Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planet Connections Interview - Alex Bond of "Late Nights With the Boys"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Alex Bond
Book reading: LATE NIGHTS WITH THE BOYS: confessions of a leather bar chanteuse
Relationship to production: I am the novelist and I read selections from my novel (still unpublished) with the incomparable David Carson
Website: http://www.alexbond.org/

How did you first get involved in theatre?

It all began in Louisville, KY when I was three years old. I would sit in front of the TV set (a fairly new invention) and watch a pas-de-deux on the Bell Telephone Hour and say “I’m gonna be a ballerina” with my decidedly Southern accent. Music always has inspired me to move or sing or write. So dance was my first love. I was fortunate to have a Mother who treated me to piano lessons and ballet class. When I was twelve years old I worked on losing that accent, and I did my first school play. I played Howay in Mrs. McThing, a Mary Chase play. I was the male lead (I went to an all-girls school). As I exited after my first scene, I got exit applause. I was shocked and thrilled, and I got teary-eyed as I grabbed on to the newel post at the top of the stairs to the back stage area. The prompter asked if I was okay, and I replied, “I’ve never been better!” and I walked back out on stage for my next scene. The acting bug bit me at that very moment, and its venom has been coursing through my veins ever since. As I have aged, and some areas of the biz have become less penetrable, I have found other fascinating areas in which I can create. I have been blessed with a loving husband (coming up on our 26th anniversary) who has encouraged me to try “everything”: writing, singing, acting, stand-up. I’m one lucky former chanteuse!

Who are your biggest influences?

My husband Leon, my two skull fractures, my aunt Sudie Bond, my acting teacher Michael Howard, my friends and my NYC “family.”

What is your book about and what inspired you to write it?

My book recounts the relationship between a former leather bar chanteuse (Anna Zander) and the dear gay man (Craig Bauer) helping her write her memoirs. Imagine Armistead Maupin and Fannie Flagg swapping stories ala Gurney’s “Love Letters” with a bit of Spalding Gray thrown in.

But to be clear, we are not a show. We are a book reading. And I might add, that can be an art form in and of itself. David brings his wonderful presence to my tales of Dallas, 1977 as we transport our listeners to a wild and wondrous time before AIDS, but not before ignorance and prejudice. I was inspired to write the book to commemorate the wonderful men (many of whom died from AIDS) who taught this Kentucky gal who she is – a woman fighting for tolerance for ALL who are different.

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

By taking care of the planet, we prolong the life of all Earth’s inhabitants. “Eco” and “friendly” can permeate our collective vocabulary/consciousness; and as we actively take care of the planet, we take care of each other – regardless!

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity. What charity has your production chosen and why?

I have chosen PFLAG – if there had been a PFLAG chapter in Dallas, TX in 1977 I would have been a charter member. The work that PFLAG does to help counsel LGBT youth, to help guide families and friends, and to work with schools to prevent bullying and ostracizing is vital in the fight for tolerance and acceptance.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

I am writing a play A FUNERAL FOR DERBY DAY which takes place in my home town of Louisville, KY. It’s a shadowy comedy. I hope to enter it in MTWorks Newborn Festival.

And, there are always auditions “up in the air”… I would love to do some Tennessee Williams.

If you could get any person, living or dead, to see this show who would you choose and why?)

I would want Doric Wilson (playwright and friend) to get to see the reading in person. But because he passed away on May 7th of this year, I can only wish that he could attend. He told me he was looking forward to it. So, this reading will be dedicated to Doric Wilson. Without him there would be no Off-Off Broadway, no LGBT theatre as we know it today!

After viewing a DVD of “LATE NIGHTS…” Mr. Wilson wrote me a letter. An excerpt:

“As to the leather bar in Texas, it is a world I predate. I belonged to the earlier more earnest leather scene of the 1950-1960s. I am part of the old crowd who were horrified by the handkerchief codes and boot-tiques in bars – we stood there in the shadows, snapping our studded leather fans open like so many Newport matrons!

But thank you so much for freezing this heartbreaking time in amber like the most rare of all butterflies – caught forever in joyous mid flight. DORIC”

No, thank you, Doric for paving the way!

LATE NIGHTS WITH THE BOYS: confessions of a leather bar chanteuse
June 17th @ 7:00pm
The Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond Street

There is a “meet and greet” at 5:30pm before the reading at the Planet Connections Festivity Lounge, 440 Lafayette

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