Does God Read Email. Vol. 2 Book 4 of Living in the Bonus Round.

Steve stands at podium with the capitol building behind him.
Steve at the Millennium March in Washington DC

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April-May 2000. Santa Barbara, DC, El Lay.

April 19-21, 2000.
Bighead in Santa Barbara.
Once again, I have a guest diary writer. Bev Sykes drove down from Davis, California to join me in at UC Santa Barbara. Here's what she saw:

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  I was Steve's aide-de-camp today.  (I guess that means I was supposed to aid him camp it up).  Jimmy, the concerned husband, realizing that Steve was still not in top physical shape after his upper respiratory ailment, sent him by train, so he could rest and not have to drive.  The train was due in at 11:45 and Steve was meeting the peer counselors at UCSB at noon.  Naturally, the train was half an hour late, but we did manage to hook up with them and they directed us to UCSB's Human Sexuality class, which is the largest class on campus (duhhh).

Unfortunately they only gave him 10 minutes to talk.  Steve?  Concise?  But the best thing was that they had this great poster that was ALL over campus.  You couldn't walk anywhere without seeing Steve's grinning mug (Kinda like "Big Brother Is Watching You").  They had made an overhead of the poster and flashed it on a screen behind him.

Lemme tell you--this is one incredible "El Bighead" picture!  Fortunately I took several pictures of it.  I giggled a lot when I saw the wonderful juxtaposition of Steve standing in front of this HUGE head of himself.

He did manage to get on and off in only 10 minutes, but unfortunately he couldn't create any sort of a rapport with the audience in that short a period of time and really couldn't say more than "It will be a show like you've never seen before."  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to bring the
students out in droves later that night.

We had a nice tour of campus and lunch in the campus eating area, thanks to the peer counselors, and then Steve and I came back here to hang out, watch videos of Steve (does he watch anything else?) and chat.  Around 6 he took
me to dinner at Jack in the Box (the last of the big time spenders, but fortunately I'm a cheap date), and then back to the theatre.

The audience was small, but the show was not.  I have to admit that while I've seen Steve do a one man show four times in this past year, I've never seen him perform for an audience that wasn't filled with friends, fans, and people who knew the material.  Now don't tell him I told you this, but I was blown away--and I know all the shtick.  He did a Q&A before "When You Care" and there were several questions, all of which were quite good ("What's your relationship with your parents like?" "Are you religious
now?" etc.)

When he came off stage for hugs afterwards there were girls with tears streaming down their faces who came to meet him.  I stood back and watched this effect I've only read about before, and I was so proud to know that this man is my friend.  (Steve, stop reading this).

Following the concert, we came back here to my sister-in-law's house, which I found without problem because I have an unerring sense of direction.  We sat and chatted a bit and then all the wimps crashed and I sat up to write this report.

Tomorrow I'll put him on a train and send him back to Jimmy.  It's been a long week for me, and I'm only in the middle of it, but I wouldn't have missed this day for the world. More photos:

Steve again:
Even though Bev can't seem to find her way out of a parking lot, we made it everywhere we wanted to go. I enjoyed the train rides from LA to Santa Barbara and back. The seating was really roomy, we got cheese and crackers, and it was wonderful to see the coastline from a train. I also loved the sound of the train whistle blowing each time we'd cross a street.

On the way back, there was a mom with a bunch of kids who were all screaming and yelling so I placed myself close to them. Some people don't like that sound but it reminds me of home and growing up. Our house was ALWAYS about kids screaming and yelling. :-)

April 22-25, 2000.
Recovering at Home.
As I type this, Thurber the Cat is lying next to me on a chair and though he's pretending it's about us being in the same pride and all, I know it's really about, "When are you gonna feed me again?" I am not fooled by these animules. They think they can put one over on me but I know them very well.

Speaking of which, yesterday I visited Ronda to play her the new cuts from The Bonus Round Sessions (BRS) CD and their little weenie dog, Moxie, curled up in my lap and went to sleep. Now I know why Kim & Ronda are so crazy for Moxie. He and I had an hour-long lovefest.

