Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Central than Christopher Street

From Headrack to Claude

I do not remember not knowing Howard Cruse. He has always seemed more central to queer life in NYC than Christopher Street. His art work personifies the gay world from the joyous high of Stonewall to the lower depths of Log Cabin Republicans. Since the very beginning of TOSOS back in 1974, Howard has been our main and most generous supporter, contributing his amazing talent to countless productions, including title graphics for all but three of my major plays. ( He has just published a new collection of some of his greatest cartoon strips. I asked David Stern, Webmaster for TOSOS, and a huge fan of Howard’s, to review From Headrack to Claude for my blog site:

David Stern:

I came out over the first collection of Howard Cruse’s Wendel.

It belonged to Yolanda, my oldest friend and one-time girlfriend. I was visiting her in Boston in 1987, the summer after I came out as bisexual at college with the requisite awkward preliminary adventures. I was devouring this book of hers that had caught my eye, a wonderful book of comics whose characters were somehow more real -- no, more possible for me-- than any other gay representation I’d seen before. I hadn’t known how hungry I’d been for a picture of a real gay life—how much I’d been trying to find some sense of who I could be, surrounded as we all were by the old jokes and the new plague. I marked my place in the book without thinking, looked up at Yolanda, and blurted out, “you know, I think I’m actually gay.”

She said, “I know.”

I’ve read a lot more of Howard Cruse’s work since then, and I could say a lot of amateurish things about how much I admire his technique, how the whole space is used but the page never seems crowded. (Could he help me with my apartment?) Nothing is “just background” in his world, not the panels, not the speech balloons. Thoughts become solid; cartoonish characters become startlingly three-dimensional …you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

But what’s stuck with me about his work is what I saw that first time—it’s that he gets our lives right. He gets to what’s important, what we have in common, what we’ve been through in one moment of history or another, however different our stories are. When he’s outraged, he always shows the real and vulnerable minds who feel the outrage. It’s what his work and Doric’s share, an allergy to characters who are just talking points in disguise. Even in a work as emotionally and politically wrenching as Stuck Rubber Baby, Cruse never lets his characters become less than humans you could know, and probably do.

From Headrack to Claude is the latest collection of Cruse’s work, and it’s a wonderful set of mostly self-contained works originally published in anthologies of gay comics, from 1972’s “Gravy on Gay” to his most recent, “My Hypnotist” and “Then There Was Claude.” Some were old friends to me; others, like “Penceworth” and “The Woeful World of Winnie and Walt” were great stylistic surprises and intensely funny and disturbing.

Cruse gives some background for each of the pieces, and his introduction tells his artistic coming-out story, starting with his forbears, and sampling his earliest approaches to gay subjects. Nice to read from the artist who nudged me out.

To purchase From Headrack to Claude:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Honor of Loraine Larson

2009 ATHE Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award

August 10th, I received the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award. I shared the honor with Judith Malina, the founder of the Living Theater.

Robert Schanke’s introduction:.

Marshall Mason calls him “a pioneer of the alternative theater movement.” Craig Lucas remarks that “Wilson has devoted his life to the once-radical notion that gay lives deserved true representation.” Bud Coleman: “This trailblazer literally changed the trajectory of American Theatre.” Sameer Thakur in India writes "We chose to bring [Doric Wilson’s A Perfect Relationship] to the Indian stage [in 2009] because it is relevant in the context of a litigation at the Delhi high court." The production had an impact. On July 2, New Delhi’s highest court decriminalized homosexuality. I am thrilled to present this award to Doric Wilson for his career achievement in professional theatre.

My acceptance speech:

In Minnesota in the early years of the last century, a young woman named Loraine Larson, enrolled in a University Law School. The dean of the school informed her that no woman would ever graduate from HIS school with a law degree. Four years later after graduating with top honors, she walked back into the dean’s office, tossed her degree on his desk, and walked out. She never did practice law.

In the 1940s in Eastern Washington Miss Larson was stranded by the Chautauqua unit she was performing with - she specialized in Scandinavian monologues. The town she ended up in was a small wheat town called Kennewick. She got a job in the local high school teaching English and Speech and directing the school plays.

My earliest years were spent about thirty miles away from Kennewick on my grandfather’s ranch in the Columbia River Basin. My first theater ventures took place in the barn on the ranch where I staged my younger cousins in plays based mainly on two books I had read. King Arthur and a book about the Vikings. Lots of sword action. I also costumed the productions. I also made and sold the tickets. A penny each. You could almost say I was born for off-off-Broadway.

