All I seem to do is eat rice. Rice, rice, rice. Don't get me wrong, I like rice. It's just the frequency of my consumption of it that is alarming me right now.
I actually just stopped typing to have a gulp of red wine so I suppose that is a positive sign.
And I am surrounded by fruit. There is a plethora of fruits that look like weird fish in a platter on the table over there, and I was sent off tonight for the long jounrey to Kuala Lumpur with a bag of grapes and pears that I also won't eat. I'm not that crazy about fruit. I am a vegetarian who doesn't eat much fruit. Does that mean I will get scurvy?
I think it's the texture. I think I base my comsumtion of food mostly on its texture. fruit is a bit teary and chewy. I'd much rather it was juiced and easier to down.
Today I saw an absolutely enormous lizard. It was slinking past behind Richard the camera man just as I was doing an interview about a devastating piece of news that I'd just found out. Today has been a mind fuck. Totally. I am talking about rice as a distraction. And drinking red wine.
But also, amfar, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, is up for a big award from American Express and if they win they'll get $200,000 that will go towards research to finding a cure for AIDS and helping those who have it and HIV. Please go here and register and keep going back till August 22nd because the organisation with the most votes gets the big moolah, and you couldn't be helping a better cause.
Exhausted, mentaly and physically. I hope tomorrow is a little easer on the shock front.
I am having a Kafkaesque experience. I write this from the Air China lounge in Beijing airport. It is eerily empty, just me and another couple of hapless travellers, hanging around and eating noodles till our flight.
My flight from Newark today was delayed by hours so I missed my conncection to Kuala Lumpur. Luckily Continental thought ahead and had already booked me on two more flights to get me to KL first thing tomorrow morning. So when I arrived here there was a lovely lady called Sherry who took me around every Air China desk and office in this massive, sprawling airport. I had been sleeping for hours on the plane and felt qite refreshed, but Sherry walked very fast and we covered a lot of ground and I can't wait to get back on another plane to get to sleep again. It's also quite exhausting not knowing what the hell is going on or why you are being taken from one official to another and back again, a growing mound of bits of paper in you sweaty palm. Still, all is well now, and I ma in the lounge. There is even internet connection! And we found my luggage! I had already comes to terms with that not happening.
It's quite weird to be in such a huge building with so few people. I can hear the distant sullen shouting of a child and some crackly walkie-talkie but aside from that just the hum of the bar's fridge and that peculiar noise in airports that always sounds like a faraway waterfall. Maybe it is.
I had two great shows on my last night at Feinstein's last night, well, I suppose it was two nights ago actually. I keep forgetting this is Monday. I was in the air for most of Sunday. It has been a really great thing for me to do my show in that venue because once again it reminds me that, no matter if some of the crowd is not my normal demographic or if they don't share certain political or social views of mine, if you are honest and open they will respond to you and you can find a place where you connect. I know that sounds a bit wooey wooey but it's true.
I am going to have more noodles now. Chant that all goes to plan and I am indeed able to start filming tomorrow!!
I was feeling so awful this morning (or was it this morning? I dunno. Some time over the last 48 hours). I had landed in Singapore after an overnight flight and was waiting to get on my next flight. I went to the lounge and there....was congee!
I had fogotten how much I loved it. It's sort of Asian porridge and you put scallions and other things into it and it is so delish. I used to have it every day when I made Son of the Mask in Australia.
It's funny how the little things help you through.
I am off for a swim to try and get my head together.
I am leaving on a flight for China at the crack of dawn tomorrow so I am a little frazzled. That, rmy final two shows at Feinstein's and the heat of NYC neccesitate this being a short post!
Last night the legend that is Betty Buckley came to see my show and we had a lovely chat about life and love and singing songs. I think she is amazing and so I was so honored to be told by my friend Eddie that Betty tweeted about me and my show after she left last night!!
Here as a little weekend gift is a video that goes someway to describing the humiliation of an actor's life.
Yesterday we had some technical glitches here at AlanCumming.com, in that me sparkling, spanking new Ipad does not let me blog on this site. Yet. We're on it. It's a techy reason that is too boring and difficult for me even to have explained but I am assured people are running around with hammers and drills and those little hats with lights on them somwhere in a huge aircraft hangar right now, getting to the bottom of it.
But it was rather frustrating because my whole day had been planned around this momentous new change in how I blog. I walked with the dogs in Central Park, I went and had a delicious curry, I snoozed, I went for a little swim and a steam for my voice, all the while thinking of what I was going to say and share with you and then I discovered I was to be mute. Silenced by the progress of technology.
Now I am back on my neanderthal MacBook Pro, bought, like I mean about six months ago (OMFG I know) and I will have to continue to lug it all over the globe and risk back injury and the runiation of my dance career unril this Ipad glitch has been resolved.
Aside from that I am loving my Ipad. Whilst I was in Cape Town my blackberry broke down, the little roller ball would not roll so neither could I. I stopped using it and just had my computer in my trailer and in my hotel room. I had a local SA phone which didn't ring very often cos I didn't know very many people, and suddenly I remembered what it was like to not have a constant buzzing in your pants and to be forever scrolling down every mindless missive that came through. Now, I would go for hours without any contact with the outside world at all. And I was fine.
