Thursday, April 19, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 57- Blake Zolfo

He's here! The amazing Blake Zolfo joined me for an incredible episode of Block Talk where we talk about his incredible journey from midwest kid to big city dreamer!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 56- RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 RuCap Episode 4

Allura Borealis and I break down the Last Ball on Earth, the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race!

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 55- FiFi DuBois

In this episode of Block Talk, I sit down with NYC drag staple and pageant queen FiFi DuBois!

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Review: OurBar is Probably the Best Thing You Can Do In a Bar

By Ed Malin

OurBar is a monthly scripted comedy series which has been performing at bars in Manhattan since 2009.  I went to the April edition at Failte Irish Whiskey Bar, along with dozens of devotees. The theme was "Bare".  It was a constant stream of funny, interrelated scenes which touch on many unique current events, such as March Madness and Philadelphia Eagles super-fans.  Now, imagine you are holding a drink and follow me.
In Grizzly Snooze by Josh Black, Mia (Maria Maloney) thinks she has finally found a stable boyfriend in Dylan (Brian Henderson). Why does Dylan prefer hibernation naps to regular sleep? Why does he eat blueberries? Is true love enough for Mia to adjust to living with a bear?
In Tough Tattoo by Bimini Lee Wright, Alex (Chris Behan) and Tony (Brendan Butz) push the limits of the fierce animal tattoo. Unicorns and butterflies have their followers, but the cute mongoose can defeat the venomous cobra.
In Firewall of Love by Louis Gaudio, Fitzy (Lindsey Ashlen) and Gertrude (Alicia Dawn Bullen) are talking about how to retain a connection with an ex-boyfriend. One way is to keep logging in with his Netflix password, watching the same shows after he does, until he discovers the violation and changes his password.
The centerpiece of this show is March Hookup Madness by Joe Jung, Andrew McCleod, Karen Bray and Lauren Roth-Shaw. In four such sketches peppered throughout the performance, sportscasters give us some insight into this joyful part of human mating season. Is Eagles fandom attractive anywhere outside Philly? Is there any worse insult than being told your genitals are as deflated as one of Tom Brady's footballs?  Sad but true: a dad-friendly bar (full of people showing each other pictures of their young children) can be alienating. How can you talk to a man-hating man? In a world of crazy sloshed people, can you blame a cute bartender for waiting for her semi-mythical Tinder swipe, "Ethan", to show up?
photo by Lloyd Mulvey
Purell Doesn't Work by Lauren Schaeffer gives Nate (Benjamin Bunce) the chance to really listen to his girlfriend Meg's (Bimini Lee Wright) fears, hopes and dreams. She spends a lot of her time cleaning her hands, taking off her clothes, putting her purse in the fridge, insisting that we don't know there aren't bedbugs everywhere… Is there a way to love an O.C.D. person?  This sketch at least shows there is a method to the madness.
All Your Friends Are Terrible People by Peter Turo is a delightful intervention that could save friendships. April (Justine Salata) and Katie (Lauren Schaefer) meet on a regular basis to insult each other and express thoughts not always welcome in the workplace. For example: no one cares who cute to think your kids are, no one likes your PowerPoint presentations. Jen the Bartender (Jennifer Logue) rates the session as a success.
Amid the emotionally-vulnerable comedy is a nice piece of drama: Flashback by Adam Carpenter. Pete (Paulie Myers) expects his friend Demos (Mark Koenig) to be nervous on this night of a blind date. Even more oddly, Demos asks what year it is and is surprised that he has hair. Demos claims to have traveled back in time ten years. His date tonight, Kellyn (Justine Salata) is someone he loved enough to marry and was worth the concomitant hassles of moving to Westchester County and having a adorable son, Micah, now age 5.  Did Demos just die in a train accident somewhere near fatal Westchester? Are his tales from the future going to drive away his mate? Aren't the things we've done worth doing again?
And now for something completely egalitarian. Balls In Your Court by David Lanson allows John (Louis Gaudio), Gustave (Brendan Butz) and Sigmund (Casey Blake) to publicly discuss the many tactics for scratching itchy pubes. There is in fact a society for this, which has designated hundreds of official moves such as "the rake" and "the Louisiana filibuster". Deana (KL Thomas) overhears the men and reminds them that women have always known the ways to relieve their pubic itches. She cites "pancakes not waffles" among the obvious realignment solutions.  The rest of the bar chimes in. I guess man is smart but woman's smarter.
Chris-Crossed by Matt Haws lets a group of macho men explore a topic which women discuss 24/7, namely who is the cutest movie Chris? There is a lot of support for Chris Hemsworth (he who is Thor), some nerd love for Chris Evans (he who is synonymous with Captain America), some fanatical insistence that Chris Pine (latter day Captain Kirk) is the Chris, and some write-in votes for rapper Ludacris and others. We hear from Jack (Chris Behan), Bobby (Adam Carpenter), Scott (Matt Haws), Hank (David Lanson), Karl (Paulie Myers), Paula (Lindsey Ashlen) and Sally (KL Thomas).
OurBar is really funny.  OurBar shows no signs of slowing down. I came to the second show of the evening, which was quite well attended. I'm sure the audience's energy helped the ensemble, who had already performed these timely scenes a little while before. It is a time when some people don't have time to laugh at life, but the work of this committed group may be true best medicine.

