Wednesday, December 5, 2018

George HW Bush and Other Thoughts

Today they laid to rest George HW Bush. I had mixed feelings about the late president 41. As an HIV/AIDS activist, I feel he let those affected and those at risk down. Not only did he stand back and do nothing as countless Americans died, but even victim blamed during the presidential debates when asked about what he was doing about the crisis.

The Bush family, father and son, have always been historically anti-woman and homophobic. Not only did they support abstinence education but gave federal funding to these programs. They were not only pro-life, but gave money to faith based organizations. They supported sentencing drug and alcohol offenders to the 12 Steps, which while they work for some recovery is not a one sizes fits all approach. Their policies affected those not only living with HIV, but those enduring domestic abuse and the horrors of addiction.

I had some ACT UP comrades blast the late president, particularly those who took place in the Ashes Action, where those who lost someone to HIV/AIDS dumped the ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn, celebrate his death. Others half jokingly said he died on World AIDS Day to stick it to the community once more.

Yet on the same token, Bush was a memory of what had left The White House. He served his country, nearly dying in combat. The late president, like my grandfathers, was fighting true evil in the South Pacific. Bush also pushed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which ironically has been used to help those living with HIV/AIDS, addiction, and in some instances those suffering from domestic violence.

In attendance at that funeral was a sitting president who used his family's wealth to get countless deferments due to "bone spurs" while countless young men who did not have his privilege died. Under this same sitting president, the Nazis are rising again, an evil that would make my grandfathers and great uncles roll in their graves and foam at the mouth in the afterlife. This same president wants to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Ryan White Care Act, and any protection given to those suffering from addiction and domestic violence. And while he has pledged to fight the heroin issue, he is criminalizing a disease.

Bush never verbally attacked people he disagreed with. He never made his attacks on his opponents personal. Bush always disagreed with ideas and not people. Even at his worst, George Bush would have never made fun of a physically disabled reporter. Tragically, the same cannot be said for Trump.

Bush could take a joke and even shook the hand of Dana Carvey. Trump refused to attend the White House Correspondence Dinner and is still lambasting Michelle Wolf.

Bush's legacy was far from perfect and so was the man.. But in that same room was Bill Clinton. Politically he was a friend to women, blacks, and LGBTQ. But we cannot ignore that he was a sexual abuser who assaulted countless women. We also cannot forget how he sold the LGBTQ down the river with Don't Ask Don't Tell and Defense of Marriage Act. We cannot forget that while Clinton truly loved the American people, his frat boy ways brought disgrace to the highest office in the land. And with Three Strikes and Hillary referring to blacks as "super predators" maybe he wasn't such a friend to the black community.

I am sure this is going to offend, but we must tell the truth if history is to be accurately represented. So today, we are not just mourning #41, we are mourning the loss of an adult in The White House. And as an activist, I will continue to honor those lost to HIV/AIDS and laws who didn't protect victims of domestic abuse by fighting harder. And I will honor his legacy by telling the truth about him both good and bad.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Heat of the Moment (Asia)

The other day I was feeling low. This was after several days of feeling unbelievably good after a rather shitty fall. A clip of mine aired on television. I was a show I filmed as I wasn't feeling particularly good and it seemed everything was imploding around me. It was God throwing me a bone. Then I found out I was receiving an award. More on that later. Both seemed good.

But then there was that one thing I couldn't do. That one thing I haven't gotten.

I have been on television a gazillion times but have never managed to get a reoccurring role let alone have my own show. I have published two books but have never managed to snag a bestseller. I have pitched shows but never sold an idea. I have done modelling assignments but have never had a centerfold. I have done some great sets but I am not a headliner who regularly packs them in. I have known resident acts on the strip and have performed there but have never been a resident act.

I have a whole list of almost but nevers.

It's not good. It's not bad. It just is.

Grad school is going well. I was divided as to go and when as I did undergrad in three years. While I am glad I saved my parents dough I always felt like I rushed through. I also did some college as I did high school and life always seemed like a treadmill to the next place and I could never be where I was and enjoy it. I told myself if I did grad school I wanted to enjoy it and now I am. I wish I would have gone sooner but now I am.

Yet I always feel like I am juggling and sometimes dropping. There are times these last few months where my plate has felt so full I cannot digest what's in front of me. I know I am not the first woman to get a masters and to work. Yet it feel like somehow, there is never enough time or money or this or that.

My advocacy has been keeping me busy. I took part in an event for World AIDS Day, or at least the week of. It was a panel where we talked about Crystal Meth and HIV in the black/Latinx gay community. The panel was rewarding and I felt pumped about the dialogue around recharge.

But I couldn't contribute as much because I was lead editor for a contest, in two plays, staging my show for a festival, and partaking in a project I eventually quit because the director was a dick. But I was working and performing and then there was school. Yet I wasn't there more and I let AIDS down.

I got a job and couldn't march on World AIDS Day, and I had promised I would be there. To me my word is everything. Again I felt like I let AIDS down.

These thoughts raced through my mind today and then I remembered the Asia lyric from the song Heat of the Moment, "Teenage ambitions you remember well......"

The truth is, I had always dreamed of coming to NYU and performing. I wanted to be bicoastal in Vegas and LA and now I am. I am getting the masters I always wanted to. I wanted to write and I wrote two books. RENT was one of my favorite soundtracks and not only did I live in the East Village, but I am an activist as well as an artist and am becoming with ACT UP.

My almosts and nevers could change. There is still time, I am not dead. I am more adult as a grad student, and we have to grow to learn to be where our feet are. I am involved not only with ACT UP, but have marched against Trump. It is in part because I have known people affected by HIV/AIDS and his policies would hurt them as well as women, children, and any other vulnerable population. I didn't fail AIDS. I just had to pay my rent. Did I say RENT......heh......

I also know there are people who never expected me to make it this far. There are some folks who I will not name because they do not matter who wrote me off. As I wake up each day and fight the good fight, I know I haven't failed.

Sure, I am hard on myself, but the important part is that I haven't quit. Did I mention Legally Blonde was a good movie? Yeah, I think I need to watch more comedy.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Smell You Later

