Friday, September 30, 2005

james dean was on the downlow!

i just finished reading boulevard of broken dreams: the life, times and legend of james dean by paul alexander. yipes! the writer insisted that he was gay but that wasn't the shocker. him getting molested at 13 by a Reverend DeWeere until he finally leaves home at 18 -- that was the shocker. the kicker? this same reverend (a well-respected pillar of the community and completely above reproach, i might add) eulogizes him at his funeral when he dies at 24 and again on the first anniversary of his death. how creepy is that?

there is no doubt that he had lots of sex with men but personally, i think james dean was on the downlow. i recognized his behavior immediately. when i say "downlow" i don't mean the closeted "i'm not going to tell anyone that i'm gay" approach that everyone is so familiar with these days. what i'm referring to is much more expansive than that. james dean saw sex as a commodity. it was something that he did to get work in hollywood. even though he knew that he was brilliant, he thought that's what he had to do to get "in" with the right people -- and he hated himself for it. sometimes he did it to augment a friendship. but to his way of thinking, it didn't mean that he was actually gay.

to him, sex with men didn't mean homosexuality. it just meant sex with men. this is the very definition of what "the downlow" is all about. to someone on the downlow, homosexuality is for "fags" -- at least that's the way its been explained to me, painstakingly and on numerous occasions. (it took a minute for all of it to sink in but i think i get it now.) that probably explains why he and rock hudson couldn't stand each other. by all accounts, rock hudson was flamboyant and liked to dress up in drag with his friends. james dean was something of an exhibitionist that liked to get blow jobs from men while he was speeding through el-lay. but as far as he was concerned, that didn't make him gay. that just meant that some guy was going down on him. that wasn't who he was. he was just having fun.

gee. i guess he was way ahead of his time in more ways than one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

renee, giving autographs

Originally uploaded by queenesther.
i saw last broadway performance of "all shook up" at the palace theater on sunday. i had to -- the show (a retelling of shakespeare's "12th Night" with lots of elvis presley's songs) was my friend renee's broadway debut. unfortunately, it only lasted for about a week or two for my friend, although the show had been up and running for quite some time -- they gave notice to close the production almost as soon as she got the part. when we got to the theater and i told ralph what happened about how she gets the show and then it gets cancelled, he blurted, it's like an episode of "good times"!

it was a matinee show and it was very nearly sold out, a very enthusiastic and jubilant crowd. there were barricades and cops and the usual mayhem that happens at the backstage door when the cast appears. the idea is to get everyone in the cast to sign the show poster. that can make it quite a collectible later on.

i got to sit inbetween dana ("baby girl") rainey and make a remark here and there about the dancing, and jack sprat, an elvis fan -- who honestly thought the show was over at intermission because he figured it had lasted long enough.

i knew quite a few performers in the cast. everyone gave such strong performances. it's elvis, fer cryin' out loud -- really fun crowd pleasing stuff. afterwards, we went to divine bar on 54th and 8th for a cast send-off. hanging out later on gave me a chance to reconnect with old friends -- like john eric parker -- (we did the original cast of the first national tour of RENT together).

i decided awhile ago that although i'd like to do broadway eventually, i'm way more interested in originating roles.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

oh, williamsburg...

last night, i went to williamsburg to have dinner at planet thai and spend the evening with john f. and porsche and j. willie and gina went out to eat in the city and didn't make it to meet up with us. hanging out on the weekend isn't my style. too many pseudo-hipsters and tourists and urban voyeurs. the best night to go out is wednesday or thursday when most of those people are at home in bed by 10pm so they can make it to their 9 to 5 on time.

we went to a cd release party that was actually happening in john f's former roommate shrimpei's loft space that he shares with his girlfriend. it was a bit off the beaten track but they had a lovely view of the city and some really expensive building across the way that has buses to take it's residents to the L and a water taxi service to take them to wall street. as we pressed our noses against the window and gazed at the desolate street below, shrimpei explained how the entire block changed when that building began construction. his explanation was very a basic gentrification how-to, of course. but there was something more.