Spotlight On...Zoe Farmingdale

Name: Zoe Farmingdale

Hometown:  St. Louis, MO

Education: Yes I have lots of this

Favorite Credits: As an actor: wow-I have loved so many of the shows I've been in.  A few notable ones: Christina in Red Light Winter; Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Nora in Coffee and Biscuit, a retelling of A Doll's House where all of my acting partners were puppets; a beautiful Viewpoints-y show I did in college called The Loveliest and Saddest Landscape where I played the wife of the author of "The Little Prince"; and Tzeitel in Fiddler in high school, which was a magical time for all of us involved.  Any show I get to do that I've been gunning for for years: Cabaret, Spelling Bee, The Importance of Being Earnest.  Also other ones!!  V v bad at narrowing it down.

Why theater?: You get the immediate feedback of laughter.  You get to cry in front of people.  Or you can go up and look them in the eyes and whisper in their ears, if you're in the right show.  Because of how it has always made me feel when I see an incredible show-delighted, awestruck, gutted.  I can't get away, really.  I love theatre even when sometimes it doesn't love me back.  It's a little cheesy but perhaps it's a language, like music or movement, and I learned to speak it very young and I just keep communicating through it both intentionally and accidentally.  And because when it's done right, you get a new family every show, which sometimes only lasts until closing but when you're lucky it lasts forever.

Tell us about Wicked Frozen: It's an absurd ridiculous parody mash-up of Wicked and Frozen, with many over-the-top satirical characters who do and say insane things.  But it's also the story of a girl who isn't able to be like everyone else, for better or worse, and whose existing fears are compounded when she is faced with a new obstacle.  We also follow a young woman, the girl's teacher, who is trying to make the best of a bad situation, but like all of us, doesn't always know exactly what to say or do.   Also there is stuff about Climate Change.

