Let’s get to it, shall we? In that I live this life out loud, with all my blemishes and scars showing, I feel I should make myself and my position clear:
Black Lives Matter.
I stand firmly as an ally, without my own agenda, asking the oppressed and the hurting how I can best serve them as an ally. I’m calling for an end to systematic racism and an end to police brutality against Black people. I will not be quiet, and I will not sit idle. Silence is complicity. Not taking a stand is standing with the oppressors. There must be change, and my own push is starting here and now.
Any birth or rebirth comes with pain. This won’t be easy and it won’t always be pretty. Hearts fundamentally must learn a new way. 400+ years of injustice must come to an end. I must help hasten that end.
Love is for everyone. Love is not a quantity that can be used up. We can stand under the universe and all marvel at the stars without diminishing anyone else’s joy. So, too, is it with love. Lending a hand (and a heart and a soul) to one group of people does not diminish the love and value of any other group.
Black Lives Matter.
More than property, more than ideology, more than power. I am lending my voice, my platform, my very privilege to help this cause. The trivialization and oppression of Black lives must cease. Police brutality towards Black lives must come to an end – right now. Right. Now.
I take this stance out of love, kindness, and basic human decency. I take this stance without hesitation or apology. Make no mistake: I’m mad. I plan to use that mad energy to stand in the gap.
Racism and Police Brutality are a pandemic whose time has come.
I hope there is love where you are.
I love my work. My art.
It is truly wrapped up and is a part of me … while it has been cautioned to not let your job define you, I have let myself define my job. Clever lad, that Hannibal …
I would die for my art. I would pour my heart onto the stage with my dying breath. I want, need to work. If it were my choice to live or make art, I would make the art. Art hard. Prove the bastards wrong every day.
But it’s not just me, is it? Doing what I do and wanting to be surrounded by an audience puts others in danger. Strangers. Friends and loved ones of strangers. People I may never meet, but people that I could doom with my careless actions. So.
because I love, because Love is what I worship and strive to preach:
I stay in isolation and I practice for the day I can return to the performance.
I would die for my art
but I would not kill for it.
I had a hat and a waistcoat.
I put them on, picked up my instrument, and went to work.
It was raw craft, at first. I had a little skill with words and so I used them to hide the flubs.
Raw craft … and then
I missed my mother. I was unhappy that she never saw me perform one effect, never saw what my hands were destined to do. I said so while shuffling cards. I made up a trick that i thought would make her laugh, could she but see.
… and they laughed. And they gasped. And they wriggled a bit in delight.
The laugh exploded and crystallized into art. Laughter through tears.
A marine. (hard and sober)
A goth chick.
A homeless man.
A homeless woman.
A college student.
A superstar athlete.
And several anonymous souls
… have told me that I saved their lives with my words and my art.
Tonight I made a woman weep with my stories.
I reminded her of her son
Who died …
Laughter through tears.
“He would have loved this … thank you for being who you are.”
tonight I drove home.
And I put my instrument down (for now, not for keeps)
I took off my hat and i hung up my waistcoat
and I wrote this to you.
This … is who I am.
Not fame or history or legacy … not connections or networking or any of the trappings.
What matters is the show. What matters is the audience and how I can reach them. That connection: the love I pour into every moment of preparation and execution. That I leave them with a gift.
I didn’t bleed and cry and agonize over my choices for a sign with my name on it. I didn’t do it for a place on a wall in the future or a dusty statue.
I did it for You. And I did it for Them. I touched Your heart … and I touch thousands more.
I did it for Love. Love rules me and Love should be the only reason.
The trappings can be nice, but they can be traps, too.
I’m grateful for the gift, as I am grateful for You, my love.
Happiness … is the Road.
The journey continues.
Last night I performed at a ‘private’ show, courtesy of Erika Larson. As it turns out the guest of honor was Darren Lynn Bousman, his lovely wife Lauren, and their guests. Darren is the director of Saw 2-4 and Repo! The Genetic Opera. They were gracious and spectacular.
Just as the show started, the back lights in the room went out. It created a very focused element to the performance, and i believe I’d like that to be a thing all the time. Happy accidents, right?
Today I went in for a physical, and then to lunch with Sarah. Clean bill of health: all the vitals are well within normal, even the BP and blood sugar. Full check for STD came up negative, because of course it did. The doc did a bit of fat-shaming, but nothing horrible. We talked about sex and he readily agrees with my therapist … I check out on all the levels. Nothing to be afraid of.
My harem will be so pleased. (In case you missed this bit of sarcasm, check out the last post. Or some of the rumors that got passed around about me …)
I suppose I can laugh about it. Yeah? Right now the majority of my intimacy is expressed in my stories and my growing art. And some of the poetry I send to a special person.
The rest? Well … all is well. Okay?
I’m meditating and writing and not focusing on next week. If anything, my patience is getting a great workout. I’ve got love, I’ve got art … and I’m finally getting some balance.
