It's June everybody! Happy Pride! I'm proud to say Club Cumming is back up and running after getting our new license from the State Liquor Authority with none of the stipulations that our local community board tried to put on us. We complied and tried to make good, paid the fine, had the support of many politicians including our local council member Carlina Rivera, council member Rafael Espinal and the speaker of the City Council Corey Johnson. We had a huge wave of support both in terms of people attending meetings, petitions signed, letters written on our behalf by cultural figures and local residents saying how what we have created at Club Cumming in terms of inclusivity, kindness, queer performance and above all community is unsurpassed in the city. Also various land attorneys spoke early on about the erroneous claims of the community board and the demands they were making on us. It's hard to see what the gain was in all of this. We fought only to have the right to go on as before. A bureaucratic error many, many years ago that had been ignored or overlooked or turned a blind eye to suddenly became an issue not because of any complaints the bar received, but because according to the community board the enormous amount of publicity the bar has engendered. I just hope as much publicity is given to the waste of time, effort and money before the community board withdrew their complaint last week.
So many people lost their income, the bar receipts plummeted, our legal fees rocketed, all to bring us back to square one and to be operating as before. And for what? For the good of our community? if we were a business that was not owned by people who have other incomes, we could easily gone under with the costs and loss of business involved. I hope our victory and the fact that CB3 had misread the zoning laws will help other small bars and restaurants who have to encounter such aggressive and ill-informed community boards in the future.
Here's a great article that pretty much sums it all up
Anyway we are back, stronger than ever and with a new website launching soon, loads of amazing performers and DJs on the schedule and a summer of fun to look forward to. Thanks to everyone for your incredible support during these last few months. Onwards and upwards!
So we had our CB3 meeting and now the final hurdle in our attempt to be able to get Club Cumming back to doing what it was doing nearly three months ago is the State Liquor Authority meeting on Wednesday 30th May at 10am. please chant for us! Hopefully we will get the result we feel we deserve and we can go back to entertaining the Club Cumming family, paying all our young performers who have not been able to do their jobs these last few months and rebuilding the amazing sense of downtown performance community that has been so ravaged by this bureaucratic nightmare. Just one more week till the big day!!!!
Lots of people have been asking me about the Club Cumming situation, and so I thought I’d address it all here…
First of all I want to thank everyone who has reached out to express their support and concern about the bar having to stop DJs and live performance. It has been truly humbling to read how Club Cumming has become such a beloved and needed addition to the East Village - and especially to the queer community - since it opened only 6 months ago.
As I told the New York Post last April, my mission was to create ”a home for everyone of all ages, all genders, all sexualities, who all enjoy letting go and making some mischief. No judgments, no attitude, no rules, except kindness, acceptance and fun.” And I am so proud and happy to say that’s what has happened! I hear it from the people I encounter in the bar and around the East Village where I live, as well from the flood of emails and letters we’ve received since our problems became known.
So what exactly are our problems?
In a nutshell, when Daniel Nardicio and I became partners with the former Eastern Bloc owners Darren Dryden and Benjamin Maisani and opened Club Cumming, we had no idea that our liquor license did not include live performance or DJs (just background music). Had we known, we would have obviously added those to the license before opening as our whole ethos at Club Cumming is to offer our patrons the chance to hear and see the best in live music, comedy, theatre and everything else we can squeeze into our tiny space!
We became aware of the error via a notice from the State Liquor Authority, who in turn had been told of our mistake by our local community board. Immediately we consulted our lawyer and began the process of righting this wrong. Ultimately, he advised that we should stop all DJs and live performances to show the SLA and the Community Board we were complying and trying to make amends for our oversight.
We are very grateful that our case will be heard at the Community Board 3 meeting at 6:30 pm, on Monday, April 9, 2018 at Perseverance House Community Room, 535 East 5th Street (btwn Aves A & B). We will be pleading our case for the right to return live performance to our bar and allow once more our Club Cumming community to thrive. Please come along and support us, especially if you are a resident of the East Village or a close neighbor. Or you can send a message of support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, the bar is open for fun and frolics, but we miss all our performers and DJs, as I’m sure they miss both the chance to express themselves and the income they are missing when we are on this hiatus. Hopefully we can welcome them, and all members of Club Cumming old and new, back soon! Thanks, Alan x
‘Club Cumming is the neighborhood’s best new addition in years. I beseech the SLA to give Club Cumming the permission it needs. It would be heartbreaking if the bar could not continue with its hugely successful and valuable mission: providing employment to myriad performers, showcasing exciting new work and infusing cultural lifeblood into the East Village’
Adam Feldman, theater critic, Time Out
‘It’s a place to gather with old friends and make new ones, and it upholds the best of the East Village’s legacy as a breeding ground for performance, inclusiveness, and style. It also provides work for a lot of talented people’.
