Archive for the Summer Solstice/ Mermaid Parade Category

For Talk Like a Pirate Day: Trav S.D.’s “Sea of Love”

Posted in Art Models/ Bathing Beauties/ Beauty Queens/ Burlesque Dancers/ Chorines/ Pin-Ups/ Sexpots/ Vamps, Burlesk, Coney Island, Contemporary Variety, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Indie Theatre, LEGIT, EXPERIMENTAL & MUSICAL THEATRE, ME, My Shows, Summer Solstice/ Mermaid Parade with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by travsd


All things considered we give our plays short shrift here (and elsewhere,I think) and one of our New Year’s resolutions is to make amends by plugging them aggressively. The best way to make your New Year’s resolution come true is to get to work on it several months early.

Fortunately, we have a handy “way in” to talk about one of my plays today, it being INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY and all. Trav S.D.’s Sea of Love is basically an extended “talk like a pirate” nautical riff, structured as a series of crashing ocean waves. It has had many lives.

It began as a two-hander about a couple on a date, which I began developing as a student at Trinity Rep Conservatory in 1987. It begins with the galling premise of a prudish young man rebuffing the scary advances of a highly open and sexual female co-worker whose trippy monologue provided its original title, Love Embrace at 50 Fathoms. It was a Gilligan and Ginger scenario, if you will.


A couple of years later (1989) I attended the Coney Island Mermaid Parade for the first time, and that inspired me to take the play where it eventually went, an over the top fantasy scenario, where the date is first invaded by the young man’s equally sexual and forward mother “Mrs. Paul”, and then the ghost of his pirate father “Long John”. This version was produced at the now defunct Vortex Theatre, and featured my good friend Sarah McCord Williams as “Gidget” and her then-boyfriend Brian Price as the hero “Bildad”. Coney Island performer Sailorman Jack opened the show with a set of sea chanteys.

In the early ’90s I directed yet another version at the old Village Gate, which is now Le Poisson Rouge. I think at this stage I had the effrontery to call it Wet Dreams, which is gross, but actually fits the theme.


Tony Millionaire designed the postcard for the 2002 edition

Then in 2002 came what I consider the definitive version of Sea of Love, at the Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory Festival. For this one, I pulled out all the stops. I introduced a dance chorus number, choreographed by the one and only Julie Atlas Muz, and featuring several key burlesque dancers as the “Naughty Nereids”, including the legendary Bambi the Mermaid (THE Coney Island Mermaid Parade Mermaid), Kate Valentine (a.k.a Mistress Astrid), Lin Gathright (a.k.a. Miss Bunny Love) and others. The lovely Moira Stone sang my song “Love of the Ocean” for a curtain raiser.

Stone (right), with Sarah Jane Bunker, who played Gidget, backstage at the Ohio

Stone (right), with Sarah Jane Bunker, who played Gidget, backstage at the Ohio

And I added another wave of craziness in the person of the Great God Poseidon, played by Robert Pinnock wearing nothing but a thong and a green afro wig. Jeff Lewonczyk played Bildad’s mother Mrs. Paul (in drag, natch), and Bildad was to be played by the multi-talented writer-comedian (and former Fox commentator) John Devore. 

I was extremely jazzed to play the part of the pirate — in fact, that was kind of the whole point (see the publicity photo at top). But just before opening night Devore suffered a tragic death in the family, and (as I have had to do so often in the past), I had to understudy for him, re-envisioning the pirate by having Adam Swiderski and Dan Maccarone play the body (at different shows), with Pinnock supplying the voice offstage through a microphone. Then we closed out the show by having the entire cast sing the Donovan song “Atlantis”.

As too often happens when I write/direct/produce/ and star in something, little (sometimes major) things fall through the cracks. All too often it has happened that I forgot to arrange for photographs of the production! Thus there is no photographic record of this  show. I have video of it, but it’s kind of rough (at least my copy is), and so I really only have memories.

And then there was additional life. In 2007 we did a commemorative reading of the play at Coney Island USA, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the parade.

And then that terrific resource Indie Theater Now made it available to purchase! It’s yours to peruse and (hopefully) produce at this link:

The 2015 Mermaid Parade

Posted in BROOKLYN, Burlesk, Coney Island, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Summer Solstice/ Mermaid Parade with tags , , , on June 21, 2015 by travsd


Today is the first day of summer!

Yesterday the Mad Marchioness and I launched the season in the best way possible: by being judges in the 33rd annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade, produced by Coney Island USA. I attended my first Mermaid Parade in 1989; the experience, which was fairly life changing, inspired my play Sea of Love and made me a lifelong fan of Coney Island. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve attended the parade over the years. I don’t go every year, more like every four or five. But yesterday, despite the rain (and resulting diminished attendance) was without a doubt the most enjoyable since the very first. It’s like a convention of all New York’s freaks, artists and weirdos, burlesque performers, drag queens, musicians, designers…and by this late date I’ve come to know so many of them! It is a Bacchanal in the literal sense: ceremony, celebration and real-time hallucination.



When we first arrived, the weather boded ill.


Fans of Dick Zigun, founder of the Mermaid Parade and Coney Island USA and the unofficial mayor of Coney Island. I directed Dick’s play Dead End Dummy at CIUSA last fall. 


We are oriented by Chief Justice Mark Alhadeff. 


The one and only Reverend Billy, performance activist and a fellow judge.


Dick Zigun leads off the parade.


King and Queen of the parade, Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Fraser!


Bambi the Mermaid (in the blue hair) and friends.


The Hungry March Band!


Mermaid Parade judges survive on an elaborate system of bribes (normally in the form of liquor, candy and baked goods. The Marchioness scores some from friend Rich Lovejoy).


Three Time Best Mermaid Kate Dale, whom we had the privilege of working with on Dead End Dummy. 


The Sexcamaids, featuring our friend Gyda Arber (not pictured)


Mexican folk dancers representing Dona Zita tacos.


International sideshow star Heather Holliday, spotted by the Marchioness’s eagle eye.


The always beautiful Kat Mon Dieu.


Post-parade speechifying.



The ceremony of opening the sea for the summer season.



Afterwards we stopped by Coney Island USA and the Freak Bar. There wasn’t a prayer of getting inside due to the crowds but we did see our friends The Great Fredini and Lefty Lucy. 

Naturally….there was about 5,000 times the spectacle on view at this wonderful event — these are mostly snaps of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. For the rest, just Google it!

Catch Me at the Mermaid Parade Tomorrow

Posted in AMERICANA, Amusement Parks, BROOKLYN, Burlesk, Coney Island, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Summer Solstice/ Mermaid Parade with tags , on June 17, 2011 by travsd

Come launch the summer season at New York’s water-themed Bacchanalia! Better yet, I’m a judge on the reviewing stand this year, subject to all manner of bribery. I expect to be carted away from Coney Island on a stretcher…but smiling, folks, always smiling. Assembly is at 10am…and the parade steps off at 2pm. More info is gettable rightchere.

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