DONNABLOG #32 – GAY PRIDE PARADE

Well what a day yesterday was.  This past week was Gay Pride Week in New York City.  The capper, as it is in Toronto and elsewhere, is the Pride Parade on the final Sunday.   Yesterday was the Pride parade which I hear is only topped by the parade in Sydney, Australia.  We were told about 3 or 4 weeks ago that we (Priscilla) would have our own float in the Parade. More specifically, our own double-decker bus. The idea was that Aussie Bum was going to be one of our sponsors so whoever wanted to be on the float were encouraged to wear an Aussie Bum bathing suit – board short style or speedo – on the float.  I knew I wanted to be on the float because . . . what the hell????  Why not???  But appear publicly in a bathing suit for all of . . . well, a chunk of New York to see? . . . I’D RATHER BE DIPPED!!!  (Did you just ask “in what”?  Stop reading my blog!!! In whatever horrible thing you can think of.)

So I thought, “Is anyone going to be in drag?  This IS a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert float”.  It immediately became clear that I was going to have to carry that torch.  But, always thinking strategically when it comes to business, I knew it shouldn’t be some generic drag – 1) because I don’t do generic drag. I only do drag when it is something specific for a show and 2) we have such specific drag in the show, I figured it should represent something about our show.  So I narrowed it down to two ideas – interpretations of a Pink Bus or a Mirrorball.  Well, I realized that it would be impossible to do the bus without something being built, otherwise, in some pink dress and a red wig, I’m just a mixed-race, fat version of Nick Adams. Mmm  . . . fun.

It became clear that with a silver sequined dress, lots of glittering jewelry, and a blond wig, a walking mirrorball was my best bet.  The jewelry was easy.  Our head of wigs had the wig.  But do you think I could find a little silver sequined dress?????  OOOOOHOHOHOHOHO NOOOO!!   It took me 3 days of 3 – 4 hours a day to find it.  Finally, in Macy’s, I found the greatest dress.

So I did the last bits of organizing, I found a great little belt for the dress at H&M.  I asked our main make-up artist on the show to do my make-up. Unfortunately (damn her) she was going on vacation starting on the Friday. (Selfish, selfish, selfish) But she was a doll and designed my make-up and loaned me all the stuff I didn’t have, but needed, to recreate it. Here is the finished shot of her version that she did as a test on me. It was a little rushed but it was enough for me to make it work.

Bless her and thanks.  Our head of wigs, Jack, did an incredible job on the wig.  Very Drag Marilyn Monroe.  And I did my make-up.  Because I knew I would be high up on the bus, I made the decision to expand the design a bit (eyes, lips) to make it a little bigger than life.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  This is a shot of my face at the end of the parade.  It didn’t move at all. 4 hours and face totally in tact.

And here we are, a full body shot. This was just before we left for the parade. I had just gotten dressed.  The lighting is a fluke.  Terribly glamorous.  And I had to have a name so here she is:   MIRA BALL.

I’ve gotten several shots from different people from the day.  Here is one I love because it looks like it’s been shot through gauze. It’s all old Hollywood.  Shot by our amazing Tony Sheldon.

I couldn’t get onto the bus for a while as random strangers kept wanting to take shots with me.  It was very sweet and so loving.

Here’s a shot with my great show pal, Mike, while we were waiting on the bus for the parade to start.

And here is another shot with Mark, the darling husband of one of our stage manager’s.

The parade was a hoot.  So many people cheering, waving.  There was a lot of love coming at us.  People were thrilled to be there and especially with the gay marriage law being passed on Friday.  There was a truly euphoric feeling to the day.  Being from Canada, I took the idea of gay marriage for granted but you could feel how empowered and truly happy people where.  Gay people, straight people, all people who had heart and soul.  (Okay that sounds a bit  gooey but it really was touching).

I have to say, I seemed to be a really big hit with the black and latino (latina?) lesbians.  Several of them were beckoning me to come down off the bus.  I would have but several of them looked like when they realized I didn’t have a vagina, they would have beaten the shit out of me. The grow ’em sassy and tough down here.

Oh, so after the parade, the bus dropped us off at 42 and 8th. Now our theatre (where all of my stuff is) is at 47 and 7.  So I walked back, in full beat, to our theatre.  What was hilarious and fascinating was 70% of the people didn’t even flinch at this 6′ 3″ drag queen sauntering up 8th avenue. 25% barely looked and then smiled or giggled. And only about 5% looked on in confusion, verging on horror. And to that 5%, I say, “Bless your sheltered hearts” and “Suck it”.

Anyway it was a very special afternoon.  I loved sharing it with my castmates, a few of whom have become very dear friends.  I loved sharing it with New York, a few of whom have become very dear friends.  I have felt extremely welcomed by this city.

Okay so at this point let’s just talk about the fact that I have been here in New York for about 4 months.  In which time, I’ve been in a hit show on Broadway, been personally photographed with Joan Rivers, performed on the Tony Awards, and have now been a shining part of the second largest gay pride parade in the world.  It’s been a busy time and a wonderful time.  I will work hard to make it continue.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm  Comments (4)  

DONNABLOG #31 – THE TONY AWARDS

THE TONYS!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Okay here we go.  It was a bit surreal.  We started at our theatre getting ready.  The theatre hired a bunch of make-up artists to do our drag make-up for the evening.  Our producers had food brought in, our sound guys had rigged up a TV for us to watch the show until we had to go.  It was really cool. Here’s a little shot of my make-up.

