Saturday, November 12, 2005


Just came back from a DGA screening of RENT with Gonz at the Pacific Design Center ("the Blue Whale") in West Hollywood. I can't believe I've lived here since 1978 and I've never been there... except maybe once to see if they had change for the parking meters. Well, it is a design industry showroom... why would I be there?

Anyhoo, the place was packed, and with a mixed crowd, not just the old white folks (read: ancient SAG members) who were at Steve Martin's "Shopgirl." And after the first song, which acted like an overture, the audience applauded like crazy, me included, as if it were the first song in a live a musical. It was thrilling.

(Check out the "Seasons of Love" video here -- "measure your life in love" -- how cool (and innocent!) is that?! :)

Oh yeah, and I cried like a baby during that thing too, right when Tracie Thoms starts a-wailing. What else is new... a musical overture and me is definitely a recipe for weeping.

Why is that? Am I reincarnated frustrated musical theater star from the '20s or something? Or have I just missed the boat here and now trying to find my place in the world?

When I told R that I was going to see this today, she said, "Oh, yeah, that's the show Kevin and I decided we had gotten too old to for."

"What do you mean?"

"We watched the show on Broadway and just thought, 'Hey, why don't you just PAY THE RENT?!'"

Well, I did laugh at it then... and when I saw the rest of the movie after the "overture" I knew what she meant. Guess it's this generation's "Fame" or something (where I also always cry like a baby at "Hot Lunch" -- I'm not proud!).

I do remember that time in NY though -- I was 26 in 1986 (this was supposed to be 1989), and it all felt right and exactly the same. I was a mess by the time I left in 1988, completely depressed, basically not being asked back to work on "The Cosby Show" and deep in recovery at Debtor's Anonymous 12-step meetings. I'd go to lunch meetings and after work meetings... I remember being in those basement floors of churches with 8-10 folks in a circle, and feeling safer and more sane than I'd ever been before. And of course, that's how I found out it was time for me to "get well" and leave NYC.

For remembering all that, I will love this movie RENT. I enjoyed seeing Taye Diggs and his wife Idina Menzel (Elphaba!), and watching that Jesse L. Martin sing and dance (who knew?!)... but I couldn't stop oogling Rosario Dawson (she's gorgeous), and loving the character of Angel. Go Wilson Jermaine Heredia -- I'm a big fan now! (And my confirmation name is Jermaine... I know, strange... but it was the closest saint's name I could get to G3rry Alt@mero. hehehe)

The music was so-so... a bit to rock-ish for my taste, I bit too "on the head." But the production was great. Except for "Seasons of Love," I barely remember anything... except Collins and Angel dancing in the street. I hope I find a love like that someday.

One last thing: I forgot, and am GLAD TO HAVE BEEN REMINDED, how bad AIDS was then. No one lived when they were diagnosed, no one... and no one talked about it, it was that scary. Back then it was mostly gay men getting it, and when I worked on Cosby as the Director of Guest Relations (I know, big title, blah blah blah), I had a crew of Broadway ushers that worked for me/us on tape nights. The head usher, Mim, had a one fellow, Bill, she adored... and he had these weird marks on his face. I didn't know what they were... small little bruise like things. I didn't want to ask what they were, I didn't want to know. But a few months later, I heard this sweet man had died, and Mim was distraught. I was just so ignorant and naive...

I'm so grateful for what AIDS is not now...and I KNOW WE'RE NOT DONE!... and I'm glad this movie reminded me too.