I was the first openly gay comedian to headline mainstream comedy clubs and had a lot of success in the 90s touring around the good old USA. I worked in comedy clubs around the country for over twenty years. Five years ago I was booked at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago; what we call an "A" rooms in the comedy biz. It was November and only a frigid three degrees below zero. It was a disaster. The comedy club forgot to pick me up at the airport. When they finally picked me up they took me to the wrong hotel. Two of the three radio appearances were canceled because Clear Channel decided it did not want guests; they wanted to play music that they had deals with at big Fortune 500 companies. My PR at the local gay bar was a nightmare and the music was so loud people did not know what the hell I was doing there! It snowed so much, and it was so cold that people were not going out anywhere let alone to a comedy club. So, I spent the week in my hotel crying and wondering what I was doing with my life.
I needed to change my life's direction. I decided I wanted to act more; which was really my passion. Stand-Up had become no longer fun to perform. It was like my day job, at night. I had a fan send an email saying he wanted to get into stand up. I asked, "Who do you wanna make laugh? He said "everybody". I replied "Have you met everybody, I have..." I also wanted to do more big-ticket gay events, college gigs and theatre gigs so I'd be home more to find Mr. Right. Well, I got my passion back for stand up and have been cast in over forty film & TV shows in the last few years. I also got to perform comedy at some of the best gay events in the country and doubled that in the coming years!
Soon after I got a got a call from Michael Ferrera, who created a group called Lifeworks, that mentors gay youth and they wanted me to perform at their' comedy benefit. I asked, "What was the venue?" They didn't have one... "Well, who were the other comics?" He told me they did not have any. This was how I become the Event Chair. I called my home based-comedy club I worked at in Hollywood, The Laugh Factory (where we used to do the event) and all my friends, who happened to be the top openly gay comedians in the country, right away. Our first show was a big fat success!
In Los Angeles, it is not easy to do a charity event; especially when you are a gay man. I wanted to do comedy events for all of us ...gay, lesbian bisexual, and transgender people; and our allies. I also invited all my famous actor, singers and reality star friends to come and show up to pose for some pictures, sign some autographs and hang out. Since we created this meet & greet VIP reception it has become a staple in our annual benefit. The celebrities included were: Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn), Allison Arngrim (Little House on The Prairie), Chaz Bono (Becoming Chaz), Jim J Bullock (Too Close For Comfort), Francis Fisher (Titanic), Elaine Hendrix (Parent Trap), Geri Jewell (Facts Of Life), Jane Lynch (Glee), Alexandra Paul (Baywatch), Jack Plotnick (Girls Will Be Girls), Jason Simmons (Baywatch), and Doug Spearman (Noah's Arc), to name a few.
In the last five years our cast of comedians has been like a "who's who?" in gay comedy including: Ant, Michele Balan, Gloria Bigelow, Poppy Champlin, Erin Foley, Mo Gaffeny, Julie Goldman, Ian Harvie, Andre Kelly, Carol Leifer, Wendy Liebman, Alec Mapa , Rick Overton, Coco Peru, Hal Sparks, Amy Stiller, Judy Tenuta, Scott Thompson, Tony Tripoli, Sandra Valls, Bruce Vilanch, Suzanne Westenhoefer and me! It was so thrilling to share all my friends' talent with our community. I have so grateful to them for giving there talent to us for free of charge.
This organization gave me a sense of community and place to give back. Lifeworks mentors kids between the ages of twelve to twenty-four. When I was that age, I was floating in the wind. Not knowing how or where I was going to get what I wanted and needed. I did not have a mentor or anyone to show me the way. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to live as an openly gay man. Lifework does that for our youth. It gives them a place to go and be with kids their own age to create a sense of belonging, a community.
If I had this kind of support as a youth I would of saved so much time. I might not have had to go to the suicide prevention center and tell a woman I never met that I wanted to die because I was gay. I would have felt like I had place to go and meet with people like me going through the same things at the same time as I was. I would of not been so alone.
A few years back we moved into the Gay & Lesbian Center and this year we will be performing at our show at the Renberg Theatre at The Village. We have grown and we will be doing two shows this time at 5pm & 8pm with a VIP reception at 6:30pm with food & drinks on Sunday, March 20th, 2011.
I'm still looking for Mr. Right but I did get a great new friend out of it ....Michael Ferrera.
For tickets or info go to laglc.org/lol