now, and made no sense.

“Stop acting like this was my fault!” I demanded. Both my parents stopped, ashamed of their bickering in the House of God. Then my dad grumbled as he found the rest of the ushers to eliminate the health hazard I created. The priest tried his best to continue mass as the Pittsburgh Catholic was laid down to wipe up the vomit, because for some reason the church was out of paper towels.

As this was happening, I asked my mother who Linda Blair was. My mom explained that she had starred in a horror movie called The Exorcist about a girl who gets possessed by the devil.  “She vomits during the time when they are trying to get the devil out of her body. And her puke is lime green, just like your vomit and just like your cape.” My mother informed me in a fashion that was both chipper and somewhat unfitting for the occasion. Then she informed me that in a way I failed because I forgot to levitate. Now I wanted to die.

When I got home, I was allowed to rest for a bit. Skipper, feeling bad for what she had done in the car, committed a self-imposed penance by waiting on me hand and foot. After some crackers and tea, which my tiny butler supplied, I felt better. It was a stupid stomach bug that kids get sometimes, and believe it or not throwing up gets it out of one’s system.

However, the day’s humiliations had only started. Seeing that I regained my color, my father allowed me to go to the party. However, the day’s humiliation had only just started. My parents, especially my dad, thought my projectile vomiting was the funniest thing in the world. He told all the party guests the story, as if he was a comedian, center stage, with a mic in his hand on a prime time show. Now I wanted to die for a whole new reason. Thanks Dad.

To make matters worse, my brother Wendell was no help. When we were doing a Christmas craft with my cousins, a family tradition led by my Uncle Ken, Wendell said, “This green is like what came out of April’s mouth. You should have seen her at church. It was pretty sweet.”

“It would have been even cooler if her head spun around.” My cousin Robbie said. It was one of those moments that I can safely say I totally hated my family. I wished I, not my cousin Robbie, was adopted.

“That actually happens in the movie the Exorcist. I couldn’t sleep after seeing it.” My Uncle Rob, Robbie’s dad, shared. Now our interest was piqued. What was this movie? We had to know.

Of course my parents thought this was the most amazingly entertaining story of all time, and told any one of their friends who would listen. A few weeks after Christmas came the Super Bowl, and during a shindig hosted by clients of my dad’s, they told the story to a packed room. This time as a duo. I wanted to pack my bags and run away from home. Had they let me stay home from church I would not have barfed in such a fashion. Their friends got a kick out of it, and shared stories of their children’s vomit episodes. No wonder adults stashed their elderly parents in crappy nursing homes. Stuff like this.

“April’s is the all time best. It’s just like The Exorcist.” My Uncle Chaz informed him. While Uncle Chaz was not a blood relation, he was  a long time client and close family friend of my dad’s who had known me his entire life. More of this Exorcist talk.

That is when Wendell, Skipper, and myself began a campaign for our parents to show us the film. My father put his foot down, no. It involved demonic possession and would scare Skipper. As for my mom, she agreed. Plus she didn’t like the use of foul language. Wendell tried to tell them that they used that language all the time in the house. “We are teaching you to be better.” My mom informed my wayward older sibling.

Two weeks following the Super Bowl, my father was out of town on a business trip. It was my mother with Wendell, Skipper, and myself. My mother suggested we rent a movie. During our trip to the video store, Wendell saw the Exorcist. “Can we rent this?” He begged.

“I don’t know. It’s too scary.” My mom said.

“Isnt that what you equated April’s vomiting episode to?” Skipped inquired. The spite was using complex words at this stage in her development. A sign of things to come.

“Yes.” My mom said. Then she thought a minute. “Alright, but if Skipper gets scared, the film goes off.” It was a good resolution. We could live with that.

The next day was Wednesday, ironically our CCD Day. If you don’t know, CCD is the Catholic equivalent of Sunday School, and occurs on either Wednesday or Sunday for those who elected to take the public, secular education route. My mother agreed we would watch The Exorcist as we ate dinner and then off to CCD we would go. Parking ourselves in front of the television, my mother pressed play on the old school VHS.

As the film went on, I was intrigued by Reagan. Although the film was slow at the start, a challenge for a 12, 9, and 6 year old, she managed to tell us the best was coming. As Regan became more and more possessed, I was sucked in. Of course, Skipper wanted to know if there was a medical explanation for her behavior. She had watched a documentary on television with our father about tribesman somewhere that behaved this way as a result of brain infection. This curiosity was laying the ground work for her future career as a doctor. She even insisted when Reagan vomited that the bile should be shipped to a lab. As if she were the keynote speaker at Vanderbilt where she regularly presents as an adult, Skipper insisted that the contents must be examined. Of course, there I was cheering for the devil. My mother sat perplexed on how she could have two very different daughters come out of her womb.

Skipper was not scared but fascinated. Wendell, however, proved to be a horse of a different color. Pale white, he had the same deathly pallor as I did the day I vomited in church. Several times, he visibly gulped. “Are you getting sick, honey?” My mom asked.

“I’m fine.” Wendell said in an authoritative tone. Yes, freaked out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.
“He’s scared.” Skipper said.

“Shut up!” Wendell told her. Normally Wendell and the little Smurf got along quite well. This was a shock. My mother signaled to Skipper to be quiet and the movie continued.

As Reagan vomited again, her head spun and she began to levitate. This was awesome. It was everything my Uncle Rob had told me about. When the film ended, it was time for CCD. She said, knowing we didn’t want to go, “Just remember, they always call a priest in case of demonic possession. So if the devil ever enters your body, you don’t have to do all the leg work Reagan and her mother had to do because of Captain Howdy.”

 “He was so scared.” Skipper said as Wendell left the room.

“Oh yeah, and he couldn’t hide it.” I told Skipper.

“That wasn’t very nice that you told your brother he was scared. Wendell has the right to be scared.” My mom told her.

“But he kept trying to hide it and lied about it. Skipper just called him on what was there.” I told my mom.

“Now no more making fun of Wendell.” My mother instructed both of us. “Boys, are sensitive, but they hide it. Just be aware.” She told us, informing the two young girls of their older brother’s burgeoning masculinity.

Just then, my mom went to enter Wendell’s room. “Not one word.” She commanded as she slipped into Wendell’s closet.

“What’s she doing?” Skipper asked.

“I don’t know but I can’t wait.” I told her.

Like he was sentenced to death, Wendell painstakingly brushed his teeth before CCD. Part of it was hiding his fear, and part of it was that he didn’t want to go to begin with. Just then, as usual, he realized he forgot his coat in his room. As always, he hung it in his closet. While his clothes remained safety hazards on the floor, for some reason he always hung up his coat.

Wanting to save time, he didn’t turn on the main light. As he put his hand on his closet door knob, a high pitch voice screeched from within. “Demi! Demi!” Yes, the exact words Linda Blair screamed as she was possessed by the devil.

My brother screamed in reply. I wish I could say it was a manly scream, but it was more or less a shriek that one would suspect would come from miniature Skipper and not him. Freaked out, my brother sprinted away as the blood curdling sound continued to come out of his mouth. He had to escape the mysterious fiend in the closet and pronto.

Seconds later, my mother, a teeny woman barely five feet tall, tumbled out of the closet laughing. Skipper and I also began laughing. While totally evil, this was totally amazing. My mother, now barely able to contain herself, still screamed, “Demi! Demi!” But broke it up with fits of laughter in between. That is when Skipper and I joined the chorus in tormenting my unfortunate brother. Poor kid was enduring puberty and now this.

Meanwhile, Wendell went from frightened to angry. He had been punked and didn’t like it. “I hate you all!” He screamed. His rage faded within ten minutes when he realized that this had in fact been pretty funny, and joined in on the joke.

Looking back, my folks taught us an important lesson between Vomit Gate and the Exorcist. Sometimes life could be embarrassing, and sometimes what you faced could be scary. But the only way to get around it was to laugh along with your humiliations, and cackle in the face of your fears.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Someday My Prince Will Come (Snow White)

Last night I took some Advil PM because I had neck pain and a severe headache. As I dozed off, I went through an Aldous Huxley-esque door of perception. Everything felt so incredibly real and in living color, and life was wonderful. If this was Brave New World, I would have taken what they termed a Soma holiday.

