Sandy in Soho

Like a velvet rope between light and darkness

 

I was staying down in Soho with Henry after we returned to the city, having decided to cut short our weekend tour of Amish, coal, and hydrofracking sites in Pennsylvania.  On the road back from Western PA, there were already caravans of electrical and tree cutting vehicles from as far as Missouri and Indiana, all headed for Delaware, New York, New Jersey…the disaster chasers.

As we approached the Holland Tunnel, there were many signs warning that a “State of Emergency was in effect,” and back in Soho, we could taste that pre-hurricane air, the low pressure before a great storm.

But the local gunshop is still open to service all your pre-hurricane needs

On the night of, we got a full view of the storm across the skyline.  We saw the Freedom Tower go dark (we were already in the dark by then), and on the other side of the building, we thought we saw the big greenish flash that was the explosion at 14th Street.  We lost power and cell service, which was especially weird because the next morning, everyone else was going on as though all was normal and wondered why we weren’t calling back.  At least that’s how it seemed when we did finally manage to get a single text to come through, which became an event as significant as a channeling from the great beyond, like holy words from some oracle that only spoke when you had positioned yourself just right to receive the message, having naturally spent the day preparing the appropriate burnt offerings.  Soon, we were boiling pots of water for steam heat.

After the storm

By daylight, the streets of Soho were empty and boarded up, and people were throwing themselves at any cars that came through.  Henry’s car was in an underground electric parking lot, which is a really cool place to keep your car…until there’s no power and you can’t get your car out.

After a couple of days, we were able to come uptown, where we found everything to be surprisingly normal.  On the ride up from Soho, working traffic lights marked off the return to civilization.  I was able to contact my sister in Northern New Jersey and my parents on the Jersey Shore.  My parents lost a pear tree, and everyone seemed to lose power, cell and land-line service, but from a garbled message I gathered that they were cooking on the grill and bundling up for warmth and were ok.

The boardwalk in Seaside Heights, just across the bridge from my hometown, was not so lucky.  I keep seeing these images on the news of  the completely destroyed Funtown Pier and the amusement park rides that are now in the ocean.  It’s really sad to think about because even when they build it up new it won’t have those familiar boardwalk signs and painted booths, some of which had probably been there since the 1970’s.  There’s no travel over the bridge into Seaside now, but I hear that looters have been coming by boat.  While I’ve lost little in the storm—nothing but a few days of power—looking at the sunken Jersey Shore reminds me that I’ve actually lost so many of the places I used to go.  The wreckage along the coastline, where land meets sea, civilization meets nature…that is where my propensity for nostalgia meets my intuition about the future that mankind has created for itself.  You can only greet this with acceptance.

(Photos of the boardwalk in Seaside Heights are from when my sister, Connie Raymond, and I were visiting this past summer.  Who knew that it would be the last time we would see our boardwalk just this way?)

Being Bachelorette-ish

Sorry Paul, but it had to happen.

Lily P, my best friend from high school, is getting married, and this weekend the boys are out in the Hamptons doing bachelor things…which leaves us in Manhattan with crepes, champagne, and those really cute fashion busboys at that Italian restaurant.  Girls night!

Good Times at House of Yes!

What a killer night!  After a few early technical difficulties, laid down a truly epic set at the inauguration of Good Times at House of Yes in Brooklyn last night.  I love this crowd because I get to play all the big floor stuff for the real dancers that they all are.  Tarik Najeddine sure started off this brand new party with a bang: amazing people, amazing décor, and of course, amazing music all night long.  When I wasn’t DJing, you could find me on the floor dancing next to the astronaut and the guy with the unicorn headdress.  If you missed this one, you missed a lot…but I have a feeling there will be more Good Times in the months to come.

Special thanks to David Baren for the pics he took of me.

Energy Workings with Nancy Mayans

I remember my first class with Nancy Mayans at Esper Studios.  When she walked into the room, it was like a tidal wave of Qi had just filled the place.  I thought to myself, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

For the next two years at Esper, I had the pleasure of studying Voice and Speech with Nancy, with the added bonus of training simultaneously in her Energy Classes—the very same Energy Classes that I’ve been assisting her in teaching over the past two summers.  In addition to being an incredible Voice and Speech teacher—winner of Favorite Vocal Coach in Backstage‘s poll two years running—Nancy’s unique gifts for Energy Work and Healing help to open actors up to their innate ability to ground themselves for auditions, alter their aura body to portray different characters, and allow themselves to access any emotion on cue…all through working with chakra-based energies.

