Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Actor has a rich fantasy life

I love my ipod. I have had two shuffles and the now extinct mini-ipod and I now own an emerald green nanopod. It's quite pretty and it can hold a 1000 songs. I don't think I need 10,000 songs that the regular Ipod does and I really have no interest in watching movies on my ipod -well not yet anyway. I have a fairly long commute. I do not own a car and I travel from San Francisco to Berkeley. It can sometimes take an astonishingly quick 50 minutes and other times an hour and a half. My employers understand how I have to travel and allow me to stay a little later to make up the time on those hour and a half days. It's really not difficult. During rush hour there are several busses to choose from that can get me to a BART ( Bay Area Rapid Transit)Station. Then the walk from the BART station to my place of employ is a pretty tree lined street with a great little bread bakery on the corner on the way. So I make this trip 5 times a week 2 times a day. I daydream. I daydream alot.

Today as I descended the steps of the North Berkeley BART station, I imagined I was walking down the marble steps of my palatial home to greet all my guest below in the ballroom. Nat King Cole was singing "Unforgettable" and of course...he was singing about me.

Maroon 5 was the soundtrack to my hit show dramedy on ABC about spunky cute middle-aged Gay White guy who ends up being the manny nanny for an extremely attractive Hispanic widower with 5 adorable but mischievous children. I love that one.

The opening credits of whatever imaginary TV show I would star in is typically my most favorite fantasy. Through the years I have starred in a shows that only play in my brain about Vampires, Detectives and Brideshead Revisted, Ghost hunters, UFO's and Aliens ( I am always the lovable earthling who ends up romantically involved with the sexy alien who is clearly a "Brother from Another Planet"

There were times where I frequently tried to rework a disagreement with a friend or co-worker as my I-Pod played the PERFECT song to the scene.

Many telekinetic Carrie like moments were set to Carmina Burana. The Castro becomes a burned out hole in the ground all because some man had wronged me. But I telekinetically rebuild it too...happy endings and all.

I love Faithless. "Insomniac" has been the soundtrack to my mind movie where I fell in love with a magician who really COULD do magic -if you know what I mean... He takes off nearly all his clothes to immerse himself in a tank of water after I -his trusty adorable assistant -handcuff him. He kisses me for luck in front of the audience and everything!!!

Linda Eder- a fab singer if you haven't heard her -take a listen- manages to inhabit my body and I become one of the greatest singers ever -right there while I am riding Muni or walking down Teresita Blvd. I sometimes slip up and do the movements and make people at the bus stop step away from me furtively.

Another favorite is Britney Spears "Lucky" -I change the lyrics to "hollywood guy" and I imagine singing to myself..like an Angel P.A. watching the Movie-star P.A. it while seeing how miserable and lonely the "Movie-star P.A." is -collapsing on his Jean Harlow inspired bed in a puddle of tears...Wonderfully bittersweet...

If it weren't for my Ipod and these over-the-top fantasies I might drink more...nah -I'd drink just as much Vodka as I do now...but I'd have a cleaner house.

Frank Burns flips out

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Hot lips and Frank

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Monday, March 30, 2009

an actor remembers...a little more

Now where were we before I had to dash off? Ah yes High School! Northfield Vermont an 17 year old P.A. Cooley ( aka Paul Cooley) was about to get the news of the all important SENIOR PLAY from the drama/English teacher Ms Mary Corrigan ! The play that Mary chose was unique to say the least. Apparently someone had taken the Robert Altman film (and later very popular TV series), M*A*S*H and turned it into a stage play. My mind crackled at the announcement! My Mother was a huge fan of the TV Show and loved Alan Alda because his eyes crinkled when he laughed. How awesome it would've been for her to see her baby boy play Hawk eye Pierce! Joe Diebold -a VERY popular guy of the class of "82" who always used to joke about going to Hollywood with me was a natural for my side kick Trapper John! I would secure my place as a "popular kid" AND make my Mommy proud -yay!

Well...things didn't turn out that way. Mary Corrigan needed a good actor to play a specific character. She needed someone who could execute a full melt down on stage and thought that someone should be someone who was serious about doing theater She was sure she came up with the ideal choice. That someone turned out to be me. The role turned out to be Frank Burns. Hot Lips Houlihan's paramour and a distinctly weasel faced, pallid, officious little prick who was anything BUT the funloving Hawkeye Pierce. I wasn't exactly a happy little camper...ok ok that's a bit of an understatement...I was flat out devastated. At 17 -I liked the part about acting where EVERYONE LOVED ME.( So ...maybe perhaps ...that's not so different over 25 years later but we'll discuss THAT in another blog. )

I tried to be a pro but you could see the cracks in the veneer quite easily. Mary Corrigan sold me on why I was chosen to play Frank. When Hawk eye and Trapper put the dead cat in Frank's precious orderly space Frank goes insane enough to actually get reassigned or discharged or something. For fans of the Alman film -it was pretty much what was written in the screenplay without the sex. We were in highschool after all. The other reason I could swallow the bitter pill was that Jeff LeFebvre got the role of Hawk Eye and -for all intense purposes- Jeff WAS Hawk Eye. Mischevious and fun loving. He and Joe did a great job with the roles and it really was well received by students and faculty and townspeople alike. I think we only did 3 performances but back then it felt much longer. We performed in a gym. There was a proscenium stage (spell check?) carved out under the basketball hoops. Nowadays it boasts the Mary Corrigan Auditorium. No kidding! She really got an Auditorium named after her! Not bad huh? Impressed the hell outta me when I heard. Now budding little actresses and actors actually have a great space where the acoustics are terrific!