In the dream, my boss Bruce booked me for a singing telegram. It was for the prince of this obscure island nation. His name was Rainier, like Grace Kelly’s husband, Prince of Monaco. Anyway, his people had seen my photo on my boss’s website, and Rainier had relayed that he had seen every single video I had ever made. Rainer’s wish was to meet me. He requested that I do a singing telegram cop strip to a bikini, and then perform a puppet show afterward. I googled the locale. It was in some part of New Jersey I had never heard of. The bus and cab would have been an unworldly amount of money. I told Bruce this, and he informed me he knew of a special bus that could get me there for very little money. However, when the prince heard of my ordeal he chartered a car.

When I got to his estate, a secret no one knew about, his advisors told me to be careful. People wanted to catch Rainier red handed, and put him in a Bill Clinton/Gennifer Flowers pickle. He was next in line for the throne of the island nation. Rainier had to be careful.

Rainier was a fellow who was not particularly handsome but rather kind. Despite his station in life, he was humble. He and his advisors were excellent audience members and laughed the entire time. The Prince regaled me by knowing every one of my youtube videos, line for line for line. He told me he was charmed and wanted to see me again. I was taken by him as well, and didn’t want whatever this was to stop at that instant.

The following day, Rainier sent a dress and necklace to me from both Tiffany’s and Alex Wang. Rainier also invited me to dinner, and instructed me to wear the outfit. Ordinarily I would have told him he wasn’t the boss of me, but the outfit looked stunning. We ended up going to an eatery that was quite posh, and a plate there costs more than most people make in a week. Rainier was a gentlemen the entire evening, and did not once lay a hand on me. He also knew about my painful past with men, and didn’t judge me either. Oh, and of course he bought me dinner.

Even afterwards he didn’t demand sex. Instead, he continued to be the perfect gentlemen. He told me he wanted to see me again, and enjoyed talking to me. Rainier told me he found my honesty refreshing, and my strength my best quality. Just as he was about to kiss me I woke up.
Damning my existence I screamed, “FUCK YOU DISNEY!!!”

Then it all made sense. Of course he was  a dream dude. No guy spends that amount of money unless he intends to get sexually serviced in some way. Not to mention with men it is all a great big dick slinging contest, and any past you have with guys they take as an affront to their sensitive male ego. Most of the time, even a prince would break out a coupon in an establishment that expensive. Again, fuck you Disney!!!!!

Having my fantasy life disrupted irked me just a little. It makes the screeching voices of those who have been lucky in love and therefore judgmental all the more real. Yes, the idiots who tell me I have to look harder for a good man. Or the ones who live happily ever after telling me that my balls to the wall honesty depresses them. Then there are the idiots who keep telling me to go on 100 coffee dates as if those people live happily ever after.

Prince Rainier was too perfect. He didn’t reveal the chip on his shoulder from childhood. He didn’t reveal that he was an adult man child looking for a mother in the form of a lover. Plus the Prince in the fairy tales is always suspiciously present when the princess gets pricked and falls into a coma. And there he is, getting all sexified with her. I trust Millificent. I know she’s evil. Him, I think he roofied that needle. As for Snow White, she was technically dead when he made a move. DISGUSTING!!!

I have no idea what triggered the dream. Maybe it’s the dating talk with my mother. Maybe it’s my father telling me every conversation that I have with him that I need to settle down. Maybe it’s my very married brother telling me I am getting old and need to get married. Maybe it’s my sister Skipper who’s getting married. Hell if I know.

Either way, it’s ripping open every visible wound I have in that area. Yes, there were three times I nearly did get married and almost gave my parents the son in laws from hell. I still have a different mailing address because of Sean. Scott lied and misrepresented himself so badly that when this attorney at law insisted I could trust him, he came across as a bad legal commercial. Holden wasn’t dishonest, he wasn’t paying child support. He had legal issues. He had bipolar disorder and a drug problem. My family should be happy somehow I spared them those disasters.

Then of course there were all those times when I was accidentally the other woman aka Prince Charming had a queen at home he didn’t tell me about, or he led me to believe the castle was breaking up. Oh, and while I liked dudes in high school, they didn’t make a move. However, some of their dad’s were fearless. Translated, I know the Prince is sometimes a wonderfully disguised toad who broke into the royal closet and stole the crown.

I think what triggered the dream was the possible bipolarity of my life lately. I am princess or pauper depending on the day. Either I am so happy I could catch the sun, moon, and stars because things are so good, or I am depressed like I landed on a bed of nails in The North Pole because things suck so bad. It changes from day to day. I even read my own Tarot, something one should never do. I got both the Sun and the Tower in both readings interchangeably. The Sun is the best, The Tower is the worst. Even my psychic signals are bipolar, not that it is an exact science. But thank you Tarot for this vague reading.

Then there is the off chance that because my life has had no middle ground whatsoever this year that I am lonely and perhaps secretly crave a relationship. However, I have also experienced a shitload of sexism in my comedy career. So much so that when I walk in my door, all I want to do is slam it and be safe from the world at large. I have been degraded my male headliners, pressured for sex by bookers, and talked down to by club owners because of my gender. At times, I feel like to sleep with a man is to sleep with the enemy. And why would I want to spend time with the enemy? Why would I want to make myself crazy when all signals point to the fact I would be better off at times if I were born a man?

On the other hand, most of my fans are dudes. I like dudes and I like the levity they bring to any and all situations. I enjoy their support, and enjoy the fan letters they send. I enjoy sending them sexy photos when they request them in the mail. I enjoy laughing when they post crazy comments. I enjoy fighting with stupid third wavers who have no freaking idea what feminism is, and defending my loyal male fan base. Oh, and I enjoy cracking jokes that piss those stuck up feminists off.
Yeah I like guys. I just hate sexism. Sure I want true love. Yet I don’t have faith it exists. Prince Rainier might be nice if he shows up. April the jaded battle axe might scare him off. If he is a cartoon, I can make him say what I want. I can also erase him.

I dunno. Too much thinking. Time to get ready for work. Enough with the Advil PM.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Zit Popping Videos

Okay, time for a confession. I am super, duper addicted to zit popping videos on youtube. It's disgusting, and the addiction probably ranks worse than puppets or crack. But these people video their pimple popping and cyst drainage. Some sanitize the area, others don't. Still when that puss pops it's like a geyser.

One dude had this cyst on the back of his neck and he kept squeezing. Of course, every zit popping video has an annoying woman giving commentary. She always has a high voice. In this epic video where this dude had a big one on the back of his neck he kept squeezing and she kept trying to help him, but he refused her help. Then she started screaming when the puss was squirting. I was like, "Dear God, bitch. Shut up."

Most of the stars of these puss filled, cystacular wastes of video space are either red necks or people from the working class, UK. One red neck even alluded to the red neck method of popping a cyst that involved a pocket knife. He even displayed his skill on the interweb. The entire time I kept fearing he would get infected. Then I took a breath. Of course he would. This was probably one of my sister Skipper's ER patients!!!!!!

The giant cysts that squirt the cottage cheese are interesting,but those blackheads are just brutal. And there is this Indian doctor who narrates the procedure as he has some poor soul who's blackhead cyst is so big he can just scoop it out. I don't know what's worse, knowing your zit got that big, or having that ass weed narrate.

However the best of the worst are the videos where people squeeze their dog's pimples. One collie had a huge zit on her back. That thing was a squirter. The one that took the cake was the Mastiff. Those idiots popping were having too much fun, and the poor dog was in pain. I secretly wanted the infect the dog with rabies so he would turn around and maul the shit out of those assholes. I know it sounds mean, but the really had nothing going for them. At least the human zit poppers humiliated themselves by showing the consequences of their poor hygiene. Now these dill heads were humiliating an animal. Hell, I hope both dogs go all Cujo and kill their damn owners.


Of course I had a cyst several weeks ago on my leg. It filled up, and I was trying to get it to the point where it would pop. After swimming in the pool, I was in the steam room and saw it came to a head. I gave it a squeeze and all this gunk exploded. It was like a scary movie. On one hand, it was disgusting. On the other hand, it was marvelous that the human body can store so much  gunk.

