Monday, June 18, 2018

Catching Up, Reflection and Sorting Out Paradigms

It's been oh so busy. Mostly with life reorganization, taking care of unfinished business and figuring out what pieces of my old self are appropriate to keep and what pieces I should be trashing in light of the newness of everything.

4 years after the end of my marriage & with my things now securely in a place where I'm not under pressure to remove it promptly, I've finally had true opportunity to reflect and start to really process everything. I realized earlier this year prior to getting representation that I'm happier than I was when I was married to Comic Book Boy in Queens. I finally had the opportunity to get the things I wanted and had been deprived of for so long: my entire DVD collection, my stuffed Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, clothing I'd wondered where it had gone to, making recipes for myself I'd not made since before I got divorced. Now I've been trying to figure out how to adapt things for my new existence, a more realized me if you will. Making recipes perhaps is one metaphor for such things. I actually was able to obtain my Ex-Boyfriend scrapbook and nearly finish it. I got to write my closure section about my ex-husband and even included this letter my mother sent to him shortly after he threw me out into the street with nothing. It was extremely touching and made me feel so loved when I read it.

Recently, a photographer friend created a photo collage of me from modeling pics. Seeing that also made me feel really loved.

But I realized in looking at my ex-boyfriend scrapbook that perhaps it wasn't as pessimistic an exercise as you might think but more of a way to make the best out of rotten situations: to use things your exes left behind or that got left with you never to be returned to that jerk & make art from it. I definitely view this book as a work of art. It also serves as a reminder to me of why those relationships ended & why it would be a bad idea to go backwards.

It's weird that I get dudes from my past coming back from the ether to talk to me. Or I should say dudes from my post-divorce past like to come back from the ether; they always tell me they never viewed me as a slut or a loose woman despite meeting me in a time of serious emotional strife and pain. Some of those guys didn't even have sex with me so it's not all about seeking to get laid. I definitely would not want to talk to my ex-husband if he tried that; I'd ask Captain Horndog to handle that for me & say anything he'd like to make Comic Book Boy suffer + get him out of my hair. Getting my things out of my friend's house recently prompted a wave of nostalgia to hit me, certainly as much if not more so than when I first went through the regression of my divorce.

As I said before, divorce is a regression since you're moving from living with a spouse to being single again; lots of people move back in with their parents or go back to their childhood towns. It's more a question of how far back you regress. Now it feels like I've regressed to law school.

Finishing that scrapbook makes me feel better, like I'm getting some closure I never got from my jerky ex.

I also went on a dating sabbatical because I was sick of that bullshit & the lying of men. I feel like I live in a world surrounded by idiots who don't appreciate my value. In NYC, it seems that any guy fitting my physical type & isn't working in my industry is too busy trying to sleep with commoners, has major mental issues (immaturity, insecurity, actual diagnosed medical conditions, whatever) & seems to have mistaken me for a commoner he can treat like shit. This doesn't fly with The Angry Redheaded Lawyer. It shouldn't fly for any woman. I'm definitely not the only woman around here who's said "Fuck you for not appreciating my value."

When you're attractive, it's worse since then you have guys thinking you're supposed to fawn all over then despite them doing nothing for you sexually, not being your type for whatever reason, being in too close of proximity to you because of industry or having mutual friends or making my ex look like Brad Pitt by comparison. Having standards is not a crime, nor should it be. I like to think I learn from my mistakes. At least one thing I have learned is that not every guy rejecting me is because of me. Some of them were just too fucked up for me. Some just simply had no appreciation for my depth or intelligence or skills that your average woman doesn't have (hi, natural redhead, native Southerner so actually know how to cook & have a sense of manners, lawyer AND creative talent so kicking butt in left and right brain stuff). I've realized I don't want to deal with some guy who is intimidated by me or asks me to dull my light for him. Nobody needs to be doing that for anybody else. You need to find people who lift you up & accept you for you, not people who drag you down or discourage you. Find your tribe, if you will.

I feel like I'm making progress on my tribe. Had a realization yesterday when going out with a guy I'd had this bad date with last year and swore I wasn't dealing with again. I saw him somewhat recently at this party I went to after not going to any in a while (as I'm not sure how people will react to me since I now have representation & I don't want to get pressured to set up meetings or get people's ire over it since God forbid I get something I've worked for). He apologized for the bad date and we started over. I went out with him again yesterday and realized he might be good for me since I discovered I'm not nearly as shitty in some sports type stuff as I thought I was. That's a cool thing right there.

I remembered what I was doing last year and got sad about that guy turning out to be a jerk but he did give me my first hickey since Comic Book Boy so I felt like that was a victory. I've actually moved more towards not wanting meaningless sex since emotionally, I've not been fantasizing about my ex-husband or being intimate with him nor had an urge to do so. Mr. Big Stuff has taken over there.

He also said something to me that is making me wonder if he views me as more than some passing fancy he's killing time with. That's an in person conversation, though & he's no where near where I'm living.

I also finally found a way to start doing yoga after years of wanting to do it but not doing it. My manager even advised me to start doing it. I'm far from an expert or super flexible or great with balance but I find myself freaking out less often since having started it. I do like that it's not supposed to be a competitive thing but about YOUR time. This is something I try to remember and focus on when doing it. I also love that nobody bothers me there or tries to pick me up; I don't see anyone I know there so I can be left the hell alone, just like I want and prefer. When we get out of this heat wave, I'll be going again this week.

I even have things starting to flower in my day hustle; we can't really call it a "day job" since I'm not a waitress or bartender but am using my law license in opportunities I never got when I was married to Comic Book Boy. I recently got an opportunity to learn a new area of law that might seem contrary to my stance against illegal immigration but isn't because I'm all for people trying to make things right and use the court system to become legal if they're here illegally. I'm more than happy to help someone make good if they messed up or are in dire situations like the people I'm representing have been.

As I predicted, the good stuff is starting to cancel out the bad shit I've had to deal with. You don't forget the bad shit happened but I know I can use this in my creative pursuits, be it writing, acting, or some other direction I take it in. It seems I'm also good at giving advice on marriage since I lived it & saw what it's like when it's bad.

My unofficial gay bestie said something interesting: he says you have to be an optimist if you want to live in NYC. In fact, he claims you can't live here if you aren't an optimist because the city wears you down and if you're pessimistic, you'll never make it since you'll get too weighed down in the crappiness of the MTA, the bugs, the mess and all the other crazy things that are NYC. He actually told me recently that something I'm pessimistic about seemed contrary to my "being an optimist." That made me wonder "AM I an optimist?" I mean, I'm not Rose Nylund or this one girl I went to college with who was Little Miss Sunshine to the point that she seemed insincere when she expressed an emotion other than cheerful or happy.

We often associate optimism with naiveté and stupidity, things I don't feel I have in a lot of areas of life. Can you be an intelligent & realistic optimist? I like to think maybe you can be & you can still be a fighter. In my case, I'd say if you manage to get through what I have you have no choice but to be optimistic in some fashion since that's what will keep you alive. It's like "I got through all this defying a ton of odds so how could I be a true pessimist?" I always said I was a pessimist on people matters but never on career or getting to live where I wanted to; I always believed in being able to do that stuff but not that I'd find true friendship, certainly not love.

The jury is still out on love for me but I do find Mr. Big Stuff's query to me on the subject interesting & confusing. I'm the woman who thinks you're lying if you say "I love you" and it's in a dating/romantic context (or you're trying to manipulate me in some fashion by using it as a "get out of jail free" card to treat me like shit). I tend to think guys saying that are only in lust with me, don't know me well enough to make such a statement & think I'm completely stupid so insulting my intelligence (which is a huge pet peeve of mine). I have a whole nuanced view on the subject; I can say it and accept it from friends & family members who aren't completely dysfunctional. Is it screwed up or just a byproduct of my upbringing, growing up in the Southeastern US and the divorce I had? I go with byproduct of my circumstances.

