That was an adventure! Tech’ week for Hollywood Premiere Party (the show), cue to cue, dress rehearsal, opening with audience, opening for press… EXHAUSTING. Each night portraying super star Chaz Dearbourne. Each night brought its own challenges. Each night brough its own energy. Each night taught me a little more about myself, Chaz, other characters, performance focus, and most importantly interactions with others in life.
The show is really a party, just a party… a chance for people to mingle at a premiere party for a fake film called “Love & Waffles.” Things go wrong. Things go right. Some are planned, some really are issues. HOWEVER, like in life, it just keeps going. Life keeps going. Some guests chose to engage, some ticket holders chose to avoid. Some people play along hard, adopting a character for themselves and some remain too cool for school. Some interact from moment go, while some bury themselves in their phone. Some come in wide-eyed and open, some come in tight-lipped and closed. Some are joyful, some dance, some wear bitterness.
Now… let me ask you, isn’t that true in life and at any party?
The brilliant thing about it is, it’s simply a choice. It really is. Especially inside this particular venue. This coming from someone who has been referred to as an Eeyore by many friends over the years… but really we can choose our own path at any second. What’s really cool about this show, from my perspective, is that it’s like a carnival of liars. I often don’t know who and when someone is bullshitting me, if they are what they say they are… and inside the venue it doesn’t matter. Some times it’s obvious. Maybe he really does work for PBS. Maybe she does write for Enterainment Tonight. Maybe she did write songs for Prince. But there’s no way they produced a movie called “Belgium Waffles” spoken in Flemish. Who cares… I’ll run with it. I’ll play your game.
Chaz isn’t Tom and Tom isn’t Chaz. I turn my phone off and leave Tom in the dressing room before each show, and say good-bye to Chaz at the end of the night, leaving him and the improvised lies inside the venue. There is a lot I’m learning from playing hard each night, wearing the shoes of another person, living in a world of a much higher status. Committing to being a cocky bullshitter who plays the game as good as anyone.
My friend Deirdre, who I have done duet shows with, chose to be cutting an album of popular loved Monogolian songs with Chaz (or something like that). My girlfriend, Feona chose to be Chaz’s catsitter. My friend Rebekah chose to be one of Chaz’s trainers. My actual entertainment lawyer, Ivy chose to be Chaz’s lawyer. My friend Tim chose to be a bitter actor who was in acting school with Chaz, who secretly dissed Chaz behind his back. My friend Randy chose to have done a film with Chaz in the past. My friend Jeanette chose to be the casting director for the fake slate of Chaz films called Steel Spinter. It’s all good. Other friends chose to meet Chaz in person for the first time. So much changes from night to night. Sunday I got fake interviewed last night by a few people wanting to know more about the fake movie. Friday there was a ton of fake flirting and Chaz was sending his helicopter limo over to pick a few of them up the next day. It’s all good, as long as its harmless.
I took the challenge on because I believed I would learn from the experience. That it would uncomfortable. That it could be terrifying. And after only a few shows, it has already enlightened some areas where I can make honest improvements in my personal life, professional life, and overall happiness. Everyone is the lead in their own play. At any one time, you are the supporting, extra, or lead character in someone else’s life. Life happens in three hundred and sixty degrees. Nothing is so important to everyone. Nothing can’t be missed. Say hello even more frequently. Find more compliments about more people. Look at ways to improve someone else’s moment. Don’t take so much so personally.
Really it’s just a festival, life… we constantly choose how or if we want to play.
– Quiche Out
I’ve posted previously about the show, details, and discounts. If you want on the info train, to be in the know about whatever… please feel free to subscribe for future posts, or scroll back a few for past.
Maybe this is an offensive post to some of you… Others won’t read it because of who wrote it… Some will miss it or ignore it… Some may forward or like… Some will have your own distinctly intelligent point of view, whether or not agreeing or disagreeing silently or in the comments below… And very possibly someone will quote the bible pointing and screaming, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye!”
But, after well-over twenty years of working as a professional in the performing arts I’ve come to most certainly realize…
“Bad” kills “good.”
Last night, at a piano bar somewhat new to me, I had complete strangers flood words upon me and one of my singer friends, telling us how much they love live music, but how hard it is to find places to hear it… Imagine that. People who live within the lines of the second largest American city, complaining to two singers that there’s not enough live music venues. A city that both my friend and I have personally witnessed one music venue after another die slow painful starving death after slow painful starving death.
The unsolicited comments from people unknown seemed to shock us both…
How often have you heard that your city doesn’t have any theater or music or art or comedy, but yet, if you talk to anyone that’s involved with whatever they’re complaining about, the artist (comic, singer, writer, painter, actor…) will be super quick to point out all the venues struggling to stay open and all the positive reviews they’ve ever gotten…
Last night, my first impulse was to tell my new-found friends about all the music venues I know of that are barely existing, because they’re not attracting enough audiences… In a county of over 10 million people… Struggling to get 30, 40, 50, or 70 patrons a night… But I didn’t, I rather chose to remain mostly silent and listen.
This morning, I came up with an answer I didn’t know I was looking for, to a question I didn’t know I was asking… How could these various individuals, from different tables, on the same night, in the same place, all have very similar ideas of a completely different perception than my own…
BTW my mind often works on unknown “problems” or questions overnight…
Unrelated story: Recently in Mexico I went into a grocery store to buy dog food for some strays I discovered, and asked a clerk, “Por favor, no compredo Espanol, sorry, where is your dog food?”
When it was clear he didn’t understand the words in my question… I started barking and indicating eating with my fingers… He guided me to the ketchup aisle. I had no idea why… But I thanked him and eventually found the pet food aisle I was seeking, the whole time wondering how he got ketchup from “dog food,” “bark bark.”
— But the next morning I woke up with the answer… “Oh! HOT DOG! He probably thought I meant, hot dogs!”
It’s not that there isn’t amazing art in galleries, or brilliant performances in theaters, or mind-blowing music in cabarets, insanely off the grid thinking comic improvised performances just a few miles away… It’s that there is a ton of art we can’t appreciate, plays & films we don’t understand or get, performances that hurt our ears, wallets, or sensibilities… Stuff we are quick to label and tag as “bad.”
Now, before you jump down my throat, screaming, “who are you, or who is anyone to say or deem whose voice is good, or which script or which play is good…” I am nobody but myself… I’m well aware that Tom Petty, Tom Jones, Tom Waits, Tommy Tutone, Tommy Tune, and Thomas Dolby all have played on many a stages, and been appreciated by worldly audiences, and I’m certain each of you know at least two of those names, and have opinions about them. We aren’t supposed to get every artistic thing we see, we’re all not going to be fans of every performer, of every movie, script, story, or song… For years I didn’t get the attraction of many singers that the masses were gushing over, and I often watch films that critics love or that are up for awards, and that leave me scratching my head trying to figure out what the praise is all about…
Be completely honest, if you were to have seen Andy Kaufman, or Steve Martin, or Gilbert Godfried, or Rosanne Barr, or Danny Devito, or Nirvana, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or a painting by Vincent Van Gogh before they hit the mainstream consciousness, do you really think you would have bet even ten bucks on all of their successes?
“Despite being one of the world’s best known and most highly acclaimed painters, poor van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.” – Huff Post
Unfortunately, it’s not show-art, it’s show business, and most venues and companies are in business to turn a profit. The masses have become more and more nervous to take risks watching new & original, and that’s probably one reason why so many Broadway shows are recycled movies, why so many movies are recycled TV shows, books, or sequels, and just yesterday I heard they’re now recycling old TV to “new” TV… (The Odd Couple, which started as a play, then a movie, then TV show, now another TV show…) Why so many shows have casts that look like cookie cutter casts of other shows… Business, like people, rarely likes to take chances.
And people, myself included, are more willing to pay a hundred bucks to see a known entity like Billy Joel in concert, watching from half a mile away, than pay $10 to see some possible hack piano-man named Bolly Jiel from five feet away. (If your name is Bolly Jiel, and you play piano, I apologize, at the time of writing this, you did not come up on an Internet search).
I also realize that if someone sees Transformers I and hates it, they’re probably not going to spend any money on watching Transformers II, III, IV, V… And that’s perhaps what we conclude about entire venues, genres and cities… Perhaps we the audiences are far too sensitive… Making quick hard rules, lumping all cabaret spaces, all theaters, all independent movies, all film festivals, all improv comedy shows into general statements…
“I went to an open mic once, one of the singers was so awful. I’ll never go to another as long as I live. I’d rather see someone like Billy Joel in a piano bar.”
“I went into a music club in Atlanta, and the chick and dude playing were so bad… Atlanta has no nightlife… No music scene… It’s dead there…”
“I’ve seen way too many bad theater plays, with needy bad actors, I’d rather go to the movies. Let’s see… ‘Transformers VII’ is playing…”
“I saw an Off Broadway musical once, I’d rather spend my money on something I know is going to be good… Like ‘Cats.’ Or ‘Ghost.’ BTW, how come they haven’t made ‘Walking Dead the musical yet?’ Oh look the Internet says they have.”
“I saw this standup at this dive once it was so vulgar, I’ll never go back… You like Louie C.K.? Now he’s funny. Or Jim Jefferies. Is Don Rickles still around?”
“I went to an art opening, everything and everyone was so precious and pretentious, I hated it… It was like the opera, but without that stupid music… Not that I’d be caught dead at some opera… I’d rather watch golf on TV.”