Either that or my music puts animules to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I've been doing a lot of that since I got home from Santa Barbara. My upper respiratory infection has finally cleared thanks to Jimmy's good nursing and his insistence I stay firmly planted in bed over the weekend.

One of these days I'm going to write an elegy to my bed and my pillow. Perhaps it's because I travel a lot but I do notice how good my bed feels when I get home and how perfect my pillows are for my head. They are the most healing items in my house -- except for Jimmy and the cats, of course.

But Jimmy brought me big bowls of chicken soup and he refused to allow me to do anything except watch TV, play on the computer and heal. And it worked. I feel strong as a bull.

On Saturday, Dr. Peter called and we increased my thyroid medication again. I knew something was not right cuz my blood sugar was going up and I was feeling all hot again. This whole process is hit and miss. We're trying to suppress the thyroid *just* enough but not too much.

And for you who want to know about my eye, it's still deteriorating. But I'm coming to an "acceptance" level now. Marie Cain told me on the phone that she doesn't know how I deal with it mentally and I told her that I allowed myself a certain amount of "whine time" -- losing an eye is no small matter -- but that after awhile you just have to buck up and get over yourself.

On the TLS list, there's a young teenage girl from Seattle who is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma which is complicated by the fact that she also has AIDS. Her caregivers have been keeping us informed about her progress and it has helped me keep at least some perspective. My heart breaks for her in every post to the list.

Dori has one wish: To meet Ricky Martin. So if any Bonus Round readers have a connection with Ricky, I'd appreciate it if you'd make help us out. Come to think of it, I'd like to meet Ricky Martin too. So tell him about this poor AIDS guy with the messed up right eye!

This next Thursday I'm off to Washington DC for the PFLAG opening night (with Tipper Gore). Then I'm attending the Equality Rocks concert Saturday, then singing on the mainstage of the Millennium March on Washington Sunday. They say the media will be there, so watch CNN or C-Span. Who knows? I might be on your tube!

After that I do a presentation for the Episcopal diocese in Pittsburgh with Tom Cole, an Exodus minister (to show people that we can agree to disagree with each other without starting a world war) and then to Cleveland for Rev. Mel White's Soul Force University.

So, this week I get a haircut, a couple of shots, a writing session with Marie Cain, pick up the BRS CD on Wednesday, and then off to save the world.

NOTE TO PETER FROM CHICAGO: I understand you have not shared our Chicago experience with the Rent Sonic list yet. Ahem. Let's get crackin'!!

April 26, 2000.
Last Minute Problems.
Dr. Peter is having conniptions over my latest blood tests. Once again my cholesterol and triglycerides have shot through the roof along with my blood sugar. We don't know why this is happening except that it's a reaction to the AIDS drugs probably. Hey God, are you listening here?

So I have to double up on my Lipitor and try to eat a fat-free diet -- like that's possible on the road. I'm sorry, reader. But I'm having a bad day so I need to whine a little. I'm just having one of those days where I hate taking pills, I hate being sick, I hate AIDS, and on top of that I found out I might not be singing at the Millennium March, but rather just making a 2 minute speech.

It's not that I don't consider that an honor. It *is* an honor. Not only that but I get to introduce Cleve Jones who founded the Names Project AIDS Quilt. You know? I'm not worthy to tie his shoes. But somehow, mixed with the bad news about my health, my feeling that I'm just tired of battling this disease that keeps on screwing up my system, my eye going all wacky on me... it just gets to be too much and I want to scream.

So I'm having a Marie Cain Whine Moment.

And though I'm definitely going to DC tomorrow, I just sent notes cancelling my Pittsburgh and Cleveland appearances the following week. I have to take care of my health and I honestly do not think I can do it on the road. I hate disappointing people but what can I do?

Did I mention how much I hate having AIDS? Okay, God. I'm ready for the cure now. Hello?

