Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Your Host... [From the Archives: 3-24-09]

[The below article was posted on the original Muppet Freak on March 24, 2009]
Since this whole project will be a look at Muppet culture and other fandom ramblings through my eyes, it might be a good idea to know the reference point that these are all coming from...so who is "the Muppet Freak?"

Well, my Muppet Freakdom literally goes back to the beginning. As a baby, my parents report that whenever Sesame Street came on the set, it just held this powerful connection with me. Because of my early obsession, i was reading at age two - at first my parents thought i just had all the books they read me memorized but when i would read the daily newspaper's funny pages, that's when they knew that i was truly reading.

When i was a kid, i had all the toy hand puppets of the characters. Though there were a good number of kids in my neighborhood in the small town in Ohio i grew up in, at the end of the day my puppets were my closest pals. My best friend also was a huge Muppet fan and we were both determined to learn how to do each character so perfectly so that we could continue to keep them going when the real puppeteers got too old to do them. You know how some kids play Cowboys and Indians? Super Heroes? Well we played at being Jim Henson and Frank Oz! It was this early obsession with puppetry that naturally turned me onto acting and singing. Opportunities for any kind of professional performing work (puppetry or otherwise) was pretty much nil in my suburban town of 5000 but after entertaining any willing audience at the drop of a hat in any situation, my first "professional" gig was at age ten when i became a regional member of Kids on the Block which achieved quite a fair amount of recognition in the 80's. They used "life size" puppets (their words - these weren't costume full body puppets but large hand puppets) all with various handicaps and disabilities.

I moved to Phoenix Arizona in my teens. Even though i was considered a puppetry prodigy, my teen years was also when i tended to move more away from puppetry (as a performer though certainly not as a fan) and concentrated more on acting and singing. I started writing songs around age 12. During the last several years, i've had to enter a form of retirement from acting/singing jobs due to having to work two jobs to survive including graveyard shifts but before that i had become an award winning singer/actor working especially in underground/experimental theatre and gay/lesbian entertainment, including two years as a member of Grand Canyon Mens' Chorale (where in my rookie year i was named outstanding performer). I really owe all of that road to that initial Muppet love.

["Hey Chelsea" from "Earth Quakes - Planet Earth Theatre's mid-90's public access show...this parody of Gin Blossom's "Hey Jealousy" was cited in New Times' write-up of the show as its choice for Best Public Access Show]

Of course, it's not just passion for the entertainment and puppetry arts that fuses my Muppet love. All my life i've closely followed the works of Jim Henson and this has informed a lot of my worldview, sense of humor, tastes, etc. In some way or another, my Muppet fandom has always been proudly on display whether marching in a gay pride parade with a Kermit perched on my shoulder or having a party with friends where we would order a pizza and freak out the delivery guy by all answering the door as a Sesame character. (I would be waiting outside after he thought he'd escaped the craziness, offering to sell him a letter "O" for... a nickel!) I've literally become a "walking encyclopedia" of Muppet/Henson knowledge which includes a vast video library (which i am in the painstakingly slow process of organizing and converting to dvd). While i would still jump at the chance to be a professional Muppeteer, age has caught up with me and between occasional back and wrist/joint problems, i don't see that in my future. Rather my all-time "dream job" would be to actually work in some professional capacity as a Henson historian. In these poverty-stricken times though i guess i'll have to settle for this latest endeavor!

By the way, i do have an old hasn't-been-updated-in-ages website devoted to my song lyrics, artistic musings and the like at Ultraviolet MUSE-ings if anyone's so inclined to check it out.  (No real Muppet content there though)

I mentioned this blog would be about 75-85% Muppet/Henson related and the rest would cover other loves, interests, and areas of fandom. What are some of those other areas of fandom? Well some of them are Eurythmics/Annie Lennox/Dave Stewart, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Shakespear's Sister/Siobhan Fahey, the Beloved, Concrete Blond, Chris Issac, Cyndi Lauper, Dr. Demento, Twin Peaks, One Life to Live, Ugly Betty, Absolutely Fabulous, Laugh-In, slapstick humor, pie fights, roller coasters, raw cookie dough, progressive/liberal causes, Calvin & Hobbes, Pearls Before Swine, Doonesbury, gay and lesbian history and culture (which as a heavyset gay male in his mid-30's i feel very much a part of and outside of at the same time - lots more on that can be found at my song lyrics site), David Lynch films...just to name a few!

So that's the kind of mentality that shall infuse everything forthcoming! If you're ever in the Phoenix Arizona area and see a banged-up car with a music note symbol rainbow flag sticker, Kermit hanging from the windshield, and a driver singing along to either a Muppet, Eurythmics, or Pet Shop Boys record, be sure to give me a wave (and a phone number if you're a strong-hearted semi-attractive Muppet-lovin' guy!)

At any rate, now that all the introduction stuff is out of the way, let's have some fun! Now we can get to the good stuff! It's time to play the music...
[Well, that banged up car no longer exists - it died and i no longer have any transportation at all...just one more thing in a too-long-a-list-that-i-care-to-think-about of things i've lost/had taken away from me/things that have gone wrong with my cursed life.  Though maybe you may still see someone singing along with a Walkman at a bus stop if you keep your eyes peeled.]

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