Recently, I had the pleasure of being featured on Voyage Chicago as part of their local artist interview series! I’m very happy with how it all turned out and I couldn’t be more grateful to Voyage for the opportunity! Check out the full interview below!
Recently, I had the pleasure of escaping on a two week long road trip with my sister as she drove from Boston to San Francisco. Along the ride, I hiked through Colorado, read many a memoir, climbed peaks in Utah, watched Drag Race in the Castro, reunited with dear friends, spent quality time with my sisters, and even took a few booty pics (lawlz).
Being on the road can be tough, but traveling plays a vital role in growth, reflection, perspective, and survival. It can be easy to get wrapped up in aspects of identity that we cling to in order to define or limit ourselves; staying in one place for too long is exactly what makes this issue stick. Still, when we hit the open road with nothing but a few good books and an open mind, we give ourselves permission to evolve. We also recall and enhance aspects of our identity that may have become lost along the way.
In my case, I had forgotten how much I loved to write, listen, and observe. Rediscovering this about myself gave me the opportunity to put passion back into practice. I decided to write a short collection of reviews on the four (RADICAL) books that I read throughout the adventure. Reflecting in this way encourages me to refocus and rediscover more passions in the future, while also tending to them in the present; I hope it does the same for you!
Betty White’s iconic optimism shines through her memoir, If You Ask Me. She admits that she has to remind herself (at times, by sheer mental force even) to choose and admire the bright side of every situation. This is a lesson that we all know, but White’s life and writings provide a masterclass in the potential and success of this teaching. Ultimately, White advocates for identifying and following through with individual passions; life without passion is empty and meaningless.
Sarah Silverman juggles a narrative full of depression, anxiety, and bed wetting while still maintaining a delicate balance of biting satire. A comic tries not to take herself too seriously, but when Sarah does, the reader relates to her struggles just long enough before she drops a joke upon them like a water balloon full of piss. All of this ties into a wonderful takeaway that she provides, “make it a treat.” Here, Sarah teaches us to take our strongest loves and addictions (often one in the same) and to insist to make those things a treat; through this, we remember not to identify solely through such outlets.
Gloria Steinem’s most recent memoir, My Life on the Road (perhaps my favorite read during this trip) highlights the author's rich, feminist experience and evokes deep reflection. Nomadic lifestyles are a running theme in this work, and Steinem draws parallels between her life of travel, Native American culture, and feminist values. Her final chapter, a heartfelt dedication to her great friend, the late Wilma Mankiller, is a touching and powerful conclusion on these parallels.
Steinem’s perspective is always inviting. Her wisdom is provided via complex anecdotes which end with short mantras and tactful advice. This simultaneously allows the reader to listen to her narrative, but gives room to pause and ponder how these simple morals can be applied to our own stories. From the National Women’s conference of 1977, to the present consequences of disregarding sexual assault, Steinem offers a feminist history that few textbooks can provide. Her advocacy for oral history reminds us that the person who has experienced something is always more an expert than the expert. This emphasis on listening highlights Gloria’s pinnacle of advocacy: Feminism is about creating talking circles, not hierarchies.
I was inspired to read André Aciman’s Call me by your Name after seeing the film with my sisters in Colorado. Homoerotic subtext and the nuances of intimacy are subjects that are close to my heart; needless to say, I was smitten upon watching this movie. While Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer masterfully exude such subtext via longing glances, dialogue ripe with rich evocation, and specific points of view portrayed clearly (even in moments of silence), the novel subverts this subtext not only by making it dominant, but, relentless. Being inside Elio’s mind is exhaustingly beautiful. In the novel, the reader witnesses the specifics of every brooding question, contradictory emotion, and erotic fantasy.
Both the novel and film teach the importance of emotional intelligence via self love in order to not only identify our feelings, but to thrive on them; both the good and the bad. Is it better to speak or to die? Elio and Oliver often ponder this question. The answer lies in finding the ability to speak to yourself, as not to die from the sorrow of silence. Elio and Oliver’s circumstances may have not always permitted them to speak, but, by calling each other by their own names, they practice radical self-love while also celebrating their feelings for one another.
I'll treasure this road trip and what it taught me for the rest of my life. Reigniting passion via the thrill of new locations can make all the difference in a brighter tomorrow. A big thank you to my Sisters: To Brittany for inviting me along this exciting journey, and to Nicole for opening up your home and taking us on some astounding hikes through Colorado. Yay, love!
Bad Taste presented by Mo Less & Handbag Productions has been a passion project that I've been working on with some of my closest friends and Hell in a Handbag Ensemble members for a few months. After two successful shows, Bad Taste was recently given the opportunity to become a monthly show at The Charnel House in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
Bad Taste brings Chicago's most outrageous and hilarious queer performers together for a revue of queer camp curiosities guaranteed (and proven) to make audiences HOWL! Our fearless leader is Chicago's own Burlesque genius, Mo Less. I've had the opportunity to create some innovative and bizarre performances for Bad Taste; collaborating with my friends and queer peers is a dream come true. Check out Bad Taste every 1st Wednesday of the month at The Charnel House and experience our queer freak show for yourself!
I was thrilled and humbled to receive the 2016 Chicago BroadwayWorld Award for Best Non-Equity Actor. The award was for my work in Skooby Don't written by David Cerda and presented by Hell in a Handbag Productions. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who supported both Handbag and myself in the voting. Joining the Hell in a Handbag ensemble has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I will forever be in awe of the company's genius. Handbag received other BroadwayWorld Awards including best costume and scenic design for Skooby Don't. The award for best special theatrical event went to Handbag for Bette: Live at the Continental Baths as well! Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!
I've been lucky enough to experience all kinds of queer theatre since moving to Chicago. After experimenting with drag, I was overjoyed to perform with Hell in a Handbag Productions on their feminist deconstruction and pure camp parody of Alfred Hitchcock's, 'The Birds'. The experience gave me new confidence in the potential, possibilities, and popularity of the kind of queer theatre that I had always dreamed of creating; homage based, campy performances, and a focus on irreverence. I had the time of my life working with the geniuses at Handbag!
After 'The Birds' I was cast in, 'The Glass Protege'. This script was being performed through the joint ventures of Giant Cherry and Glitterati Productions for the the show's US premiere. I had always wanted to be a part of a show involving gay relationships, censorship, and sexuality and I had landed in one that involved all three! I was also quite fortunate to collaborate with many fantastic artists, actors, and writers throughout the creative process.
'The Glass Protege' is all about the studio system in old Hollywood as well as the confining effect that morals clauses had on actors; particularly those who had alternative sexual preferences (Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter). The script, scandalous and intense, reflects the ideological and emotional fatigue of post war American society in the late 1940s. It was a time when the American film industry had the fervent need to assuage audiences from reminders of war and death by replacing morbid thoughts with dazzling imagery, musical spectacles, and romantic comedies. Highlighted in the writing however, is the story of struggle and control placed upon the actors whose job it became to lift up viewers with a sense of cinematic joy despite the inner turmoil those artists were facing as censored illusions.
The show opens February 26th at Theatre Wit here in Chicago! Ticket information below...Come check it out!
AND limited DISCOUNT tickets available at: