I saw this on my blogger friend Stephen's place. Stephen is also a Stephen R, like me & also has a shaved head & is an actor/singer, the big difference is that he is young, thin & handsome. He lives in Chicago & I enjoy reading about him. This is really fun...try it! Mad Men is my favorite TV show & the new season starts on August 16th.
Friday, July 31, 2009
It is with some trepidation that I name July 31st, 1984 as the best day of my life... so far. Deep down I feel that I should choose my wedding day, which was amazing & beautiful & very emotional. I also think of the day when the water taxi from Marco Polo International Airport turned into the basin & the Husband & I could see the Custom House, St Marks & the Redemptora through the lifting fog as we arrived in Venice on our 12th anniversary. I would consider the perfect day, our first together in NYC, when I got to watch my Husband’s face as we came up out of the subway station & he saw Time Square at twilight for the first time. We have had so many perfect days in so many great places, but my best day ever was purely selfish & that is why it remains #1 after 25 years.
I awoke that morning in my beautiful, very cool, perfectly decorated apartment at the top of Capitol Hill in Seattle. Every window was wide open in our corner L shaped, top floor home. I could see Mt Baker from the kitchen window & the Seattle Skyline from the living room. I did my stretches, giving my single-digit- body-fat body a little warm up, showered & slipped into my size 30 inch waist pants & my cool rockabilly shirt. My incredibly handsome & sexy partner of 5 years was just getting ready to take his hot, worked out body to the gym. I kissed him good bye & he wished me a special good luck good-bye. I would normally have gone with him, but something extraordinary lay ahead for me on this last day of July 1984.
The producer/writer & the director of a new TV show had contacted me through the theatre where I was appearing in the biggest, hottest show in Seattle. The show that was selling out nightly for six months (& would run another 6 months). They had left a message that they loved my work in the play & thought that I had a real future doing comedy in TV & Film. The were offering me a part. This was unheard of… Hollywood types just plucking me from regional theatre & giving me a job, with no audition, that would get me my SAG card.
The show was called- Murder She Wrote & it was starring Angela Lansbury (who I adored). I was thrilled as I made my way on foot to the location of the shoot, studying my sides one more time as I went. When I arrived at a condo building in the Belltown neighborhood, signs pointed me to a large room filled with about 20 handsome, hot guys all carrying suit bags. I knew a lot of these young men from my gym. They were the sorts who, if they looked at me at all, would give me a snort & a look of distain. You know...professionaly gay. I kept thinking- “Damn! I am so stupid. You are supposed to bring your own wardrobe. How was I supposed to know that?!? Now all the gym hunks are thinking I am real nerd, for sure.” A female PA with a clipboard started calling off names & the muscle boys would each answer with a raised hand. When all the names were called & everyone was accounted for, the PA asked if anyone’s name had been left out. I sheepishly raised my hand & she asked my name. I gave her my name, all the while thinking- “I knew this was too good to be true. I am not gonna get my SAG card & shoot a TV series with Angela Lansbury. It is some cruel joke!” The PA said- “Oh, Stephen… you have your own trailer. It is around the corner & right next door to Peter Grave’s trailer.” Well, the muscle gym boys' heads snapped to turn & gawk at me as a handsome hunksome male PA personally escorted me to my trailer. I walked deliberately & with my head held high as I passed each single gym bunny with their suit bag of their own wardrobe.
I spent my first day on a film set, sitting between takes, under a big umbrella on the roof of a Seattle tower with my new friend- Angela Lansbury. I reminded her that we had met once before in the parking garage at the Schubert Theatre in LA, after a matinee of Gypsy that she was starring in. I was shocked that she was driving her own car & not taking a limo & that she was going home between shows. I stopped & told her how much I had loved the show & that she was the best Mama Rose ever. She asked about me & we had a nice 2 minute conversation. Ms. Lansbury said that she did not recall the incident & I then chided her for not remembering. She loved it & laughed. We talked about gardening & her childhood in England & the theatre scene in Seattle.
After my day in front of the cameras, I went to the theatre to get ready for my showy, funny role in Seattle’s biggest hit play- E/R Emergency Room at Pioneer Square Theatre, glad that I was working out so much because I was nearly naked in this show. In the greenroom, I was able to tell about my day to all my wonderful friends in the show. After the standing ovation at curtain call, I showered & went out for drinks with the cast. it was close to midnight as I walked back home to my beautiful apartment & my sexy partner. As I reached the top of Capitol Hill, on a lovely warm summer night, I looked up at the summer sky. In the middle of a major metropolitan area, brighter & clearer than I had ever seen it, was a huge showy Aurora Borealis… Northern Lights in greens & pinks & whites, moving across the July 31st sky. Finishing the best day of my life with some magic, like special icing on the best cake ever.
On July 31st, 1984 every aspect in my life came together: living in the coolest city on the planet, hot apartment, hot & loving partner, great sex, good body, good health, a celebrated & showy part in a popular play, cool & talented friends, totally out of closet,
somewhat of a celebrity, a day of filming with one of my favorite actors, getting my SAG card & passing the drop-jawed hot muscle boys on my way to my own trailer on a film set. The best thing about it was…I was fully aware & cognizant of how special it all was & I savored every moment & I was truly thankful.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Finally... a Bush that I can love. In 1978, with her debut song- Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush became the first woman to have a self-penned #1 song in the UK. I love & admire her eclectic musical style, profound talent & idiosyncratic lyrics with literary references. Rock, pop, alt., jazz, folk, ska, punk, new wave... her sound skirts by many genres. Hounds Of Love is in my top 25 all time most influential albums. Beautiful & Original.
If she had only brought us Suzanne Sugerbaker from Designing Women & Nuleta Nethercutt from Sordid Lives, she would still deserve a birthday nod. Trivia: I am 1 degree of separation from Delta Burke... Stephen was on Simon & Simon with Gerald McRaney who is married to Delta Burke. At that point in my career, it was said that I looked like Mr. McRaney, & the cast & crew mentioned it several times. When we met, we had a good laugh about it.
What is it with actors from Australia? Beautiful & talented Aussies are continuing to grab my attention. I am going to start with today's birthday boy (40!)... the very yummy Simon Baker. In America he is best known for his TV work in The Guardian & The Mentalist. In his native Australia, he is noted for work on stage & film. Trivia: Nicole Kidman is godmother to his 2 children. I like the way he smiles & I like the way he broods. I love the hair. He is brainy & physical. Did I mention the hair? Being Australian, he probably can sing & dance also. I like to look at him. I would like to lick him.
Also from Australia (Sydney is on my short list of places I need to visit in my lifetime):
Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman (readers know how I feel about Hugh), Naomi Watts, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush, Toni Colette, Rachel Griffiths...& God rest his soul- Heath Ledger. I really admire them all & if you think very little of Mr. Crowe, take a look at his outstanding, heartfelt & sweet portrayal of a young gay man in The Sum Of Us (1994).
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
It reached 105 degrees in Portland today. I melted, the dogs were miserable, the hydrangeas seem to collapse, the Husband & I snapped at each other, apologized & then snapped at each other again. In my heat induced delirium... I have decided to post one of my favorite pics.
I usually have 2 books going at the same time. For my MAX train ride, I often read non-fiction & my current commuter book is- My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, edited by Michael Montlack. These are carefully chosen, insightful, funny & poignant short essays by gay writers & poets on the woman they chose as their Diva. The contributors were asked by the editor:
Who is this woman to you?
Why are you attracted to her?
What about her speaks to you about being gay?
How has she influenced your life?
Only 1 woman by 1 writer could be represented in the book; no repeats. The book has some of the usual suspects: Cher, Bette Midler, & Diana Ross, but many off- beat choices as well: Julia Child, Queen Elizabeth 1, & Sappho. It gave me pause to consider who my Diva would be. I really like, know alot about & can tell anecdotes about the biggies: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Marilyn Monroe & Marlene Dietrich. I think almost all gay men of a certain age can. It seems to be in our genes & part of our common language. Gay men seem to have an allegiance to certain talents with more focus than straight people. It makes me sad that younger gay men won’t know or care about them, but they will have divas of their own: Madonna, Mary J Blige, or Tori Amos. The baby queers will have their own divas & I won’t know who they are talking about. Says Montlack: “Whatever role the divas have played for us individually or communally- muse, goddess, sister, pioneer, survivor, alter ego, fairy godmother- they have protected us, guided us, & delighted us”. Sam J. Miller says it so well in his essay on Bessie Smith- “The gay community also has lots of to learn from women who seize hold of the oppression they face & turn it into something revolutionary, something beautiful, something fabulous.”
My true muses have always found their way to me through rock & roll & popular song, not the movies or stage. I have short listed my own diva to Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithfull, or Annie Lennox. Although I love all 3 beyond all reason, I find that Annie Lennox is the owner of the most thrilling & seductive voice in pop. She holds out her bare arms & shows me her wrists: "there's no Band-Aids on me yet," she says. I am reminded again of the potency & power of her presence, the range & sweep of her high, clear voice & the fabulous catalogue of perfect pop songs on which she can draw her true artistry. These songs are full of cunning ideas, true emotions, & ferocious hooks, from storming Eurythmics classics such as Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These & Here Comes the Rain Again to shivery solo ballads such as Why (one of the greatest songs ever written), or her magnificent album of covers- Medusa including A Whiter Shade Of Pale, Take Me To The River & Train In Vain.. She is eloquent & poetic, but her underlying pessimism verges on the brutal. There is really no one quite like Annie Lennox. For more 30 years, she has maintained a striking image, often verging on the androgynous, but embodying the qualities I admire most in a woman: strength, intelligence & independence. As a gay man she makes me want to turn personal melancholy into shimmery, beautiful, honest music. Her music has been a soundtrack to my life in 3 different decades. She speaks to me...like no other.
