Pound Sign

New York City, pop culture, art and nightlife. Because nobody else is blogging about those things.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The neon city

Gothamist pointed to these cool nightime neon pix on Forgotten New York, including a nice shot of the now defunct Skyline diner I wrote about in a previous post, and J.G. Melon, which is on or block and honestly has the best burgers (combined with great old-school atmosphere) in the city. Seriously, better then Shake Shack, Burger Joint or Corner Bistro...well, okay, Corner Bistro gives 'em a run for their money. But these are worth a trip to the Upper East-and how often can you say that?

The joy of sponsors

This weekend I pitched sponsorship of What's My Line? to a bunch of the kinds of companies that might be into a small show like this, especially the first time we've done it. Received two immediate responses from, I think, the most hilariously disparate pairing of companies, which pleases me greatly. So, the sponsors of What's My Line? Live in NYC!'s debut will be Cameo Intimates (moderately not safe for work, FYI), and, well, Mr. Pickles.

And, thanks to panelist Porkpie for the plug! (Alliteration is awesome.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Producing is, like, work and stuff!

These past few weeks is when I'm really finding out what every other producer of small independent productions in this town already knows: you have a lot of shit to deal with! We've had some great press attention, which is really gratifying but also means that one must immediately make press images available to the attentive press. Frankly, I hadn't expected to need any when we put it on the press release that, ahem, images were available upon request. But we made it happen-that's DIY in action, people! And of course, everything that comes up like that continues to be possible for us to handle because of our network of terrific talented friends who think this sounds like fun and are willing to pitch in-Jen's friend Billy, a terrific designer at her day job, is creating our flyer, for example.

So, the behind the scenes continues...pounding the keyboard and the pavement this weekend, working to wrap up some sponsors for the show (gotta give our contestants something!), locking in contestants and of course our mystery guest-never really occured to me that when your co-producer is on the panel that will be attempting to guess who our contestants are, she can't exactly pitch in on booking them. But the workload definitely balances out-I can't recommend strongly enough to anyone considering producing anything: do it with a partner.

Meanwhile, regarding Mission: low-culture weekend NYC, I had a bold plan to take action this weekend when I realized that Clams was doing the great Pinchbottom Burlesque show on Friday, and then on Sunday she's in the truly epic Get it Hot: A Burlesque Tribute to AC/DC, which may well be the greatest show ever. We have a friend who's joined the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league this year and she has bout on Saturday-that would be the trifecta! Three nights of down and dirty New York awesomeness...except the Roller Derby is sold out. So, yeah, that's what I get for not ordering ahead, I just fucked up the whole plan. Anybody have tickets they're not using?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Well, this is just awesome.

Monday, July 17, 2006

New York low-culture marathon

In Friday's Times I read the piece on one reporters effort to make a 3-day weekend marathon of New York high-culture hotspots, and I really dug the premise. I love that kind of thing-and I would have enjoyed most of what he made it to-exhibitions, plays, jazz clubs...on Friday night, on the long train ride with Jen out to Coney Island to meet friends at Burlesque on the Beach, I had the brilliant idea to do the New York low-culture version. We were already off to a great start: Nathan's hot dogs and beer and watching the sunset over the parachute drop, walking the fairway and the board walk, catch the fireworks and then head into the sweltering theater with a packed house to see This Or That!, the hilarious, unhinged burlesque gameshow hosted by the Great Fredini and Julie Atlas Muz-it was a three hour marathon all by itself, and a train ride back to Manhattan 'til 3. And then...yeah, I had too much shit to do this weekend. It's a great idea though! And I had the basic framework this weekend; Clams was at the Slipper Room on Saturday night, for another hot, packed venue, awesome show and a late night. But during the day, I had too much stuff to do, prepping for our own show in a couple of weeks, and, like, laundry and stuff.

But I want to try this. What to cram in for the low-culture marathon? Maybe celebrate the waning days at CBGB's with a couple of bad no-name thrash bands. The Museum of Television and Radio? Or...what? Now I'm determined to do it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

There's something in the air...or maybe this is overthinking the whole thing.

So the day after I posted my previous embarrassing note about the formative impact of Erin Gray, I read this Wired piece about the also mentioned, equally important Princess Leia slave outfit (ok, in the spirit of full disclosure I read about the Wired piece on Fleshbot, Gawker's grown-up sister site, but you might be reading this at work and I don't want to get you in trouble. If you're not, here's what Fleshbot said about it.). And the Wired piece leads straight to leiasmetalbikini.com, which, I think, is THE definite work of sweaty-palmed American male sci-fi-sexual fandomania. But, but, he's really tapped into something here...I can't look away. Look up there, he's living the dream! And after all, these galleries are filled with the women who also love the moment Leia became a woman-and they get more attention at the conventions then Tom Baker and Walter Koenig, put together! NYC burlesquer Gigi LaFemme does a great disco Star Wars number on this theme-needless to say its always a crowd pleaser.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Great Moments in the Development of Brett Rollins, Heterosexual.

So this is pretty tangential from what I consider this blog to be about, but we were watching VH1's "I Love the '70's, Volume 2" (What? Yes, we were really watching that. Lay off, I had a long day) and up popped as a talking head in hour 1971: Erin Gray.

Erin Gray, who spent a number of seasons encased in a series of skin-tight, shiny spandex futuristic disco pantsuits in the late '70's-early '80's as Commander Wilma Deering on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." Perhaps best remembered now for Tweekie, Buck's midget robot sidekick who talked with Mel Blanc's voice and went "beedie-beedie-beedie" all the time. Or perhaps not best remembered, really, at all. But for me it was all about Commander Deering, with the Farrah flip and the enormous laser pistol on her slim hip. I watched this show when I was, what, 6-10? WAY pre-adolescent, but man I knew something was up with her-and the whole show! Lots of studded leather outfits and bare midriffs, spandex and keyboard-heavy dance scenes; let's be real, Buck Rogers was a few mustaches short of good old-school porn. This isn't just me, right? Way before Leia was in the slave outfit, there she was, that most late-70's of sci-fi heroines. Of course, when she comes up, Jen can really break the mood when she reminds me of her Erin Gray reference point: Silver Spoons.

Oh well, forget it-back to business. In our next installment of Great Moments in the Development of Brett Rollins, Hetorosexual: Dad's basement stack of 1960's Playboys.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Boy, this takes me back...

...Courtesy of Lindsayism

Yes, in my slacker post-grad, mid-to-late '90's period in Columbus Ohio, one of my many careers included a short stint as a studio photographer at Glamourshots. And let me tell you, Glamourshots at a mall straddling suburbia and rural mid-Ohio, really was the definition of glamour. Yes, it was a special time in my life-why, I can still put anyone in the official Glamourshots pose: shoulder pointed toward camera, dropped forward, head at 3/4 view, cocked slightly away from shoulder-smile! This was supposed to be a flattering angle on anyone, even if we had to use clips to hold the shimmery bustier closed...actually, it kind of is flattering on everyone. Anyway, those months sweating behind the camera, helping people pick out their accessories and shilling photo packages is, to this day, the only time I've actually used my degree in fine art photography to earn a living. Good times.

As a sidebar, ytmnd.com is also good for all sorts of other funny timewasting shit-along with lots of insidery, geeky gamer humor that I don't get anymore. But really, look at this, or this or, more subtly, this, and tell me you didn't laugh at least once.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Introducing Neil O'Fortune

Did I mention I am also making my hosting debut with my producing debut? Yeah.

I've been onstage before and I'm comfortable with it; and frankly I love to listen to myself talk and I love the spotlight-plus I work cheap! So, I'm nervous and excited about this aspect of the whole thing too.

And yes, I have a stage name. This is what happens when you hang out with the burlesque crowd. One night at an Exotic World planning meeting, we were going over the list of submissions to this year's Pageant, which got us onto a conversation about people's stage names, and the ones that people had come up with that they regretted never getting to use...Jo Weldon-also known as Jo Boobs-was sitting next to me on the couch when I said that I was jealous of the stage name. It really is fascinating, it truly becomes a part of a person, and a persona develops...and I have terrific relationships with people who frankly I would never consider calling by their given name! Some of them, I don't actually know it...let's be real, would anyone ever call the World Famous *BOB* anything but *BOB*? She feels the same way; she just recently had it legally changed-but as far as I'm concerned it's on her birth certificate.

So anyway, I was sitting next to Jo and talking about stage names, and I mentioned how I get called "Mr. Casino," which I get a huge kick out of, and other people have suggested things to me-and she just looked right at me, and said "Neil O'Fortune!" How great is that? Out of the blue. Everybody loved it. And I vowed that if I ever needed a stage name, that was it-when Jo Boobs, one of the greatest burlesque performers, a brilliant person in every sense and a fucking rockstar, gives you a stage name, you use it with pride! And now I can.

What's My Line? Live in NYC!