April 27-May 2, 1000.
The Big March!
How many people get the chance to stand in the mall in Washington DC facing the Washington monument with the Capitol building at their back making a speech to thousands of people -- with the whole thing being broadcast nationally?

That's what happened to me over the weekend. No, I didn't get to talk long. Yes, I was shoved to the end of the line and ended up going on two hours later than they had scheduled me. But it did happen.

I was supposed to die, but I wrote a musical instead!
"I was supposed to die but I wrote a musical instead!"
But you know what? This day, this moment was not the emotional climax of the weekend for me. The "real" moment happened two nights before at the PFLAG national conference. It was the night I played "Will It Always Be Like This?" for Gabi (& Alec) Clayton -- a new song about how Gabi has turned the suicide of their bisexual son Bill into a crusade against prejudice and hate. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Steve Schalchlin with Gabi Clayton at PFLAG plenary
Gabi Clayton and Steve at the PFLAG plenary session.
It was also the night I played "William's Song"  for William Wagner and his mom, Carolyn, who single-handedly took on the Fayetteville Arkansas school district after the school principal refused to react to their pleadings about William's being repeatedly beaten and harrassed at school.

The best part of the song was when I sang (where the principal is talking to the mother):

"...He said it's William's fault
For walking so funny
She said, "That's gonna cost ya money!"
As Jimmy would say, the whole place was up for grabs after that line. I had to vamp for at least 30 seconds to a minute while everyone applauded their courage. When the song was over, I had Carolyn and William stand. The whole place came apart again.

For me, the unheralded heroes of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) "movement," assuming there is one, are the moms, the dads and the friends of LGBT persons. The ones who say, "I might be straight but I'm not going to let my friends be abused or treated as second class citizens." This is what PFLAG is.

Friday night started with a little speech by Tipper Gore. She wasn't bad. I was sitting way in the back with a bunch of fans from the TLS list but I did manage to slip one of the new CDs to one of Tipper's aides.

Tipper Gore speaks at PFLAG
Tipper Gore gives a speech at the PFLAG plenary
Steve sings for PFLAGSteve singing more at PFLAG
Singing for PFLAG. I think I look like my dad.
Meanwhile, back home Charles Nelson Reilly had Jimmy call Sardi's in New York for the opening night party just as they were just getting the reviews for the new Broadway show "Dirty Blonde" which features Bob Stillman, who played Gideon in The Last Session. And they have a hit! The NY Times called it the best new play of the season. Kick ass, Bob.

I tried Gefilte fish this weekend. Now, in the south we don't actually try new food, especially food that hasn't been fried. Gefilte fish is cold, jellied fish balls. Here's Ron's description:

This was one of the funniest moments of the weekend, folks! Steve was foraging for anything edible that might also be healthy, and this is what he found. Gefilte fish is not the prettiest thing in the world, and he was eying it suspiciously when I assured him that it was delicious. He put some on a piece of matzo, tasted it, and asked, "Is there anything that makes this taste like something?" I replied, "Horseradish, of course!" Amy rummaged through the fridge and found some. Steve spread it on the gefilte fish and tried again. And he liked it! You should have seen the look on his face, though.

The sun was hot, the breeze was cool and the sky was clear this past weekend but my eye started to hurt in the bright sun. So I got me me an eyepatch. It felt VERY good. I don't plan to wear it all the time, but it's nice when I want to give my eye a rest.

Steve and his pirate look
Steve does his pirate thing

Now that I'm home I will be focused exclusively on my health. I went out this morning first thing and got low-fat everything. I have very high cholesterol and triglycerides plus high blood sugar. So I have to eat sugarless and fat-free -- BUT -- I also have to gain weight. So starches are really the only weight gaining option that I have right now.

I also bought sardines packed in water, Cheerios, oatmeal, tuna, chicken, sliced turkey (which is often processed with sugar so I have to read all the labels), low fat cottage cheese, fruit and sugarless cookies.

Anyway, there's so much more to tell about the weekend but I'm exhausted. Bottom line is I'm glad I got to see my PFLAG heroes and tons of TLS fans from across the country. But I'm really happy to be home.

Steve with GailSteve holds up VIP badge
Steve and Gail laughing together. Steve holding his VIP badge.
May 2-7, 2000.
Crash Week.
All I've done this week, as I said I would, is eat non-fat, sugarless foods and sleep. By the way, non-fat cheese totally sucks. My famous Sourdough breakfast sandwich have effectively been ruined. Grrrr.

But this week I crashed. I couldn't even muster the energy to sit at the piano and play. Not that I'm feeling bad. I'm just mentally and physically exhausted, especially after DC and overseeing the release of the CD. I wrote Marie Cain and asked, "So, did you finish our new musical yet?" She wrote back, "Yes, and I have all the funding too!"

Isn't she just hilarious.

My one surprise this week was when Kurt the CyberGuy came to tape more for the upcoming EXTRA segment. I was sitting behind the computer showing pictures to the producer Richard Ayoub when he announced that Kurt was arriving.

A knock at the door. Door opens. In walks Don Kirkpatrick from El Paso, our first investor! (Also known as The First Angel). They had flown him out for a reunion! I screamed out loud and made an idiot of myself hugging him before I remembered they had cameras rolling the whole time. I know I'm going to look like a total idiot when the broadcast the story.

But other than that, I've literally done nothing. I feel totally guilty about it because I keep thinking in the Bonus Round I'm supposed to changing the world on a 24/7 basis. But I do know that this rest time has been absolutely necessary for me. In fact, I've been so sleepy -- and Jimmy was so tired last night after working at the theatre -- we actually slept through one of my pill dosings. First time I've done that in years.

(Not to worry. We aren't supposed to miss pill dosings but it doesn't become a true hazard unless is happens on a regular basis. This has not the case with me. I am a completely compliant patient.)

Anyway, I have added a few personal appearance dates. Dolores Street Baptist Church in San Francisco on the morning of the May 14th and the El Portal Center for the Arts in North Hollywood for the NoHo Arts Festival on June 24th. All details are at

May 8-12, 2000.
Bonus Round Factoids.
Weird BonusRound Factoids:

May 12: Aunt Michael first walked into our lives at the Currican Theatre in New York

May 12: Anniversary of meeting Sarah Glaser, Goddess Social Worker in a hospice Columbus, Ohio

May 12: Dickie's birthday.

Thank you Michael Alden for working so hard for TLS. Thank you Sarah for your work with the dying. Dickie, I love you. Gail, my thoughts are with you this week.

May 13-16, 2000.
San Francisco Part 1.

It was great to be back at Dolores Street Baptist Church Sunday morning. I kind of consider it a home away from home. It gave me a chance to test out my eyepatch in concert. The only bad thing was that it kept slipping when I was singing and I was having to adjust it a lot. So that's a problem I need to solve.

Steve makes a point (of some kind)
Steve makes a point (of some kind)

Ferocious singing (Steve)
Ferocious singing

Friendly Fire sing-along
Friendly Fire sing-along

I will not cry while singing Gabi's Song
I will not cry while singing Gabi's Song
I will not cry while singing Gabi's Song
I will not cry while singing Gabi's Song

These photos were shot by Bev. The full role is at

So, my buddy Ken McPherson (who has now decided to become my fashion consultant) says he likes the eyepatch look. That now, instead of looking like a college professor I look like a war veteran.

Such a strange notion: From college man to leather daddy overnight. Guess I'll have to start hanging out with a whole new crowd.

Sunday night at the San Francisco Metropolitan Community Church was a total blast. They scheduled me to be a part of their regular service where I would sing three songs, one with the choir. We sounded GREAT together. And the best news is that they have a bass player and a drummer, both of whom have decided to join me on Wednesday night -- along with many members of the choir!

Meanwhile, Ken and Matthew went all over the Castro putting fliers up on every telephone pole and available empty spot. They are determined to pack the house on Wednesday. I'm totally psyched for this. Musicians, a choir, a great performance space... this is going to be fun!

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