Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Not Twisting Your Magic Book

OMG, the hate mail that we at Sunshine Cathedral get from "Christians" telling us that our message affirming the sacred value of all people and the legitimacy of mutual, shared, adult affection (regardless of the genders of the people sharing it) is somehow "twisting the word of God" to suit our own purposes is staggering.

Not only is such hate mail pretty voluminous, it is also completely ridiculous. And here's why. Whereas we will encourage people to think critically about the bible, and while we will place texts in their historical/linguistic/cultural contexts, and while we unashamedly bring all of who we are to the reading of the texts and try to be attentive to the voices that were ignored or silenced in the writing of texts, we do all of that to liberate the bible - not to justify our opinions.

Let me be brutally frank - I don't care what an anonymous ancient writer who thought the world was flat believed about women, samge-gender attraction, child-rearing, the ethics of warfare, or the possibility of certain foods being abominable (I'm mostly annoyed that mushrooms didn't make the list). Ancient writers, compilers, editors, translators, and interpreters had their own agendas, opinions, cultural biases, prejudices, blind spots, preferences, etc. Whatever their's were need not dictate what mine are. I can believe what makes sense to me without needing to find someone who died a few millennia before I was born to agree with me.

So, no writers of hate mail, I am not twisting a magic book to justify my "lifestyle"...because, for me, the book isn't magic and furthermore, I'm not looking up my experiences, opinions, values, needs, or longings in any book to justify them. I have never assumed that my views, beliefs, and opinions needed justification.

Now, I love reading. I love literature. I love history, I love mythology. I love poetry. I love drama. I love biographies. I love historical fiction. So, guess what...I LOVE the bible! But loving it, reading it, commiting large portions of it to memory, thinking about it, wrestling with it, arguing with it, sharing the parts that I find life-giving with others is not the same as "twisting" it. Now, using isolated proof-texts to justify your own hatreds and prejudices, that's pretty twisted, but let's not play biblical tit-for-tat.

I love the bible. I enjoy the bible. I even teach the bible. But I do not WORSHIP the bible. In fact, I freely and vehemently disagree with sections of it (the entire book of Philemon should line bird cages!).

Here's the thing, those who prefer to thump their bibles than to read them carefully:
I don't need the bible to justify my existence, my thoughts, my opinions, my love, my sexuality, or any part of life. And being free from biblical tyranny allows me to enjoy and love the bible all the more. I highly recommend such biblical liberation.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christians Are Not an Oppressed Group in this Country (and I don't care what the President's religion might be)

According to some right wing whack job extremist group called "Defend Christians", there are 10 "irrefutable proofs" that our president isn't a Christian.

Before we thumb noses at their every ridiculous claim, let me first say that President Obama's religious affiliation is completely irrelevant. He doesn't need to be Christian or even religious to lead our secular nation. Should he ever decide to pastor a Christian church, being a baptized, confirmed, and ordained Christian minister might be reasonable requirements. To be president, I couldn't care less what his religious views are. I expecet him to be ethical, reasonable, intelligent, courageous, and wise; but whether he worships Allah, Isis, Apollo, or the Tooth Fairy doesn't interest me in the least.

That having been said, the "irrefutable" truth is that he is a Protestant Christian. This doesn't impress me, but it is the truth. He isn't a fundamentalist (to my great relief), but he is at very least culturally Christian.

Finally, let me say how extremely bored I am with the claims that Christians in this country are under attack and need defense. There are places in the world where one might be savagely beaten, imprisoned, or brutally killed for embracing the Christian faith. The US is not generally such a place. In this country, Christians vote, run for public office, and have houses of worship in every town, village, city, and unincorporated rural patch of grass within our borders. In this country, Christians bash gays and claim to be victims if gays respond defensively. In this country, Christians (and anyone for that matter) can utter the prayer "god bless america" at any public event they so desire. In this country, God (presumably the Judeo-Christian god) is named in our country's pledge and on our currency (although that wasn't always the case). This country has a national cathedral. This country has a Senate Chaplain. This country has a chaplain corps in the brances of the military. This country has official diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and people run for office and sit on judicial benches proudly proclaiming their personal religious beliefs as being their motivation for public actions. The idea that Christians are somehow an oppressed group in THIS nation is beyond ridiculous. Now, Christians as the persectuors, that is something else, but we'll save that for future missives.

Now, for the moronic claims of "Defend Christians" that Pres. Obama isn't Christian:

1.) Economics: Obama advocates for failed Marxist/​socialist economic schemes that are based on envy and class warfare that divides the country and uses the government to steal from one group to give it to another.

Response: Capitalist schemes also have a disturbing record of failure. Whether socialism or capitalism is the better economic system is a matter for debate, but has NOTHING to do with faith or devotion. Moreover, "Christian Socialism" was a very strong movement a century ago. - dw

2.) Marriage: Obama abdicated his sworn presidential duty to defend the laws of the United States by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and even actively worked to undermine the law.

Response: Hello? Really?! We make and change laws. The president defends the constitution, not the moronic notion that laws can never change. Otherwise, we would have had no emancipation proclamation, women's suffrage, or civil rights act...though I'm guessing this group doesn't find those progressive changes to be very impressive either. And in any case, even if he were to break a law (when has a president EVER done that?!), that still doesn't prove anything about his spiritual life. - dw

3.) Religious Liberty: Obama signed “Hate Crimes” legislation that can result in prosecution for speaking against homosexuality. Even pastors who preach the biblical view of sexuality could face prosecution in certain situations.

Response: The biblical view? Would that be the biblical view that rich powerful men can have multiple wives? Would that be the biblical view that only bishops are required to be monogamous? Would that be the biblical view that fathers can give their daughters away like property? Would that be the biblical view that if a widow is left childless she must marry her late husband's nearest male relative? Which biblical view of sexuality should we be preaching? And, free speach isn't a hate crime...in your church, sell all the hate people will buy, but when people listen to that hate speech and use it as an excuse to harm, threaten, or publicly slander LBGT people, yes, a crime against human dignity has been committed. Christianity isn't a pass to abuse people you don't like. It's really time to make peace with that fact. - dw

4.) Abortion: Obama’s policies have caused taxpayer funded abortions in other nations and fund of embryonic stem cell research that kills human embryos. He gave $50 million to UN population agency for promoting abortion and working with China’s murderous “one child” policy. He eliminated federal funding for abstinence-​only education and overturned the ban on funding abortions within Washington, D.C. During the 2011 budget debates, Obama refused to end funding for Planned Parenthood, almost causing the government to shut down.

Response: Excuse me?!?! Abortion is legal! And earlier, disagreeing with laws amounted to, in your argument, high treason. If abortion is legal, and legal is the definition of "Christian," then suck it up cupcake. The president is just supporting the law. And still, there are pro-choice Christians. Supporting a woman's sovereignty over her own body does not disqualify one from Christianity. - dw

5.) Homosexuality: Obama signed a bill repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which opened the door to open homosexuality in the military. Now military chaplains will be pressured to perform homosexual unions. Obama had militant homosexuals as part of his inaugural events and even hosted a reception in the White House celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the homosexual rights movement.

Response: Sorry, once again, hating Queers isn't a core Christian requirement. There are Christian homophobes, but heterosexism isn't a requirement for the faith. - dw
6.) Liberal /​Marxist Liberation Theology: Obama sat under a radical, Marxist minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for 20 years and has adopted all of his Marxist ideology. Obama denies Christ’s atonement and mocks the Bible and rarely attends church, yet we are supposed to believe he’s Christian. Many believe he’s really a Muslim, and for some good reasons.

Response: You don't like his Christian pastor, so that means he's not a Christian? You can name his former pastor; can you name his former Imam? No. And, again, we have freedom of religion; he gets to be Muslim if he chooses. And liberation theology is, well, you know, theology! It's a Christian framework for thinking and talking about God. And, newsflash, there are multiple views of atonement theology (including a rejection of it). Within the larger Christian tradition there is a lot of diversity of thought. - dw

7.) National Christian Heritage: In a speech given in Turkey, Obama said, “we do NOT consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Obama intentionally misquotes the Declaration of Independence omitting “our Creator” as the source of our unalienable rights.

