Friday, April 29, 2011


Cirque du Soleil or Royal Wedding?

Well I knew the ladies at the wedding were going to wear hats...but HOLY CRAP! Who knew the British ladies would be so whimsical. Seriously. Philip Treacy, the mad hatter himself, practically took over the entire wedding with his over-the-top and fabulous hats and fascinators. I've taken the liberty of renaming these tempting toppers.

The Great Blue Vagina
English socialite, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, wore one of my favorite hats of the day. Dressed in matching blue, her striking, blooming, blue vulva made me want to call a gynecologist. 

The No-Smiler
Softer and darker than the Great Blue Vagina, Victoria Bekham's whimsical black masterpiece contains a lining of botox preventing one from smiling...EVER. She does realize she is at Kate and William's wedding and not Di's funeral right?

The Wood Chipper
This hat part of the fascinator family shows what happens to lumberjacks when they get to close to the equipment.

The Ursula (or the What The Fuck)

Words cannot possibly describe Princess Beatrice's topper other than sea-witch meets fallopian tubes.

The Free H.B.O.

This hat is not only fashionable but provides you with complimentary cable service for a year. Showtime not included.

The U.F.O. - "Utterly Fantastically Original"

"Earth to Mars. Come in Mars." This fabulous creation is a throwback to 1950s futuristic. I love it!!!

And of personal favorite...
The Moose Knuckle

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together

The other day I had to explain to two 20 year olds who Carol Burnett was. Seriously. There I was at work watching my Carol Burnett Show dvds. Carol, Vicki Lawrence, special guest Ken Berry and the Ernie Flatt Dancers were performing a Ken and Mitzi Welch medly of madrigal songs mixed with "Fascinating Rhythm". Genius. As more and more young people came in to see what this strange number was, I almost lost it. 

"What is this crap?"  "This is stupid!"

I wanted to stand on the couch and scream, "Listen people! This TV show is an institution and taught many of us about singing, dancing and comedy! So watch and learn!"

But I held my tongue. I explained that Carol Burnett was a huge comedy star that had her own variety show on CBS from 1967 to 1978. I was met with the inevitable question, "What's a variety show?"

Just To Have A Laugh Or Sing A Song
I cannot begin to tell you how rage filled my body and how quickly my anger management skills took over. Has the variety show become such a fossil that young people don't even know what the genre means? When I was their age, I knew a lot of my musical theatre and television history and found myself feeling frustrated that these young performers weren't familiar with people who paved the way for them. As I tried to explain what variety shows of the 60s and 70s were, I felt my age. It became clear to me that I measured my life in Carol Burnett sketches and Ken and Mitzie Welch medlies.

I started reminiscing on how variety shows really shaped my life and taught me so much of what I know about performing today.
I think one of the reasons that variety shows were so influential on me was because...well let's face it...they were really gay!  They were the closest thing that I had to a Broadway show in my living room. Every week, new musical numbers and sketches would be transported across the airwaves to young gay children across America filled with sequins, sparkle and fantasy.

Seems We Just Get Started And Before You Know It
Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner were masters of sketch comedy. Each brought their unique gifts to the table each week and made it look so easy. Creating fluff is very hard work! It was always a treat to stay up on Saturday nights and see who Carol Burnett was going to be that week: Eunice, Mrs. Wiggins or any number of tragi-comic women that she was so good at embodying. Would Harvey Korman start cracking up at Tim Conway? I loved these people. And I studied them hard. They were my teachers and helped me understand what comedy was.

And then there were those incredible clothes that featured my favorite color--sparkly! Incredible (and often hilarious) costumes would be constructed each week for the amazing cast and fantastic dancers. And behind it all was the genius, Bob Mackie. He designed for many celebrities, but most notably Carol Burnett and Cher.

Years later I got to live out my fantasy of being in a variety show. Okay so it wasn't variety was more theme park at Marriott's (Later Six Flags) Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. But it felt like variety. And check out the fancy costumes. Not exactly Bob Mackie, but pretty swanky. I'm in the second row, fourth from the left.

Comes The Time We Have To Say...So Long

I have already sat shiva for the death of variety shows. America, with it's collective A.D.D. and hunger for reality television, would never accept a resurgence of sequins, songs, dances, sketches and other light entertainment. 

I miss my Carol, my Sonny and Cher, my Donny and Marie, and my Brady Bunch Variety Hour. (Okay maybe not so much the latter...but definitely the other 3.) The variety show is a valid form of television entertainment that is part of the tapestry of entertainment history. Young people (especially performers) should know about this part of history and how it affected American families on Saturday nights in the 70s. I really should teach a class in this-- Carol Burnett 101.
Gotta run and write a medly.

Monday, April 25, 2011



Don't get me wrong. I am proud of my Jewish heritage even though I may not practice Judaism as much as I did when I went to hebrew school. But when you are a kid watching your Christian friends whooping it up on Easter it's hard not to want to jump the goyish fence. 

Yesterday at work, we had our annual Easter egg hunt. It was a ridiculous amount of fun finding those little plastic treasures. What do we have as Jews? We get to go look for a single piece of dry matzah called the Afikomen at the Passover seder. 

It isn't even a challenge! Usually it's stuck underneath someone's plate. Big fucking deal! I think we can take a lesson in good hiding from our non-Jewish friends cause some of those eggs were hard to locate. One was even placed in someone's hair. Brilliant.

Judaism has a few other "consolation prize" holidays. Let's look at Purim and Halloween. Purim celebrates the Jews overcoming a plot by wicked royal vizier Haman (sort of the Jafar of his time) to destroy the Jews. 

During this holiday, we are encouraged to dress up in costumes depicting this tale. Sound familiar? Yes! It's Jewish Halloween! But instead of going trick or's a way to get us to go to temple where they serve us crappy prune danish. Sneaky. Very sneaky.

And of course the mother load of all holidays...Christmas. Now sure, we Jews love to brag that we have eight days of Hannukah while the Christians have one day of Christmas. But I seriously don't know any Jew who gets eight presents. In my family we would celebrate Christmas and justify it by changing out the props. 

For example, on Christmas Eve when most Christian children around the world would "hang their stockings by the chimney with care", the Sumner children would put a tube sock on the dining room table. In the morning, instead of being filled with candies, cookies, toys and treats, our tube socks would be stuffed with an orange. That's it! Like Santa went to the fucking farmer's market in an effort to get us to eat healthier on Christmas.

And of course there was the absence of a Christmas tree. I remember how controversial it was when my Aunt bought a live tree and decorated it with bit red bows. Shocking! But still, we didn't have a Christmas tree. Instead we would decorate the hideous, plastic weeping willow in our living room with paper decorations. 

Because if we bought a tree, or at least ornaments like most people did, that would be a sign that we are praising Jesus. So out of spite, I would write little notes to Jesus on the paper ornaments and hang them on the plastic leaves. "Dear Jesus...please get me a chemistry set."

It worked. I got a chemistry set and nearly set the house on fire.

And more thing about Easter and Passover. We get holiday pay on Easter. You think we Jews would be able to negotiate this for our own holidays. 

And ham! I fucking LOVE HAM! 

There! I said it. Now I am going to take my candy-filled eggs and give them away since I am on Weight Watchers. There is no justice!

Saturday, April 23, 2011



Yesterday I saw the film "Water for Elephants". It's based on one of my favorite books and is the story of a young man who finds himself on a circus train in 1939 during the Depression. It made me think about being a kid and going to the circus. But it also made me nostalgic for another place that my parents would take me to.

When I was a child growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, before mega amusement parks took over the world, there was a magical place in the Chicago area named Kiddieland.
Kiddieland actually opened 10 years before the setting for "Water for Elephants"-- way before Disneyland, Six Flags and other enormous parks. Opening in 1929, this tiny amusement park in Melrose Park, Illinois started with pony rides as an escape for families to get away from the peril of the Great Depression. In 1940, two of my favorite rides were added: The Roto Whip and The Ferris Wheel. The latter featured little cages with rippled plastic rooftops making it seem like it was a tiny rotating jail.

The rides at Kiddieland were operated by "Carnie-folk" or bored teenagers whom today you wouldn't trust around your children. 

And 90% of the rides went in a circle--either on the ground, in water, or in the air.

I also loved riding the train, that went through what seemed like a very dark tunnel...

and I loved the cars that I could drive myself.
The Little Dipper Roller Coaster was way too scary for me but was really the "E" ticket at Kiddieland. The unique thing about this ride was that it utilized manual braking levers. So if the ride operator fell asleep, you just kept going around and around.
On several birthdays, the Kiddieland Fire Department would pick up me and my friends and cart us off to Kiddieland in their big red fire truck.
Kiddieland closed and was demolished in 2009.

and a Costco now stands where many memories were created. 

The days of the small amusement park with manually operated rides are gone and have been replaced by computer-run, behemoth ride complexes and resorts. Sure you will see an occasional traveling carnival set up in an empty lot here or there. But nothing can replicate the joy so many kids received riding the simple but fun-filled rides at this Chicago institution.

R.I.P. Kiddieland.

Friday, April 22, 2011



No doubt, there have been prominent gay people throughout history. And nowadays there are gay actors, characters and images all over TV. But when I was a kid, there were no real gay people on TV. And if there were, I didn't know it. Sure Paul Lynde would be giving the nation clues through his clever, hilarious answers on Hollywood Squares. But as a young child, I was watching PBS shows like Sesame Street, The Electric Company and the place where I encountered my first lesbian--Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.


Lady Elaine Fairchilde was a feisty, lonely museum curator who always had outstretched arms...but not for hugging. She lived and worked alone in a spinning building called a Museum-Go-Round. 

And she always seemed angry and constantly at odds with King Friday.
It was always clear to me that Lady Elaine could kick some King Friday ass if she wanted to. I mean lets face it, King Friday was a pansy and married to the frigid Queen Sarah, so this was a classic example of "pussy-whipping".

But Lady Elaine was a husky woman compared to some of her frail, brittle boned puppet counterparts and didn't take shit from anyone. She was not afraid to speak her mind and was a classic alcoholic. You would drink too if you spent your life alone in a spinning Museum-Go- Round. And how else would you explain the Rosacea? 


1. Lady Elaine Fairchilde took over the Museum-Go-Round after a family of frogs moved out and was good at manipulating real estate deals. Not that this is a classic lesbian trait, but I am convinced she used her dykey-wiles to intimidate the frogs so they would move out.

2. She would demonstrate super human strength by physically moving her Museum-Go-Round to different parts of the Land of Make Believe.

3. She had a magic device called her Boomerang-Toomerang-Zoomerang which not only was employed to make mischief for King Friday, but also served as her vibrator.

4. She frequently played accordion, a classic lesbian instrument.

5. Clearly not a lipstick lesbian, she chose fabrics resembling brown burlap.

6. Now here is the conundrum--Lady Elaine Fairchilde had a huge affinity for roosters (cocks) and loved astronomy and rocket ships. Hmm. Phalluses all around. Were these clues that maybe she was actually just a confused straight woman experimenting and going on vacation to the Dinah Shore Classic? Or was she having Lady Betty Aberlin over for late-night Boomerang-Toomerang-Zoomerang sessions in her Museum-Go-Round?


Perhaps Lady Elaine was influential on my extensive history of lesbian employers. I have worked several jobs where my boss could easily have been a Lady Elaine Fairchilde. And believe me...they were tough. The were on me like white on rice. But they helped instill in me a good work ethic and gave me backbone. Perhaps I was the pussy-whipped King Friday to their Lady Elaine. But THIS King Friday was boning Daniel Tiger. So there!


Today, I have many lesbian friends. Had it not been for Lady Elaine Fairchilde I might not have ever know what a lesbian was. So I salute you Lady Elaine and your delightful spinning house of muff-diving curiosities. I hope you are sober and that your rosacea has cleared up. You inspire me to fix my car. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011



Something disturbing happened yesterday. On my way home from work, my car suddenly filled up with a foul odor. I became alarmed because I recently started eating Activia yogurt as part of my Weight Watchers regime and thought maybe I had...well you know. I had heard from friends (and Jamie Lee Curtis) that Activia was very effective. But I really didn't feel like I had, had an accident. And yet I wasn't so sure. I started asking myself, "Have I gotten to an age where I can't even feel what is happening to me?" I think I know my body pretty well, and that would be highly uncharacteristic of me. But my curiosity and frustration with wanting to locate the source of this odor had gotten to be a bit of an obsession. So as I was driving, I got up the courage to touch the seat below me to see if I was going to need to pull off to the nearest rest room or, God forbid, have to go to a car detailer.  Everything seemed normal. And yet the smell was getting worse. 

"Oh God! What is happening to me?", I said out loud. "Am I having smelling hallucinations?"

So while going 70 mph on the 5 freeway, with one hand on the wheel, I stuck my other hand down my pants and did a little exploration to see if there was anything to be concerned about. Oprah said we shouldn't text while driving, but she didn't say anything about this. After a quick examination, I discovered that things seemed fine.

I rolled down the window to air out the car and the smell kept getting worse. Perhaps I was driving by a farm where a farmer had put down fresh manure. Nope. So I started looking around my car to see if maybe somebody broke in and relieved themselves while I was doing shows today. I mean, there are some eccentric people who work at Disneyland, but I doubt somebody would take the time to break into my car, take a dump and leave. And surely security would have seen them. If they make an arrest, what are the charges? Poopacide? But there was nothing I could see. 

I checked my shoes to see if I had stepped in something horrible. Still nothing. So my attention turned back to my underpants and I did a second check. (I'm not joking.) Because if it wasn't me, where the hell was this smell coming from? I'm only 46 for Chrissake! Am I at an age where I am losing control of my faculties?

In the middle of this frenzy, the truck in front of me stepped on it's brakes and I did the same. It was only after I came to a stop on the 5 Freeway, with my hands in my pants after a third dive, that I realized I had been following a truck transporting... horses. Turns out I was smelling horse poop the whole time. Traffic started moving again and I felt relieved that I wasn't losing my mind.