Michael Schulman New York Times/The New Yorker
I've been working on a new show for CBS and it will be aired early next year. Here is the trailer for it. I hope you like it!
Well, it's been a crazy old start to the year. I've been trying to remain positive and engaged politically against Trumpageddon, and here are two very good sources for you to do so too, should you wish....
Visit Daily Action and sign up and you'll receive daily emails form them telling you the most effective and necessary phone calls to make to put pressure on your legislators.
And for a more LGBT themed version visit 100 Days and Me
Also I've been traveling a lot touring Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs in New Orleans, Stanford, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Miami, Key West, Atlanta, Orlando, Sarasota, and getting ready to shoot a new TV pilot for CBS. I've also returned to PBS to do this years intros as Masterpiece Mystery host and recently made these commercials for Audible
Here I am making a little bit of my political feelings felt in an improvised song with the lovely Harry Connick Jr...
I even returned to Broadway for one night only as a guest on Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's Oh, Hello!
Finally I went to LA for the Vanity Fair Academy awards dinner and was so happy to see my old chum Emma Stone bring home the oscar for La La Land.
A lot has happened this year. We have seen, in many parts of the world and sadly in my two home countries of Britain and America, a radical shift in terms of how we look at people who are different to us. We voted in large numbers, but thankfully by very close margins and certainly not in any way that could ever described as a landslide. But put simply, the majority of people who voted decided they wanted to be (or were fine with being complicit in), less compassionate to those who were not like them. To block them from crossing their borders, to remove them if they were already here. And of course, the problem with that idea, as we have seen again and again throughout time, is where does it stop? At the moment, it's immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, call them what you will - we basically mean people who do not look or sound like us and who we are scared of because we don't understand them. Since the US election and the Brexit vote, I have felt very out of touch with a large swathe of the population in both countries that I thought I understood. They equally do not understand me. I am not like them. I do not think like them. I do not sound like them. I do not look like them. Do you see where I am going with this?
Earlier this month I performed a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, based on the exhibition that is running there of the German artist Max Beckmann. Initially I thought I had very little in common with Max. He was a painter and in 1937 his works in public galleries were seized and he was labelled a degenerate artist by the Nazis. The following year he fled for Holland. I had been thinking about the show for many months and during that time the US election happened. Shortly after, in response to the Hamilton cast making a curtain call speech to the Vice President Elect who was in the audience, Donald Trump said he thought the theatre should be a 'safe space'. I have never thought of the theatre as a safe space. I think it is a place of ideas, a place to provoke, to protest, to challenge and to educate as well as to entertain. So now, the future leader of America is issuing edicts about how he thinks my line of work should be perceived. I am an immigrant, I am a very vocal opponent of Mr Trump, I have a platform that I use to express my views, I am different , I am queer, I am - in the opinion of a great many of his supporters - degenerate. I wonder how soon it will be before people like me are made to feel, as Max Beckmann was, that life would be easier to live somewhere else?
In September this year I visited Lebanon and met many people who were displaced by the conflicts in Syria, and also Iraq. Through no fault of their own and certainly not through choice, they had become refugees. For me this was the most pivotal moment in all of 2016's maelstrom of conflict and chaos. These people are like us, they are certainly like me. They are scared of the same things we are scared of, they have the same needs. They just want to go home and get on with their lives and live in peace. Talking to them and witnessing their sometimes desperate situations could not have been a more striking contrast to the rhetoric I was hearing back in the West - rhetoric that had no shame in its total abandonment of compassion, empathy or kindness, indeed of the very basic human traits that, in spite of everything, I still believe we all share.
This holiday season, I know there are a lot of options for donating or giving. But if you are so inclined, please consider donating to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.org.
You will be doing something that it seems we have all forgotten, or are being encouraged to forget - the most basic and purest act of kindness: giving back to people who are - again through no fault of their own - homeless, displaced, lost, hungry, cold, without hope.