Response: One need not be a Christian to believe in a "creator." And, we do NOT have a state religion. Christians may be the majority in our nation, but that doesn't make us a Christian nation. In this nation, we are still free to belong to any religion or no religion. If you want a Christian nation, go to Italy or England. If you want unrestricted freedom of and from religion, welcome to the US. - dw

8.) Supreme Court Appointments: Justice Elena Kagan is a hardcore liberal on abortion, gun rights and homosexual marriage and is suspected to be a lesbian. Kagan wrote a brief supporting Clinton’s veto of a ban on partial birth abortion. While a Dean at Harvard, Kagan banned military recruiters from the campus. Kagan also opposed the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a liberal and activist judge who believes courts should make policy not just interpret the constitution. Sotomayor argued for unlimited abortions for any reason throughout pregnancy and for taxpayer funding of abortions.

Response: You don't like their social views, their politics, or their scholarly understanding of the law. You failed to mention what they "beleive" about metaphysics, philosophy, religion, devotion, or spirituality. Neither liberal nor intellectual means "non-Christian"...and even non-Christian doesn't mean anti-Christian. - dw
9.) Obama-​care: Your tax dollars will pay for abortions and the older you get your life will be considered a liability and expendable. Some bureaucrat on a “DEATH PANEL” will ultimately decide if YOUR life is worth saving or not.

Response: Healing the sick...really, this is your evidence of non-Christian behavior? And guess what, we already have death panels, they are the insurance execs who deside what procedures they will cover and which meds they will approve. Since someone will be deciding the quality of the care I get, why not let it be someone who doesn't personally profit from declining health?! There is no Big Brother Death Panel, but as long as medical coverage is less than universal, there are many people who will die needlessly. Offering care is a matter humanitarian ethics. Offering or denying care is not the definition of Christianity. - dw
10.) Radical Czars: Kevin Jennings, Obama’s Safe School “czar,” is a militant, homosexual activist from Massachusetts. Radical pro-​abortion advocate Kathleen Sebelius is Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. She took a quarter of a million dollars from George Tiller, the notorious late term abortionist. Chai Feldblum, a lesbian law professor was appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Feldblum said in any conflict that might arise between religious liberty and homosexual “rights,” she would have a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.

Response: Religious liberty doesn't mean denying liberty to those your religion tries to dehumanize. You are free to worship the God of your understanding; you are not free to deny others their equality because you say the god of your understanding hates everyone you hate. You have shown that the President doesn't discriminate against gays and lesbians; you have not shown that he is or isn't Christian. - dw
If you like the president, support him. If you don't like him, vote for someone else next year. But the witchhunt to decide if he's Christian is irrelevant to the political process. And, frankly, if Christianity was as limited and limiting as the presentation by "Defend Christians" would suggest, then surely Christians would soon number fewer than those who believe they have abducted and anal probed by space travelers. Christians need no defense, but Chrisitanity should be protected from those who claim they do.

For the article about the "Defend" group, visit http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/

Friday, December 09, 2011

How I Lost 22 Pounds in 4 Years! (Sigh)

OK, in spite of an injured shoulder (yes...rib, knees, shoulder...its been that kind of a year...i'm told this is called fitness!?!?!), i'm very happy with today's weigh-in and workout...Weighed in at the lowest i've been since 2005...still have another 8 pounds to go, but to be within single digits of the goal, FINALLY, feels great. Also, did 160# leg extensions and 500# leg press (5th set, all 12 reps) today, which were new records for me. In spite of the joint crakiness, I'm very pleased with the results. It's been slow, arduous, and not exactly fun, but still very rewarding. I'm glad i didn't give up too soon this time. Yes, it took me 4 years to lose 22#, & there are 8 more of the 30 still to go, but the BP, cholesterol, and lost inches make the story a bit more optimistic. Pretty great early Xmas gift i think...