“No I don’t want to go… The last time I was at a film festival some guy who directed the movie wouldn’t shut up at this stupid Q & A afterwards… Shhh, they’re analyzing the baseball game, I just spent four hours watching…”
“Last time I went to an art museum, I had more fun getting ice cream afterwards… Let’s just get ice cream and then just complain that there’s nothing to do in this town.”
“‘Spoken word’ is just people who can’t sing, with nothing to say, in front of people who click their fingers together because they don’t know what else to do… I’d rather see what’s on TV… Hey, you wanna watch ‘Duck Dynasty’ or ‘Real Housewives?'”
It’s easy to put the blame on producers, writers, actors, painters, singers, dancers, choreographers…. Because yeah, there is a lot of things we all will think is complete crap not worthy of being seen in a subway or written on toilet paper out there. But one thing is for certain, even more than audiences probably being far too sensitive… And that’s that I can guarantee that artists, writers, singers, dancers and performers can not, are not able, will not, and should not, police themselves…
Far far too often I have met many a truly, super-talented, gifted artist/actor/singer/comic who didn’t think they were good enough, and they quit, or held themselves back from opportunities, yet at the same time, I’ve met a plethora of people over the past two decades that make me want to go running for the exit every time they get on stage, pick up a guitar, or stand behind a microphone, and yet they believe in their hearts and minds they’re the next incredibly talented national sensation… And the brilliant thing about art, music and showbiz is, no one in the world can tell you which of these people are right.
What would you have given to have seen a young Frank Sinatra or Elvis perform before they found their style and national attention, or to have heard the Beatles or Rolling Stones before they crossed the pond…? I just saw the movie, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” a script I highly doubt any unknown writers could have gotten made… But imagine being one of the people to publicly hear Bob Dylan in a small venue in the 60s (in all honesty, I’m pretty sure I would have thought “Oh God, he’s horrible”)… Billy Joel in a piano bar in the 70s, Alanis Morissette before she release Jagged Little Pill in the 90s…
Recently an 84 year old guy, Ray Jessel, who I performed with in a cabaret show with in 2012 went on America’s Got Talent, and dozens of pirated YouTube videos of his TV appearance blew up the Internet the next day… The same song (done even better when I saw it LIVE), and four other fun tunes, that I saw him do two years earlier to an audience of less than 20 people.
So, within all these words is there a point…?
I don’t know.
I suppose “Bad” does kill “good.”
And… Whether you are aware of it or not, sadly it’s also true that there are a lot of severely untalented people, being deemed talented, by the public at large, acts that can’t find or hold pitches that are auto-tuned even in their live shows, and actors who wouldn’t be able to hold your attention if they were your waiter standing naked in front of you, yet they’re constantly being edited, portrayed as godlike, powerful, charming, action heroes… which we as a society are being idiotically, unquestionably, spoon fed.
We do however all have the power to not let that all of this happen…
We can see LIVE performances…
In small venues were there’s no such thing as auto-tune or technicians…
In theater where there is no second take…
In small budget movies where you get three takes and then move on, not sixty takes of the same sentence, over and over from three cameras from twenty angles…
We have the power to have short memories… To forgive poor performances… To overlook acts we didn’t enjoy for the amazing jewels we did… To realize we may not be “unquestionably right,” and that others may have different appreciations… As I’m writing this, I’ve come to realize how forgiving I am with meh things passed on the Internet, many which later prove to be bullshit performances anyway… And how maybe I should adopt that same attitude towards other things. Forgetting the time and the money I spent.
If you had to sit through 100 meh/mediocre performances to see just 1 performance by a young unknown Jim Morrison, Elton John, Dean Martin, Ethel Merman, Barbra Streisand, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Prince before he called himself Prince, Pink before she deemed herself Pink, Cher before she was known as just Cher, Madonna before she became Madonna… (Whomever is your favorite of all time…) Would you have done it? To have seen Brando or Dustin Hoffman in some tiny theatre? Lucile Ball, Robin Williams, John Belushi…?
So, to the people who complained to me about not enough live music, and piano bars…
I completely agree. And I’ve gone off on many tangents while doing so…
There are still plenty of venues… Plenty of artists struggling to be seen, heard, watched, bought, read… Plenty of new ideas trying to get made… Plenty of “new” talented actors, writers, singers… The only way you’ll ever get to see the next break out stars before they play huge venues or packaged to the masses is to catch them before everyone else jumps on board. The only way production companies will start investing in new ideas, new scripts, from new writers, is if people in masses go and support new ideas, and new stories…
So go see some stupid little bad theater, dive into some dive open mics, drag your dates to some rinky dinky stinky piano bar, read some pitiful new authors, hear some tragic off key voices…
Seek and ye shall find…
And, lastly, if there is money to be made, business will follow. More venues will open. More pianos will be played… More comedy clubs opened. More interesting movies will be made.
