Friday, March 23, 2018

One News Network and Other Adventures

During a Friday jaunt in midtown I ran into America One. I had never heard of them before, but the newscaster looked like a white college frat boy rapist. Yes, the one you wouldn't leave your drink unattended with.

He was interviewing people about whether or not teachers should be armed. The answer to that is no, teachers should not be armed. He asked me and I told him what I thought. Arming teachers meant more issues with weapons whether they were being discharged in the middle of class or a troubled student finding them and taking their own life. It's a whole new set of complications. I said this not knowing who I was speaking to and the entitled white man behind the mic condescendingly said, "Thank you!" That's when he yanked the mic away from my face.

What had I done? My opinion had been an informed one. I hadn't insulted him or the two Trumkins from Maryland who want to arm every teacher. It's a different opinion.

Then I googled it. YUP! I was talking to some real Trump lovers. To me this was crazy and funny in a way that things could only happen in New York. I wanted to say to this future Ted Bundy, "Sir, you are in the liberal hub of the East Coast. I am also pan. If you don't know what that means look it up. And FYI shit for brains, this is my backyard, sucka!"

It always amazes me how conservatives whine about liberals being closed minded. Yet when you disagree with them they are always the first to shut down. I will be the first to listen to anyone with a differing opinion. Will I agree? Not necessarily, but I will listen.

Personally, I feel we need gun control in this country. Too many children are dying in school where they should be safe. Too many people minding their own business are being picked off by nutcases who obtained firearms. Why are people owning enough weapons to start their own militia? And for the love of Jesus, why is the NRA not sympathetic to the loss of these families. We are not taking your guns, we are just making sure people who shouldn't have them don't have them. I am entitled to be safe as are all hard working, law abiding people.

My life has also been touched by mental illness as I have blogged about in the past. While my previous partner is no longer a part of my life, the split was horrendous because he believed he did not need to be medicated. After the split, I found out there was a firearms charge on his record he neglected to tell me about. Because it was dropped to a misdemeanor (he cut a deal apparently) he can still legally obtain a firearm.

While my previous partner had a good heart and a kind soul, in the midst of a psychotic episode he was capable of anything. The fact that he and others like him can obtain weapons and there are people willing to sell without asking questions because they are self-righteous gun nuts makes me very nervous.

Before you tell me my ex is just a nut, he's a vet. A lot of vets don't think they need medicated for PTSD and one shot up a clinic a few weeks ago. Many vets come back and are never the same, and these same folks who don't feel they need medicated also have service weapons handy. While unfortunately many also kill themselves rather than innocent people, it's also a hard reality that the United States government was their arms dealer.

I am a friend to vets, but I am also aware of what life is like with someone who has a mental illness with psychotic features. I am aware of what a good day is like before something sets them off, and all of a sudden they believe with all their heart that Subway is a terrorist organization. And then the rant comes that Isis is in fact operating out of the chain eatery and they can no longer go there. While it seems funny to write about, it's beyond awful to see someone's mind swallow them up. But it's also potentially deadly when they are able to obtain a weapon.

When the Las Vegas shooting occurred, I remember someone asking me what would possess someone to do that. I explained psych illness. They said the man had no record of being mentally ill. I explained a lot of mentally ill people at times don't think they are sick. This same person explained he didn't know how someone could do that, or someone who would think of that.

That's when I remembered the time my former partner believed he saw snipers in the windows of our neighborhood, and told me he wished he was armed so he could take them out. These were people doing office tasks for the record as this was New York City. Just let that sink in.

There is the argument that arming teachers will stop shooters, and it might. But again, how are these unstable individuals getting guns? Also, what if a teacher fires a gun and accidentally shoots off their own hand? What if this same teacher kills themselves cleaning the gun? I grew up around guns and clearly these idiots proposing this know nothing about keeping them.

The fact this white boy potential date rapist didn't want to talk to me today says plenty. It says that the issues with guns will continue to be a problem if the closed minded right can't continue to have a dialogue. It says children will continue to die.

Ultimately, while I am glad I got away from my previous partner. In my heart I know while I could walk away from him, until he is medicated he cannot walk away from himself. And those who can't walk away from themselves sometimes walk towards weapons. Saying arming teachers will stop this is like saying hitting a misbehaving child will stop them. It only makes it worse, and arming teachers will only make this worse.