I felt like an utter fool! I can't believe I let my mind spiral like that and it struck me funny. So I started laughing in my car. I laughed so hard that I didn't see the horse trailer make a sudden stop. I slammed on my breaks and it was then it happened. I sharted.

Not really. But it would have made a great end to the story.

Anyhoo...I really do like Activia.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



If you didn't blink, you might have seen me in the promos for this season of "Dancing With the Stars". I was hired to play the "assistant director" and help create the illusion that the stars were being rushed to the stage during the live show. Don't bother to try and find them cause they are not airing anymore. But I did have lines and scenes with several of the celebrities and professional dancers. So in a way, I have a connection to this year's cast since I got to know some of them at the shoot. So now that the season is half over, here are a few thoughts on the remaining cast.


Of all of the "stars" from this season, I think one of my favorites is Kirstie Alley. On the shoot, Kirstie was very friendly and just made me want to hang out with her. I was a little intimidated at first when Kirstie was standing a foot away from my face, but after we started chatting between takes, she put me at ease. She is also very professional and seemed a bit terrified about what she was getting herself into. Maks is simply...delicious! He exudes nothing but sex and was hitting on one of the extras. On TV he appears much taller and thicker than he really is. That's because all of the other professional male dancers are very lithe. But what you see on TV with him is what you get. It's all about Maks. I tried to engage Maks several times. He was friendly, but I could tell he really was more interested in the extra. So I went over to her, slapped her and said, "Lay off my man, bitch!" Kidding. But Maks is definitely eye candy.


I have to say, I loved Chris Jericho! A very nice, warm guy who was ridiculously excited to be doing DWTS. Again, he is much more compact in real life than the way he appears on TV and I was surprised that since he was a wrestler that he wasn't taller. All right! I admit it! I have a little crush on him. And he looked amazing in his tight ballroom slacks. Cheryl Burke looked amazing at the shoot although she seemed a bit over all the hoopla. I told her she was one of my favorite dancers on the show and she seemed genuinely grateful. I couldn't get a read on whether or not Cheryl really liked Chris's exuberance, since Chris is really touchy, feely, kissy. But they certainly are amazing on the show.


Definitely a fish out of water. Kendra was nervous at the shoot and kept needing coaching saying, "I'm NOT an actress!" She seemed like one of these people that if she is mildly uncomfortable with something, she just wants to say "fuck it" and walk away. I actually got to put her at ease a bit since I had a scene with her where I am holding up a bra and she yells, "That's too big. It's going to cover up everything!" But despite her nervousness, she was very nice, warmed up during the shoot, did great and looked amazing! Louis, the only openly gay male dancer (go figure) kept to himself and didn't say a word to me. 


I freakin LOVE Ralph Macchio! In the promos, I was playing a photographer and kept shouting out, "Hey Ralph...wax on, wax off!" It ultimately didn't make the cut and Karina actually wound up saying, "Wax on, wax off!" Despite the fact that she stole my line, I really love the two of them together. Ralph was very excited to be there and was extremely approachable. He was making jokes about his age and saying things like, "I hope I can keep up with Karina". The fact is, he looks incredible in person. And Karina is a doll. Loved her.


Romeo seemed like a nice guy at the shoot. I didn't really have that much contact with him except for a camera cross or two. But the thing I noticed about him was his tight body. No body fat at all. And Chelsie seemed nice enough, although again, not much contact.


This was the one celebrity couple that I didn't work with at all. I was not needed in their scene and didn't even get to see them. Which sucks...cause I think Chelsea is doing great and I got me some serious Mark Ballas fever! Grrrrr!


Again, not much contact with these two. But was amused watching Hines at the ballet bar and Kym trying to teach him basic ballet moves. He seemed like a great guy and Kym's body is ROCKIN!


So for the ones who were voted off, I am just providing some short answers as to my impressions of them at the promo shoot.


Mike- An adolescent. Reminded me of guys in a fraternity.
Lacey - Fun party girl, who loves to swear.


Petra - Stunningly, and I mean traffic stopping, beautiful and so, so sweet!
Dimitri - Tall and handsome. Boyish charm and very engaging.


Sugar Ray - Youthful and excited. I had a scene with Sugar Ray where I surprised him by jumping into his shot at said, "45 seconds Sugar Ray". It threw him cause he thought I was a real "assistant director". Kudos to my acting teachers.
Anna - Delightful. Love, love, love her. Chatted with her for a bit and she's a great girl, not to mention incredibly beautiful with that flaming red hair.


Wendy - Big girl, big personality and packed into her dress. Was very nice to work with.
Tony - Like Maks...loves the ladies and was coming on to female extras.


Although not all of them qualify to be "stars", they are a very nice group of people. And as I watch each week, I find myself emotionally invested since I worked with many of them. I really should see if I can attend a live taping. But unfortunately, that wasn't in my contract. 

Gotta go practice my Pasodoble!