 “Guys, I need to warn you about something. Mom, I don’t want you to get mad,” My brother Wendell said one night at dinner. It was three weeks before the start of school and the team had just begun pre-season football camp. All summer, Wendell had been lifting and running and now a rising sophomore, he was looking forward to putting to together.
We stood in suspense. He was fifteen going on sixteen. Was he suffering from depression? Was it an academic issue from the year before? Did he get a girl pregnant although we never even saw him associate with a woman? Was he hurt?
“I am in camp and we are having a contest. So for the next few nights I will not be bathing.” Crickets chirped in our Western Pennsylvania Florida room as the dusk set around us. Our mouths hung open.
I said, “Wendell, you need to spend less time around those muscle heads.”
“Shut up April! You have no friends.”
Wendell was caked with mud, sweat, grass, and smelled terrible enough to be used for chemical warfare. My dad, still in his business suit in contrast to Wendell said, “Son, I am with April. This is pretty bad and you smell bad enough to devastate an enemy village.”
Wendell said, “You never support me! You wanted me to play football and now I want to fit in! Where is your sympathy.”
My dad said, “It falls between shit and syphilis in the dictionary. Now take a Goddamn bath.”
Skipper tried to play the peacekeeper. The ten year old sliver of a woman with strawberry blonde hair proposed, “Maybe Wendell needs to do this to make friends. Why don’t we try to be sensitive to his needs?”
I looked at the sprite, “Our needs are that we need to breathe.”
Skipper, who was well beyond her years said, “I realize that. But it’s also lowering his immune system against opportunistic infection. Give him a day.”
Shorty, our mom, sat silent during the proceedings. We nicknamed her that because she wasn’t even five feet tall. Wendell’s odor, which was getting worse by the second, wafted through the room. My dad held his nose and got up. My dad and brother bickered about his lack of willingness to bathe as Skipper and I laughed. This was free theatre for sure.
Wendell had the highest GPA on the team and dreamed of attending an Ivy League university. However, at this moment no one would have suspected it. As my dad made his exit Shorty sprung to life. She turned to Wendell and said, “No son of mine will win this stupid contest. You are done participating.”
Wendell said, “Stop ruining my life. All you do is ruin my life, Shorty.”
With that, Shorty took him by the ear and began to drag him. As Wendell yelped in pain she said, “You want to talk about life ruining?! I let you live in my womb for nine whole months and you destroyed my waistline. Then instead of coming out in nine months, you were nine months and two weeks!”
Skipper and I laughed as Wendell was dragged upstairs. He protested, “That’s not fair!”
“Not fair! It was 24 hours of labor, an emergency C,  and then I breast fed you and you sucked my beautiful chest away! Since before day one, you have been a dick ass!”
Wendell still in pain said, “Those things werent my fault!”
Shorty wasn’t having it, “And that's just what your ungrateful father would say.”
She let go of Wendell’s ear, took his foot, kicked him straight in the ass and he sailed into the bathroom door. Wendell had a look of defeat on his face. Shorty said, “Shower now or die!”
Whether Shorty knew it or not, she was a hero to the whole family. While her force was excessive, it was understood and warranted. The Brucker’s could breathe again.
The next day at camp, it was revealed that a vast majority of the team were disqualified from the contest as well as Wendell. To his pleasant surprise, this bonded him with his teammates who felt they were the only ones who were disenfranchised. And those that lasted an extra day because they had absentee or permissive parents withdrew when their girlfriends threatened to dump them.
One fellow lasted three whole days. It was Luccio Lazarro, who’s father owned the local pizza joint. A dirty and filthy sight, Luccio would have given any bum on the Bowery a run for their money in the stench department. At this point, Wendell was not only socially encouraged to shower, but necessary. As he said at dinner, “I am doing science fair this year. Maybe I could get a new bacteria off of him.”
However, Luccio’s reign was soon ended when the Coach Marzelle, a West Virginia native who was “all fired up” with a thick mountaineer accent, got a garden hose from the grounds keeper and said, “Boy, you have been stinking it up for far too long,” and then without warning sprayed him. Marzelle told the lad that he was to take a shower, run, and then shower again to make up for lost time. And Marzelle warned that anyone who refused to shower would be getting the same treatment.
From that day forward, Wendell bathed without argument. My brother learned a very important lesson though. Unless someone is paying your bills or your rent, you don’t need to do stupid things to get them to like you, especially things that endanger your health. Hey, it gets better.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Talk Dirty to Me (Poison)

When I was in 10th grade we went on a class field trip for some elective somewhere. It had been a long day since none of my other friends were in this particular class. The class was mixed with kids of all grades as it was an elective, so the array of people I wasn't friends with spanned all high school age groups. This was before the days of cellphones so I was not only alone but stranded without a companion to shoot the shit with.  For the first time in my teenage life, I wanted an excuse to go back to school.
Like Robinson Caruso, I was stranded without companionship on a bus that bumped along the hills and valleys of Western PA. I had to pee and had a stomach ache. To make matters worse, Bethany McKendrick was sitting behind me. How did I know? Aside from the inane high pitched voice she always doused herself in way too much perfume. The odor was so pungent it could have killed a small rodent.
I nicknamed the smell in my mind Cum Dripping Slut because that was kind of her MO. At the beginning of the school year she had blown several football players behind the bleachers only to be busted by a PE teacher. To say she had a reputation was an understatement. Bethany looked the role of town skank too. She always wore a spray on orange tan regardless of the weather. Then there was the badly dyed jet black hair, and when it wasn’t jet black it was pineapple blonde with the roots showing. Her clothes were always two sizes too small, and sometimes she looked top heavy and at other times her stomach poked out like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Bethany always wore a frosty pink shade of gloss, which always made her look not only like she swung from a pole but got her paycheck in slimy quarters.
Bethany was the town skank and her family was equally as gnarly. Her dad was a bit of a womanizer who left his wife for his secretary. Mrs. McKendrick, not willing to take it lying down, burned his clothes on the front lawn. Always willing to skip on a bill, she tried to get my dad to represent her during the divorce. My dad said he didn’t practice divorce law, and admitted he would have helped her if she was anyone else but Betsy McKendrick liked free stuff and no thanks.
Bethany’s guidance counselor, taking pity upon the child, appointed my brother Wendell to tutor her. A scholar athlete who was doing his first year at Brown, Wendell tried to help his charge pass math. It was a lost cause as Bethany was hoping Wendell could get her dates with the football team. And when his only interest was helping her pull up her grades, she abandoned ship. But judging by her bleacher report, apparently she didn’t need Wendell anyway.
“Love you in that dress,” a familiar voice said. It was Chad Barker, the senior lacrosse captain. The dress was so tight anyone would suffocate but hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?
Chad Barker had also been tutored by Wendell. He had lasted slightly longer because he needed to be academically eligible to play lacrosse. Wendell lamented that Chad only had one braincell, whom he nicknamed Floyd. Chad also told Wendell he didn’t need to do math, he would make money on lacrosse. Oh what tangled webs we weave with the peroxide blonde hair and preppy clothes. Chad then said, “You know, Misty says I give the best head. Her clit gets real wet when I eat her out.”
McWhat? Was this his girlfriend Misty Davis? The Jesus Freak who bragged about going to Congo on a mission trip last summer, and who had dreams of converting the godless and would tell anyone who listened? The Misty Davis who wore a promise ring and led the prayer circle around the flag pole? The promise ring meant she promised to save herself, but it looked like a promise apparently broken.
“Isn’t she a complete Jesus freak?” Bethany was asking the question that had raced through my mind.
“Yeah, but those Jesus freaks are horny. She gave me a hand job during youth group.” Shiz! Then I remember Chad and Misty went to the same youth group. I didn’t understand the match up personally, as Misty wanted to do missionary work and Chad was just going because his parents made him. Then Chad added, “If I knew youth group would be this good I would have gone sooner.”
You and the whole world, Pal.
“This doesn’t sound like her. Misty is pretty serious about Jesus.” I had to agree with Bethany there.
“Yeah but those church chicks are off the chain. She fucked me when her parents were out of town in three rooms in their house and we even did it in their hot tub.”
Damn, The Book of Revelations suddenly had a whole new meaning. Now I had my popcorn and I was hooked. What was going to happen next. Bethany then said, “But what about the wet noodle effect?”
“What’s that?”
“Your dick goes soft in a hot tub.”
Chad said, “This dick didn’t go soft because 007 was on a mission. That’s the name of my dick.” I already thought lowly of Chad, but when I discovered he nicknamed his penis I thought even less of him. Bethany laughed with glee. Yuck.
Then he said, “But I am getting fed up with the youth group and God stuff. She wants to stop giving it to me. So I’m getting ready to dump her.”
And then as we pulled into school Chad said, “I really liked chilling with you today. Maybe you could come over next weekend. We won’t tell Misty.” I didn’t know what was worse, the fact someone like Chad Barker found someone to have sex with him. Or that in the end, a slut like Bethany McKendrick was about to win out. Either way, now I wanted to be off the bus because I was about to vomit for a whole new reason. If this was what it all came down to, I was okay dying alone.
This was not the end of this dramatic tale but the mere rising action. The next day, in the hall, on my way to my third period class, above the hustle and bustle of students talking, slamming lockers and gossiping, I heard a high pitched voice yell, “How could you lie! How could you lie about me!” The voice was all too familiar. It was Misty Davis!
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the familiar almond colored pony tail, stud earrings, and cross she always wore. She screamed, “You said you were okay with me saving myself! Instead you lie to everyone and say we were having the sex we werent! I HATE YOU!”
Tears rolled down her face. Chad stood there, his hands in his pockets. His one braincell Floyd was trying to get out of this one as 007 had clearly failed his mission. He said, “Baby, you know Bethany McKendrick likes to lie. She’s a real slut.”
This was a plot twist if I ever saw one. All this time I had thought Bethany McKendrick would do anything that walked. Apparently she not only had standards, but did the right thing by ratting this weasel out. At that moment I realized Bethany McKendrick wasn’t the slut, but in fact Chad Barker was.
“Maybe she strayed from God, but she’s been my friend since elementary school. She would never hurt me and when she told me what you said and did......” Misty burst into tears. This was as if we were on Springer and it was all going down. As her crying grew louder, the whole hallway stopped. Sure, Misty could be annoying but she didn’t deserve this. And the more the story unfolded, the more Bethany was a hero. I not only felt bad that Misty was shedding tears over the waste that stood before her, but I felt bad for judging Bethany so harshly.
“But baby…..”
“IT’S OVER!” Misty, who always said she spoke directly to Jesus and asked what he would do, closed her eyes, took a breath, lifted her right hand, the one with the promise ring, and took a swing. When they said turn the other cheek, they never talked about when the promise ring becomes a weapon and the Jesus freak has a wicked George Forman hook. Chad was knocked to the ground yelping in pain. There was shocked laughter, gasps, and even some scattered applause. While Misty preached the word of God, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
As Chad yelped, Mr. Donnelly came out into the hall. A stocky man who coached ninth grade football he said, “Alright everyone, get to class. The excitement is over.”
Chad, still down for the count said, “Mr. Donnelly, Misty hit me. Make her go to time out!”
Mr. Donnelly shook his head, “Son, I have been hearing you run your mouth all week about the action you aren’t getting. And you are lucky that this was all you got. If this was my sister, your teeth would be missing right now, Pal. Now get up and go to whatever class you are barely passing.” I had no idea if the God Missy Davis prayed to existed, but if there was any God/Godess/Diety, He/She/They hated the same things the rest of us did.
From that point onward, I made it my business to defend Bethany McKendrick against shitty rumors regarding her sexual behavior. Maybe she was more expressive and adventurous than the rest of us, but at the end of the day she didn’t hurt the people she cared about and there was a lot to be said for that. And I got to know her a little bit and yes, she was actually an alright person. It’s amazing how you make a friend when you stop being an asshole.
As for Misty, while her Jesus stuff still annoyed me I respected her for sticking to her guns about what was important to her, and that right hook is still emblazoned in my memory.
Chad hung his head low for the rest of the year and graduated by the skin of his teeth and went to play lacrosse at a small school. He would later flunk out because apparently this was too much for Floyd. After two years at Junior College, he went to some state school and graduated. He found some girl to marry him. Either her self esteem was low or he morphed into a subhuman who wasn’t brazen enough to nickname his dick 007. I hope he changed for his sake, I really do.
Misty went to a Christian college, met her husband and became a missionary. She’s still just as annoying and admitted to voting for Trump to “save the babies.” But she’s sincere which you got to give credit where credit is due. And maybe she is intense, but she truly does believe she helps people. I just hope she doesn’t become convinced she can go to a remote island and help people, but that might be her husband’s exit strategy if the right hooks become too much.
Bethany took her interest in tanning and hair dye, for better or for worse, and turned it into a business. She went to beauty school and now has a salon where she lives close to Harrisburg with her husband. She overcame a shitty homelife and the even shittier label of town slut. Maybe she needed to find her niche so she would stop hurting herself behind the bleachers with dudes who clearly werent worth it. And she is making the world a beautiful place and is making people feel good about themselves, just like she did with Misty all those years ago.
As for me, I am still a weirdo who listens in on people’s conversations. And now I just use them for blogs and scripts. Sometimes I judge people harshly, but these days I know it’s my shit that makes that shiteous behavior possible. We all grow up, and that process is gradual. Just like Bethany, Chad, and Misty were works in progress, I was one too. I still am.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sweet Fantasy (Mariah Carey)

