Monday, August 24, 2009

A cub's gotta eat

I hate the term "foodie". I feel it is an inaccurate description of a food lover. It doesn't seem to give enough value to how I actually feel about food. A foodie sounds like a cute but forgettable little mammal. Food is all to me. I love food, I think, almost more than anything. It excites me and seduces me and fills my life with joy and wonder. It also gives me a sense of contentment and accomplishment. I just saw Julie and Julia and these two women knew my feelings about food. Just so that I am not assuming here, let me give you the gist of the movie without ruining it too much for you. Julia is Julia Childs played by favorite actress Meryl Streep. Julie is this average every day writer gal played by an actress I like, Amy Adams. Julie's life has no meaning so she attempts to create meaning by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" within a year-and she blogs about it. The blog becomes a huge success and she has 100s of followers. Meanwhile the Julia Child's plot is about the trials and tribulations she has in producing this culinary legendary tome. The movie turned out far better than the critics had told me it was going to be. It's really a simple tale but it was engaging to me on so many levels. My life while full of some fun (and definitely no fun at all) moments has always felt ordinary to me. Like Julie, I have always felt that my friends were zooming ahead with great success while I always struggled paycheck to paycheck. Recently I had lunch with a friend that pointed out another mutual friend of ours was being successful in New York City as an actress. "Man!" she exclaimed, " Out of all the people I know, SHE is the one who made it! She is out there and actually DOING it ya know?" Her husband echoed her by nodding and saying, "yup - she did it alright" My smile was kind of frozen and a soft, "Wow" came out of my mouth. Despite my resolution to be at peace with it, I still managed to feel discomfort at facing the fact that I indeed was on the Z list. Well not that bad. Maybe the R list?

Here I am using my R list celebrity to have a little fun and I am overwhelmed already.This Bay Area Cub thing was supposed to be fun and now it's become -well... serious. It has come to my attention that -in essence-it's a business! Granted it's a business that is literally non-profit, and designed only to make money for struggling local theaters ( in my case) but there is a significant cost that is slowly piling up. Why on earth did I agree to produce a show? Did I NOT get enough punishment from the P.A. Cooley Show in 2001?

In 1998 I whispered into multi-talented Sean Owen's ear that I wanted to do a sketch comedy/variety style show. He and I, along with Theater Rhinoceros, produced this daffy little Holiday situation comedy in the basement of Theater Rhino. (Theater Rhino by the way -doesn't have a basement OR a theater now due to the National economic crisis) I had set my sights waaaay too high but if anyone was gonna try to leap those hurdles Sean was the man to do it. The result was a wacky, made-with-much-love, ramshackle little Christmas show about a very self involved Gay host of a televised Sketch Comedy show. There was a touch of the old HBO series called The Gary Shandling Show mixed with The Carol Burnett Show- and maybe Laugh In. The result was kind of messy but most of the audiences were filled with people that knew my sense of comedy so they had a good time and as I said, there was a lot of love that went into that show and I have many fond memories of it. Apparently my toughest critics knew that too and they smiled and said things like "fun!" or "wow, that looked like a lot of work!" It's how those of us in theater show our love for one another. You focus on how beautiful they looked on stage or the "power" of their performance making SURE not to state how bad the actual play was. I still think the 1998 version was great fun!

My friend Matt Weimer thought it was great fun too. In fact he had gone so far as to pen a SEQUEL to the Christmas show. I was floored! -AND excited all over again. The fever started all over again. I asked him to write two more episodes. ( to his credit he didn't balk) We could do a different episode every 2 weeks. My brain DANCED at the possibilities! Matt and my best gal pal Drew formed a production team and we put together 3 episodes of The PA Cooley Show. "He's Baaaaaccck !" the promos proclaimed. "The P.A. Cooley Springtime Spectacular.", "The P.A. Cooley Fitness Fantasia" and "The P.A. Cooley Patriotic Pageant" Alas - The Patriotic Pageant didn't quite make it. The artistic director of Rhino ( a theater KNOWN for pushing the envelope) at the time couldn't quite handle me doing black face in it ( who knew?) and my budget couldn't handle 6 Civil War era Hoop Skirts. The Black face was as tastefully done as I could manage-besides I had told Matt that I REALLY wanted to do "In Living Color" instead of "The Carol Burnett Show" to keep up with the times. ah well-

Everything was bigger and better but still I was forced to do the basement at Rhino. They had graciously offered to co-produce it with me. The show was gonna be expensive! I had THREE fundraisers and garnered enough money to PAY for a director, costume designer, set designer, AND stage manager! (The actors got a cut of the door.) I solicited my butt off! Matt wrote until his hand was numb, and DREW got me on the page in the chronicle that tells you what to do on Thursday NIGHTS! There I was right up next to Seinfeld and The San Francisco Symphony...this was bound to be a HIT!

eh...not so much. The buzz was minimal and it was the second episode that everyone liked more than the first. You see everyone-including the press- saw the first one. Even though a lion and a lamb playfully nailed a black Jesus to a cross -it still failed to thrill. (I got hit with a pie in the face in the second one so I could see why everyone liked it better.) My performers had a blast though, and all the people that gave me money to do the show were impressed-of course none of them had ever seen live theater before but so what? In truth, the donors and my cast were truly spectacular and I will forever be indebted to them-and I MEAN IT. I was moved to tears by "The Village" of people in my life that made those shows possible. It was another great show of love and faith that I will never forget.

But it was tiring - I mean REALLY tiring. Yet here I am ready to open that vein again to The Bears and Cubs and Otters etc etc of the Bay Area. I am excited all over again.There are routines to be choreographed. Titillating costumes to find, rehearsal spaces, Theaters to perform in. Comedy to be written. Websites to be designed. Press to be wooed. It simply goes on and on and on. All of it requires $$$$$ -so here I go again.

Am I excited? You betcha! I will be producing a Spring Show and a Summer Show that will be done in SF Theaters. All the proceeds from each show will go directly to the theaters we perform them in. What IS the show you ask? Why it's a Burlesque show ! or rather a Bearlesque show. It will be fun and sexy -and hopefully you'll find someway to get involved with it. Great music and hot singing stripping Bears and cubs....what more do you need? - oops forgot! or else this ain't gonna happen.

Keep your ears and eyes open for "So you think you got Fur?" This is a contest fundraiser I am hosting for the shameless exhibitionist that wants to be in my show. Kind of like a Idol except you gotta come to a Bar to watch them sing and take off their clothes. Sing a tune and do a little dance and who knows? You could become an elite member of P.A. Cooley's Bearlesque! Yes indeed -I think I am more than a little excited about this show. Did I mention that Julie does complete every Julia Child's recipe -including those dreadful aspics- and writes a best selling book that becomes fun movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams? Did I mention that? Gee-I wonder who will play me...? (Wanna Help with the show? E-mail me at for details on how you can help.)

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