Sunday, October 15, 2017

Me Too

Me Too.

My story: as a teenager, frequent visits from "a friend of the family" resulted in a flirtatious advances  from a 40-something male. I was simultaneously intrigued and terrified. As a teenager, I had done little to acknowledge or explore my sexual being, and was not sexually active. This man, this experience, was my first inkling that I might be bisexual, or maybe even gay. This man openly complimented me, often in front of my parent(s), and when no objection came from my parents, he accepted that as tacit permission to continue. I kept my distance, but not without blushing or politely saying thank you, and maybe a flirted a little, too. This went on for several years, over the course of many visits. I never allowed myself to be alone with him, taking advantage of that always present stay-at-home mom. The visits, and the now commonplace advances culminated finally when the man visited to say he was moving to another state, and tried very hard to convince both me, and my parents, that I should come with him. Said he could get me a job, could get me out of my (very) small town, and that he would take care of me. As badly as I wanted to get out of town, and even though I was secretly appreciative of his attentions, I was too terrified to accept the offer. Deep down, I knew, this man was a predator of people-way-too-young for him (I certainly was no child, but not yet a man, either), no matter how nicely he presented himself. So I said no. Never heard from him again.

I was relatively unharmed by that story in my life, although I sometimes, especially later in my adult life, felt like my parents should have done more to protect me from that. And the man never actually did more than perhaps touch my leg or shoulder. Overall, fairly harmless, except that I was a teenager, and he, much older. Some people call that trauma, others call it pedophilia, and I'm sure there are other labels for it. But I found it to be overall, just harmless. Because ultimately, he respected my answer.

I have never participated in non-consensual sex, never been an unwilling victim of a sexual aggressor. But I have been grabbed, and groped, and fondled, many times without my permission or encouragement. Many will tell you, I'm a flirtatious guy. But even if I flirt with you, or if I flirt back, it does not take away my right to say no - or your right to say no. There is no excuse for people who force themselves on another person.

My heart goes out to all the #metoo folks. These are heartbreaking stories being shared on Facebook. I hope that sharing experiences somehow brings comfort or closure or awareness or change. I really do.

Some of you may say it's my own fault for reading the comments. Perhaps. But, people have, in response, made several points on the overall issue, and I find some of them disturbing, and some of them on point.

"Many women seem convinced that they are the only affected group." This is not a gender-based problem. The very first #MeToo story I read was a woman who clearly stated that the #MeToo "movement" was a women's issue before sharing her appalling story. There have been many others who have shared since who seem to affirm the belief that it is a women's issue. But, this problem occurs in the male community, too. I have heard many harrowing tales of men who have been sexual assault victims or victims of harassment. Some of the aggressors in these stories are men - some of them are women. Which leads me to the next comment I have seen in response to the #MeToo stories.

"men are always the aggressors in harassment or assault." Not true. I submit that I, personally, have been the recipient of sexual advances by women as evidence. For that matter, I have been the recipient of sexual advances by men, too. Fending off sexual advances is not exclusive to a single gender. In my own case, I'm often oblivious to the sexual advances - I'm not exactly hypersensitive to sexual advances, and I do absolutely nothing to discourage them. I either accept the advance, or I politely decline - but having that attitude does not strip me of the right to say "no" and be respected for it. I also reserve the right to say yes. It's not about the sexual advance - by itself, I don't find a sexual advance offensive - but it becomes assault if it goes beyond that. It becomes harassment when it's a power negotiation - when people who won't take no for an answer. Or people who don't ask for permission. 

"Many people have seemingly dealt with their trauma by blaming, hating men." I say, however they  deal with their trauma is exclusively their right. Unfortunately, taking this position doesn't seem healthy or realistic. And it makes me cringe, because I am a member of the male population. I do not feel deserving of such blame, or hate, having not participated as an aggressor in any harassment or sexual assault incidences.

Many men have not, will not, come forward with their #metoo stories. The culture among males in this society is to "be macho," to not be victims, to be strong. So they don't share. But I say, no excuse. Men are stronger if we step forward and share, to not keep it a secret, to not be shamed by our experiences as a victim of sexual harassment or assault. 

Many women will not come forward with their stories. The feminist movement feels that women are stronger if they step forward, share, not keep it secret, and not be shamed by their experiences as a victim of sexual harassment or assault. I think the feminist movement is right.

"I can't (won't) share because I don't want to trigger (myself or other people)" - your sensitivity to others is appreciated, and your need to protect yourself from further harm is understandable - but if you don't want to share it publicly, then share it with someone - a friend, a family member, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a police officer... Just get it off your chest - quit holding it in. It's not healthy to hold it in.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Green Theatre?

