Tag Archives: lost

Weird Kid

For a season in high school, I wore a cape. I didn’t imagine myself a superhero or any such … I donned a floor length black cape with crimson red lining. I had purchased said cape from Morris Costumes, to use at Rocky Horror. It had residence in the trunk of my B610, and one morning I just decided to slip it on and … pretend it was the most normal thing in the world.

The oddest thing: most everyone accepted it without question. “Just seemed like something you would do.” was  the thing I heard later. Lots of my friends wanted hugs, wanted to be wrapped up inside my cape for a moment. Escape the pressure … be silly and whimsical, for a moment, for a season.

For a season in high school, I wore a scarlet letter. I read the book and had a heated debate with a teacher about gender roles and acceptable behavior. I didn’t know the term ‘slut shaming’ in 1982, but the concept was really clear. So I sewed a big red ‘A’ on my jacket and refused to take it off, even when threatened by administration. It caused a stir, but the point got through.  Almost earned me a small vacation. Almost.

I do card tricks now, and sometimes i push an envelope that constantly dares me to push it. This Labor Day I’ll be doing such a thing.

I want to be a safe place. I want to be a shield when a shield is needed and a pillow when a head is weary. I’m walking toward peace, and I’m plucking little bits of joy along the way.

I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, and I’m not sure how to end it.

Be weird. Get a cape.

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Renewal, Part Three: She

Arriving in LA on Sunday night I had dinner with Lili VonSchtupp and Funny Eddie, my best friends. I was so relieved to finally be with them that i must have babbled all night. We had Asian food and went on a pie quest, then I stayed the night at their house and spent the morning in a very long discussion with Lili about a million things. She had to focus on the Hollywood Burlesque Festival that week, so this was really our only chance to catch up. It was awesome, but far too short. I love these people. They are heart and soul to me.

May 22nd – 23rd, 2017

Monday I started my week at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. My … 14th(?) engagement at that amazing establishment. I was greeted with ‘Welcome Home, Mr. Hannibal’ as I was ushered in the front door.

Yeah, welcome home, indeed. The old familiar sights, sounds and smells … here I am, once more. Home, showplace, playground. The happiness in that place, the magic .. I’m rambling. Four shows a night, late close-up. I love my work and I was especially ready after my long weekend at Beyond Brookledge.

Just before my first show, I was asked to help facilitate a proposal. This happens every so often and I was really happy to oblige. I had the couple seated at my table and … you can view the results here: The Proposal.

I stepped out into the main bar area, after. Pretty good crowd, especially for a Monday. There was a young woman called Monique there with some friends. Now, I’ve known Monique for a few years; she enjoys the Castle and she likes the Hannibal show, and so she’s often on my guest list when I’m in Hollywood. We’re casual friends. The group spotted me and said hello, they were in great spirits and really happy to be there. Who wouldn’t be. Monique asked if she could buy me a drink and I told her to surprise me. A few minutes later, the valet brought a tasty beverage back to my dressing room. Nice. Welcome home, right?

I make my living primarily by reading people. Little signs and body language broadcast how the act I’m doing is going over … when it’s time to do a move. So tell me: how did I miss the (now obvious) signs she was sending me?

I got a text from her, asking if I’d like to hang out after I was done for the night. A bite, or maybe a movie at home? I let her know how late I’d be getting out (around 1AM) but if she was still interested, sure.
I thought nothing of it. A friend wants to hang out a bit. Cool.
“Why don’t we meet at your apartment?” she suggested.
I thought nothing of it. My place is close to the Castle, so sure. Cool.
We met at my place and we drank some wine and watched part of ‘Chef’ and talked about … various topics. She touched my knee, my arm. She laughs easily and honestly. Her smile is almost always there, and genuine.
I thought nothing of it. This was pleasant. She’s interesting. Maybe I should ask her back to the Castle later this week, see if she’s interested in me. She’s really pretty and I really like her and maybe I have a chance of … romance? Cool?

Let me stop. Yeah. There’s a happy, affectionate, intelligent woman in my apartment at 2AM, and there because SHE asked ME … and I’m wondering if she MIGHT be interested in me enough to meet up later for a dinner date at work. How can I be SO bright and SO dim at the same time?

Finally, she recognized (thank God, who knows how long I might have remained oblivious) that I just wasn’t getting it, so she told me flat out. “Listen, I think you’re really beautiful, and I’ve been physically attracted to you for a really long time and … I’d like to stay the night, if you’d like that, too. Nothing has to happen, I’d just really like to keep talking and fall asleep together.”

