Wednesday, January 22, 2014

John Clifton Says Using High Profile Individuals As Libertarian Party Candidates Can Be Useful & Effective

John Clifton, former Chair of the New York Libertarian Party and Libertarian Party of Queens County who ran for Governor and for United States Senate against Hillary Clinton, recently commented on the history of using high profile individuals as Libertarian Party Candidates. His statement is as follows:

"The concept of a LP-led 'stunt' candidacy with a high profile person has been seriously considered by the party in past years, and is relevant to our attempting to shake things up (in a precision way) to gain press for the party's agenda. The concept was tried successfully by the New York Green Party in '98 when running 'Grandpa' Al Lewis for Governor, and in Minnesota when outright electing Jesse Ventura Governor there that same year. The LP originally tried the idea with the fabled Howard Stern candidacy in '94.

The idea is that instead of starting from a candidate pool that has zero regular resources (no substantial name recognition, no serious money, no organized base) to run in a major race, we make a temporary alliance with someone who does, while living with the imperfections of the deal. Certain celebrities, retired public figures, or 'notorious' personalities may be situationally motivated at a certain point in their lives to act as candidates or endorsers on issues where we are in alignment, and may fit many of the demographics needed for the cause. They can be open to a wooing process we pursue at that time, should we have the foresight to mount an effort, and not insist on a perfect fit. 

In 2005, I contacted Monica Lewinsky to run for Senate (at the same time I also contacted Cindy Sheehan, and William Weld for Governor), based on the suspicion they might be interested in running with the Libertarian Party based on their individual circumstances. In the case of Weld, this turned out to be correct. With Lewinsky, the theory was she was young enough to perhaps appeal to the youth vote based on a left-libertarian campaign (e.g., to promote personal freedom issues of strong interest to young voters (18-34) and civil liberties topics that the Libertarian Party uniquely addresses, in a campaign that would be largely college-campus oriented). 

I think she was a more moral, more authentic and less scandal-prone woman than the then incumbent United States Senator (Hillary), thus might have had an axe to grind against her, and so could pass as an 'anti-fraud' libertarian candidate. If she had run, the media would have positively ate it up. Alas, she was not interested/did not reply, and suddenly got an all expenses paid gig overseas (as if somebody wanted her out of the way while Hillary was getting re-elected, and preparing to run for President). 

Sometimes approaching high profile people does work if there is a purpose and plan behind it, and this strategy could be useful to the LP, past and present."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Was The Father Of The United States Military A Gay Baron, Who Hosted Underwear Parties For His Low-Ranking Male Friends?

The below article on Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, is a compilation of two columns written by Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal, who is the nation's most award-winning commentator in GLBT media.

"After years of studying almost anything available on Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the material suggesting that von Steuben was gay is so overwhelming that the only thing that can be asked of anyone who doubts it is, "Prove to me he’s not". There is literally not room in this article to list all the facts that point to a practice of homosexuality on the part of von Steuben.

On the other hand, there is only one thing historians can point to that suggests von Steuben was heterosexual, and it comes from the first biography on the baron in 1859, The Life of Frederick William von Steuben by Fredrich Kapp. At the end of the 700-plus-page bio, Kapp writes, "Steuben was never married. It seems, however, that he met with disappointment in early life. While preparing to remove to his farm, the accidental fall of a portrait of a most beautiful young woman from his cabinet, which was picked up by his companion and shown to him, with the request to be told from whom it was taken, produced a most obvious emotion of strong tenderness, and the pathetic exclamation, ‘O, she was a matchless woman!’ He never afterwards alluded to the subject". This flimsy story is one of the few items in the book with no attribution. It has since been attributed to a host of the baron’s acquaintances. But most interesting of all is that each time von Steuben encountered the charge of being “homosexual", he never denied it or defended himself, he just moved on.

There are few historians today who would doubt that Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was gay. That is the notion this writer has argued for the past two years, and no accredited historian has refuted its main theme that, without von Steuben, there would be no United States of America and that von Steuben, in today’s terms, would be considered a gay man.

To appreciate the contributions von Steuben (1730-94) made to the American Revolution, consider this: Before his arrival in Valley Forge in 1778, the Revolutionary Army had lost several battles to Great Britain and the colonies were on the path to defeat. Without his leadership, the United States of America might still be the British colonies.

Before von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge, the Revolutionary Army was a loosely organized, rag-tag band of men with little military training or discipline. The military fumbled through the beginning of the war for independence lacking training and organization. Gen. George Washington and the Continental Congress knew that without help from additional seasoned military experts, the colonies would clearly lose.

Since Washington himself was the best the colonies had, they looked to Europe for someone who could train the troops. To that end, Washington wrote the colonies’ representatives in Paris, among them Benjamin Franklin, to see what he could come up with. Franklin, a renowned inventor, was treated as a celebrity in the French court. This would be pivotal in achieving his two major objectives in France: winning financial support for the American Revolution and finding military leaders who could bring a semblance of order to the Revolutionary Army.

Franklin learned of a “brilliant” Prussian military genius, Lt. Gen. Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who had a string of successes across Germanic Europe. But there was one problem. He’d been asked to depart many of those states and countries because of his “affections for members of his own sex", according to biographer Paul Lockhart’s The Drillmaster of Valley Forge.

This became urgent in 1777 when he literally escaped imprisonment in what is now Germany and traveled to Paris. In Paris, Franklin was interviewing candidates to assist Washington back in the colonies when his fellow Colonial representative Silas Deane, a former representative to the first Continental Congress and a friend of Franklin, brought von Steuben to his residence for an interview in June. Deane is best known for recruiting the Marquis de Lafayette.

During the interview process, Franklin discovered von Steuben’s reputation for having “affections” with males and the issue became pressing, as members of the French clergy demanded the French court, as in other countries, take action against this sodomite, whom they considered a pedophile. They had decided to make their effort a crusade and run him out of France.

Lockhart’s biography tells of von Steuben’s being summoned from Paris to Karlsrube, at the court of the Margrave of Baden, for a military vacancy. But, Lockhart notes, “what he found waiting for him at Karlsrube was not an officer’s commission but a rumor, a horrible, vicious rumor” that the Baron had “taken familiarities with young boys".

Those allegations were fueled by von Steuben’s close ties to Prince Henry and Frederick the Great, also “widely rumored to be homosexual".