I used to live on the street that the school was. I think after the last performance of M*A*S*H, I dragged by self home. I think I was a little bitter that I didn't play the shining hero but I had had a good year. Jeff and I had been singers in a High School Rock Band called "Fusion 82" We did a Blue's Brother's Routine." Going back to Miami" Jeff was a heluva sax player. He really rocked out on "The Logical Song" I was alone that night after the play. A fairly large group of 12 and 13 year old boys were in a clump in the parking lot. At first...I thought they were going to congratulate me for a job well done.

"CoooooooLEEEEY" They hollered out my last name and then they hit the punch line. "Ya BIG FAG!" They howled with laughter and for a second it looked as if they were all gonna rush me. Must've been like 12 of them-(or it felt like it?). I tried to look unaffected but my face was hot and I quickened my pace toward my street. They WERE coming for me. Now if was two or three I might've been able to protect myself but twelve??? No Way! Even if they were all a foot shorter than me, I wasn't much of a fighter. The walk quickened to a trot and then I well...just kinda ran! I heard some of them take off after me. No teachers were in sight and I had to really book it. The another one yelled, " What the fuck are you doing?" Apparently -not at me. "Get back here you dumbasses! Leave him alone" I didn't look back but slowed my pace a bit and kept going. I have no idea what I did that night at home but I bet it involved shedding a few tears.

My Guidance Counselor once asked if I wanted to graduate early. I had taken some college courses over the summer and apparently I was able to graduate a semester early. I said no. Apparently -the most famous homosexual of the class of "82" decided to stick it out until the bitter end. How bout them apples?

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Actor remembers

As I got more deeply engrossed on FaceBook my past kind of crept up on me. I have like "360" friends and everytime I try to reduce that to a more believeable number, I learn I actually KNOW all these people. The "friends" whose requests I consistently ignored were people from the town I grew up in. I was not comfortable sharing the life that I had made here in San Francisco with folks and former classmates from my hometown. Growing up Gay in Northfield Vermont for a teenager in the 70s and 80s was not a picnic. I was probably the most well known homosexual at Northfield Jr-Sr High School before I was even clear on what a homosexual was. I rarely had guy friends, except the infrequent theater geek, but I was surrounded by many many many pretty and popular girls. I really really wanted to be uber popular but because of my masculinity deficiency my career as a popular kid never really took off.

As the character Veronica from the movie Heathers said, "Being popular (in highschool) is like having a job" I felt very much like gay teen Veronica and I had my Heathers. I worked very hard at my job but never got the promotion I did because of my oh-so-girly ways. Life was pretty sweet whenever I had a lead role in a play but after the play it was back to being a B-Lister.I was quite close with many girls who were indeed quite popular. I was also friends with the bad kids and the kids who were definitely D-List in the high school food chain. When I went to college I set about creating Paul-Andrew Cooley. Paul-Andrew was far more interesting than Paul. I of course got the idea from watching Ann-Margaret in the old Elvis movies. When Paul-Andrew came to the University of Vermont in 1982, my high school pals started to drift to the periphery of my life. When I graduated Paul-Andrew had morphed into P.A. -with a brief spell of Plandrew in the middle of all that. Sounded a bit like a character from Star Trek. BUT I DIGRESS!!!! Quelle surprise.

When I moved to San Francisco in 1989 -having committed to being Gay because -hell, I was moving to The Mecca for cryin out loud-almost every childhood and high school friend had been eradicated from my memory. (With the exception of two but more on them later) I very carefully crafted out the new me. During these years however I would be minding my own business in the Mission District or downtown San Francisco and some young lady would say, "Paul ! Paul Cooley! Wow it's so good to see you! Remember me? " I never did. It typically was a younger sister of a classmate or worse, someone who was a seventh grader when I had been a High School Senior. I tried to be polite but I usually was mute and nodded a lot. I wondered if I looked too Gay that day or would they yell "faggot" and punch me in the shoulder and run off. They never did. I would say I was in a hurry and dash off as fast as my legs would carry me. The nice young lady would stand there looking bewildered as if she had maybe said something wrong. Then the anger would settle around me like a dust cloud. I would be mad at myself and wonder why I had come to the Gayest city in America only to feel ashamed and fearful? What the hell was wrong with me?

My Senior year was the big Senior play. It was something that was a big rite of passage for Seniors at Northfield Jr-Sr High School and for the guy who was the big actor of the class (guess who? ) it usually mean't getting the lead role. Unfortunately not in 1981. Now you should know up front that the class of 1982 at Northfield Junior Senior High School boasted quite a few talented actors and actresses. We had placed in the finals of some state One Act Competitions and garnered some high praise. I don't think we ever won but I wouldn't trust my memory. We did win the Northfield High School One Act competitions quite often. There were some REALLY good performers in our class and I was lucky to always have a teacher and principal who cared about implementing the arts into a high school that was so sports oriented you could've hung a jock strap on the front door. The Drama teacher at the time was a spunky gal by the name of Mary Corrigan. She had cast me in a coupla of things and I knew she was the lady who would make it all right for me. It was evident that Mary was the one who decided who played what in all the plays so of course ....I was extra attentive and whether she wanted to be or not-she became my favorite teacher. Poor woman !

Gotta run kids
More on Northfield later

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hi there -45 year old about to embark on the Middle Ages

I have begun a diary of sorts to share with ...well...everyone. I have very clever friends and co-workers and my little musings will probably not be as grammatically correct as them, (as I have just shown you), but maybe they will improve in time. I am at work and must be a good boy and design some copy to advertise an Open House and decide my goals for 2009. I will discuss my life, family, friends etc etc -as discreetly as I am able. Which if you knew me-you'd realize that's tough to pull off. Luckily I am almost pathologically sensitive to other's feelings so hopefully I won't offend anyone. I look forward to sharing with you all.