Oh, what a night.
And what a difference.
Like many, I was torn on what to do for New Year's Eve 2012. How many of you agonize over which friends to be with, house party or restaurant or bar or... well, I do. Because it's New Year's Eve, and holidays have significance to humans. We're the only species on the planet that celebrates special events, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice... countless holidays throughout human history celebrated and revered. And New Year's Eve brings out the contemplation of a renewed self, a renewed life, a renewed year. It's seasonal. The days start getting longer, Spring and growth are just ahead, we think about our lives and how we want to change them.
But then, many don't. And I fall in to that category at times.
That's why New Year's Eve 2012 was so symbolic for me, and hopefully, you. I spent the days leading up trying to decide what to do. Being me (we'll get to that later) I get a lot of invites, and if there's something I want to go to with a few calls from myself or my manager, usually, I can get there. But, since my husband's death in 2001, I usually stay home, or go out locally to the Queen Mary's ship board bash, watch the fireworks, go home. I never get too drunk, and I always make sure that the important people in my life are entertained and happy.
That changed this New Year's Eve. I was planning a house party for those without plans as I always do; an Island of Misfit Toys. But then, a friend said, let's go to Bootsy Bellows. It's a fabulous spot on Sunset Strip hosted by David Arquette. Steve Cabral and I had gone there to review the vaudeville atmosphere on a feature I did for The Huffington Post. I hadn't even considered for NYE 2012 until he brought it up.
Suddenly, I was torn. Stay home and provide an environment for 10 or so people that had no other plans, or, spend the evening in a trendy spot with celebrities and partiers.
This is the change part. You see, every day, seven days a week, I talk on the radio about the World. Gun control, Hillary's blood clot and her chances in 2016, the Fiscal Cliff... for almost 20 years my life has been taking the news, and my life, and making topics. But my show had become my life. From morning until evening, I lived for my show. How many of you have that tunnel vision with your job? You wake up, start thinking about job, money, life, then do it all day, and fall in to sleep in the evening only to wake up and do it all again. Sound familiar? With any entertainer, that's the kiss of death. Being an artist is your life, but no one job can become it. My life is my show, not the other way around (or so it should be).
Resolutions. We all talk about them, make them. Gym membership skyrockets in January, with most falling off by March. Many a pack of cigarettes is thrown down Dec. 31, only to be picked back up again Jan. 15. We want change, we strive for it, but then, we don't make it.
So, at 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2012, I was faced with a horrifying decision: Do what I think I SHOULD, or do WHAT I WANT. How many of you face that every day? You do things because you feel you have to, you should, it's the right thing, the kind thing, the unselfish thing to do. I do all the time... try to make sure everyone around me is OK. I'm a caregiver by nature, as are many of you. But who takes care of you?
Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be an entertainer, in Hollywood, acting, singing, stage, performing in some way or another. For the past 18 years my only source of income has been entertaining, no day jobs. But I have never owned it. To me, I'm still the high school kid watching "Fame" in a darkened theater, dreaming of the day. Forget that I would later be on the same label (Jellybean Recordings) as that movie's star, Irene Cara... no, for the longest time I felt an outsider trying to get in. How many of you own your life? How many acknowledge your power, acknowledge your success? I never have, for fear it would be all taken away. I'm still that 12 year old boy, running as fast as I can away from $10 a night motels, the ones my family could afford over the many times we were homeless. Yes, homeless. Sleeping in the car is not foreign to me, especially as a child. I've lived with my family on the street, on the gifts of this or that charity or organization (Veterans of Foreign War, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army... ). My parents struggled every day of their lives to pay the bills, robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's what I know. So the idea of me not having to, of me being successful, well, it's taken years to even consider. Tragedy in great measure has found me, losing a generation to AIDS, my husband at 38 to malpractice, my mother two years later, friends like Vesta Williams dying too soon... there's been a lot of loss from houses, to high-profile jobs (getting fired from KGO for saying "F Joe the Plumber" during a break and having it broadcast). But there's been so much good, too. And sometimes you just can't see it.
So I made the decision to just say everyone is going to have to fend for themselves, Steve Cabral and I are going to Bootsy Bellows. I made a few calls, got tickets and VIP access, and started to pick an outfit (how blessed am I?).
FUBAR. Yup, FUBAR. F'd Up Beyond All Recognition. That's what happened. And I don't care. I really, truly don't. If I were more famous, I'd be on TMZ this morning bumping Lindsay from the headlines (the girl could use a break).
First of all, I looked fabulous. Conceit? Nope, an observation. I've learned over the years how to work with what nature gave me. I'm large, loud, not typically handsome, so I go the other direction. As Streisand taught me early on, own it, don't let them laugh at you, make them laugh with you. I love Opera Coats and capes, lace and cravats, the style of gentleman from days gone by. So, I wear them when I go out.
The club was all done up for the night. And the people were absolutely incredible. A fabulous group of Los Angeles residents, some famous, some not. David Arquette is a wonderful host. Here's an A-List celebrity, walking around, greeting everyone.
Winged Burlesque girls took to the stage setting the scene at Bootsy Bellows
"It's my club, so, on NYE I just want to welcome and thank everyone for coming by," he told me as we chatted. He could be wherever he wanted, and, he's exactly where it makes him happiest: in a club named after his Mother (it was her stripper name). "New Year's is about friends, family, and a good time, and that's what I wanted to create for people tonight."
Myself and David Arquette, a fabulous host and a very nice man.
And so he did. I danced. I sang. I hob-knobbed with Kobe Bryant (not a sports fan, but hey, had to say hello and toast) and a host of other celebrities. I met a fabulous bartender/actor, fresh from New York, full of dreams, named Baker... Steve Cabral and I basically lit up the room, no lie, because I felt alive. I felt, well, myself.
The fabulous Baker boy.
And I realized something: I'm living the life that high school boy dreamed of... but I've been so busy trying to keep up like so many (mortgage, bills, financial crash, being single, career, life... ) that I forgot just how fabulous being me truly is at times. Maybe it was quitting opiate pain killers, maybe it was not over medicating with pot, but for once, on New Year's Eve, I wasn't sad, I wasn't worrying about others, I wasn't already in the middle of the new year; I was having fun.
I binge drink. It's a flaw, but I do. I don't drink during the week usually, or even weekends. I drink in Ireland each year when I am lucky enough to go, and then, for occasions. Well, Jameson and I became friends on this New Year's Eve. I wasn't driving, and wanted to shed so much. And I did. I danced. I drank. I kissed a strange guy who sat on my lap and was suddenly making out with me. I grabbed Steve's hand at 2 a.m. and had to be led to the car. Healthy? I don't know. Because I learned so much from it. Today, Jan. 1, 2013 (feels odd to write) I am, in fact changed. Yes, David Arquette and his club actually changed me.
I can't take care of everyone. I simply can't. It's too much. Whenever I "take a meeting" for myself, I always think of my friends, can this person help them too? Could this situation make me able to help more people? But I realize now, for some reason, today, everyone is on their own path. I love them, I care for them, and yes, will always help them, but they also have to help themselves to have a full life. I've been so busy worrying about everyone else, my listeners, the nation, literally, the country, my friends, that I simply forgot, that this is MY life, and I must take care of me first. And I must enjoy it as well.
Friend Steve Cabral and I toasting in the New Year
Yes, enjoy it. I must own who I am. I do have presence. I don't know why, but I do. I am talented. I don't know how it happened, but it did. I enjoy the lifestyle of an entertainer, the insanity, the rewards. I've been one my entire life and now for almost 20 years it's been my day job. Because, I'm actually good at it. The fear of losing it all every minute of the day has to leave me this year, because I wont'. That's not me. Yes, I've been homeless, eaten out of a McDonald's dumpster, but I didn't stay that way. I have the power to do whatever I choose for some reason, but what I need to choose is to fight for myself for a change.
I love Bootsy Bellows. I love the environment, the sexy men and women, the fabulous entertainment, the food, the host. I love the lifestyle. I am blessed, and that is never lost on me, to be able to sample it and partake. David Arquette's passion, his love of the same, creates a great environment to meet friends old and new, and to yes, sometimes, get FUBAR, safely.
But more importantly, I love being me. I've never, ever said that before. Ever, and meant it. Last night, while singing to Christina Aguilera on the way, I stopped and looked at Steve Cabral and said, "I love my voice." I had never, ever said that. I have vocal nodes, and my falsetto singing voice has been gone for two years. I can't take a month off like Adelle, and they are not operable. Well, I've taken two weeks off of radio (again, something I have never done, I was the fill in, I was the host to always be there no matter what, this year, I was the host to have a fill-in and thank you Christine Craft!), and my falsetto returned. And it soared last night. And I loved it. Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
You, me, America, we want change. We are striving for it. We are dying for it. We don't want kids killed in school, we don't want families thrown in to the street by bankers, we don't want the Patriot Act or sustained war or any of the hundreds of things going on. We want love, life, we want to succeed, to work hard, and to yes, get the benefits and rewards from it ourselves. We don't all need to be the one percent, but we want comfort, and there's nothing wrong if you want to be the one percent, either, so long as when you get there you remember the 99.
But it won't happen if we don't change first. Repeal the Second Amendment? Yes, a good idea, but if we as a culture don't change, stop glorifying conflict and violence and confrontation, stop being so on edge, actually get back to valuing all human life, then it won't matter. There are more empty houses in American than homeless people. And 80 people a day die from guns, with over 300 being shot. Poverty is rampant, people die from lack of health care... no, we've gone away from valuing all human life to just focusing on our own, and it's killing us. We must change, not in to something new, but in to ourselves.
That's powerful Changing back in to yourself. For the first time in 12 years, since Andrew's death, I didn't miss him last night. At 12, I hugged a great friend, sang "Auld Lang Syne" with a room full of some of L.A.'s finest and brightest and then got drunker than I should. And I feel fabulous. Because I was me, for the first time in a long time.
America, rediscover your power. We're a nation that has overcome Civil War and British oppression. We've cured diseases and gone to Mars. We have a heart, and a soul, rediscover it. And have fun. Do things you love and enjoy with people you love and enjoy. None of us are getting out alive.
Bootsy Bellows, and a night on the town gave me more perspective in five hours than six years of therapy. I'll be going back. Why? Because I like it. And life is too short to not enjoy. At 50, I know that more than ever.
Find your Bootsy Bellows. Find your place that you love, home, work, club, theater, operating room, whatever. Remember who you are, not who you were, or want to be, but who you are. Own your life, and empower it. As a people we are, in fact, unstoppable and not over yet. As a person, you, not the government, not your family or friends, but you control who you are and how you feel about it.
2013. Let's make it he year of Empowerment of each other and ourselves. Happiest of New Year's. Let's get busy, get stronger, realize our potential and have some fun.