So my lesson from that is that I want to continue to be a little less contactable, a little more distant. Nobody will die, civilisation will not crash about our ears, and I will have more time to stop and smell the flowers. I actually did that the other day on the Upper East Side: I rubbed some lavender into my hands and Leon, Honey and I all had a sniff. If I'd had my blackberry I wouldn't have had a hand free or more likely I'd have been looking at something and missed the flowers completely.
From Dawn: I became a fan of yours after seeing you perform as the Emcee on the Rosie O'Donnel show. I'm a huge showtunes geek and your performance blew my mind. I was a new mom home with a baby with no budget to speak of so there was no way I could jet to NYC to see you in the show, alas. I've heard a rumor that Cabaret was filmed. Is this true? And is there a chance that it'll get shown on PBS or released on DVD? Also I wanted to thank you for your work as an activist. That baby I was nursing then is now a strapping 13-year old and he also has a 6-year old sister. I'm raising 'em to be fans of yours, too (although Spy Kids would've done the trick if I hadn't!) You're a great role model because of your talent, your passion, your self-acceptance (and celebration) and for the line, "You are the most interesting thing about yourself." I hope my kids are inspired by your example! And I hope I get to see you live one of these days!! Thanks so much Dawn! I really appreciate your kind words, especially about your kids. The London production of Cabaret was filmed for ITV in the UK, and is on youtube but the Broadway version was never filmed aside from the archive copy which is available to view at the Lincoln Center library.
Natalie asks: What's your dream role on Broadway? Definitely Mama Rose or Lady Macbeth
From Annie: What would be the most terrifying presidential ticket you could imagine? Mine is Sarah Palin/Michele Bachmann. (Even the thought makes me sick.) Oh, I think you hit the nail on the head. I need to lie down for a minute.
Sibel writes: I am a big fan of your work on the Good Wife. I am even more fascinated after seeing your interviews, realizing how drastically your natural accent and body language is different from Eli Gold's. I am curious what kind of preparation you did/do to get into character. Could you share what kind of experiences you drew from, if you modeled him after someone in particular or if you shadowed certain people? I also have a particular scene I want to ask about. I love watching the dialogue between Eli Gold and Peter's mother in the season finale because your face is so expressive that I feel I can follow what he is thinking at any given moment. I am an aspiring actress and I would love to know if you have any advice on how to convey the thought processes of a character with such clarity? Do you determine every thought that goes through his mind during the dialogue before you act out the scene or does it come naturally to you once you are in character and reacting to your fellow actor's lines? I just listen, respond spontaneously and react in character. I think the moment you start trying to make a process and break down the scene into moments and map it out in a sort of military way you lose the very kernel of what you're trying to do: pretending to be someone else and meaning it. Sometimes obviously there are things in the script that demand to be marked in some way by the character, but mostly I just try and stay open, and play.
From Alice: I think it's a rather brave thing for an artist to allow an open forum of questions, just wondering if you've found it to be double edged sword? Oh yes, Alice, it is. But so far the good outweighs the not so good!
From Vjesci: http://www.alancumming.com/blog.php?id=284 oh no alan not "vox" but VJESCI! i am with name! i signed VOX probably as in ye olde romantic exes and ohs i feel deflated having made such a blunder do edit it as my conscience will break a stick off in my spine for being so silly do i sound very vain? oh this all recalls a very appropriate lyric: "people want to hear their names...i'm no exception...please say my name" Glad we got that sorted out, Vjesci!
Jane asks: Do you have any phobias? Have you encountered any spiders or snakes while you have been in South Africa? My phobias are mostly related to people and their bigotry or meanness or ignorance. I can get very wound up by a careless comment, but I don't mind spiders etc. And in South Africa I had a very urban existence so no scary things, at least nothing that made me phobic though I did see a few scary hairdos. Once in Canada we had to stop filming because bears were circling us. That was scary!
Shona says: Where can I get a copy of that photo you posted beside the info on the fringe festival - I love it ! Why thank you, Shona! It was taken by the lovely Francis Hills. Maybe you should go to his website and contact him and see if you can procure a copy that way.
Thanks to Meade for alerting me to forgeon.org, another organisation that is conerned with circumcision and more particulary foreskin regeneration. Check it out!
Finally here is the Belarus entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest. It is a classic, and please keep going till the end because there is a costume moment that is priceless.
I am swanning around in my robe this morning feeling very like someone from a Noel Coward play. There is debris from a post-show drinks party all around me and my biggest concern is saving my voice for this evening's show. Oh, and I must do a photo shoot later, darlings.
Last night was my first night of my second week season at Feinsten's and it went really well. It was a really great audience and the show was tighter and I felt really happy with it. The new song went almost really well, aside from a little lyric blip on my part, but hey, that's live theatre. We also realised when we got to the song What More Can I Say, that we hadn't rehearsed it earlier in the day!! So that made for an exciting few minutes.