Von Steuben returned to Paris, and Franklin had a choice here – and he decided von Steuben’s expertise was more important to the colonies than his sexuality. While it can be debated how much a part Franklin played in the recruitment of von Steuben, one cannot doubt that one of the most informed people at the French court would know of the allegations against the baron. With that knowledge, and with von Steuben about to be jailed, Franklin, along with Deane, wrote what must be the nation’s first example of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as they mutually signed a recommendation letter to General Washington that embellished von Steuben’s military expertise and titles and suggested he had been recommended by various princes and “other great personages". Most surprisingly, it remarked that “his distinguished character and known abilities were attested to by two judges of military merit in this country".

The judges of character that Franklin referred to were two of the four involved in the plot to bring von Steuben to America, along with Franklin and Deane, and personal friends of the baron: Pierre Beaumarchais, author of the Figaro plays and an arms dealer who supplied arms for the ship von Steuben eventually sailed on, and Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain, the minister of war under Louis XVI.

What the letter didn’t mention was that he was about to be arrested and appear before judges in France.

Franklin, working with Deane, decided von Steuben’s “affections” were less important than what he, Washington and the colonies needed to win the war with England. Deane learned of von Steuben’s indiscretions — and that the French clergy was investigating — as evidenced from a letter to the Prince of Hechingen, his former employer, which read in part:

It has come to me from different sources that M. de Steuben is accused of having taken familiarities with young boys, which the laws forbid and punish severely. I have even been informed that that is the reason why M. de Steuben was obliged to leave Hechingen and that the clergy of your country intend to prosecute him by law as soon as he may establish himself anywhere.

Deane, along with Franklin, acted quickly before the clergy could deport or imprison von Steuben and plotted to send him to the colonies to serve with Washington. The proof of Franklin and Deane’s knowledge lies in the letter to Washington recommending von Steuben and their quick action to secure the baron from France. So, in September 1777, von Steuben boarded a 24-gun ship named Heureux – but, for this voyage, the ship’s name was changed to Le Flamand, and the baron’s name was entered onto the captain’s log as “Frank.” And he was on his way to the colonies. Von Steuben was given an advance for passage to America and began as a volunteer, without pay.

Once the general had arrived in Valley Forge, Washington was concerned about von Steuben’s inability to speak English, so he appointed two of his officers who spoke French to work as his translators. One of those officers was Alexander Hamilton and the other, his close friend John Laurens. Within months, von Steuben gained Washington’s confidence and began to transform the colonial army.

Washington and Franklin’s trust in von Steuben was rewarded. He whipped the rag-tag army of the colonies into a professional fighting force, able to take on the most powerful superpower of the time, England. Some of his accomplishments include instituting a “model company” for training, establishing sanitary standards and organization for the camp, and training soldiers in drills and tactics such as bayonet fighting and musket loading. According to “The Papers of Von Steuben,” the following is a timeline of his achievements.

February 1778: Arrives at Valley Forge to serve under Washington, having informed Congress of his desire for paid service after an initial volunteer trial period, with which request Washington concurs.

March 1778: Begins tenure as inspector general, drilling troops according to established European military precepts.

1778-79: Writes “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” which becomes a fundamental guide for the Continental Army and remains in active use through the War of 1812, being published in over 70 editions.

1780-81: Senior military officer in charge of troop and supply mobilization in Virginia.

1781: Replaced by Marquis de Lafayette as commander in Virginia.

1781-83: Continues to serve as Washington’s inspector general, and is active in improving discipline and streamlining administration in the army.

Spring 1783: Assists in formulating plans for the postwar American military.

Washington rewarded Von Steuben with a house at Valley Forge, which he shared with his aide-de-camps Capt. William North and Gen. Benjamin Walker. Walker lived with him through the remainder of his life, and von Steuben, who neither married nor denied any of the allegations of homosexuality, left his estate to North and Walker. There wasn’t much else to claim, as the baron was in debt at the time of his death, according to both Kapp and Lockhart. His last will and testament has been described as a love letter to Walker and has been purported to describe their “extraordinarily intense emotional relationship", yet that line was not in the Kapp biography of 1859. Both North and Walker are featured in the statue of von Steuben in Lafayette Park across from the White House.

Speculation over who von Steuben slept with abounded from Prussia to France to the United States. Yet he never once denied it. The closest he came to the topic was to ask Washington to speak on behalf of his morals in a letter to Congress so they would authorize the disbursement of his pension. And why did he ask Washington?

Since his arrival in Philadelphia to assist the Revolution, von Steuben had financial issues caused by a Continental Congress that often didn’t keep its funding promises, a challenge compounded by his own personality: Von Steuben at times could be cold and aloof, which was problematic when diplomacy was needed with an important member of Congress. He also had a tendency to live and spend extravagantly, especially on his uniforms, which were often emblazoned with epaulets and medals of his own design.

Due to his financial picture — and misconceptions about his association with Deane, who, along with Franklin, brought him to the Revolution, but who was later disgraced as traitor to the United States — von Steuben had to fight for his pension.

Adding to that were the constant rumors about his sexuality, which by 1790 had reached one of the revolution’s first families, the Adamses of Massachusetts.

Charles, the son of John and Abigail Adams — the second president and First Lady of the new union — was what today would be called the black sheep of the family. Early on, Abigail considered him “not at peace within himself". His biggest problem was alcoholism but, as revealed in letters among the various members of the family, the Adamses had other concerns.

As John Ferling wrote in the biography John Adams: A Life, “There are references to [Charles’] alleged proclivity for consorting with men whom his parents regarded as unsavory". One of these men was von Steuben, who, as Ferling writes, many at the time considered homosexual. Charles had become infatuated with and adored Von Steuben. It is clear in the family letters that the Adamses were concerned about a relationship between Charles and the baron. Von Steuben’s sexuality was an open secret, one that he himself never challenged, other than to ask Washington to defend his moral character.

Washington, always the diplomat, wrote of the general and friend rather than of von Steuben’s personal life, practicing today’s notion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

It’s hard to question von Steuben’s importance – especially as Washington’s last official act as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army was to write a letter to the baron. Sent from Annapolis and dated Dec. 23, 1783, Washington wrote:

My dear Baron: Altho’ I have taken frequent opportunities, both in public and private, of acknowledging your great zeal, attention and abilities in performing the duties of your office; yet I wish to make use of this last moment of my public life, to signifie (sic) in the strongest terms my entire approbation of your conduct, and to express my sense of the obligations the public is under to you, for your faithful and meritorious services.