"I would say that although my music may be or may have been part of the cultural background fabric of the gay community, I consider myself an outsider who belongs everywhere and nowhere... Being a human being is what truly counts. That's where you'll find me."
103 degrees in Portland today! Record heat for this date & by the end of the week- a record for consecutive days over 90 degrees. The dogs don't like it, the garden doesn't like it, & it is making me really grouchy (but then, I am very much in touch with my inner grouch). How do you beat the heat? For me, a little mid-70s Funk. Funk makes me feel not quite so grouchy.. because Funk makes it more than OK to be too hot. Here is the English, American & Czech members of HEATWAVE doing Too Hot To Handle from 1976, my first summer in NYC.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The Noisettes are another 3 piece band out of London. I am crazy for this song & I think that young & beautiful singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa sounds like a Dinah Washington for the new millennium. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have. I played it about 20 times today.
Placebo is a tight little Alt. outfit from London that features openly gay members-Stefan Olsdal & Mike Molko. Their music is a little rough & the lyrics are often sexually charged. That great talent- Kate Bush's album Hounds Of Love kept me occupied with repeat listenings in the summer of 1985. I really like Placebo's masculine cover of this memorable single.
"& if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
& get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road, Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could,
With no problem"
"& if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
& get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road, Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could,
With no problem"
He was one of the most influential, inventive & original choreographers of the 20th century. Merce Cunningham was born in Centralia Washington & studies at Cornish School for the Arts In Seattle, where he met composer John Cage who was working there as an accompanist. Cage would become Cunningham's artistic collaborator & life partner for 54 years, until the death of Cage in 1992. They were role models to me when I was just coming out at 17. At Cornish, Cunningham became aware of Martha Graham & after they met in 1939, he became only the 2nd male to dance with her company. He created several dances for her & became a soloist with the company. Cage moved to NYC to be with Cunningham & they started to produce their own work in 1944. The pair became good friends & occasional lovers of painters Robert Rauschenberg & Jasper Johns. The two couples were at the start a circle of young gay artists whose ideas not only challenged the macho self-expressive Abstract Expressionists, who were to dominate the 1950s New York art scene, but also provided a model or alternative creative process that has become the hallmark of post-modern art. In 1953, Cunningham formed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. For over 4 decades, it has provided a unique place in American dance. The company continues tp perform both new & revived works. Merce Cunningham was major force in 20th century art & performance & he has received the National Medal of Arts & membership in the American Academy & the Institute of Arts & Letters. My friend Walter Kennedy, a professional dancer, choreographer & professor of dance, met Mr. Cunningham & is filled with admiration for his work & has told me that he was a "lovely, lovely man". He seemed to be lovely to me... what a face!
5-Day Forecast - PORTLAND
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I came across the plans for the new MoMA Tower in NYC. The plans are slowly going through the City's land-use review process & there is some real controversy, as one would suspect. It is designed by Jean Nouvel for the New York City based Axis Mundi Design firm. I am crazy about it. What say you?
The Husband & I were such devotees of Six Feet Under. I feel that the series finale was the high point of 50+ years of television viewing. I was so moved by the last episode that I could only barely recover emotionally. I was so disappointed that we were unable to see Alan Ball's new show, but I am finding that to rent a TV series & watch the episodes in marathon is the best way to experience them. True Blood just seems to be so original & entertaining. I am looking forward to digging in to this show & getting to know Nelsan Ellis, Ryan Kwanten & Sam Tramwell. It seems the producers & writers have found a way to get them out of their clothing quite often. The series takes place in Louisiana & I realize that it is hot & sticky there... but I have a feeling it is going to get hot & sticky at my house when we rent season one.