It's actually really amazing to me to be writing about last night and these things that went wrong and to not have totally freaked out about them. It's only about a year and a half since I first did I Bought A Blue Car Today for the first time and I am so happy that I have been able to overcome a lot of fears and to be this relaxed about performing in this way. Of course, relaxation is the key: if you're not relaxed you won't enjoy it and the audience will enjoy it less too. But I've come a long, long way. I used to get so utterly nauseated at the prospect of having to sing in public, or even to stand up and make a speech or to try and be funny at some event. If I had rehearsed and was prepared in the way I was used to in terms of being in a play or a musical then I felt ok, but mostly galas and cabaret sort of shows have only a soundcheck and then you're on. I would have missed out on so many great experiences, last night being one of them, had I not persevered, felt the fear and done it anyway, and started my new career as a crooner!
The trailer for Sir Billi the Vet, the animated film I did with Sean Connery can be seen here. It's even more insane than I remember it. And if you go to the website's music section you can hear a snatch of the theme song sung by Shirley Bassey, who, incidentally, was the person I first heard singing the new song, Almost There, that I put into my show at Feinstein's last night!! Woah!
And the BBC has announced the line-up for the next season of Who Do You Think You Are?, the genealogy show, and I am one of the particpants along with Bruce Forsyth, Rupert Everett, Jason Donovan, Alaxander Armstrong, Hugh Quarshie, Rupert Penry-Jones, Dervla Kirwan, and Monty Don. Episodes start airing in July, but I go off and film the second instalment of my story next week so I am not sure when mine will air. But it is a doozy, let me tell you! I have already found out some pretty astonishing things.
This picture was taken by photographer Andrew Montgomery in a graveyard at the back of St Pancras station in London a few weeks ago when I was filming the first part of Who Do You Think You Are?.
My life since I got back from Cape Town has been a little surreal. That's not to say that playing a 1960's transvestite gangster's moll from Soho, London in the middle of World Cup fever in Africa was not, but it has been quite a culture shock all the same.
Take for instance, Sunday evening, my first day back. Here I am at Broadway Bares, almost baring all for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It was an amazing night and raised a ton of cash. But most of all it was a great chance to see lots of friends and for people to come together and unite for the common good. Oh, and get nearly naked and feel dead sexy.
Then yesterday I was flung into rehearsals for my second week at Feinstein's which opens tonight (yikes), at the end of which I came up against a huge jetlag wall and totally crashed. Luckily I made it home before I just curled up and went to sleep on the sidewalk. This morning I am up uncharacteristically early. Even the dogs looked at me as though I were insane. I am typing this in the loo so as not to disturb the rest of the sleeping household.
I am opening my show tonight with a new song. I have realised that I quite enjoy giving myself a scare like that. It makes me nervy and more focussed and it means the energy in the room is more exciting. For me, anyway! Also this song is a real builder and a great way to start off the show. I will let you know it goes tomorrow.
Quite a few of you have been asking about my recipe for stovies again. So here I am on Tony Danza's old chat show cooking it. Enjoy!
I didn't write a blog post yesterday because I was in transit pretty much all of the day. I arrived back in NYC this morning, having flown from Cape town to Johnannesburg, then Jonhannesburg to Dakar (in Senegal) and then Dakar to NYC. I actually feel not too bad, considering. I slept a lot on both the long flights and have had a nap this afternoon, been to yoga and feel quite perky. I am sure I will hit a wall, but I sincerely hope it is not in the middle of one of the Broadway Bares peformances which I am making an appearance at tonight. It's the twentieth anniversary of the show, now a Broadway institution - and a very hot and horny one I might add - and I have been asked to go along and be one of twenty celebs who have appeared in years past. I don't know exactly what I am to do, they just said be there at 9pm and wear something sexy. Just another Sunday night then.
Friday was my last day on The Runaway, and now Desrae has disappeared into the ether, though I think she will always be quite near and easy to access should the need arise. My body hair has started to inch back, my acrylic nails were dissolved away and buffed by the Kathy the nail lady on Saturday morning, and now Desrae is no more. He will live on of course when the show is broadcast early next year, but she has definitely left the building, babes.
It's funny because the whole gender thing means that nobody, including myself knows whether to settle on calling Desrae he or she. I always thing that however someone defines themselves is how you should too, but there is a blurry line with tansvestites and drag queens when they define themselves at different times, and in jest, as both. Desrae was definitely all man, but I think he would take being called she a compliment.
My last day was as hectic as usual, with a million different make-up and hair changes, and a really upsetting scene which was interrupted, before they got round to doing my close-up, by a massive swarm of bees who for some reason decided to come into the studio and make such a racket to say nothing of the fear they instilled in us all that we actually had to stop work and wait till they were smoked out, the smoke had cleared and the piles of dead bees had been swept away!! When we came back in to pick up where we left off (especially difficult in an emotional humdinger of a scene like this one - thanks, bees) it was so weird to look at the lights and see behind the gels that are clipped onto them mounds of dead bees. It happened so quickly and nobody could explain why. But it certainly was a memorable exit.
On Friday evening I celebrated my wrap at the Nobu Bar of the One and Only hotel with a few friends, and much fun was had. The show actually wraps tomorrow and the offical wrap party was last night so mine was a sort of early, splinter wrap party.
I wore a blue Calvin Klein jump suit, a random choice for such an occasion I'll admit, but the reason is that I had brought it to Cape Town with the idea that if I didn't wear it before I came home then it would have to be a part of the next clothes giveaway party (I have all my friends who are my size round and we play a game and the winner gets first dabs at the pile of clothes, the runner-up second and so on. It's recycling at its most fun). However I confessed to Neal the costume designer that the reason I never wore it was that it was actually too big. I had worn it only once, at the Life Ball in Vienna when the theme had been sci-fi and I was a blue and silver alien. So Neal said he would see to it that it was taken in for me, and lo, on the second to last day, the lovely Fachary (that is not how you spell it but how you pronounce it, and as I don't have the piece of paper with it written down in front of me, that's how we're going to type it today, sorry Fachary) did just that and so I wore my perfectly fitting and reinvented jump suit to the little bash. And it was a smash.
It is funny to be back here and it be so much warmer than it was in South Africa. Of course, it's their winter there just now, but still, it was a bit weird all the same. I am so glad to be home, albeit only for a week. It has been a long time and I have missed my pack.
The other day I was walking around near my hotel looking for something to eat, not realising that all the restaurants and shops were closed due to a national holiday and not, as I surmised, a massive evacuation to enable everyone to go home and watch the Bafana Bafana match on TV.
A young man started walking along beside me, asking for money. That's nothing new in most big cities, let alone in one like Cape Town where there is so much poverty existing alongside so much wealth. Initially I was a little nervous of the man. I was alone, there was nobody on the streets, I couldn't catch everything he was saying. But then I listened to him more closely and he told me he was asking for money for him and his sister, they were both orphans and they needed to eat. I had 23 rand in change in my pocket. That's about 3 dollars. I gave it to him.
His face lit up. He asked me my name and when I told him he kept calling me Uncle Alan and telling me how this would mean he and his sister would be able to eat soup for lunch and then again for dinner that night. I was moved by how happy and grateful he was. And also shamed, as I was wearing my new Bafana Bafana soccer shirt that had cost me 220 rand the day before.
It's a very difficult to thing to negotiate poverty. Because you can't possibly give to everyone who asks you on the streets, but at the same time you can't be impermeable to suffering and genuine need. I always think every time I give a homeless person or a beggar money that I will redouble my efforts to stop poverty and its causes through activism and support of organisations that are skilled in this pursuit.
Right now in South Africa it is very galling to see so much money being spent on stadiums and roads and sprucing up of the place, and at the same time hearing of people demonstrating because they still do not have electricity or proper toilets in their homes. It feels to me like the poor people of this country - and they are also black people - are a very patient and accepting people, who have understood that the changes they were promised cannot come as quickly as they all would like. Nelson Mandela's message when he was released from prison was indeed about patience and conciliation and forgiveness, but I think that all these years later, and with such opulence available to some - an visitors to the country at that - the people's patience must be wearing thin.
Here's a couple of videos for you. The first is in my capacity as Ambassador for the Edinburgh Festivals. The second is a TV show I did for the BBC a few years ago with my old cohort Forbes Masson about the roots of The High Life, and which I never saw until today, even though the producer promised he would send my office a DVD and even after we emailed a couple of more times to ask him. The nerve! Thank goodness for youtube to be able to see these things at least years later.
There is a really interesting article in the New York Times about how terrible the health of my countrymen in Scotland is. We smoke, drink and have bad diets. To that I have to say, duh! Get with the programme, NY Times.
But seriously, it is quite funny and also not funny at all, to look back at what I ate growing up: a HUGE amount of sweets and cakes. The biggest treat ever would be to have High Tea, which would consist of probably fish and chips followed by several stories high plates packed with creamy, gooey, additive-laden cakes. I think perhaps because we lived in the country and so many miles from the nearest fish and chip shop or sweetie store, we were spared a little. But nonetheless, I think that if I were to have a Mars bar now I would be bouncing off the walls for days, and when I was a little boy I had one every day for my playtime break at school. Maybe another one later in the day too.
The report links poverty to bad diet. Well, what do you know?! And Scotland is not a rich country.
Right now I am eating nuts. And drinking white wine. Today I have had to eat: four veggie sausages, 2 baked tomatoes, a biscuit (I was having a sugar low mid morning, and Desrae was fading), rice, lentil curry, green beans and spinach, and salad, then later 3 cups of very peppery butternut squash soup. And now the nuts.
Today I got a Bafana Bafana soccer shirt. Their next match is tomorrow so I am going to wear it to work in solidarity.
It's funny working on a film set because you get up really early, pull on some clothes and then as soon as you get to work you take them off again and they lie in your trailer all day until you fling them back on to get into the car to go home. It makes you have a very weird attitude to clothing. You sort of think what's the point of having a style or a look when you're not even going to have the clothes on for long enough for you or anyone else to even see them.