I beg you will be convinced, my dear sir, that I should rejoice if it could ever be in my power to serve you more essentially than by expression of regard and affection; but in the meantime, I am persuaded you will not be displeased with this farewell token of my sincere friendship and esteem for you.

This is the last letter I shall ever write while I continue in the service of my country; the hour of my resignation is fixed at 12 this day, after which I shall become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomack, where I shall be glad to embrace you, and to testify the great esteem and consideration with which I am, etc.

The Baron is a puzzle. At first, I really didn’t like him: The man himself was pompous, cold and theatrical, and his uniforms and title were stage props for an officer who didn’t even speak English when he got to Valley Forge. But I respected him for what he did to help Washington’s rag-tag army to defeat the British, eventually leading to the creation of our country. His knowledge created the first sense of military discipline in the colonies. My appreciation for him came from his most recent biographer, Paul Lockhart, whose book The Drillmaster of Valley Forge offers a complete look at von Steuben’s work.

There is one story in the book that could be considered rather scandalous in today’s terms: Von Steuben most likely threw the first underwear party in the United States military, at his house in Valley Forge.

As Lockhart writes, “The Baron hosted a party exclusively for their lower-ranking friends. He insisted, though, that ‘none should be admitted that had on a whole pair of breeches', making light of the shortages that affected the junior officers as they did the enlisted men".

The nation that von Steuben helped found has memorialized him with numerous statues, including those at Lafayette Square near the White House and at Valley Forge and Utica, N.Y. (where he is buried), and German Americans celebrate his birthday each year on Sept. 17, hosting parades in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

It was von Steuben who played a giant role in not only the creation of our military, but the idea of military academies, a standing army and even veterans organizations. If George Washington was the father of the nation, then von Steuben, a gay man, was the father of the United States military."  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Donald Silberger Says Eliminating Unjust Laws Is The Only Protection Against An Increasingly Empowered Surveillance State

Dr. Donald Silberger, the current Chair of the Hudson Valley Libertarian Party who twice ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate for New York State Lt. Governor and once ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate for United States Senate, is certain that improvements in technology will only empower and expand the reach of the surveillance state. In the below article, he proposes that the only solution is to repeal unjust laws.

"Edward J. Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed the excesses and has shown us the extent of the surveillance state, has allowed us a look into an open Pandora's Box, and has reminded us how little privacy we have left in this modern age. Surveillance by government and its corporate cronies will not diminish and will only get worse. The constant improvements in technology will empower and expand its reach. Our every action is observable and recordable. We have become fish in a barrel.

The law books are so fat that every citizen routinely breaks absurd laws that have been enacted by legislatures over the decades. It has thus become imperative that our entire criminal law system be reviewed with the plan of repealing many of those laws.

Unjust laws define us as criminals, and police discretion allows each of us to be targeted for arrest and detention at will. We are vulnerable to police whimsy. Our very liberty is at stake.

We free citizens of a democratic constitutional republic must diminish the list of "crimes" on whose basis we are plundered, limited, and imprisoned.

In order to put flesh upon the sometimes nebulous abstractions to which political oratory is given - rights, freedoms, liberty, patriotism, etc. - I offer the following partial list of criminal laws of which we citizens should demand immediate repeal. I emphasize the list is partial. It offers paradigms for the sort of intrusions upon private life that should be obliterated from the law books.

End The Drug War completely. End the imprisonment of drug users. Repeal the drug laws. Offer detoxification aid for addicts requesting it.

Legalize Prostitution. Protect prostitutes and clients from violence. Cease harassing them. Arrange for voluntary medical certification.

Legalize Private Gambling. Protect gamblers from physical assault, but do not "protect" them against their own impulses towards risk taking.

Cease "civil" asset forfeiture at all levels: federal, state, and local.

If an act neither damages the commons, nor violates the person or the property of another individual, then the act is not legitimately criminal. Laws defining such actions as criminal should be repealed.

Everyone currently imprisoned for "victimless crimes" needs to be immediately released. We need to assist them to re-establish themselves in society as citizens with all their individual rights, including the freedom to vote, hold public office, travel without restriction, work, own property, and to keep and bear arms. Where feasible, those convicted of "victimless crimes" need to be compensated for the losses incurred during their agonizing years of wasted opportunity stolen via morally unjustifiable incarceration.

America's enemies engage in surveillance all the time and they may have been aware that the United States did so also. Snowden enlightened America's citizenry regarding the extent of the existing surveillance state. He did not tell our foes something they did not know, or did not already suspect.

Edward Joseph Snowden brought us knowledge. Such knowledge empowers us."

Donald Silberger Calls On President Obama To Give Edward J. Snowden A Full Pardon

Dr. Donald Silberger, the current Chair of the Hudson Valley Libertarian Party who twice ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate for New York State Lt. Governor and once ran as the Libertarian Party's candidate for United States Senate, has called upon President Obama to give Edward J. Snowden a full pardon for his whistleblowing. Dr. Silberger's statement on the issue follows:

"President Obama should give Edward J. Snowden a full pardon for his whistleblowing, and offer him safe passage either home to the USA or to another destination of his choice, should that be his preference. Snowden should be unrestrained and remain in possession of all the rights and liberties he is entitled to as an American citizen. It does not advance our national interest for Snowden to be beholden to Vladimir Putin, of the presumably retired KGB.

Snowden should be accompanied by, and free to exchange ideas with, media representatives. He should be allowed to tell us his story, interviewed by pundits of both "conservative" and "progressive" bents. He should be able to accept invitations to address the public uncensored. We The People are interested in what he may have to say.

Snowden has informed us, his fellow citizens, that our government secretly spies on us. It is only fair that a prying government itself be subjected to surveillance, by its citizenry. Without such citizen oversight, democracy degenerates into a deceptive joke upon a deluded and manipulated people.

Officialdom has alleged that the actions of whistleblowers "hurt America". The "America" of officials is excessively abstract for "hurt". Persons can be hurt. But revelations to us do us no harm. Officials in Uncle Sam garb who abuse their authority deserve whatever chagrin their exposure brings them.

Our whistleblowers tell us citizens what we must know if we are to exercise our citizenship wisely, e.g. by voting knowledgeably. In a democratic constitutional republic, we citizens choose not only who will perform the proper functions of government as our elected servants; we must be informed also of the specific ends towards which those servants will act, supported as they are by our labor and by the taxes imposed upon us, the governed.

Our public servants, whom we hopefully expect to be acting on our behalf, reflect upon us as a people. They can, if ill-advised, bring down upon us the world's ire. They can violate their duty to us. This duty requires them to function as our servants, and not as our masters."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

LPQC Elects New Officers At 2014 Annual Convention

The Annual Convention of the Libertarian Party of Queens County was held on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Queens Pride House located at 76-11 37th Avenue, Suite 206 in Jackson Heights, New York.

The following officers were unanimously elected by the membership to serve during the remainder of 2014 and until the next Annual Convention is held.

Chair - Dr. Tom Stevens
Vice-Chair - Thomas Adair Rossman
Secretary - Alden Link
Treasurer - Anthony J. Kraljic
Membership Director - Dr. Tom Stevens
State Representative - John Clifton

Congratulations to all who were elected!

Dr. Stephen Finger Says The Rich Won't Make You Poor...Really

Dr. Stephen Finger, an Otolaryngologist practicing medicine in Brooklyn, says that in these modern times, the rich won’t make you poor. In a recent article published on December 30, 2013 entitled The Rich Won’t Make You Poor...Really, Dr. Finger wrote the following:      

“Why all the fuss about 'income inequality? Is that really the 'biggest problem we're facing today'? Is it, in fact, really a 'problem' at all?

Microsoft, Google, Facebook, speaking of 'income inequality, suppose they had never come along and created all their stuff, would one poor person, or even one not-so-poor person, be the slightest bit more prosperous and happy? We got some good stuff and they got really rich. So? It's only 'fair' if we got the stuff and their money too? Where did that come from?

Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the Wright brothers…same thing. Would the 'poor' have been better off without electric lights and cars and railroads and steel and airplanes? Pre-industrial America was rough. The only thing the 'robber barons' robbed us of was a short, tough life. The fact that their incomes were 'unequal' to pretty much everyone else's one.

This is not agrarian Europe in the 1700's where you got rich by getting a bunch of peasants to work your land and then taking as much of the crop as you could get away with, until they decided to chop your head off. In an industrial society, you don't divide the pie. You grow it.
Don't get snookered by the progressive, social justice, 'we love you more than we love ourselves' bunch. Inequality is not the problem even though it sort of sounds like it should be. And taking from the rich is not an 'economic plan'. 

You can't raise the floor by lowering the ceiling. It's an illusion. The only thing you get that way is a country full of people who've forgotten how to stand up straight.”

Dr. Stephen Finger ran for Congress in 2006 on the Libertarian and Republican Party lines. You can visit his blog at:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Applause! Applause! Review of Boschetti, Scudder & Martin at The Duplex by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Boschetti, Scudder & Martin at The Duplex was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

Boschetti, Scudder & Martin - Mike Boschetti, Ken Scudder & Andrew Martin
The Duplex (61 Christopher Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/23/98 at 10:00 p.m.   

"Boschetti, Scudder & Martin (not a law firm or an acid rock band)" was promoted as offering Stand-Up Comedy (And Some Special Surprises) which it provided in abundance. The show featured Janice Messitte as a Special Guest Star who turned out to be the M.C. of the show. Back in the early days of television, products were often sold in the stores with the notice "as seen on TV" because television was such a magical new product that everything seen on it was considered good. Quentin Crisp often speaks of this phenomenon in his book "How To Become A Virgin" which addresses how people can re-create themselves and do away with their past by spending only 10 minutes on a television show. Ms. Messitte, not quite yet a household name, is promoted using the same "if it was on TV, it must be good" philosophy since under her name on the flyer promoting the show is the following announcement: "(Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Rolanda, etc.)".

As it turned out, Janice Messitte was good and, in one of the first surprises of the evening, she sang a song. Ms. Messitte has an excellent voice, but she also happens to be a comic with a powerful stage presence and some good material which suits her chosen personality which she describes as being that of a "broad". She is likable, honest and endearing and more than competently fulfilled her duties as M.C. by warming up the audience with her "in your face" style of humor. The only problem was that some of her material was not well developed. For example, after making an excellent suggestion that fat people hold their own parade, she could think of no other follow-ups to that great opening line other than that the people at the parade could engage in the activity of "bobbing for pound cake." Then there were times when her crude comments crossed the funny-not funny line. An example is when she told a man in the front row "You want to fuck me so bad, I can tell." Not exactly a funny line! Overall, I enjoyed Janice Messitte and expect that with a little fine tuning, she will have an excellent career as a stand-up comic and, if she chooses, as a singer.
The first "stand-up comic" of the evening was Mike Boschetti, who is the worst stand-up comic I have ever seen in my life. This man would come in last place in every amateur comedy contest in the world. He would lose in this country because he has no comic timing and because of the monotony of his act. He would lose in foreign countries, where his audience did not understand English, because of his annoying pacing and lack of any stage presence. If I were a liberal and believed in passing laws to protect and shelter people, I would not give Mike Boschetti a license to be a stand-up comic. After all, if licenses were given to pianists, would you give one to someone who had only 5 fingers and played only half the notes of every song. Similarly, you couldn't give a license to Mike Boschetti who rarely tells a funny joke and always says "OK, Thank You." after the audience fails to laugh at the many bad jokes he does tell. I say "tells" instead of "delivers" because it appears that Mike Boschetti, who may very well be mentally impaired, went to Barnes & Noble and wrote down a number of bad jokes which he memorized and repeated on stage. His best line was "This girl said we have a lot in common, which I found out when we were in the nude." But even that line was poorly delivered. The audience rarely laughed during his act and the worst part of it is that he didn't seem to care.

Where is Audrey II when you need her?

The ever surprising Andrew Martin was up next and for the first time, I was able to catch a glimpse of the talent which enabled him to obtain a M.A.C. nomination a few years back. After explaining that he is from Rego Park, he goes on to sing a wonderful rendition of "Queens", written by Francesca Blumenthal and the late Addy Fieger. Although I have heard others sing this song, none can compare to Martin's unique style which had me enjoying this song all over again as if for the first time. Andrew Martin has a powerful  and pleasing voice which flatters the songs he selects and delivers them to his audience with love. It left me wanting to hear more. As for the stand-up portion of his act, I was pleased to see Mr. Martin adding new material to his already excellent act. My favorite was the story he tells about a "fat, ugly woman", who he corrects to call a "metabolically challenged beauty impaired person" who sat across from him in a subway car "looking at me like I was a dessert she wasn't going to finish" who finally said to him "What are you, a h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l?" to which he responded "What are you, an o-p-t-i-o-n?" Andrew Martin is getting better every day. He is brighter, more energetic and more on the mark every time I see him. He is superbly talented and has a great future! 

