The Creation Machine
Volume 1 Book 8 Part 2 of
Living In The Bonus Round
by Steve Schalchlin.

[ Book 7 ] - [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ]- [ Book 9 ]
[ Diary Index ]

May 1998. El Lay.

We begin preparing for the Laguna Production.

Monday, June 1, 1998
Australia Gets TLS Fever.

Well, it looks like Australia is going to have its very own production of THE LAST SESSION. In the role of Gideon, Aussie actor Geoffrey Baird has assumed the role. Here's his picture, but of course he's not nearly as handsome and me or Bob. (as if....)

Here's an email he sent me after their first runthrough:

Dear Steve, well we had our reading of TLS tonight, and it was a great! I am always surprised at the difference between reading a script on paper and hearing it actually read aloud by different voices, and in this case hearing the songs in some sort of context. There had been a few bits I wasn't sure would work etc, but I am completely confident now - I am one of those people who has to feel that it is really 'right' before I can really 'go' with it.

Getting actors who can do really good American accents may be a challenge. Australians generally are a bit less emotional and demonstrative than Americans too. Think of conservative middle American farm people who may not be easily impressed or moved emotionally and are a bit guarded and you have an idea of the Australian 'style' Aussie audiences like to sit back with a slightly cool attitude waiting to be impressed and are very quickly to 'smell' when they are being manipulated emotionally (or just suspect they are!)

Saying that however, all the people at the read-through were thrilled with the songs and their simple truths. We were all very aware that in many ways the show (especially it's conclusion) is more about suicide and other more general issues, so the fear that is another AIDS play just won't be a problem here.

PS: I am particular in love with 'Connected' and 'Going It Alone' Every time I read the letter that Buddy reads and then hear the intro I start to crack up and get very emotional!

It's fun watching TLS unfold for newbies. Geoffrey and I also found each other in the Bonus Round Chat Room and really talked a lot about the show and the characters. How fantastic to be able to talk to Geoffrey as if we were just next door to each other. (steve, amazed at modern technology...)

Dr. Toe:
Dr. Toe put my foot in a swirly bath, said it looked good -- and that I have to come back next week for surgery again. He described the whole procedure, but I'll spare you. Let's just say it sounds painful.

But this is the Bonus Round!! We're USED to pain, aren't we??? Aren't we.....?

Tuesday, June 2, 1998
Jerry Seinfeld's Dad.

"Hey Jim and Steve! This is Barney Martin. I was in North Carolina over the weekend helping a Children's Hospital with a fundraiser and suddenly I hear Norm Lewis singing this song being sung and it's like the whole place just stops. So I look on the program and it's YOUR SONG!! Now call me back. You never write... you never call..."
That is the actor who plays Jerry Seinfeld's dad. Jimmy has known Barney Martin for a long while and once Barney read a part in one of Jimmy's plays. Barney went on to say that he's going to be involved in a new project with words by John Bettis (who write the lyrics for "When You Care.") Small world, huh?
Now, for you trivia buffs, Barney Martin and Jim Brochu were involved in a very famous commercial back in the stone ages. They were both dancing raisins for Raisin Bran.
See... Those who want TLS on Broadway... the best way for that to happen is for at least one of the songs to get into the public's ears and mind. Producers are still wary of putting on a new musical with AIDS in it. But, the public *WILL* go see a show if they know songs from that show.

And this, of course, only brings up the anxiety I still feel that I cannot make the album I've been dying to make for two years. I'm sorry to keep harping on it, but my frustration is driving me mad. No one has heard these songs the way I want them to be heard. It takes cash to bring a full band into a studio and then mix it.

Playing the gig with Bobby a couple of weeks ago only made it worse because now I know how good they will sound. You see, every major record label turned TLS down. They kept saying (use snotty music industry voice), "We don't hear a hit..." snit snit snit

Of course they don't hear a hit. They only hear a piano and a vocal. That's not a record. It's a demo. A glorified demo. To them. As Bruce Springsteen's producer said to me once, "They want a 19 year old who writes like The Beatles, dresses like a dropout, and has movie star looks. The only trouble with that is in order for a kid to get that way, he has to forgo all school, be a drug addict and never age past 22."