I have been losig clothes here at an alarming rate. Well, not losing them exactly, but misplacing them, leaving them in taxis or bars and friends have been very kind to collect them and return them. I feel very good about my karma right now considering I had a phone loss drama this past weekend which was unfounded because I had given my phone to someone for safe keeping the night before, and also two jackets I have failed to pick up as I exited cars or establishments are with people I know and trust and winging their way back to me as we speak
I thought a lot today about what a weird experience it must be to be an extra. I actually know cos I was one when I was a student.
The plot isn't really explained to you, you see, though I suppose to condense the nuances of a 6 hour mini-series would be quite time-extravagant. You end up getting a sort of summation of the circumstances of the scene, and possibly the tone, and you sort of try and piece it together. So quite huge things can happen and you are completely baffled by and have no understanding of them. Then it keeps happening. It can get quite stressful, trying to invent reasons for random events you are a part of. It's a bit of a mind-fuck.
As was, I imagine, the sight of me coming out on the set today dressed like the product of an (admittedly unlikely) union between an Indian princess and Christina Aguilera. People were mesmerized by Desrae today. I felt like an alien but with great earrings and slightly shoddy lip-synching.
I sang a song that is the finale of the whole show. I have got the hang of this spinning in high heels thing. I am going to miss Desrae.
One night last week after a couple of glasses of wine I accidentlaly bought a flight to London in one of those online auctions. The price seemed reasonable enough but of course I am only allowed to use on a wet Wednesday in 2014, but hey what the hell, it's not about the journey it's about the class of travel you're in getting there.
Anyway, because of that I have been getting daily special auction emails about various trips and hotels, and the details of the ticking clocks that dictate their slashed rates if I don't hurry and buy them now. I actually quite like it. Every night I come home from shooting and I open the email and imagine how lovely it would be to be in a resort in Cabo San Lucas or whatever it's called, and to be splashing in the sea sipping a pina colada instead to dragging my tranny ass out of bed at 5.30am to be strapped into a variety of uncomfortable dresses and gravity-defying footwear. Of course I am sure I would hate being in a resort in Cabo San Lucas, but what this all tells me is that I am craving a holiday. I can't have one, alas, for quite some time, despite the massive amount of traveling I am about to do over the next month. But later this summer I will be able to relax at length in my Catskills hideaway, and Cabo San Lucas can eat me.
But all this talk of vacation and travel reminded me of some BBC travel shows I did many years ago and so I thought I'd share them with you. The first was in Hong Kong and thr second in Palm Springs. Ah me, how younger we were then.
Last night I attended a World Cup kick-off party at the One and Only Hotel here in Cape Town. It was great fun and the atmosphere was only a precursor to the frenzy that I can hear outside my hotel room tonight. Apparently South Africa has sold out of vuvuzellas, and I have to say I am not sad about that. Much as I want the indigenous economy to prosper, I think enough vuvuzellas have been manufactured to last us all many lifetimes. We are going to be lying on some idyllic beach in years to come and World Cup 2010 vuvuzellas will come floating in with the tide. It's an ecological as well as aural nightmare.
Last night I was interviewed by a lovely lady called Michelle for a South African showbiz TV show. Michelle is a former Miss Universe, and I found her fascinating. I think I've got it wrong all these years in my belief I had to ask the universe for things. I should have been asking Miss Universe! Michelle asked me what I would have liked to have seen in South Africa if I had more time here, and I said baboons.
It's true. I will be sad not to have seen any baboons by the end of the week. And although there are some nearby, I sense my schedule won't permit a viewing, so I am embracing the sad. Apparently baboons come into people's houses now and open their fridges and steal jars of vitamins and all sorts. They sound fascinating to me. Of course, they can be scary, and the alpha males could kill you, but you have to admire an animal that evolves in such a way that it knows how to deal with kitchen appliances.
I have just had a delivery from Mr Delivery. Not Mr Delivery himself personally because I sense there is nobody of that name, but a representative of Mr Delivery the delivery company, and I am about to tuck into a delicious Indian dinner and be utterly contentious and not watch th France/Uruguay game but instead get caught up with the Season 3 DVDs of Mad Men.
I think I am becoming Desrae. I imagine she'd like nothing more than some wine, an Indian take-away and a good DVD on Friday night in Soho when the crowds are shouting and vuvzellaing outside.
The Edinburgh Fringe programme was announced yesterday and it includes little old me. I will be performing I Bought A Blue Car Today for three nights only at the Assembly Hall on August 13-15th at midnight. Get your tickets here.
When I think of the Assembly Hall I think of a production by the now defunct Scottish Theatre Company of 'Ane Satire o' the Thrie Estates', a sort of a pageant masquerading as a play which is really the only Scottish play that still exists before the 19th century and which was therefore performed to death for a while in an attempt to convince ourselves that we had a lagacy of great playwriting in our past. We don't, or at least we didn't then. Anyway, one of my first memories of the scottish theatre scene is going to see this play at an Edinburgh festival in the mid eighties and seeing every scottish actor I had ever known or seen flash by my eyes in one fell swoop. It was like I had died and gone to actor purgatory.