The final comic up was Ken Scudder. He is a brilliant writer and a very funny man. He said that the state of modern protest is jaywalking. While people in old age homes boast that they protested to stop the war or fight for civil rights, today's activists ignore the edict "Cross At The Green, Not In-Between" and say "Fuck That Man, Fuck The Man!". Mr. Scudder also doubts the new research results which report that the average man masturbates 7 times a month. He says you can draw a number of different conclusions from those results. The first is that the average man can't count beyond seven. The second is that the average man is a lying sack of shit and the third is that somewhere in Montana, there is a guy who hasn't touched himself in 27 years to make up for what he did in January.

Ken Scudder does a very funny bit about Clinton and why people like him despite the sexual scandals that seem to haunt him. Scudder's view is that the American people want a President who can get head from a 21 year old, especially since he is the last President since Kennedy who could. He says "good god" to the thought of giving head to Johnson. He says "Nixon was "Tricky Dick" in name only, Carter didn't have a dick if you look at his policies, Reagan's dick was in Nancy's pocketbook and who in this room would go down on Bush." This bit was so funny, you could almost forgive him for forgetting that Ford was also President. I say that he forgot since a talented writer like Ken Scudder certainly couldn't fail to come up with a sex joke about a man named after an automobile, where many sex acts often take place.

The surprise of the act was when Ken Scudder sang a song putting new lyrics to "Candle In The Wind" criticizing Elton John for re-cycling that song, a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, for Princess Diana instead of writing a new song for her. Mr. Scudder has a lot going for him. However, if I were his manager, I would tell him to always dress up when performing on stage. Performers who dress in jeans, sneakers and teashirts insult their audience by not taking their performance seriously. Ken Scudder has the talent to succeed. All he needs is better packaging.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and when you see "Scudder & Martin" return, I encourage you to catch the show. You won't be disappointed!! 

Applause! Applause! Review of The Fantasticks at The Amateur Comedy Club by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “The Fantasticks” at The Amateur Comedy Club was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"The Fantasticks"
The Amateur Comedy Club (150 East 36th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/22/98 at 8:00 p.m.

The Amateur Comedy Club was founded in 1884 and is currently in its one hundred and fourteenth season, a record of consecutive annual performances among American dramatic clubs. This particular production of "The Fantasticks" will be the Three Thousand One Hundred Eighty Ninth Performance through the Three Thousand Two Hundred First Performance of the Club. The Clubhouse of the Amateur Comedy Club is a converted stable and yet it is a very attractive, intimate space. I was a guest of one of the members and found the evening to be a very pleasant experience. During the intermission, everyone was invited upstairs to a room where the walls are lined with photographs from previous productions. Complimentary wine and coffee were also served and everyone was very friendly and courteous despite the difficulties of maneuvering in the very small space. While any small inconveniences can all be forgiven, the only thing I think the Club should do something about are the seats in the theatre which were clearly not made with larger posteriors in mind. These particular chairs, with a metal bar on either side, were especially uncomfortable. Even if it means cutting down on the number of individuals squeezed into the theatre, I really think these chairs should be replaced with something a little larger so that full-figured patrons can enjoy the show as much as smaller patrons do.  

This particular production of "The Fantasticks" was quite enjoyable to watch and was very loyal to the original. More than competent performances were put in by Maria Aggabao who played The Mute, R. Keith Martin who played Hucklebee, Stuart Chamberlain who played Bellomy, Marisa Mickel who played Luisa and Roderic L. Suter who played Mortimer.

Superior performances were delivered by Reed Forrester who played Matt and Edward J. Gallagher who stole the show playing The Actor. Mr. Forrester is a very good looking talented actor with a very powerful singing voice and a great stage presence. I look forward to seeing more of this up-and-coming star. Mr. Gallagher has acting abilities that reflect a lifetime of experience. He should be working full time on Broadway in any number of possible roles which I am certain that he could easily master. Mr. Gallagher's humorous biographical note in the program states that "Ed is all but positive that being cast in The Fantasticks as a bumbling, decrepit, has-been old ham in no way reflects the way his fellow Club members perceive him."     

The only cast member I could have done without and who nearly ruined the entire production was David Scharf who played El Gallo. Scharf's voice and stage presence were not strong enough for him to successfully carry off playing El Gallo. Perhaps his acting skills would be better showcased in some other production. His voice is too weak and he is too much of a pretty-boy to have been cast as the powerful, manly, worldly El Gallo. He never should have been offered, nor should he have accepted, this part.

The members of the Amateur Comedy Club appeared to be some very fine, distinguished, cultured individuals. I encourage you to call them to inquire about membership.       

Applause! Applause! Review of Eric Michael Gillett & Melanie Vaughan's "It Takes Two: The Duets Of Stephen Sondheim" at Don't Tell Mama by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Eric Michael Gillett and Melanie Vaughan’s “It Takes Two: The Duets Of Stephen Sondheim” at Don’t Tell Mama was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"It Takes Two: The Duets Of Stephen Sondheim" - Eric Michael Gillett & Melanie Vaughan
Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/7/98 at 7:00 p.m.   

This is a perfect show, period!! Catch it without delay on a Wednesday in May at 7:00 p.m. and be sure to make advance reservations!! Some of the raw comments I wrote down during the show are the following: "as good as it gets", "excellent", "great rapport", "best show anywhere", "lovely", "beautiful", "what talent!", "superb showmanship", "delightful". The opening medley alone consisted of "Two By Two" (Music by Richard Rodgers) cut from Do I Hear A Waltz?, "It Takes Two" from Into The Woods, "Small World" (Music by Jule Styne) from Gypsy, "One Hand, One Heart" (Music by Leonard Bernstein) from West Side Story, "Barcelona" from Company, "Poems" from Pacific Overtures, "Together Wherever We Go" (Music by Jule Styne) from Gypsy, "Send In The Clowns" from A Little Night Music, "Kiss Me" from Sweeney Todd, "One More Kiss" from Follies, and "A Boy Like That" and "I Have A Love" (Music by Leonard Bernstein) from West Side Story. Do you really need to read any more before making your reservation?