i don't like williamsburg. i don't think i ever have -- although in the past, i've found a lot in it to love -- like domsey's, when it was five floors strong and filled with beautiful vintage cocktail dresses that could be had for $5 a pop. *heavy sigh* a few years ago, when it seemed that no one but puerto ricans and hasidic jews were particularly interested in living there, something seemed to be going on. there were these wonderfully ornate yet really inexpensive exotic restaurants to try, there were coffee shops to loll around in, there were watering holes that had vibe, there were a few more artists and musicians than usual here and there, making their way creatively like everyone else in every other borough in nyc. it felt a little like the haight. and then all of a sudden, everything went to hell. the streets were filled with an arrogant breed that were content in the knowledge that they were more fashionable, more talented and way more hip than you. it was almost as though there was a portal that opened up somewhere in the belly of american youth consciousness and let them out at the corner of 7th and bedford, with their trucker hats and their denim jackets and their von dutch t shirts and the like. pouty-faced girls living that sex and the city lifestyle -- high heels, cocktails and all. and that goes double for the lower east side. they are theme parks, really -- replete with four star dining options and the like, amidst the squalor of the ghetto as an exotic backdrop to the day-to-day foibles of their city lives. that ghetto element makes everything dangerous and cool, doesn't it? makes it feel more like what nyc is supposed to be, whatever that is.

they still say that there's a powerful art scene in williamsburg that rivals whatever is going on in manhattan -- or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. my problem with that is that whenever they say that there's a scene somewhere, the scene no longer exists. so what's really going on?

williamsburg seems to be a community of dillitantes, a high-falutin' collective of those who are striving to be artsy misfits, a neighborhood chok-ful of the the young and the marginally talented -- those who are so high on the surety of their talents that they don't seem to realize that they're just not that good.

take the music scene, for example. no one seems to know how to play their instruments. if they do, their band isn't so hot. if it is, they have no songs. and if they do have songs, they aren't running around in williamsburg. and the clubs. well. the sound system can be awfully sketchy, sometimes. that means that if you're a vocalist that's actually singing (like yours truly) and you're not just hollering into a mic like a wounded farm animal, you won't hear yourself because there are no monitors and you'll probably blow your voice out. (which is exactly what happened to me at frank's lounge last week.) if there's a sound system to accommodate you, there might be a busted bass cabinet somewhere out back, but there's no backline. and of course, no one pays a cover to get into your gig and everyone expects freebies all night long -- like pizza and beer and cds and whatever else you got. unless everyone splits everything fair and square, you have to pay the band.

that's williamsburg.

who knows how long it'll take you to learn how to play the drums or finish your master's degree in photography or paint something that sparks someone's interest besides your roommates? if you don't have a trust fund or alimony or well-off parents to pay your bills, you're selling pot out of your bedroom or you have to live with 5 or 6 other people or better yet, your girlfriend is paying all the bills. (at least, she thinks she's your girlfriend...) who knows how long it'll take?

all i know is, williamsburg is too young, too trendy and too gentrified for its own good. i don't have the money to live or gig there but thankfully at least i know where to eat when i visit my friends.

Friday, September 23, 2005

an audition, a callback, a showcase, oh my!

yesterday started with an audition for law and order: criminal intent at chelsea piers at noon. i got there a little late (i can never find those freaking rooms!) but they were running behind, which wasn't good because i had a callback for a regional christmas musical in delaware called winter wonderettes at 1pm. (cute, right?) it wouldn't be good to show up late for that because i was supposed to dance first and if i missed any of the choreography breakdown, i would be completely derailed. i was excited about law and order, in spite of the fact that i'd auditioned for it about a jillion times and i've never been picked to be on the show. i've come awfully close, though. but when is that ever good enough?

the part was a junkie mom -- 32 years old with a 16 year old daughter, and the daughter has got a kid already. in the scene, the cops confront me at my front door and then we're off to the races. piece of cake. i show up with no make-up on, in a plain dress. i know my lines cold. i've met/lived next door to/befriended that mother many, many times. i know what i'm doing.