Rick Perry: Not Really About Religion

Let's be clear: 1. Rick Perry isn't defending "religion"...he's defending a very narrow, antagonistic, and ahistoric wing of the Christian religion. He isn't concerned with Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Ethical Humanists, or even liberal Christians. 2. He's running for president, not for an ecclesiastical office. 3. If religion needed his defense, it would be so irrelevant as to be too broken ...to fix...it wouldn't need a defense; it would need a eulogy. And finally, 4. what he is defending isn't religion, but heterosexual, white, male privilege. His crusade against diversity and equality is not religious; it is him playing to the worst impulses of his constituency in an attempt to gain more power and privilege for himself. What is wrong with this country has nothing to do with Christmas, prayer in schools, or gays in the military; what is wrong is that people like Perry can dehumanize Queer people & non-Christians without penalty.

Relatively Speaking

Nov. 30 - Wed. Matinee
The final show of my 3 day entertainment marathon was so good (but honestly, not any better than The Devil's Music).

Relatively Speaking is at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre which is a lovely space on West 47th Street.
I was 3rd row orchestra (not first...why be greedy all the time?!), but still close enough to see everyone spit.

RS is made up of three one-act comedies: Talking Cure, George is Dead, and Honeymoon Motel.

Each has its own playwright and its own cast (though three or four actors wind up in two of the plays).

The entire show was directed by John Turturro (actor in such films as Jungle Fever, Do the Right Thing, Quiz Show, etc.) but is also a very accomplished film and theatre director. He's currently acting in The Cherry Orchard with Dianne Wiest (downtown, eastside).

RS is star studded (as Broadway has to be these days), but let me regale you with one one-act at a time.

Talking Cure:
A guy on lock down in a mental hospital is being treated by a psychiatrist. the patient, a postal worker (I know, right?!), apparently snapped one day when an elderly woman complained about the condition in which her package arrived. Mr Postal Worker responds by beating her down with a tape dispenser.
Most of this play takes place in a "cage" (which, those not very therapeutic, is where the therapy sessions are taking place...i suppose it was meant to show how "trapped" the patient felt not only in the hospital but also in life).

At the end of the play, we are given a flashback to the man's beginning...the day his mother goes into labor with him. His parents apparently loathe each other and are in a heated argument when she goes into labor. The dysfunctional family hostilities are meant to show us how the patient started life without much hope of sanity.

Predictably, the therapy sessions swing from rage to hilarity and back again. and while there is a breakthrough when the patient admits he has self-image/self-esteem and anger management problems, and why (the parents, of course), we never get to see the broken fragments of psyche reintegrated.

The patient, doctor, attendant (walk on part), mother and father are all the characters.
The patient was played by Danny Hoch....Danny is a playwright and an actor (not the playwright of this show, that would be Ethan Coen...he's done a million things, but is probably best known for his screen plays - Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and for his adaptations of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Charles Portis' True Grit).

Hoch gives a caricature more than a character. He is so preoccupied with clownish facial expressions, exaggerated hand movements, and perfecting a stereotypical Brooklyn Italian accent that there isn't much space left for developing a three dimensional human being for us to care about. Still, his gimmicks were funny enough and the writing was so good that it was still a worthwhile venture.

The mother, played by katherine Borowitz seemed familiar, but her career has consisted mostly of theatre (regional and off-broadway), and I don't think i've seen any of her films (Illuminata, Men of Respect, Internal Affairs, A Serious Man)...but maybe i've seen her in ads or previews for the flicks. Anyway, she was good, though her character isn't given a lot of time to show who she really is. the entire scene with the parents are the two of them arguing at dinner over petty annoyances (which have them at the point of violence) and then her going into labor. So all we see of her or her husband is a comical, petty bickering session.