Eric Michael Gillet and Melanie Vaughan are a dynamic duo who sing with the voices of proverbial angels. It is one of the most entertaining cabaret shows I have ever seen. Whatever your cares or woe, this show will transport you on a wonderful journey into the woods and then out again, cleansing your spirit along the way. One song that had that effect on me was "Move On" from Sunday In The Park With George. I also especially enjoyed the powerful and emotionally moving "Take Me To The World" from Evening Primrose, the only musical written by Stephen Sondheim for television.

The bulk of the show consists of 3 collaborations, 3 love songs and a suite of Ben & Sally duets from Follies. The collaborations included "Tonight" (Music by Leonard Bernstein) from West Side Story,  "Let Me Entertain You/If Momma Was Married" (Music by Jule Styne) from Gypsy, and "We're Gonna Be All Right" (Music by Richard Rodgers) from Do I Hear A Waltz?. The love songs included "Unworthy Of Your Love" from Assassins, "Happiness" from Passion, and "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow" from Follies. The suite of Ben & Sally duets from Follies included "Don't Look At Me", "Pleasant Little Kingdom" cut from Follies, "Too Many Mornings" from Follies and "All Things Bright And Beautiful" cut from Follies, and "It Wasn't Meant To Happen" cut from Follies. I hope you now see what I have been trying to tell you! Do Not Miss This Show! If you do, you should never forgive yourself!!

Applause! Applause! Review of "A Man And His Dream: The Lyrics Of Johnny Burke" at Danny's Skylight Room by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “A Man And His Dream: The Lyrics Of Johnny Burke” at Danny’s Skylight Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"A Man And His Dream: The Lyrics Of Johnny Burke" - Berk, Durham & Murphy
Danny's Skylight Room (246 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/6/98 at 9:15 p.m.   

David Berk, Caroline Durham and Michael Murphy star in this show which is a tribute to the lyrics of Johnny Burke. "A Man And His Dream" is chock full of songs, the lyrics for which were written by Johnny Burke; 31 in all of which 17 were introduced by Bing Crosby who required lyrics that were not too sentimental or romantic. Michael Holmes was musical director, Jan Wallman directed and most of the arrangements were by David Berk, who conceived of this production.

For the first three years of Johnny Burke's songwriting career, he wrote only music. Then in 1933, when he teamed up with composer Harold Spina and veteran lyricist Joe Young, he began writing only lyrics. Their big hit "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore" was voted best song of 1933 by ASCAP. The subsequent popularity of Burke's songs landed him a contract at Paramount Studio in the mid-thirties, and unlike most of Hollywood's great songwriters who worked for several studios, Burke spent his entire career at Paramount. Of the forty-two films on which Johnny Burke worked, twenty-five starred Bing Crosby. Johnny Burke had three major collaborators at Paramount: Arthur Johnston with whom he wrote Academy Award nominee "Pennies From Heaven" (1936), Jimmy Monaco with whom he wrote the also nominated "Only Forever" (1940), and Jimmy Van Heusen with whom he won an Oscar for "Swinging On A Star" (1944). Burke also wrote three Broadway shows, two with Van Heusen: "Nelly Bly" (1946), "Carnival In Flanders" (1953), and "Donnybrook!", for which he provided both words and music. Of the three, "Donnybrook!" (1961), ran the longest which was for only sixty eight performances. Burke is the only writer to have had five of the top ten songs at the same time on the popular radio show, "Your Hit Parade" and he did achieve posthumous success on Broadway when in 1995, a highly entertaining revue of his songs, "Swinging On A Star", received a coveted Tony Award nomination for best musical. 

"A Man And His Dream" was well-directed, well-staged and well-performed. David Berk, Caroline Durham and Michael Murphy all have wonderful stage personalities and are talented performers. Dressed to the nines, they executed the entertaining arrangements with aplomb. My favorite solo numbers were "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (Music by Spina, Lyrics by Burke & Young) performed by Michael Murphy; "Personality" (Music by Van Heusen) and "Sentimental Side" (Music by Monaco) performed by Caroline Durham; and "When Stanislaus Got Married" (Music by Van Heusen) performed by David Berk. My favorite duo was "Put It There" with the numbers "Apalachicola Fla" and "Road To Morocco" (Music to both by Van Heusen) which was expertly acted and performed by Michael Murphy and David Berk.

Although you will come away from the show singing Johnny Burke lyrics, what you will remember are the beautiful medleys interwoven into the fabric of this show. "Moonbeam Medley" performed by Michael Murphy contains "Polka Dots & Moonbeams" and "Moonlight Becomes You" (Music to both by Van Heusen); "Beautiful Medley" performed by David Berk and Caroline Durham contains "Isn't That Just Like Love", "But Beautiful", "Devil May Care" and "Humpty Dumpty Heart" (Music to all by Van Heusen except "Devil May Care" by Harry Warren); and "Too Romantic Medley" performed by Michael Murphy and Caroline Durham contains "It Could Happen To You", "Moonlight Becomes You", "Like Someone In Love" (Music to all three by Van Heusen), "Too Romantic" (Music by Monaco), "Misty" (Music by Errol Garner) and "You're Not The Only Oyster In The Stew" (Music by Spina). 

I urge you not to miss this unique and enjoyable experience.  

Applause! Applause! Review of "Movin' On" at Don't Tell Mama by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “Movin’ On” at Don’t Tell Mama was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"Movin' On" - Almquist, Cosler, Lauterbach & Stark
Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/29/98 at 9:00 p.m.   

"Movin' On" is a new musical revue with music and lyrics by the very talented Tracy Stark, who also provided the musical direction and the arrangements for this revue. Also starring are Leasen Almquist, Christiann Cosler and Anne Lauterbach, three very pretty, sexy and energetic performers with good voices and good bodies which they used to please their audience following the expert direction and choreography provided by Morgan LaVere, for whom this revue is a showcase of his superb talent and abilities. Technical Direction and Lighting were provided by Shawn Moninger, a recent M.A.C. Award Winner.

I enjoyed this revue and feel that it has the potential to run for years. The performers were all very talented and did a great job with each of the songs, successfully selling each one to the audience. The choreography was the best I've seen in a cabaret show and the lighting and technical direction were delivered by a master. There was even one point when two of the girls turned the piano 360 degrees during a number and Tracy Stark didn't miss a note. Interesting props were used and a little shaking of the bodies here and there, all resulted in an enthusiastic response by the audience in attendance.  