Then again, I also had cystic acne as a kid. While guys asked me out as a joke because of my pizza pie crater face, squeezing my pimples became a past time. There was something about a giant puss ball coming out of my face. Sure, I was humiliated and refused to be photographed. But damn were white heads fun to squeeze. No wonder people like to humiliate themselves online. As I said though, I draw the line at dogs.

Then I remember being at the beach with my sister Skipper. She spoke about a labial cyst a woman got, and how she had to drain it. Skipper spoke about the cottage cheese like substance matter of factly, something that would make most cringe. The way she spoke about it made zit squeezing sound like a clinical exercise lacking any fun and enjoyment.

 Then I realized the assholes popping puppy pimples would be my sister's patients too if their dogs went rabid.

That is when I decided to go to bed, stop watching youtube, and make better use of my time.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Damaged and Proud

I recently released a country single called “Hell No, Joe.” It was written when I was at the end of my rope. Yes, with men and all they entail. It’s something about being lied to one too many times that finally makes a New Yorker write a country song. Sure, there are women who go home and cry after being lied to. I don’t take it lying down. I get even in a way that benefits me and makes them look like the losers they are.

At 20, I had my heart broken by an older man who didn’t want to be my boyfriend but wanted the benefits package. So I took my act to the comedy clubs of New York and proved funnier than him. Eventually we became friends, but his wife doesn’t like me. She wants to be a writer of some sort. Well, after she stopped speaking to me, I published my book. Hers is still collecting dust in the drawer.

Then we have all heard about the former fiancé to the point where we want to vomit. However, I got back at this abusive prick by putting him in my comedy routine where he will be forever vilified. Not to mention my puppet children, the ones he tried to take away, have joined me on national television. People have told me they enjoy my children, and we will never part ways again. I also think of my former fiancé terrorizing me and threatening to kidnap me when I didn’t return. These things only motivated me more. Now my ex sees me on television and is forced to swallow it. And he told me I was unfunny and no one liked me.

Of course how can I forget the liar lawyer? Yes, the one who I trusted after all that happened to me. The one who I poured my heart out to and told about my dreams. Well, he lied about everything and truly broke my heart. Sure, I was less than loyal but I never completely trusted him. What does he do? As soon as things end, the jerkoff slimes around in my social circle and goes after the fatter, uglier, more psychotic version of myself. I wouldn’t care, except he has pitted her against me, and there have been times her harassment has been so terrible I nearly had to take legal action. No matter, I get my revenge by living well and doing well. She hasn’t bothered me in some time which has been great. But it makes me wonder, why can’t my ex-lovers and their current squeezes leave me alone? 

So when Holden came along, he was the one I truly loved. Sure, he had to leave the area because he had legal drama. Yeah, he was every mother’s nightmare. But he was kind and had a good heart. Holden wanted to be my boyfriend. He didn’t want the simple benefits without the title. Holden was proud of my career and would tell anyone that listened about me. He didn’t make me give up what I loved. Add in that Holden never lied to me, and despite all the issues he had with drugs and bipolar disorder, Holden never pitted his druggie babes against me. Yes, there is a part of me that will always love him. However, there is a special kind of sting that goes with knowing love isn’t enough to remedy addiction and mental illness.

That is when Hell No, Joe enters. Oh yes, the one I thought was going to be the answer to my prayers after Holden. Yes, the one who laid it on real thick and made me feel good about myself. Yes, the one who it turned out tried to use me to further his career and for a place to live. I was the perfect target for that cad. I think that’s what made Hell No, Joe the hardest. It was as if he staked me out. Yes, April the lonely career woman. That is why I snapped and gave Joe his own country song.

Most women would probably jump off a cliff if they had my dating history. Yet I won’t. Nice guys don’t want me and I am okay with that. Many so called nice guys are judgmental pricks with a stick up their asses. The second they hear one of my exes was a fugitive at one point, they put some pep in their step. Not to mention they try to pin my bad luck with men on me. Maybe I do play a role in my shit luck with the male gender, but there is nothing like an entitled dickhead who never had a bad day in their life telling you how to lead yours. Bitch please.

Or add in the so called nice girls who have always done everything right. They are kind of disgusting to me, too. Yes, the ones who married and lived happily ever after. The ones who I scare to death. Newsflash, your husband wants me. He slipped me his number. I didn’t take it because I don’t want you to chase me in your black sedan. You will because you have no existence outside a man and your life is that empty. And it’s his job to sexually disappoint you, I have shit to do.

Maybe this is why my friends are such characters, because I can relate. I don’t relate with someone who lives on the straight and narrow and is easily successful. That person bores me and makes me vomit. I can’t identify with people who have never been so angry that they could choke the bejesus out of someone. Heck, I don’t know how to talk to someone who’s big goal is to get married and have children. Truth, just as I scare that person, that person scares me.

Eh, I have lived a little. So have my friends. Some have been to jail, and I have visited them there. Others have been to drug treatment, and I have visited them there. Then there are those who have made the front page of the news, and I have cheered them on because I identify with their antics. Of course some join cults and I marvel at their stupidity, but then I am there when they ascend back to Earth.

Recently I took a test on BuzzFeed. The quiz was entitled, “What Kind of Pimple Are You?” I answered the question and I got a scar. Yes, I have lived and have some character behind me. However, because I have lived I would give my last quarter to anyone in need, because I know how it feels to be destitute. I would also listen with a nonjudgmental ear to someone in love with the wrong person. Of course I would try to guide them out of that. Not to mention if someone did fuck up big, I would make them laugh about it because unless you have killed someone, nothing in this world is permanent. I will not help you hide the body, but will give you perspective. Felonies are where I draw the line.

In a way, I am glad I have had the shitty things happen to me that have been put in my path. As a result, I am not afraid of anything, even death. My bad luck streaks have always helped push me to the next level, because there is nothing like proving an oppressive bully wrong. I also know that in the end I only have myself to depend on, and lovers are like the tide, they come and go. Of course, I make less terrible decisions these days. However, every bad decision has at least one good story if the bad decision doesn’t kill you.

No wonder I wrote a country song. The Huffington Post Featured my video.

The next level is just around the corner for me. So to all that have kicked me and beaten me down, thank you. Without you I would not be the woman I am today. xoxox

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hell No, Joe

Comment whether you love me or hate me. This is the land of the first amendment. We are all entitled to our opinions

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hell No, Joe

Yes, I recorded a country song. I know, ballsy maneuver for a New York liberal who voted for Obama not once but twice. County is conservative music from the Heart Land. Most of it’s listeners would despise my political beliefs and probably burn me for being a witch of some sort. They would most certainly hate my friends who are gay and work as psychics. Hell, some of my friends are even gay psychics. Other friends of mine have actually done time for stealing armored cars. On second thought, those friends they might like, that is, if the chase occurred in a pickup. I do not own a pickup, and don’t even have a license. That is why New York is ideal. Not having a license is a good thing, because if I had that pick up there would be a high speed chase happening as we speak. I don’t like stop lights, and stop lights don’t like me.

Everything started when my father and mother went to Nashville. A friend of the family, Dr. Revere, had a daughter that was getting married. My father’s bestie, Dr. Revere and my Pops spend an awful lot of time together. Dr. Revere’s daughter Erica is currently a heart doctor in Nashville, and she met her husband Brad on E Harmony. So in order to kill time in between wedding events in the city, my parents explored the town. The parental units ended up in the Country Music Museum in Nashville. During his tour, my father developed an unholy fascination with Wanda Jackson. A deep, whiskey voiced singer, she toured and dated Elvis briefly.

Calling me from Nashville, my father began singing the Rockabilly Goddess’s classic, “A Hard Headed Woman.” Then my dad suggested, “You need to do a country song, April. You would seriously be good at it.” Was my Pops insane or was he on to something? At the time I didn’t know.
Then it all happened. Enter the nefarious Joe Pussy. (Not his real name, but his real name is almost just as ghastly).