I still came close to not understanding. My brain just didn’t process …
Look, for a few years I’ve been shown by several people I really cared about that I’m just not that physically attractive to them. Verbally, casually … and I get it. My girth does not lend itself to the typical Western social norm of ‘attractiveness’. Plus: I’ve been through some big storms, lately. Sex has been used against me as a weapon and as a punishment. I had completely convinced myself that … in a purely sexual sense, that that part of my life was over.

And she put her hand on my face and she looked into my eyes and I saw real desire. She wasn’t acting. More, she was leaning in to kiss me.
There was a spark I haven’t felt in a very long time, and we were kissing honestly, deeply … and I let myself relax into the moment. That also hasn’t happened in a very long time. She was warm and soft. I could smell her skin, and lightly, her cologne and a vague hint of whiskey. Her kiss tasted of wine and a sweetness I don’t have words for.

She stayed.

She stayed well into the next day, until she had to leave: her family was coming into town, and she had some prior commitments. I watched her ride away and wondered in my betraying brain if I’d ever see her again.

I busied myself about my week. The Castle rocked every night and I was in my element, taking the people on my magical 20 minute journeys. I had a giant of the industry compliment me publicly on how I handled a particularly tough crowd. (Read: drunk) I was loving every minute of it.

I had an extended day with my friend Lindsay, who is nearing her one year wedding anniversary and happier than I’ve seen her in awhile. Lots of conversation, lots of jokes back and forth, lots of catching up. We had dinner at the Castle (with a rainbow of Macarons for dessert!) and watched Murray Sawchuck’s show (dazzling, but I was disappointed he didn’t do his signature CD act) then off I went to work while L enjoyed the rest of the artists.

Wednesday I joined my friend Andrea Marie for food in Hollywood. We eased our way past the colorful people on Hollywood blvd and to our chosen restaurant … which was closed while they shot a show on the street it was on. Welcome to LA. We Ubered (it’s a verb, too) over to Toi and had a splendid Thai dinner among the sights. Seriously, check it out sometime. Again, stories of Faire (AM is a Rennie, too), catching up and an all around great evening. I could get used to this city, you know? Afterward we headed over to the Castle where she met up with some friends and I did my ‘job’.

My LA friends really have a way of bringing my joy to the surface, and I treasure them all.

And Monique, you ask?

We had ourselves a nice, though brief, romance. We talked. We shared. Talking on the phone, texting back and forth. We made plans for part of the weekend, and we hoped for more time together. As it turns out, because of Memorial day, I had an extra day on the apartment, and so we had our first actual date. (May 29th) I took her to 25 degrees for my traditional Orange Whip and truffle fries, then to the final night of the Hollywood Burlesque Festival. Lili had asked me to do a number in the final show, so here we were. My friends: Monique is an absolute delight. She understands my passion for my work and my humor. She literally spreads joy everywhere, and her laugh is never far away. Beautiful, sophisticated, yet not afraid to be vulnerable and honest with me. It was a great date.

For my act, Lili wanted ‘Bookends’ (the elf boot story) I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to close a burlesque festival, but I trust Lili so of course, that’s what I did. My last act of magic in my whirlwind two weeks in Cali, and it went over huge. Laughter, tears, people’s hearts were moved, and the woman who was there with me was looking on with adoration.

We went back to my place for the final night, and talked into the wee hours, and loved, and held each other.
The next day we soberly said ‘Farewell’ and parted. There’s a whole country between us.

But we communicate every day. And when she knows I’m going through rough experiences, which of course I still am, she calls and gives me her time. She heals my hurts. She posts her affection for me publicly on her social media. She tells her friends about me. She makes art for and about me. She’s still interested, and I finally understood. We don’t (as the saying goes) ‘complete’ each other:

“Two beautiful, whole people. Two people who worship love and sow joy. Two complete people with beautiful scars that fit together … beautifully.”

We are making plans to be together soon, in North Carolina, so she can see Christopher’s hometown. Did I mention she likes Christopher a little better than Hannibal? Seriously. We aren’t labeled: For now we are simply taking it as it comes and patiently enjoying each other. As it should be.

My friends and fans have noticed that I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I’m wearing it proudly, and it’s easing the journey.

So, there you are. Renewal in three parts. My twelve days in California renewed my purpose, my heart, and my motivation.

I feel beautiful, again.

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May 11, 2017

Journal

Bit of a whirlwind, the past couple of weeks. The Monthly Monday Magic show pulled about 15 people. Strong audience, powerful feels, but I question my ability to draw people anymore. This wasn’t helped by the small crowd at Citylight the following Sunday. The people who came were awesome … but I’d certainly like to attract more.

Short travel to Greensboro to see Lexie in Peter Pan: she’s powerful and rules the stage, but doesn’t have the confidence in herself offstage, yet. She cannot see how she affects people. (Doesn’t that sound a bit familiar?) Toodles almost stole the show, he’s a natural. The following night was a corporate show in Durham, followed by dessert and a deep conversation/ confessional with Katie A. (which was more needed than I knew). I see some things from a better perspective. Time to leave Faire? I think so … I never want to dread working, and I know that bitterness wouldn’t be helpful at all to that atmosphere. It was a great run, and lots of laughter happened … I want to part on good terms and on the proverbial high note.

USO Warrior Reset – three great days in Jacksonville. I’m getting the groove better, feeling the message and relating to the group. I’m proud of my role, helping them connect with the USO team, and with each other. I want to reach out further than these boundaries.

Long time in the car over the past couple of weeks, lots of time to look at myself and what needs improving, where I want to go next, what kind of legacy I’m leaving in my wake, what does success really look like? I wonder if the help I’m giving really lasts.

Hollywood is upcoming, so I’m in rehearsals for that. Performance therapy … Eddie and Lili therapy … straight, hard talk and love on the west coast.

In my prayers I’m dealing with regret. I hope I’ve decisively broken some cycles … so people can heal and move on. Time will tell.

After the final day of USO I went over to Topsail, where i spent my summers as a boy. I collected some shells for an idea I had for a routine20170510_141906, then sat on the beach as the evening turned to twilight. The ocean was calm, and I studied the horizon, getting the nostalgia I’d left there when I was 12. The sea was bright green in the shallows, and rolling over to deep blue about thirty yards out. I reflected on the journeys I’ve been on in the four decades since I last sat there. Have i lived up to that boy’s dreams?

You know … I have. I’ve even exceeded what he imagined. I can be proud of this road. For the most part, I’m walking it well.

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The Guts of the Matter

“Deep inside, all folded up … where real magic happens? Is your signature and hers. Maybe.”

Me and my friends? We live to serve. We serve You, our audience. The artists, the performers, the show people. Dozens of different names and flavors.

We will perform sick and loaded up on medication. We will perform in pain, our backs hurting, our feet or knees screaming. I know personally that several of us have taken the stage with kidney stones in full press, barely able to stand upright just beyond the curtain, but full arrogance, pomp and swagger under the lights, smiles wide and voices booming for all we are worth. Even then, the little voice in the very back of our mind telling us: ‘You’re going to pay for this.’

We play with our hearts broken. We’ve taken the stage mere moments after a loved one has said something cruel, or even said goodbye. I got the call about one of my parents, fifteen minutes before curtain, and the house was full. I went on, and I delivered. I took it to the stage, and I left it there.

When asked to choose, I chose the art. Even though I lost almost everything else.

We go on and do our jobs. We strive to be better, to reach for excellence. (Not perfection. Perfection is a lie that is lethal to real art.) We were made such that we cannot do anything else and be true.

I do this for You.
I do this for Art.

Selfishly, the Truth is … I do it for me, more than anyone else.

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New Love

I had lunch today with a friend, an artist I respect who worked with me on a project a few years back. We talked about art, and possibilities and the challenges of the future. Opportunities were presented, plans were jotted down, and I left with a feeling of hopefulness, but also something more.

I’ve been jaded for about two and half years, as I watched the world I lived in and trusted crumble slowly to pieces. I’m left with my talent, my wits, and lots of time. I’ve lost a lot, but this story isn’t about loss. It’s about love. New love. A love I found on my way home from lunch.

I’m respected. I do good, quality work that I can be really proud of. I help and heal people with my art and my voice. I have a gift and I haven’t shirked in using it. I’ve always felt I could be a great partner to someone who truly believed in me. Someone who would stay beside me when I was overjoyed, sad, kind, or mean. I found that person. It just so happens to be me.

It’s okay to love me. It’s okay to sacrifice for me … so I’m going to. I’m going to plumb the depths and really love the man I am. I had to reach the bottom, I had to be betrayed and mocked and stepped on, but I recognize my strength. I will rise above all of this.

In my flailing post on Facebook, a gentleman I used to attend church with asked me: “DO you have any Jesus left in you at all? Let Him be a shining light for you.” All I could think was: “Man … where the hell have you been for the past few years? Why haven’t you come to me before this to hold up your Jesus lifesaver?”

In me? There’s the concept and beautiful idea of the forgiving, all-loving, healing, magician Jesus. I can strive to BE that, and love my neighbors AND my enemies … #rebeljesus makes wine, loves everyone, heals the sick and flips some freaking tables when the pompous, holier-than-thou, thieves in the temple are desecrating the idea of love and forgiveness. BUT FIRST, I must love myself. I must allow the Magdalene to anoint my head when I need it.

With the love I give myself, I’ll be better able to serve my art and my audience. Love breeds love. I forgive me. I love me. I’ll be there for me, even in the darkness. I’ve spent too much time trying to beg love from those incapable of giving it, so now it’s on me. I’ll stumble, sure, but in the end, I will win.

If you think this is just a self serving post, well … you aren’t wrong. Sometimes these are just for me. Perhaps, though, you’ll find some wisdom here you can use … I hope that’s true, too.

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… will take you there. (Thursday, February 19. End of the day)

Having hauled my overstuffed bags up three flights I settled into my suite. Literally a 10 foot by 15 foot room. Cozy. I love it unsarcastically. If I sit on the extreme corner of the bed, I have a WiFi connection. I took an hour long power nap and then hauled said bags BACK down the stairs and walked over to the venue at Winter Gardens,

Winter Gardens reminds me somewhat of ‘Boardwalk Empire’. It’s a strange combo of modern world and carnival style architecture. Grand, sweeping ceilings and old, musty carpeting. Hundreds of lights and vanity style arches. Fun. After some searching I found my little vendors table and unpacked. There’s a few familiar faces and we exchanged some initial hellos with promises to dine later on the weekend and catch up.

On a recommendation from Garrett Thomas a few of us went to a nearby Thai restaurant: Wannee Wah Wah’s. (Due to a pernicious spellcheck it took me four tries to write that name down) According to veterans the food in Blackbook is hit and miss, but this was delightful. Extra spicy Chicken Pad Thai with curry and fresh vegetable spring rolls. The gourmet (glutton) is happy.

Jon Allen introduced a new prop, and it’s quite simply incredible. We hashed around a few ideas and a kind of impromptu jam session started up. Being full and at once overtaken by the length of the day and travel, I excused myself and wandered out to find my way back to my room. Apparently I took a wrong turn, because I found myself at the beach. The streetlights reflecting off the clouds and the moon made the surf appear glittery. Each wave pulling back on the sand left a sparkling wash, like diamonds on black velvet. Reminds me of you … somehow.

I turned around and walked back to where I thought I started, but came to realize I was totally lost. It was dark and of course I had no way to call anyone so I just wandered, seeing what I could see. I looked into shop windows and restaurants, bars and bakeries. I watched the people. Playing children under a statue. The families, the lovers and the loners. It was kind of like a play, set in 1970s England a few days before Christmas. I kept anticipating a musical number. I almost got one: I passed by a very narrow Irish bar. Very vintage looking but featuring karaoke. Ultra surreal.

My journey through the streets solidified in me the feeling that we all have our own place, our own path to follow. I have a purpose and a gift and all of my loneliness and self doubt does not diminish the gift or the responsibility that comes with it. Not one little bit. I’m me. I’m being me and living my life. Even getting lost in Blackbook was a good thing. And if you know me, entirely predictable.

I stopped under a blue streetlight. Not kidding. A for real as it gets BLUE streetlight. I daydreamed there for a little while, groggy and oddly not at all anxious for my lost state. I remembered a Dylan quote Dawn once painted on a jacket of mine. “Some of our greatest discoveries come from a state of being lost.” They certainly do, and I certainly was. When I realized I was in danger of falling asleep on my feet, I moved on. I decided not to long after that the best course of action would be to swallow my pride and hail a taxi.

I stepped off the curb and looked up and down the street … and there was my hotel. Just three or four buildings down. Just perfect. I came in, shook off the cold, spoke with the owner for a few pleasant minutes and came up. Took the time to write the first part of this missive, then took a sleep (for about 7 hours, off and on) and finished. Now … here we are.

I’m going down for the English breakfast I’ve conjured in my mind, then off for a day full of magic stuff. I’m on a new road and I kind of know where I’m going, but I’m more excited for the journey than the destination.

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