So eventually we got on the bus and went to the Beacon Theater.  (Side note: we found out we got the Best Costume Tony just before we left so we were already flying high) It was all very glamorous.  They had blocked off a portion of Amsterdam Avenue (Avenue?  Street?) and there were all these people – general public – who were hanging out behind barriers to get pics, etc.  We had to wait in our bus for a little bit then they let us into the tent.  Now, tent, you wonder?  The theatre is so small there is no really big backstage space so they had to set up a tent and take over chunk of  . . . 74? 75?. Anyway, the performers were kept in the tent.  So we got in and got into our costumes or some of them as we still had about 1/2 hour.

But the Anything Goes kids were there.  I snapped a shot of Sutton Foster having a simple moment while they were all waiting to go on, watching TV.

They went on and we watched their number (there was a TV in the tent for us) and it was fantastic.  It was surreal to be watching the Tony Awards with a group of people then watch them walk out a door and then do a number.  Here is a shot of Tony Sheldon and Will Swenson hanging out before our performance.

While we were standing around  waiting, we also watched the cast of COMPANY  do their number.  They weren’t in our waiting area, but after they were done they came through.  I didn’t know they were coming through so I turn around and there is Patti Lupone strutting past me, then Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks.  What???!!!  Cool.  Didn’t have my camera on me.  Shoot.

Then came our time. We got our headdresses on.  Here’s me and a couple of buddies, Gavin Lodge and Eric Sciotto.

So they brought us backstage and we waited behind “the wall”.  We listened while Sutton Foster accepted her Best Actress in a Musical Tony and then heard Paul Shaffer (sp?) begin his introduction.  Those of us behind the wall had a little circle of love to just remind each other to drink this moment in and live it and love it.  Up went the wall and …

watch?v=cRO0N7ul7yE

The place went crazy, we turned our shit out, then ran offstage screaming like little girls.  I had to get a shot with Martha Wash.  That song is so iconic and she was one of the peeps to introduce it to the world. And she couldn’t have been lovelier.

And that was that, folks.  We headed back to the theatre to get out of makeup.  There was a party at a local restaurant but I was fighting something (cold or something) and felt exhausted so I was a bit of a pooper and went home.  But I will never forget my first Tony Awards, y’all.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #30 – PRE-TONY AWARDS

So this is the day, everyone. Just off to our dress rehearsal of the Tonys. We a had a camera rehearsal the other day and I wanted to share some shots of us backstage.

Here is our dance captain, Eric, in a couple of “relaxed” costume moments that are almost completely unstaged, in his Gumnut costume.

This is perhaps my favourite.  I call it Kyle “The T-EMU-nator” Brown.

 

And here is a candid shot of how early we had to be there.  Steve and Jeff trying to wake up. “Stretching?  No, coffee!”

A little catch up chat for Nick Adams and our swing, Ellyn.

This shot makes me laugh. I was trying to get Jackie and Eric but Mike happened to walk into frame.  Jackie caught me taking it as Mike walked up but  the way Mike is looking down and Eric is bent over, it looks like they are examining something of interest in Mike’s nether regions. Considering what a big strapping man Mike is, that could be any number of things.


Our wonderful Tad Wilson lounging in the costume that I also wear at the end of the show.  I won’t lie.  It’s not my favourite but seeing him sitting here drinking coffee and texting makes me laugh my ass off.

So here’s the scoop, y’all.  I think the number is going to be really great.  We are the last number of the show, though not the last event.  There are a few awards after us.  So we’ll be on around 10:40ish. I am in this above costume (same as Tad) – it’s a Bottle Brush.  It also had a huge headpiece that has big green leaves coming out of it.  You’ll see me coming downstage in it right after the “Divas” sing their first bit.  I’m on your left, second from center.

I will absolutely give you a check in after . . . in the next few days.  Enjoy everyone.

Published in: on June 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #29 -GENIUS

“A letter came to me a few years ago from a long-retired actress who had, as a youngster, been taken to see Edwin Booth play King Lear. It seems that towards the end of the play, when the mad Lear was brought face to face with his daughter Cordelia, there was a sharp pause, then – for a second that couldn’t quite be caught or measured – a startled, desperate, longing flicker of near-recognition stirred somewhere behind the old man’s eyes, and then – nothing. The entire audience rose, without thinking, to its feet. It didn’t cheer. It simply stood up. It was as though a single electrical discharge had passed from one body on the stage, instantaneously, through a thousand bodies in the auditorium. Something had been plugged into a socket; two forces had met.

This meeting is what the theater is all about; it is its greatest power . . . The theater gains its natural – and unique – effect not from the mere presence of live actors, or the happy accident of an occasional lively audience, but from existence of a live relationship between these two indispensible conspirators, signaling to one another through space.”

–Walter Kerr (1913-1996) Author and Theater Critic
From his book THE THEATER IN SPITE OF ITSELF

Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 5:08 am  Leave a Comment