Meanwhile, its Broadway Cares collection time again, and she was the actor who accepted my contribution at the door :-)

The doctor may be the most famous of the cast: Jason Kravits (you've seen him as an ADA on the Practice, a guest spot on everything, including the fabulous Grey's Anatomy, the final episode of friends, and various films. He not only was the biggest name for the opening act, but he was also the strongest actor with what seems to have been the best written part.

It was cute, funny, enjoyable...but no masterpiece.

George Is Dead:
This was the jewel of the show and should have been the final/anchor piece.
It was written by Elaine May, probably best known for her screen writing, (True Colors, Heaven Can Wait - for which she was nominated for an Oscar, and The Birdcage).

It starred Broadway biggie Lisa Emery, Grant Shaud (the cute producer, Miles, on Murphy Brown...PS - he's fat now), and super brilliant stage goddess Marlo Thomas. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HER! If you only know her from That Girl (which was funny btw) and St Jude Hospital pitches, and her recurring role as an attorney on Law/Order:SVU (which she is fine in, but of course any capable actor could provide plausible cameo appearances as an attorney)...you might not know that she is GENIUS.
OMG, she was comedic like Bea Arthur and Carol Burnette and Phyllis Diller and Toti Fields and Betty White all rolled into one human...but she didn't camp it up or throw it away...she took her comedy very seriously and played a shallow, wealthy, and apparently friendless woman who receives a phone call in the middle of the night that her husband has died in a skiing accident.

She turns to the daughter (Doreen, a woman she hasn't seen in decades) of her childhood Nanny for comfort. Doreen takes her in and provides her support even while her own marriage is disintegrating in front of her. The old nanny eventually comes in to save the day, which is sweet and painful...sweet b/c she still cares about the child she raised professionally...painful b/c she never seemed to care that much about her own daughter.

There is pathos, and grief, and silliness, and intelligent humor, and amazing timing, and unhealed wounds, and helplessness, and strength all in the space of less than half an hour!
The men provide good support for the women (a funeral director, his assistant, and Doreen's unsympathetic husband played by Grant Shaud), but Marlo Thomas, Lisa Emery (Doreen), and Patricia O'Connell (the nanny/mother) make the show. It would almost have been as good if the men weren't ever seen (in fact, i think it would have worked just as well). and the giant of the cast was Marlo Thomas. The very next thing she does, I hope to see!

Honeymoon Motel:
Written by Woody Allen (and the real reason I went to the show)...best known for his quirky and smart comedic films, this was actually his fourth play to be produced. As far as laughs, it was a knee slapper. Lots of schtik, and good schtik, lots of "insider" Jewish and NYC jokes (very Allen), and a plot that was uncomfortably close to his real life (A woman leaves her fiancee at the altar and runs away with his still married to his mother step-dad)...funny and a little yucky too (but maybe less yucky if you didn't know Allen's T).

This had the largest cast with the most "names" -
Steve Guttenberg (remember super cute Steve Guttenberg? Well, he's aged badly and bears little resemblance to the 80s actor we couldn't wait to see shirtless); he's funny, but plays for laughs which makes his character seem a little less real and a little less likable.

His almost daughter-in-law turned paramour played by Ari Graynor (from Veronica Mars and The Sopranos) is very pretty and sexy and plays the pretty, sexy, husband steeling vamp as well as anyone could.

Grant Shaud is in this one act also, as a more likable character than in George Is Dead. But he's just the friend who supplies straight lines for Guttenberg and throws in a few obvious laugh lines himself.

Caroline Aaron, playing Guttenberg's wife, is a striking woman with a powerful presence and she's very funny (not Guttenberg, "look at me i used to be cute and i still try to exude boyish charm so please laugh at my silliness and tell me i matter" kind of funny, but really, strong, good comic timing, has a sense that the person she's playing is a person even if the emotions she is sharing are contrived for comic effect). You'd know her if you saw her - she's done everything...Sleepless in Seattle, Primary Colors, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Edward Scissorhands, etc. She was one of two great performers in the piece.

