Wednesday, November 22, 2006


When I first moved to Chicago (years ago..."Our boys were in Korea. Ike was in Mamie."), I let one of the best...if not THE best man slip through my fingers because I let my career (or lack thereof...) come before my relationship with him - - and my relationships with friends and family. After lots of soul-searching and 6 (count 'em 6!) years of therapy, I now work very hard to live by a new motto...

People before plays

To me, this means that dinner with my friends where we laugh and talk and create memories is infinitely more important than my next audition, the next song I sing or being featured on ACCESS HOLLYWOOD. This means that being at home for Christmas is more important than anything even remotely involved with the entertainment industry. As I said to a casting director last year who said I should stay in town to do a certain production and not go home for Christmas, "I don't know about you, but I genuinely LIKE my family and I want to be with them during the holidays!!!"

"People before plays" has served me well and enriched my life. I don't want people to stand over my casket and say, "Wow, he had a great resume, didn't he?" I want them to say that I was there for them when they needed me, that I was a loving friend, a loving son, a loving brother and that I made their lives happier because I was a part of it.

But more than that, I want those people to know that they brought happiness and love and warmth and laughter into my life day after day. To quote my favorite line from THE WIZARD OF OZ...

"The heart is not judged by how much you love,
but by how much you are loved by others."

Yeah...that's the gayest thing I've had in my blog so far and my Blog Fag Rating is currently somewhere between Clay Aiken and Charles Nelson Reilly. Oh well, this blog could be all about Bea Arthur...

To let them know that I am thankful for them and that I love them, here are, in no particular order, a few of the people who have made my life incredibly happy in the past year:

Alanda Coon - You have saved my life again and again. I love you and cherish your friendship more than words can say. Thank you for taking this stranded Southern boy in for the holidays when I can't make it back to Tennessee. As my mama said in a card I received today, "You have Yolanda give you a big hug from me and tell her I love her for taking care of my boy." Mama may have gotten the name wrong, but she loves Alanda so much and has never even met her. My mama has excellent taste.

Steve Hobson - Alanda's lovely husband who I thank for putting up with all of us crazy theatre people and for sharing my insane passion for comic books. I'm bringing you another stack of comics tomorrow to catch you up on 52! And thanks to Steve for sharing his lovely parents with all of us holiday orphans. I can't wait to see them tomorrow!!

Max Chung - Our other comic book buddy is an incredible friend and gave me the title for my latest cabaret show (MIDLER ON THE ROOF). Max kicked musical theatre ass in THOROUGLY MODERN MILLIE earlier this year. I can't wait to see your new cabaret show in its full form (I don't want to give away the title here because its too good and some asshole will steal it!)

Aaron Hunt - The man who has truly helped me become stronger than I ever thought I could possibly be and who has helped me find the strength to stand up for myself and for what I believe in, always and in all things. My life and my soul would be much poorer had I not met you, lived with you and been blessed with your friendship.

John Burton - Aaron's lovely boyfriend who brings so much joy with him everywhere he goes and who gives me hope that there is someone out there for me - - because he and Aaron have a relationship filled with laughter, communication, honesty, trust and intimacy like none other I have ever seen.

Eric Reda - My director for UGLY BABY and I'm proud to say, my good friend. Eric is not only a fantastic artist, he is also caring, loving, giving and full of boundless joy and life. Also, his preserves are out of this friggin' world!! And his boyfriend Dan is truly becoming one of my favorite people on the planet, not just because he's so damn cute, but because he always greets people with a beautiful smile, a heartfelt compliment and wisdom beyond his years. (I hate it when the young, cute ones are more put together than I am! Not that its hard to be more put together than I am, but still...)

Brooke Sherrod - I may be her gay husband but I am so happy that there is a new man in her life who gives her the love, respect and joy that she deserves each and every day. I can't wait to meet him!!!

Mike & Andy - My Liza buddies! I am SO HAPPY that Mike is blogging again. As a gift for Christmas a couple of years ago, Mike gave me a hardback copy of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY and it is my favorite novel of all time. Thanks for giving me The Escapist's Key and thank you both so much for your incredible friendship.

Philip Dawkins - The way I met Philip is truly worth a blog entry in and of itself, but ever since that fateful night on stage at VAMPIRE LESBIANS OF SODOM, Philip's friendship has been a blessing in my life. I am honored to be act in his plays and even more honored to read his plays and realize that I know and am friends with this incredibly intelligent, talented, passionate, courageous man. Thank you for being there for me so much in the past year. I don't know what I would do without you in my life.

My Cousin Kristie Nelson - Who always visits me here in Chicago when she's in town making the Merchandise Mart 28 more shades of fabulous. She looks like a million bucks 24/7 and she gives so much of herself to her friendships, her family and her boyfriend. Thank you for keeping us connected all these years. I can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

My Father - Who I grow closer to every day and who gave me more than I ever knew - - my spirit, my humor, my sense of fairness and respect for others all come from my Dad and when I hug him, I feel safe and secure in the world.

My Brother - I am amazed by his tremendous heart, his love for other people, his endless compassion for those less fortunate and for his ability to always be his own person, no matter what anyone thinks. I am so proud of him.

My Mother - My hero. She has been beaten down more times than I can count and every single time she stands up and begins again. Her intense love of family, her empathy for others and her ability to give so much of her heart and soul freely after being hurt so often is a trait I admire and aspire to achieve. I am proud to say that my mother is my friend.

And to so many others - - Joe, Jaya, Jeff & Jamie, Jon, Karen, Doug, Keith, Michael K., Michael & Tim, Ted, Star & Josh, Ernie & Michael - - thank you so much for your friendship!

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm off to make Paula Deen's Corn Casserole (or as Clover calls it "Corn Pie") for Alanda's Turkey Day Party!!


Anonymous said...

Hello Cousin,
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I too am thankful to have you in my life you are my one and only relative who truly gets me.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here I cooked tons of food turkey, home made cranberry sauce, collards, stewed corn, mashed potatoes. Typical southern fare but my father made a dessert to die for a pecan pie cheesecake it was a little bite of heaven Mrs. Paula would have been proud.

Take care of yourself, see you soon.

Stephen said...

Kristie - The Paula Deen Corn Casserole that I made for Alanda's get-together definitely brought a little Tennessee to the table! I'm so glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. See you VERY soon!

Alanda said...

Oh shit! I feel like a real asshole for not reading this sooner! I love you too, sweetie, and am so thankful for you in my life!!!! xoxoxoxo

Stephen said...

Alanda - I love you too and Thanksgiving at your place was Di-Voon. Thank you so much!