law and order
is such a franchise. there's got to be at least three different ones, aside from the original. it's really cool that it's based in new york city because it gives theater actors and the like a chance to get in front of the camera without having to go to el lay and stand in line with everyone else. it's funny. everytime i watch any of them, i see someone else i know. so when i get called in to be seen for a part, i'm thinking, wow -- maybe i'll finally bust my law and order cherry. don't get me wrong. i'm not desperate. if it doesn't happen, that's fine. but if it did, it would be nice.

i finally ended up in the casting agent's office, in a narrow area walled in by videotapes and filled with chairs clustered together. there was only a nondescript looking white guy in a button-down shirt sitting there, running lines. the middle aged asian man came in from the hallway, muttering his lines to himself. he stopped long enough to smile at me. a black woman came in, wearing sweats. no make-up. stringy looking dirty blonde extentions. slim and young-looking, but bad skin. (why does anyone have bad skin in this day and age? it's called proactiv, for cryin' out loud. go get some.) she ignored me, of course. once she settled in, she started to run her lines by mouthing the words and making these facial expressions, like she was in the scene. but how did she know what her face was doing. shouldn't she be looking in a mirror to check? according to everything that i was taught about the craft of acting, this was the epitome of what not to do. and the nondescript white guy across from her was pretty much doing the same thing. everything starts internally for me. i've learned how to readjust externally but that's not my focus. after awhile, i couldn' t look at them anymore. when i tell people that i'm an actor, that's what they think i do. (yeesh.)

you know what those two actors really reminded me of? daffy duck, wearing bugs bunny's shakespearean outfit, oversized plumed hat and all, pacing back and forth nervously with a leading man's swagger nonetheless, saying "to be or not to be" in every concievable way that he can think of, until the german director yells, "brrrring in the double!" good ol' daffy strolls in, all comfy because he's selected the just-right version of "to be or not to be" to say on camera -- and has it on repeat in his head until it comes out of his mouth.

no wonder movie actors suck when they do theater.

right about then, three or four really good-looking asian men walked in, all of them casually dressed. there were plenty of chairs but they were so clumped together that we were running out of room. and i was running out of time. i went to the monitor, she got me bumped up and when the door opened, i was summoned.

she moved fast. first, a digital photo of me, a headshot check and then i read for her -- no cameras, nothing. when i was done, she said that i did a really good job and asked me how tall i was. and the next thing i know, i'm on the crosstown bus.

i don't even want to tell you about the callback: how i botched the dance section, in spite of my best efforts; how me singing my brains out didn't help at all because they cut me early and didn't hear me read; how sweet the other girls were and how great everyone looked. oh, well. whatever God wants me to have is what i'll get, no matter what anyone says or thinks.

i ended the night with a wonderful showcase for the songwriter's hall of fame -- it was the 55th new writer's showcase, to be exact. afterwards, ralph and i went to barrio chino and i had that fantastic sopa de pollo with a nice tall deliciously spicy glass of mexican hot chocolate. this is my favorite little spot right now -- the food is so good, it's wacky. and you can trust me on this one. i lived in austin texas for years and i used to work in a fairly popular tex-mex restaurant on 6th street, so i'm extremely picky about mexican cuisine.

okay. so now i'm thinking i should run in the park while it's early and cool, detangle and condition my hair, practice the piano and clean house. that's my big plan for today...

yesterday's movie: get carter. tonight's movie: comedian.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

guitar rehearsal at my place

guitar rehearsal at my place
Originally uploaded by queenesther.
usually when i'm preparing the band for a gig, i'll do at least one guitar rehearsal at my place. somehow, separating the guitars from everything else puts things in their proper perspective. and sometimes there's really good tex-mex involved when we're done.

i love the way the pedal steel guitar swirls around my feelings when i sing. i will never get enough of that.

this is a moment that happened when bob and i were hashing something out with a new song and i happened to pass jack sprat the camera. trippy stuff. who knew my little living room could be so surreal?