The other great performer was Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Rhoda's sister...THAT Julie Kavner) who was hilarious! Julie and Caroline should put together a two woman show and take it on the road! Julie played Graynor's mother.

There was a rabbi (Richard Libertini), and Danny Hock played the pizza boy (though his character was indistinguishable from the patient in Talk Therapy), and Jason Kravitz played a psychiatrist (not the same psychiatrist he played an hour earlier), and Mark Linn-Baker (Perfect STrangers) was Kavner's husband.

The tart who dumps her man for her man's step dad, the step dad, his buddy, his wife, the tart's parents (Kravner we learn has had two affairs during the course of their marriage...one with her boss, and one with the marriage counselor they were seeing because of it...funny b/c it is so preposterously unethical, and Linn-Baker retaliated by sleeping with her sister), the rabbi who was performing the ceremony, Guttenberg's therapist (?!), the step-son/dumped groom, and a pizza guy (Graynor is hungry for pizza and orders delivery) all wind up in a cheap motel room where Guttenberg and Graynor have taken refuge for their night of post-wedding disaster love-making. In the end, everyone leaves, relatively OK with life, and Guttenberg and Graynor kiss as the lights go down.

Allen, Turturro, Guttenberg, Shaud, Kavner, Graynor, Linn-Baker, Libertini...You'd think, wouldn't you? I mean, this has got to be 4th of July kind of fabulous. It was more like Presidents Day kind of acceptable. Big laughs. A couple of comic diva geniuses. But at no point did i ever care what happened to any of them, and was actually a little deflated when Graynor and Guttenberg wind up together in the end without any remorse for the lives and families they've destroyed. The pizza boy gives some home spun wisdom about a morally neutral universe (or, in his words, "there are no rules") and there are some very brief ponderings about metaphysics in general...but mostly, its "let's laugh at a lot of one liners, question the existence of a higher power as Allen so famously does, and, thumb our noses at any sense of caring for the feelings of others...break as many hearts as you can as long as you end up happy, or at least relatively pleased"...a decent sit-com for TV, but not especially good theatre.

If the decent first play (though one of its two prime characters was played in my opinion by a weak actor) was followed by the Allen amorality farce and then the Marlo Thomas piece had ended the show...it would have gone from strength to strength and would have made for a better theatrical experience. Almost any time spent in any NY theatre is worth the experiment, and this play as a whole has value for the laughs (however cheap some of them may be), but the bread slices that surrounded the Marlo Thomas meat were jsut that...something to hold up the tasty thing you really want to consume. Marlo's performance and the entire cast/performance/writing of "George is Dead" made what would have been an acceptable theatre outing into a true joy. But honestly, if they had simply done the one act with Marlo in some Off-broadway venue, it would have been a far better venture.

here endeth this NY excursion...


The Devil's Music

Nov. 29-"The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith"
Best musical review EVER!

It was at the St Luke's Theatre (basement of St Luke Lutheran Church on 46th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves, closer to 8th). Even though it is off-broadway, it's just three blocks or so from Broadway theatres also on 46th. So, being all up in the theatre district but still having an off beat, slightly bohemian feel makes it a really good venue.
Not as glam as the Lortel...after all, it is subterranean (while LL is a stand alone building with the playwrights walk of fame in front)...St Luke's theatre only has about 100 seats (and while there isn't a bad seat in the house, i had the BEST seat in the house...front row center - i know, right, two nights in a row!).

Devil's Music is sort of one a woman show, but really there are 4 characters. Three are men who make up her band, and they are actually musicians (piano/bass/sax...sax player also plays clarinet for one number). One of the three guys has a few lines (and a character name, "Pickle"), but really, it's all about Bessie.

The title character is played by Miche Braden. I hadn't seen her before, but i hope to see her again. She sang her face off! The bluesy quality of her voice and the way she embodied the message of every song was in itself performance art.The show starts with a voice describing Bessie's funeral, then suddenly we fly backward in time 9 days to her last concert, and at that concert, she weaves her life-story around great old blues classics.