What inspired you to write Wicked Frozen?: Toby and I were brainstorming what kind of 15-minute musical to write for the West Village Musical Theatre Festival and our conversation progressed like this: "Let It Go" just won an Oscar √† Idina Menzel√† Check out her voice in "Defying Gravity" Oh funny, both of those things have I.M. and another female lead who is a blonde named Kristi(e)n What if we combined them?  But I haven't seen either one  Me neither! Let's do it anyway And call it "Wicked Frozen", like we're in Boston=DONE.  We thought it was a pretty stupid idea, so of course we made it, and it turned out really bonkers.  "Wow this is REALLY stupid" is basically how Toby and I know we're on the right track-usually because we can't stop laughing.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Beautiful, simple, sad, real.  Bittersweet.  I love things that are honest, because we are fed a lot of "happily ever after" and that makes you feel really lonely when it's not what you end up living.  The most recent example I saw is Indecent.  I saw Cock at the Duke, cried my way through it, and went back again. Humans are a MESS!!!  I guess a lot of my inspiration as an artist (as I twirl my mustache and puff on my cigar) comes from the need to escape the whatever-everyone-else-is-doing that I can't get into (Michael Jackson, Cilantro, Game of Thrones), or to validate my own little tiny existence and prove how intelligent, perceptive, beautiful, and hilarious I really am.  Super inspired by adult women who don't take sh*t and are funny and smart and keep doing what they're doing in the face of negativity or rejection, because they are all that gives me actual hope that I won't be taken out with the trash once my hair is gray.   Laurie Metcalfe in A Doll's House Part 2 like YAAAAASSSSSS.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: I geek out over Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  So… I mean if Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell want to give me a call, I won't be mad about it.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: GO SEE LOCAL THEATRE! Support local and indie theatre.  Doesn't matter what show, it matters that there are great actors and show-makers all over the country who don't want to or cannot live in NYC or LA or Chicago, or didn't get to THE BROADWAY for a number of reasons, but who are AMAZINGGGGG and worthy of your love and attention… and financial support in the form of ticket sales.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:  Obviously I would play me.  Or like seventeen different non-famous people of all different ethnicities and heights and ages and gender identities and socio-economic background etc etc.  We can't pick a title til I'm dead so title TBD.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:  As soon as I read it I immediately regretted not seeing August: Osage County.

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: Does idling in my car looking at my phone count?

If you weren't working in theater, you would be _____?: Working in music or dance so basically just as bad.  Or maybe I would be a Meteorologist. Or a lawyer, but an alcoholic lawyer because I would end up being good at it but that sh*t would kill me.  Or if there is a job that is learn to speak languages I would do that.

What's up next?:  I go back to LA and am finally going to work on finishing a lot of half-baked things (right Zoe? Right?).  I have two half-written plays that have been on the shelf-one about depression and one about people who are not good at dancing.  I have like FIFTY partially recorded songs that I have been too shy to release, but it's time to open those soul-baring floodgates and eventually play live with other people (which some people call "starting a band"). My comedy duo with Bethany Nicole Taylor, "Catmagic" (@wearecatmagic), has shot multiple unfinished videos, so that's on the docket.  I am also gonna dive back into sketch and character comedy, live or video, hopefully both.  After that, I will become very very rich and famous and you can come to my pet-cute-animals party. [If you're reading this a while after it comes out, please send me a message to make sure I'm not just dressing up in different outfits and checking Instagram.]