Oh, never mind. It's stupid to wait on someone else. You have to do it all yourself. This is what I tell young people who seek advice from me. You have to do it yourself. You cannot wait on others.

So, by god, this f****ing record is going to get made if I have to hijack a bus full of rock and rollers and make them record it at gunpoint. DAMMIT. Have I related my frustration? Do ya get it?

I know this diary is not exactly captivating these days, but life isn't a series of adventures. It's a series of normal days where you wash clothes, go see a movie, write a little, work a little, call your friends, and just be. The adventures do come along, but only because you make them happen. Part of what we're doing now is setting up for the fall.

In October and November, I'm trying to line up more concert dates on the east coast. I've also been talking to New Orleans, Colorado Springs, Washington state, Boston, Phoenix and a dozen other places. Meanwhile, I've been doing my workouts, keeping to my eating schedule, faithfully taking my pills, and caring for my toe.

*You see, how blase I've become, don't you? If Jerry Seinfeld's dad called you, wouldn't you call that exciting day?

Hey, I never do "causes" here, but Hibernia Beach Live, the fantastic radio program I was on in San Francisco is in danger of being cancelled. If you live in the San Francisco area, (or even if you don't) please help us keep Ken and company on the air. They have been there for gay kids and we ALL want it to continue!

Wednesday-Thursday, June 3-4, 1998
Weird. Just Weird.

It's about 5am Thursday morning. I'm in a weird mood lately. My body rhythms are changing. I woke up this morning at 4:30. Actually, I woke up at 4:00 and just laid there all morning. Not even Thurber the Cat heard me.

Jimmy and I have kinda closed off the rest of the world except for this diary and doing some chatrooms every once in awhile. We're not taking anything for granted between us after this past year. We're talking and we're laughing and we're playing games. (I beat him at Yahtsee the other night, which made him suitably miserable.) On the other hand, they added the Game Show Network to our TV and he hasn't moved in four days.

I just stand in the hallway and throw food at him. Thurber the Cat is enjoying all the company (and the food).

I'm posting a fish graphic for Dana, a teenage friend of a friend who loves the sea and swims with dolphins. Today is her 16th birthday and she's in the fight of her life at this very moment battling cancer.

Also, I saw my friend Dickie today. He's been really sick with some kind of bizarre pneumonia (compounded by pleurisy) that they can't treat. So he thinks he's going to be sick for at least six more weeks, he theorizes. It's massively painful for him to cough.

Shawn Decker, fellow positoid, is watching his numbers closely. In Shawn Decker's journal, the Aussie Rebel Luke Chipperfield has once again invaded our environs and Shawn is holding a contest to guess his (Shawn's) next t-cell count and viral load. Go make your guess!

And be thinking about Ghost, too. I went to his place yesterday but he was asleep. I know he's been fighting lung stuff, too.

I got Geoffrey's picture working onsite now. And here's one from San Francisco. This is Jimmy's goddaughters, Jennifer & Kate, posing with email-boy Ben (from Hibernia Beach), Hank Wilson (creator of the Candlelight March), Steve Schalchlin looking very groovy, and Ken McPherson, "America's Favorite Homosexual."

Friday-Sunday, June 5-7, 1998
Weekend Picture Gallery!

This weekend, Jimmy and I are once again locking ourselves in and just working on stuff. In the meantime, I found some photos and scanned them for your amusement. FIrst, this is from Rochester, NY -- The Irondequoit United Church of Christ. "He is the preacher..." (or he's asking to be excused to go to the bathroom).

Before the Spice Girls came the Raisin Boys. Left to right: Jim Brochu, forgotten raisin, Barney Martin (Seinfeld's dad), Ted Thurston, two more now gone to the tomb of the unknown raisin, and Ken Olfson (who did a lot of TV series). David Doyle (keeper of Charlie's Angels) was next to Ken but got cut from this picture.

Steve playing The Sad Lady for Pati -- huddling together away from everyone at the opening night party.

The whole NY cast with friends at MSNBC. From left to right: Anthony Galde (The Fix, Absolom in King David), producer Michael Alden, Amy Coleman, Jim Brochu, Soledad Obrien from MSNBC, Bob Stillman pointing to the word "connected," Grace Garland showing leg, Stephen Bienskie and producer Carl D. White.

Once again, we're gone for the weekend and I'll be back on Monday. But until then, look at the full page color ad for the Laguna Playhouse production of THE LAST SESSION!

Monday, June 8, 1998
Doctors, Tonys, Disney World, & Chiffon.

Dr. Toe breezed into the little examination room just as I was getting into an article from a TIME Magazine of three months ago, took one look and said, "Thursday we do the surgery. After that, you'll have no more problems." I also saw Dr. Peter (my AIDS doctor -- no jokes please) today. A routine exam where he poked and prodded. He said my blood sugar levels were extremely good -- meaning the Glynase I'm taking for diabetes is working.
I finally discovered the sugar free dessert section at the grocery store. It's at the end of one of the middle aisles and everything is made by one company. Isn't that strange? I did see one generic wafer cookie offering, though. So, I guess it's not a monopoly. Also found some sugar free ice cream -- chocolate fudge. Know what? It all tastes like totally normal.

I'm liking the fact that I don't eat any sugar at all. I've never been a health nut and I'm still not one, but I can really tell the difference in the way my body feels and looks (and that's our health tip for the day).

We went to an all-gay Tony party yesterday. For many of us, watching the Tonys is like a sporting event -- the Super Bowl. And last night we all got so totally and unapologetically queer... PLUS, our hosts got a satellite feed from the east coast so we wouldn't have to have it on delay. (Imagine watching the World Series on tape delay! Please!!)

(The show was great, although someone whose name I won't say out loud, but who lives in very close proximity to your diarist said Rosie's big dress made her look like the wardrobe in Beauty and the Beast.)

We're very upset that Brian Stokes Mitchell didn't win a Tony last night for RAGTIME. But this is only the beginning for him. There is no other leading man on Broadway who even approaches what he can do. And I'll say it again, wait until you hear what he can do as a composer. Marie Cain and I were talking again recently about that since she, Jimmy and I were in that legendary NAS Theatre Workshop together.

Speaking of His Otherness, he's now got ME hooked on the Game Show Network. Last night, Charles Nelson Reilly on The Match Game was wearing -- how do I describe it? An orange chiffon cowboy motif. The shirt, collar wide open, was white transluscent with orange brocade and an orange chiffon scarf tied around his neck like Dream Curly in WHEN PIGS FLY. Little Richard as Roy Rogers.

Also tonight, on "To Tell The Truth," there was a young man in the game who later identified himself as Bruce Roberts, now a successful L.A. songwriter (and who I know as a acquaintance).

My netfriend Barbara tells me that her 16 year old son watches all the old game show reruns because of the hair and clothes styles.

Not to get too heavy, but another net correspondent tells me her son is being hounded out of school and wants to just get a GED because the harassment has become unbearable for him (her kid's gay). Over the weekend, Operation Rescue tried to campaign against Disney during gay day. But few showed up. Still, one group creeped into the park to evangelize. One media outlet reported:

Already inside were three others -- including a young boy -- who videotaped the gay crowd nonstop. The videos will be used to rally support against the gay lifestyle, the protesters said.
Yes, they love to surreptitiously tape gay people and then raise money with the worst they can find. And what does that mean? What's a gay lifestyle?? Jimmy and I are nothing like any of our gay friends. Maybe they're talking about the Tony Awards or the Game Show Network.

You want to really understand what you mean by "gay lifestyle?" (warning, steve is suddenly getting pissed). In Oasis Magazine Dr. Laura Herst says,

"...Gay youth are made to feel ostracized by their own peers if they are openly gay and the shame and stigma that comes with being gay... Add to that the frustrations of dating and lack of opportunities to date, often to even admit attraction to another person, and the issues of family acceptance, religion... The bottom line is that gay youth really have their cards stacked against them by our so-called modern and caring American society..."
And idiot groups like Operation Rescue only make it worse by spreading fear and lies.

Yesterday on PBS' Fresh Air, Armistead Maupin mentioned something I've been saying for awhile. Gay people do not get the same adolescent dating experiences that straight kids get. By the time I mustered the courage to come out and be myself, I was in my mid-20s. I had no clue about love or romance or dating or anything. Imagine a horny 13 year old straight boy suddenly thrust into a world full of available, beautiful women who never say No.

The world of the gay teen is one of almost total supression, hiding and fear. Then suddenly we're on our own as an adult and we're expected to be adult in behavior. Well, with no experience whatsoever in the realm of romantic communication, it's easier to just get laid. And if you do only that, then everything becomes a hollow experience leading many into self-destructive behavior.

Kibs my webmaster, and I have been developing a Bonus Round Gay Youth Page. We have some links leading to great online support groups for gay teens. We plan to continue developing this area. Would love feedback from teens, parents and teachers.

So anyway, my updates on the diary might be intermittent for a little while. Jimmy and I have a lot of "real world" stuff to work on. Also, our Aussie reb pal, Luke Chipperfield is coming to LA this month and so is Shawn Decker -- the thinbloods invade Hollywood (like the Southern Baptists invading Salt Lake City!) We must prepare!

Tues.-Thur., June 9-11, 1998
Rage, Death & Auditions.

Ugh. Been dealing with a stomach ache and some digestion problems -- I think it's one of my new medications. It's got me in a bad mood and I'm no fun to be around at all. Thurday I spent the whole day on the couch in a stupor.

I'm also feeling clogged up music-wise because I cannot write a single note with Jimmy in the house. He knows this, though. Wednesday, sensing that I was frustrated and getting angry, he announced he was going to vacate the apartment and go see a movie or something.

And for the first time in what seemed like decades, I sat down at the piano.

Perhaps it's just because I don't feel so hot, but I'm filled with rage these days. I'm so angry. I'm angry at the Southern Baptists for re-declaring their war against gay people (don't they have any idea what effect this has on young gay kids in their churches?? No. Of course not. They're blind, deaf and stupid now that they've allowed the Nazi Right to take over their denomination).

I'm pissed at Pat F***ing Robertson who practically invited terrorists to bomb Orlando -- by announcing how God was going to strike with bombs or hurricanes for daring to display rainbow flags. (Of course, he hedged his bet since meterologists are predicting this will be a terrible season because of El Nino's subsiding). I guarantee if a hurricane hits his precious CBN, he'd attribute that to satan. I think I'll make a pronouncement.

Pat, God is more likely to strike you down with all the fury of nature because of the way you use His name in vain to spread hate and lies. You are as evil a human being as has ever walked on this planet and I only hope you will someday wake up because your soul is dead. The blood of hundreds of dead gay kids is on your hands.


There. Now I feel much better. (I shouldn't write when I'm angry. Why not? It's my diary.)

(BTW, I had to postpone my toe surgery until next Tuesday because "Aunt Michael" (a TLS producer) had only one day in town yesterday and I really wanted to see him. )

On a good note, we are gearing up for the Laguna Playhouse production of THE LAST SESSION. Jimmy is going to direct,and auditions begin in a couple of weeks. The playhouse will be bringing Bob Stillman, Amy Coleman and Stephen Bienskie out from NY to reprise their roles (assuming they are able to make their deals). So, we'll be recasting the roles of Tryshia and Jim.

Also, Boston is now confirmed for Nov. 6-8! I'll be at the Center For Adult Education in Cambridge -- Harvard Square. Same place as last time and I cannot wait! I have a lot of fans in Boston, believe it or not -- and I miss them.

Finally, some terrible news. My little net acquaintance, Dana, has died of cancer. She fought a very brave fight and her parents and friends are just sick. Once again I post this graphic in her honor because she loved swimming and the sea. Go with God, Dana. You were beloved here.

[ Book 7 ] - [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ]- [ Book 9 ]
[ Diary Index ]

© 1996 - 2001 by Steve Schalchlin