Monday, September 19, 2005


i'm on a mission to see all the movies in imdb's top 100 listing, to catch up on all the stuff i should have seen by now but haven't for some reason. here it is:

1.9.0The Godfather (1972)136,871
2.9.0The Shawshank Redemption (1994)165,738
3.8.9The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)120,082
4.8.9The Godfather: Part II (1974)78,827
5.8.8Shichinin no samurai (1954)36,244
6.8.8Schindler's List (1993)105,940
7.8.8Casablanca (1942)71,465
8.8.7Star Wars (1977)148,724
9.8.7Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)115,729
10.8.7Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)35,068
11.8.7Pulp Fiction (1994)147,213
12.8.7The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)170,836
13.8.7One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)76,198
14.8.7The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)127,530
15.8.7Rear Window (1954)44,637
16.8.6Citizen Kane (1941)65,693
17.8.6Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)68,857
18.8.6Cidade de Deus (2002)32,103
19.8.6The Usual Suspects (1995)112,287
20.8.6Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)100,962
21.8.612 Angry Men (1957)32,223
22.8.6Memento (2000)99,672
23.8.6C'era una volta il West (1968)19,744
24.8.5North by Northwest (1959)38,488
25.8.5Psycho (1960)58,149
26.8.5Goodfellas (1990)75,076
27.8.5Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)66,016
28.8.5Lawrence of Arabia (1962)33,745
29.8.5It's a Wonderful Life (1946)44,039
30.8.5The Silence of the Lambs (1991)99,024
31.8.5Sunset Blvd. (1950)17,801
32.8.5Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)57,274
33.8.5American Beauty (1999)118,904
34.8.5The Matrix (1999)155,674
35.8.5Fight Club (1999)124,453
36.8.4Apocalypse Now (1979)70,339
37.8.4Vertigo (1958)36,653
38.8.4The Pianist (2002)34,970
39.8.4Paths of Glory (1957)15,895
40.8.4To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)32,733
41.8.4Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)28,218
42.8.4Taxi Driver (1976)52,488
43.8.4The Third Man (1949)19,973
44.8.4Se7en (1995)96,940
45.8.4Hotel Rwanda (2004)14,567
46.8.4Boot, Das (1981)31,254
47.8.3Crash (2004)17,919
48.8.3Léon (1994)58,738
49.8.3M (1931)13,246
50.8.3Requiem for a Dream (2000)54,010
51.8.3Double Indemnity (1944)12,688
52.8.3Singin' in the Rain (1952)22,267
53.8.3Chinatown (1974)28,139
54.8.3Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)66,065
55.8.3Some Like It Hot (1959)27,521
56.8.3Rashômon (1950)12,981
57.8.3L.A. Confidential (1997)74,526
58.8.3All About Eve (1950)14,174
59.8.3The Maltese Falcon (1941)21,026
60.8.3The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)24,271
61.8.3American History X (1998)66,405
62.8.3Modern Times (1936)11,362
63.8.3Untergang, Der (2004)13,129
64.8.3Million Dollar Baby (2004)30,548
65.8.3Alien (1979)68,735
66.8.3Raging Bull (1980)29,806
67.8.3Saving Private Ryan (1998)108,428
68.8.3A Clockwork Orange (1971)71,279
69.8.3Vita è bella, La (1997)40,967
70.8.3The Incredibles (2004)38,984
71.8.3The Sting (1973)25,570
72.8.2Reservoir Dogs (1992)76,095
73.8.2The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)11,436
74.8.2Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)74,425
75.8.2Amadeus (1984)39,806
76.8.2Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)12,599
77.8.2The Manchurian Candidate (1962)15,540
78.8.2City Lights (1931)8,577
79.8.2The Great Escape (1963)22,181
80.8.2The Shining (1980)55,867