It was a cold and rainy spring day in March of 2012.  My stress level was high, and my work load over my head. At the time, I was helping to pitch a pilot, releasing I Came, I Saw, I Sang, and promoting “Stay.” Things were very busy, and so was my performance schedule. That evening, I found myself on a comedy club show downtown in a dive I don’t often frequent. Some of it is that the dive is out of my way, but mostly because I think the owner is a bigger piece of crap than most greedy comedy club entrepreneurs.

Joe entered the club. Although I had only really met him once or twice briefly, Joe and I had many of the same mutual friends so I greeted him like I would have one of them. Years before, in the early part of the millennium, Joe had been on television quite a bit as a comedian and actor. Many of the programs he was on previously had been cancelled, but he still had clout in Club Land that I didn’t. At the time, I was on television somewhere in the world at least once a week, and still am on occasion, although my bank account doesn’t quite know that.

In Diana Ross style, Joe muscled the newbie producer wet behind the ears for a spot. Weak and without backing from the club owner who curtailed to Joe’s demands, Joe was added to the already packed lineup. I was towards the back and was pushed further as were many deserving comedians. If Joe had been a woman this would have never occurred. But he’s a man, and in the New York Comedy World sexism has infected the place like consumption did long ago. It’s a disease yet to find a cure.

With an arrogant swagger, Joe went to the place the comedians usually hung out. Sitting next to me, Joe asked me what the show was like and about the crowd work of the emcee. Yes, I had not been paying attention. I was pitching a pilot in LA, and I was having the last draft of I Came, I Saw, I Sang edited. Translated, my phone was buzzing off the hook. Then mind you I was trying to get in the zone aka preparing my set. So I told Joe the truth. In a snarky tone laced with gender put down, Joe remarked, “Then perhaps this profession isn’t for you.”

I nearly choked on the irony because as I mentioned at the time I was on television much more than he had been in years. Joe had clout in the comedy club world which is still a patriarchy and would probably have the primogeniture system if it were legal. However, no one outside Comedy Club Land really cared about him so that gave me an ounce of comfort. Still, it hurt.

Joe then began talking to me once we established we knew some of the same people, and quickly softened. Maybe Joe wasn’t as egotistical and chauvinistic as some male comedians can be when it comes to a female counterpart. I have found most guy comedians who are funny are more apt to give their female compatriots a chance, and stick up for them in the gender debate. Maybe, just maybe, Joe was such an ally. Of course, my belief that he might be was strengthened when he watched my set and invited me to a diner to hang out afterward.

At the diner, we hit it off. Joe was charming, funny, and highly complimentary towards me. It was a feather in my cap because at one point he had been quite successful. Joe was no angel. He had a bad boy past which included running the streets of Brooklyn and owning a topless bar. Looking back, it all made sense because there is a certain kind of woman hate required to do that job. Not to mention he was a Virgo, and a Virgo man is the most pig headed, backwards old fashioned lout in the Zodiac. So I should have seen where this was going right then and there.

Joe made me feel comfortable though, and for the first time in forever I poured my heart out to a dude. Anyone who has seen my act, read my blogs, or has spoken to me knows one thing, my history with men is akin to the movie Saw. For me to trust a dude is like Marlee Matlin hearing, it ain’t never going to happen. Joe took pity upon my terrible luck with the male species. Little did I know that he was beginning his manipulation, and I was the perfect target. I began to fall into the web of deceit that was Joe Pussy.

After giving me a Clarke Gable-esque kiss goodnight, Joe then aggressively began to message me on facebook. He kept telling me how wonderful our time was together, and how he wanted to see me again. Joe then called me, and we talked on the phone for nearly two hours and laughed. I just remember how charming he was, and what a positive attitude he had. This was different than the jaded New York comedians I had known, and the one I had become to some extent. Joe was well-read and was passionate about history just like I was. I asked myself, what was there not to like?

Joe was now in hot pursuit, and insisted that he wanted to see me again. We spent an evening in the park that was utterly perfect. Joe said the right things at the right time, and kissed me oh so sweetly. I had told myself Joe Pussy was a spring fling and not to get carried away. I had heard about his reputation with women. However, an older actress friend of mine, Jan, informed me a spring fling was how she met her late husband Ben, who she was married to for 29 years before his death from cancer. Mind you, Jan had three broken marriages before this. Perhaps this was the case with Joe. If anything, Joe Pussy made me feel like a princess, so I was willing to overlook his atrocious nomenclature.

I felt like the evening had been magical and wanted a repeat. Joe felt likewise, and sent me a text that he had a nice time and wanted to hang out again. Then Joe sent me another text telling me the next time he saw me, he wanted to take me to his favorite hole in the wall Italian restaurant in his Brooklyn neighborhood. In order to impress my new suitor, I wore an expensive dress, a Christmas gift from White House Black Market. Off to his Brooklyn neighborhood I went to chase my love affair.

Joe fetched me from the train and immediately commented, “I really like your dress.” It made me feel good. My date liked my dress. I was elated. This was going to be a good night. Little did I know my fantasy of Mr. Joe Pussy was about to be turned upside down, and the prince was about to morph back into his ugly beast self.

Joe took me to an Italian hole in the wall alright, because as we all know Dollar Pizza technically counts as Italian food. While this took me aback, I let it go. Perhaps the pizza was good. Well Joe spent a dollar on the slice and a dollar on the soda. I am awful at math, but I can tell you he got two totally four dollars, so he spent two dollars on me. No, I am not a woman who is shallow that orders the most expensive thing on the menu, but this was certainly on the stingy end of things. In case you are wondering, the pizza was awful. Then again, bargain pizza is always a sign of what is to come.

Ignoring every blinking light there was omitting from his presence, Joe slyly asked me about my career. At the time, a program I was on had just been picked up by the OWN network, so I was on Oprah’s channel somewhat regularly. I mentioned this to Joe, and he congratulated me. In this conversation, I also mentioned my pilot, my book, and my dance single which had now charted on the internet for five whole weeks. Speaking about my career to potential boyfriends is hard for me. It has been since the days my former fiancé made me choose him or the puppets. I know all too well the tyrannical, jealous side some male partners have where they believe they are God, it must be them and only them. Joe seemed to be quite proud of all I was accomplishing. I began to relax and the dollar pizza became an afterthought.

Joe then asked if I was doing any comedy gigs, and if the booker needed extra comedians. In the comedy world this is code for, “My calendar is empty and I am broke.” A red flag went up. Then I told myself it would make no sense that Joe would need to use me to get work, his calendar was probably full. Sure, it had been years since he was on television. Joe had clout with certain bookers that I didn’t. Despite the fact he wasn’t on OWN (my bank account didn’t know that either), Joe was very much a working comedian to my knowledge. I told myself to stop being paranoid. Joe was a man I could trust.

After that, the conversation shifted to Joe. He had auditioned for some film with a has been who’s name escapes my mind. Joe spoke about the film as if he was getting paid some serious dinero and even mentioned as much. (Note: I still have not found the film on IMDB). Then Joe mentioned he was hosting an internet radio show on a major underground network with a pothead trust funder who made his living making obscene balloon animals. As Joe talked, he told me the internet radio network was blowing up and they had some heavy hitter guests they were talking to. Meanwhile, when one is on internet radio they are either moving up in the world or going down like the Titanic. Maybe this was different. Either way, I liked what I heard, and my fears were assuaged.

Then Joe switched the line of questioning. He asked me if I worked a day job. I told him about the singing telegrams. I knew despite all the promise his internet radio show had, it was going to take time to pay. So I came right out and asked Joe if he in fact needed a job. There have been times I was on national television, yet I was so poor I lived off the generosity of friends, laundry money, and even food stamps. Joe assured me this was not the case, he just wanted to see which industries were taking off. Then Joe asked me how secure I was financially, and if I was set. Now the alarm bells and whistles were going off. Joe switched the line of questioning again, this time wondering if I needed a roommate. Now it was “Danger Will Robinson.” But then I told myself to calm down. Maybe Joe was seeing so much success he wanted to help me out.

Out of nowhere, as we walked to the train, Joe became quite controlling. Gone was the funny, charming man I had grown so fond of. He informed me I was walking too loud in my high heels and demanded I soften my step. As if someone who never wears the things know how to walk in them. This crazy and bizarre request hinted at an abusive streak. The bells and whistles were now nearly impossible to silence, and I didn’t like the nagging feeling I was getting in my gut.

When we parted ways, the sickening feeling I felt persisted. Then about an hour I left his company, it clicked. Joe had not been romantically interested in me in the least. He had pretended to like my act, my company, and lathered my self-esteem with compliments. Joe was using me to revive his comedy and acting career on life support. I wasn’t being paranoid, of course he was. Joe had not been on television in some time, and I was every week. I was willing to believe that Joe’s calendar was empty too. Joe had pretended he didn’t know about all I was accomplishing, but of course he did. Joe owned a television and we had enough of the same friends. My luck with men had been terrible and my self-worth tied up in my career. I might as well have had a bullseye tattooed to my head.

Yes, I was correct. Joe wanted to use me so he could ride my coattails to the top. My suspicions were further confirmed when I checked Joe’s online calendar and it was completely empty. I got further confirmation that my gut instincts were correct from a former friend of his, Victor. Apparently, Victor had gotten sick of Joe’s antics, which included seducing Victor’s sister and making the woman pay all of his bills. Victor backed up Joe’s story, that the luxury Park Slope apartment he lived in was owned by a childhood friend of theirs, and Joe lived there for discount rent. However, Joe had fallen upon hard times financially, and could not keep up with the cheap rent and the friend’s kindness was running out, aka Joe was facing eviction. On top of that, part of the deal was Joe was supposed to function as the super, but he had been inspecting the pipes of female tenants and had fallen behind on actual repairs. No wonder he needed a job and a place to live.

Joe made a big deal of wanting to see me that Easter Weekend. I knew after this discovery I could not let that happen. Joe didn’t call me Easter Weekend, and I didn’t care. While the pain still stung, I had fun hanging out with people that I actually liked during that time. However, a random link that I was tagged in with about 100 of my other facebook friends brought me to Joe’s page. A girl who looked like she aspired to work for Vivid Video posted on Joe’s wall, “Hi Joe Pussy, thanks for coming to my birthday party. My friends and I enjoyed your box of Altoids.”

Joe then replied, “Thanks for inviting me, Rachael. I had a great time. By the way, I really liked your dress.” My eyes bugged out of my head. Joe had used that line on me!!! What a cad.

Just to see who good ‘ol Rachael was I went to her facebook page. Rachael was a makeup artist and costume designer who worked on several Lionsgate films, and had even done some project with Steven Spielberg. Joe had posted several more messages on her page telling her in addition to comedy he was also an actor, and to pass this info along to directors. Oh, and he referred to her as “Beautiful” several times. It was as if salt and peroxide were poured into my gaping wound. I was beyond enraged. This man was a complete and utter bottom feeding waste of flesh, and I had nearly given him my heart.

Two weeks later, Joe texted me stating, “I have been thinking of you all week.” Meanwhile it had been two weeks since we had spoken. Joe Pussy had nearly succeeded into sucking me into his lurid manipulation, but I was going to see that he failed at this just like he currently was at show business. This was a man who made his life and livelihood out of outfoxing women, and now I was going to outfox him.

I asked Joe flat out if this was a mass text he was sending, because it was certainly vague and insincere, just like he was. Joe told me it wasn’t. Then I told Joe he was lucky I answered, because his first and second choice had other things to do so why not settle for number 3? Dick slinger the magnificent was not expecting that. So he countered by informing me that I was crazy. That is man code for he’s been busted and he knows it.

Joe was still determined. Trying desperately, because he knew he was like a swimmer fighting a current, he told me he wanted to rip my clothes off. Like I would let this potential STD risk do that? PLEASE! I told him to dream on, and that his lines sucked just like his comedy career. Then I ended the conversation with the obligatory “Eat shit and die.” Joe didn’t answer back.

Telling him off should have made me feel better, but instead it made me feel alone, unpretty, and unloved. I had never imagined being used and lied to, especially to further the career of a semi-successful shouldabeen. My friends, who are all wonderful, told me I should have been flattered that someone thought I was so successful that they were using me to get ahead. I was just plain disgusted. However, I wanted revenge and I wanted blood. Of course I was already planning to have the more successful career. But men like this disgust me, and I wanted to hit him where he really thought and felt. I wanted this failed comedian to be himself, his own worst punchline.

Then my dad’s idea popped into my head. Joe Pussy was such a turd that he deserved his own country song. Pen in hand, the words purged out onto the paper. Soon after, I found a sound engineer and recorded in a church basement in Brooklyn. The whole experience was trippy, but here I was doing this thing, driving this musical pickup truck, and having no idea what I was doing the entire time. I just had my wit, my creativity, and an axe to grind.

The recording of the song was somewhat therapeutic, and my feelings towards him softened. Perhaps I would not be as vicious as intended in the video. Well then it happened. I crossed paths with Joe Pussy. After months of not seeing him, I was in his neighborhood. It was not to stake out the manly disappointment that was he, but rather to perform ventriloquism with May Wilson on my arm. His neighborhood, Park Slope, is a popular one in Brooklyn so odds were I wouldn’t run into him. That is, until I did.

Joe was purchasing a Metro Card. He saw me and decided to give me the big hello, as if he had the right to speak to me after all he had done. There was a part of me that wondered if I should say hello, and make peace with this pretender that used me. Then the voice inside my head, the one that tends to make a lot of sense that I don’t listen to as much as I should, told me to keep going. It said, “April, there is no new information to be gained and you are not going to get what you want from this exchange.”

That is when I decided to keep walking. Joe then screamed, “So that’s the way it’s going to be, huh?!” From his response, I knew I had done the right thing and kept on going.

Now his fragile male ego had been injured by a woman. Joe was not going down without a fight. Seething with animosity, because how dare I reject him, Joe yelled, “You know what. I feel very sorry for you right now!!!!!”

As I put some pep in my step, the whole thing appeared funny to me. How often was he the one walking away and some woman he played screamed at him? Probably all the time. Now he was getting a taste of his own medicine and didn’t like it. That’s when I decided that when I made the video, I would go for the gusto.

Of course the song release and video were delayed because releasing a book was more work than I thought it was going to be. While the pilot I was pitching that go around didn’t get picked up, other projects relating to my book then came into the works. Thus Hell No, Joe fell onto the back burner.

After visiting my sister Skipper in Nashville, I decided the song had to be released, video and all. So when things calmed down this past year, I shot the video with Dave Harris directing me and editing painstakingly. Heather his wife was also a great deal of help. My assistant Julien Prevost was perhaps the thing that kept me from losing my mind the most as I turned into a yelling, screaming Lady Hitchcock.

So now I am releasing a country song. Like all adventures I am thrust into, this will have an outcome that will make me more learned and perhaps might even touch a few people. In the end, I hope it helps some women gain confidence, that they don’t have to be victim to a womanizer. I also hope that it makes those Joe’s out there realize that I have their number, and will be looking for them. Of course, the good guys can join the fight against the Joe’s. We don’t talk enough about the good guys.

In any event, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. Move over Taylor Swift. I am the ex from #HellNoJoe.

Check out my roasting of Joe in the link below

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cherish (The Association)

The last few days were spent on the beach. Yes, I had a girl’s get away with my mother and sister in South Carolina. Staying in a rental property my parents renovated, it was originally planned as a celebration for the fall birthdays. Mainly, it was my mother’s. However, sometimes they tack me on too because we are both fall babies. However, my father was unable to come because of some drama at work. Of course my brother Wendell and sister in law Veronique could not score the same days off. So it became a nice pool party break in October.

Shy of two weeks ago, Skipper became engaged to Boomer. Often I say these two are the Lover archetype in Tarot and Commedia Del Arte. With a love that is pure and untouched, one is the other’s sun, moon, and stars. Sure, their public displays of affection are more sappy than a Vermont Maple Tree during syrup season. However, as a duo they are also endearing and thoughtful, always the first to reach out to others when they achieve a goal or to wish happy birthday. I can safely say like Odysseus to Penelope, it is Skipper to Boomer. Yes, they are soul mates is what I am trying to say in a conceited, intellectual, academic, and overeducated kind of way.