Theatre, by nature, is creating a set that is its own character on stage, that represents the artistic vision of its creators, and that must be convincing to the audience's eye and aids in the storytelling - but in terms of becoming a "green theatre," you have to admit, it can be wasteful. Think about it - we create temporary scenery on a stage for the entertainment of an audience, tell our story, then rip it all down to make room for the next story.

Many materials, like lumber, get pitched to the dumpster because they are too small to get reused, too damaged, or too specific to a show to have a use again.

While theatres like Trustus try to be more "green," especially because we are on tight budgets, it can be very challenging. 

We make every attempt to reuse materials. One example of this is employing the use of "stock" flats. A flat is a structure that is a theatre wall, masking, painting or other surface in a set. By using a standard size of 4'x8', frequently the flats can be reused in future shows - a way to save costs and prevent waste. 

Often times, when we reuse flats, it's like taking a trip down memory lane. Like in this picture, when a flat from a production of Hand To God meets a flat from a production of Barbecue to make up the set of our upcoming Evil Dead, The Musical. They will, of course, be repainted for the scene, making them virtually unrecognizable as their originals.

The reuse of items from sets often creates what we call "Easter Eggs" - little, hidden aspects of the show the audience or the cast/crew might see if they're looking hard enough. Originates from the the 1975 movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," when the cast had an Easter Egg hunt but most of the eggs went unfound. They can be seen throughout the film in various locations (such as under Frank N. Furter's throne).

The audience isn't always the intended viewer of these Easter eggs, though. For example, when I was working on the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the backside of the several flats had these little treats:


These are cutouts from the original show posters - fun little memory trips visible only to actors and crew.

Sometimes, though, the Easter Eggs are a little more lo-fi:

(SIDE NOTE on Easter Eggs: they're not always visual: take the musical, Hamilton, for example. Some  noteworthy easter eggs include “The Ten Duel Commandments,” which is a nod to Notorious B.I.G. with his song “The Ten Crack Commandments.” “Helpless” has a subtle similarity to BeyoncĂ©’s “Countdown,” with Eliza evoking the pop diva’s vocal style and riffs. Then there’s “Meet Me Inside,” which has notes of DMX’s “Party Up (In Here).")

The point is, there's more to theatre than meets the eye, and recycling materials can be fun, too! We may never be truly "green", unless we make the conversion to more eco-friendly systems and practices.

Want some examples? 

A) Modern LED technology in stage lighting is one example of reducing our environmental impact - our current incandescent lighting at Trustus Theatre still requires a stagehand to be locked in a sub-basement shoveling coal into a furnace and shouting Trump-epitaphs - whereas the LED equivalent would result in huge reductions in electricity from both the lighting and from the cooling bill.

B) Paperless ticketing, the wave of the future, is not yet finessed at Trustus and many other theatres, either - a patron can show their ticket on their mobile device to our house manager and be seated without a physical ticket - but many of our patrons opt for more traditional methods.

C) Trustus is currently campaigning to raise money for replacing our roof and AC systems - both of which are bleeding money, and heat, out through the cracks. Both date back to the early 80's and were not designed with economy in mind. Never mind that when it rains, we have to strategically place buckets throughout the building. You can help - donate through our website at

In conclusion, becoming a "green" theatre is hard work, and costly. But leave it to theatre folks to find the fun in it!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Building the prison


It always amazes me that simplicity in a set can really impress audiences. A clock, a few security cameras, a two-way mirror, and a watercooler- and a cinder block wall - and the audience sees a prison. More accurately, an interrogation room within a prison, but you see my point.

The set is Building The Wall, a future-set play that follows the logical and scary timeline of our current anti-immigration agenda by that moron of a President, Donald Trump. More about the play at Trustus Theatre here:

How? That cinder block wall is insulation foam - sheets of it, approximately 3/4" thick by 4'x8' - not gonna keep anyone in that really wants to get out... However, we've got a good record of no escape attempts in this prison...

The technique is to add texture to the smooth foam surface by using a paddle with exposed staples - beating the hell out of the surface, leaving numerous holes to give that cinder block texture. Then, using a hot soldering iron tip, outlining the brick pattern by melting deep trenches that mimic the mortar line. A paint treatment of water and latex paint - spray water first, to allow the paint to penetrate the holes created by the paddling. Then, a second coat to insure the awful green color doesn't bleed through. Tip: use the blank side of the foam, not the printed side.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Church of Imprisoned Identity.

I was reading about Caitlyn Jenner, and I'm one of those empathetic guys. I can empathize with someone who isn't happy with what they see in the mirror; with someone who can't reconcile their personality or identity with their outward visage.

I think many people are way too hard on the girl, and justify their illogic by saying things like, oh, she did it for the publicity, or she did it to make money...