81.8.2On the Waterfront (1954)14,151
82.8.2The Apartment (1960)12,264
83.8.2Ran (1985)13,350
84.8.2The Wizard of Oz (1939)41,556
85.8.2Aliens (1986)68,921
86.8.22001: A Space Odyssey (1968)69,625
87.8.2Sjunde inseglet, Det (1957)10,851
88.8.2Metropolis (1927)13,186
89.8.2Touch of Evil (1958)12,752
90.8.2Sin City (2005)53,371
91.8.2Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)52,209
92.8.2The Great Dictator (1940)11,686
93.8.2Braveheart (1995)99,609
94.8.2Donnie Darko (2001)60,669
95.8.2Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1989)15,310
96.8.2Jaws (1975)51,506
97.8.2Strangers on a Train (1951)11,612
98.8.2High Noon (1952)13,533
99.8.2Oldboy (2003)13,657
100.8.2Finding Nemo (2003)47,734
101.8.2Fargo (1996)70,257
102.8.2Annie Hall (1977)23,535
103.8.2Mononoke-hime (1997)21,642
104.8.2Forrest Gump (1994)98,244
105.8.1Blade Runner (1982)80,157
106.8.1Full Metal Jacket (1987)52,256
107.8.1The General (1927)7,268
108.8.1Wo hu cang long (2000)55,651
109.8.1Rebecca (1940)12,417
110.8.1Yojimbo (1961)10,096
111.8.1Ladri di biciclette (1948)8,182
112.8.1Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)84,173
113.8.1The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)6,765
114.8.1The Princess Bride (1987)57,895
115.8.1Before Sunset (2004)11,549
116.8.1The Sixth Sense (1999)104,534
117.8.1Batman Begins (2005)53,668
118.8.1Once Upon a Time in America (1984)21,497
119.8.1The Big Sleep (1946)10,889
120.8.1Notorious (1946)11,589
121.8.1It Happened One Night (1934)8,655
122.8.1Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)21,972
123.8.1Duck Soup (1933)10,770
124.8.1Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)92,405
125.8.1Smultronstället (1957)5,930
126.8.1The Elephant Man (1980)18,049
127.8.1Cool Hand Luke (1967)15,501
128.8.1The Graduate (1967)30,006
129.8.1Finding Neverland (2004)24,652
130.8.1Unforgiven (1992)33,673
131.8.1Patton (1970)15,662
132.8.0Lola rennt (1998)35,571
133.8.0The Deer Hunter (1978)30,938
134.8.0Amores perros (2000)17,266
135.8.0The Green Mile (1999)66,097
136.8.0Back to the Future (1985)74,572
137.8.0The Philadelphia Story (1940)11,409
138.8.0Ben-Hur (1959)22,823
139.8.0Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)66,782
140.8.0Ying xiong (2002)28,330
141.8.0Glory (1989)23,578
142.8.0The Gold Rush (1925)7,041
143.8.0Toy Story 2 (1999)44,339
144.8.0Platoon (1986)38,560
145.8.0Stalag 17 (1953)7,786
146.8.0Bringing Up Baby (1938)10,097
147.8.0Manhattan (1979)13,516
148.8.0A Christmas Story (1983)21,311
149.8.0Life of Brian (1979)36,242
150.8.0Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)12,311
151.8.0The Grapes of Wrath (1940)8,538
152.8.0The African Queen (1951)14,740
153.8.0The Wild Bunch (1969)11,504
154.8.0Witness for the Prosecution (1957)5,604
155.8.0The Hustler (1961)9,039
156.8.0The Searchers (1956)11,084
157.8.0All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)7,545
158.8.0Gone with the Wind (1939)31,317
159.8.0Big Fish (2003)37,877
160.8.0Hable con ella (2002)14,216
161.8.0Mystic River (2003)33,837
162.8.0Die Hard (1988)63,689
163.8.0The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)8,107
164.8.0Quatre cents coups, Les (1959)7,219
165.8.0Shrek (2001)71,352
166.8.0The Straight Story (1999)16,126
167.8.0Gladiator (2000)100,723
168.8.0Roman Holiday (1953)10,420
169.8.0The Killing (1956)7,776
170.8.0Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, La (1928)3,983