I am so, so thrilled to say that my first foray into co-producing with Jen is finally launching! What's My Line? Live in NYC! will make its live-on-stage debut at the Parkside Lounge on August 2nd at 8:00. I could not be more excited.

This of course is a new reimagining, with a contemporary downtown twist, the classic tv gameshow "What's My Line?", which Jen and I became obsessed with after watching it late night on the Gameshow Network (this is what TIVO was invented for!)

After years of thinking about this, we've finally felt ready to set a deadline and make it happen. We began to tap into our network of talented friends for panelists-Garth Wingfield, a fabulously witty playwright and television writer who is a good friend of Jen's, and Jonny Porkpie, one of the greatest burlesque emcees and producers in the city, and an all-around great guy. Of course Clams Casino will take her place on the panel, and things all really came together when we cold-emailed Lindsay Robertson, the writer of the terrific blog lindsayism.com; we're fans of hers, and she enthusiastically agreed right away!

With the panel in place, it was really happening! We booked a terrific venue where Clams had performed before. And things continue to come together quickly...I will keep updating the progress as it happens. Check out the website!


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Finding the tribe

I kind of can't believe it's already July.

An amazingly busy May culminated with 5 days in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend, for the 2006 Miss Exotic World Pageant. As a Boardmember of the Exotic World Burlesque Museum I was a central part of the team that made the whole 3-day event happen, and at the end of whole thing I can honestly say that I've never been more completely exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally-but combined with absolute exhilaration! Jen and I came home motivated to finally make a long-gestating project happen this summer. We're working on our first stage production, which I'll be writing a lot about the creation of as it moves farther along. At the same time as we dove fully into that project, the spring curatorial deadline season hit, and waiting for me when I got back from Vegas was a letter from a great gallery in Brooklyn telling me that I made the first cut in an open call, so there was a feverish week of getting artists together....

The thing is, I felt sort of disconnected from the art scene when I got back from Sin City. After being so immersed in Exotic World, I had a tough time adjusting to getting back to concentrating on work, and on curatorial projects. I was still feeling disconnected when Luke and Laura, my fellow EW Boardmembers who have temporarily relocated from NYC to Vegas while the Museum works on finding a new home there, came back to the City for a couple of weeks. (there's a lot of backstory here, I know. If you want to know more check out the Exotic World site) The three of us went out and spent a night debriefing about the Pageant weekend, and all of the other big things happening with the institution, and the various characters in this community that I'm just getting to know-it's not every weekend that you meet Satan's Angel, one of the great burlesque performers of the '60's, now a woman in her 60's who got on stage and twirled flaming (literally, on fire) tassels-and gave me a big, drunken kiss on the mouth every time she saw me all weekend.

It's quite a crowd to find oneself a part of. I was telling L&L about the new number that Jen was working on, an homage to Axl Rose, that includes pasties and a g-string that look like the cover of Appetite for Destruction-you know, the skulls in a cross that look like the band members-and starts with her chugging from a bottle of Jack Daniels. So, we had spent much of a weekend with me gluing sequins on pasties and her making break-away pants, all while drinking a bottle's worth of Jack and Cokes so we could empty the damn thing and fill it with iced tea-not that we would have ever considered just transferring the contents to another container. And Laura laughed and said, "You've found your tribe."

And it's true. and thinking about it on the ride home that night, I realized that all of the things I do that I'm passionate about aren't separate, they are all defined by communities of self-driven, incredibly creative people who support each other's ridiculously ambitious projects, and there's no point in trying to define artistic communities by discrete labels-definitely not in New York! In this metaphorical game of Twister I have my hands and feet on a bunch of different circles, but they're all in one game (Wow, I really forced that image. I sat here way too long trying to think of a good way to put that. Sorry.) And the key for me in making happen all the things I want to make happen is finding the ways all of them overlap.

Is this how a blog dies out?

No! It was close though...certainly an often noted component of the explosive blog phenomenon is the fact that so many new bloggers post a few times, then get bored with it, or just stop getting around to updating it-like the little kid who forgets to keep feeding the new goldfish after a couple of weeks when the novelty wears off. And I see how it happens; during an incredibly busy period of about a month and a half, involving just about every aspect of my life personal and professional, I just let this go-even though I had more to write about then ever! Then it becomes even more daunting to pick it back up. This certainly isn't a technology issue-how many of us have started diaries and journals that we just let go and didn't keep up with? Well, I have lots I want to write about and I'm forcing myself to start this back up, dammit, before it just becomes one more example of the online detritus, mouldering in the graveyard of out-of-date websites and abandoned blogs. Ok, enough metaphors-back to work.