• Writer and performer Trav S.D. (www.travsd.com) has written for the NY Times, the Village Voice, American Theatre, Time Out NY, Reason, the Villager and numerous other publications. He has been in the vanguard of New York’s vaudeville and burlesque scenes since 1995 when he launched his company Mountebanks, which has presented hundreds of top variety acts ranging from Todd Robbins to Dirty Martini to Lady Rizo to the Flying Karamazov Brothers. He has directed his own plays, revues and solo pieces in NYC since 1989 at such venues as Joe’s Pub, La Mama, Dixon Place, Theatre for the New City, the Ohio Theatre and the Brick. In 2014 he produced and directed the smash-hit I’ll Say She Is, the first ever revival of the Marx Brothers hit 1924 Broadway show in the NY International Fringe Festival. He is perhaps best known for his 2005 book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, recently cited by Bette Midler in People magazine as one of her favorite books. His recent show Horseplay. or the Fickle Mistress at LaMama starred Everett Quinton, Molly Pope, Jan Leslie Harding, and Tim Cusack. More about All Things Trav S.D. are at: http://travsd.com/

42 Responses to “About”

  1. ZenobiaDTC Says:

    Hi —

    I’m at the beginnings of an extended project re: Rhode Island LGBT history. I’ve run across your blog via a google search including ‘vaudeville’ & ‘Rhode Island’ casting a very wide net looking for any leads. I know that various LGBT performers from RI — Francis Renault for instance — began their careers in vaudeville in Providence. Can you point me toward some good basic materials on B.F. Keith and RI vaudeville history especially any LGBT folks you know of.

    Kate Monteiro

    • Hi. I dont know much about local RI sources (despite having come from there), or LGBT resources. As for Keith-Albee, for some reason the best collection seems to be at the University of Iowa. Sorry cant be of more help

  2. After hearing about your book I decided to ‘buy’ a copy. Even though I have read almost all the books on vaudeville and variety out there I figured I would give your book a spot on my shelf. After reading ‘The Overture’ I realized you are a very knowledgeable man and you wrote a line which sums up the current resurgence.
    “The vaudeville form suited a nation where nothing could be taken for granted”. Timely and topical for now as well even though you wrote it 5 years ago.
    Thanks and hope we can trade stories p2p sometime soon.

  3. thanks, JIm! Let’s do it!

  4. Trav – Hi, I’m not sure if we’ve met before, but I just wanted to see if you’re interested in writing about the upcoming film adaptation of the Off-Broadway play “Between Us” by Joe Hortua. The play was originally commissioned by South Coast Rep, and then premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2004 where it did very well. I got together with Joe and we adapted the play into a screenplay, which I’ll be directing in March. (Interestingly, I turned down “Farragut North” to adapt “Between Us” – not that I feel bad that George Clooney will be directing my cast-offs – I’m sure he’ll do just fine.) Of course, we’re hoping to follow in the footsteps of MTC’s “Rabbit Hole” which is already a top awards contender for its film adaptation.

    Unlike most high-profile play adaptations, we’re doing this without the benefit of a studio or a big producer like Scott Rudin behind us. My own roots are in the indie film world (I co-founded the Slamdance Film Festival), and my last film was the real estate musical “Open House”, which starred Anthony Rapp and Sally Kellerman, and was distributed by The Weinstein Co. It was this film that led me to New York when there was chatter from the Weinsteins of turning it into a stage play. We never did, but while I was there I found stacks of hit plays that would make great films, and I thought “Between Us” was the best of them.

    I saw Jason Zinoman’s story in the Times last week on playwrights who move to TV writing (as indeed Joe Hortua has done, writing for “Life” and “Cane”). But what Jason forgot to mention is that this one-way train skips over film adaptations because there just isn’t as much money in it for the agents or playwrights. Too bad – there’s a lot of great material out there.

    In any case, there was a nice story in FilmThreat.com yesterday about our production of “Between Us” – here’s the link: http://www.filmthreat.com/features/28294/ There’s also a nice embeddable video describing the project on our Kickstarter page here: http://kck.st/btXxyU

    If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 323-304-3593.

    Dan Mirvish
    Director, “Between Us”

  5. Cindy P, Gerber Says:


    I’m a freelance journalist assigned to write a feature article about the famous (or infamous), Poli Mansion in Woodmont, CT. I know that your book covers info on Poli the man. Would you like to be quoted in my piece? It is for a quarterly called Milford Living Magazine. (Summer issue). My deadline is the first week of May.
    If so, please contact me.

    Thank you,
    Cindy P.G.


  6. Hello! I’m the Special Events Coordinator for Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College, and would like to speak to you about conducting a talk on vaudeville tradition in Brooklyn. Please contact me at associate@brooklyncenter.com.

    Look forward to talking with you.
    Leah Keith

  7. I don’t know if we’ve ever met, but I used to intern for Eric Davis, so we might have some mutual friends in common, (Eric, Audrey Crabtree, Deborah Kaufman, Deanna Fleysher, Jeff Seal, Johnathan Kaplan…?)

    Anyway, I read your book, “No Applause” and I thought it was BRILLIANT. While I didn’t agree with all of your opinions, but it was exceedingly well researched, and smartly written with a lot of wit, charm, and feeling. Incredibly informative, and really quite an essential read. I really felt i could enter into and have some scope of the American narrative of performing arts after reading it. I borrowed it from the Performing Arts Library, but i loved it so much I know I’ll end up buying it to read it again.

    Anyway, I’m planning a street Shakespeare bike tour that was inspired by a lot of the ideas you introduced to me via your book. I thought I might share it with you. Hope you are doing well, and hope to hear from you.

    • Thanks for your kind words! (and yes we have a million friends in common, it seems). Good luck with the bike tour, I hope it goes well!

  8. Hi Trav,
    I just spent some time on your blog. I really enjoy your writing!
    Great historic breakdowns.

  9. Persona Random Says:

    Dear Trav,

    I just finished “No Applause”… what an incredible work! Thank you so much for creating something that is not only informative, but also wildly entertaining and at times very touching. I’m currently working in showbiz at the moment, and would love to stop by to see the American Vaudeville Theatre the next time I’m in NYC. Best of luck to you in all your endeavors.


  10. Love your book and am delighted to be connected here via a friend that sent me your Ed Wood link today. Keep up the great work!

  11. Am reading “No Applause–Just Throw Money” and loving it. Am researching material for a seminar I’m doing on Eddie Morton, one of my favorite ragtime-era vaudeville singers and recordings artists. Will be liberally quoting from your book (and will give a plug for your book in my seminar).

  12. Hello,
    A quick introduction from my end-Iam Chinmaya from Bangalore,India. The reason for my mail is that I understand that the “sons of the desert” are having their next convention at Hollywood and would want to know if you are attending it. You may check this for more details- http://www.laurelandhardywood.com/ .
    Incase you or anyone whom you know are,please let me know as there are somethings that i want to discuss regarding the same.My id is-chimayaprakash@gmail.com Else,you may ignore this.

    Regards and best wishes,

  13. I’m writing a history of the accordion in American popular culture. Recently I came across reference to a Suzette Carsell (or Susie Carsello) who started in Vaudeville in 1900. She may have been the first pro female accordionist in the States. I don’t actually know of many earlier male accordionists in vaudeville, but there must have been some. I’m pretty sure John Kimmel was one, and probably some of the minstrel players came over.

    There was a swell bio of Madam Carsell “Mother of the Accordion” in the Prescott Az. Courier in 1981. It is up on Google Books.

    I’m very interested in finding any photos or info on her early career. She gets only minor billing in Variety and such but there must have been photos, no?

    I’m going to check out your book – sounds great. If you have any advice for other possible sources, I’d be very thankful.

    • Thanks! about the history of accordions I know very little though. You might try the folks at the Main Squeeze Orchestra though. They’re the main go0to accordion experts here in New York

    • I’m not sure if you’ll see this a year later, but if you are interested in Suzette Carsell as member of the Peerless Trio, I can share it with you.

      • Sure, very interested! and I’m sure our readers will be too! We’d be grateful for any information

      • I would love to learn more about Suzette! Any help is welcome. Contact me (phonetically) at accordion dot noir at g mail dot com Thank you in advance, I’m very excited!

      • Judd Tooke Says:

        I am most interested in Peerless Trio info. Send away. I know it will fit. Judd Tooke

      • I really don’t have a lot of information to provide. The following is a link to information I’ve gathered for my great grandmother:


        Bertha and my great grandfather Thomas Francis Savage were vaudevillians. What I’ve pieced together:
        – The toured as Savage & DeCroteau around 1900 to 1910.
        – They met up with Suzette Carsell after 1910.
        – My great grandmother took the name Mazie Berto
        – My great grandfather took the name Tom Rossi
        – Neither are Italian
        – They toured as the Peerless Trio or the Peerless Italian Trio up until about 1921.
        – My great grandfather became ill and the band broke up.
        – By 1930 my grandmother was an unemployed actress living in NYC.

        I’ve found one unflattering review of their performance.

        I have a picture on the link provided of the trio (Suzette is in the middle). I also have a publicity post card of Suzette which she sent to either my Grandmother or mother, signed Aunt Suzie.

  14. Hello, hello, hello!

    I’ve been following your
    I’m production assistant for the theatre company Strangemen & Co., and right now we’re in rehearsals for this magical play called The Woodsman. It’s a retelling of Frank L. Baum’s The Tinman. In the performance, the actors make Bunraku puppets come to life through seamless choreography, and harmonize in bewitching melodies kept in rhythm by the beat of an axe.

    We’re going Off Broadway to 59E59 Theaters!!!, and I was hoping you might like to come to one of our performances and share this experience!

    The Woodsman begins performances on Thursday, January 30 and runs for a limited engagement through Sunday, February 16th. Press opening is Wednesday, February 5th at 7:15pm.

    Enjoy the article below on the production, and please let me know if you’d like a ticket, and I’ll accommodate you!



  15. Judd Tooke Says:

    I note your deep and abiding affection for Kalmar and Ruby. I have spent may years researching these two and am in the process of writing the biography of the team and families. Would appreciate your thoughts.

  16. You have gathered an amazing collection of circus history! I am the great-neice of Lew Sunlin (Louis F. Sunlin). My brother and I with our genealogical research found out last year that we had a family member in the circus. Can you tell us how we can find more information about him? What a fascinating character he is!

  17. MaryBeth Shannon Says:

    Hi there,
    So I thought maybe leaving a comment here would help as well. Not sure if you can see my email address, but notice that you have responded to others here. Would love to pick your brain over lunch with regard to my new play set in the vaudeville era. Will be in NY the first week of December. Any chance? -mbshannon

  18. MaryBeth Shannon Says:

    Great! You made my day! -mb

  19. Trav,

    I wanted to send you an email but couldn’t find your address on your blog…..my sister and I would like to invite you to participate in our celebration of Universal Pictures 100th anniversary. We’re hosting a blogathon from Oct. 29-Oct. 31st, 2015. Any Universal Pictures related post is welcome! If you could write a new article or just send us a link from a past article, that would be swell. Here are the details :


    We’d love to have you join the roster!

    Diana & Constance Metzinger

  20. Hi, I’m working on a play about Vaudeville in NYC in 1920 right after the Palmer Raids. Was there any political humor in Vaudeville and if so which vaudevillians would be most likely to include this material.
    I’m also wondering if you could help me locate any of the following primary sources:
    Mae West routines from 1918 to 1922
    Savoy and Brennan routines

    Is the Library of Congress the best source and if so is any of it available on the web or do I need to plan a research trip to DC. Thanks very much for any pointers you can give me. I enjoyed your book a great deal.

  21. David Fann Says:

    Jerry Van Dyke, Huntsville Alabama…..
    You mentioned in one of your posts about the possibility of a great aunt of yours spurning the proposal of Jerry. My father was the club manager of a local American Legion post in and around 1962-63. I know for a fact that he played there. I was three- four years old at the time. Story goes that Jerry spotted me and my younger brother…Jerry told my mom,” Esther, your boys are having a pee fight”. My father stayed involved with the American Legion until his death in 1992. My dad had an unusual nickname that followed him his whole life. It was Tut. If you get a chance to talk to Jerry, ask him if he remembered Tut and Esther. They eventually named a veterans nursing home after him in Huntsville Alabama. The Floyd “Tut” Fann SR. State Veterans Home.


    • That is amazing! Thank you, sir! I never dreamt that actual proof would ever turn up about this family story. Ha, so great that it pans out to be true! As for Mr. Van Dyke I dont know him personally but if I ever do get to meet him, you can be certain I’ll tell him this story. Thanks again!

  22. Thanks so much for your site, Trav! I follow you on FB. IM Will Jordan’s girlfriend and i have learned SO much about entertainment from him and his friends. Glad to join your posts! Take care now and be well

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