|Colorful cast takes a bow! All photos by Tony Coehlo/One City One Pride - click to enlarge|
Vibrating with the weekend's performance thrillride. Gratitude abounds and fresh possibilities and ideas are flowering from the nourishment of a profound experience.
It began with a fab afternoon in the hot sun listening & watching the hot fun festivities dreamed up by Apt 3F and PLANET QUEER's "A Midsummer Afternoon's Queer Wedding Reception" while helping guide audience in putting glitter make-up on. I mostly glittered up a lot of children who attended, girls who could not get enough and kept coming back for, more much to their parents bemusement (fortunately they could wash up in the venue's bathroom). A couple of them became my helpers and "knew" a lot more about make-up than I could imagine (such teachers they be in their free expression). I even let one girl paint my head (she asked if she could, and I said, "Yes you may, it is a canvas.")
And then the 7pm program, "Behold the Bridegrooms Revisited"...so much to say. Deep appreciation for the opportunity presented by West Hollywood's One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. There is so much value in connecting with our ancestors as an ongoing part of our community and the importance of creating sacred, creative space for honoring their cultural contributions by presenting their artful contributions to contemporary audiences. The exploration of James Broughton has profound gifts for everyone and deserves wider recognition. Getting to “play” with his words and do so in new ways involving friends utilizing their talents is so priceless an experience to participate in and share with others. Since the festival theme was "I Do" in celebration of one year of marriage equality, I focused the show on the loving relationship and marriage of James Broughton to his partner Joel Singer.
There was so much magic there - James Broughton himself was orchestrating from beyond (he has indeed been busy at work all over the world with the various celebrations which have conjured up his arts). I was thrilled to meet visiting guest artist Mountaine Jonas, whose arrival in LA was most assuredly lined up by James so that Moutaine and I could perform the duet poem “This Wonder” in front of a slideshow of James & Joel. A stranger before this event, Mountaine simply said the “magic words” (befitting a man who online manifests as Merlin) -- he also just so happened to choose the very poem that I had hoped to perform (and still will someday) with my Alien Sister Sky Palkowitz, who unfortunately had to be out of town during the show (but was indeed present that evening with her wishes and previous acting coaching). I didn't think I would get to do it as part of the program, and at the last minute, magic happened. Mountaine’s expertise in James Broughton’s work guided me in the delivery of the poem in ways I could never have realized without his splendid knowledge.
And then, OH - the dream come true of blending words with beautiful music and gorgeous dance with talented friends. James & Joel used Bach cello suites in one of their film collaborations, and I’ve used a Bach cello suite in my performance piece “ASH - Axis Mundi” - so I relished the connection and love for Bach by performing once more with the great mastermind’s music supporting James Broughton’s loving tribute to origins of his life with Joel: “Wondrous the Merge”. Having live cello played by a most talented friend, David Mergen, is a lifetime treasure. Add to that mix the remarkable dance talents and genius of Atasiea Kenneth L. Ferguson, and you have a goldmine of the soul. I had merely to create an outline and blocking, and he magically filled it with the most sublime movement and interpretation. Such a blessing to bring these gifts together and play, and, as James says himself in the poem, “Yes Yes Yes!” I definitely see more of this particular collaboration manifesting as a necessity.
Next, there was the poem, “Little Sermons of Big Joy” accompanied once again with David on cello, because why not do one more while at it?! As indicated by the arrangement and playfulness of the text, I got to “busk and bounce” upon the stage while sharing James’s benediction to “inseminate with light, the wombs of mankind.”
Finally, we shared the good fun and lyric beauty of James & Joel’s connubial masque with a staged reading of their 1978 nuptials “Behold the Bridegrooms”. Weddings are most definitely works of theatre, and the script of theirs is such a rich banquet of wondrous words. With the help of colorfully adorned friends, Clint Qlint Steinhauser, David Parke Epstein, David Lawrence, Rich Yap, Bill Mayer Atasiea (once more on stage this time as the puckish figure Hermeros in the prologue and epilogue), Blu Donald Richard Blues (as Joel Singer) and that cardinal co-progenitor of gay theatre Robert Patrick Playwright as James Broughton. Some have proclaimed we look like a Dr. Seuss book come to life — indeed we had great fun with it and indeed James (while being a champion of bare flesh) was a lover of festive and outrageous regalia (as sublimely realized in his mock funeral procession in the 1974 film “Testament” and in his associations with the Radical Faeries and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence).
Such an honor and a Big Joy to “Behold the Bridegrooms Revisited” in this way - thanks to all of those involved and all those who have supported the journey from afar or in person as audiences. Major thanks to all the people involved in the documentary film “Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton”, most particularly Stephen Silha and the movement to spread James Broughton’s “frisky gospel” to others by encouraging such performance events to occur. Special thanks to Mike Che, Andrew Campbell, and the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride for making this opportunity possible and to perform in the historic Fiesta Hall. The programs all month long have been so incredible and so important in supporting the arts and bringing various artist’s works to light. Very importantly, thanks to Joel Singer for his open heart both for inspiring the great genius of James to continue creating such beautiful works and in cheering on all these tributes. And of course, thank you James!
I shall be posting more photos and video in time - and shall continue singing the praises of BIG JOY James Broughton. Your support as audience for these endeavors is appreciated and vital in fueling more to come!