During one of our many beach walks, Skipper gave us the inside details of Boomer’s proposal. In order to drop the surprise, Boomer planned a lavish romantic weekend on the tropical isle of Key West. However, in an effort to get the ring insured the agent informed Boomer it could not be covered under his home owners. It wasn’t his property, it was Skipper’s.

Thus Boomer came to pick up his future bride at 4:15 AM. Skipper, always with impeccable hygiene, was brushing her teeth as Boomer was pretending to make sure all was in order. Then with tooth paste running down her mouth, Boomer popped the question. “Skipper, will you marry me?” He asked, dipped down on one knee, oblivious to the drool. This was daring, since my sister is not a morning person.

Skipper for once didn’t care about the early bugle. Seeing the ring she yelped, “I DO!!!”

While the trip to Key West proved romantic, Boomer had looked at the scenery rather than the culture. Translated, Boomer got whistled at. While the gay men were respectful of the newly engaged hederos, they did jokingly ask Skipper to pass on Boomer’s number when she was done with him. This did not put a dent in the vacation of The Lovers. Rather, their love was so deep and this new step so immense nothing could put a black blob on their pastel painting.

As we walked on the beach, Skipper informed us Boomer picked the ring on his own. We marveled at Boomer’s straight queer eye. While a man’s man, Boomer loves camping. He and Skipper also spend time at the rifle range. Skipper has a head eye for a target, but Boomer can give her a run for her money. Sure, he wears the same shirt over and over, but like all dudes in love, he strikes gold every once in a while. His pick was better than the one Skipper originally wanted. It was glamorous, beautiful, and like their love would hopefully stand the test of time.

Like a curious child, Skipper smiled silently as she realized her ring glowed a heavenly color in the noonday sun. Lost in thoughts of Boomer, my mother and I continued to chatter until we came across three Canadian fisherman up ahead. Three of the men looked like they could be swing members of ZZ Top, and one even had the beer belly to match. Two were much younger with matted hair that looked like it had not been washed in days. There was no woman around to supervise these untamed beasts. On second thought, maybe they were tamed, just allowed out of their cages for the occasional recreation.

My mother decided to strike up a conversation with them. Part of it is her social butterfly status, and in part because she believes despite my fan base being mostly male that I don’t talk to men. Skipper then snapped out of her Boomer induced trance and played hype woman to my mother. It is because Skipper always is, but also Skipper is slightly afflicted. Translated, like any people in a serious commitment, she now feels like she has to pull any and all single people into the net throws of her freedom losing cult. It’s not her fault. It’s almost something one has to sign in blood the second they put a wedding or engagement ring on. While some calm down, others eternally throw arrows at their single friends and family members.

On holiday from Toronto, the men relayed they were on the beach trying to catch sharks. Apparently, they had some luck. Right away, they were ready and willing to brag.  “Caught a tiger yesterday.” One of the young ones said holding a photo. He wore a Parris Island United States Marine Corps shirt. He wasn’t a Marine though, because if he was he would have told us that the second he saw us. Marines are like that, they feel they need to get it off their chests.

Speaking of chests, ZZ Top 1 then changed the subject. “We are having some issues over here.” He relayed, beer in hand. “You see, we want to know what women prefer, hair on the chest or no hair on the chest?”

Yes, women we have never met, this matter is of urgent importance. We realize there is the usual genocide in the Sudan and a war in the Middle East, but this matter is number four on the list of our worries because economy has to be number 3. This is life or death, please advise.

My mother, despite being affable to male company, is still a married woman. In all correspondences, verbal or written, she always considers my father’s feelings as if he were there watching like a hawk. I suppose this is what helps keep her union with my father going strong as it is. There was no way she could be their Solomon. Then Skipper stared at her ring as a reminder of the absence of her beloved Boomer. While in reality he could not get the time off to accompany us, from the look in Skipper’s eyes, Boomer had gone off to fight a war possibly never to return. So the duty fell upon me to settle their debate.

The second ZZ Top pointed to the middle where I was to stand to settle this matter. Chest hair wasn’t just chest hair, it was everything to these men, Goddamnit. So, as if I were a wise tribal chief, I stated,  “It’s not the hair on the chest, it’s the man behind the hair or lack thereof.” It was a noncommittal response to their plaguing question, and that way their fragile egos would not be crushed by a complete stranger.  

Our neighbor’s to the North seemed satisfied and let out a loud whoop. Then my mom said, “She’s an entertainer in New York!” My face turned bright red. It felt odd already talking to these randos and settling their masculine debate. Now I wanted to jump into the ocean and have a shark eat me. There is nothing like trying to have your mother force you to flirt.

 “That’s awesome! A singer too!” One of young, unwashed slurred in his drunken state. That is when my mother posed me with the young man who hugged me afterward. He was nice looking. Perhaps I would not make myself shark food today.

After we wished the Canadians well, I asked my mother what she was thinking. My mother explained that she was trying to initiate “the hook up.”

“That’s trashy. I don’t know them.” I protested.

“That just means to say hi.” My mom said. “I heard them say it on TV.”

“Mom, it means to have sex. Never use that word again.” I told her.

Skipper agreed. Then we switched the subject back to the chatter at hand. Yes, the stupid things men fixate on. Chest hair and penis size. The luxury of being male, especially a straight white male. Always on the upper end of the paradigm, sexism is a real and lifetime struggle. Suddenly, I felt the feminist in me boil up and got ill. I confessed in my next life I wanted to come back as a man and enjoy the perks. My mother told me she used to feel the same way, but then she explained, “Then I realized there was a lot of chest pounding involved and that might get old and hurt after a while.”

Then we began to wonder why men got caught up on these stupid things like chest hair and penis size. Skipper then relayed that during her job at the hospital, she encountered some Japanese men who suffered from Shrinking Penis Syndrome. These men did very real and dangerous things to ensure their Johnson was not shrinking. While the condition was psychosomatic, they believed their Love Wand was disappearing.

Skipper also explained that there were also penis implants available. She made the hack joke and explained an ER patient of hers requested a black penis because he thought his luck with women would improve. Then Skipper also informed us that a man came into the hospital requesting a horse dong but this could not be done because it was species to species.

As my sister chatted away, explaining to us that she met Boomer while manually retracting an anus, a phrase she uses serious and sober as a judge to tell the story of her meeting with her fiancé, she looked like a princess. Skipper was marrying her prince. They were The Lovers. Of course, it made me think of the time I was engaged and how that ended in disaster. Then of course I also recalled Holden, the fugitive I played house with for several days before he had to leave the state. I would have married Holden in a heart beat.

As I looked at the ocean I know in my heart I got close to being married but never did it because I know it isn’t for me and may never be. No man owns me, and hopefully he will never tether me by making me take his last name, a brand of slavery under the boot of an oppressive overseer. Yet at the same time, my sister was taking the plunge into forever with Boomer. While it is brave to defy convention, it is also brave to say the words “till death do us part” and really mean it. Granted, maybe you will be wielding an axe when they leave this world but still……

Is Swashbuckler a sexual preference? Yes, I am a swashbuckler. The ocean is like me, untamed. Adventure is my middle name. I would have gladly found the Canadian fisherman myself if my mother had not made it so awkward. Still, my swashbuckling and adventuring gives my trunk full of puppets and closet full of costumes lots of stories. A swashbuckler belongs to the wind and world. My art is my first love. No man can rip me away.

Just then I remembered good old Robert Louis Stevenson, the ultimate swashbuckling adventurer despite is consumption, was reeled in by Fanny Osbourne and had his butt kicked frequently by his combination wife and mother. Maybe there will be a time that I stop my swashbuckling. Maybe I will feel the need to stop my sword swinging, adventuring, and storytelling life. Maybe I will want the wind and the world to give me up to one man. Maybe I will let the paradigm make me it’s minimum security prisoner. Nah…..

So I looked over at my sister. Skipper’s ring continued to emit light like a heavenly orb. Prince Boomer could rest assured no harm would come to his fair maiden. My father could also rest assured no harm could come to his queen. They were in the company of a true swashbuckler.