At the end of World War II, I moved into Kennewick to live with my mother. My father had died in the war. I really didn’t play with the other neighborhood kids so much as organize them into performances and pageants. One Saturday afternoon when my radio programs were over, I was turning the dial and I stumbled upon this strange, wonderful, extremely dramatic singing. And in that instant I became - to avoid the common more derogatory term - an opera enthusiast of regal personage. I even built a model of the Met stage in our garage. I think I learned dramaturgy from Milton Cross.

By 16 I attached myself to the Richland Players, a local amateur theater. I was busy building sets, making costumes, and acting. I was a bad actor. Tall and not necessarily bad looking, and eager, and orange-red haired, but bad. Although near the end of my acting career I did play Valère in Moliere’s Tartuffe opposite the Mariane of Dawn Wells later of “Gilligan’s Island” fame.

I started high school and signed up for the debate team and met Miss Larson. And she did what most of you do, she proceeded to teach me everything I would ever need to know about theater. After High School, she got me into the Drama Department of University of Washington during the last days of Glen Hughes.

I was hardly there a month before there was a bit of a fracas over my one-person demonstration protesting the shootings of gays in a near-by park. (this was 1958) The U was not happy with my political action (the stench of the McCarthy era still lingered) so we agreed I should leave after one semester. It was Miss Larson who convinced my Mom that it would be best for all concerned for me to move to New York City as fast as I could pack.

Had I not been forceably removed from academia, I would not have been in this city the night an actress took me down to a coffee house in the Village to introduce me to Joe Cino. I offered him my play, he politely turned it away, handed me my first cappuccino and asked me my astrological sign. He then gave me a date for the opening night of And He Made a Her. He wouldn’t read the script. My Cino success introduced me to the great producer Richard Barr who in turn introduced me to “uptown” theater. But the more I was around “show biz,” the more I realized it probably was not for me.

Walking along Christopher Street one night I suddenly found myself in the middle of yet another fracas - this one in front of the Stonewall Inn - and the rest, as they say, is the main reason that each year in the last weekend in June many residents of the Village desert this city. I was involved with Circle Rep at the time when it suddenly occurred to me that I could use the Cino experience to combine my talents with my politics. I could focus my life and abilities to promote a theatre dedicated “to an honest and open exploration of the GLBT life experience and cultural sensibility.” (I really do prefer the term Queer) TOSOS - The Other Side of Silence was born. And because of Mark Finley and Barry Childs and a long list of playwrights and actors and directors, TOSOS is now going stronger than ever.

People are forever asking me - rather smugly if not snidely - why there even is a need for gay theater any longer. And I suppose in a way they are right. I mean just think back over this last season on Broadway. All those wonderful lesbian plays. And all the positive depictions of transsexuals. Seems to me there are still a lot of untold stories out there and someone has to make a space for them to be heard.

In the meantime, my least political play, A Perfect Relationship, is a HUGE hit in India where it is being used to promote gay liberation. And Street Theater, my play about Stonewall, is more or less constantly in production somewhere - next month it opens in Wichita almost under the nose of the good Reverend Phelps. Street Theater is also beginning to make inroads into in the collage and university circuit with a very successful recent production at Oregon State University at Corvallis.

And all of this, because Loraine Larson decided not to practice law. And all of this because of all you sitting in this room who also try to teach all you know to someone like me.

It was suggested that we not thank people in our speeches today. I intend to slightly ignore that suggestion. This award belongs to you, all the Larry and Loraines here and everywhere AND I thank you for making me who and what I am.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It’s a Hit

Top: Elizabeth Whitney; L to R: Katherine Williams, Jacqueline Sydney & Birgit Darby. Photo: Kelly Campbell

The TOSOS production of Meryl Cohn’s And Sophie Comes Too in the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival sold out all of it’s performances and have been invited to be part of the Fringe Encore series in September. Directed by Mark Finley with Birgit Darby, Lué McWilliams, Karen Stanion, Jacqueline Sydney, Susan Barnes Walker, Elizabeth Whitney and Katherine Williams in the cast, the play was already a hit even before it opened.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Well-observed and Wise

Seth Numrich (left) and MacLeod Andrews in Slipping

I had intended to post a rave about Daniel Talbott’s Slipping but Erik Haagensen’s review in Back Stage says exactly what I would have said and says it a lot better that I would have:

Plays about dysfunctional families, abusive relationships, or gay youths dealing with their emerging sexuality are rampant, not to mention all those indie films and TV dramas. How do you reinvent such subject matter? Well, in the words of Stephen Sondheim, "Anything you do/Let it come from you/Then it will be new." And that is exactly what Daniel Talbott has done in the well-observed and wise "Slipping."

