Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Goddamn Queers: Durango and the Housing Crisis

Since perhaps early September I have been cast in Silk Road Theatre Project's upcoming show Durango. Yes, it is still "upcoming." Yes, that is an unusually long time to go between being cast and the beginning of rehearsals. I have a very small part (though that's not what the audiences will say, hi-yooo! [that is a joke because: I have a nude scene]) playing all of the white people under the age of 50; namely, "The Red Angel" and "Bob." The play centers around the secrets of a Korean family (played by one half-general-Asian person, one Chinese person, and a Phillipino) as they are revealed during a family road trip. Young Jimmy's big secret? He quit the swim team because he could no longer control his propensity to get a powerful Korean boner in the presence of sleek, naked white dudes. Yours truly, thank you, yes. If you would like to see Durango, featuring racial approximation, progressive subject matter, and my full-on-ass and probably-at-least-side-cock, please attend to this information:

May 1 - June 15, 2008
The Chicago Temple Building (oldest church in Chicago. Take THAT, beautiful church across from my new bedroom window.)
77 W Washington St., Chicago
Thursdays - Sundays, check the schedule at:

So, I was cast, literally, as the object of homoerotic gaze. I sometimes wonder at fellow actors about how successful an actor could be if they were very talented, good-looking, and hard-working, but significantly homophobic. The response is always "Not far." For this reason, I am considering suing my former landlords for attempting to sabotage my career (lucky for me, I had already met a nice homosexual before! Hi, "Corey!")

So. I was living with my friends, who we will call "Steevin" and "Juan Tale." When their friend, "Geoff," broke up with his girlfriend, they invited him to stay with us. I was down with that. I like Geoff.
On the very evening when we reached that agreement, we were up late. It was around 4 am when the downstairs gaybors came pounding on our door, telling us to be quiet, no excuses, no explanations, just shut it. We said ok. I sent emails asking for the chance to figure out what we were doing that was making so much noise, as we weren't doing anything which we thought could be described as a "herd of elephants" about to "come through the ceiling."
They refused to meet, discuss, or understand where we were coming from. Key quotes: "
In addition, your apartment is not a theatre, a playground, a gymnasium, Animal House or a dormitory" "There isn't any reason to get together to talk about this unless you are having difficulty understanding what we are saying to you." What they were saying was new rules - no loud noise after 11. Totally reasonable, if we knew what was making the loud noise. I wrote this, plus other stuff:
"I think we're completely clear on your requirements. If that's all you need to know, feel free to disregard the rest of this e-mail.
I believe getting together would be helpful, for a couple reasons. First of all, I want you to understand that we are confused by what we were doing on both of the nights you've specifically mentioned that was making such objectionable noise, and further confused by previous nights when we thought we were being much louder, asked you out of concern, and were told you didn't notice... I understand that your dual position as landlords and neighbors is a tense one sometimes, and that you need to do what is best for you in both positions, but (and speaking only for myself) I was surprised by this interaction because we seemed to be behaving as though we didn't have yet a third role we've found for each other - friends. I don't think we've done anything to make you think that we would willfully, consciously keep you up until all hours, that we would ignore a request for quiet if there was a noise problem, or that we had a lack of respect for you...
If, on the other hand, you consider that my first sentence above is sufficient, please be assured that we will honor our agreements with you to the best of our abilities, and I'm sure we'll see you around."