Thus the three of us continued to comb our way down the beach: The Princess, the Swashbuckler, and the Queen Mother in between them. The entire way, we talked Skipper’s wedding and gossiped about the simplicity of the male species.

And with no men around we lived happily ever after.

The End.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Real Mutherfuckin' G's (Eazy-E)

When I was 14, I did a summer theatre intensive at The Pittsburgh Playhouse. At the time, they had a youth acting program that was pretty aggressive and well-respected. After auditioning, I was admitted. Because the Playhouse was in Oakland, I was allowed to commute by my parents. This involved a bus and trolley. In case you don’t know, a trolley is our version of a subway in Pittsburgh. Often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, the trolley travels above ground.

Having a career in the arts sometimes means you grow up rather quickly. I knew my cousin Mandy was pretty much shipped off every summer from the time she was ten to do ballet intensives taught my world renowned instructors. When she was 14, she moved to New York City where she attended Professional Performing Arts School aka Fame School. I was starting on the same journey in a way. My first few days at the Playhouse I realized how wet behind the ears I was, and how green I was when it came to life stuff. Yes, I was a kid. No, it wasn’t a good thing.

For years, I had been a weird kid at school. Not only did these kids take the cake, but they made me realize how sheltered I was. While my parents supported my career path, they let me know the second there was a change in attitude or a slip in grades the fun stopped. These kids on the other hand were a more sophisticated, much different animal that would have scoffed at such a memo.

Most of the kids had aged into the teen program through the junior program, and so they knew all the instructors, and all the instructors knew them. Not someone who was part of the feeder system, I was seemingly odd girl out. Right away, my classmates proved vicious gossips, and I heard all about the “favorites.” Yes, in theatre the person the director gives all the plum roles to. These kids trained, sang, and knew plays. I didn’t.

The population of the summer program was a mishmash of various kinds of people. There were the elitist kids from prep schools like Shady Side, and money loaded districts like Mount Lebanon, Upper St.Claire, Fox Chapel, and other places containing big houses with no furniture. Trust fund babies, they wouldn’t be caught dead working a summer job and they let anyone and everyone know it. Many also wore designer clothing to class. Granted, it was difficult to move in, but that just proved their point. This population knew all there was to know about designer coffee, and fulfilled every horrid theatre person stereotype there was. With their affected speech, they let the whole world know they were theatre people in case they had forgotten. Then again, these kinds of theatre people are the reason the world hates actors. Either way, these kids all got expensive cars as birthday gifts. No, they would never take the bus. That was beneath them.

I asked one of these girls, Katherine, if she did her high school plays. Katherine snidely purred, “I don’t do school theatre. It’s beneath my training, and it’s beneath me.”

After these kids were the city kids. Some went to the CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) High School. Others went to Alderdice of Schenley. These kids were off the chain. Many were much more independent than I could ever dream of being, and took the bus and trolley at all hours. Their parents didn’t dare ground them, and it seemed like their parents barely cared to begin with. Many of these kids partied hard, and partied on the regular with fake ID’s. One girl, Charlotte, was dating a 30 year old dude and lying and saying she was 23. Another girl went braless one day because she had lost hers in a drunken state the night before and hadn’t gotten home. Then there was Rachael with the pregnancy scare. Emily turned to her and said, “Get an abortion. It’s no big deal. I got one two months and it was very cheap. Oh, and it’s just a day in bed.”

After the city kids were the fringe kids. These kids were basically screw ups and their parents were at the end of their rope. So they stuck them in the theatre. These kids went to alternative schools, aka holding tanks for those who couldn’t hack it in regular school. In this group there was a teen alcoholic named Mari who had just gotten out of rehab and was attending the program by day and AA by night. This was of course including but not limited to Hailey, a girl with OCD and Panic disorder, who cut herself. Add in a bi-sexual Wiccan Chandra and every stereotype that resides in the nightmares of new parents was represented. Often, they exchanged notes about which psych meds they were on which freaked me out.

Then of course there were the scholarship kids. Translated, the poor black kids. The Playhouse often went into the community to try to farm talent from less fortune homes, often from The Hill District and Homewood. Yes, the neighborhoods the cops don’t go to. While these kids were intimidating for the rich snobs, I clicked with the scholarship kids the best. None of them were perfect, heck one even had a 2 year old daughter. Note: Baby Mama and child came to performances and were wonderfully supportive of us all. However, I always found them the most real and easiest to stomach.

One in particular I took to was DeShawn Forrester. DeShawn lived in The Hill District aka The Home of August Wilson. As a matter of fact, DeShawn even did an August Wilson monologue once. A kid built like a tank, DeShawn told us it was either Broadway or the NFL. While he didn’t touch on it much, once he mentioned he had three brothers who had two different fathers. So yeah, his home life kind of sucked. Whenever he stepped on the stage, DeShawn was funny like Chris Farley. Born without a filter, DeShawn always said what was on his mind and didn’t seem to care. While it got him in trouble, it won him my respect.

As part of cast bonding and mediation, we did a drill called Jump Circle. Done no where else in the world but the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the cast stands in a circle. If one cast member has a problem with another, they walk up to them and confront them. They yell it out until the conflict is squashed. A Jump Circle is and should be supervised by a director or teacher. This way, confrontations don’t get out of hand, and a third party that isn’t directly involved can be peacemaker.

During our first Jump Circle, one of the elitist kids, a girl by the name of Heather, walked up to Deshawn and told him she was struck by his “bad attitude.” Heather then finished off by telling him he swore too much.

DeShawn quickly replied, “Well girl, all I ever hear you do is complain. You want to talk about bad attitude? If we hear one more time about how you don’t know where to park your 16th birthday present that is more money than my house costs I think we will all knock you off your fucking block.” We all clapped in the Jump Circle. DeShawn 1, Heather 0.

Young DeShawn was rather unsupervised, and had many girlfriends in his neighborhood. Every time I spoke to DeShawn, he was having sex with someone new. We teased DeShawn about being a pimp and  a player, but DeShawn shrugged. He couldn’t help it. DeShawn was happy to send his days at the Playhouse so his ladies couldn’t compare notes. Oh problems, problems, problems.

One thing I liked about DeShawn was that he went out of his way to be my friend. Each morning, my mother made me call her when I was safely at The Playhouse. My mother always feared I would get raped or killed, even in broad daylight. It is the way she has always been. In case I was attacked, she gave me every mace and screeching device there was. One morning, I was talking to my mother and DeShawn saw me on the street. He took my mace out of my bag and sprayed it in the air. Luckily it was not a windy day. Out loud he said, “Shit, this is the stuff my mailman carries!”

Just then he reached for my screeching device. The mace had been a close call but this was going to be just plain funny. Just as I hung up the phone, DeShawn pressed the button on my screech alarm. “What the hell is this?”

“My mom thinks I am going to be attacked.” I explained. “She has protected me in every way possible.”

“Damn. You are over protected.” DeShawn observed.

“Tell my mom that.”

“Tell her you are having mad, passionate sex with a nice chocolate looking dude and you are eating him up.” DeShawn suggested. I burst out laughing. It was one of those moments where I had a friend that I would not have ordinarily met under normal circumstances, and I liked that friend.

DeShawn would go on to be my friend in other ways that summer, too. A few weeks later, as our play rehearsed, we had another Jump Circle. One girl, Stacia, had been saying some horrible things about me and my anger management problems. She claimed it was because the monologues I picked were broad characters and crazy people. This had nothing to do with me as a person, these were roles I played well. It was called acting.

Looking back, Stacia longed to be one of the cool kids in the program. She was also jealous I got a sizeable supporting role first year in, and she was stuck with a bit part. In order to fit in with the cool clique, Stacia bad mouthed me at a party. Well, the cool clique thought of her as a hanger on, and Scott, a dude who I was friends with in the in clique told me.

During jump circle I let Stacia have it. The fake little Barbie Doll had tried so hard to be one of the cool kids but wasn’t. I even told her that. Additionally, I also told Stacia that if she had something to say about my characters, she could say it to the playwright because clearly she didn’t know the first thing about acting. I also informed her she hadn’t gotten a good role because she didn’t have good talent. Stacia got in my face saying acting crazy wasn’t talent, and I only proved her right. I said I proved she was phony. The director and his assistant had to pull us apart.