More soon as the story unfolds.
On New Year’s Eve, while working at the Hat & Hare pub, I was given a phone number. This happens so rarely that it took me quite by surprise. Let me give you the short version.
During the climax of on of my routines, I ask someone to write a word on a playing card, and I attempt to guess the word they wrote. In the lead up, I intuited that the young lady who was participating, let’s call her Claire, had written a name – so i did a bit of fishing. I asked if she had written the name of a crush … and she acknowledged shyly that she had. I realized by her body language that she had, in fact, written my name. I was quite flattered (because blatant flirting does not happen very often to me) and, after the show, we chatted. She gave me her number without being asked and suggested that we text, if I was interested. She seemed sober and sincere (and reasonably close to my age) and so we corresponded over the course of the following week.
Feeling confident, I suggested we meet somewhere and talk over food. It’s a fine way to get to know someone … across a table. Yes, friends and neighbors: I was going on a date. Claire was very enthusiastic at first, happy to see me and full of smiles. She kept repeating that she couldn’t believe her luck. And then …
Over the course of the next couple of hours she became less and less interested. She asked the usual questions about my career and places i’d been, but was very reluctant to discuss her own life. Flags started to go up. Finally I realized the problem: she wanted stage Hannibal, not everyday guy Hannibal. In fact at one point she made the statement, “Well, this was fun, but I think I’ll just be part of your audience.”
It was a mild surprise. I was … a bit hurt. But similar things had happened before, getting to know someone who first me as a performer. We finished the meal up with friendly chatter, but I could tell she was ready to part ways. This happened amicably enough and I drove home just a wee bit sad.
No, I’m not looking for a committed relationship (and this information seemed to make Claire angry a little, because she instantly disqualified what we were doing as being a ‘date’) but I certainly have no objection to exploring romance and intimacy with consenting partners. Part of the consent means liking me for me: both the guy on stage and the not-quite-as-bombastic guy just wanting conversation and connection.
Alas: this time my ‘celebrity’ got in the way.
Early morning, airport … Charlotte. Chats with friends last night have left me extremely lonely.
“You should find someone who can love who you are.” “You should be more social.” “I worry about how isolated you are.”
I hear you … and I don’t really think about it much until you bring it up. This morning I’m tired and weary, and I wish I had someone waiting for me.
Ah, well. I’ll try not to become maudlin. Nothing worse than a maudlin magician.
Very quiet and almost alone.
But when a lady who is interesting and interested calls …
So I had lunch with a captivating and deep young woman who has eyes like sunshine through honey. Those eyes see a lot, and I think they like what they see in me.
Worked on new magic and read a new book (gift from the same lady) and kept breathing. I’m listening to the closing of the year carols and thinking about art. New Year’s Eve will find me at the Magic Castle, doing my dance behind the bar.
Who knows tomorrow? Right now, in this moment … there’s peace for this earth-man.
The Magic Castle, Hollywood, CA
I looked all over for some small sign of my friend. He was nowhere to be found. The places were still there, but there was no trace of him. Not his laughter. Not his spirit. Not his magic.
I sat on the bench where we talked about performance and art. I spent time at the table where we shared favorite books.
He’s just gone. I, selfishly, would have liked more time with him.
I visited Irma to get some perspective: maybe add some music to lift my heart. At the request of another guest, she played “Suicide is Painless”.
Later a stranger, who earlier in the evening had watched my show, gave me food. “I ordered this to go on impulse. I think I’m supposed to give it to you.” Chicken and veggies, quite delightful.
As I went to pay my parking, I was called back inside. A friend requested that I do a small show for his sister, who was celebrating her birthday. We found a private table and … it was good. I told my stories and did my magic for the two of them. I made a boot for her … and she cried, just a little.
It took everything I had. It was worth it. I gave them a bit of me. That’s art, right?
For you, Leeman. For your smile. For your spirit. I found a bit of it, and I gave it to someone. As it should be.
May 17, 2018
Last set of the night at the W.C. Fields bar. I intended to close with the Elf boot story. There was a woman celebrating her birthday, seated in the perfect position on one side … and what all my training told me was the wrong person on the other. This one was brassy and brash, drunkish and slightly confrontational. Not the sort for a more intimate piece like this. But … she was in the perfect spot, and while I might have chosen someone else, my instinct popped up and told me to trust in my ability to control the moment, and in her as an audience member. I’ve learned to let it flow when that instinct nudges me. So i went for it.
When the routine was over, the ‘problem’ spectator was in happy tears. Hugging me and thanking me for making her evening special. “We got a babysitter for our babies and took a night for ourselves. I’ve had a great time, even though I miss them. You just made everything perfect. i’m going to put this boot on a shelf and tell that story over and over …”
Art from the heart. Believe in the power of the love in your gift. Give the best of yourself, even if you doubt the receiver worthy. Give for the sake of giving. Make art for the sake of making it.
Art and love have the power to enrich and change lives.