Tracy Stark, looking prettier than I have ever seen her, was the creative genius behind this project. She has the potential to become a great composer. I loved her music, but I could have done without her superficial lyrics about love found, love lost and love yearned for, which are reflected in the titles of the following songs: "You Were There", "Come Back To Me", "The Only One Is You", "Stay With Me Tonight" -- well, you get the picture, or should I say, "Portrait". There wasn't a substantive, insightful or meaningful song in the bunch. The only ones that had possibilities were "Dreams" and "Child Of The Light", but even they fell short. Of course, there is no rule that lyrics must be meaningful, logical, moving or substantive and there is something to be said for the simple love song. It's only that I am not going to be the one to say it.

If you are looking for a lighthearted musical revue with pretty girls and some cute choreography (circa The Andrew Sisters), then you should not miss "Movin' On". 

Applause! Applause! Review of "Camouflage Cabaret" in the Xanadu Showroom at Trump's Taj Mahal by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of “Camouflage Cabaret” starring Richard Skipper, Holly Faris and Mr. Randy Roberts in the Xanadu Showroom at Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"Camouflage Cabaret" - Richard Skipper, Holly Faris & Mr. Randy Roberts
Xanadu Showroom at Trump's Taj Mahal (Atlantic City, NJ)
Reviewed 2/8/98 at 3:00 p.m.   

Richard Skipper, a Distinguished Artist of the Beaux Arts Society and a former Leonardo da Vinci Award Winner for Best Impersonator, opened in the Xanadu Showroom of Trump's Taj Mahal on January 4, 1998 in a fabulous show which ran through March 5, 1998. Co-starring with Mr. Skipper in "Camouflage Cabaret" were fellow impersonators Holly Faris and Mr. Randy Roberts. The show, from opening curtain to the grand finale, was entertaining, fast-moving and well-written. The performances, the lighting and the choreography were all top notch, as was the music played by The Mark Owens Quartet perched on stage and yet out of the way of the performers. I have seen many well-reviewed shows in Atlantic City that I thought were poorly produced and not well conceived. However, "Camouflage Cabaret" was a winner and should be revived.     

Holly Faris opened the show singing "I'm Every Woman", with snippets of Dr. Ruth, Liza & Marilyn Monroe. She then introduced Carol Channing, superbly and flatteringly portrayed by Richard Skipper, who proceeded to perform the crowd pleasing "Show Girl", "Elegance" and "Before The Parade Passes By". Mr. Skipper, who in my opinion was the star of the show, returned later as Judy Garland performing "Almost Like Being In Love", "This Can't Be Love", "You Made Me Love You", "For Me And My Gal" and "The Trolley Song". Ms. Faris also portrayed Joan Rivers, Fran Drescher, Bette Midler performing "Great Big Knockers", and Tina Turner performing "Simply The Best" and "Proud Mary". Mr. Randy Roberts portrayed Consuelo performing "At The Copa", Mae West performing "Champagne Taste" and Cher performing "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Shoop Shoop Song".

In his impersonations of Judy Garland and Carol Channing, Richard Skipper, unlike other impersonators, pays the highest possible tribute to these great ladies. He portrays them at their best and flatters them instead of exploiting them. Therefore, he doesn't portray Judy Garland as a pill popper and wears no smeared lipstick when portraying Carol Channing. Of the many Carol Channing impersonators I have seen, I must say that I think Richard Skipper is the best. I never get tired of visiting with Richard Skipper's Carol Channing, a friendly, lovely and talented lady. I only hope that if one day I meet the real Carol Channing, she is as I have come to know and love her through the multi-talented Richard Skipper.

Applause! Applause! Review of Katie Guillory's "Crushed" at Eighty Eight's by Andrew Martin

This review of Katie Guillory’s “Crushed” at Eighty Eight’s was written by Andrew Martin and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.

"Crushed" - Katie Guillory
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 3/11/98 at 10:30 p.m.   

Since 1990, the O'Neill Cabaret Fellowship has proven its gift for turning out a host of artists who blossom within the cabaret arena; these include Jessica Bass, Leslie Orofino, Brad Marston, Barbara Fasano, William Baldwin Young, Irina Maleeva and Anthony Santelmo, Jr., to name but a mere few. In many cases, however, a debut show presented by a recent graduate of the Symposium will invariably appear not simply theme-heavy but downright contrived -- in a word, raw. Though such is the case with the otherwise-delicious Katie Guillory, it can only be in the blink of cabaret's collective eye before the young chanteuse takes her place with the medium's top talents.

Guillory's rich vocals and intrinsic sense of musicality (she was the music director of the Radcliffe Pitches, Harvard's only female a cappella group, while finishing an A.B. in Linguistics and German four years ago) are THE reason to venture out to one of her shows, in particular "Crushed", in which her adolescent crushes on Boris Becker, Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz and the like are explored through a scrumptiously eclectic musical mix.

On the pop side, a coupling of "One Way Or Another" (Blondie) with "Every Breath You Take" (The Police) is arranged by musical director Ross Patterson with technique that can only be cited as exquisite. And composer Randy Newman is heard in abundance, both on a lovely rendering of "Gainesville" and perhaps the show's crowning highlight, Guillory's thoroughly felt delivery of "Emotional Girl". Similarly, Katie Guillory shows an eerily natural aptitude for taking numbers so often done to death by the average cabaret newcomer and adding twists that make the numbers fairly-and-squarely her own. The most obvious example of same is "You've Got Possibilities" from the Broadway flop "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman", in which Linda Lavin took the ditty and created a salvageable moment in musical theater history. So, it seems for the moment, has Katie Guillory, milking the song for every comic "possibility".

Though her next cabaret appearance will be in tandem with MAC/Bistro/Leonardo da Vinci award winner Gary Lyons, in his Judy Garland-themed event "By Gumm" at Eighty Eight's later this month, should Katie Guillory and "Crushed" return to the space, the result will be wholeheartedly worth catching. 

Applause! Applause! Review of The 1998 Back Stage Bistro Awards at The Supper Club by Andrew Martin

This review of The 1998 Back Stage Bistro Awards at The Supper Club was written by Andrew Martin and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.

The 1998 Back Stage Bistro Awards
The Supper Club (240 West 47th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 3/9/98 at 7:00 p.m.   