After Jump Circle, DeShawn found me and gave me a hug. “You were right to give it to her. She’s a bitch.” He informed me.

“You think so?” I asked.

“Girl, I know so. Look, you are crazy, but you don’t hide it. You don’t bother anyone. She wanted to start with you and she got owned.” DeShawn observed.

The outcome of that jump circle had been that Stacia found out Scott had told me about the trash talk at the party. This of course was from our friend Mira, who wanted to squash this whole ridiculous situation. Stacia apologized to me, and in unison we turned our rage on Scott. The way Stacia went off on him, she put my so called anger management issues to shame. Then it came out Scott had a history as a shit stirrer, and he became persona non grata by the entire cast. Oh Playhouse memories.

That summer, I had spent all my time with sophisticated adolescents, so the idea of going to a suburban high school was stifling. Translated, I was slightly flipped out and my parents had a hard time containing me. I felt more adult than the “children” I shared class with. My knowledge of taboo things had grown. I was so adult. Truth: None of us anywhere were adult. We were all kids. When it came to adult things, we were all actually really dumb. Yet we thought we were so worldly, which is scary, because the state could have put a needle in our arms if we screwed up badly enough.

Time went on, and we all became grown ups, this time for real. Some of the elitist kids continued in theatre, some didn’t. Katherine ended up attending Oberlin and now works as an art curator. Her bosom buddy Chesley went on to attend Bard and then NYU graduate school and is a talent booker out in California. Leanna, who was actually kind despite her trust fund is now working as a drama director for disadvantaged kids in Washington, DC.  Of course, this was after she came out as a lesbian during her first semester at Smith. It was funny, because Leanna was boy crazy but anyway….

The city kids varied. One girl, Charlotte, went to rehab after the intensive. She sobered up, and attended Marymount Manhattan on a dance scholarship. Sadly she relapsed and overdosed a few years after college. It was no surprise given the speed many of these kids were living their lives.
However, of the city slickers most did manage to turn out alright. Many attended Point Park, because CAPA and the university have the same faculty. Charlie went to college for musical theatre, but abandoned acting to become a kindergarten teacher. He’s married with two kids. Rachael with the pregnancy scare ended up going to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and is an industrial designer. Emily with the abortion is now a professional bodybuilder and physique model. She trains other women, and from the looks of it her life is on track.

The fringe kids all managed to grow up too. Chandra became a gay activist. Hailey went to law school. As for Mari, she made the most of her experience by becoming a drug counselor for troubled adolescents.

Stacia got rejected by all the big name acting schools and decided to be a teacher. Now she lives in Portsmouth, Maine and works with autistic children. Scott continued on in theatre, but quit and now sells used cars. Mira actually lives in LA, and has been on TV several times. Aside from me, she is the only one of us really still acting.

The one I never got an update on was DeShawn. Even after numerous internet searches. No updates, that is, until recently. Yes, I found DeShawn Forrester on facebook. From the look of his wall, it looked like he was pursuing a career as a rapper. For a time, it also seemed like he attended college at Penn State, but didn’t finish. I couldn’t tell whether DeShawn was a legit rapper in the studio banging out albums, or he was a “rapper” to impress women. Either way, his handle was the terribly unoriginal D-Zilla. Still, DeShawn was being creative and hadn’t burned out. That was a victory in itself.

Deshawn’s profile photo looked like it had been forced, as if he was taken out of bed and interrogated beforehand. Yes, an interrogation where he was yelled at by detectives. Then it occurred to me of course it was. DeShawn’s profile pic was a mug shot. There he was in state “I own your ass” orange. My mouth hung open. DeShawn was in prison!

Then as if that wasn’t enough, DeShawn had several photo albums on facebook. One was appropriately named, “Live from Federal Prison.” My mouth hung open in disbelief, disgust, disappointment, and horror. I laughed not because it was funny, but because I didn’t know what else to do. In several photos DeShawn was posed against the wall like a hardened thug. In others, he was with fellow inmates flexing his muscles. All the guys were covered in a combo of prison and street ink. Each had hands in prayer tattooed on their arms, ironic because they had at least broken one commandment to get into the predicament they were in.

As if that weren’t enough, some woman on the outside photographed a letter DeShawn had sent home. Of course she called him D-Zilla, DeShawn had been law abiding and as we know, and to some women that is so not sexy. D-Zilla was a dangerous thug, and that was hot. Did she know D-Zilla could quote Shakespeare? If she knew, he would lose his sex appeal because that woman only wanted straw for brains.

DeShawn did not disappoint his lady love going for the lowest common denominator with his letter. Mixed with rap speak and just plain atrocious grammar, DeShawn relayed that he was innocent and been framed. However, he was keeping his head up. The DeShawn I knew was so smart. Who was this moron alien that replaced him?

The gravy were DeShawn’s facebook posts. One classic was, “A lot of guys say that when you are in jail, you go gay. Bullshit, I am getting ripped. #Institutionalized.” Sigh, priorities, priorities, priorities.

Another was, “Prison upkeep, $100,000, Weight equipment $39,000, Father/Daughter time, priceless.” My mouth hung open. Then again, of course DeShawn had a child. Why stop at one bad decision when you can make a thousand?

This was followed by another post, “Daddy’s in the box and my baby girl made the honor roll. So proud of my smart little princess.” Yes, and hopefully she will make the tax payers proud too by staying out of prison.

Of course this was in between a rant against snitches. Then there was a longer rant against snitches written in all caps. Mind you, DeShawn was in minimum security, perhaps because he had snitched in the first place. Of course, DeShawn accused his fellow rappers of snitching out of jealousy. He opined, “U put D-Zilla in da den. Fuck corrxtions.” No, correct your grammar, D-Zilla.

Then our favorite rap superstar was informed by his fans that prison was just a minor setback and it would only make him stronger. DeShawn also revealed he was spitting rhymes with other inmates. Better than knife fighting or joining a gang I suppose. Then DeShawn blamed his lawyer for the mess he was in, and told the internet world he refused to pay the guy. Out of curiosity, I scrolled back further. DeShawn had been facebook posting throughout his trial. Apparently he didn’t like the judge. Wow, easiest conviction ever. D-Zilla, you are one sad Tupac rip off.

I wanted to scream, “You went to theatre camp with me! What happened! We did Jump Circle! We were in acting class all summer. I liked you.  You had a shot. When did you become suck a fucking loser wreaking of failure!”

Then I realized for as grown up as a lot of those kids thought they were, they really weren’t. They were kids. Each was wrestling with their insecure skin fumbling their way throughout the world. For some, the world was already too much. While the city kids were off the hook, it was really a reflection of the lack of adult supervision some of them had. At the time, their antics were funny. Looking back, they are actually kind of sad. Same with the elitist kids who got cars or whatever they wanted. Sure, my parents sheltered me in comparison. However, they knew adulthood had to come naturally, not with the snap of your fingers. As an adult, the memory of some of these kids makes me cringe in a way. Actually, it is an act of God more of them didn’t join Charlotte or DeShawn.

Looking back, despite all the chaos we all had the ability to be creative. When the lights came on and the curtain came up, we put our differences aside because it was show time. Through the different perspectives each of us brought, we gave The Pittsburgh Playhouse a hell of a show. Perhaps our instructors knew what they were doing when they put us all together. That in itself shows the magic of theatre and the importance of art education.

Sure, DeShawn has basically wrecked his life. However, he isn’t joining a prison gang nor is he working as an inside enforcer for a drug dealer. He is rapping. Perhaps without his Playhouse summer, DeShawn wouldn’t have that instinct let alone outlet. Also, underneath is still my buddy. Maybe he irresponsibly created a child, but at least he acknowledges that child and takes part in her life wherever he is. Can’t say the same for some of the dudes I met who have never tested the judicial system.

When he gets out, I hope he drops an album. I would buy it. After all, the rap game is filled with so many posers who grew up in suburbia that have never run the streets. In the words of Eazy-E, at least my boy is “no studio gangsta.”