Thanks for reading and Happy 2016.
Last night I attended the Elton John AIDS Foundation gala in New York City. I have been to this event before, and many like it, but last night was particularly moving and inspiring and I’m sure it was because of the spectre of the election America is about to undergo in a week.
There were many speeches that made me gasp. A lady from an AIDS organization in the South informed us that 25% of all gay and bisexual men in that region of America are HIV positive. She talked so eloquently but the word that stood out for me was one that I have heard at so many events like this for decades: stigma. A lovely transgender woman named Bamby talked about the way Elton’s charity is helping trans immigrants.
But with each speech full of galling statistics but ultimately hopeful and positive messages, my heart sank. What will this event be like, I thought, in a year’s time if Donald Trump becomes president?
We will live in a world where immigrants, let alone gay and lesbian and bi immigrants, let alone trans immigrants, will be vilified and shamed and will fear for their livelihoods, probably even their lives.
Stigma will be something that is not just a common concept in the parlance of hoity-toity galas frequented by rich gays and those who love them. Oh, no. You mark my words! Women of all social groups, races and religions, indeed anyone of any non white or Christian racial and religious groups, the disabled, the different, the other, everyone n fact in the room I was proud to be in tonight will be vilified, and that vilification will come with it a seal of approval from the highest office in the land.
If Donald Trump gets in we are entering a maelstrom of ignorance, bigotry and abuse on a scale of which we can only begin to conceive by looking at the rises of Fascism and other forms of extremism that now we look at, rightfully, with utter abhorrence and shame. We are not just going to become like them, we are going to supercede them in our fervour and lust to become the very worst of humanity. For that is what Donald Trump and his supporters represent.
Yet, I do not blame them all. I firmly believe that every citizen of America has to take responsibility for the rise of Trump and his hatred no matter how they will vote in a week’s time.
The rise of Trump is due hugely to the lack of value this country puts on the education system.
Since I have come to America I have slowly realised that unless you have money you are not guaranteed health or education or, indeed, justice. This is a country that has allowed a system to emerge where only the wealthiest are sure of those three basic tenets of any decent democracy. It is a disgusting and awful truth that we should all be ashamed of. For we, citizens all, have allowed this to happen.
And now, after decades of this lack, this slide into a system of mostly financially enabled civil rights, after years of right wing governments encouraging anti-intellectualism and religious brainwashing, we find ourselves potentially being held hostage by the very swathe of the population we have helped create by turning a blind eye and worried only about ourselves.
Donald Trump’s rise is for the most part due to a huge class of uneducated people voting for him. People who, through no fault of their own, do not have further education as an option. People who do not read, who do not analyse, who are easy targets for jingoism and propaganda – both subjects that Trump, like every sleazy bully before him, has learned to become expert in.
We need to do everything we can to stop this man. What will tonight’s gala look like in a year’s time? Will we see a slow decrease in the sponsors, the attendees, even the honorees, all not wanting to rock the boat and be associated with topics that Herr Trump has deemed degenerate and not worthy of our attention let alone our dollars, forget even tax-payers dollars? I think the answer is yes.
And talking of which, will we even pay taxes any more? If our glorious leader doesn’t, why should we? What do we need ambulances and fire engines and streetlights and roads for? We have money! We cam afford our own healthcare and private security firms and private modes of transport.
This election is not about politics as we know it. It is a battle between goodness and decency versus ignorance and fear and hatred and the very worst of humanity.
Shame on any of you who vote for Donald Trump! But shame on us all for having allowed him to happen.
Please, please vote! And please try to convince anyone who is still wavering that voting for Trump is the most dangerous and irresponsible thing any American could ever do…
…in my opinion.
Well, check these vids out
I recorded the voice over for the new Visit Scotland commercial, and also the 1st Look show on NBC that I shot in Scotland with the lovely George Oliphant was broadcast in early February. I also did a lot f concerts, including selling out Carnegie Hall!! Also I went on Seth Myers' show and sang a song from a new musical I am working on. And my album Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs is now available. Oh and season 7 of the Good Wife is the last one and we are spiralling towards a climax, as it were
It's amazing what you find when you do a google search of yourself. Thought I'd share these recent and not so recent gems with you.
He took some racy pictures with his friend Steven Truman Gray.