Sunday, December 11, 2011

Applause! Applause! Review of Mr. Ruby Rims & Friends' "Teddycare" by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Mr. Ruby Rims & Friends in five (5) shows entitled "Teddycare" at Eighty Eight's was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 3 (January, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"Teddycare" - Mr. Ruby Rims & Friends
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 12/12/97 at 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.; 12/19/97 at 8 p.m. & 11 p.m.; 12/26/97 at 8 p.m.

In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt (nicknamed "Teddy") became President of the United States. In November, 1902, he embarked on a 4-day hunting expedition in Mississippi, during which he refused to shoot a bear that had been cornered for him. The incident prompted a cartoon by Clifford K. Berryman which appeared in the Washington Post on November 16, 1902; the title of the cartoon, "Drawing the Line at Mississippi", also referred to a boundary dispute which the President had set out to resolve. The popularity of the Teddy Bear began soon after Berryman's cartoon appeared. Morris Michtom, a Russian emigre, displayed a plush bear, made by his wife Rose and labeled "Teddy's Bear", in the window of his New York store. It was an instant success. The wholesalers, Butler Brothers, eventually bought the Michtom's entire stock, and, helped by the backing of Butler Brothers, Michtom established the Ideal Novelty & Toy Company, reputed to be the 1st United States teddy-bear manufacturer. The height of the teddy craze coincided with Teddy Roosevelt's second administration (1905-1909). In 1906, the United States toy trade magazine "Playthings" first referred to "Teddy's Bears" and this was soon abbreviated to "Teddy Bear".

For the remainder of the 20th Century, Teddy Bears have continued to be ideal gifts for children of all ages. Their popularly has led hundreds of thousands of people to collect and trade them. Teddy Bear Conventions are held every year and numerous books have been written detailing the history, designs and diversity of Teddy Bears manufactured throughout the world. It is hard to say exactly why Teddy Bears have sustained their popularity throughout the years. I believe it is because a stuffed bear covered with fur acts as a surrogate mother who continues to provide its owner with warmth, safety and a feeling of security for so long as it's being held. The holder of a Teddy Bear, embraced in a "bear hug", feels less tense, less anxious and less frightened, just as the holder would feel if being hugged by mother. I wouldn't be surprised if Teddy Bear owners lived longer, happier lives than those living without Teddy Bears.

Mr. Ruby Rims was a Teddy Bear collector who appreciated the therapeutic value Teddy Bears have for children, and especially sick children. One day he decided it would be a great idea to organize a Christmas Teddy Bear Drive for Hospitalized Children and to distribute Teddy Bears to children in hospitals, aids wards and hospices throughout New York City. He called his effort "Teddycare", a registered trademark, and proceeded to invite some of his talented friends to donate their time to put on a series of shows at which Teddy Bears would be collected and at which other monies raised would be donated to various designated charities. This effort has been going strong for many years and the shows I reviewed were part of the 7th Annual Teddycare extravaganza. The host for each show was Mr. Ruby Rims himself. The musical director for all the shows was the very talented John McMahon. The very "electric" Maryann Lopinto, strung with Christmas lights, helped collect the Teddy Bears and taped each of the shows.

The $6300 collected at the shows during this 7th Annual Teddycare Drive went to the Manhattan Plaza Aids Project, an aids service organization that was there to help Mr. Ruby Rims in his time of need. Mr. Ruby Rims states at each show that he is proud that none of the monies donated to the Manhattan Plaza Aids Project are used for administrative expenses. The nearly 1000 Teddy Bears collected at the shows are distributed to sick children in January and February by Mr. Ruby Rims who dresses in a bear suit to deliver them. For his efforts, NY1, the cable news service, designated Mr. Ruby Rims "New Yorker of the Week", the first time that a transgendered individual has ever received this honor. In my opinion, it was well deserved.

The many talented artists who agreed to donate their time to make the shows a success are deserving of thanks and praise. They include Aaron Lee Battle, Jenny Burton, Jack Donahue, Sean McNally, Terri Lynn Paul, Vivian Reed, Marta Sanders, Billy Stritch, Adrianne Tolsch, Mary Bond Davis, Steve Hayes, Michael Marotta, Maureen McNamara, Varla Jean Merman, Michael Murphy, Jane Schechter, Jon Kent Soleather, Marilyn Volpe, Bobby Belfry, Charles Cermele, Rick Crom, Gerry Dieffenbach, Karen Mason, Jeanne MacDonald, Georgia Osborne, Jacqueline Venable, Kelly Briggs, Mary Foster Conklin, Bill Daugherty, Judy Kreston & David Lahm, Jennifer Kruskamp, Sidney Myer, Maureen Kelly Stewart, Jonathan Tomaselli, Tom Andersen, Jeff Harnar, Carlos Martin, Jaymie Meyer, Rick McKay, Phyllis Pastore, Jerry Scott, Vie Tabaac, Margaret Wright, Steven Brinberg, Jim Caruso, Baby Jane Dexter, Thomas Diverniero, Paul Greenwood, David Gurland, Martha Lorin, Shirley Ritenour, James Beaman, Charles Busch, Tommy Femia, Bryan Murphy, Jay Rogers, Richard Skipper, Albert "Diva" Walsh and Miss Julie Wilson. Each performer contributed the equivalent of two numbers to the show they were participating in. Mr. Ruby Rims did an opening and closing number at each show with one encore. In light of the fact that many supporters of Teddycare come to all of the shows, I must say that Mr. Ruby Rims could have done a better job of diversifying his material and could have prepared a few additional numbers to perform. He has so many brilliant numbers in his repertoire. I wish he had used more of them! All of the shows I reviewed were well worth the effort I made to attend them. In light of the fact that all of the shows were benefits, I will not critique each performer's work as I would have had they been appearing in their own shows. Nor will I provide you with a list of songs performed. Instead, I will mention some of the lighter and more serious moments that took place during the shows I reviewed.

