Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2014-09-18

Go See Bayside! The Musical! The Saved By the Bell Parody Show!

Did you watch Saved by the Bell when you were growing up? I loved it and my watching of it was so relentless that my mom created a nickname for it. She called it, “That ‘Stupid Show.’” She thought it was terrible.

Well, few things stand the test of time and the show doesn’t. I have tried to watch it as an adult and I cringe at the poorly strung together plot and all the problematic elements. But, you know, it was a kids’ show in the 90s. It wasn’t meant to stand the test of time.

Except now! National Lampoon’s Bayside! The Musical! is a musical parody of Saved by the Bell and it makes fun of the show for two hours. You’re in store for a lot of exaggerated aspects of the show and a ton of sexual innuendo. They take subtleties from the show and make them overtures. For example, the sexual tension between A.C. Slater and Zack, and the exploitation of the underage sexuality of the female characters.

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I’ve seen Bayside! The Musical! three times in a couple of different incarnations and it gets better and better. With the addition of Dustin Diamond to the cast—the actor who famously portrayed Screech on the show and has since made some questionable life choices—for a limited engagement, I had to see it again.

I love how the show keeps getting reworked, and the jokes keep getting funnier. The same actor who has been playing Screech kept the role, Dustin plays himself, a janitor at Bayside High. He has a great musical number. Dustin was really funny and did a great job making fun of himself but also with a humility and grace you might not expect of a child celebrity who is more well-known nowadays for his antics and not his talent.

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I had fun before, during and after the show. The theater pumps up the 90s jams while you’re being seated and during intermission. Many people sang along to Tearin’ Up My Heart. After the show there’s a meet and greet with Dustin Diamond!

Dara couldn’t resist the chance to get a photo with Dustin so we waited through the opening night crowd while I chatted with Bob and Tobly McSmith (the writers and band leaders of the show).

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It wasn’t on the record, so I won’t tell you all of the things I learned except this one tidbit—the caffeine pills Jessie Spano famously takes in the show have always been a running joke in the musical. I was shocked at the volume of the pills in this incarnation of the show—easily three times as many as the last time I saw it! The pills they use are tiny, white, freeze dried marshmallows (similar to those found in Lucky Charms). The production buys them in bulk but I’d love to figure out exactly how much goes into a truly exuberant Jessie Spano performance.

bayside-the-musicalApril Kidwell is incredible as Jessie Spano. She also played Nomi Malone in the musical version of Showgirls!

I am asked a lot by folks visiting New York City what they should do when they come to town. Obviously NYC is known for theater and I love quirky theater that pushes buttons. Plus, everyone back home who is a SBTB fan will be totally stoked to hear about the musical. And meeting Dustin Diamond!

AC_smallerJohn Duff still plays Slater and he fills out a singlet quite well!

The website for the show often has discount codes for tickets, and there are group arrangements that can be made for things like bachelorette parties. Plus, it’s right on St Mark’s Place so there are limitless delicious places for tea and food nearby. I suggest Crif Dogs, Puddin’ and Physical Graffitea. You can check out another post I wrote about hanging out around St. Mark’s Place here.

2013-04-22

Showgirls! The Musical! NYC through May 4th

Sometimes you go to the theater and you look at your friend during intermission and you say, “This is happening in real life.”

New York City, where all dreams are possible and all artistic visions have a chance, is the birthplace for the next great musical parody, and that parody is Showgirls! The Musical!

Perhaps some of you are unaware of the cultural gem that is Showgirls (The Movie). In 1995 there was a tremendous amount of buzz and controversy over the NC-17 rating for the movie starring Elizabeth Berkeley from Saved By the Bell fame. I felt really awesome that I managed to sneak my 16 year old self into the theater to see it. That rating is due to the language, near-constant topless dancing and wild, rough pool sex. The movie is extremely terrible, with ridiculous overacting, a terrible script and is almost a parody of itself.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

The fact that there is a musical parody of a parody makes the entire experience a bit meta.