Now that the Husband & I are living with & getting accustomed to the new austerity program, I am done grieving for having to drop premium channels from the evil Comcast. No more HBO or Showtime or the little extras. I don’t know how the husband & I could have got through those years with out Six Feet Under, Sex & the City, Dead Like Me or Bill Maher. To make up for lack quality TV, despite So You Think You Can Dance & the upcoming season 3 of Mad Men, I have decided that we are going to catch up by renting past seasons of The Tudors & the first season of True Blood. I am looking forward to the first rate acting, world class writing & superior production values that these shows offer. I also look forward to be able to spending time Jonathan Rhys Meyers & Henry Cavill from The Tudors.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I have mentioned in other posts that the summer of 1984 was one of the very best times in my life so far. During that memorable summer, besides being all moony for my future husband (at that point, my partner of 5 years) my mind would wonder to these men. So today I offer 3 men I was zany for in 1984: Jan Michael Vincent, John Eric Hexum (who would die tragically late that year), & Aidan Quinn.
How often is someone concerned
With the tiniest thread of your life?
Concerned with whatever you feel
& whatever you touch?
Look over there…
When your world spins too fast,
& your bubble has burst,
Someone puts himself last,
So that you can come first.
So count all the loves who will love you
From now ’til the end of your life,
& when you have added the loves
Who have loved you before,
Look over there.
Look Over There from La Cage Aux Folles
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I have been pondering the Gus Van Sant’s birthday post, which made me riff on the cool & important artists, writers & filmmakers that call Portland home. Portland has become a hub for the young creatives & the city has an arty vibe. Portland is beer, bikes, music, books, films & excellent good cheap food. I have often held that NYC is the capitol of the world- but a terrible place to just get by in. Portland is a great town to just get by in. Among those who can stand the months of rain in the winter are:
Art Alexakis- member of Everclear
Ursula K. Le Guin- science fiction/fantasy author
Johnny Marr- former guitarist for The Smiths & current guitarist for Modest Mouse
Tom Spanbauer- author
Paul Dahlquist- photographer
Matthew Stadler- author
Tad Williams- gilder/artist
Will Vinton-claymation animator
Mike Justice- Filmmaker
Matt Groening- creator & writer of The Simpsons & Life In Hell
Chuck Palinchuk- author
Stephen Malkmus- musician for Pavement & The Jicks,
Todd Haynes- filmmaker
R. Rolfe- artist/designer
Katherine Dunn- author
members of: Sleater Kinney, The Shins, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Pink Martini, Dandy Warhols & Built To Spill.
& our very own Storm Large- actress & singer/songwriter for Storm Large & The Balls
I saw this first on one of my favorite blogs: Culture Shock, posted by my friend Portland blogger Mighty Toy Cannon
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
He comes from impressive pedigree. Rufus McGarrigle Wainwright is the son of Loudon Wainwright III & Kate McGarrigle, & the brother of Martha Wainwright. Rufus has a musicality & voice of real resonance & emotion with influences of opera & Cole Porter, religious music & Judy Garland, folk & Al Jolson, rock & Edith Piaf. Rufus came out in his teens & he has said in interviews that his parents- “could not handle my being gay. We never talked about it.” I purchased his debut album- Rufus Wainwright in 1998 because he seemed to be identifying as an openly gay artist & I found it to be somewhat overwrought on first listening & I put it away for several years. I enthusiastically returned to Rufus with the release of Poses in 2001, which I find to be a work of true genius. He did not disappoint with the release of Want & Want Two in 2003 & 2004, & he continued to astonish with Release The Stars in 2007. In June 2006, Wainwright sold-out a pair of Carnegie Hall shows in which he recreated the entire Judy Garland concert album that was recorded there in 1961. He later repeated his performance at the London Palladium, the Paris Olympia, & the Hollywood Bowl. Live CD & DVD recordings of the concerts were released. I own the DVD- wittily titled Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!: Live from the London Palladium & I find it mesmerising & brave. My good friend WCK, a huge Judy fan, dislikes it in no uncertain words. In 2008, Garland's daughter Lorna Luft expressed strong approval of Wainwright's recordings of her mother's songs. The album was nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. This past week saw the debut of his opera Prima Donna, about a day in the life of a mad opera singer, at the Manchester International Festival. Wainwright created the concept of Blackoutsabbath in early 2008. He asks participants to live "off the grid" as much as possible, on a designated date, by unplugging appliances, walking or cycling, turning out lights & decreasing energy usage in any other ways possible. Elton John calls him “the greatest songwriter on the planet”.He is one of my favorites; I am a big fan of his work & his persona. This is my favorite of his songs- Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk:
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
John Abraham (Hindi:जॉन अब्राहम,Urdu: جان ابراهام) was born in 1972 in Mumbai. He is a popular Indian film actor who appears in Bollywood movies & a former supermodel. He has his own clothing line, is a vegetarian & member of PETA & Habitat For Humanity. I have never seen a Bollywood movie & I have decided to rent several of Mr. Abraham's films & spend some time getting to know him. Bollywood may become a favorite genre.