It doesn't make sense, not one tit, what people say she did it for, because NO ONE changes their gender for a publicity stunt or a get-rich-quick scheme. Not one soul. Guaranteed.

When people say such things, it is my belief that they think too shallowly. It may be that they are angry over what they consider a betrayal by a favorite public figure turning out to be something or someone else. It may be that they harbor secret desires to make changes in themselves and resent that someone else actually could do it. It may be that they think rich people don't deserve happiness, don't deserve self-realization, don't deserve privacy in very private matters. All these types of thinking are shallow and shameful.

WE, the society that elevated Jenner to a celebrity status through our consumption of entertainment - WE owe Jenner an apology. Here's a person who sacrificed their privacy to tell a story, to make public a story that desperately needed to be told. WE consumed that story. WE cannot be unmoved, WE purport to be a compassionate people but WE treat the story like entertainment.

But it's all very real to Jenner, and people like Jenner all over the world.

Not everyone has the financial means to do anything about it. Not everyone can get their story told. Not everyone has people to listen to their story. Many people like Jenner have to be the victim in the story, and never get to be the hero.

Prejudice plays a vicious role in how the public reacts to Jenner. Is there such a word as "transphobia?" As usual, WE (the society) are piranhas about that which is foreign, that which is uncomfortable, that which is different. WE claim a moral stance from behind a mask and call it "religion." I call it the Church of Imprisoned Identities - complete with chains and manacles and torture devices and that incessant chanting.

Having known only a very few transgender folk in my lifetime personally, I feel under-educated. I know so little about the story they have to tell.

In one case, the person couldn't do anything about her situation until MUCH later in her life, and suffered much at the hands of employers, friends and family over the transition.

In another case, I knew a youngster who knew at an early age and found support in family and friends.

The only other case that I'm aware of personally was of a woman who took very nearly a lifetime to make the transition, due to money issues, lack of support, and outright opposition.

I do NOT confuse transgender with cross-dressing. I fully recognize there is a distinct and important difference between the two. But I do know of at least one individual who cross-dresses (in secret) only because transition is forever out of reach for his personal situation.

Under-educated doesn't have to be unenlightened. I can't imagine living my life not as my self. How horribly foreign it must be to be trapped into an existence that is brought about by the expectation of others, that is forced into necessity due to the hate by others. What prison could be worse than the one in our minds, our freedoms stripped by the attitudes and prejudices of others?

I have been fortunate enough to be free to be who I am at a fairly early age. In high school, I did not dare to be me. Shortly after high school, I can remember denying myself to people who I thought were my friends. In my twenties, I was able to be more honest with myself, and therefore more honest with others. I was lucky. I was just gay. It doesn't cost thousands of dollars to come out (unlike transitional surgeries for transgenders). I can be selectively closeted if necessary, to preserve career, relationships, perceptions.

Transgender folk have to start whole new lives. There's no hiding it - they either have to give up their existing lives and move elsewhere so their transition is not known; or they have to "come out" in a far more dramatic way in their current lives -  a far more visible way, a far more public way.

I propose that we all go easy on transgenders, because either way, it's a tremendous course they are taking. They need our support, our compassion, our empathy, our sympathy - our love.

See Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair

(This has been a stream-of-consciousness which I will surely revisit for editing and completeness.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I never saw "Magic Mike." I don't expect to see "Magic Mike XXL."

There, I said it.

How can I resist, you ask?

The guys are hot. The guys in jeans are hot. There is no doubt.

But, inexplicably, I have no interest in the movie(s). I can't explain it. Please don't ask me to.

But since you asked, I postulate that it may be the simple reason that I may have seen exactly ALL of the best moments already through trailers and PR photos. Or, it may be that watching a bunch of (straight) women clamor over these very hot guys does little to veil a flimsy plot line. Or, it may be that guys like these don't REALLY exist.

Who knows? One thing for sure, it's not fair for me to hazard any guesses, because I haven't seen the material.

What is fair to say, though, is that, while these guys are hot (have I said that yet?), these guys don't satisfy my desire for REAL men. These guys are porn quality - the two-dimensional type hot guys I can see in every porn video who wouldn't give me the time of day in real life.

I want to know where there are more "Full Monty" type guys in modern entertainment. All we ever see in movies, it seems, are these "Magic Mike" types - the guys who CAN "get the girl" with absolutely no problem. For that matter, they surely can "get the guy," too, if they are so inclined.

Me? I root for the underdog - the "normal" guy with a few more curves and imperfections that make him REAL. I'd rather spend my ticket money on helping THAT guy feel sexy and desirable. Hell, I AM that guy. I want to feel desirable and sexy, to know that my technique of muscle-concealment is appealing to someone (anyone!).

However, having said all that, if any of the "Magic Mike" guys showed up at my party and asserted how REAL they are, I might be convinced. Please try.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Never Forgotten

So many good things in life are tenuously anchored and it only takes a good quick current to carry them away.

I always discover this the hard way.

That's me, there, clinging to the branch that has the potential to save my life, but even greater potential to snap and take me with it over the edge of the fierce waterfall.

Today I watched a documentary on people with Bipolar disorder called Of Two Minds. I remember thinking to myself that these people can't be bipolar - they don't have enough cats.

One of the characters in the documentary said she preferred a natural method for controlling her disorder, versus pills. She called it a change in lifestyle. She seemed perfectly normal to me.

Recently I lost a tooth, and I cried over it. Recurring nightmares prior to the occasion sometimes feature scenarios in which all my teeth fall out, possibly fueling the emotional reaction that caught the dentist by surprise. "Oh," she assures me,  "lots of patients cry over teeth that have to be removed." But her initial look of surprise gave it away. No one cries over a tooth.

There are little things we get emotional over, and there are big things.

I recently received an email entitled "Creative Non-Fiction Project: On Life." It absolutely floored me. Decimated me. Made me realize that I had tremendous power over someone I love... And yet I have none.

We all do. There is no one we have more power over than the people we love, while simultaneously having absolutely no power over them.

What's more vicious is the power they have over us.

Two words, just two written words, on any other day might have been said, or taken, in jest.

But on that day, they were savage. Cry-worthy. Devastating.

A wise friend once told me some fantastic advice. "Assume Positive Intent," he said. You see, too often I assume the negative - usually because I don't have enough information and am too non-confrontational to ask. And usually I find out after-the-fact that I was wrong to assume the negative at all. "There's more to the story - and two sides to every story," my wise friend says.

But how much, exactly, can I read-into two words? Spoken words have inflection, expressions, body language, volume, and sometimes spittle, to provide clues of intent, meaning, emotion...

But written word - it must be carefully crafted - and even more carefully read. Written words can take on new life, new meaning, new character, when heard in our head. That voice in our head can be merciless, suspicious, biased, and way off base. That's the power of written words.

I therefore respond to those two words with these carefully crafted two words: "Never Forgotten."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Body Motivations - Part II

A while back I posted a casual entry called Body Motivations, which touched on the right of businesses to advertise to their target audience using male almost-nudes in their campaigns and in-store advertising. Of course, I used that premise as an excuse to post various advertisers ad campaigns as examples, a visually pleasurable tour, to say the least.

As I grow older and struggle with maintaining personal fitness, I find it necessary to inspire myself through any means available. A good dance song that makes me want to move (exercise), or a good visual stimulation such as a great male nude photo. Such pictures are not just for "gentleman's time," but are good for goal-setting and comparisons.

In my quest for inspiration, I have run across some more examples of photos that inspire, and I just thought I'd share:

Yes, that's Mark Wahlberg - one of the few that managed to survive teen-idol status and graduate into someone who is still very handsome and respected in the Arts/Entertainment community. And he still inspires, even today:

There is no shortage of Underwear makers who utilize the male form to advertise their product (for which I am grateful):

In particular, I am grateful for Andrew Christian, who is NOT afraid to cater to the gay male as their target audience.

Sorry, that picture was uploaded in error, as it it obviously has very little to do with body motivation.  THIS is the picture I meant to post: 

There's just something about anatomically correct underwear, football, and men that's just, well, um, inspiring. And I say, three cheers for Andrew Christian, because they have inspired millions, in print media, as well as in streaming/internet content!
Of course, the general public, at least in America, shuns male nude models in advertising, especially in public. There are many excuses, but the bottom line seems to be that either puritanical ideas of "religion" or "the-children-might-see" mentality tends to discourage the use of male nudes in advertising. However, it does seem perfectly okay to display women in various forms of undress in everyday advertising!  (Don't worry, women are NOT the subject of THIS blog entry...)

In other parts of the world, it would appear that people are far less uptight about showing body. The Leopold Museum, housed in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria, home to one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art, featuring artists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Richard Gerstl, had an exhibition (if you'll pardon the pun) of "Naked Men" by Ilse Haider in 2012. The posters they used to advertise the show caused controversy, causing a requirement of a "red stripe" to conceal the man bits.

Sometimes it really does seem that America is awfully uptight, especially when we can see naked Hindus in public events:

Or bike rides that would NEVER happen in America...

Except I'm wrong. THIS happened in Chicago:

But from the looks of that photo, most of those guys NEEDED body motivation. So, here's some body motivation to my fellow cyclists:

And, of course, if you need motivation to be fashionably dressed, this may be motivation enough:

I've never been into sports, and especially not wrestling, but Chris Weidman makes me want to wrestle something: