Down There

My show in Plymouth, New Hampshire was a fitting end to a busy April.  The northern New Hampshire city is located at the mouth of the Ply, or something like that.  One of the most gorgeous theaters in the state, The Silver Cultural Arts Center, ably run by Diane Jeffrey, was the scene of gals coming out of the hills for a night of comedy. 

The next weekend it was on to The Birchmere, a rollicking roadhouse in Alexandria, Virginia on the outskirts of Washington, DC, or as we call it in my house "The Vortex of Evil."  Mary Farmer, the former owner of Lammas Books in DC was my road manager du jour.  It was a packed house, a freakily knowledgeable crowd.  In DC, not only do they know all the Departmental Secretaries, they know who their secretaries are and what perfume they wear.  "What’s that cologne you’re wearing?  Passive-Aggressive?" 

Saturday night I played the the gorgeous Pack Place Performing Arts Center in Asheville.  Located in the Smokey Mountains, "A-She-Ville" as the gals all call it, was bursting with rhodendrun and sweet smelling spring things.  My two pals Nancy and Beth, recent transplants from Jamaica Plain, showed me around their magical, musical city.  Again, the gals came out of the hills for the show.  Employment Equality for Gays and Lesbians, EEGL,  a new civil rights group founded in response to some recent unfortunate homophobic firings was there in courageous force.  Laurel Scherer and Virginia Balfour are the essence of grass roots activists. 

On Sunday, Barbara Lau, a producer friend from years ago in St. Louis, hooked up with me in Durham, home of the recent really unpleasantness with the Duke LaCrosse team.  Blue Devils, indeed.  The show at the Reynold’s Theater was a benefit for the incredible, hands on group, called SWOOP – Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects. Now in its tenth year, the group was formed to help with hurricane cleanup. One weekend a month for ten years, they have organized 50-70 women to swoop in and do a cleanup, a renovation, a rehab whatever is needed for the poor, the disabled, the overwhelmed.  They were Extreme Makeover before Extreme Makeover was cool. Never have toolbelts been so sexy. They are selecting a city in the southeast for a summer road trip swoop. 

In Durham, as I was signing programs after the show, I looked up and right into the face of the vice-principal from the high school where I last taught! I thought he was going to ask for a hall pass.  Bob Rinker and his wife Jeane, had retired to Pinehurst and they were at the show!  I had not been out when I taught.  When I run into former students now, they always say, "We knew you were funny."  And I ask, "Did you know I was gay?"  They always respond, "Oh yes."  And I say, "Well, why didn’t you tell me?"  They all claim the Frye boots were the giveaway. 

Bob and Jeane were beaming.  I basked in their pride and then they told me about everybody else who had since come out!  They had some excellent dish.  We could have served collard greens.