These are the thoughts rolling in my head, the observations I've made. I've sorely needed to write here as my therapy and catharsis from things. Not to mention ensuring readers know I've not dropped off the face of the earth or ceded my identity. It's hard when you get representation since you also have to sort out how that fits in with maintaining your core identity.

Yeah, these life changes have been better for me & I feel like once all this clearing is done I will definitely be kicking butt on the creative side of things. I might even make it to that billboard Comic Book Boy has to pass by everyday. That would be poetic justice in more ways than one.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

That Phoenix is Starting to Soar

My mother wrote a letter to Comic Book Boy after he threw me out into the street with nothing. God only knows if he ever read it but she said of me "(My real name) is a phoenix – she will rise from the ashes of this situation because I know she has the strength and fortitude to go forward regardless of any situation she has to face." That letter still brings me to tears when I read it, both at how much my mother loves me & at the emotional scope of what he did.

But, after some great career leaps post-marriage and feeling discouraged after the whole Harvey Weinstein situation came out (my former film company actually was supposed to have a meeting with the Weinstein brothers where chances are, I'd end up having to interact with them as the company's Production Executive/In-House Counsel and generally the person who made potential investors feel more comfortable with her presence since fly by night companies don't typically have an attorney in the partnership ranks) I got some very unexpected news that actors kill for. I got an offer of representation from a manager. Not just any manager but a manager with a track record & more industry experience than me. Someone who accepts me for being me & isn't trying to tell me to go dye my hair or no longer be a natural redhead with a natural redhead's temperament or give up my law licenses. My social media will give you exact names & all but CBU Management, Inc. deserves a shout-out here since I officially signed with them this past week.

For those not in the entertainment industry, having a manager makes a difference in doing this professionally & making a living at it vs. doing this as a hobby in your leisure time. Lots of people come to NYC and struggle for years to never have a manager at all. A manager with experience can determine the types of auditions you get to read for.

I've been here over a decade but for 7 of those years, I was chained to a marriage. There's no way in hell I'd have been able to take this representation if I were still in that marriage or if I were working in the nonexistent full time legal job that people have tried pushing me to do for years. I don't feel like I'd be able to do it if I were in a serious relationship either since then you have more complications to deal with in that realm. A few people I've met have representation but I don't think a single creative I know who's also an attorney has a manager & I'm not sure any have agencies even on a non-exclusive basis.

Getting a manager was one of those things I never expected to happen. If you follow my blog, you've read my reasons why. When you're outside the norm, it's a lot more difficult to get things the way you need them for your peace of mind, practical reality and so forth. I've spent an entire life being outside the norm by being a redhead, not being a stereotypical person of my socioeconomic class, not being a full on liberal or conservative, not being a pretty airhead or a smart ugly type (though I didn't own my looks until much later on & definitely didn't own them 100% until I started modeling when denying them at that point would have been absurd), not having a bunch of friends that looked like me, not being a stereotypical attorney, and so forth.

One goal I have made for myself is network elevation, which seems to be paying off in spades these days. I met an attorney who is doing the plan I'm trying to do (make a living at the law stuff while still getting to do the creative and production sides of things). He even lives near me & believes in me/roots for me (and is just one of many good connections I've made in the past few months). Now I get a lot of guys from the industry asking me out and wanting to consider the romantic stuff but I feel that in business, you shouldn't do that. It's too murky and awkward and I value professional connections who root for me in life who I can talk to about things while keeping sex out of the dynamic. It's a perception thing & I just don't view those connections in that way. You should keep those worlds separate to save yourself problems & hassle. Nobody can ever accuse you of molestation or sexual assault or rape if you never dipped your pen in the company ink.

I think I'm still in shock about this since it came out of left field. I went into a networking meeting with my now manager thinking we'd be discussing my legal background or maybe my producing background & the creative side would be an afterthought. Plus, I've had to do everything myself for years & not get much feedback on if I'm doing stuff right or not. People I've met in fashion actually said I was the most professional person they knew but that's not led to many real, paying modeling jobs; it's been all talk but no quantitative action as I'd get rejected or put in as a backup model.

I felt like getting to be a professional actress making a living at this was like me having a soulmate; that it was simply too out of reach to even consider for a second that it could happen to me as I wasn't going to give up my identity or my education for it & it felt like you had to be groomed as a child or in your 20s or you were out of luck as a woman. Oh, and forget about doing much if you're a natural redhead; you'll see fakes but few natural ones around & you get to hear about how ugly you are. After all, "redheaded stepchild" is hardly a term of endearment.

It's also "oh, shit I can't be as angry at my ex for what he did." The fucker actually did me a bigger favor since again, couldn't have a manager if I'd still been married. Especially at the end, he'd have fucked that up. I couldn't do it when I was a transient with no place to live & it might have been hard when I was dating Mr. Big Stuff (though I still talk to him & have fondness towards him; saying his name aloud or thinking about him makes me smile) or dealing with the nightmare housing situations. I might just end up on that billboard in Times Square or those ads plastered all over NYC yet. That whole "being famous" thing might end up happening whether I want it to or not but I don't have those kinds of ambitions since I'm not selling my soul or sleeping my way into things. If I haven't done that after a decade in NYC, why start now? I might have to actually forgive that jerk.

Getting a manager might seem like your work ends but it doesn't. Your work is only beginning since that's saying you are now a force to be reckoned with. If you get picked for the Olympic team or you make the pros in a sport, that's when you train even harder and have to be more disciplined. You don't just slack off & rest on your laurels until game day.

At least for me, this doesn't feel like I engaged in a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie. That analogy is typically used to describe making partner in a big law firm. So many lawyers in those firms HATE their jobs. I've heard lots of lawyers in court talk about how they hate their jobs. I've only been doing appearances since I don't want to be one of those lawyers who hates their job. Ever since I got that management offer, my heart & spirit have felt light. It's been this happy euphoria, this feeling that things are paying off and that things may actually go my way after all. My feeling is if I never have anything beyond a boyfriend or a FWB who sticks around, I will at least have a career where the hard work is actually worth it financially along with spiritually.

My unofficial gay bestie recently observed that you have to be an optimist if you're going to live in NYC since daily life here would wear you down completely if you were a pessimist. I thought about that & he's right. If you're going to work in entertainment, you definitely can't be pessimistic about it; if you're trying to get out of poverty, you can't be living in a poverty mentality & convinced you'll be stuck there forever or self-fulfilling prophecy will get you every time. Others have told me post-marriage I have a positive energy. I never thought of myself in that way since I was this cynic who had goth friends in high school + college and dated Vampire Boy, who had his own goth friends. My ex and I got along based on this layer of cynicism; he understood me. I was never this one girl I knew in college who seemed so happy, she was faking it & irritated me with this show I felt she put on vs. being genuinely happy. I'm still very cynical about people (especially guys) & can't see that changing in the near future.

However, I did accept the compliment especially when Coney Island Guy said I reminded him of Cindy Sanders in "Freaks & Geeks."

Perhaps I've become optimistic about life situations since when you have nothing left, you'd better have hope in the future & believe that where you are today isn't going to be where you are tomorrow since you'll never survive if you can't do that. If you went through what I did and you survived, then you kind of have to be optimistic since you know you're capable of making it & if you did it once or twice you can do it again. It might be hard & you might not be where you want right away (I'm definitely not where I want to be just yet) but if you know you overcame a crisis before, you'd be foolish to presume you couldn't do it again. I can't see things that way with my love life but I feel like nobody I'd consider romantically is on par with me mentally or emotionally; both of those things matter. Now I feel like I've got the task of career to handle right now & don't need the stress or aggravation of sex doll seekers and insecure little boys.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Look at Me, I'm Self-Employed

Yeah, this post title is deliberate as it's from a song called "Takin' Care of Business." I've been self-employed for quite sometime and I feel it's necessary to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of it.

The upsides are you work for yourself. Nobody gets to tell you you can't do something you want to do or who to work with or not work with. No workplace gets to censor your creative voice or demand you to put up with incompetent behavior. You get to keep a bunch of money for taxes and pay Uncle Sam in the end instead of waiting around for a refund. In theory, your time is yours.

The downside is you typically have to build a business. That part is extremely difficult, especially if you're not an expert marketer, come from tons of money or some great school where you've got built in contacts (and even going to an Ivy League school doesn't make you an instant millionaire as a gentleman in my life would freely point out). You also have to find people who actually advocate for you & think of you for things instead of the other guy. Your taxes are also a tad more complicated & forget about getting those done for free unless you're dead broke. Not to mention you most likely don't have stable income & you aren't guaranteed a given rate or paycheck. There's a lot of uncertainty to it all.

As a person who refused to work as a waitress in college because she didn't want to work for tips and refused to do commission based jobs or miserable base pay + commission, self-employment and this business building stuff is especially scary. I still have to control panic and stress attacks when I don't get a paying assignment on a given day. Plenty of people say I stress out too much and definitely have far more faith in me than I have in myself some days. I've been called "a shark," "a survivor," and I'm convinced there are people who think I'm Superwoman while I'm frantically thinking and telling people "No, I'm not."

When people think you're Superwoman, they never believe you have weak moments or are in need of help from anyone. They think you can magically take care of yourself and make things happen. I guess if you knew my full story, you might draw such conclusions about me.

One thing you learn as an adult is that nobody really has it together. You think they do but in actuality, they are dealing with credit card payments, bad credit scores, taking help from relatives, enduring insane housing conditions, suffering from health issues, all kinds of stuff. It makes you miss the days when your parents were superheroes and took care of everything no matter how bleak things looked.

I've seen this happen in the business world as well. It seems the self-employment panic attack happens even if you are paying bills successfully and businesses can close and merge after many years in existence. My former therapist told me she experienced that for years when she started out and told me I just needed not to fixate on that or stress out if I didn't get an assignment on a given day. I try to use that time to do other business obligations & tasks I need to get done that I'd usually be too busy for like business networking, responding to e-mails, submitting for casting calls and even simple relaxation.

You learn that the house isn't build on the solid foundation you assume it is, whether that's a business or personal existence.

The best way I could describe being self-employed is living in a perpetual state of unease and worry about whether you're going to make your bills this month. The constant worry that if this goes sour, everything will come crashing down around you. You ask yourself "How are you going to deal with it?" Some choose self-employment and some are forced into it. I was definitely forced into it due to being so unique when it comes to my skill set & talents. From what I hear about people's jobs, though, I feel like it's a better route than a job I'd hate where I'd be forced to change my entire identity. I definitely know life is precious and time is fleeting so you may as well do what makes you happy vs. worrying obsessively about your credit score.

Knowing the big truths makes it feel more encouraging, like I'm on this journey and I'm not going to be in the exact same place 5 years from now. More recently, I've been looking back on where I was 4 years ago. I actually saw a pic from a fashion show I did nearly 4 years ago since a friend shared it on her Facebook timeline. I had vivid memories of doing that show and how I was feeling at that time; modeling that night was a literal escape from the hell of my household with my ex-husband.

I have also thought about where I was when I started on my new legal work almost 3 years ago and what I've learned in that time along with the progress I've made in my creative career that I never got when I was married.

But knowing all these things, does anyone still get the fear that all their effort will be in vain? That the worst case scenario is going to happen and no matter how much you try to prepare for it, you know there's no way you could handle it long term? That it couldn't become your new normal & you'd want to die if it did?

My big fear is being forced to live in NC again; I'm a really crappy Southerner, you know. I don't like country music, I don't have a Southern accent, I spent a childhood overshadowed by my sister and it's just far too small for me. My eccentricity might be noticeable in NYC & I might be "weird" here but this is a city of weirdos so nobody hassles you for your own individual weirdness unless it's in the form of "she needs to be locked up" crazy. I stuck out like a sore thumb in NC and in my childhood though I've been gratified in recent times by people who knew me back then saying I was pretty, had worth and all that good stuff. It made me realize my lifelong problem wasn't the problem I thought it was & I know how to manage that one far better, in a more healthy and positive way. If I didn't know how to cook, didn't possess charm + manners & have more conservative leanings on some subjects (including a belief that God exists), I think they'd revoke my Southern card.

Being self-employed feels like being on a tightrope extended between 2 high rise buildings with at least 20 floors & knowing that there MIGHT be a net at the bottom if you fall but you don't know how sturdy the net is, if anyone's going to be holding that out for you, and you have no safety harness to rely on. But I consistently have to remind myself that much of my life has been like this. Getting thrown out by my lowlife ex and my transient life was definitely like this; yet so many people claim I'm a survivor and have "survived" this. I feel like I'm still recovering but there are things I'm not dealing with anymore that made me realize "hey, they're kind of right."

I've also questioned whether anyone really has an easier existence than me & I feel like the answer is "no, their existence is just difficult in other ways." The big questions come up a lot when you've lost a parent, gotten divorced, lived as a transient or talked to people who sound like they're doing a lot better than you (I've found out those people have envied me or thought I had it made in various ways).

I'll be the first person to tell you self-employment is not for everyone. You have to be extremely ambitious, determined, motivated and a freaking force of nature. You also have to do you best not to let the anxiety and instability eat away at your soul. It shouldn't be glamorized though it is how most businesses came to exist & there are all sorts of stories about famous owners and celebrities who had extremely difficult times to get where they are today. I like to think maybe my dark days are getting brighter and I'm either going to be confronted with full sunshine or I'm going to be dead and leave behind an indelible mark on the world. So many people never show you the reality & I feel it's only fair I oblige by sharing my truth with others. They also say writing reduces stress so if you feel it, you may want to try it sometime.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Genius of Jem

Here's some truth: I watched a lot of "Jem" as a kid. Yes, I was and in some ways still am a girly girl (after all, I am a model in NYC). For those of you unfamiliar with it, here's a link to help you. While many parts of "Jem" were very unrealistic, there is something to be said about some of the writing & why it would actually be a good program to let a little girl watch.

First off, Jerrica and her friends were your classic underdogs. Jerrica & Kimber's father has died, they're left with little money and they have the evil Eric Raymond (who's an attorney and music company executive; was this foreshadowing you may ask yourself) to contend with. They epitomize good and kindness in the world even though you have Aja and Shanna to balance out some of that since they were more critical and cynical in their outlook on life than our own Jerrica/Jem. Poor Jerrica and her friends and their Starlight girls go through all kinds of bad stuff at the hands of The Misfits (the "evil" rock group) & Eric Raymond or people they've hired to do their dirty work.

Second, the Starlight girls were older tween/teen girls who'd been orphaned. You didn't see the lead characters taking care of babies or trying to become mothers everywhere you turned. They were enjoying rock star life and caring for the Starlight girls, who weren't really helpless waifs. There was one episode in particular where Kimber was supposed to get married and her friends are telling her not to rush into that choice & really think about if she wanted to do it. They weren't saying "Oh, go off & have babies. That's what you're SUPPOSED to be doing!" Powerful message for a childfree person or a kid who wasn't for the marriage/babies club.