So to the ass weed from One News Network, I hope I made your day shitty. I really do. I got a kick out of the stupid look on your face. It was priceless.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Acting Etc........

Lately I have been making a return to the stage. For years my life has been dedicated to the pursuit of stand up comedy, ventriloquism, and writing. When I did act it was on film and television. I wouldn't have considered myself a stage actress although my bachelors was in acting.

After college, I did audition for summer stock. But I kind of gave up on the whole stage acting thing because it doesn't pay unless you are on Broadway. The Equity stuff that does pay is in regional theater outside of New York. So I figured I would put it on the back burner. While it was a dream deferred, my heart still ached for the live theatre.

The year of 2017 saw me doing a decent amount of modeling, but the television opportunities that came my way were nothing short of disappointing. I lost one due to a conflict and another because it just wasn't meant to be. Other things also weren't meant to be either.

Then I got the chance to do a live show in a haunted house where I worked with full body puppets. The pay wasn't the greatest but it was steady. Not only did I enjoy my fellow actors and puppeteers, but it helped me get back into the groove of doing a run of a live show again.

This Easter I am in a production of The Crucifixion with the Family Rep. We have two Jesus's, one is a black break dancer and the other is a woman of color. Judas is a black man who sings country. And then I am Simon Peter. We are helping to make one of the greatest stories ever told representative of people other than white Christians. We are giving Christians of color a voice, but most importantly queer Christians a voice.

With The Family I also did a play reading where my character had a secret. The role was funny, quirky, and deep. If allowed the chance, I would like to do it again when the one acts are presented in full form.

I am also now part of a one man show from a comic who I adore. I am his "dream girl." (More to come later).

I am also staging my one woman show which is becoming more and more theatrical and less and less standupish.

While this return to the stage has been a surprise it has also been a wonderful one at that. I am a better listener, and it is helping to inform both my standup ad my writing.

What will come next? Hell if I know. But these New York stage credits, I kind of like em.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Happy Birthday Yusef Hawkins

Yusef was killed in 1989 in Brooklyn. His cause of death was not only racial profiling and jealousy, but also gun violence. Unfortunately since that time nothing has changed and the conflicts and conversations keep repeating themselves. While his name has faded from memory the issues are still the same. Today Yusef would have been 45. Honor him today by becoming more compassionate, educated on gun violence, and vowing to end racial profiling.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick's Day

My great grandmother was 100 percent Irish. She loved her whiskey, loved her cards, and absolutely loved cigarettes. As a matter of fact, great grandmother was so Irish she even got into a fight with a woman wearing orange on St. Patrick's Day.

Apparently she and my great grandfather used to play cards with another couple. The women, who were both completely Irish, would have very visible hand signals so they could cheat during their card games.

Great grandmother was supposed to give up smoking because she was getting sick. But she had other ideas. She would open the window and my great grandfather would ask if she was smoking. She said there was a fire in the alley and he didn't ask any more questions. Apparently, that alley was very fire prone.

She died long before I was born, but since she was my dad's grandmother she got him hooked on corn beef and cabbage. My mother, who is German born, had to learn to make that for my dad when they got married. While it was the bane of her existence for several years she rose to the occasion. Yet in that process I got hooked on corn beef and cabbage too.

Alas, I took after my great grandmother in several ways. I have a foul mouth if you have ever spoken to me for very long. I loved whiskey so much they made me quit. I loved cigarettes and they made me quit those too. I adore political arguments, bullshit or not. And did I mention I am lousy and am thinking of cheating next time I play?

I also have her triangular smile, the one where my whole mouth doesn't open. It's the Irish smile. It's the smile that allowed me to be a natural ventriloquist,

Either way, I don't believe St. Patrick's Day is about getting trashed. It's about celebrating the contributions of the Irish Americans. It's about celebrating the contributions of my family members who are doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, physician's assistants, engineers, entertainers, writers, musicians, nurses, community organizers, and just all around characters.

Now have a drink. And when you kiss a Chinese leprechaun think of my great grandmother. Or don't do that, that's weird. We are all Irish today. Now don't get arrested by that Irish cop. xoxo

PS. My great grandmother said your best friend was a dollar bill. Now buy my shit.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Interview with Marvin Felix Camillo Valetine, Jr aka Panchito

The Family Rep company has a reading series March 17, 2018 at 6 PM at the Cornelia Street Cafe

1. Tell us about your father the founder of The Family and his legacy?

My father, Marvin F. Camillo, founded The Family in 1972 with Colleen Dewhurst and the assistance of Joan Potter in 1972 after conducting theater workshops in Sing Sing and Bedford Hills Prisons through The Street Theater. The company was created to give the ex-cons a place to continue their growth iin theater while allowing them to rehabilitate and adapt to outside living. Many plays were born into this company most notably Short Eyes, an OBIE and Drama Desk award winner for best play and best director (my father) which was written by Miguel Pinero, a Sing Sing inmate at the time. My father went on to successfully run The Family putting on many productions throughout the United States, parts of Europe and even Cuba, until his untimely passing in 1988. Other accomplishments of my father: Cast in South Pacific, Starred in Amiri Baraka's Dutchman, Starred as Walter Lee in The Raisin in the Sun, studied under the guidance of Vinnette Carol and his last performance noted was playing Arturo Shomburg with Miriam Colon playing his wife for CUNY TV.  

Marvin Camillo and Colleen Dewhurst

Marvin, Jr. 

2. What inspired the reading series?

My love for putting on plays and giving opportunities to anyone that wants to take that chance at something they thought they could never do. Also, I love to give people the opportunity to go see an enjoyable show and still be able to pay their rent. 

3. Your play, Petty @ The Pedi is featured as a part of the series. What inspired it?
Moments in my life! More specifically, I had a few occasions where I would go have the Green Tea Treatment at a Mani/Pedi spot and these amazingly humorous situations would occur. So in this short play, I wrote about a few of the situations and made it into one crazy scene.

Some inmates at Sing Sing from a Family Workshop

4. What is your ultimate theatre goal?
To create a community of supportive artists that uplift and support each other. I firmly believe in the African proverb Ubuntu; meaning I am because we are and to take it deeper, I eat you eat, I strive you strive, I grow you grow. 

Some family members after a fundraiser. They come in all walks of life. One might look a lil familiar. 

5. Where can people find out more about The Family?
We have a website under construction, but we are able to be seen on Facebook as The Family Repertory Company, Instagram Thefamilyrepertorycompany, Twitter TheFamRepCo and via our email

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Photos, Memes, and Other Things Oh MY!!!!

National Napping Day
National Walk out day
National Barbie Day
Rex Tillerson is fired

Prayer to St. Anthony

When I was a kid, my mom was always losing something. She was worse than Houdini as everything she touched disappeared. There was always the initial meltdown, and then there was The Prayer to St. Anthony. She'd day, "Dear St. Anthony, come around. Something's lost that can't be found."

Sometimes we found it, sometimes we wigged out more until we found it. Supposedly, St. Anthony was the patron saint of lost things. How he got that designation I will never know. That is a random designation. Was his miracle that he always found the crap of errant white people with too much leisure time?

My mom was big on St. Anthony as well as other holy relics, as my late Nuni followed the Virgin Mary and went to the shrines such as Medjugorje. Supposedly my great grandmother's vision was restored but I will never know as she died before I was born. My mom used to take the relics seriously as well as the custom holy water. Personally, I fell like scalpers sell to tourists there like we do in New York.

Anyway, today I lost my passport.

I wigged out and tore up my entire room.

I cried and cursed my life.

Then I said the prayer to St. Anthony.

Let me tell you that shit worked.

Perhaps my mother ain't so crazy after all.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Crushing It........Kind Of

Life has been a little nuts lately. For one my schedule is filled. I am currently in a master's program for creative writing. It's one where I do a ton of field work and is ideal for the independent student. Yet it is a lot of work, a lot. I never disliked school and would have probably pursued a master's earlier, but I completed high school and was taking college classes as I was doing high school. And because my undergrad was so expensive, I completed it in three years. My parents were generous enough to fit the bill, and I was generous to complete it ahead of schedule, plus I entered college with college credit already.

Needless to say, as I went to school both winters and summers and never stopped, when college ended I could not take one more acting class let alone write one more paper. I would dip my foot into a graduate writing seminar or a master acting class, but the road was my first love and my brain needed a rest. I had an ex boyfriend once tell me that, "Your brain works overtime, and this is why you do so many foolish things. You get tired of thinking."