At the 8 p.m. show on December 12, 1997, Georgia Osborne said the first reference to PMS in the bible was the verse "And Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way to Bethlehem." Rick Crom told the joke about the "mute guy who goes into a drug store to purchase a condom. Not knowing exactly how to ask for one, he takes out his penis and puts it on the counter along with two dollars. The clerk sees this, pulls his own dick out of his pants, places it on the counter and since it was larger, he took the two dollars." Charles Cermele reiterated his claim that people think he looks like a cross between Michael Feinstein and John Gotti. Mr. Ruby Rims stopped singing in the middle of a song and asked a woman in the audience to close her legs saying "we're getting an echo in here." He also said "I have a frog in my throat. It used to be a prince." Finally, Mr. Ruby Rims told the joke about the "two blondes who froze to death at the drive-in movie. They went to see "Closed for Winter"."

At the 11 p.m. show on December 12, 1997, Sidney Myer sang the wonderful song "A Boy's Life" about what the activities of a boy scout might be. After singing the song, he said that "the closest he ever came to that song was a girl scout cookie." Mr. Ruby Rims stated that he "loves straight people. They're so obvious." To do a Bette Davis impression, Ruby asked for a cigarette. He said "I left mine in the machine." Then as Bette Davis, he said "We've had a request, but I'm going to sing anyway. I'm going to do a little number; no one you know." Mr. Ruby Rims proceeded to tell yet another dumb blonde joke: "Do you know what they call smart blondes?...Golden Retrievers." Finally, before singing "This Is The Moment", Mr. Ruby Rims stated that five years ago, he was diagnosed with aids and since then, he has "realized how precious life is and that you have to live each day as it comes and each moment as it comes."

At the 8 p.m. show on December 19, 1997, Tom Andersen came out in favor of Christmas Cards stating that he has learned over the years how important friends are and that you should send Christmas Cards to "let people know you are thinking about them." At the 11 p.m. show on December 19, 1997, David Gurland said it was odd he was about to sing a song about the infant Jesus since he is "really, really, really Jewish." Mr. Ruby Rims commented that the world has really changed in the past fifteen years. He said "now a cocktail is 22 pills."

At the 8 p.m. show on December 26, 1997, which together with the identical show at 11 p.m. was dedicated primarily to drag queen performers, Mr. Albert "Diva" Walsh stated that he had to take a "survival job" this year, so he didn't have a "church job" which would have allowed him to sing "O Holy Night". Therefore, Mr. Walsh seized the opportunity to sing it here. Mr. Bryan Murphy, who flew in from the north of London just to do this show, said "Never trust a country with only one Queen." Mr. Bryan Murphy also sang a song entitled "Living Next Door To Alice" which required audience participation in the form of their singing "Alice, who the fuck is Alice" at appropriate moments during the song. What a hoot! Extra points to Mr. Bryan Murphy for his large Christmas balls. Lypsinka made a surprise appearance and asked the audience if they knew "the difference between the Titanic and Mr. Ruby Rims?" When no one answered, he said "We all know how many people went down on the Titanic." Charles Busch said it was a long show and that it's getting a bit testy downstairs in the small dressing room. He said "downstairs is like a women's prison picture. Heads are being shaved as we speak."

Mr. Ruby Rims is a Distinguished Artist of the Beaux Arts Society, a community of artists founded in 1857 that is the original sponsor of the only authentic Beaux Arts Ball run in America. Mr. Ruby Rims was also the recipient of a Leonardo da Vinci Award in 1996 for Best Performing Artist for his show "I'm Still Here." If you wish to donate money to the Manhattan Plaza Aids Project or if you wish to donate Teddy Bears to Teddycare, I'm sure that Mr. Ruby Rims would be pleased to hear from you. You may call him directly at 212-279-6541. I encourage you to support Mr. Ruby Rims and Teddycare now and in the years to come!

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