Archive for May, 2012

Happy Birthday, Walt Whitman

Posted in AMERICANA, BOOKS & AUTHORS, Indie Theatre, PLUGS with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of the Poet of Democracy. In my youth I was not crazy about him.  I found him prosaic – -I was deceived by the apparent simplicity of the writing. It seemed to me like just a lot of lists. (My favorite poet when I was 19 was Dylan Thomas – -I was looking then for the jolting effect, the thrill of disorientation.) But in my twenties I first read Leaves of Grass in its entirety….and realized that’s what must be done to appreciate it. For it’s a poem about everything, the entire cosmos. And then title of the book begins to sink in.

It gradually became one of my favorite books, and I return to it often. I’ve paid stylistic tribute to it on many occasions (most recently in a section of The Strange Case of Grippo the Apeman). And I’ve included an overt parody of him in my new play The Fickle Mistress. (Don’t miss Theatre Askew’s workshop production of it at Dixon Place this July 25!)


“Ode to the New Freedom: A Composition in the style of Mr. Whitman”


Roll Free, You Incandescent Planets!

Drink deep the heady mead of freedom. Empty the flagon!

Rub elbows with working men, breathe deep the aroma,

For their sweat is your sweat, and vice versa!

No man is better than woman!

No woman is better—(she scratches it out)

Throw off all shackles!

Hurl the tablets bearing commandments until they shatter.

We will make new commandments for a new continent!

Commandments immutable, unspoken, written on the clouds!

Throw off all rhyme and meter! From now on my life like my verses shall be free!

Your Bible is not the only Bible!

What of the Baghavad-Gita? What of Confucius and Zoroaster?

What need have we of books, holy or otherwise?

What of direct communion with nature?

What of direct communion with the spirits?

Ghost Line

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Dance, Vaudeville etc. with tags , on May 31, 2012 by travsd

Choreographer Cori Olinghouse and film-maker Shona Masarin want you to know about their terrific-looking new project Ghost Line: a 16mm experimental film that invokes the spaces of Vaudeville through a Dada/Surrealist perspective.

Inspired by ghost towns, silent era clown films, voguing, slapstick, and eccentric dance, the ghosted figures in Ghost Line conjure a vaudevillian past as traces – remnants; as if rising from the dust, transmitting signals of light and shadow.

For more info, check out their Kickstarter page here.

Stars of Vaudeville # 482: Nate Leipzig

Posted in Magicians/ Mind Readers/ Quick Change, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , on May 31, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of the great sleight-of-hand master Nate Leipzig (Nathan Leipziger, 1873-1939), His illusions are still studied and taught all over the world; just Google him and see. He was born in Sweden and spent his early childhood there. When he was about ten the family moved to Detroit. Not until he was 30 did he quit his day job and move to New York to break into show business. For a time he worked with the Berol Brothers, and called himself Nate Berol. He broke in as a solo at Proctor’s 5th Avenue and then worked the Keith Circuit. He seems to have met and studied under every major magician of his time. His autobiography is available to read for free online (and it’s short). Just go here.

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Posted in African American Interest, Dance, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , on May 25, 2012 by travsd

Today is the birthday of the incomparable Bill Robinson, a.k.a “Bojangles”. (For my full article on him, go here. It happens to be the first vaudeville article I ever wrote; the first work I did on No Applause). Here’s Robinson doing a version of his famous stair dance:

To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


7 Deady Seas

Posted in Burlesk, Indie Theatre, PLUGS with tags , on May 25, 2012 by travsd

Three days only — opening tonight at at Pier 25 South Street Seaport…

Dead upon a Wind, a Pirate Burlesque, continues the exploits of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read; historical pirates let loose upon a modern world, who find today’s corporate world very familiar. In this show the pirates face a new and familiar enemy, as infighting over the naming rights to a new island (now that all those troublesome residents are no longer a concern) threatens to turn ugly. The situation is not improved when a traveling slave salesman (he also offers insurance) shows up and throws a few more colorful characters in the mix. Shows will be performed in-the-round aboard the Gazela, the oldest wooden square-rigger still sailing in America. For information and tickets, yo ho hither.

Jukebox Jackie Opens Tonight!

Posted in Indie Theatre, Music, PLUGS, Rock and Pop with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by travsd

Tonight thru June 10: Jukebox Jackie: Snatches of Jackie Curtis starring the incredible Justin Vivian Bond, Bridget Everett, Cole Escola, and Steel Burkhardt, in a show conceived and directed by Scott Wittman. Jackie was the gender-ambiguous Warhol Factory-ite immortalized by Lou Reed in “Walk on the Wild Side” as the one who “thought she was James Dean for a day.”  Many credit her/him as one of the progenitors of Glam, so they’ve picked a fitting cast to make this tribute. We’re also promised special guests at certain performances, including Penny Arcade, Jayne County, Cherry Vanilla & Agosto Machado. It’s all at La Mama:

One Day Left to Help the Maestrocities

Posted in Clown, Contemporary Variety, Music, PLUGS, Rock and Pop with tags , , on May 23, 2012 by travsd

As we told you a few days ago, The Maestrosities, a.k.a. the Coolest Band in the World are starting a new web series and they need your help! Just one more day to go, and they are just shy of their Kickstarter goal. Go here to learn more about the project, and how you can be an angel to five good-looking but very dumb clowns…

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