For the equal and opposite of “Build it and they will come,” is most likely, “Come and they will build it.”
– Quiche Out
I always loved this story, so I’m including it…
INTERVIEW BETWEEN LARRY KING AND BURT REYNOLDS (Larry King Live, Aired February 23, 2000 – 9:00 p.m. ET
KING: Yes. When did you know you were good?
REYNOLDS: I truthfully didn’t think I was good long after I was working.
KING: Really? You mean in those years you were making it you didn’t…
REYNOLDS: No, not in those, but in the earlier — because I went under contract to Universal in 1958 and was fired in 1959.
KING: With Clint Eastwood.
REYNOLDS: Well, Eastwood was — I always tell the story that we were fired the same day, but we weren’t. We were fired the same year. And he was fired because his Adam’s apple stuck out too far. He talked too slow. And he had a chipped tooth and he wouldn’t get it fixed. And I said, “Why are you firing me?” And they said, “You can’t act.” And I thought…
KING: Was that a blow, Burt?
REYNOLDS: No. I said — no, I said to Clint, you know, you are really screwed, because I can learn how to act. You can’t get rid of that Adam’s apple.
And it’s held him back. It’s held him back.
KING: He never made it.
REYNOLDS: You know, the next time that either one of us — him much earlier than me — worked at Universal, he got a million dollars. And then the first time I worked there — and it was quite a while afterwards…
Well, it always amazes me… I truly was NOT going to post this take of this song… And actually recorded the song several more times, from several different angles… But, for whatever reason, I uploaded this one… Wondering the entire time if anyone would actually dig it, or wondering if people would lambaste me for leaning on a men’s blue-denim shirt (my own, as it’s my closet).
Then today, oddly, completely by chance, I came across an article about that very video that I most recently recorded and posted.
You just never know.
Or rather, I just never know.
“When you watch him sing this stripped down, bare version of the track and you see the expression and emotion on his face it’s near impossible to not have an emotional response to what he’s giving. You see on his face that he’s pulling from somewhere, there’s someone that he’s singing to and he means every word that comes out of his mouth. Every nuance of his performance is purposeful but not forced.” – Wes LuAllen
I’m not sure I’ve written about this, but another time I was going to pull a video I had recorded and posted… Thinking, “Ah, no one ever comments on that one… Maybe it’s crappy… I rushed it… What was I thinking… Maybe I should delete it.” And I swear to you, that very afternoon, hours later, before I removed the video… A guy at my gym, who I didn’t know very well, came up to me… Saying something like, “I just want you to know, I saw a postcard for your web-series, ‘Closet Singer,’ and for whatever reason, I looked it up… I clicked on one song, and it was the perfect song that I needed to hear… ‘Cause I sat there, listening, and crying like a baby.”
When I asked him what song he watched… It was, the very same one I was going to remove that night… A song, I know I could “do better,” that I have “done better…” A song that to this day I want to remove and redo, every time I watch it… Man, as frustrating, heartbreaking and illogical art & expression are, I truly also continue to also find them mystical, magical and amazing…
– Quiche Out
PS. If you read this post Wes LuAllen… Thank you for your energy, thoughts & words… Feel free to drop me a direct line if you ever get watch any other Closet Singer songs, or any other of my creative endeavors… Truly thank you.
The last song to be posted of the three I sang in Meghan Kirk’s show, “Heartbreak Hotel,” with Richard Berent on the keys. Be one of the first to see it posted on line… LIVE at the Gardenia, in Hollywood, Feb 20th, 2014.
Well, the cat’s out of the bag… (I need to look up where that expression came from)
On her social media pages, last night, Meghan Kirk publicly announced that Amanda McAllister and I will be “special guests” in her upcoming cabaret show on Feb 20th, 2014…
Meghan’s a sweet, talented performer that I’ve known for several years, first meeting her at open mics around Los Angeles (The Vermont & The Gardenia)…
I’m honored to have been asked be one of her “special guests” on her night at the Gardenia. It’ll probably be doing a duet with Meghan as well as a song of my own. I’m also looking forward to meeting Amanda and working with Richard Berent pianist, who I’ve only heard very good things about.
Lastly, it has also been publicly announced that I’ll be one of the guest singers in Betty Bonaduce’s 1st ever Cabaret show in the midst of March… But I will wait on releasing further details till at least the middle of February.
Well, that fun last night “special guest hosting” with Bryan Miller at one of his weekly piano bar appearances…
Sixteen guest singers popped in and stepped up to the mic to join Bryan (piano) and Roger Aldi (drums)… And I did my best to keep the show moving and enjoyable. Special thanks to Terry Cole for running sound and Sergio for tending bar.
Below are a few pictures of some of the guest singers… And a 2 minute performance video of clips from last night that I whipped together this AM for my friends and family who weren’t able to be there.