If the MAC Awards are the Tony Awards of cabaret, the Bistro Awards are undeniably the Golden Globes. Ever since the late cabaret critic Bob Harrington launched the first list of Bistro Award winners in the theater trade publication thirteen years ago, the Bistros have continued to gain momentum as one of the cabaret medium's most eagerly-anticipated annual events.

For those of us who've been on the cabaret scene in New York since the 1980s, the list of Back Stage Bistro Award winners reads for us like a surreal trip down memory lane, just to realize the wide number of artists who've passed through cabaret's portals and gone on to greater glory. Winners from before 1990 include Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, Linda Wallem, Emo Phillips, Rita Rudner, Judy Tenuta, Michael Feinstein, Jenifer Lewis, Faith Prince, Maxine Lapiduss, Vicki Lewis, Colin Quinn, Brett Butler, Rockapella, and Hazelle Goodman. In 1990, the Bistros were officially set forth as a live performance event at Eighty Eight's, with memorable performances by BETTY, Sara Zahn, Karen Saunders, Wiseguys, Rainie Cole, and Craig Carnelia and Maureen Silliman topping the bill, not to mention speeches by Sylvia Syms, Carol Lawrence, and Julius LaRosa among others.

Since that time, several changes have taken place. A committee of five now oversee the awards selection process (this includes Editor-In-Chief Sherry Eaker, cabaret critics Roy Sander and John Hoglund, and comedy columnists Donna Coe and Amelia David being called upon for consultation in the standup comedy categories), and the ceremony has shifted homes from the Ballroom (now the home of Catch A Rising Star on West 28th Street) to the Supper Club (at the old Edison Theater). However, the Bistros have retained Bob Harrington's tradition of never awarding an individual in the same category more than once. (Artists may receive awards in several different categories over the course of their career).

And as usual, not every spectator agreed with every choice on the part of the selection committee. There were, of course, those for whom all present could be ecstatically happy; Jeff Macauley was a shoe-in for his delectable "MWAH! The Dinah Shore Show" (Outstanding Theme Show) at Eighty Eight's last season. Jane A. Johnston (Outstanding Vocalist), who was nothing less than a total wow at Danny's last autumn, continued her history of outstanding performance on stage at the Supper Club. And, in turns too marvelous to mention in detail, Audrey Morris (Outstanding Singer/Instrumentalist), Christian Nova (Outstanding Recording), Elena Bennett (Outstanding Vocalist), Joyce Breach (Outstanding Recording), Jim David (Outstanding Comedy Performer), and a newly-slim (and AMAZING-looking) Jeanne MacDonald were nothing short of splendid. None of these, however, measured up to the genius that IS vocal group Minimum Wage (Outstanding Musical Comedy), featuring Jeff LaGreca, Charlie LaGreca, Sean Harris and the superb Brian Chenoweth, or the show's crowning highlight, an appearance by Georga Osborne (Outstanding Musical Comedy).

Then, of course, were those individuals whose selection for award receipt was simply baffling. At the indisputable top of this list is the cast (and all others involved) with "Heartbeat It's A Lovebeat", who presented the bubblegum anthems "Sugar, Sugar" and "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" along with choreography so unsyncopated that one more flub might have qualified it for performance art...barely. Rob Maitner did a fine performance job, and Mark Cannistraro provided visibly perfect direction, on "I Don't Want To Be The President", tho' Eric Lane Barnes' music and lyrics frequently missed the mark in the presentation from "Fairy Tales" at the Duplex. But one of the most miserable moments of the evening came in the unfortunate guise of Richard Skipper as Carol Channing (Dolly, won't you ever go away, again?). One might forgive Skipper, and then only might, if he didn't use his talents to make a name impersonating the singularly most imitatable personality the entertainment world has ever produced. The other was Mark Nadler's vomitously deliberate upstaging of the divine KT Sullivan while accompanying the lady. In addition, though a video portion showing the formidable talents of Tommy Femia (Outstanding Impersonation) went off without a hitch, clips of Judi Connelli and David Campbell weren't quite so lucky, and made all the more painful by a microphone through which we could barely hear Portia Nelson's lovely speech about both artists.

Comedian Jeff Ross MC'd in a style for which not enough superlatives can ever exist (and, in fact, the presenters of the Bistro Awards absolutely have the consummate permanent MC in Ross should they decide to keep him in a position for which he could have been born), and Marcia Lewis' receipt of the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award provided a perfect climax to the festivities (even if it meant having to gaze upon the regrettable countenance of Donald Smith, who brought the Broadway legend on stage with the dullest speech this side of a wake).

In any case, the Back Stage Bistro Awards continue to be one of THE reasons to venture out during a cabaret season, if simply to see some of the very best of today's popular artists in the medium. I know I'll be there for ceremony number fourteen, next spring. See you there! 

Applause! Applause! Review of Frans Bloem's "Jubilee" at Eighty Eight's by Maya T. Amis

This review of Frans Bloem’s “Jubilee” at Eighty Eight’s was written by Maya T. Amis and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.

"Jubilee" - Frans Bloem
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 1/13/98 at 8:00 p.m.    

Coming on stage, winding his way through the tables, Frans Bloem makes instant contact with his audience, converting them into lifelong friends with his expressive, almost flirtatious eyes, wide smile and relaxed air. Like previous shows, this one brings his friends - old and new - up to date on his life and emotional state, using a conversational style and songs ranging from one of this year's MAC nominees for best song (Carol Hall and Steven Lutvak's wonderful "A Lover Of High Wire") to old French favorites (you can almost hear the accordion in the background when he sings his medley of "Pigalle", "Paris Skies" and "Windmills Of Your Mind" in French and English).

Not entirely the celebration its title indicates, this show often has a wistful quality as Bloem ponders human nature (and his own) and takes the opportunity to look at his life, both past and present. This is not to say that he can't be funny: he has a sly wit that glints through at unexpected moments, and he uses his job as a tour manager as inspiration for some irresistible and heartfelt humor in Noel Coward's "Why Do The Wrong People Travel". Bloem's unforced, and totally genuine, continental charm is engaging, and it is easy to see why he is a successful tour guide, frequently jaunting off to exotic places before returning home to the West Village -- and to Eighty Eight's -- to regale us with a new show, sharing the wisdom and humor he has acquired over his years of travel and adventure.

Bloem has a uniquely irrepressible hospitality; most of his shows are followed by a party at his house to which the audience is invited. Somehow, these informal get-togethers seem an utterly appropriate gesture from this convivial gentleman -- a concrete example of his expansive personality.