Set in a suburb of Des Moines in 2006 and also earlier in San Francisco, "Slipping" slips nimbly back and forth in time to follow the emotional trajectory of 17-year-old Eli, who is experiencing a critical mass of psychological damage. The boy's problems include the recent suicide of his beloved father; a troubled, distant relationship with his workaholic mother; a forced relocation from hip Frisco to the vast, unwashed Midwest; an abusive first-time Frisco affair with a closeted, self-hating jock; and a possible Iowa duplication of that affair with another closeted jock. The smart but sensitive Eli can't handle it all and copes by emotional shutdown, turning everything inward at great risk to himself.

None of this is new, yet all of it is compelling due to the specificity of character and emotional complexity of Talbott's script. The bifurcated structure helps enormously; we are only given pieces of the puzzle and must work to put them together. What is particularly gratifying is that when that puzzle fills in, it doesn't feel in any way pat or reductive, just true.

Kirsten Kelly's sharply focused direction guides us confidently, and she even manages to make a virtue out of a debit. "Slipping" is a bit hemmed in by the tiny Rattlestick space; it needs the ability to move away from Eli's suburban bedroom, however nicely realized by designer Lauren Helpern. With no place for that bed and room to go, Kelly is forced to rely on her actors to move set pieces to ch ange locales. They do this resolutely in character, so much so that the scene changes actually tell us more about them, keeping the action hurtling forward when it all too easily could have halted.

The four-person cast is ideal. Adam Driver is scary and heartbreaking as the Frisco jock, who will eventually marry and create his own damaged family. MacLeod Andrews makes the Iowa athlete's journey of self-discovery authentic and surprising. Meg Gibson excels at registering Eli's mother's confusion at her conflicting feelings regarding her son. Best of all is Seth Numrich's troubled teenager. Numrich's emotional transparency provides us intimate access to Eli, and he also convincingly captures the boy's restless physicality. Finally, his subtle differentiation between the 15-year-old and the 17-year-old is extremely effective.

One of the hallmarks of this production is its pitch-perfect use of pop music to underline and reinforce character. Talbott's stage directions specify many of these choices, and Kelly orchestrates them beautifully. They make a great team. All I can say is, "Give us more to see."

Presented by Piece by Piece Productions and Rising Phoenix Repertor y in association with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, NYC. Aug. 4–15. Mon.–Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 5 and 9 p.m. (No performance Wed., Aug. 5; first performance Sat., Aug. 15, at 6 p.m.) (212)
868-4444 or

Erik Haagensen’s review online:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The “Snap” Heard Round the World!

Sronewall - Larry Morris - 1969

Historian David Carter, author of Stonewall
will discuss myths and facts pertaining to the the Stonewall Riots.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 6:00 p.m., Berger Forum
The New York Public Library - Fifth Ave at 42nd Street

The Emergence of Gay Liberation in New York City
Explored in Exhibition at The New York Public Library
1969: The Year of Gay Liberation
on view June 1, 2009 – June 30, 2009

The exhibition features original photographs, pamphlets, police reports, newspapers, and letters. Included are materials relating to activist groups formed between 1969-1970 such as Gay Liberation Front, the Radicalesbians, Gay Activists Alliance, and Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries. Other materials that can be found in the exhibition include a letter to Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller by Jim Owles, President of the Gay Activists Alliance, asking to meet to discuss gay rights. Many of the photographs featured were taken by activist Diana Davies who captures events such as a march by the Gay Liberation Front in Times Square and protests by gay NYU students for equal rights. The exhibition shows that while each activist group fought for gay rights differently, with some more radical than others, they all shared the unified goal of equal treatment in society.

The LGBT collections at The New York Public Library are among the largest and most thorough in the country. The collections include the archives of pioneering LGBT activists, such as Morty Manford, and Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen; the papers of scholars, such as Martin B. Duberman, Jonathan Ned Katz, and Karla Jay; organizational archives of pivotal civil rights groups, such as the Mattachine Society of New York and Gay Activists Alliance; and the papers of LGBT writers, such as W.H. Auden, Virginia Woolf, and Joseph Beam. The Library’s collections also include major archives in the history of the AIDS crisis, extensive holdings in the history of LGBT theater, and the Black Gay and Lesbian Archive.