Third, Jerrica and her friends weren't helpless waifs. I feel like Jerrica/Jem managed the perfect balance of self-sufficiency and Southern belle tendencies (though I think they were supposed to be living in CA). Rio got to be her hero but he wasn't ALWAYS helping her out of every stupid little nonsense like you'd see in some damsels in distress. They were fixing cars and doing all kinds of "not ladylike" type things.

I really liked Aja (the Hologram with the blue hair) though I could pull off Kimber easiest (the Hologram with the red hair). Aja was far more cynical, didn't trust that easily and was kind of bad ass in her own way since she knew how to do mechanical tasks. Yes, I wanted blue hair as a kid since I wasn't really happy being a redhead who got bullied and tormented in childhood. I would have loved an Aja doll but never got one.

But I suppose watching it as an adult, the thing I really notice is The Stingers. I was watching the episode where they first show up a few days ago and heard "Take It or Leave It." I feel like that is MY anthem in dealing with all these dudes who apparently resent me for having a personality & independent thoughts that don't align lockstep with theirs. The Stingers are also interesting since you have Jem & the Holograms as the epitome of good & kindness and The Misfits as the epitome of evil & nastiness (though you see some character archs with individual members and even Pizazz later on when confronted with situations that could KILL their rivals or cause further harm to them). The Stingers are more nuanced, Riot in particular.

You find out that Riot had to deal with parental disapproval from his father and strife over his music career. Basically, he and his band had to fight to get where they ended up in the series. I like that this layer of nuance was thrown in & how many of us can relate to having friends and family members who don't understand or respect our passion for entertainment pursuits, be they acting, music, modeling, whatever?

I actually had this guy tell me he was no longer interested in meeting me after speaking with me on politics and felt like I ought to post a link to "Take It or Leave It" on my profile. Heck, I would save myself so much time if I just did stuff like that or announce "Hey, I'm not dealing with your BS considering all the stuff I've gone through to get where I am! You can go pound sand if you think I am."

Shouldn't you hang out with the people who find you awesome as is instead of trying to conform to jerks who don't actually like you for you? I think you should. Embrace the 80s cheese as you watch that clip.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: "The Fight" by Jonathan Leaf at The Storm Theater Company

Jonathan Leaf's “The Fight” takes us on a journey with one Caitlin Schultz (Laura Bozzone) who is writing a doctoral thesis and a book on the feminist movement, particularly second wave feminism. She is seeking the answer to the question “What happened in Houston?” Doris Margolies (Judith Hawking) was all set to become the leader of the National Women's Political Caucus when suddenly, votes cast for her were simply not counted. Doris contends that Phyllis Feinberg (Fleur Alys Dobbins) along with a number of other women in the movement such as Bella Abzug were trying to kick her out of the feminist movement while Phyllis considers Doris a crazy, paranoid woman out of touch with the movement's brand of feminism. Per Caitlin, this is a story that hasn't been told and Caitlin is anxious to learn it. As we go on this journey alongside Caitlin with the narration of Doris and Phyllis, various parallels to the 2016 DNC primaries (the Sanders situation in particular) and the nuances of feminism (classic vs. third wave feminism) presented themselves.

Doris and Phyllis are formidable women in their own spheres, with Doris as our humorous straight shooter who lays it right out there contrasting with Phyllis's smooth, refined, cool subtlety. Doris considers Phyllis a hypocrite as well as a “phony” in her feminism since Phyllis had an abortion when she was young and solicited her millionaire boyfriend to save her women's magazine when it was in financial trouble. Phyllis is also the “fashionable” one and presumably better looking.

Meanwhile, Phyllis sees Doris as a stodgy, loud and out of touch liability to the feminist movement due to Doris's hostility towards lesbians, refusal to talk about minorities or welfare, continuing in a physically abusive marriage and elevating motherhood while looking down on women like Phyllis for shunning motherhood/traditional marriage. Caitlin herself seems caught in the middle as she reveals that she herself had some same sex relationships to Doris.

Fleur Alys Dobbins, Laura Bozzone & Judith Hawking. Photo Credit: Michael Abrams

However, Doris doesn't belittle or insult Caitlin for this as she says she was never against lesbians or bisexuals but simply wanted the movement to be mainstream vs. a fringe movement nobody cared about due to societal attitudes in those days about gays and lesbians. She also reveals being uncomfortable around lesbians in that time, presumably because of being a traditionalist and not accustomed to that population.

Doris explains to Caitlin why Phyllis is the way she is and Phyllis eventually tells Caitlin just what happened in Houston.

Both Doris and Phyllis were very well developed, complex characters whom I could see a little of myself in: Doris for her admission of hitting her abusive husband back when he hit her and Phyllis for her fear of having a family due to the wreckage of her home life caused by her mother's mental condition. Their relationship felt like the typical clash of women where the traditional homemakers are battling against the career minded, the attractive are battling against the average or ugly, the mothers are battling against the childfree, etc. It was complicated and littered with shades of gray; they weren't friends or enemies or frenemies. Perhaps there is no one word description to describe the relationship between Doris and Phyllis.

Fleur Alys Dobbins & Judith Hawking. Photo Credit: Michael Abrams

I had an interesting time trying to locate Grand Hall; a kind Asian guy outside the church where the theater is located directed me on how to get in (which I likely wouldn't have figured out without help since there is some maneuvering to get there). Once I did & learned that I was indeed in the right place, I discovered a space that was wonderful. It reminded me of a field trip I took to the Stevens Center in middle school. It was a space that was devoid of pretension but still very professional. It felt like a historic venue with character and intimacy where the acoustics were great, a space tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the NYC streets. The intermission and pre-show soundtrack was very fitting and clever in it's presentation (a series of girl power and 60's girl group anthems).

The costuming was wonderful, especially when Doris and Phyllis led us on scenes taking place in the past. It was impressive how Ms. Dobbins in particular looked so young when she was speaking with Stanley (Matthew Provenza) about her pregnancy. She absolutely conveyed youthfulness in that scene.

Fleur Alys Dobbins & Matthew Provenza. Photo Credit: Michael Abrams

Our male characters (Mr. Provenza and Mark Quiles), consisting of various male figures in the lives of Doris and Phyllis were also good in their roles but the absolute standouts here were the ladies as this was their story.

You could also feel Caitlin's discomfort at times when she was interviewing Doris. It felt like Doris was poking into places Caitlin didn't exactly feel comfortable going to such as her revelation of prior lesbian relationships.

Of course, I can't convey enough praise for Ms. Hawking who played Doris. She definitely had an appeal and empathy from the audience with a lot of laughter after her lines.

This show, without question, is relevant to our times and perhaps even more relevant in light of the recent sex scandals concerning Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, et. al. I personally deal with plenty of those issues in my career and have had to block my fair share of cretins who seem to think this model is a bimbo who is clueless as to her legal rights or when someone is not interested in a business discussion. Jonathan Leaf conveys the nuances of female relationships and this experience of feminism in a truthful, engaging and enlightening way. I highly recommend this show and this venue.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Epic Costume & A Surreal Adventure All Rolled Into One: My Halloween Adventures & The 40th Annual Village Halloween Costume Ball at Theater for the New City

After not really having an opportunity to wear my revenge outfit on an actual date, I thought to myself "Why not try this as a Halloween costume?" Figuring I could avoid being hit on for a night & donning an outfit that would be weather appropriate and certainly Mother approved (I think my mother would love it if I dressed like a frump and never, ever slept with a man again), I searched for foam pink rollers, a truly ugly mumu fitting of Thelma Harper or Moms Mabley, the proper slippers and the proper attitude/swagger. This outfit took major effort to find; when you're a skinny woman, all the mumu's are nice & fitted gorgeous stuff that simply wasn't working for my plans. My mother actually put our hair in pink foam rollers as kids complete with Dippity Doo & had us sleep in that so we would have curly hair for church on Sunday as well as school picture day. So these were definitely throwbacks/tribute to my Southern upbringing.

To avoid more people bothering me in real life, I donned sunglasses for this so I could post a pic in my blog but if you're a follower of Andy Troy's parties, you'll certainly see pics of me in the full outfit:

I wore this outfit to Andy Troy's Halloween Party since I had to test it out among industry peers (and I've heard Andy is one of my fans so I felt I should support him in kind) along with a single's Halloween party the next night & on my surreal adventure reviewing the Village Halloween Costume Party. I also really wanted to wear this on Halloween proper and no way was I getting to wear this for a court appearance like I did with my goth bunny costume last year. I was going to also wear it to a Halloween party at a strip club I'd been invited to but torrential rain thwarted that plan since I wasn't about to go out in bad weather wearing this despite the shower cap.

The shower cap and robe came about for practical purposes: the shower cap to keep my hair from falling out of the rollers and the robe to avoid freezing too death while traveling outside. It turned out that mumu was quite warm & at both Halloween parties from Friday and Saturday, I came home to find my shower cap doused in sweat from being in freakishly hot conditions. I actually had the robe since I think it was a gift from my ex's relatives & I got a bunch of shower caps to keep my long hair from getting wet if I wanted to shower sometime without having to go through the long hassle of drying my hair.

Okay, so the purpose of this getup was so no guy would be interested in me. I figured dudes would see this & run for the hills or just find it hysterical then run for the hills. The concept in my own head made me chuckle & if you know me, you know I NEVER do what everybody else is doing on Halloween; I get to wear sexy stuff all the time with the entertainment and fashion events I go to & in fact, it's sort of expected that you're doing it so I like to do something I don't normally do on Halloween (that whole "wearing a costume" thing since the sexy stuff is more my real self). I deliberately wore this to the single's Halloween party as the ultimate "I don't give a fuck" statement; that was the same reason I was going to wear it to the strip club Halloween party. I suppose it's my spirit of fun to not give a damn & definitely see if I get the same results as somebody who's actually trying & putting in effort to get things.

Turns out this outfit was a hit in more ways than one. I had my suspicions of it when I did my first hair test, saw my hair in the rollers, put on my getup and saw that I didn't look nearly as hideous as I expected to. I said to myself "This is why you are divorced." Even my deliberate worst is still gorgeous to the world at large!

As proof of this, I had about 3 different guys try picking me up at Andy Troy's party. One even wanted to walk me home to my home proper but he was not my romantic interest, I felt he was too damn pushy & he worked in my industry. That's a no go for me. Plus, I'd wanted to see this other guy who is my flavor that I'd hoped would be around later (he wasn't but I saw him a few days later).

Saturday night, I wore this to a single's Halloween party I paid for a ticket to attend. Normally, I like to save my $20 for more important things (I meet guys all the time without trying or putting in great effort) but the opportunity to try out this social experiment proved too enticing to pass up. We were given cards we had to match up to win a prize and like others at this event, I decided to affix my card to my name tag to make things easier. I also did some Facebook Live videos while I was there since it was my first singles event ever. Normally, I'm not the type to go to such things; I usually walk into the room and get swarmed or approached within 30 minutes of showing up (not necessarily by anybody I'm impressed with or find hot but it does happen). Natural redhead, baby! You never have to engage in cheap theatrics or put in tons of effort to get guys if you're in my tribe; we'd find it demeaning to bother in the first place since nobody wants a guy who doesn't see their value right away.

The guy I matched up with happened to be my physical type & intelligent so we got to talking and managed to hit it off. We went out last night & he was even nice enough to be in my second Facebook Live video of the evening though I told my viewers not to get attached to him since guys I do anything intimate with tend to have almost no longevity in my life. I have my reasons, a big one being I don't tolerate bullshit. We ended up leaving and going to a diner then were making out in front of a subway station at 2 in the morning. He was dressed as a cop so people kept yelling "Officer" at him. I had people compliment my costume while I'd explain where the concept came from; that outfit communicates a lady's anger towards a man far more effectively than yelling at him, don't you think? People commented to this guy that he was not supposed to be doing that while on duty (making out with me); I thought of responding that I was performing a public service so people wouldn't get accosted and minorities wouldn't be harassed. The scene just made me chuckle loudly on my way home and before I left my cop.

This brings us to The Village Halloween Costume Ball on Halloween night:

This was definitely the place to be if you wanted to see costumes that weren't “sexy” this or that which is NEVER sexy but simply created that way so women have an excuse to show off their assets for one night. It's one of those events that if you're going to attend, you should probably not have stuff to do the next morning. When I walked in at 7:40/7:45, I was treated to a drum performance. I also saw a number of creative professionals I know in the business, including one attorney I know whose show I stared in a while back (one performance actually was at Theater for the New City). I also saw someone who recognized me from Andy Troy's Halloween Party a few days back (since even among the creative costumes I saw at this event, nobody was going around in foam rollers and a mumu) & did some networking with new contacts while also getting raves on my costume. At one point I took this pic in my outfit for the readers and a professional photographer decided to take my pic, declaring me beautiful.

You had the option of hanging out in the lobby, the Cauldron where food and drinks were being served, the Ballroom later in the evening, taking a stroll through the Scary Room, going to The Womb Room or going to the Cabaret to see performers onstage. I saw John Grimaldi, a regular at Theater for the New City in the Cabaret and let's just say he is far more proficient in bubble creation than you mere mortals. He also did an act involving a real life fire baton (the first time I'd ever witnessed such a thing as I'd only heard about the famous fire batons Susanne Sugarbaker twirled in her pageant days) & managed to not harm himself or get distracted despite people walking in and out. It's not many performers handling such feats who could do that and maintain their focus.

I also saw a couple of performances in The Womb Room, where the show I'd been in had been shown. One play I saw was “Relationship Counseling” featuring a man who is dealing with a romantic relationship with a robot. The male actor was very good at falling from intoxication & making it realistic while the actress playing the robot was pitch perfect in her portrayal of the sensible, far more clever robot. The second performance I saw was by Lily Ali-Oshatz, a spoken word performer/singer who just brought us from a happy to a cryptic, disturbing place with her take on a young woman's experience with dating in the big city. I thought “Well, that took a dark turn fast.” If ever you wanted to get a grasp on the idea of date rape as experienced by a woman, you should have seen that performance since it took you there in an unabashed, direct way.

Perhaps it was fitting that the Scary Room was right near The Womb Room. I had to wait for a time before it was open but it was definitely more scary than any regular Halloween haunted house or even a religious “Hell House.” This room went into the damage resulting from global warming and climate change, leading to a post-apocalyptic nightmare world in the year 2037 where people have resorted to cannibalism, pollution and mutation are widespread and civilization as we know it has almost literally gone to Hell in a handbasket.

Had I been able to stay out longer, I would have hung out more in the Ballroom. The Ballroom was awesome and grand, I imagine like a dance way back when would have been like if a live orchestra was present. I did end up making a new potential business contact while I was in that room but no dancing for me and I had to get up early the next day for work + be mindful of subway schedules. Overall, I'd say it's definitely a Halloween event done right and if you went you'd definitely have a fun time since there's something for everyone there.

So, the results of this social experiment were "You can't make yourself look ugly; you're going to get hit on no matter what so embrace it, get the hell over it & stop letting assholes try to guilt you for admitting your beauty exists." It makes the idea of having attractive women cover up & be frumpy pathetic since you won't change beauty, you haters. I also have long since decided I would only wear makeup and dress up at my choice, not somebody else's. No guy has demanded things like that out of me & I never looked as bad as that costume even when I was a "housewife" as some people asked if I was supposed to be. I have more style than that, folks & fully intend to maintain it as I age. It's my contention at this point that me trying to deny having looks is like trying to deny the sky is blue or the grass is green. Others have to confront this in their own ways.

Friday, October 6, 2017

People Suck Everywhere: What's Your Price?

This particular story hits very close to home. In case you aren't familiar with it, he's one of these big shot Hollywood guys lots of indie people would give their eye teeth to meet. My own company apparently had talks with people who were trying to see about us getting meetings with them. I even met someone with a project who had a family member of his who'd offered to produce that project.

Now, stories about men harassing women in Hollywood are sadly old hat in my knowledge. I've heard about and known plenty to avoid, even within my own circle. I've even had guys ask me out who work in this industry in such capacities, to which I respond that they must have mistaken me for a star fucker or think I'm some skank who has to come across to get clients. I get very hostile and nasty about it to where I even added on a dating profile that you won't be dating me if you work in the same industry since I live by the saying "Don't shit where you eat."

As I've heard about more and more of this stuff and if you are hearing about this & thinking of working in this industry, you should ask yourself "At what price am I going to pay to get in this industry? Am I content with never moving into those upper echleons if I have morals and integrity for myself & refuse to play that shit? Can I be satisfied with where I am regardless?" In my case, after much thought my answer is "I'll make my way on my terms and in my way or I don't want it at all." I figure I'd probably end up biting that guy's dick off, hitting in some sensitive area (I've slapped a man for getting fresh before), ruining him big time. I'll bet some of these sleazebags would figure I'm way too mean and angry to let that shit stand or ever go away quietly. Also, as an attorney you have ethical duties not to cosign on societal BS or let other women get harmed; where I have opportunity to be the change and fuck over cretins, bet your butt I'll do it for someone who's got proof, credibility and so forth. You have to wield those swords carefully & know which one to pull out when and how far to swing them. Sometimes you just inform the people who are close or planning to work with that person; other times, you have to use public disclosure and the proper authorities.

This is a guy who was a "liberal hero" donating to queen Hillary and participating in that Women's March months back. So if you thought only conservatives and the ultra-right has cretins, you are dead wrong. I think it has to do with money and entitlement complexes as to why some guy does it. You can find plenty of beastly women as well such as queen Hillary and her anti-feminist, anti-women behavior towards her husband's victims as well as voters who didn't hand her the crown via their votes. It's like "Do I need more reasons to dislike rich people as a group? Must we further The Angry Redheaded Lawyer's classism concerns and assertions of moral superiority because she didn't have things handed to her in life & doesn't believe she can buy people?"

Hell, do I need more proof that rich guys are assholes I want zero to do with and if one ever did actually get love struck over me he'd have to fight against not just my own family's class prejudices but mine as well? I also feel the same way about MDs; they seem to think this lawyer is going to drop her drawers or respond to commands from them on dating sites. God help the MD or rich guy who isn't an asshole who tries getting my attention/interest. Most people's fairy tale mate would be discarded by me since I'd assume that person was arrogant or believed they could buy me.

Political labels mean shit since there are kind conservatives and asshole liberals. See above.

I think I have discovered the meaning of life despite not being screamingly old: it's happiness. You can't buy that, you can't teach yourself to do it or make yourself do it & it's something that if you haven't got, you'll be living in a prison regardless of what you do, what you have or where you come from. There are miserable rich people and happy poor people.

What I look at in these situations is the rule breakers and how they got places in spite of shit like this. I like to think not everyone who's rich or in Hollywood is a sexual predator or an entitled scumbag who thinks people can be bought & sold or moved around like pieces on a chess board. I think of people like Lucille Ball who had her own production company at a time when no woman was doing that & her husband was no white guy. She had to fight to get him on "I Love Lucy," in fact. Not a real redhead but that's the type of thing I look at in planning my life and career; since I know my path is different and the rules really don't apply to my reality, I simply plan my actions with that in mind. I read a post on LinkedIn about how these companies in Corporate America discriminate to this day against minority applicants based on looking at photographs & zip codes in the address on the resume. My brain went to "how do we fuck their system over & shame them?" Also, let's give them the finger then set up better businesses to compete and kill them by doing right what they royally screw up & fail at (and plenty of big companies fail at various things the right business owner could exploit).

My thought process is similar in doing my entertainment career. Give these pricks the finger, become known as a force who does it better & shames them horribly then make sure you don't do the same crap they do. Hold yourself to standards and give hand ups to the deserving and talented in the next generation. Teach others how to fight this shit & don't be a whining victim. I can rest easy with things I've done already and will keep doing though I feel I've not reached my apex yet. Never compromise your self-worth or your integrity or view yourself as "less than" because you didn't eat the old, moldy doughnut offered by these established companies.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Yelp is Apparently Run by SJWs & Here's Why the Current SJW Idea is Bullshit

So it seems Yelp censors people's true life racial bigotry incidents. I had this review of a true experience that happened at a Mandee location at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn removed for some mysterious reason from Yelp. This was 2 years after the incident in question, by the way:

First off, it's way too tiny. Second, the employees allow ghetto trash to touch & threaten people. Had this piece of ghetto trash show a wonderful example to her child (who she claims was there) by trying to start a fight with me b/c she couldn't be bothered to have her kid or maybe herself not get in the way of someone with a bunch of bags on their shoulders trying to shop there. No employee interference, no security guard, no one interrupts this woman's screaming scene where she proceeds to tap my forehead. Had she done more or wasn't some inconsequential piece of ghetto trash sure to win Mother of the Year, maybe it'd have been worth my time to engage this lowlife but I opted out. Furthermore, they have no clothes for super thin people AND it seems they let this bitch serve as sheriff of this place. I'll be making a call to the corporate headquarters & alerting the franchise owner of this; I also wonder if this piece of ghetto trash would have done this to a black or Latino woman.

Free tip: if you want this area of Brooklyn to not be seen as a ghetto piece of trash that respectable people don't want to go to, maybe you shouldn't be having store management & personnel allowing garbage like this to harass people and attempt to engage in fights. Real class there.

Then I was recently contacted to be informed that another true incident of racism that happened to me at a store I usually shop in that was an update of my previous review was deleted for the same "violating content guidelines" nonsense. I was less concerned about that since the manager had read the review I posted on their Facebook page and has since made things right with me so I've not had to encounter that ghetto bitch again or wait in the long ass line to get service when my time is valuable & matters.

I asked Yelp HQ about the above review being censored & they claimed that I can't call "ghetto trash" what it is. I consider anyone trying to start fights with random strangers to be ghetto trash. Rational, sane people do not act that way. They act like human beings & don't start altercations or fights over petty ante bullshit. It's not limited to race; it's a poverty mentality type thing. I've known plenty of people who aren't black who fit into "ghetto trash" territory. I've also known plenty of black people who would find that behavior disgusting and uncivilized.

Now I also wrote a detailed letter to the corporate headquarters of Mandee on this incident back when it happened 2 years ago. Do you think anyone EVER responded? No, so that tells you volumes about their value on the customer service or dollars from customers. Had this chick laid a hand on me, it would have been on. I don't start fights with ghetto garbage who clearly have nothing in life to lose since they want to get arrested and put in jail or shot for starting conflict where none need exist. Save that for someone raping you or beating your kid or trying to abduct you. Why the fuck do these assholes even live in NYC? Why don't they move to the suburbs where there's lots of space and oxygen? I mean, do they ride the subway at rush hour and start fights there because someone knocked into them due to the movement of the train? I think people like this aren't qualified to be "people" since they're actually sub-human garbage. Most grade school kids know better than to do shit like that & I didn't see any mental health guardians around them so they presumably don't have a medical diagnosis of low IQ or mental development problems.