Here is a clip of Victor and Barry performing their Edinburgh Festival song on STV many many years ago. Ah memories...
I have long admired the lovely Nigel Barker. Whenever I run into him he always has some new amazing project on the go which combines his great skill as a photogrpher with a needy cause that he gives so generously to. A couple of years ago at Sundance he showed an exhibition and documentary about the culling of baby seal pups, and more recently he has been very involved with Haiti, a place he visited and documented well before the terrible earthquake. He is a really amazing man and now you can do your bit to thank by voting for him in the VH1 2010 Do Something awards.
How I wish I was in NYC for this party! Doesn't it look fun?! Alas I will flying back from Cape Town, or maybe on the tarmac in Dakar, refueling, instead of bopping my tits off and cooing at aerialists. But worry not, I shall have my own gay pride celebration on South African Airlines.
Things are getting crazy here in Cape Town. Every time I drive to work I see teams of workers frantically finishing off construction. Sides of roads are being paved, trees are being planted. The winter has truly arrived here and it has been pouring rain but depsite the storms the work goes manically on, all because Friday is the start of the World Cup, the biggest thing to hit South Africa ever it seems.
There are long horns here called Vuvuzellas which are starting to be sounded all the time. You can buy them on the streets and even buy covers for them in the colors of your home country. South African flags fly from the windows of practically every local car.
Last night I heard a woman on the street exclaim 'Oh no! Someone has stolen my sock!' At first I didn't really register. Crime is quite rife here. One of the boys working on The Runaway has been mugged three times. Whilst that sounds in need of a quote from Oscar Wilde it's also indicative of the poverty and ensuing street crime that everyone takes almost for granted. But having a sock stolen is a little depserate I thought. However I realised she was talking about a flag sock that had been wrapped around the wing mirror of her car. Apparently it is big business to steal the socks and re-sell them. The woman was quite outraged and I tried to remind her that a missing mirror sock was less damaging in so many ways than being held up at knife point.
Randon video of the day is a travel piece I did in Hong Kong in 1995 for the BBC travel show
When is your show at the Fringe? I saw The Bacchae in Edinburgh in 2007 (not 2008 like the Scotsman says) and I would love to see I Bought a Blue Car Today. I will be performing on August 12th, 13th and 14th at midnight at the Assembly Hall.
From Cynthia and Sean: My son and I are total entertainment geeks (another two for itsasickness.com!). We adore you and your work, and try to follow you as much as possible. Besides your work on "The Good Wife," and "Burlesque," do you have anything else coming up that we should watch for? In December I will be in the movie of Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor and starring Helen Mirren, Chris Cooper and many more. I think it will be pretty amazing. I'll also be back on The Good Wife next season. And Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.
Eleanore asks: In your opinion, what is the best GLBT book? Woah, that's a big one. I remember The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White making a really big impression on me when I was a young un.
Rebecca asks: What was the best movie you have every done and which character did you enjoying playing the most? I don't really know what the best movie I've ever done is. I have been in some pretty great ones but my impression of them from the inside is often different from the perception on the outside. I really like Sweet Land, Spy Kids, Titus and I'm very proud of The Anniversary Party. And I don't have a favourite character. There are some that I have enjoyed playing less than others because perhaps of how they make me feel at the end of the day but mostly I manage to find things that I like about them and that interest me. And actually it's more about the actual act of pretending to be someone else and inhabitating them that I like more than the traits of the person I'm playing.
A lot of you have been asking about The Good Wife and how it came about for me to be playing Eli Gold. Here's an article I did for The Wall Sreet Journal that I think answers most of the questions.
Jayde Rexx writes: do u have any advice for a gurl who is playing a king >_< i have a VERRRRRRYYY girly voice and figure, its a little akward when im slightly more "endowed" (so to speak) than my 'queen' . If you believe you're the king, they will too, gurl. Endowments and voice don't matter!
Jane Foley: Have you had any embarassing moments on stage, either recently with your show 'I Bought A Blue Car Today', or when you have been acting in a play ? One night last year when we were doing I Bought A Blue Car Today in Los Angeles, we had decided to cut the opening song Shine because Lance Horne and I were rushing off to the airport after the show to go to Vegas to see Liza Minnelli do her midnight show at the MGM Grand. (I know, you couldn't make up a camper showbiz sentence than that). Anyway, we'd discussed with the band that we would start with the Hedwig medley, but when we got on stage Lance started the intoroduction to Shine and we all just looked at him and I had to stop and say 'That's the wrong song, darling'. That was pretty embarassing. Very funny more so though.
