There are very few people who are willing to delve deeply into a depressive mind and perfect its musings. During the making of ‘The Bridge’ I became surrounded by people with all sorts of different connections to the work and the cause.
I found a brave soul in Randy Grishow Schade when he jumped at the prospect of putting together a collection of poetry for charity. I have always known there to be a courage and boundless commitment and creativity to Randy ever since we were in school together. Whatever Randy put himself to do he did with a religious dedication the Church would weep to know they are missing.
For this project Randy became my caretaker, editor, cheerleader, confidant and publisher. Founding Blackhawk & Noble Press (in honor of his beloved Grandma) to facilitate my words and the artist’s work to raise money for The Hunger Project.
More importantly he opened up his home, heart, and trust to me. We have been friends a long time and have had our fair amount of differences. Poetry brought us healing and closeness. Stitching up old wounds and expanding our understanding of how the other’s heart works.
Since then we have spent more time laughing and quoting favored movie lines. We laugh so much. We dream of one day owning a pomeranian farm/drag club/funeral parlor/bookstore in Boise when we are old and wrinkled homosexuals. He inspired me to write poems about friendship and closeness which cannot clearly be defined and has emboldened me to not be afraid of life, however painful it might be.
Here is our interview for ‘The Bridge’. And here, my dear love, is to Boise.
J: If a book from your childhood (or one you have read recently that you wish had been around during your childhood) fell open and you were pulled by a big hand into its adventure, which would it be and why?
R: Hands down, “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I secretly wanted to be Benny the talkative, funny and quirky youngest sibling. Looking back now at these characters, I’ve realized I held an infantilized passion for the oldest brother, Henry: creative yet analytical, charismatic but isolated, older and sensitive. I suppose the adventure would be “The Mystery of the Gangly Homosexual”: thwarting advances and assuming new aliases, The Boxcar Children unearth the mystery of missing gender identities, sexuality and a severely worn VHS tape of “All About Eve”; WHO does it belong to?
J: That is one of my favorites too! And you are right, Benny, so gay. Wait. All About Eve is one I watch on repeat…does that mean I am gay too…(gasp)
R: Maybe you could be the gangly homosexual in the mystery?! At least, I’ll point the others in your direction while Henry and I play Slap-and-Tickle in the boxcar.
J: That or I could join forces with Nancy Drew and we could live a quiet life of lesbianism and mystery solving.
R: “The Case of the Missing Home Depot Gift Card”
J: “The Hidden Tool-belt”
J: If you could spend a week in the company of any writer (dead or alive), who, what would you do, and which story/novel/comic/whatever would they be writing while you were there.
R: That’s easy: Gouverneur Morris and Thomas Jefferson in June of 1776. Both authors had the ability to put forth text that would have relieved subjugation, death and strife had they included any Equal Opportunity Employer clause we all know by heart today. I’d go back in time with three ballpoint pens, three notebooks and any history book of your choosing published after 1990. On the first day, we will sit down at the City Tavern, share a pint, and I’ll sit there quietly for four hours (Morris and Jefferson each get two hours to pour through the history book). I’ll be around for the following five days to answer any questions they might have, referencing the history book I brought. On the seventh day we’ll all sit down and discuss what should be included in The Declaration of Independence and Constitution so that a majority of that shit in the history book doesn’t happen.
J: (silence) I’m sorry. My head just exploded with how smart and awesome you are. So, it is kind of like your creation story?
R: What? I thought this would have been everybody’s fantasy: prevent subjugation, strife and douchbaggery that white males have cultivated on Earth.
J: Well, when you put it like that…
R: I’m also inundated with American history in Philadelphia. Plaques are everywhere…
J: If you have ever suffered from something; heartbreak, allergies, depression, lactose intolerance, etc. what made you feel better, what did you learn from it and what did you wear?
R: All events- mundane, minor and major- are marked by musical periods. Music is my religion, headphones my pastor and a good tune my sermon.
J: You really do know how to pick them. Whenever you have made me play-lists I have found them to be exactly what I needed.
R: Music is medicinal. Whether it helps to add a little pep in you step or to marinate momentarily in melancholy music is religious.
J: When you were putting together ‘The Bridge’ what sermons did you abide by?
R: Jenny, it got pretty bad…Requiems were being played continuously: Verdi, Preisner, Blanchard, Fauré, Berlioz. It was a challenge to find something simultaneously optimistic and masochistic. Many of the poems have this underlying current of gray and I always see shades of gray listening to requiems. I swear, if I hear one more Dies Irae this year…
J: …I know. You are such a trooper.
R: Maybe that’s why I can only listen to glo-fi when I want to relax. Gone are the days of Lacrimosa.
J: If you could replace any actor and play their character; who, what, why and how would you bring something astonishing to the role?
R: I would succeed in replacing Vera-Ellen as Judy Haynes in “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” Everyone remembers Kaye, Crosby, and Clooney- but that Vera-Ellen played the role of Rosemary’s sister for crap. And let’s be honest, Danny Kaye probably would have been more interested in his love interest seeing as how I have his preferred anatomy… “You are not exactly Superman, but you are awfully available.“ Com’mon, I could kill that line.
J: And, you happen to look great in drag. High-heeled Parrotfish anyone?
R: Did I ever tell you that those heels I was wearing were from the Starr Jones Payless line? That gurl knows how to make a killer size-14 four-inch heel.
J: Wow! That is pretty spectacular.
R: I’m thinking of becoming their spokesperson.
J: If you could get any artist in all of history to draw/paint/ take a photo portrait of you who would it be and what roll would you play in their lives?
R: During the love affair that Jean Cocteau and I (supposedly) had between 1928-1930, I inspired him to create the woodcuts he used in “Le Livre Blanc.” I would maintain our chȃteau in the rural pastels of the French countryside where he could come and go as he pleased and I would write, paint and host extravagant parties.
J: When you fall in love, what does it smell like? If you have never fallen in love write about what you think it smells like.
R: Falling in love smells like pumpkin pie: freshly baked it’s warm and mesmerizing. After baking the pie you let it sit out to cool and it saturates every article in the house; you can’t escape the concocted scent of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Once you refrigerate the pie and it goes cold, the pumpkin and spices become stagnant, concentrated and uninspired. Once you have a cold pumpkin pie in front of you there are options, do you reheat a slice of pie and reignite the scent or overwhelmed by the project of hand, do you throw it away?
J: Or you could eat the piece cold with a scoop of vanilla and a swirl of whipped cream and see what happens. Add a cup of English Breakfast for good measure.
R: See, the possibilities are endless! Love is deciding what to do when the pie goes flaccid…or tepid. No, let’s say “tepid.” Though “flaccid” paints a better picture. Edit that out, I don’t want people to think I’m trying to revive an “American Pie” gag from the 90’s. We’ll know I really meant “flaccid.”
J: Sorry, as interviewer I do not interfere with nature, I just let it take its course. “Flaccid” it is.
J: In a perfect world I would be there with you, and we would have tea and cookies. Where would we meet, and after a lovely hug or warm hand-shake, what would we talk about.
R: Didn’t you get the memo? I rented out Radio City Music Hall- Daddy Warbucks style and they’re showing a quadruple feature: “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “The Birdcage,” “To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” and “Ice Age.” We will sit in the first mezzanine enjoying Tabasco Popcorn and shrimp pasta quoting the films ad nauseum.
J: I am so there. SO, there.
R: Bitch you’d better be, don’t you know how expensive that was? To rent out Radio City and buy all 5,931 seats?
J: If you had a soundtrack to accompany the story of how you feel right now, what would it be made up of?
R: There’s usually a bouillabaisse of crap emanating from the closest sound system in my life. I’m constantly on the quest to find queer, independent and feminist artists. MEN and Justin Vivian Bond have been on continual repeat throughout this year- that must say something. A trans artist, newly emerging on v’s own, seeks to inhabit Bacchus while engaging the taboo and culturally (ir)relevant discourse.
J: Don’t forget Beth Ditto!
R: Ah, crap! How could I forget. Yes, edit that… How dare I forget the homosexual aspect. A trans HOMO, newly emerging on v’s own, seeks to inhabit the dance floor and Bacchus while engaging current theoretical and sociological discourse. Such is 2011.
J: If you had a child what would be the most important thing you would want them to learn from you?
R: I would teach my child about feral or extreme isolationist case children as a scare tactic. I’d give them the ultimatum: seek knowledge or I’ll chain you to the doghouse out back. Whenever they act out I will hold a book and leash like Lady Justice (in place of her scales and sword) and with a commanding Kathleen Turner resonance, in my statuesque pose, I will ask, “how do you want to solve this problem?” Kids love me…
R: Seriously, Jenny. I would want a little human to continually ask me “why” rather than blithely accepting apathy.
J: I was talking about the Kathleen Turner reference…
R: (laughs) Oh. Would it be better if it were a Steve Urkel resonance?
J: If you could build a bridge to a different time and save your younger self from something scary, what would it be and how would you do it?
R: My mother, especially, has socialized me to think that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ To go back and alter an event from my past would be the ultimate wrongdoing to my current self. I am the culmination of previous successes, mishaps and sidesteps. For better and worse, I would impart the advice, “it gets different.” (The whole “It Gets Better” campaign in the past few years has been inane and misleading, at best.) “Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.” Yeah, my Mom is Shakespeare.
J: Your mother is amazing and so are you.
R: Dude, I almost forget to tell you, my mom made up a new word: “sillyinski.” I’m going to try to use it in a sentence today…
J: Oh, you mean when you call that modeling agency that has been hounding you? I am really into the idea of adding model to your business cards…just saying.