Danny Woodburn, who played Kramer's riotous friend Mickey on "Seinfeld," and his comedian wife Amy Buchwald, have introduced a new character who will probably put a smile on the face of every middle-aged woman: Lara Tate, a menopausal superhero who goes by the moniker "Hot Flash."
The character -- created and played by Buchwald -- is the star of a supremely funny new web series, "Hot Flash: The Chronicles of Lara Tate, Menopausal Superhero." According to Buchwald, 54, there are 34 symptoms of menopause, and both Buchwald -- and Tate -- seem to display just about all of them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as Tate uses these symptoms as her special powers to combat an array of villains that includes her nagging husband, played by Mike Hagerty. Woodburn, 51, portrays her superhero mentor, "Spit-Take.”
"We've done the pilot and are now working on the next episode, which is about how to harness my powers -- my hot flashes," Buchwald said. "I go into training much like Rocky does -- or just like any other superhero. The episodes are seven minutes long. We're hoping the next episode will come out in March or April."
Huff/Post50 recently sat down with Woodburn and Buchwald, whose non-profit arts organization The Mulberry Tree Group is helping raise funds for the project, to talk more about the new series.
Q: How did all this start?
Buchwald: It started with me having hot flashes about two years ago. I thought, 'Oh, if I could only harness the power of a hot flash, I could light up a city'. It's a powerful thing. I wanted to do something on this topic that was positive. There are superheroes, but they are always younger. Our age group can be invisible and we need to have something that is very visible surrounding menopause. There's so much mystery surrounding this. We need to talk about the symptoms and show that they don't have to be scary.
Q: So you talked with Danny about it ... and what's been his reaction?
A: Woodburn: It's important for men, too. The mood swings, the depression, the anxiety... these sorts of emotions all come to the surface. I've talked to people whose marriages have dissolved due to the lack of understanding of all this. I thought it was important for men to understand what women go through as well.
Q: What do people not understand about menopause?
A: Buchwald: There are actually 34 symptoms. There's dizziness... burning tongue. When I started having different symptoms, I started thinking, 'Wow, this is scary and weird'. But it's just a chemical change going on in your body and it's just menopause. It can happen to everyone differently. Some women have this in their late 30s and it can last for years. Others start it much later and it doesn't last so long. But it's a beginning instead of an ending.
Q: So you are looking at this as a positive?
A: Buchwald: Yes, I'm beginning a whole new chapter and so this is not just an ending. And not getting your period is the greatest thing, right?
Q: And, Danny, you like the positive focus on aging as well?
A: Woodburn: As an actor, you have a unique perspective on age, and when you reach a certain age you are disposable and you sort of fade away. But just because we're aging, it doesn't mean we're done. Everything is a new chapter. But it's also the same chapter because you are essentially the same person.
Q: Are you going through what some call male menopause?
A: Woodburn: The biggest thing for me is that after I turned 50, things did change. I realized that no matter how much I was exercising or eating well, I was still going to pack it on. [Staying in shape] is harder.
Q: I know you write together and you create together. Has it been odd to do a series about menopause as a couple?
A: Buchwald: No because we are going through this in real life as a couple. There is nothing secretive or shameful about menopause and it should all be out in the open. You are starting to see this more and more. For example, it's no longer a big deal to see commercials about tampons. Now you are starting to see more things about menopause.
Q: And in addition to the web series...?
A: Buchwald: We're looking for an illustrator to do a comic book that could go along with this, featuring Lara Tate as the superhero.
Q: The series is wonderful. Anything else you'd like to add?
A: Woodburn: The funniest part about Amy going through menopause is that I still get asked every day, 'Is it hot in here?' It can be 48 degrees and I get the same question.
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