Donna: Do you really answer all these question or just one that shows off your work? I only answer the ones that show me in an utterly favourable light. No, I answer them all eventually, sometimes privately and not published here. Sometimes I don't answer if the questions have been covered recently, or there are lots of questions about the same thing. Or if they're inappropriate (you know who you are). Do you think you'll ever get tired of having your photo being taken everywhere you go? I do get tired of it sometimes, usually when I'm tired or having a bad hair day.You photograph very well. Thanks! And thank goodness. It keeps the dogs in kibble after all. Do you think as you get older would you want people to take your photo? I think so. In a way I think of being photographed as a sort of journal of where and how I have been throughout the years. I hope photographers still want to shoot me in ten and twenty years time. I like getting photographed by interesting artists. I find that men age very well even more then women. I mean how many people read about a male actor having work done to his look. Ehhh, I know qute a few! I think as you age you look better now then you did when your were younger. Thanks! I concur!! Your very nice looking that when i found out you like guys I was a bit disappointed. Oh well, life goes on. Nobody died. Do you get that a lot from fenale? You're the first fenale ever to being it up. Is it true your by? Is it true I'm by who? I think that's sad because I'm sure a lot of females find you very actrive and don't have a chance> Have you been drinking? I read you were married to a lady and devorced her do you ever miss being with someone like that? I don't think many people would say that they miss the person they've divorced. I guess it's your life and your old enogh to make your chose. Thanks so much. Just a little disappointed. You'll get over it. Everything will look rosier in the morning. But I really like you! Thanks! as Eli Gold. Oh, I see, well thanks again! I never seen you on stage. Which do you perfer doing statge or films? Definitely the statge. Well I got to go to bed I have to work in the mornig. I so hope you aren't an English teacher. Hope I don't upset you I was just courious. The only thing that upsets me is your spelling.
From Samuel: Alan, i am a huge admirer of you, both as an actor, and as an openly gay activist. My first experience of you was in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, and that film reminds me of the blissful irresponsibility of being a teenager! Cheers! I really admire your uncompromising self expression, both on the stage/film and in your own conduct, did you ever find it hard to be so uncompromising as an artist and a personality? If so, how did you overcome this? Smooches! I really haven't, Samuel. I have always just followed my own path and done and said what I thought was right. As Shakespeare said: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
So I have to know, was there anything you enjoyed about playing Nightcrawler? In interviews you seem to discuss the painful make-up process more than anything else. I know you said you enjoy playing people who are completely the opposite of you and what could be more different than a blue, devout Catholic mutant? If you were asked to play him again, would you? I really liked the character of Nightcrawler and I loved how many layers there were, esecially in a genre of film that you might not expect such depth of character - a tortured religious man, the exploration of a lack of acceptence even within a group of outsiders, the concept of colour division - all that was really fascinating and combined with the physical challenges it was a really exciting role to play. The make up process was indeed pretty hellish but of course it's those type of things that are most reported in the press. And no, I wouldn't be averse to playing him again.
Alex writes: Way back in 1996 around christmas, I remember turning on BBC2 only to watch an excellent short film called Burn Your Phone, I was intrigued to laterfind out that you also directed it as well as starred in it (plus it was based on a true story as well if i remember correctly? Were the phone companies really like that?). Just wondered if you would tell us a bit about your experiences on making the film and also, will it ever be released on dvd or put on You Tube for all to watch and enjoy... I don't know if the film was based on a true story (I hope not!) but I seem to remember that the writer had worked for British Telecom at some point. I originally did it as a radio play for BBC Radio 4 and I just thought it would be a really interesting little film. So my friend Dixie Linder produced it an I directed and starred in it. It was quite a challenge because basically there is only one character that you see (the others are callers who you only hear) so I was conscious of making sure that it didn't get stale visually. It's actually on youtube already! Here's the first part. Enjoy!
Here are two bratty things: First the trailer for a stop animation film with puppets in which I voice Hitler (who is a cross-dresser) and Braveheart. It's called Jackboots on Whitehall and it looks a hoot.
And here are Cyndi Lauper and I being bratty on the Tony awards red carpet a few years ago when we were doing The Threepenny Opera on Broadway. We tell the interviewer that our jewelery is by Rue du Canal, which is a joke meaning Canal Street in NYC, where all the knock off things are sold.
I have spent the last few days obsessed with a song. This happens sometimes. But I get really obsessed with a song when I know that I want to sing it. And so this one is going to be joining the repertoire of my cabaret show ere too long I think. It's called Almost There and is written by a singer/songwriter called Tom Baxter. Then Shirley Bassey covered it on her recent Performance album. Both versions are on youtube if you fancy an earful. It's a builder, hang on to your hats!
I sent the song to my friend Lance Horne, who is my musical director and co-composer and general music cohort and guru. He sent me this picture from the Foyles Book Shop in Charing Cross Road in London!! Look at me, I'm all gender/queer theory, people! I'm like a textbook!
It has been a very long and tiring week on The Runaway. The schedule is so down to the wire that we are working Saturdays now too, although today for me was thankfully light and I was able to go swimming this morning and steam my distressed face in the steam room for a while. The rigors of Desrae's make-up are taking their toll. It's not on the scale of damage that I incurred in X2: X Men United or anything though. That was a nightmare. Having blue paint sprayed all over your face and up your nose on a daily basis is not to be recommended. Sometimes I would sweat blue. And I won't go into what the contents of my hankie looked like when I blew my nose. I went for a facial one time during the shoot and the beautician was horrified to tell me I had blueheads.