Bob and Tobly McSmith wrote and produced Bayside! The Un-Musical! (The Saved By the Bell musical, which I enjoyed) a couple of years ago and applied that comic genius and brought along the cast member who played Jessie Spano (made famous by Showgirls’ Elizabeth Berkeley), April Kidwell. I expected this musical to be much of the same but was surprised to like it even better!

The entire production is made up of professional actors and is extremely well-performed. Though some of the choreography is intentionally cheesy, it’s actually quite good. Something as big as recreating a thirty person Las Vegas strip production in a tiny off-broadway theater with a cast of seven is difficult to do, but they managed to cut to the essence of the Goddess show (the production the film is based around) with a volcano tossed over a stripper pole, strategically spandexed gold lame’ and the show’s main attribute, entirely topless dancing.

Yes, much of the show is performed topless. I don’t think it’s redundant to say as a lesbian I enjoy boobs. And as a feminist I don’t want to be like, you should only go see the show for the tits, but they’re really good and in context and I think feminism is sometimes about boobs at the intersection of consent and context.

The comic timing and one-liners are genius. I thought The Gay (a parody character of the stage manager/choreographer of the Goddess show), played by Philip McLeod, was a stand-out character and actually more meaty than I remembered it being from the original. He is the character who touts brown rice and vegetables for the dancers in the big show and famously tells Elizabeth Berkeley to “THRUST! THRUST!” in a tight shot of his face at her pelvis.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

Marcus Desion had the task of playing both Molly (the BFF of the main character) and James (an erstwhile love interest/dance coach for the main character). This switch was made with a wig and bad 90s women’s fashions.

The key to Showgirls realness is the extreme overacting of Nomi, the lead character. She basically has a huge temper tantrum at the end of each scene and storms out, which is so unsettling it is comical. April Kidwell was incredible and I actually hated her character far less in the musical than in the movie.

Some of the song highlights for me were the hit “Don’t Lick the Pole” during the scene at the strip club Nomi works at until she is discovered. Not only is the song really funny (and good advice) but it’s accompanied by the athletic pole dance moves by April.

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Borrowed tech rehearsal shots from the Facebook page for the musical.

Even if you didn’t like the movie Showgirls (or haven’t seen it), you’ll still really enjoy the musical. I mean, pole dancing, topless actresses (one of whom is a tall and curvy, they didn’t just cast skinny girls), and funny songs. I think it’s better than a night at Scores, and you’re supporting up and coming very talented actors and musical writers/directors/producers. I honestly think Showgirls! The Musical! should become a fixture in the erotic nightlife of New York City.

Check out the cast page for some hilarious gifs of the characters in the show.

You can get tickets (the show runs through May 4th) at the Showgirls! The Musical! website! Only twenty bucks, it’s a bargain for such great entertainment, and you can bring booze down from the KGB Bar upstairs.

2012-05-14

Begin Again

One of my favorite concepts in meditation is the idea of it as an opportunity to practice beginning again. It’s a concept brought to me from a book I have been slowly creeping my way through, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program* by Sharon Salzberg. It was only ten bucks and came with a guided meditation cd and basically sets out why meditation is great and a gentle, 28 day program for becoming one of those daily meditating people you hear about and want what they have.

But, for me, like with all things, this meditation book has taken me way more than 28 days to get through and that’s okay. Sharon says in one of the very first meditations that as you get lost in thought you get to begin again. Come back to the breath. It’s very gentle. The practice of being gentle with yourself with something as simple as a thought coming into your head during meditation, when the idea is not to think, is a radical notion for someone raised in our culture of harsh judgment and perfectionism. Especially for me, where I relied on overachieving and appearing as perfect as possible as a survival mechanism through a difficult childhood and adolescence. Gentleness with yourself is a radical act. So is the idea that you can “begin again” even after you’ve done something wrong.

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When I was a fat depressed, often suicidal, teenage closeted queer I never thought I would be a New York plus size party girl making out with Zach Morris and gay AC Slater but maybe this was always my destiny. I wish I could tell early 90s awkward Bevin that it gets better. And also that her crushes on boys that looked like Zach Morris and AC Slater were just gaydar.