1969: The Year of Gay Liberation will be on view from June 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009 in the Stokes Gallery (third floor) at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. An accompanying online version of the exhibition will be launching in June. There will also be a traveling panel exhibition throughout the branches. Exhibition hours are Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Admission is free. For more information, call 917-ASK-NYPL or, for more information about the Library's LGBT collections and resources,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Ghost in the Room

Jack Logan’s poster - TOSOS - 1974

Robert Patrick is high on my list of favorite playwrights. He arrived at the Caffe Cino just I was leaving and it wasn’t until November of 1974 when TOSOS, as it’s second production, presented The Haunted Host, that I met his wonderful, wicked and wise plays. Peter del Valle directed, and Joe Pichette, the Olivier of off-off Broadway, was Jay, the host. Joe had played Frank, the guest, in various productions before, and he was determined to have his way with Jay. His performance indeed haunts me to this day. William M. Hoffman, the playwright, (way back when he was pretty and blond) was the first Frank. The TOSOS Frank was Jeff Morehead (also pretty and blond).

The Haunted Host premiered at the Caffe Cino in 1964. Along with my Now She Dances! (1961), Lanford Wilson’s The Madness of Lady Bright (1964), and Robert Bob Heide’s The Bed (1965), these plays heralded the beginning of a new theatre liberated from self-hate and self-destruction. Modern Queer Theatre had been born. The prevailing stereotypical characters which had amounted to little more than nasty nelly jokes were about to become real people who had to be reckoned with. As was made abundantly clear a few years later at Stonewall

(visit Robert Patrick's Cino pages - link at the right)

Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwright Project
Kathleen Warnock, director
6:30 - Saturday, June 20, 2009
in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall
Christopher Borg (Penny Penniworth)
& Jesse May (Pig Tale)
in a reading of
Robert Patrick’s historic comedy
The Haunted Host
directed by Mark Finley
admission free - ART/NY - The Mitchell Room, 3rd floor
520 Eighth Avenue (between West 37th & 36th)
Please reserve by email: or calling 212 563-2218

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Freedom of Speech

complements of Robert Patrick

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe

"I talk to my plants"

Tri-City Herald
May 24, 2009

Tri-City native has play making waves in India
by Dori O'Neal

Tri-City native Doric Wilson found his writing niche in New York City a half-century ago.

Though his playwriting has been well received on off-off-Broadway for many years, one of his plays is packing a punch half a world away.

A Perfect Relationship is having a stirring effect on the human rights movement in New Delhi, India, where the production opened about a year ago.

The play focuses on the gay lifestyle, which presents a problem in India. Archaic Indian penal code makes it a crime to engage in homosexual activity, explained the play's director, Sameer Thakur, in an e-mail to the Herald this week.

"We chose to bring this play to the Indian stage, especially at this time, because it is relevant in the context of a litigation at the Delhi high court against section 377 of the Indian penal code," he said.

In addition, the gay rights movement in India has picked up momentum over the last few years, he added.

"We had our first gay pride in Delhi last year and the second one is scheduled for June 29," Thakur said. "There have been other plays and even Bollywood films with gay characters in them. However, most portrayals of gay persons have been stereotyped, comic roles that the audience has always laughed at rather than Mr. Wilson's play that provided us with the opportunity to portray people with whom urban, educated audiences in Delhi could identify with."

Wilson is thrilled his play has found a new audience in India.

"It is humbling to realize that a 10-year-old kid who organized his first plays with his cousins in a barn on his grandfather's Plymouth ranch 60 years later would have a script that is actually affecting human rights in a country halfway around the planet," Wilson told the Herald on Thursday.

Wilson couldn't resist making this humorous comparison: "Makes me sort of a Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe."

Wilson has become a staple in New York City theater, having several of his plays performed in the off-off-Broadway district. He's also the co-founder of the theater group The Other Side of Silence, known more commonly as TOSOS.

He was honored last year by New York's theater community with the 2007 Innovative Theater Award for Artistic Achievement.

Wilson said A Perfect Relationship is one of his least political plays.

"It's about relationships," he said. "But it seems relationships between same genders turns out to be the most political of all! How empty people's lives must be for them to waste so much of their time on this planet hating other people.

