A Welcome and a Definition

Culture Vulture: "A person with a strong, sometimes obsessive, interest in the arts." Culture Vultures spend a lot of time observing the world. This is where those observations come out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

What I did at Fringe

Often times, I get asked by people not familiar with the Orlando Fringe Festival: "So what exactly happens at Fringe?" In fact, A LOT happens at Fringe. So much happens that I like to put together a list every year.

Things I did at the 2010 Orlando Fringe:

1) I watched a woman sing opera to toilet paper.

2) I visited a trailer park where everyone residing there could sing and dance.

3) I met one of my favorite stars of gay cable.

4) I attended a soiree.

5) I learned about the kinkier side of Serengeti phone sex.

6) I fell in love with a cheerleader (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).

7) I learned the real identity of William Shakespeare.

8) I watched two people defuse a bomb.

9) I heard people make a toast to Sarah Palin.

10) I found out if you are going to put a condom on a banana, you really shouldn't peel it first!!

See you next year!! (The last of my reviews are also coming up!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Soiree Review

It just occurred to me I reviewed T-O-T-A-L-L-Y and ...Some Other Day but never reviewed The Soiree. Walking into the show, the audience discovers we've been invited to a party at Elizabeth's house. Elizabeth is the tipsy hostess with the most-est, and a love of all things French. (The house opens with Edith Piaf's Rien de Rien.) In this show, you are literally Elizabeth's guests: she greets several people as if she has known them all her life. Some audience members are pulled up onstage for a rather corny party game (Thank goodness I wasn't one of the people pulled!) The thing that made me love this show actually didn't happen until I walked out of the theater. I realized that the show actually followed the arc of a party: the anticipation and nervousness of just getting there, to the light mood moments of a fun game, and even the feeling of being trapped by a stranger who is yammering on for just a little too long. The show is playing in the Blue Venue and only has one more show.

Fringe Updates 2

Sorry for the lack of updates, Fringe has kept me busier than I anticipated. So far I have only seen eight shows but I want to give my Top 3 picks so far (this will probably change). In no particular order, go see T-O-T-A-L-L_Y, ...Some Other Day, and The Soiree if you don't think you can see anything else. I'm looking forward to seeing The Bike Trip, XXXplicit, and The Great Trailer Park Musical.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fringe Updates

This weekend was madness! I've barely had time to wind my watch (a favorite albeit outdated saying of mine). This almost never happens, but I was able to see most of must see's already. Here's what I've seen so far and some reactions:

...Some Other Day: Schave Reilly really did it again! Awesome piece! Sometimes I have seen different shows by the same artists and thought, "Wow, their first show was so much better!" Totally not the case here. I've been recommending this show to everyone.

Dirty Stuff: I was looking forward to this show because of Jonny McGovern's great skits on The Big Gay Sketch Show. McGovern is a ball of energy in this show! He would pull you into one character and then suddenly switch and be another character. Many times TV actors are high energy because TV tends to mute your energy onscreen, but McGovern really blew it up. Good show.

Janine Klein: Gay Bar Star: The show ended up being exactly what I expected: gay, campy fun. She did these great takeoffs of Broadway songs. My two favorites were "Here's to the Homos who Brunch" (from Ladies who Lunch) and "Match.com make me a Match" (from Fiddler's Matchmaker).

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup: After leaving this one, there was a moment of "What did I just see?" It was odd, surreal, and hilarious! For goodness' sake, the woman sang to toilet paper! However, if sitting with this show for a while, I realized I found worth seeing just because it's an experience and it's very Fringe-y! Just be willing to laugh at it...

T-O-T-A-L-L-Y: Sometimes a show's popularity and buzz really doesn't get going until the festival begins. I had several great conversations with Kimleigh in this show, and that made me decide I had to see her show. I'm glad I did: the show is uplifting with a great message, yet doesn't take itself too seriously.

See you at the Fringe!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fringe Madness!!

Sorry the delay in updates, I had plan to post this yesterday but had internet issues at home. The 19th Orlando Fringe Festival is here and I am excited! Here are some highlights and shows I am can't wait to see:

...Some Other Day: Schave Reilly were here last year and did such an awesome job in The Department of Angels; I was excited to see them return to Fringe this year. Ben Schave and Caitlin Reilly are a husband-wife team that do slapstick comedy which might remind you of a silent movie or a Laurel & Hardy routine. Very cool, very different, very Fringe.

Dirty Stuff: Regular viewers of LogoTV aka the gay network will know the name Jonny McGovern from the popular The Big Gay Sketch Show. McGovern does a wide range of the show, so I can only imagine what a one man show he will do at Fringe. Plus, you can never go wrong with a show with gay themes and a title like Dirty Stuff.

Janine Klein: Gay Bar Star: Most veteran Fringers know that when Janine Klein and John Ryan get together, it's a very good thing.

The Bike Trip: Martin Dockery did a show last year called Wanderlust. His stage consisted of him and a chair, yet I was mesmerized the whole show. Dockery is possibly one of the best storytellers on the Fringe circuit. I doubt this show will be any different.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical: I have no idea what this show is about, but I saw them at the Fringe Preview talking to a local art and culture podcast. They had me in stitches, so I am there!

A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup: It amazes me that the Orlando Fringe is drawing people from Tokyo. I saw the woman doing the show in full make-up, walking around the theater last night. I have heard she gets rave reviews at other Fringe Fests, so I am always happy to show performers like that a little love.

See you at the Fringe!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fringe Madness!!

The 2010 Orlando Fringe Festival begins with the opening gala on Thursday and kicks into full festival mode on Friday. The theater festival is always a lot of fun and in my opinion, the high point of the year in the Orlando arts scene. A little background: The first Fringe Festival was in Edinburgh, Scotland and featured unjuried, experimental theater on the "fringes" of town. Orlando has one of the oldest Fringe Festivals in the United States. The shows that appear are chosen from a lottery, so there's no selection committee. I have seen some of the best and the worst shows at the Orlando Fringe. I will be volunteering for the Fringe, attending shows, and generally hanging out and stalking my favorite performers (Kidding! Well, not really...). I am going to try (emphasis on try) to update the blog at least every other day during the Fringe Festival about all the madness and fun. A complete list of shows and times are available here. See you at the Fringe!

The Casserole

In a previous post, I mentioned some shows I am looking forward to seeing this summer. I overlooked one that really deserves its own post. Jeffrey and Cole Casserole can best be described as gay absurdist theater meets YouTube. Jeffrey Self and Cole Escola are the minds behind this unusual comedy sketch show. Their sketches are usually out there and usually seem to originate from a very twisted (in a good way) part of their brains. Forget anything you have seen on SNL! The other catch is that are both young and look even younger so they manage to get away with almost anything! The only analogy I can come with is if you were cussed out by a golden retriever puppy. The thing I like most about the series was that it started as a web series and got picked up by Logo. However, they never did away with the low budget look of a web series. The yellow legal pads and webcam shots are now their signature look and only adds to the camp factor. Casserole returns to Logo July 9 and there's a preview of the upcoming season on the website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

NPR does Lady Gaga

As you may have gathered, I do enjoy a good YouTube video and honestly, I must have watched this one at least a dozen times. For me, it's the perfect combo of nerdy and gay. Now if you are not a regular NPR listener, you will probably wonder Who the heck all are these people? However, die-hards will probably recognize all the names and maybe the faces if you are really a die-hard. The blog Above the Law has a great explanation of how and why the video was done. Also, I think I now have a crush on Ari Shapiro...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Joi-sey is back!!

Last night was the premiere of Season 2 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Even though NYC is my favorite, I feel a connection to the Jersey housewives because I was born in Northern New Jersey and still have relatives living two towns away from Franklin Lakes (where they all live). Also, every time I watch the show, I am reminded of all the things I love and hate about my birth state. With that said, I'm breaking it down housewife by housewife:

Dina: We learned only two things about Dina this episode: 1) She is all about her calm and her cats lately 2) Her daughter Lexi isn't appearing this season. I can understand Lexi not appearing if Dina was getting death threats; however, it's a bit of a shame because Lexi was hilarious in Season 1. Were the death threats and vandalism the thing that caused Caroline to break down in the reunion? Hmmm....anyway, Dina has always been my favorite on the show and I liked her no drama mantra last night. I also thought it was really nice that she was texting Danielle.

Jacqueline: One of the two fertile housewives on this franchise, Jacqueline finally gave birth to her son Nicholas. After all her anguish last season over her miscarriages, you could tell Jacqueline was finally really happy. J always came across as the peacemaker of the group, so it was nice to see all her family rally around her and that she and Caroline are closer. I'm curious what will happen with her wild child daughter Ashley. You can tell Ashley is a little spoiled and I think they were hinting that the sparks will fly.

Caroline: I like Caroline, but I am really hoping they will be more to her than was shown last season: she never seemed to evolve past her role as the tough-as-nails Italian mama. I enjoy her children more than her on the show. I will cop to having a small crush on Albie, the handsome law student who they portrayed last season as being smarter than his brother and sister put together. (Someone won the genetic lottery in that family!) The fact that Lauren is dating Albie's best friend (who kind of looks a bouncer but then again many men from NJ do) could be an interesting side story.

Teresa: My reaction to Teresa's scenes was the same last night as it was Season 1: Teresa, really? Really? For instance, the scene of her family making sauce for the year seemed quaint and old world-y until they started talking about husbands for Gia (who's 8 by the way). Teresa suggested Gia might want to marry a Jewish guy, to which Gia made a comment that was vaguely anti-Semitic. Teresa said to her "You shouldn't say those things" but I'm not sure she would have said that without the camera there because later she made a joke about turning her possible son gay (she's the other fertile one). My point is sometimes I think Teresa comes across rather provincial Jersey Italian, and she's a little painful to watch. I want to like Teresa and sometimes I even do, but it never lasts long.

I like to think of Danielle as the counterweight to the other four, because really to counterbalance the close relationships between the four, you need someone as bat shit crazy as Danielle. She makes the show. I already said when I watch Teresa I think Really? However, when I watch Danielle I think W..T...F? Danielle definitely did not disappoint. Some of things she did last night 1) She claimed to be a good Catholic then promptly yelled at a priest 2) She shopped all over town although she claimed she was still struggling to pay her bills 3) She almost stalked a party until her rather level-headed daughters told her not to. Mind you, all of this was on camera when supposedly you would think she would want to portray herself in a good light.

It annoyed me to no end that she made fun of Dina for working "stocking shelves and doing nails." Um, what's the shame in that again? Danielle established in Season 1 that she wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth and neither was Dina! Big deal! On the flip side, I will say I felt sorry for Danielle over her two-faced "friend" Kim. It's one thing to be professional and polite to someone when they enter your place of business even if you don't particularly like them. It's another thing to act like BFFs when someone is there and then to turn around a talk crap about them. I had to wonder if maybe it had to do with Kim's drunken boyfriend. If the boyfriend doesn't like Danielle and Kim does, she might have been putting on a bit of a show for the boyfriend and Caroline. It doesn't make it right though. Also, Kim said Danielle was good for business but then said Danielle owed her money. So exactly how good for business could she be?

This season should be interesting, and I am especially interested in the scene that keep showing that looks like a clip from Cops.

A totally gratuitous picture of the adorable Albie

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Madness

Living in Florida, summer comes a little sooner here than in the rest of the country. In my world, summer starts early May and goes until about September. So with that in mind, here's a list of some of my summer picks for film and TV:

1) Sunset Daze: Sunset Daze actually premiered last Wednesday on WE, but it's a light airy series that almost screams summer mindless entertainment. The show follows a group of senior citizens living in Surprise, Arizona as they navigate life over 60. No topic seems to be off limits as I found out the first episode where Sandy ("The Wild Child") tries to get back into the dating scene and talks at length about "BOB" aka her Battery Operated Boyfriend. My favorite so far is Gail, the NYC transplant who sings, acts, and has a gay son.

2) Royal Pains: The USA network always has a knack for getting great summer fare. I'm a little over Psych but will definitely be watching Royal Pains, a show about a doctor on demand in the tony Hamptons. The show has its hard-to-believe moments but is definitely good escapist TV. The bonus is that it stars the very cute Mark Feuerstein, who I have always thought should have his TV show. The show returns to USA June 3rd.

3) Bethenny Getting Married: The unstable New Jersey housewives return tonight but I am more looking forward to Bethenny Frankel's spin-off about her wedding and pregnancy. I have already mentioned my love for B on this blog so you know I won't miss this. The show premieres June 10 on Bravo.

4) Drag U: If you are a fan of Rupaul's Drag Race, you'll want to watch Drag U. The premise is the queens from Season 1 and 2 mentor women with image issues and make them feel glamorous. While it sounds a little Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, they are bringing back some of my favorite queens as "professors": Season 1's Nina Flowers and Ongina, and Season 2's Pandora and Jujubee. The show premieres sometime in July on Logo and probably VH1.

5) Sex and the City 2: I just want to say straight out that I consider myself more of a casual SATC fan. It took me a year to see the first movie and frankly it disappointed me. However, I am little fascinated of the ides of the ladies in the Middle East. May 27 (A Thursday so I imagine there will be some midnight showings.)

6) Get Him to the Greek: This movie follows the rather unstable Aldous Snow, played by Russell Brand originally in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I enjoy Brand's stand up and his cameo in Sarah Marshall, so this should definitely be entertaining. June 4.

7) Dinner for Schmucks: Paul Rudd AND Steve Carell? Yes please! Rudd stars as a corporate guy who must bring a moron to a dinner with his boss, as part of some strange ritual where everyone brings an idiot and as a good laugh at his expense. Sounds very promising. July 16

8) Happythankyoumoreplease: An offbeat comedy about the lives of 6 New Yorkers and how their lives intertwine. I love these types of movies and this one has some great buzz. Some are saying it's this year's 500 Days of Summer. August 27