I can tell you honestly that there isn’t a single audition or acting performance that I don’t use this work for.  It is highly compatible with the work I do with Wynn Handman, and has served me well again and again because when the character and the emotions come from the deep place that those energy gridworks inhabit, there isn’t anything deeper, and it’s something that no amount of analyzing or thinking about a role can replace.  It feels as good as harnessing the intensity of the Method without the side-effects, and it just plain works.

It’s been a great gift to be able to help with these classes, an opportunity to exercise my ability to hold the energy of a room filled with students, and to be ready to give an impromptu healing when necessary…all while taking notes and occasionally wrangling the iPod.  There is enormous satisfaction watching these actors change themselves and take a quantum leap into new layers of their abilities, and always a gift to work with such a master teacher as Nancy. To find out more about this type of training, check out her website at www.nancymayans.com

Wynn’s Birthday

As many of you know, I have the wonderful good fortune of being able to study with one of the greatest living acting coaches, Wynn Handman. If you’re outside of the theater world, or even inside it, and haven’t heard of him, don’t beat yourself up over it. Finding his class requires having an ear to the ground, a finger on the pulse, and a propensity for being in the know, as he doesn’t advertise in places like Backstage, and until recently was listed solely as a number in the phone book. But I can tell you this for certain: calling that phone number was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made—both as an actor and as a person.

Wynn was an early assistant to Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse during the period prior to Meisner’s development of the repetition exercises. He teaches organic acting with a deep emphasis on character work. He is Artistic Director and co-founder of The American Place Theater, which has been presenting the cutting edge in theater talent since 1962. His acting class, which has been going on continuously for just as long, has produced countless exceptional actors including: Alec Baldwin, James Caan, Kathleen Chalfant, Chris Cooper, Michael Douglas, Sandy Duncan, Mia Farrow, Christopher George, Richard Gere, Joel Grey, Allison Janney, Raul Julia, Frank Langella, John Leguizamo, Susan Lucci, Burt Reynolds, Tony Roberts, Anna Deveare Smith, Mira Sorvino, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington and Joanne Woodward…and now me!

All this and he’s also a WWII veteran and native New Yorker with a thousand and one fascinating stories from both inside and outside the theater. You would be hard-pressed to find a more charismatic and truly beautiful man.

This year marks Wynn’s 90th birthday, which I got to celebrate with him in class, along with the remarkable actors that I’ve had the gift of training with over the past two years. Letters and videos have poured in from all over the world to celebrate—he’s just the kind of man that changes people’s lives, and when you’ve felt that, you can’t help but express your gratitude. Below is the short video that I put together for the occasion…with a little help from my “friends.” I hope you can handle this much cuteness—consider yourself warned.

To read more about Wynn, I recommend checking out this great New York Times article from his 85th birthday, or this bio from the Studio’s new website.

Poem in Critical Quarterly

One of my poems from the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology has been included in the most recent issue of Critical Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, UK).  Critical Quarterly is a lively literary-critical journal that cross-pollinates between cultural studies and creative writing.  This issue (July 2012, Volume 54, Issue 2) is focused on Occupy, with an opening piece by Naomi Klein and an entire section devoted to poems from the OWS Anthology, including works by: Germ, Eileen Myles, Ben Rosenberg, Lara Weibgen, Stephen Boyer, Mike Cecconi, Miranda Lee Reality Torn, Filip Marinovich, Sparrow, Lee Ann Brown, Betsy Fagin, and me.

If you want to check it out, print editions are likely to be found in academic libraries, or online through platforms like ProQuest (I think you need to login to read it off of the Wiley-Blackwell site).  I’m delighted to be included in this issue!

Liquid Diet at R Bar

If you missed Liquid Diet’s performance at R Bar for Mike Madrigal’s Olivia Garden of Eden on June 21st, then you missed a lot I’m afraid. I was singing and even dancing a bit—all without the Tron arm brace from my injury for the very first time! Georgia even propelled us into this impromptu a cappella at the end of our finale song “Nude.” So if you missed it, well, it was epic. But here are a few photos to tide you over until the next show.  Hell, I’ll even post the “Hand Dance” video so you don’t have to go looking all over Youtube for it when you’re…you know…in the mood.

Visionaries: Ami Goodheart

You’ve seen her designs on the pages of Zink, Elle and L’Officiel, and on the bodies of Lady Gaga, Ciara and Lydia Hearst.  She’s created performances for W Hotel openings, Marc Jacobs holiday parties, Tiesto tours.  She is a Showgirl Of The Universe!  A Visionary of Visionaries.  My favorite entry on her blog has to be the childhood photos that show her early costume making days (I’m seriously not sure whether I like her better as E.T. or Mr. T).  She has been a pioneer of burlesque revival.  Back in the days of yore, I heard she turned her East Village space into a bit of a speakeasy—risking it all in the name of dance!  I think she even told me once that she was in GG Allin’s only music video—and you know what? I believe her.

She is Ami Goodheart.

On June 13th, I got to kick off the summer at Ami’s costume exhibit/party, Visionaries.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ami on several occasions, and I can tell you for certain that she’s not only an inspiration,  a workaholic and a creative genius, but also one of the kindest, most fun, down-to-earth people around.  This party marked the beginning of summer and the debut of Ami’s Marie Antoinette costume collection.  In a word: amazing.  I think I’ll let the pictures below do the talking.  (You may recognize a certain chandelier costume I’ve been seen wearing around town.)

I Get A Little Freaky

It’s that time of the month again…time for more nu disco dancing at Loreley—the best Brooklyn beer garden under the BQE.  Yes, I’ll still be wearing my Tron arm, as healing from my kung fu accident is a slower process than I’d like, but I think it makes my DJing more bionic.

In honor of the occasion, we have not one, but two free gifts just for you!  (While infinite supplies last).  We’ve posted a full two hours of the amazing live mix from last month’s party, and we also made this informative DIY video for your viewing enjoyment!  It’s downright festive up in here.

Next Party: Wednesday May 16, 2012 @ Loreley Williamsburg; 64 Frost Street at Meeker Ave (L or G trains to Lorimer/Metropolitan); 10-close; no cover; 21+

Keeping it Nu Disco in Brooklyn

Flyer for MOVEMENT at Loreley Williamsburg with DJs Ayesha Adamo and Cecil Grey. Photo by John DeAmara

Come check out the debut of our all new party at Loreley in Brooklyn!

When we get together it’s a serious throwdown, so don’t miss this night of sexy beats, dancefloor hustling and rock nouveau. Here’s the party info:

Date: Wednesday April 18, 2012

Event Name: MOVEMENT (now renamed Alchemical Disco)

Venue: Loreley Williamsburg, 64 Frost Street at Meeker Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn • 718-599-0025, www.facebook.com/LoreleyBK

Subway: L or G trains to Lorimer/Metropolitan

Parking: Plenty right under the BQE

Time: 10pm-4am

Cost: FREE

DJs: Ayesha Adamo & Cecil Grey

Genre: Indie Dance/ French House / Nu Disco

Visit us on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/alchemicaldisco

 

Great Small Works

On March 27th, I had the opportunity to participate in Great Small Works’ monthly Spaghetti Dinner Cabaret fundraiser at a fantastic space called One Arm Red out in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I was performing that evening as one of a group of five poets from the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, alongside Stephen Boyer, Ras Osagyefo, Kari Giron, and Ben Rosenberg. Other readers/performers that evening included Lee Ann Brown, Tracie Morris, Tomas Urayan Noel, Eugene Ostashevsky, Robert Kocik, Daria Fain and The Phoneme Choir. It was an amazing evening of text, song, movement, and of course…spaghetti. Terror as Usual closed the night with their clever, imaginative brand of current events puppetry…truly sensational!

Below is a video of the song I wrote and performed that night. It’s called “The Disappearing Act” and mainly addresses the issue of gentrification in New York City. Surrounded by the rumble of construction and the General Assembly, I gave this song its debut at the OWS Friday Night Poetry Assembly in Zuccotti Park on November 4, 2011. A hand-written version of it has been published in the poetry journal, Po. Just for fun, I’ve added the lyrics below the video. Enjoy!

They are not from here
But they’re everywhere, it’s true
And they all come here because
They can afford to
They moved into the village ‘cause
They heard that it was cool
But that was a long time ago
The artists have all gone
They left behind their songs
And bankers took their spaces
Took their homes
You wanted to see change, I guess
You’ve come here just in time
You may have missed the first act
But we won’t forget our lines
Don’t need no Broadway tickets
To be entertained by me
Just step right up and see
The Disappearing Act.

They are not from here
But they’re everywhere it’s true
And they all come here because
They can afford to
The rich kids took the Bowery ‘cause
They heard that it was cool
They got some ink to prove it too
And a piercing on St. Marks
Oh they broke the poet’s hearts
Next thing you know they’ll be pickin’ up guitars
And down in Thompson Square Park
Where we used to get our drugs
Eight thousand yuppies and their stupid little dogs
At least the junkie punk kids didn’t piss on every tree
Step right up and see
The Disappearing Act
Oh there’s no more homeless people
Or hookers in Times Square
And thank the lord it’s safe for you to go shopping there
So much for huddled masses yearning to breathe free
Step right up and see
The Disappearing Act

From the Basement of the Griffin to the Top of the Standard

Ayesha Adamo performing with Liquid Diet at The Griffin

Chelsea boys are serious about Sundays. Clad in their Marc Jacobs best, there’s no doubt about it: in certain downtown circles Sunday is far from being a day of rest. And this past Sunday was no different—except that the crowd at The Griffin was treated to a performance by Liquid Diet (think Whore’s Mascara 2.0), and I was there in my backup-dancing shoes to be a part of it.

Griffin on a Sunday is a crazy dance party. The place was already packed and roaring when I showed up at 9PM. The DJ played it big, as though it was the main floor of the old Roxy, and for once, it was like nothing in New York had changed…ever!

I was guided to the basement where the lovelies of Liquid Diet were warming up for the show. We powdered, we glossed, went over the choreo one last time, and when we got upstairs, we danced! While some of you surely remember me as the dancer and sometimes-backup-singer in Whore’s Mascara, Liquid Diet is a whole new showdown. Gone are the days of Tiffany Superstar, the itchy prostitute that Whore’s Mascara rescued from the Port Authority, as the electropop folklore goes. In Liquid Diet, I’m working the hormonal-tween-trina angle. We even dared to do a little partnering lift high up on the banquettes. Great show, great crowd.

Jack, my partner in dance, was skeptical about my plans to continue the evening around the corner at Le Bain because I was wearing shorts and sneakers. I was pretty confident about the shorts and sneakers, but admittedly, the dual hair scrunchies I was sporting did give me pause. But the bottle service at Griffin replaced pause with valour, and now, these scrunchies have boldly gone where no scrunchies have gone before: the top of The Standard. Ah—the little scrunchies that did!

Best thing about Griffin Sundays? Gay boys are all great dancers and they’re not going to molest you in the process. They understand the concept of giving others space for real dancing. Best thing about Le Bain in general? Even though the boys will molest you in the process, they will have French accents, skinny jeans, and nice teeth…as well as just the right amount of sexy facial hair—sort of like George Michael during the Faith years (though he would probably prefer the other party). At Le Bain, you’ll never have a situation with The Situation, though you might have a situation with a jet-setting Algerian part-time model…and somehow that’s kind of ok.

But back to George Michael, did I mention that one of the songs we performed with Liquid Diet that night was a fantastic remake of Father Figure? Pretty much the sexiest song ever. For a while, both my Mom and I had crushes on George Michael. Multi-generational magnetism: you can’t fight that. It’s some serious mojo. The man I’ve been looking for all my life is embodied in that song, and while he may not be embodied in this glass room at Le Bain, I tell you earnestly: there is good facial hair to be found here and that’s something at least.

Facial hair aside, I very much enjoyed speaking Chinese with a charming guy who asked if I was in roller derby (it’s the outfit). And yet, certain other boys were more aggressive in their approach, creating the need to run and hide…but where? That’s when you know it’s time to hit the ladies’ room.

Everybody talks about the bathrooms in this place and you know I’m one to follow the pack. Floor to ceiling glass with a view of the Empire State skyline and a sheer drop to the streets that once smelled of entrails from actual meat packing. There’s also this freaky little bit of space between the glass and the floor. No one ever mentions that. But everybody says the bathrooms are amazing. True. Except every time I ask myself the totally obvious question: what if I were on LSD? Doesn’t anyone else ask themselves this? Because, I mean, not so much next door at the Boom Boom Room, but Le Bain really tends to play some pretty decent music…decent enough to consider LSD. It’s not like you’d be interrupted by having to hear Jay-Z’s voice every half-hour. Or Lady Gaga’s. Now that’s a bad trip waiting to happen. So every time I, like, wonder if they’ve ever had this problem, because when I’m in there, I just want to attach myself to the window…you know, just get like all up next to it like a fish pressed up on the bowl…because I’ve been waiting all night to finally get some quality alone time with the window. So hot…and I’m not even high. But just imagine if I were! It could be so…confusing, you know? Perhaps it already is.

At 3AM, I decide that I absolutely have to tear myself away from the beautiful man from Malta who has some sweet swing dance moves, a Polo shirt, and a wildly fun French gay friend who bit my leg. Cruising up the West Side Highway to my uptown lair, I could even entertain some Jay-Z at this point, but it’s almost better with just the sound of the cars.

Flaunt It

Behind the scenes as Ayesha Adamo shoots with John Rusnak for Flaunt Magazine

Just finished this great shoot for Flaunt Magazine with photographer John Rusnak at a secret handmade hooked rug location in the Bronx. Rusnak sets up his shots so meticulously that he doesn’t need to take many, though he does use a combination of black and white Polaroid and digital color. This was a hand/parts shoot for me, so the She-Buddha was the real star. Well…the She-Buddha and the Cartier jewelry that always shows up with a bodyguard. Diva.

Get in touch with us!