Harsh, yes. Also true.

Now I am back in school and love the program I am in. I am also paying for it myself. I am rediscovering how I love school actually. Currently I am on the literary magazine and spent the past month judging a short story competition. While I expected the good, the bad, and the ugly we got some amazing entries. Instead of the allotted six books required by the mentee group, I have chosen to read seven. My program mentor told me I could read more than the designated number and here I am doing it. As a rule, my annotations and writing packet are turned in early.

My mom called me having her yearly meltdown about my life. It happens around this time each year so she is directly on schedule. According to her, I wasn't greeting my new program with enough "gusto." Meanwhile, if I had anymore gusto I would burst into flames.

I am also rededicating myself to my acting. Each Monday night I take a comedy acting class, and I adore my teacher. More often than not I bring in work I wrote and he critiques me. He performs and writes his own work and thinks traditional theatre people are stuffy snobs. I have been with him for several months and want to continue.

Coming back to acting class was difficult as I loved my acting teachers in college, but felt a tad burned out. I was also very hard on myself as a youngster, and beat myself with a hammer to the point where it made progress difficult. Coming back was difficult as I was prone to beating myself up again, and I discovered it after one class where I was close to tears. The truth is, as my acting teacher explained, I am among friends in class. It is safe to fail in class. Things do not have to be brought to completion in class.

I also realize I am hard on myself. My mentor in my writing program called me judgmental in my work. I am judgmental when it comes to others because I hold myself to insane standards. There are days I leave the house wearing coffee wondering why the fuck I got out of bed. Only to realize everyone has those days. So yes, I am beating myself up less, or at least trying to.

In between, I am also starting a voiceover class every Tuesday night. I have always wanted to do this and believe I am a natural, and a casting director a few years ago told me to take a class and make a reel. He was a nice guy actually. Too bad I was too busy beating myself up to take his feedback. Now I will be in class every Monday and Tuesday night. I look forward to the class as it was a generous gift from a friend who knew I wanted to do this for myself for a long time, and this friend surprised me with the class as a present. While it is one more thing in my plate, it is also a welcome thing as this was a gift out of love.

Each Friday I am also rehearsing with my pianist. We are mounting The Lady and President Tramp in  May. There have been rewrites to the show and I am sure there will be more. Being in a graduate program makes me not afraid to revise. I have a teacher in my program who says when you refuse to revise or get writer's block, it is fear. Never have truer words been spoken.

Saturdays are spent rehearsing The Crucifixion. I play Simon Peter, the one who helps Jesus with the cross and accidentally sells him out. He later flees because of his legal problems. Later Peter writes the story and builds the first church, only to be crucified upside down. The Easter story is pretty intense really. In this retelling, we have a Jesus who is a woman of color and a Jesus who is a break dancing black man. We also have a Judas who is a black man who sings country. And then you have Simon Peter, who is a tad queer. It all works and is the vision Family Founder Marvin Camillo would have loved.

I am singing in this show which is magical and strange, because I sing for my day job so this isn't a stretch. Granted, my voice is not as good as the young woman who plays Mary, a Broadway style singer who will likely be there someday, or Judas, who looks like Boys 2 Men but when he sings you hear his idol, Randy Travis. It's also an ensemble show that isn't comedy, which I haven't done since college either. We have performances Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I look forward to the opportunity for artistic and spiritual growth.

I am also in a comedy staged reading next week. I haven't done a staged reading in years which has me excited, and I am making big choices. While the opportunity isn't paid, it's opening doors and this company might also let me have readings of my own work, which would be exceedingly exciting.

On top of that I am still performing regularly, and working on becoming a headliner. Am I crazy? Maybe. But that's the world we live in. More on those developments later.

Monday night I realized all I had taken on, and knew this was going to be Herculean. Then I went to a show to perform and there was an improv jam that was ending. I hadn't done improv in years, so when they called me up I was shocked. But I just went with it and crushed it. If I died at that moment I would have been happy because I was having so much fun and loved what I was doing in that moment.

But then it could suck because I died.

Yet I am taking risks, going for it. Maybe I feel crushed, but when you feel crushed perhaps you are doing better than you think you are. If you feel like you are crushing it all the time, you probably aren't.

So I suppose I am crushing it.......Kind Of......

Now to get back to my reading for school

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