171.8.0The Night of the Hunter (1955)8,367
172.8.0Mar adentro (2004/I)5,732
173.8.0Hotaru no haka (1988)8,113
174.8.0Festen (1998)13,137
175.8.0His Girl Friday (1940)7,355
176.7.9Young Frankenstein (1974)24,209
177.7.9Ikiru (1952)4,811
178.7.9The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)8,018
179.7.9Sideways (2004)24,028
180.7.9Magnolia (1999)50,254
181.7.9Harvey (1950)8,559
182.7.9Ed Wood (1994)25,272
183.7.9Bronenosets Potyomkin (1925)6,695
184.7.9Grande illusion, La (1937)5,461
185.7.9Charade (1963)10,024
186.7.9The Conversation (1974)11,205
187.7.9 (1963)8,879
188.7.9Monsters, Inc. (2001)42,627
189.7.9Strada, La (1954)5,562
190.7.9The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)11,047
191.7.9Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)10,288
192.7.9Gandhi (1982)17,234
193.7.9Sling Blade (1996)21,955
194.7.9Spartacus (1960)18,716
195.7.9Groundhog Day (1993)48,811
196.7.9Trainspotting (1996)56,633
197.7.9Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994)11,280
198.7.9A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)10,602
199.7.9Shadow of a Doubt (1943)6,342
200.7.9Brazil (1985)33,267
201.7.9Stand by Me (1986)33,593
202.7.9Twelve Monkeys (1995)67,388
203.7.9A Night at the Opera (1935)6,554
204.7.9All the President's Men (1976)13,874
205.7.9Dog Day Afternoon (1975)16,731
206.7.9Laura (1944)5,192
207.7.9Toy Story (1995)49,754
208.7.9Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)2,983
209.7.9Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)9,355
210.7.9In America (2002)9,870
211.7.9Lost in Translation (2003)49,158
212.7.9Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)7,672
213.7.9The Big Lebowski (1998)55,608
214.7.9Almost Famous (2000)42,119
215.7.9The Insider (1999)31,090
216.7.9Snatch. (2000)50,239
217.7.9To Be or Not to Be (1942)4,050
218.7.9Persona (1966)4,251
219.7.9Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)38,146
220.7.9Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)69,531
221.7.9The Lion in Winter (1968)6,399
222.7.9Network (1976)10,440
223.7.9Fanny och Alexander (1982)4,952
224.7.9The Exorcist (1973)37,512
225.7.9This Is Spinal Tap (1984)22,632
226.7.9The Terminator (1984)64,810
227.7.9Mulholland Dr. (2001)39,470
228.7.8Garden State (2004)31,766
229.7.8Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)3,956
230.7.8Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)3,825
231.7.8The Station Agent (2003)8,603
232.7.8Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (2004)3,255
233.7.821 Grams (2003)25,913
234.7.8Heat (1995)49,258
235.7.8Battaglia di Algeri, La (1965)2,580
236.7.8Being There (1979)11,516
237.7.8Miller's Crossing (1990)16,086
238.7.8Rain Man (1988)46,452
239.7.8Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom (2003)3,898
240.7.8Barry Lyndon (1975)13,742
241.7.8Brief Encounter (1945)3,000
242.7.8Sullivan's Travels (1941)3,291
243.7.8Being John Malkovich (1999)59,620
244.7.8In the Heat of the Night (1967)7,578
245.7.8Scarface (1983)33,463
246.7.8The Thin Man (1934)5,388
247.7.8Spider-Man 2 (2004)48,069
248.7.8Diarios de motocicleta (2004)11,730
249.7.8Ray (2004/I)14,161
250.7.8The 39 Steps (1935)

i'm going to see a movie a day from now on, if i can. on sunday, i saw the movie blue starring binoche and returned part two of schindler's list because netflix never sent part one. while i'm waiting for get carter starring michael caine, i think i'll go see jarmusch's broken flowers tomorrow night.