The audience learns so much about Bessie Smith...her being orphaned as a child, being married to someone who died shortly thereafter, and then being married again to an abusive ne'er do well, her active bisexuality, her adopting a son (and having that son taken away from her by the courts when her second husband reported her for being "unfit" - and what primarily made her "unfit" was her "carnal relations with women"), her sadness as Blues starts to be replaced by Swing in popularity, her success in spite of racism and the Great Depression.

We see (as she drinks almost every minute on stage) that she probably is a problem drinker if not an alcoholic, and while the play is intentionally very accurate about the details of Bessie's life, the playwright does add one bit of foreshadowing by having Bessie get a cold chill every time she mentions death.Finally, the show ends the way Bessie's life did...with a car accident (at only 43). Then, as an encore, the resurrected Bessie comes out and reprises the song she opened the show with.

In addition to her amazing singing voice, and the way Bessie's life is told by way of Bessie herself giving her last concert, there are two other things that really struck me about this play.1. Miche Braden, at least as Bessie Smith, is super sexy! Not beautiful. Not even pretty really. But so embodied, so alive, so confident and strong and still willing to risk vulnerability, so light on her feet (though in reality, about 200# are supported by those feet), so comfortable talking and singing about sex/uality...she was just very sexy.
2. Unlike charles busch, Miche B. does not resort to imitation/impersonation to create her character. She uses her voice (which is risky since BS was a recording artist and her voice is so well known); but much as Charles B. so thoroughly imagines himself to be the lady he is portraying that his/her femininity is the one thing the audience never questions, Miche B. so thoroughly WAS Bessie Smith, so completely believed that she was the incarnation of Bessie Smith, that she didn't need to imitate...she believed she was Bessie, and so we did too. He could have sounded like Kermit the Frog and looked like Lady Gaga, and i think we would have left saying, "that was the Bessie down to the last detail!"
side note - (isn't that what make believe is...when we make ourselves believe that the pretense is true?, and when we believe it, we make others believe it too...).

Where was I? Oh, yes...Devil's Music is FABULOUS!

What a treat it was to find this off-broadway treasure. Money and time very well spent!
Tomorrow (Wednesday matinee) - "Relatively Speaking."I'll tell you about it tomorrow (after I've worshiped once again in the Temple of Dionysus).


PS - to see all this NY theatre only one month after seeing Follies on Broadway is an embarrassment of riches. meanwhile, i'm happy as a pig in shit!

Saw Tea at Five in NYC

Monday, Nov. 28 -
Tea at Five...a staged reading at Lucille Lortel theatre on Christopher St.
LL is a great small theatre...about 200 seats on the floor and another 20 or so in the balcony.
The stage is about as deep as ours at Sunshine Cathedral, and about half the width.
Of course, Charles Busch was fabulous.

You know he has a theatre degree from Northwestern...he really is a good playwright and actor. But of course Tea at Five wasn't written by him...it was originally done on Broadway with kate Mulgrew.

Charles looked like KH (he's known for the best wigs in the world) and he had her mannerisms and voice down...he's made a career of imitating the screen legends of the days of yore, or their screen personas anyway (though usually as composite characters of his own creation). he is such a good female impersonator that it's never a distraction that he is actually male (in fact, he so believes that he is an actress/diva on the stage, that the audience soon believes it too).
It was a one night only production/benefit for an LBGT shelter in NYC.

I've seen CB's play "Tales of the Allergist's Wife" on Broadway, Psycho Beach Party (regional theatre/Dallas), and the film versions of PBP and Die Mommy Die (with Charles in them), and the documentary film about him, "The Lady in Question." I also saw his film, "A Very Serious Person."
In January I got to see him in his play, "The Divine Sister" at the SoHo Playhouse. And now this staged reading of "Tea of Five."

A few years ago he played Auntie Mame (in the play, "Auntie Mame" in a summer stock production in Maine), but sadly, I missed it :-(

I'm a huge Charles Busch fan, and last night's performance did NOT disappoint. AND, PS, I was front row center. thank you very much.