So, you see, dear readers, I am at yet another begin again crossroads. That law firm job I got in January that I was so stoked about? Totally bad fit. I won’t get into the specifics, but after about a month of thinking it was going well, it just wasn’t. My talents are manifold and were not a good fit for that environment. And I was miserable and working really hard. Certainly not making enough money to be worth the amount of stress I felt, though I believe that even one of those $150,000 a year associate jobs isn’t worth that kind of stress on your body and life. And so, after three and a half months, I am going my own way again. As a Capricorn overachiever I can be very committed to things and get mired into it even if I am not enjoying it, so to have it only be a three and a half month detour is significantly shorter than I otherwise would have stuck it out.

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Me and much of the cast of Bayside the Un-Musical at Rebel Cupcake. There’s one weekend left in their run (May 16-19th at the Kraine Theater in the Lower East Side), I saw the show and it was ridiculous and a MUST SEE for any fan of Saved By The Bell.

It was a shock when it happened, however the relief and peace I have felt since it was decided I wouldn’t be working at the firm anymore told me this was the right path. Decision making is a self-correcting process, I believe that even when you make a choice there is guidance about that. If you make the wrong choice, there will be a gentle (and then not so gentle) nudge away from it until you get on the path you’re meant to be on. Sort of like when I was engaged to someone who I know 4.5 years later was a terrible fit but at the time was undeterred and had no perspective. That was a self-correcting process. And, even though it was devastating at the time, I feel great about the life I have now.

The last 4.5 years have held a crazy amount of change for me. My life is radically different but so much more than I could have imagined. My Saturn Return was bananas–end of engagement, laid off from a job of 5 years, a terrible living situation necessitating a move while being on unemployment–and things keep on changing and upheavals keep happening. I sold my beloved Prius in April because I knew financially it was the right choice–good thing because then I lost my job and selling it has given me SO much flexibility.

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And today, I have a lot of possibilities and opportunities. I have been working on a new memoir, shelving the more difficult and emotionally fraught memoir for later, and it’s flying out of my hands and into a shitty first draft. (All hail the working through perfectionism enough to be okay starting with a shitty first draft!) I am feeling more creative than I have in months. I’m happy. It’s been two weeks and part time work and per diem jobs are sort of popping up. Enough to pay the bills.

I won a reader’s choice nightlife award from Go Magazine, the largest circulating free lesbian magazine in the world, as Best Emcee (and thanks to all of my readers who voted!). Rebel Cupcake won for Most Eclectic Crowd.

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The awards were really heavy. I felt like the Adele of the Lesbian Nightlife Awards. Also my Grandmother thinks I look like Adele since she went blonde and I don’t know whether it is because we’re both fat and wear big eyelashes but I’ll take it as a compliment.

Rebel Cupcake, a nightlife party celebrating all bodies and flamboyance, just turned two years old! At the two year anniversary one of my heroes, Barbara Carrellas, did a sex magic fire ritual and the demo bottom turned over and she made a cake out of foam on the bottom’s naked torso with two candles in it and the whole club sang Happy Birthday to Rebel Cupcake while the cake burned. That was an incredible moment.

I wrote a new workshop and debuted it at Columbia University for their Radical C.U.N.T.S. club about embodiment and learning to get into our bodies. (Called Get Me Embodied, like the series of embodiment posts I am continuing to write for the blog.) It was such a wonderful experience and afterwards I just thought “This is what I need to be doing.”

All of this happening literally on the heels of my last day of 9 to 5 work I am taking to be a sign that my artistic life is on the right path. It is terrifying trusting the universe and not knowing how I’ll have retirement or health insurance, but I am also very, very happy. And I know, somehow, I will figure it out. And I know there is power in letting myself begin again.

*I link to Amazon because I get a tiny referral fee for anything folks purchase from clicking through to Amazon from my blog but I suggest buying it wherever you can, it is a great read.

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