Anyway, Desrae enjoys a smooth foundaton and I have quite a strong beardline so we have to slap on the slap and it is good to open those pores and let the product out. I have also enjoyed swimming again. It's such a good exercise. I am up to 30 lengths.
I am off into the Cape Town night. The city has started to have a festive feel. Lots of flags sticking out of car windows and people with their country's name emblazoned across their chests are walking around looking lost. And loads of those annoying horns blasting, ruining the sound on our takes and making us all thankful that we are going to be on the Soho set that they have built here for most of the rest of the shoot now.
Things over atitsasickness.com are hotting up. There are loads of new obsession films in the itasicknessTV section, like the one about my obsession with Honey and Leon below. Also in the lounge there'sthis filmabout the Shaksespeare ownership controversy. Every time I visit there's some new thing to look at or play with. Get on over and geek out, people!!!
What's weird about this film about my obsession with my dogs is that I watch it here in South Africa when I miss them. So something made about my obsession is actually fueling it at the same time! Woah!
I have also come to realise that there is a whole subculture on Youtube of music videos made to different edits of Tin Man. This latest one is about Glitch being smart. But there are loads of them up there. Where do you all find the time? And I think this definitely merits a Tin Man group at itsasickness.com, don't you?
Last week the sound recordist I worked with was called Cuz, and he reminded me of my very favourite quote from Shakespeare:
O coz, coz, coz, my pretty little coz, that thou didst know how many fathom deep I am in love. But it cannot be sounded. My affection hath an unknown bottom like the Bay of Portugal.
It's from As You Like It, by the way. Once, my friend Siobhan (Shona Spurtle in The High Life) was in a production of that play in Edinburgh and she renamed it You Willnae Like It. I once did it years ago at the RSC. I was Silvius the young shepherd. The old man who played my fellow shepherd Corin used to fart mightily when we were waiting to be revealed behind two enormous wooden doors and he always blamed the red peppers that they put in the food in the canteen. 'Bloody red peppers', he'd say under his breath as I gagged.
There is a great, free event taking place on July 1st at 7.30pm at the 10 gales arts space in Bethnal Green in London: Perform with Pride presents a collection of new work from a group of young actors, featuring songs, music, new writing, dance and drag acts all aimed at raising awareness of the ongoing battle with Liberation and equal rights within our world. Exploring how we experience liberation and how we define it. Sounds great, and it will raise cash for Stonewall Uk, London Pride and Amnesty International. It's being organised by a lovely boy I know called Luke. Get along there!!
Whilst we are on the subject of pride, Macdonald's in France has released this commercial...
I am having a variety of emotions right now: horrified that my friends in NYC are having to deal with the detritus of my celebrity. And the negative aspects, sadly.
Excited that the marquee is up for my show at the Castro in San Francisco on July 10th.
And also nostalgic for yesteryear. My friend Susie Maguire sent me this picture below of me and Forbes Masson as Victor and Barry kissing her hand during a recording of The Terry Neason Show on Scottish TV in 1987. Susie is impersonating the lovely Muriel Grey, in case you were confused.
And also I am invigorated to be getting emails from Barack Obama asking me to sign a petition to encourage congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Go Barack! You can sign the petition too here.
Finally I am tired. I have been tottering around the streets of London's Soho in heels all day. I actually think today is the most I have ever walked in heels. Woo Hoo! What a first. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
La la la. That is what I am doing today in my head. I am scared about what is going to happen in the wake of the Israelis murdering those people on that ship. I am horrified that the oil is still spewing from that tanker in the Gulf of Mexico. And I am disgusted that John McCain is threatening to filibuster the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal. What a weasly little man desperately trying to win over the bigots in his constituency and ensure he'll get another term.
So instead I will tell you how difficult it has been this morning to walk in stiletto boots in the soil of a graveyard where we have been shooting. And how I feel slightly out of practice at things like shaving well so early in the morning, and carrying a handbag. Last night my veeting was less succesful than I'd hoped and I had to opt for a bit of judicious shaving in the bath. I think I'll stick to that method for the next few weeks till Desrae evaporates into the ether. The smell of my body hair evaporating into the ether thanks to the chemicals in Veet does not make me want to repeat the experience. And there is something about having a leg up in the air whilst you peer round your thigh for rogue bristle that gets you into the tranny mindspace.
Here now are two plugs for two friends doing great things. First of all my besty Sue works for an amazing organisation called Streetwise Opera which makes music with homeless people. They have been nominated for a huge award from the National Lottery in the Uk for one of their pieces called My Secret Heart. I saw it and I can testify to its brilliance and to the company's stunning scope and ambition, and, most importantly, the way it has changed the lives of so many people who had given up hope on world. Please vote for them here. Here's a little taster of the wonder of it all...
And here's a picture my friend Ross Bennett Lewis took that is part of an exhibition called the Great LGBTQ Photo Show at the Leslie Lohman Gallery from June 15th. It's an exhibition of photos all by LGBTQ artists so it's supporting people who don't have enough of a voice as well as letting them be heard.