For more on Zoe, visit and follow her on Instagram at @thezoeshow

Review: Exciting Cabaret With A Who's Who Of Famous Lesbians

By Ed Malin

Phoebe Legere, powerhouse musical theater performer, is back with a charming new show called Speed Queen. Lissa Moira directs and lights this energetic, boogie-woogie piano and accordion-filled true story about the dapper, butch, 20th Century boat racing woman professionally known as Joe Carstairs.
During World War I, the sixteen year-old Marion Barbara Carstairs (she dislikes this name) is an ambulance driver. She develops a taste for going fast, prefers to be called Joe, and after the war heads to "Gay Paree". There, he meets and falls in love with Dolly Wilde, niece of legendary author Oscar Wilde, who was jailed for homosexual behavior.  Dolly's gender expression tends the other way from Oscar's; she is very assertive and masculine.  Next, Joe heads to London, a place where, seeing as many young men were recently killed in battle, young women are cross-dressing in dinner jackets and going to cocktail parties.  Natalie Barney hosts a salon, in which she sings the " Hymn to Aphrodite" by Sappho. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love.  The poet Sappho is known for running a school for women on the island of Lesbos; more on that later. Radclyffe Hall, lesbian literary icon, is another of Joe's lovers. Legere portrays most of these characters, who surely deserve a greater mention in history. First, Joe runs an upscale chauffeur business in which he only employs female drivers.   Joe receives a Steiff doll named Lord Tod Wadley from his wildly partying girlfriend, Ruth Baldwin. Tod Wadley will remain with Joe for life. He gets a privileged perch inside the piano during the show. Joe also meets and dates the outlandish actress Tallulah Bankhead, who is as out lesbian as one could be in the 1920s. Tallulah, putting her foot on the piano keys, provides us with a "footnote": " Imitation is the sincerest form of flatterty that medicrity can pay to greatness." This quote comes from Oscar Wilde, and is used apropos of the women's fashion trends Tallulah has started. Tallulah explains much better (and hates on Bette Davis) as she sings us "Bitch Stole My Look".  In the world of entertainment, we now have "imitainment".
Joe, however, creates his own style.  Joe is the child of wealthy people who struggled with addiction (song: "Mummy Was a Junkie").  Upon his mother's death in 1925, now able to afford whatever he wants, Joe is a prominent speedboat racer.  The captain's hat and jacket Joe has been wearing and which endear him to so many ladies look amazing when he gets into his boat.  Onstage, a gorgeous wooden speedboat called the Estelle (boat design by Lytza Colon) is suspended from ropes (rigging by Janet Clancy) and triumphantly driven to victory.  Oddly enough, the sexist male judges rob Joe of victory (throwing the name " Betty" around as an added insult).  Joe is moved to buy an island in the Bahamas called Whale Cay and turn it into a lesbian paradise.  As German film actress Marlene Dietrich's yacht approaches, Joe sings "Welcome To Lesbian Island".  They enjoy life and reminisce about gay times in Weimar Germany, Greta Garbo and other lovers of women, but, in 1932, the world is becoming less tolerant.  Dietrich's sentiment, " you need to know when the party's over and get the @#%& out" are sadly echoed when Ruth Baldwin dies of an overdose in London in 1937.
Joe continues to enjoy his private, shotgun-controlled island. In a beautiful, cosmic finale, Death (David "Zen" Mansley) invites Joe and Lord Tod Warley into the Estelle to float once more around the audience.
When Phoebe Legere is dancing (choreography by Shawn Rawls) or otherwise not at the piano, additional music is played from the Speed Queen Band: Phoebe Legere on piano,  Sean Harkness on guitar, Rob Mitzner on drums, Skip Ward on bass. All of the songs are rousing.  I sat in the front row and could really feel Phoebe Legere's energy throughout.  She is a consummate preformer  whose work you simply  must experience. Hats off to Lissa Moira as well for bringing out so many unique, unapologetic female voices. Between them, they have done a lot of work which examines the nature of stardom.  Surprisingly, this is their first collaboration.  I will definitely be interested in seeing any future collaborations.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 54- RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 RuCap Episode 3

Let's tap that app-isode! Me and Coco Taylor chatted about the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10!

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Drag365: Show #74- Legend Wednesdays at Rise

Aquaria // photo by Michael Block
Day: Wednesday, March 14th      

Show: Legend Wednesdays

Location: Rise

Queens Seen: Aquaria (@ageofaquaria), Brenda Dharling (@bdharling), Marti Gould Cummings (@martigcummings)

Brenda Dharling, Marti Gould Cummings, Aquaria // photo by Michael Block
Only legends allowed at Rise on Wednesdays. The interactive revue show was on fire as Aquaria, Brenda Dharling, and Marti Gould Cummings entertained the thirsty crowd. After a group megamix to start the night, the three queens each brought their own solo numbers to the stage. Aquaria brought out her work mix and her stupid girl mix, Marti did a little Patti LuPone and "Fabulous", and Brenda rounded it out with "Sorry Not Sorry" and her Celine mix. These three NYC legends gave a show with an array of styles, which allowed this show to strike the right chords for everyone. Legend Wednesdays is a fast-paced hour-long show. You're in and you're out, as they leave you wanting more. The only woe about Rise's show is sometimes their clientele can be a little, well, rude. Sure, space can be limiting. But if you have a table for at least four in the very front hugging the stage and you and your friends want to stand and dance along, perhaps it's best to hop to the back of the bar and let those who would like to watch watch rather than impeding everyone's view. But I suppose that's the price you pay for ridiculously good drink specials. If you can snag a spot early enough or don't mind watching the show from the monitors, Legend Wednesdays is an enjoyable quick and dirty night of drag.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Block Talk: Episode 53- Cicatrix

It's time to get witchy! In the latest episode of Block Talk, I sit down with Cicatrix to talk about her drag journey, her good pal Stacy Layne Matthews, the American Heart Association, and so much more!

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