Do these morons think I'm some victim? That they have some kind of grounding over the freaking attorney?!?!? I'd press charges in a second on these pieces of trash if they took action and they wouldn't want to mess with me because I can and would fuck someone up in a second if I had to, not just physically either. You can tell they are stupid since a smart person would never mess with a quiet, smart, small type with looks. Especially a fucking NATURAL REDHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!! We are known for our tempers & being cunning. Plus, there is the reality that I have a lot of rage from my childhood and my ex-husband. I'm not in jail, never been there and my shitty ex is still walking the streets without injury caused by me along with his bitchy mother. That person should ask themselves "Is it smart to go tempting someone with that history who's lived that stuff to hurt me?"

I figured out exactly why I despise SJWs and why you should to, especially if you grew up in the South or without money like I did. Here's a deconstruction of that movement.

As I stated before, SJWs are demanding special rights not equal rights. I encountered another person trying that in the industry group I mentioned in my prior post on the subject. She stated racial/gender make up in her crew and said in her job ad she was trying to get a certain percentage of a certain race/gender. What I did say was smart thinking was seeking a DP "who is experienced with lighting darker skin." You could promote "diversity hiring" with a qualification like that since it's based on a skill set, not giving a handout to someone who didn't deserve it.

Anyone using "I'm a woman" or "I'm (insert racial minority group or sexual orientation)" is telling the world "I have no real talent or competence to speak of nor am I skilled enough to do this so just hand me the job because of my status as (whatever they are claiming." I feel quite strongly about handouts.

When I commented there, this moron had the nerve to try apply "privilege" to me & said I should "work with more people of color." I knew immediately this was not someone I'd consider worthy of my time and stated that poor people of any race do not have "privilege," she didn't know a thing about my life history, my work history, my friendship circle or my networking circle and that she ought to do her research on who she's talking to before making such comments. I stated that I'd probably been around more minorities far longer than she had (likely true since that's never been a novelty in our household & we hold people to standards based on their behavior, not their skin tone or who they sleep with or their genitalia).

You should NOT be asking for or wanting handouts if you're a capable, intelligent human being. I would never treat my friends as charity cases who need my sympathy, patronage or handouts. That's demeaning and insulting & says you don't find them capable or intelligent or able to do anything on their own by their own merits. Nope, people I know who are members of minority groups or anyone really are smart, capable individuals who don't need my pity or charity. A handup (giving someone a good word where you can or referring them for things they are ideal for) isn't the same as a handout (giving someone a job or opportunity they aren't necessarily qualified for because of their race, gender, or some other factor in the same of "diversity" or "equality"); you get handups by showing your capabilities and skill set and talent to the world. That requires going out and networking with people, creating your business brand and (gasp!) hard work!!!

Nobody is handed anything in life (not of worth, anyway) so get the fuck over it if you think you shouldn't have to work hard either. Even the trust fund kid has to deal with parents trying to control his/her life & career.

My friends would be offended if I were giving them handouts. That stance is "Poor person of color/woman/non-straight person. (S)he can't get anything on their own talent or merits so we have to give them things even if they aren't qualified to have them since they are too sad, helpless, pathetic and inept to do anything on their own." This is what the SJW philosophy is; it's really bigoted & patronizing when you get down to it so if you're siding with these clowns, you're a bigot as well. You are looking down on minorities & trying to disguise that as "helping" them. I look down on people for being stupid or committing personal sins against me, not being minorities.

I even told that moron who made the uninformed statements that she needed to think better of herself than to ask for or demand somebody else to give them charity instead of proving themselves and making contacts like anybody else. I know I think better of myself than to make those demands & sure don't need anybody's charity or pity; some people are probably terrified of my actual mental strength and endurance.

So ask yourself if you think you are helpless, pathetic and incapable of doing anything on your own merits. If you'd say you aren't, then don't ask for handouts or encourage others to ask for or offer them to the "unfortunates." Because, guess what? You are only an "unfortunate" if you think you are.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: "Checks and Balances" or Bottoms Up! -- a play by Crystal Field at Theater for The New City

"We can see your partisan bias showing!!!" That was the main thought in my head as I saw this show (I mean, the Trump head with swirly ice cream hair and all the evil taking place makes it obvious along with some of the songs) but I do have to admit it was damn funny & definitely had the ring of truth to it.

FYI: this show is literally being held outdoors.

When I came to the performance at Theater for the New City, I was trying to figure out which theater it was in & asked the staff, who directed me to go around the corner to 10th Street. If you're a pale butt who burns after 5 seconds in the sun like me you'll want to arm yourself with good sunblock during the show in case Mr. Sun peeps out. Despite an initially cloudy day, Mr. Sun did decide to peek out during parts so I applied some sunblock I had on me. Lots of passerby also stopped to watch this play as it was taking place.

Our story starts with the premise of the government being for sale and the election of Trump as the starting point for all the really bad stuff taking place (though maybe it was bad beforehand in the story? I'm not sure).

"The Suits" take over immigration policy. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Glory (Briana Bartenieff), a young girl in NYC who attends school with her friends and has an idealist “do gooder” history teacher in Mr. Keene (Michael David Gordon), starts her journey on a subway ride from hell to get to a performance of “Hamilton” that her class has been able to get tickets for.

Briana Bartenieff and Trump Puppet. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

As many a NYC resident who has used the subway, especially this summer, knows what is supposed to be a simple subway ride leads to diversions and increasing frustration for everyone on board. The subway conductor (Justin Rodriguez) gets an earful from the passengers for the constant changes in service and is clearly stressed as well as overworked. The accuracy of subway travel could not have been depicted better.

Justin Rodriguez as subway conductor, under Trump Puppet. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Glory ends up separating from Mr. Keene in pursuit of truth, which devastates him.

Michael David Gordon as School Teacher. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

She ends up in a homeless camp and chats with a few homeless people to learn that she's speaking with a Buddist monk (Mark Marcante), Mother Earth (Cheryl Gadson) and the Blue Fairy (Terry Lee King) who are hiding out as “New York is on the road to truth.” They show Glory a visual exercise of the concept of activism where if you see something, you DO something vs. just saying something & guide her along her journey to truth.

Homeless enclave: (l-r) Matthew Angel, Breana Bartenieff, Cheryl Gadson, Mark Marcante, (hidden) Natasha Velez, Danielle Hauser. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

To avoid spoiling the ending and events, at first it seems that things aren't going well as the Blue Fairy ends up getting captured in DC while trying to spread “love dust” and “glittering truth” at an exclusive venue where a reporter (Alexander Bartenieff) is shunned. However, things ultimately work out in the end and the aforementioned Trump head is “killed” with the love dust and glittering truth as it spreads among the city dwellers.

"Suits" (Juan Villages, T. Scott Lilly, Lei Chin, Matt Angel) bury the Blue Fairy as reporter (Alexander Bartenieff) looks on. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In a twist I didn't see coming, the cast spreads the magic among those audience members sitting in the very front.

Mark Marcante and Terry Lee King dance with audience members in finale. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The beginning and ending of this show was definitely the most interesting I've seen since both were extremely impromptu. The opening dance number starts out very slowly then gets a faster freestyle groove to eventually morph into a hip hop routine. The closing number was literally the audience being welcomed to get up and dance as Lady Liberty (Crystal Field, once she is restored to her prior glory with the presence of love dust and glittering truth) invites us to do.

Statue of Liberty (Crystal Field) emerges to lead ensemble in "Forward March." Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The songs are great. I especially loved “Fake News” with the costuming and the lyrics. There's also “Sanctuary City” and “Fusion” with the men in suits (who reminded me of the many lawyers I see in my day job) dismantling Lady Liberty which are standouts to me.

"Fake News" chorus line. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

"Santuary City" -- L-R: Terry Lee King, Cheryl Gadson, Matt Angel, Mark Marcante, Natasha Velez. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

I applaud the presence of live music, a diverse cast and dancers who felt accessible, like any one of us could get on stage and boogie even if we had two left feet. It didn't feel like an atmosphere where you were going to be judged for bad dancing though I personally did not get up and boogie, opting to maintain journalistic integrity.

If you're a liberal or more idealist than most, you'll definitely like this show. If you have a sense of humor, you will like this show regardless of which “team” you voted for.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: “The Cost” by Aquaila Shene Barnes Presented by The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. in association with And So It Is Theatrical Productions at La Mama

This show appealed to me for three reasons: 1. I know a lot of people with some involvement in the political world either holding local office, having run for local public office, working in a government agency, lobbying/trying to lobby or helping particular candidates get elected in other ways, 2. I have personally reached out to my local political officials as maybe a professional hellraiser/squeaky wheel (note: many attorneys are professional hellraisers/squeaky wheels; my being one since elementary school has led many people to remark that I was a lawyer long before ever attending law school) and 3. People have suggested I run for public office but I feel I'm too moral for it, much like our protagonist Thomas Foster, Jr. (Junior, as he's known; portrayed by Charles Browning) turns out to be.

"The Cost" by Aquaila Shené Barnes, directed by Barbara Montgomery, presented by The Negro Ensemble, Inc. in Summer Shares at La MaMa. Justine J. Hall and Charles Browning. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Junior has been groomed by his father, Thomas Foster, Sr. (Senior; portrayed by Ivan Moore) to become the first African American governor in the state of Ohio. Senior tried to become governor but as Ralph Snyder (Robert Ierardi) says it was simply bad timing with the mix of racial prejudice. That nasty scandal with one Tanika Johnson, a paramour Senior took on as his late wife was dying of cancer (much like John Edwards did when his wife Elizabeth was also dying of cancer) likely didn't help matters either.

Toni Ann DeNoble and Robert Ierardi. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Nicole Foster (Nikki; portrayed by Toni Ann DeNoble), the dutiful daughter of Senior and younger sister of Junior takes on the role of campaign manager and brands Junior as the candidate of change (and hope circa Barack Obama in 2008) against Donald Baker, the Republican incumbent. Nicole is a natural superstar at this and Senior has grand plans for her as well though she has her own humanitarian work in Guatemala and a secret love affair with Grace Tandy (Alyssa Simon), a woman from a wealthy, conservative family who's in a loveless marriage with an absentee spouse. Nicole has everything under control, from prospective First Lady Cynthia Foster (Thia; portrayed by Justine J. Hall) and her outbursts to the business of handling press and running a clean campaign.

Toni Ann DeNoble and Charles Broning. Photo by Wai Wing Lau

She's even figured out how to deal with the thorny business of the AMPO Pipeline project and campaign contributions. However, relentless reporter Sheryl Kelly (Richarda Abrams) knows quite a few of Nikki's secrets & threatens to expose them. We learn later that Sheryl has her own secrets.

Richarda Abrams as Sheryl Kelly, a political journalist. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Sampson Riley (Andre Dell), a law school classmate and former fiance of Nikki, stops by to seek “a seat at the table” in exchange for campaign help. Senior is happy to oblige while Nikki feels otherwise, especially once Senior tries to get her to resume her prior coziness with him. Sampson was not a faithful fiance to Nikki.

Toni Ann DeNoble and Andre Dell. Photo by Wai Wing Lau

Nikki does in the end what I would love to see happen in real life: she exposes Senior and the dirty underbelly of politics and graft, freeing herself and Junior from the tyranny of living up to the Foster legacy. Junior gets his wish of going back to spend time with his kids, Nikki gets to keep her relationship with Grace (presumably going public with it) and both getting their own lives back vs. being under the control of Senior and his wish to live out his dreams through his children.

Toni Ann DeNoble as Nicole Foster. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

I also really like how Grace Tandy was portrayed. She was not portrayed as someone who was ashamed of or secretive about Nicole nor feeling family pressure to toe a line like Nicole and Junior did. Grace actually tells Nicole her circle would be okay with her so long as Nicole was willing to sign a prenup. You get the sense that Grace is content to live her life in her own way regardless of the consequences and is not a slave to her family's name or having to go on the life path her parents choose for her.

Toni Ann DeNoble and Alyssa Simon. Photo by Wai Wing Lau

Typically with a character like Grace, you expect her to be someone under immense family pressure not to date outside of gender or race especially when her family is said to be Republican and typically supportive of Junior's opponent. Republicans are almost always portrayed as homophobic, racist, fearful of parental & community disapproval and looking down their noses at progressive liberal types like Nicole regardless of her family upbringing or education level.

Alyssa Simon as Grace Tandy. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

I don't know where the writer got her inspiration for Grace or her portrayal of the Foster family but it felt very genuine, honest and authentic based on my own experiences and interactions with friends of mine from wealthy families where they felt pressured to do things they didn't really want to (such as entering particular career paths) because of parents and “the family name.” The world of the family portrayed was also quite truthful to what I have seen and heard about in my own experiences with people I know in the political world.

Toni Ann DeNoble and Ivan Moore. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

This may be the first show I saw that qualifies as “urban theater” so perhaps there is more of a soap opera feel to such shows? I can't say but the twist with Sheryl Kelly did start to make the show turn into more of a soap opera though I love the scene where Sheryl (who is actually Tanika Johnson) has a confrontation with Senior where Senior offers her money in light of her having his baby as well as a fully disgraced reputation because of him. She slaps him and this woman in the audience behind me yells “Asshole!”

The interactive nature of this show was awesome. You were indeed part of a collective experience, which is what theater ought to be. I also thought Thia was great in her honesty since I would probably be just as brazen if I became a public figure and her marriage to Junior was definitely accurate to many loveless political marriages.

Justine J. Hall as Cynthia Foster. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

A word about the musical transitions, which were wonderful for the scene changes. One of them was Xscape's “My Little Secret,” which was extremely fitting for the scene it was playing after. Playing a song that reminds me of my youth in NC is always a winner.

Speaking of reminders of my youth, this show was directed by Barbara Montgomery. I was curious if this was the same Barbara Montgomery who played Casietta Hetebrink on “Amen,” a show my family watched religiously (pun intended) back in the day. Yes, my sister & I (2 natural redheads with a red haired religious conservative mother) watched this show! Unlike many other shows of the day, our mother had no objections to this one. After all, we WERE Baptists in NC (but not Southern Baptists; both my mother and sister would still claim that religious affiliation).

My sister is a lot like Thelma Frye since she did chase and eventually get her first husband much like Thelma did in getting Reuben Gregory (though my sister didn't join the army when her guy broke their first engagement). She also lives with my mother alongside her family much like Thelma did with her father and later with her father + her husband. It was indeed the same actress and I thought it was cool that she was there in person to get her well deserved accolades at the end.

This show was a very hot ticket. It was an overflowing house with one guy in front of me being told he'd have to join the waiting list to get tickets for this show the night I saw it. They even had to redo scenes to accommodate this turnout! Should you get the opportunity to see it, you should regardless of your race or political affiliation. There's something for everyone here.