Into The Belly Of The Beast
Volume 2 Book 7 Part 5 of Living In The Bonus Round
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

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[ Book 6 ] -- [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] - [ Book 8 ]

June 2001.
New York. Davis, CA.
PHOTO: A close-up of Steve singing in Davis California -- wearing a black eyepatch on his right eye. Gaze slightly downcast. Singing Will It Always Be Like This?
Steve singing in Davis, California.
Photo by Bev Sykes

June 9 - 12, 2001.
New York and Davis CA.
Jenna, Linda & Kate sitting on bench seat at a restaurant. Linda their mother is beaming and the two girls, both beautiful -- one blonde and one brunett -- are posing with their eyes closed.Rob and Linda Leahy are part of Jimmy's and my extended family. Their two girls are his godchildren. That makes me their step fairy godfather. But when I saw them on Friday night, they just called me what they usually call me, "Uncle Steve!"

Jenna is smiling a huge bright grin in the forefront. Next to her is a white anniversary cake with icing seashells. Behind her is her husband Chris, a cute guy with an impish grin and a soulpatch.below his lower lip to his chin,.I loved seeing them but it was not the same without Jimmy there. The occasion that night in the restaurant was the second anniversary for Jenna and Chris, her cute husband. This was my first time to meet him and I fell just as in love with him as she is. Okay, well not exactly.

The next day we hung out by their pool until the people from Body Positive came over for a little pre-benefit barbecue.

Left: Chris shows off his tattoos, one of which is a naked blue woman
in a coffee cup juggling fiery coffee beans.
Middle: Leahy backyard pool.
Right: Kate smiling in the sun.
Saturday afternoon we went to the home of restauranteur Jerry Della Famina and his wife Judy Licht for the Garden Gala fundraiser for Body Positive, an HIV support organization which publishes a newsletter and provides street level support for people living with AIDS and HIV.

Beautiful house in the Hamptons. Reverse shot shows ocean & beach.

Jerry and Judy speak to crowd.

It wasn't an easy gig. Once the crowd showed up and started partying, I realized that with me sitting on the ground at a little piano, only the front row could see me. They had some opening remarks about an hour and a half into the program, then they introduced me, at which point 99% of the crowd turned away and started chattering again. I guess they thought I was doing cocktail music. Very demoralizing, but what can ya do.

That night I went to sleep around midnight (had to stay up to take my meds) and then woke up at 2:15 to catch a 3am car to the airport so that I could get to San Francisco and then Davis California in time for Gay Pride Day where the local paper announced I would be headlining -- I wasn't really but it'll look good in my press kit.

Photo: Bright red banner stretched across the park with the words Yolo county G.L.B.T. Gay Day

It was held in a BEAUTIFUL little park in Davis California. What struck me for something called "Gay Day," it didn't look like the kind of Gay Day Jerry Falwell would tell you about. As a matter of fact, it was a big family affair with all sorts of couples, gay, straight, kids running around... I loved it.

It's hard to get a sense of how many people were there (several hundred) from this picture because everyone stayed in the shadows of the trees and moved when the sun moved.

I also ran into Bev's son Ned, who played drums on my "Salvation Song" MP3. Ned's a local radio celebrity.

Ned Sykes, terror of the airwaves. Steve Schalchlin, terror of the stage.

Duvall Speck, two singers who lent me their keyboard.
The little stage was festooned with rainbows.
Anyway, I floated around the park, drinking in the sunshine and the warm feelings and listening to the wonderful music of a singing duo named Duvall Speck until it was time for me to go on!

Three faces of Steve.
I opened the set with "William's Song." It's a rockin' boogie woogie and it set the tone for the rest of the set. I mixed in songs featuring gay issues with songs about AIDS. It's not easy singing outside like that but I think I really managed to get and keep the crowd. I also sold a few CDs for YGS.

I also enjoyed hanging around and hugging people after it was over. Finally, Bev drove me back to hers and Walt's house where I crashed in my pink bedroom after having been awake for almost 24 hours straight.

The next day we went to see the movie Shrek (loved it!) and then I flew home. I can't tell you how happy I was to see Jimmy pulling up in the Ford. It's so strange, but after 16 years I love him more now than I ever did -- and we really do love spending every moment together possible. Married people! Who can stand 'em?

June 14-27, 2001.
Life of Reilly, the Pope & Steve.
I saw Dr. Peter this past week and we've definitely decided that when I get back in town in August (after Cincinnati) I'm going to drink the radioactive iodine and kill off my thyroid.

I've been dealing with this thing for a year now and it doesn't seem to be burning out. Right now I'm taking three pills a day to keep it from overpumping hormones into my bloostream. The idea has been to do this until it burns out but it seems to just be holding -- and I worry that my eye won't improve until we lose the son of a bitch. So in August, we're killing it off.

This past weekend, at El Portal we opened Charles Nelson Reilly's play "Save It For The Stage." I took a few shots.

Chip Esten & wife Patti pose in front of the marquee.

Rod Steiger & Dom DeLouise pose with Jim Brochu.

Stuart Pankin, Charles Nelson Reilly, Dom DeLouise

Then this past Monday I took my friends (AIDS educator Elaine Pasqua with husband Jeff and kids Evan and David) visiting from Pennsylvania on a quickie Hollywood tour to Universal Studio's CityWalk, a drive through Beverly Hills and then down to Santa Monica for dinner with friends.

At CityWalk, I  bought a present for Jimmy: a wind-up toy called NunZilla, which is a nun that walks and shoots sparks out of her mouth. This toy would come into play later.

The family poses. Steve battles the kids in a car racing game.
Don't make fun of my big sunglasses. I need them for my poor eyes.
The coolest thing of all, though, was our dinner with friends down in Santa Monica. It was at a restaurant called Bucco di Beppo or something like that. Italian. Our hosts reserved a room and as soon as I saw it, I GASPED. NEVER have I seen ANYTHING like this.
We were escorted to the Pope Room, which consisted of a huge round table in a round room barely larger than the table. Obviously, the room was built around the table.

The Pope Room.
Notice the pope bust on the lazy susan in the middle of the table.

The concave ceiling with a hermaphrodite angel and one with a googly eye.
Jeff & Elaine pose.

Here's NunZilla and Pope in a Box. When you turned the lazy susan to get your food, the pope would turn and look at you. Very disconcerting.
Lastly, next week I fly off to Cincinnati. The cool thing is they've cast the boy who's now playing Hedwig (in Hedwig and the Angry Inch) as Buddy. That's right. From tragic transvestite to Southern Baptist preacher. Should be a hoot.

I leave on Monday and will, of course, be taking all kinds of pictures. Also, the new NYC production just opened and TLS fans who went to see it said it was really good. So I guess this is the summer of TLS!

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© 2001 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.