"I know my mom and my old Kennewick High teacher, Miss Larson (who was the inspiration behind Wilson's writing career), would be proud," Wilson said.

Thakur couldn't be happier with the success of Wilson's play and it's impact on Indian theatergoers.

"The audiences come away with having enjoyed a comedy in which the characters happen to be gay," Thakur said.

The largely heterosexual audiences don't appear to feel disconnected to the play's characters despite their lifestyle differences, he added.

Most importantly, the director and Wilson are hoping to hear good news in the near future from India's high court regarding the outdated penal code.

"We are hoping to hear a favorable verdict from the high court to abolish the old law," Thakur said. "In the meantime, the theater is full, and the audiences are roaring for more. For us it's a personal satisfaction of speaking our minds in the best way we can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It seems unreal that Stonewall was forty years ago.  Sometimes it seems like it’s been 100 years, sometimes only last week.  I wonder if I will be around for the fiftieth anniversary.  My remaining days seem to be numbered like the grains of sand in a goldfish bowl.

For the past few months I have been interviewed by everyone from a straight clueless kid from the BBC to a very smart and prepared Ronnie (“Make Me a Supermodel”) Kroell for his new “Straight Talk” program.  I’ve been filmed for a documentary on Stonewall being prepared for “The American Experience” with a planned airing on PBS in April 2010, and featured in a David Carter article in the June/July issue of The Advocate with a great photo by Shen Wei (see the post for April 10th below).  “In the Life” is even presenting a dialogue between literary giant Edmund White and me this August on PBS.  (And you thought the Museum of Natural History had a lock on the dinosaur market!)

And the more I get interviewed, the less I know where we are at.  A few years back I lost all hope for the future of the two movements I more or less dedicated my life to, alternative theater and the queer community. Both were reeling from burnout and AIDS and the intramural sniping of political correctness.  But suddenly I started meeting theater people like Mark Finley and Barry Childs and Kathleen Warnock and Chris Weikel and Shay Gines and Jonathan Reuning and Frank Kuzler and Jamie Heinlein and Mark Waren and Christopher Borg and the list goes on and on.  And I know there is indeed a new generation more than willing and able to grab the torch and carry it high.  With people like Ronnie Kroell, writer Kirk Reed (How I Learned to Snap), photographer Shen Wei, the same seems to be happening for the GLBT family.

I also discovered something important about Stonewall.  For years I have heard people describe the event as angry and I suppose in a way it was.  But that was not the main emotion I remember experiencing that night.  I could never seem to find the right words.  While filming the “American Experience” documentary it suddenly came clear to me.  The first reaction that night was shock and then awe that we were coming out of the “twilight” and actually standing up to authority—fighting back.  And what followed was a giddy and joyous glee.  And somehow we knew nothing would ever be quite the same again.

Modern gay theater has an earlier natal day.  Playwright Robert Patrick dates it to the Caffe Cino in 1961 and my play on the trial of Oscar Wilde, Now She Dances!  This was quickly followed by wonderful plays by Lanford Wilson (The Madness of Lady Bright) and David Starkweather (The Straights of Magellan) and Robert Heide (The Bed) and William M. Hoffman (Good Night, I Love You)  and Robert Patrick (The Haunted Host) This list also goes on and on.

This June I have three plays in production and an appearance pending (details below):

June 5 thru 28 - Fri & Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm

Arch Brown is a true GLBT cultural hero.  As film maker, playwright, producer, and director he has spent almost as many years promoting gay theater as I have.

Doric Wilson’s
Forever After

Presented by The Arch & Bruce Brown Foundation, Arch Brown, producer, directed by Jim Strait, with Kyle Bradford, Terry Huber, Philip Sebastian Petrie and Tedd Zzenia on a double bill with Robert Askins’s Clean Living.  The Thorny Theater, 2500 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA. Tickets: $18, reservations: (760) 325-0853.

October 8 thru 10 - Thur, Fri & Sat at 8 pm

What a nice gift for Rev. Phelps.  A new gay theater right there in his own back yard.  I can hardly wait till he meets Boom Boom and Ceil!  The production has been moved to October to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

Doric Wilson’s
Street Theater

Presented by Stonewall Players of Wichita; Travis M. Hooper, producer, directed by Dale Jones, with Doug Clark, Sean Clark, Justin France, Travis M. Hooper, Terri Ingram, Randy Irvin, Garrett Jeter, Dale Jones, Zach Lattimore, Vivianno Leggaretto, Rebecca Sibolic, Phil Speary & Micheal Tribue.  Metropolitan Community Church, 156 North Kansas, Wichita Kansas. For information call (316) 992-7025 or email @   Tickets: $12 ($10.00 for groups of 10 or more), reservations 316-992-7025.  All proceeds to be donated to Positive Directions Inc.