They responded thusly:
"(Barry) and I said what we needed to say. Looking forward to moving forward."
So, obviously, the relationship in the house was somewhat tense from then on. Adding to that was "Steevin"'s concerns about my respect for him and his space.
I am not a 'neatnick.' Never have been. I simply have a higher threshold for 'dirty' than some. I understand and acknowledge that this could be frustrating for someone living with me. "Steevin" felt he needed to speak with me on this issue twice - two different issues, he said what he needed, I agreed to change my behavior, and I believe I did so.
Little did I know, faithful reader of this regrettably overextended blog entry, that "Steevin" was orchestrating a betrayal.
When "Geoff" first moved in, he overheard the other two roomies talking about their effort to get me removed from the lease - they had gone down and talked to the homos, casting aspersions my way and trying to paint the picture that I, and not they, had been responsible for the mysterious objectionable noise.
The next move came a month later. "Steevin" and "Juan Tale" brought "Geoff" down to talk to the flamers. This is "Geoff," they said. He's been living with us for a little while now, and we're trying to figure out whether Yours Truly could be removed from the lease and replaced by our old friend "Geoff!"
What? The fudgepackers inquired. Living where? We don't trust you. By the time I got home on this fateful day, they were printing notices of lease cancellation. On these notices they wrote that this was the second violation of the lease; when handing them to us, one of the fairies let us know that, as much as they regretted this, he believed in a two-strike policy. Not three strikes, because, why?
Impeccable logic, male lover of men.
I sent this email:
"Believe me when I say I'm aware that this makes no difference, and that I send this email without intending any disrespect to you.
For my own peace of mind I have to say: I don't believe being noisier than you liked on that occasion, having no prior way of knowing that noise was a problem and (as you acknowledged) correcting the problem as soon as we were informed, constitutes a violation of the lease. Further, I think our response to your first warning regarding noise demonstrated our mindfulness, with repeated efforts to figure out how we could best limit the noise and smooth over the incident mixed with repeated apologies and honest protestations that we had no idea we were causing you distress.
Of course, being noisy is in the ear of the beholder, which is why the laws of Chicago (according, admittedly, to websites I've perused, not conversations with legal professionals) dictate that lease violations based on excessive noise must be based on complaints from neighbors (that's you) which then go unaddressed. That being the case, I believe our immediate and acknowledged change in late-night behavior after the first warning means that we were not in violation of the lease according to the letter of the law. Our very real and communicated apologies, I think, mean that we were abiding by the spirit you communicated to us regarding mindful awareness of your proximity.
That's all. I just wanted to communicate to you how surprised and disappointed I was by that abrupt turn in our relationship, and let you know that I think it's unfair to present that, in our lease cancellation, as the "first strike" of the two you mentioned when presenting us with the papers."
Their response was to move the date of their initial inspection of our apartment from dwo days hence to immediately. After the inspection, during which I was absent, they sent:
"The apartment is filthy from the bottom of the stairs in the hallway all the way through to the kitchen. You were shown a spotless apartment and we expect to be able to also show a spotless apartment to the next tenants. You are responsible for keeping the apartment clean - so do it and keep it that way through April 5th."
So, what a pair of douchefags, right? This is why only "Corey" has the power to keep me from turning my rage against all homosexuals. Thank you, "Corey."
We had a month to find a new place; during that time, "Geoff" and I bonded through our respective, complimentary tragedies, "Juan Tale" redeemed himself in my eyes, and I had a talk with "Steevin." Then, he went back to Texas. Fuck yeah.
Also, the land(and rectum)lords felt terrorized by us as we stopped taking off our shoes before walking around at night. They called the cops, who I hope let them know how silly it is to call the Chicago Police Department to report two dudes walking around inside after dark. They wrote an email to my MOTHER saying they were frightened of me. They had MY MOM call me and give me a lecture on the Golden Rule. It's a very good thing that I have an excellent relationship with my mother. For a less well-adjusted young man, such a phone call could have been humiliating disaster.

SO. It was a terrific ordeal, but "Juan Tale," "Geoff," and "I" found a new place and moved in. It's just a bit south, just a bit closer to the lake. I really like it, honestly. It's a friendly-feeling place, much more our speed.

Sorry about the length, friends. Which is also what I will say to anyone who goes to see Durango. Uh, not because of the length of the play, I think it'll probably be about a buck fifty. That was a dick joke.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Break The Ice

Attention, ladies I used to nail: I got a new girl now, so quit calling me.

No, no, but seriously, I have a new girlfriend and she's a peach.

As you will notice, it's been a very long time since I wrote a blog update. Since that time I've been in shows, had my lease canceled, lost one roommate and gained another in the move, worked various little jobs and been looking for others. The other day, the lady and I were brought in on a Microsoft commercial; I slapped a strawberry milkshake out of her hands. It exploded! Then she tried to slap a bowling ball out of my hand, but instead she hurt herself. There were people whose job it was to come up and make sure out clothes were nice. Acting on camera is weird.

I just want this update - which I'm writing offstage during a five-hour Saturday rehearsal for "Durango" by the Silk Road Theatre Project - to just get the ball rolling. If I don't write the first update in months, I can't write any other new ones. So dang much has happened, it's hard to know where to begin, so I shan't decide now. This blog is a fair representation in miniature of my general big problem with the artist-whatever lifestyle. The other day I spent about four hours collecting names of agencies, writing cover letters, and mailing out invitations to my show. It was a necessary next step, and it was easy, but I'd been planning to do it for weeks. Once it was begun, suddenly I was capable of working for hours, all self-directed and shit, full of what is called "passion" - as distinguished from those other essential intangibles, "Talent" and "connections" - but the first step! My God. Auditioning - going to auditions - preparing for auditions - none of them pose as great a challenge to me as looking up the audition in the first place.

So. This first blog back is about how I can't do things like write this blog. My life these days dedicated to summoning up the phlegm to spit in the eye of my own laziness; this missive is another drop.

Next time I'll write about my new place, and about how my former landlords' behavior has caused an accepted renaissance of the humor of homophobia in my friend group.