When I was a kid, I had the biggest crush on a guy I called “Senor Hotness.” It was because in my 16 year old opinionation he was hot and spicy. He had hair that was either dyed blood red or icy blue. He was tall, thin, and wiry with several piercings. Senor Hotness got his name because the first time I laid eyes on the most perfect man on the planet I was leaving Spanish class. When he walked by I thought, “Heaven Walks on Earth!”
When you have a teen crush, it means planning a massive future with a stranger you don’t have the guts to talk to. This meant I was marrying Senor Hotness, having his 2.5 children, and putting my future on hold to be the future Mrs. Hotness. What could possibly go wrong?
The man I created in my mind was utterly perfect. He loved history as much as I did, and didn’t think my dreams of being onstage with puppets and creating my own work were stupid. Like the characters in Felicity we would be in New York together making it happen, me with my writing and performing and him with a skill he would later discover.
Sweet, sweet fantasy baby.
I would feed my addiction to this stud muffin by walking past his lunch table just to hear him laugh with his friends. I would walk past his locker to see him socializing with his friends just to hear his voice. There was a shorter way I could have gone to class and the detour always made me just get in the door when the bell rang, but any time with Senor Hotness was worth it.
Then he got a girlfriend. That mutherfucker! He broke my heart. She had jet black hair, a nose ring, pale skin, and a banging perfect little body. They were always holding hands and sucking face by his locker. I prayed for her to be hit by a bus or taken out tragically. Or he would find out she was the tawdry tramp we always knew she was and Senor Hotness would come running into my arms. Then we could begin our love affair.
Each time I saw her, and I will call her Skankola McFee, I looked to see if there was anything wrong with her and painfully measured myself up against my perceived competition. I was blonde and gentlemen prefer blondes, right? Her skin was pale and made her look dead, but flawless. I had bouts with cystic acne. Her nose ring was probably a nuisance when she got a cold but she was cooler than me. And she had the perfect body and I struggled with my weight. I had heard Skankola McFee wasn’t on the advanced track like I was. So at least I was smarter than the tramp. But guys don’t care about that. They want it now and they want it easy and she was entrapping him with her feminine wows.
They say God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Senor Hotness was spending so much time socializing and was consumed by the face sucking going on by his locker that I guess he forgot to get his books because he was failing all of his classes and wasn’t set to graduate on time. And he got fired from his after school job, and this meant his ladyship had to pay for everything. That got real old real quick and she dumped him. And to top it off, I heard from other people that he had been a controlling shithead to her and that she was actually a sweet person. And the worst part was, when I finally talked to Senor Hotness was the biggest dufus ever. I had fallen out of love as quickly as I had fallen in.
After high school I forgot about all of them. I went to college, had actual relationships with losers that I sadly did not make up, and moved towards happy destiny in a life I carved for myself. However, facebook makes us all curious about parts of our past that we unearth at our own risk. So I decided to see what Senor Hotness and his old flame were up to.
His old flame was married with two kids and working as a legal assistant. She looked happy but strange without the jet black hair or nose ring, but I suppose motherhood will make you grow up. I felt bad about hating her with no basis for my hate, and regretted calling her Skankola McFee. We had been kids. We were all stupid. She grew up. The guy in the center of this struggle I had in my mind was no prize anyway. I was glad life seemed to be working out for her.
Then I went to the page of Senor Hotness. He is now living in Texas and is a member of a white separatist group. In one singular facebook post that began with, “White pride worldwide,” he used slurs against lgbtq people, immigrants, and blacks. And he even misspelled them too. What a charmer and a mind. Trump should give him a job. I also want to add that he had gained about 100 pounds and had a ZZ Top beard. Back in the day I could justify this idiot because he was Senor Hotness, but now he was as ugly on the outside as he clearly was within. 
He had two kids because as he explained, “I need to keep the white race going.” They were dressed in camo and looked like future school shooters. His wife was nondescript and you could tell she spoke only when spoken to and perhaps had a suggestion box when she needed to express grievances against her husband. Behind them the family had their Confederate flag as their father proclaimed liberals, “LOSERS!”
Well Sir, if you would have taken your books out of your locker you would have known Robert E. Lee had to surrender. And you would also know how to spell. Sigh, all of this could have been mine.
It always blows my mind when a young person cries about a crush or love affair that doesn’t work out. I know it feels like the end of the world, but it isn’t. If there could be a crystal ball to show the future and they could see stuff like this, they would not only embrace it not working out but they would celebrate. Alas, it does get better. But you got to go through it to get through it I suppose.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