June 18-July 10, 2009 - Thur & Fri at 8 pm

Ever since AK Miller read A Perfect Relationship more than ten years ago, he has tried to get a production of the play going in Chicago. He wanted the role of Barry, time passed and he has aged—like a very fine wine—into the lead role of Ward. He should be amazing in the part. If you live near Chicago, I am planning to attend the performces of June 25th and 26th, stop by and say hello.

Doric Wilson’s
A Perfect Relationship
Presented by The People's Theater of Chicago with MidTangent Productions, directed by Tony Lewis, with Thad Anzur (Greg), Andrew Kain Miller (Ward), Alex Polcyn (Barry), Partirick Serraro (Hank/Tom/Richard) and Bonnie Varner (Muriel). The Leather Archives Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Avenue, Chicago. Tickets: $10 available at the door.

A Perfect Relationship

continues to be somewhat of a huge hit in New Delhi. It seems to be one of the first “gay plays” to be presented in India. The production travels around to different locations in the city playing mainly to straights. To be out gay risks a ten year prison sentence. (See below)

I just received an email from Sameer Thakur about an upcoming perfroamce: “This is for the benefit of students who come to the American Center library. Around 300 young people will get to see the play. It is part of our campaign against Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a draconian law that makes any sexual act against the order of nature liable for imprisonment up to 10 years. We want sexual rights to be in the order of fundamental human rights. Just the fact that we are being invited by the American embassy is a big deal here."

Talk about a Stonewall + 40 moment! They wanted to bring me over, but I declined. I suspect India has a plethora of sacred white elephants. They certainly don’t need another.

A Perfect Relationship is being presented by Cathaayatra & the American Center, New Delhi on Friday & Saturday, June 12 & 13 at 6:30 pm at the American Center, 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001. Entry by invite available from 1st June 2009). Directed and designed by Sameer Thakur, with the following cast, Sukhesh Arora, Ajay Govind, Shiv Narayanan, Arushi Singh & Ranjan Sundaram.

contact Sameer Thakur at

Francine Trevens, another true GLBT cultural hero, also can give Job a run for his money when it comes to patience. She has survived me in full infantile rage with nothing but a smile on her face. She should have stuffed me in a burlap bag and tossed me into the Hudson. There is a long list of people who would have applauded!

including a scene from Street Theater
6 PM on June 18, Thursday

The art, passion, and soul of the GLBT Movement, in literature and performance, from books by members of The Greater New York Independent Publishers Association, directed by Francine L. Trevens, produced by Perry Brass, with Rhonda Ayers, Norman Beim, Perry Brass, Robert W. Cabell, John Finch, Steven Hauck, Fred Milani, Jeanne Pearson, Alyssa Robbins, Francine L. Trevens, Kay Williams, and special guest, Doric Wilson. Barnes and Noble Bookstore Lincoln Triangle, 1972 Broadway, NYC (212) 595 6859. Free, first come first seated.

For the best history of Stonewall, read
David Carter’s Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution
($10.85 on Amazon)

For an excellent overview of Stonewall:

Friday, April 10, 2009

photo by Shen Wei - NYC - 9 April 2009
face by William T. Long, M.D.

The Advocate is doing a special article for the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in their June/July issue.  As I am a vet of all three nights I am to be featured in the article so they sent a photographer (Shen Wei) to take some photographs. We wandered around Hell's Kitchen (my neighborhood) with him taking photographs and then came back to my apartment on Ninth Avenue.

My Mom used to keep a crystal in her kitchen window. When she died, I took the crystal which is now hanging in my front window and in the late afternoon the sun shines through it making rainbows. It always reminds me of her.

As Shen and I were drinking diet-Coke (I am an addict!) he suddenly grabbed his camera and moved right up on me—inches from my face—and began snapping away in a frenzy. The photo above was the result.

