My ten day swing through Florida was orange fruitful. I did some gloating when I talked to Michele back home in New York and she’d tell me, "It’s 20 degrees here and the sky has been cloudy all day." Oops, Brokeback residue.
In Tampa, I played to a packed crowd in the MCC Church. I think they may have offered indulgences with each ticket. The church is the heart and soul of the gay Tampa area – vibrant, expanding, hopeful and politically engaged. Renee and Kathie, the show producers, smoothly oversaw all the show details and then the next morning were up at 8am to prepare the sound stage for their Winter Gay Pride. At the post-show reception with NCLR, I saw lots of snow birds from my dear Ptown. And I think I only referred to Tampans as Tampons once. Restraint is so adult.
In case you don’t know, Jacksonville is way too close to Georgia. It’s one of the loops for the Bible Belt. The Baptists own eight blocks of downtown, with a huge megachurch and three parking garages. Remember when they used to raise money with collection envelopes? But the show at the North Florida performance hall was a total pleasure. And the crowd was hungry. Jim Wagner, who has an amazing commitment to lesbian gatherings and a fabulous energy, brought me to Jacksonville. He is the fastest Southern talker I have ever heard – his whole day is spent just trying to keep up with his great ideas. At the reception after he presented a check for $1200 to NCLR for all their wonderful work.
The last stop on my weekend trifecta was the Carefree Resort just outside Ft. Myers. I stayed with Jane and Shar, friends retired from Lady Jane’s Inn in Ptown, who hosted me and hosted a small lunch with The Gerbornes, friends from the early 1980s in upstate New York. Shar’s homecooking was a lovely respite from Delta airline pretznuts.
Again it was great to see so many friends from around the country, all nestled in this little paradise. The Club House as performing space is a delight with great sound and lights. In my later performing years, I hope to play a retired lesbian community circuit. They are retired from work, not from being lesbians. They have jam-packed, fun-filled days and I was happy to be there.
A few days later I performed at the gorgeous old Manuel Artime Theater in Little Havana in a benefit for The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force for their Winter Party. It was a pleasure to appear on the bill with lots of local Miami talent and Billy Porter from New York City. His singing brought down the house.
After three days being the comedy concierge for the Gill Foundation Political Outgiving Conference, I made my way back to New York just in time to perform at Nothing Like a Dame – The Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraiser, this year at the Imperial Theater. It’s a Dame Dim Sum of some of the finest women on Broadway, all donating their one night off a week for this great cause. Cynthia Nixon, Tyne Daly, the Jersey Girls – I am talking major damedom. And me – grinning ear to ear – getting my picture taken with some excellent leggy young lovelies. I raised 20K auctioning off a Harry Winston watch – all the Catholic shaming finally came in handy when I was pushing the bling.
Cheers and shout outs to all the courageous, politically active lesbian and gay people in the Sunshine State. I was inspired throughout by your lives.
Happy International Women’s Day! Go kiss Martina! I know she’s a US citizen now, but do you need a reason?