I Heart Hitchcock

The other day I was re-watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I forgot what a wonderful imagination he had. Not only did he have the ability to scare, but he was so creative with how he did it. Hitchcock respected the mind of his viewers and their intellect. While I love Hammer Films, Hitchcock is refreshing because there is no needless nudity, excess gore, or schlock shock.

When I was in middle school I really fell in love with him. My dad was a fan of old movies. I had known about Hitchcock's color films but not the black and white films he did in England. The Lady Vanishes became my favorite of all time. Most do not know it because he did it prior to coming to Hollywood, but it is a classic and while he was not yet a big name, you can see evidence of what was to come. 

Around that time, my dad was taking my brother Wendell to see colleges. My mom, my sister Skipper and I decided to watch scary movies. We decided to rent Psycho. It was right after Janet Lee was murdered in the shower when the phone rang. The caller ID came up blocked and we figured my dad was calling from the road, as his car phone sometimes came up unlisted. So Skipper runs to get the phone and it was a hang up. She runs down the stairs screaming because she was always easily juked. 

It was a crank caller who did the scare but Hitchcock who made it classic. 

When I was in college, my friend was dating a real mama's boy. She later dumped him, and one of us jokingly quoted Norman Bates, "A boy's best friend is his mother."

Whenever we see pigeons in NYC, someone always references The Birds. 

Even now, it's incredible how his talent has never been duplicated. Yes he was a narcissist and egomanic and was shitty to women, but damnit they all made some good cinema. Sometimes you got to watch the classics to remember they aren't just classic because they are old, but classic because they are good.

Hitchcock, we love you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


This past week I left an employment situation where I was being bullied by someone who is just plain abusive. He yelled at his girlfriend on site. He yelled at performers. He even yelled at his costuming people. There is no better weakling than an employer who controls his employees with his temper, and there's no better way to show those around you that you are barely in charge. 

I had never seen this side of him the previous season as I was always keeping to myself and never had a grievance. However, I stood up to him because we weren't being paid and the show was being run badly. His leadership style saw several of my puppeteers getting hurt, and when things were done his way the performers in my tent were bullied by patrons. It was a situation where performers were not allowed to take breaks, and if they were they were subject to his tirades and rage. And if they alerted a staffer that they needed one, throngs of people were coming in as crowd control was not well managed and the performer couldn't slip out. This was hazardous for the puppeteers as we had one of the most physical jobs in the place, and several even said so. 

When I stood up for myself I was accused of being "a stupid bitch" and the words that got me to throw in the towel were, "You are nothing but a drama starting cunt. I pay you good money for a seasonal job. You are lucky I am sympathetic to retards."

So I told him that I quit. Needless to say he promised me to ruin me in the town he worked in, and akin to a Harry Potter villain said, "Good luck with your puppet career!"

That wasn't the end. He sent a costume woman to walk me out of my resignation, and then a makeup artist to bully me claiming I made things up about him. The costume woman is a nice lady, but he has her in his pocket. The makeup artist is possibly a girl he is sleeping with on the side as he has a record of sleeping around the staff, and several performers have confirmed this. Either way, both instances made me happy I left. 

I am grateful for my fellow performers who not only were there for me when shit hit the fan, but assured me I was correct in sticking up for myself. Some left when I did and others are still there, but their friendship and support meant the world to me when I was low. They also let me know what I was doing was working and they echoed support for my abilities, and let me know it was him, not me who was the idiot. 

I am grateful for my mom who tried to talk me out of going back for  a second season. She pointed out it wouldn't be worth it, and when I reminded her how much fun I had the year before she said things change. I told her they lured me back with more money but she had her doubts. She told me to back out at any time and I took her advice. 

I am grateful to my mentor who, while not as demonstrative as my mom, tried to talk me out of a second season as well. Like an archer who guides an arrow, he tried to guide me elsewhere and told me if something better came up to "leave immediately." And when shit hit the fan he told me, "it's just a small town haunted house. And it won't be the first time you meet an idiot like this and it won't be the last." And he called me several times the day I quit as I was quite upset. 

I am grateful for a past mentor who's involved with Actor's Equity who informed me that as a SAG member I could join,and while I was not an Equity member I am looking into it. My days of working without a union card are over. 

I am grateful to my mentor at school who encouraged me to write about being mistreated and how standing up for myself made me a pariah. This essay will be in my next packet. 

I am grateful for the corporate office who heard me out in regards to this man's abuse. While nothing might happen, he will strike again with someone else. And I have heard since me leaving he is harder than ever on the vulnerable. I want to go on record showing that the next person who comes forward is not only justified, but not alone. 

I am also grateful to the friends who alerted me to other opportunities, show business and otherwise, to fill in the money gaps that this job inhabited. They really had my back. And my other friends who alerted local officials in the town the project was in because they were sickened by this man's behavior. 

In the end I know I am good at what I do. The audiences each night said so as well as my fellow performers and supporting staff. But I was forced out because I stood up to a bully, and he was intimidated by me because I was smarter than he was. This is not my first rodeo. I was hit by a partner when I was 21, had a mentally ill partner at 30, and met other assholes in between. If anything this asshole was just a spoiled little rich boy getting palimony from his first wife and living off of it. But still, the sexism and the fact I have to take it gets a little old. And even with #metoo, this prick still has his defenders. 

The worst part is, in a situation like this I am obedient if I stay down like a slave and treated well, but I am a "shit stirring cunt" if I speak up. And unless you are a woman, you have never been there. It doesn't just get old, it gets fucking tired ass tired. 

This prick said, "Good luck with your puppet career."

To which I should have said, "Yeah, I have had plenty of luck. I have been on network TV in and out of the United States. Good luck being a nobody, because you have been one for a very long time and most likely will be one for the rest of your life." 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Do Not Work For Lance Hollowell, House of Mirth, or Horseman's Hollow

I have to share something that has been going on with me. Today I departed from a truly abusive working situation in Sleepy Hollow, NY. It was one with a director who yelled at his performers, refused to let us take breaks, and paid us late if we were paid at all.
Last week I stuck up for myself. Not only was I not paid on time, but when I voiced my complaint they demanded more of me and the people I was working for got more abusive. I was accused of starting drama I didn't start simply because I was sticking up for myself. And even when I apologized to keep the peace, it wasn't enough for these people who wanted slaves to work for free.
I came back to this place because it had been a joy last season. I loved scaring people, the performers were wonderful, and so was the staff. However, because some people in charge don't like competence and opposition, some wonderful people were fired and it has devolved into a shit show.
The director, Lance Hollowell,called me earlier this week to threaten me when I stood up for myself in regards to not being paid. He called me again today to accuse me of hitting a patron with a puppet, an incident that didn't happen in my tent and wouldn't happen as I make sure I am very careful as well as the rest of my puppeteers. He claimed I got into a verbal altercation with a patron, an incident that didn't happen in my tent either. As a matter of fact the opposite happened, I was told by multiple patrons they loved my character, my tent, and that I was a good puppeteer. We also had some repeat visitors to our tent as they loved the energy my characters brought to the place and they were even quoting my lines.
When I stood up for myself once more, Lance proceeded to verbally abuse me telling me I had a bad attitude because he could not control me through threats or bullying. After his insults became too much to bear I quit.
I will miss my fellow actors and the patrons who came through my tent. I will miss many staffers who I loved. I will not miss a work environment that was abusive, props that kept breaking, and an incompetent boss with a big ego who was a nightmare. I rarely name names, but I want my fellow performers to know do not work for House of Mirth, Horseman's Hollow, or Lance Hollowell.
In closing, as Lance was verbally abusing me for sticking up for myself he said, "You get paid good money for a seasonal job."
You're so cute, you pretend you pay your people. Maybe you should do standup where producers don't pay at all, fool!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Spotlight: Interview with AJ Mattioli

AJ Mattioli is an up and coming queer filmmaker. This cutting edge trans filmmaker is not only one of the freshest voices in LGBTQ cinema, but his  films are getting mainstream attention as well. Words, which has some big names attached, is now available on Amazon. This past week, AJ was nice enough to give me an interview. 

1  What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

 When I was younger I would watch movies with my parents and family often. If I had the chance, I was at the video store. I was even lucky enough to have worked at Blockbuster for a few years, and to this day this is my favorite job! However, it wasn't until I went to college that I found out that you can major in many of the entertainment fields. I was never a great student and didn't really want to go to college due to a slight learning disability and feeling like I would struggle. After coming out in at an all girl Catholic High School, I was done with the pressures of being LGBTQ and a student and wanted to find myself. However, being that I am very close to my parents, they begged me to put in at least two years and then I could quit. My second semester in Freshman year I had had it with the stress and was about to quite, when Debbie, a good friend of mine said "You watch a lot of movies, why don't you taking a film making class?". So sophomore year I loaded up film courses and made my first short film. I loved everything about it and although some of it was difficult do to my learning curve but, for the first time, I actually wanted to learn. There was no turning back!

    Before words was the film Gay Positive, a documentary about the fact gay men are banned from giving blood. Was there any event in particular that inspired this?

       Gay Positive came about after a fellow producer tried to donate blood for the first time in years and saw that the application still stated a "man who has had sex with another man can not give blood. I was over his house and he was irate about the situation. We talked over it a bit and decided we could make a really great documentary for a pretty low budget. I am very proud to have worked on that film and am happy to have made the smallest of change in this fight. Sadly, these men are still banned from giving blood. It was heart breaking to hear how many people refused to answer us on camera as they would rather not receive blood then to given blood from those matching this criteria. All blood is tested thoroughly and this law is literally allowing people to die who are in need of blood . this is antiquated and needs to change.

  What gave you the idea for the documentary Words?

     Words came about when I was discovering myself again. A relationship of 12 years ended, I needed a new place to live after 10 with her, and overall felt out of place. I needed a sense of control and also a way to find me. What better way then to use art as an outlet for this journey. I started things of people I admire, people who are socially progressive, and people who could validate my feelings of who I was going to become and metamorphous into. So, Words was born. A documentary about identity while I figured mine out.

4   I understand you have some big names attached to Words. Who are they?

 We were very lucky to have such an amazing cast. We have Drag Queens such as Bob the Drag Queen and Miss Fame from Rupauls Drag Race, Social Activists Rain Dove and Cory Wade, Comedian Adam Sank, Trans actress and Activist Shakina Nayfack from Difficult people on Hulu, Trans actress and model Carmen Carrera! we also have tons of NYC staples such as Tym Moss, Keith Collins, Joanne Filan , and many more who you certainly want to hear from. These people will make you tear up and laugh all in one interview. We even got an interview with the founder of the Ali Forney Center, Carl Siciliano, who is inspiring. we donate a portion of profits to the center to help house LGBTQ youth.

5      Killer Unicorn is one of your most recent films. Of all the animals why a unicorn, they are so cuddly?

 Killer Unicorn was a Jose Alvare (writer) and Drew Boltons' (Director) crazy creation! I met Jose through a friend and we immediately clicked. We actually became very close throughout that film making experience.  When told he wanted to make a camp horror film starring Drag Queens I was 100% on board to help him produce this film! I was right to jump on board as it is showing at "Newfest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival" on Oct 29th in NYC and already has amazing distribution so it will be on your screens soon! It is funny you see Unicorns as cuddly. I have always liked them for their magical powers, lol. They are also just a powerful and sexy creature.  This Unicorn is the sexy actor Dennis Budesheim. His costume simply consisted of sparkle booty shorts, boots, and of course a scary yet beautiful Unicorn mask. Check out behind the scenes pics on insta @KillerUnicornFilm

6    What is your astrological sign?

     I was born on Feb. 19th so land on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. I really don't know much more then that, other then when I tell people, I usually get an "oooh, that make sense". I choose to take this as a compliment. 

   What do you eat for breakfast?

      Part of my work consists of filming LGBTQ events. Most of these amazing gigs are held very late at night at amazing venues, so my eating schedule can be extremely odd. I can often be seen making pasta at 4am or eating eggs at 5pm. Breakfast is still the first meal if it is eaten a 2pm after a gig that ended at 4am, right? I guess the easiest answer to any question about food is, "I want pasta"

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

       Mattioli  Productions has a ton of new work coming out by end of year and into next year! We will be raising money for several LGBTQ+ films so we have more films about this community made by the community. Telling our own stories from our perspective is important for a truly authentic view but with that comes a ton of community funding. So the best way to keep that going is to check out and keep up with and Insta @mattiolipro The film "Words" an exploration of identity can be found on all social media @wordsthefilm and on Amazon in the U.K. and all of North America. It is also included with Prime! Also, keep an eye out for the docuseries "My First Time" and our next thriller "Guys at Parties Like it" ( @Guysatpartieslikeit) which are both going to make a bang! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mushroom Dick

After today's headline, I couldn't help myself. How could I not blog/meme about this? 

On Anita Hill

Anita Hill has been resurrected and thank goodness. In a time of #MeToo, it seems the original crusader who called out the sexist brute that is Clarence Thomas had been buried in the sands of time. This is appropriate too, as the very white, straight, cisgendered polemic of #metoo has obscured the voices of transpeople, people of color, and queer folk.

As Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Al Franken have been forced to resign, Thomas still sits on the bench. A bigoted homophobe who voted against gay marriage, Justice Thomas forgets his marriage to a white woman would have at one time been illegal. Before many actresses and other personalities came forward, there was Anita Hill. She raised her voice. She called an abuser out. She lost in her day in court, but it wasn't because Ms. Hill was lying. It was because in a patriarchal system, she was a female victim and such is slanted against female victims. And she was a female victim of color.

When Anita Hill hit the news, I was still young. I remember cracks were made about how Clarence Thomas was "the man." There were others saying his behavior was "typical black shit." The truth is, abusers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, gender identities, and orientations. My abuser was a white male in case you are wondering. Then there were others calling her "a trashy black woman." She is a victim. Her color should not matter. Ms. Anita Hill was a hard working lawyer who was preyed upon by a man in power who would not stop bullying her until she had a nervous breakdown. 

Clarence Thomas took the bench, Anita Hill was forgotten. Around the same time, wife beater and abuser OJ Simpson killed two people. It wasn't about the fact the LAPD defended a celebrity who nearly killed his wife and stalked her after the divorce. Rather, it became a matter of white versus black. Anita Hill became obscured and Nicole Brown Simpson blasted all over the media. Maybe it was because her husband was famous. Maybe it was because she was dead. Maybe it was because she was white. 

But both women mattered, and both belong in the larger, much needed dialogue about abuse. 

However, the problem in feminism has been going on since the beginning. Feminism has always had issues with the matter of race and queer identity. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was passionate about the women's right to vote, but lukewarm about abolition, and was called out by Sojourner Truth for her problematic politics on several occasions. Truth accused Cady Stanton of being self-interested, because the right to vote was only for (white) women at the time. 

Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were not welcoming to female activists of color. So much so Alice Walker constructed womanism, a more inclusive feminism. Friedan was also a notorious homophobe, and referred to queer women as "the lavender menace." 

The First and Second Waves died because of women could not work together. And now I see the same divide in the Third Wave. I am a trans inclusive feminist, and the dialogue of the TERFs make me ill. I not only think it is vile, but harmful as well. 

Transfolk are more likely not to be tested to STDs because they don't want to be humiliated by ignorant medical professionals. They are more likely to be sexually assaulted and not report it because of ignorant, transphobic, sexist cops. Transfolk are more likely to have abusive partners and also less likely to report that because of the notion that only straight cis women are abused. Transfolk are more likely to be murdered by an abusive partner. Hundreds of trans women are murdered in the United States each year and no one is making any move to solve their murders. 

But because they don't fit the white, cis narrative paralyzing any feminist movement they do not matter I suppose. 

The other thing that turns my stomach is when I hear white, cis women insinuate that women cannot be abusers. I had a female friend who had a partner, a woman who I will call Jane, that was abusive. Jane would call her incessantly to keep tabs on her. When she didn't turn up, Jane would show up at her job. My friend confided in me that Jane even drugged her and raped her. I was frightened of Jane and I didn't even have to deal with her.

My friend went to the cops at my urging about Jane. The cops responded that it was "dyke drama" and that Jane should just break up with her. Jane began showing up at her apartment and even physically assaulted my friend. The cops termed it a "cat fight" or "gay stuff." My friend went to a domestic violence shelter. They were nice until they found out her partner was a woman. I think my friend would have had more advocacy if her partner were a straight man, and if she was a straight woman. 

She eventually got a restraining order against Jane, and Jane managed to violate it twice. Finally Jane found a new girlfriend, I mean victim. But Jane was viewed as less dangerous because she was a woman and that's a problem. 

I have met gay men who were date raped. One tragic story is of a fellow I know who drugged and date raped by a man who was living a double life being married to a woman. He found this out after seeing his rapist out with his wife and children. To add insult to injury, this particular man tested as HIV positive soon after the date rape. He kept it as a secret for years until confessing it in a closed web group. 

While he got a ton of support for his confession, an ignorant soul, a straight white woman, posted that it was impossible for him to get raped. I thought my stomach was going to turn. 

As for women of color, I have heard of them confessing to being abused or assaulted. I have heard white people say, "It happens more in their world," as if it is simply expected that these women just be victims of abuse and nothing more. Or the classic, "She's just another black woman who got with a guy that got out of jail."

Suddenly she isn't as "good" as a white victim and she doesn't count as much. 

I am a white woman writing this, and a cis one at that. I look like I should be solving hot coca. But I also know how it feels not to be believed even by those close to you. I know how it feels to be reminded of his rights at all times, and how "he deserves a fair shake." I know how it feels to be blamed for what I wear, how I talk, and how I present myself. I know how it feels to be told it's all my fault that I am fleeing from a dangerous partner. I know how it feels to awaken to the truth that the judicial system cares more for the rights of the abuser than for the safety of those fearing for their lives. 

I know how it feels to find out he's been released from jail. I know how it feels to find out he's asking your friends about you. I know how it feels when he refuses medication and ignores boundaries,even those that are legal. I know how it feels to have his friends and family members harass you and tell you that it's your fault their loved one is dangerous and out of control. I know how it feels to have your personal life called "unstable" and for people to act like your character defeat caused the mental disease in your partner. I know how it feels to be jumpy, uneasy, and ill as a result of the unsafe behavior of another individual. 

I know I am a white cis woman and that has given me privilege. Yet I know how it feels to discover it's his world, I just live in it. This is why I am more than willing to hear everyone who has ever been assaulted, and this is why I will always believe anyone who is brave enough to step forward. And this is why we need to work together. Because if we do not, it will fall apart. It will be about his rights. It will be about his due process. It will be about him getting released early from prison and his victim being afraid. It will be about some lawyer dragging someone who comes forward through the mud and the culture getting an okay. 

So to every #MeToo activist and ally regardless of your race, gender identity, orientation or otherwise, you have some responsibility. These are as follows:
a. To talk about the hundreds of native women murdered in Canada, and their murders remain unsolved.
b. To talk about the hundreds of transwomen murdered in the US each year, and how those murders remain unsolved
c. To include all everyone in the #MeToo Conversation regardless of race, class, gender, gender identity, and orientation
d. To believe all victims who come forward
e. To support all victims to come forward.
f. To know that in rare cases, people do lie. But even when we want to believe the best, a person might still be an abuser (Bill Cosby)
g. To include queer women and women of color in the conversation about feminism, and this includes transwomen.
h. To shut down TERF inspired hate speech.
i. To know that to say we are all women is incomplete. A woman of color faces oppression a white woman doesn't. 
j. To remind people that transwomen are women
k. To educate others about sexual assault and boundaries. 
l. To educate others about victim shaming

In closing, this is why it is important to say the name Anita Hill, because if we don't, we exclude very important people from this dialogue that should benefit us all. Not only will we meet the same fate the First and Second Wave did, but women will continue to suffer.

So I will say her name:
Anita Hill
Anita Hill
Anita Hill

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bad Advice

Last week, I saw an old friend who had just divorced her husband. To put it bluntly, he was a dick. I never met someone who was more inconsiderate in my life. He was disrespectful to his wife, his kids. His family bullied her. I wanted to know why the hell she was so sad that he left her for another woman. Now he was making someone else miserable and screwing up their life.

Breakups are never easy. I know leaving a person who isn't good for us still hurts. But sometimes you are truly better off.

I was trying to explain this to my friend when a woman, who must be from a different dimension entitled Dumb Ass, interrupted me to say, "What you need to do is grieve the end of this relationship. You had a long history. 16 years. 2 kids."

I wanted to give this idiot a gun to blow her damn brains out. Not only was this the most useless advice I have ever heard, but it was from a moron who should have DOOR MAT tattooed on her forehead.

That is the situation that inspired this here meme.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Towel Juggling

DING DONG!” You're just getting out of the shower and you have unexpected company. Is it the pizza that you ordered more than an hour ago, which you know darn well is now free? Maybe it’s the acceptance letter from the school of your dreams. Or perhaps it’s Publisher’s Clearinghouse with that big check. As you sprint to the door, there’s only one problem: Your towel. As you Kramer-slide to the door, you fear the worst as the towel starts to slide towards the floor. Reaching for the door knob, nightmares flash through your mind. You're about to bare your soul and so much more to the ex-con pizza delivery guy. The mailman might want to deliver more than just a letter. And Publisher’s Clearinghouse will have a camera crew; good luck explaining that to mom. Fear not! Actress and comedienne April Brucker has the perfect solution that will save your brass, butt and bosom all at the same time: The Art of Towel Juggling! Give it a try and post your towel juggling video (Tag: Towel Juggling). Who knows? Towel juggling contests just might replace Spring break wet t-shirt contests! For more on April Brucker, visit her official website: http://AprilBrucker.TV.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar)

Whenever I see a picture of Rosie the Riveter I think of my Mema Ralph. During World War II when the men were away the women worked in the factories. Mema Ralph worked in the mill. It wasn't a matter of gender or the patriarchy. It was Amazon feminism. The men were away at war and the job needed to be done. It was just that simple.

Years later, she found herself a widow with seven kids. Life hands you shit, and it's your job to just deal with it. Maybe that's why she was so cantankerous and ornery at times. She had handled it all and more, what else could you throw her way. Mema Ralph was a fighter. I always gave her that.

I am hardly Rosie the Riveter. Ask me to build something it will fall down. Duct tape is my solution to fixing most things. I am surprised I am still alive most days because my decisions have not killed me. I have tried to open the subway gate with my hands full of luggage and in my weakness a male cop has helped me and gotten a good laugh. I am a total feminist until I have to kill a spider. Yet somehow, I have always managed to do things on my own.

What has been different about this new decade of my life is I don't feel the need to rely on people. While help is at my disposal because my friends are manna from heaven, I know that if I forge ahead I will be alright.

I was always told God never gives you more than you can handle. God must think I am Rosie the Riveter.

My plate has been full these past few months. I am in a master's program for writing, and am in my second project period. Once a week for the past several weeks I have translated several pieces in several different languages. Currently I am in rehearsal for a 9/11 based movement piece, and am also rehearsing my one woman show. I just wrapped an acting class. I am also working on some new videos, new routines, and getting my work published. And I still have a few day jobs on  top of all of this.

And I have a family member having a baby and I am a huge part of planning the shower and events for this little one coming.

To say I have felt overwhelmed is an understatement. Yet people have been looking at me as a leader as of late. I don't get it.

Sunday saw me basically crumble. I don't want to go into it but I have felt like I was walking through darkness. Some of it is I have some intense haters in my life unfortunately. Other darkness is my choice to live as I do and the people who disregard me or treat me as invisible. And third are those who seem never to be pleased. Fourth was fucking broken technology and stubbing my toe.

Sunday saw me crying on the sidewalk of New York. A practice paper redraft hanging over my head. My brain mush from my reading. My muscles weak from constantly being in rehearsal. My arms tired from carrying my heavy luggage of puppets. My head pounding from the goddamn New York subway and the noise. And a green screen that was taunting me because the fucking poles like the goddamn Walls of Jericho came a tumblin down!

Did I mention it's an inferno in NYC and I have no air conditioning?

I googled Rosie the Riveter for inspiration. A related entry was Amelia Earhart. Smiling she was ready for flight. I know under those goggles and behind those takeoffs she loved the sky because it helped her escape a world that was so frustrating, so asinine, and so limiting. Her bullshit was ten fold compared to mine.

I also remembered she crashed her plane in the Pacific. These days there are women pilots. Amelia Earhart didn't fly and crash so they could give up, and she didn't die so women could give up on themselves either.

Rosie the Riveter and Amelia Earhart reminded me I was going to be alright. Sometimes I am stressed and the darkness seems never to end. Just like Amelia Earhart and Rosie the Riveter, I look to my strength. If I give up, I will be giving a lot of people what they want.

And just like my Mema Ralph, life seems daunting. But I am putting one foot in front of the other and just doing it.

There's no other way, right?

Send me a line

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breaking Up With Gel

Last summer I fell in love.

My life had hit the skids. I was on round who knows of a never ending breakup with my former partner, who's mentally ill. My mom and I were fighting a ton. And I was having money problems. So I needed to make myself feel better. That's when I got a gel manicure for the first time.

I instantly became addicted as my nails lasted for upwards of three weeks to a month. They didn't crack. I looked cute. So it was a pleasure to shill out the dough for the powder.

When the gel nails came, it felt like I had come to life in a whole new way. I got off my ass and applied and got into to a grad program I had wanted to attend for years, and found a way to pay for it myself. I began to rehearse and revise my one woman show in a way I never had, and entered The Lady and President Tramp in festivals. I released April Unwrapped, and much to my mother's chagrin began to post sexy pictures. I renewed my health insurance. I began to officially call myself a headlining comedian. I pitched my book to an agent who's shopping it. I returned to legit acting and acting class. I recorded a voiceover demo and am a regular cast member of a radio drama. I became head editor of a genre for my school's lit magazine, the number one student lit magazine in the nation. I became involved in ACT UP and other activism. I mastered full body puppetry. I took my ventriloquism to the next level.

I became more truthful about my labels in my life, too. I began to put up serious boundaries with my mentally ill ex, and told people willing to give me an update on him that none was necessary. I began to cut toxic people out of my life. I began to be a decent friend, sister, and daughter.

I thought these gel nails gave me this super power to be the April I had always wanted to be: tough, powerful, and determined.


The gel made me feel pretty. Yet my nails were starting to look raggedy as heck. The gel would come lose and particles and dirt got trapped underneath. The gel would crack and it would hurt. The gel would make my fingers feel suffocated and begin to itch and burn. My nails became brittle and frail. All because of my obsession with the feeling this gel gave me.

Overtime the manicures started to work less and less. The nails started to pop off after a week and a half. I went to one lady and she was having a break up with her man and nearly sheered my cuticle off with her machine of death. Then I could never decide on a color. And when I did machine of death lady told me how wrong I was. This was after she scraped my gel off with a metro card and I started to cry because the gel bonded to my nail.

As of this week, gel and I are saying bye for a minute. They are staying on less and costing me more. They crack and it's a freaking medical emergency when they do. They are making my nails brittle. They aren't worth it.

I use I and they like we are two opposing forces.

Really, what made me move forward was myself. It wasn't a stupid manicure but me all along. I know that sounds nuts, but damn it's true.

In stepping away from gel, it makes me realize how much my ex, my health issues, hair loss and other things fucked with my psyche. The nails were the pick me up when I needed them, but I don't need them any more. I thought I was over that bullshit only to pick up more bullshit. I suppose it's the addict or the masochist in me. Hell if I know.

Right now I am back to regular polish. I feel dressed down, humbled, and a little like a crack ho. But I also know this is where I need to be right now with my neuroses, first world entitlement and other nonsense.

I can still move forward and be myself. My vanity just needs to take a rest. I will probably do gel in another few months. But right now, the nails need a break. I need to give myself a break too.

Gel or not, I am good enough gosh darnit!

April Brucker

Monday, August 20, 2018

Time (Culture Club)

It’s insane how time passes. Seems like only yesterday I was starting my journey going to class through those red doors at the Strasberg Institute. Seems like only yesterday I was going to open mics, had never headlined, had never been on TV, and took every bomb to heart. Seems like only yesterday I was doing something stupid. Wait, what was last week…….
Everyone has their different markers in knowing they are getting “old.” For the rest of the world it’s when their friends get married, and news of an arriving child is greeting with a congratulations, not a shotgun visit from good old dad. I still remember my sister Skipper trying on her wedding dress. Suddenly tears streamed down her eyes. She wept, “I look like an adult woman that has a mortgage and pays her own cellphone bill!”
I said, “Look on the bright side. At least Boomer has a job. You are doing better than several women in our family currently.”
In show business you know you are getting old when people you know depart the business. It’s not just one or two but rather a mass exodus of sorts. The other day a buddy of mine and I were talking about a vapid creature known as Starfucker. A beautiful almond haired would be starlette, Starfucker bragged ad nauseum about her celebrity friends she had. These included but were not limited to Mischa Barton, Spencer Pratt, and Paris Hilton. Starfucker, through her friends, even had some high powered agent.
I had seen her act and wasn’t impressed. Sure she was beautiful but not much else going on. Once, I forget where we were, but she was distressed. Screaming, panicked, she said, “My butt is vibrating!”
It was a crisis. Starfucker screamed as she once again said, “MY BUTT IS VIBRATING!”
Then she realized it was her phone. As my friend and I recounted the phone incident, we remembered Starfucker’s on again/off again love Tom. He had a band of some sort and actually seemed like a dufus but a nice one. Tom was always being beaten down by Starfucker and her Lucy Ricardo need for fame and fortune. He actually had talent, he just had a girlfriend who was shortening his life span.
Starfucker announced she was moving to Beverly Hills to be near her friends and fell off the map. My friend and I had wondered what happened to her. So we looked her up. She’s no longer in Beverly Hills but back on Long Island where she is from. She’s married with two kids and sells real estate. Starfucker had that same vacant look in her eyes. We had a laugh. So much for her high powered friends. Maybe she’s smart enough to keep her phone somewhere that it doesn’t make her life embarrassing.
The memory of Starfucker got me thinking of all the people I have known over the years who have come and gone from the entertainment world. Some were cool. Some not so much. Was it an easy decision to give this all up for Starfucker and those like her? Was it not?
Who knows.
This past year I decided to get my MFA in writing. It’s a program that allows me to see LA on my own terms, network, live life, still tour, and be married to my career. It’s what I have chosen instead of a “normal life.”

In pursuing my writing for real, it’s brought a fresh perspective to my acting. I am legit acting more than I have in sometime. Part of the reason acting fell to the wayside was because of the opportunities with my puppets. But the more I brush up on my acting, the stronger I get with my puppets and live comedy.
Honestly though, the truth is, I wish I could take a time machine and speak to my younger self. Help her out a tad.
“Listen to your voice teacher about that breathing. He’s not an idiot. Don’t make him a prophet before his time!”
“Stop fucking breaking the rules stupid ass. You are a rebel without a hall pass. Some of the rules are pretty good. You will figure this out when you play a large crowd!”
“Cigarettes do not relieve anxiety attacks!”
“Alcohol won’t relieve your anxiety attack!”
“Getting drunk and making an ass out of yourself will not impress him! And he’s worthless anyway!”
Yesterday I went to a rehearsal and we talked about internal life. An old acting teacher of mine that I loved made a post about internal life. His post also reconnected me with an old friend. We ended up talking. It was amazing actually.
It also made me realize we don’t get people forever. Time slips by and before we know it, time is gone. It was only yesterday Starfucker was being herself. It was only yesterday she and Tom were the free theater minus the overdone plot. Now they are both adults. He scores films which is awesome, and he has a fiancĂ© who doesn’t seem like she screams at him in public.
Sure, there are days that I beat myself up for not being where I want to be. There are days where it feels like I am climbing rocks and am about to be thrown off. But in those days I realize I am still following my dreams, fighting the good fight. As I completed my weekly checkin for my master’s program, I knew the other women in my group were fighting that same fight with me. Just like the students each term in my section in college. We were running towards our dreams, and hopefully we would run together forever…..
It also made me think of the acting class I took each week that just wrapped, and about how one student burst into the student lounge eager to share that he had found his beats in his scene. His enthusiasm made me think of going to class through those red doors. And it made me realize how much I love my graduate school teachers, and how much I miss some of the wonderful teachers I had in college too.
It made me hunger for a different time, when it was about beats and scene and technique, not about casting directors, producers, writing packets, pitching, auditioning, who was booking what and the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit that goes with having a career. It also made me wonder if the fact that it became about the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit was why I had seen so many of my peers depart.
Sure, there is the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit, but there is love for it and maybe I can marry the two. And maybe I should give myself credit for not throwing in the towel.

With this thought in my mind I decided to write my old acting teacher a note saying hello after reading his post. Time teaches us that we don’t have people forever and they might be taken at any moment.
As I crafted my letter once more I laughed as a memory of Starfucker yelling at the unfortunate Tom raced through my mind. I shook my head. Those were the days. The other part of me now saw that I had been judgmental towards Starfucker even in the nickname. She wasn’t vicious or plotting, just shallow. More comic relief if anything.
As I sent the note off to my teacher I put a thought out to the universe. Time makes you less judgmental because you realize life is indeed short. Instead of condemning Starfucker, I started to hope she was happy in her life in Long Island. After all, people change, and maybe marriage and motherhood have given her more dimensions.
And maybe I should stop calling her Starfucker.

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Politics and Other Things

I recently got approached to do a show at a well known New York Club. My relationship with comedy has been a tad weird as of late. I headline and am starting to do so comfortably. I am also getting a master's in writing. I am back in acting class for the first time in years, and am onstage acting. I also do improv jams.

But I am also a political activist. My comedy is in just when I mock the president, but it's clear where I stand. Let's just say that. I want to be known for my work, but I can't help but have my opinions. I got derided in several writing packets by my program mentor for lambasting some wasteful imbecile a family member of mine either dated or married. I got lambasted by my acting teacher for playing opinion. I don't hide my feelings. I am easy to read.

The producer told me I would be seen by the booker and the possibility for regular paid spots was on the table. For years I have wandered New York without a true artistic home. Part of the reason I became a nomad was because I have been back and forth between here and the West Coast. So I was eager to hear him out.

He said he could put me up if I brought three people on a Monday night. Well, I have produced. I believe in paying one's dues. But I am also someone who headlines, appears on television, and has published books. I should be the act that's promoted, not someone who's relegated to bringing. It sounds egotistical, but it's a due I have paid. If I am going to bring, I am going to produce my own one person show and kill myself promoting it because I am the star of the evening. It's how I get the most bang for my buck.

Plus I paid the due of bringing. I barked. I have been there and done that. I think it's important for folks new to comedy to get the stage time. I feel it's important for them to pay that due and we can laugh about it. I also get this producer has a room minimum and I too have done shitty things to fill my room. I get that. So I was already leaning towards no.

I wanted to say no as nicely as possible. After all, I have produced. I know the pressure of packing my room. I have papered my room, too. I have had those I was papering my room back out and I lost money that way. It's a heart ache. No matter what you do you might get a sparse turnout or a cancelled show. This is why a lot of folks burn out on standup in New York.

So then the producer threw in another wrench. He asked what act I was going to do and I said the ventriloquism. Then he asked if it was Donald J. Tramp. Mind you last time I did a spot at this club I did both May Wilson and Donald J. Tramp. The producer said, "Rodney Dangerfield had two rules, no religion and no politics. I don't know what your political positions are, but the booker is old school."

I was being both degraded and censored out of the gate. This opportunity wasn't for me. Sure, I could have brought May Wilson, but even she's a commentary on women in society. The activist is a part of my fabric. It's a part of who I am.

Years ago I would have tried to change things to appease someone. But now, not so much. I have met comedians afraid to get political because they will lose bookings. They are right they will. Yet they are not afraid to be ordinary and have an act that's unforgettable because they are afraid of risks and failure. In playing it safe and not shattering the boundaries they will always be where they are.

My climb to headliner status has been a rocky one. I have been called "an angry woman" by male bookers because I tell the truth. I have been discouraged to talk about politics because I might offend. Comedy is jokes, someone will be offended by a knock knock joke. If you lead your artistic life that way, quit now. You will always feel stifled and stuck.

I would have been the nice girl years ago, but cervical cancer changed everything. My former partner had to go away because he had untreated PTSD and was using drugs again, and I was losing my home. My landlord tried to burn my apartment down. Even as I was wading through shit, I didn't think I would be told I tested positive for cervical cancer.

It taught me to take better care of my body, and to stop taking shit from people and things that didn't matter. It taught me to be honest, because life is short. Yes, I am missing out on being seen by a club booker. But I am taking those energies to create my own work in my own way with my own voice which is finding it's own audience. Then those club bookers will look for me.

And the question will in turn be, am I available?

Is this the harder way to go? Yes. But being an artist is being dangerous. It's dark. I just want to mention I have been dubbed "The Bad Girl of Ventriloquism." I hardly think I am "bad." I just think I am honest and take my risks. And if saying no to something that isn't right for me is a risk, I am okay with it.

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