Shen Wei emigrated from China and is primarily an art photographer. Here is his Web site:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Three Score and Ten

My father and me - L.A. - 1939

I was born in Los Angeles on February 24, 1939. My Dad was working temporally in the city, my mom took the train down from Seattle to visit him. I unexpectedly decided to join them. In the back of a taxi cab. I am told dad jumped out of the cab and made it into a nearby bar as fast as he could as mom made it to French Hospital barely in the nick of time. Dad made up for his cowardly departure. According to family legend, from that point onward until he died in 1943, whenever he was near me, dad had me in his arms. Mom said it was almost impossible to get me out of his arms, even to put me to bed. She would wake up at night, to discover she was in bed alone. She would find my father asleep in a chair in the nursery, with me asleep in his arms.

My father died of a heart attack as a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday, May 5th, 1943, the night before he was to ship out to the African Campaign of World War II. The "heart attack" is a long story, better told at a later time. I never really knew the date he died until I had my heart attack Wednesday, May 5th, 1993 and a cousin of mine pointed out the coincidence of the day and the date. Seems dad had some message for me from the beyond and couldn’t be bother knocking on a table. It also seems I had inherited from him the heart condition.

Tonight I go to Zuni’s where 50 plus of my family of friends will be waiting for me. I am very lucky. Perhaps that was the gist of my dad’s message.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Relationships from Chicago to New Delhi

Ward and Barry in India

Thirty years ago when I wrote A Perfect Relationship, I had two main objectives in mind. First, to preserve a record of the first decade of liberation and the difficulties the male ego presents when a man loves a man. I also hoped that the humor of the play would disarm some small bit of the bigotry that we even now all encounter. Comedy unites. Or so I have been told.

But I had another sort of secret agenda. While I wanted to capture in amber queer NYC in the late 1970s, I also wanted the script to have an extended shelf life. Mark Finley’s flawless revival of A Perfect Relationship here in the city in April 2003 proved the play still has legs, as they say. ( ) It also showcased some of the best performances I have ever seen in a play of mine.

Eileen T’Kaye, who picked me up at a burrito stand on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood in the late 1980s, flew East to play a memorable Muriel. Christopher Borg, the single most versatile actor I have ever seen, played Tom, Dick and Harry. (He is waiting for me to make a nasty dig, but I’m not gonna.) As for Barry, one of my all time favorite character inventions, I have been lucky enough to see two actors give definitive performances: the late Adam Caparell back in the 1970s, and Kevin Held in this production. I suspect Kevin would excel in any role in any play I could ever write.

The 2003 TOSOS revival of A Perfect Relationship opened the same night Bush threw his temper-tantrum in Iraq. His war got the audience. There have been other recent productions, including the 2008 Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival in Colorado Springs; William Prater’s production initiating the Black Box Theater in Nashville; and a reading last fall presented by the People’s Theater of Chicago as part of their Legacy Project ( ). I watched a DVD of the reading and could not be happier with the cast. (See AK Miller’s reports from Chicago below)

I have just received news that the Chicago reading has developed into a full production of A Perfect Relationship, planned to open June 18 and play Thursdays and Fridays until July 10. Co-produced by People’s Theater and the Leather Archives & Museum, it will be performed in the Etienne Auditorium at the Archive located at 6481 Greenview Avenue, Chicago, IL. ( ). If I can find a packing crate large enough, I intend to ship myself out to see it. (The last time I was around the leather scene in Chicago was way back in the days of the Gold Coast!)

Of all my plays, A Perfect Relationship, is the most site specific. It is clearly set on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in the late 1970s. Or it was until about four years ago when Sameer Thakur contacted me via the Internet. He asked my permission to relocate the play to New Delhi. What little I know about Indian culture made me more than a mite doubtful. But, hey, I always say my plays belong to the community they were written for, so I gave my permission. And actually sort of forgot about it. After all, it wasn’t possible, was it? Or was it?

Earlier this year, Cathaayatra (I am told "cathaa yatra" means "journey of stories" in Hindi) presented A Perfect Relationship in New Delhi, hoping the localization would broaden the Indian view of alternative sexuality. Seems it worked and the production directed by Sameer Thakur (Sukhesh Arora, Zain Bhana, Arushi Singh, Shiv Narayanan and Vikrant Yadav in the cast) has proven to be a huge hit. (review links below). As I understand it, they perform the play when and where they can. I am told the audience in New Delhi finds my play very funny. I doubt they realize their laugher reaches all the way from India to New York City where it gives me a very warm feeling on a cold winter night.

This is why I write the plays I write. (And I suspect Marge would be very pleased.)

Reviews for the Indian production: