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Playwright: Aaron Posner. At: Sideshow Theatre Company at the Biograph, 2433 N. ...

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Artist Adam Guerino on 'We Are Halsted'
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2011-08-24

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Openly gay local producer/artist Adam Guerino is taking his expertise into the fundraising realm with his show, "We Are Halsted," which will take place at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Wed., Aug. 31, 7-10 p.m.

The variety show—a part of the Lakeview Safety and Inclusion Coalition's (made up of, among others, business owners, young adults and public officials) efforts to build bridges in the community—will cost five dollars to attend and include an auction and a bevy of live entertainment.

Comedians, dancers, musicians and even a circus burlesque performer will join Guerino (the host of the event) on stage. "It's not going to be what you would imagine at most fundraisers," Guerino said. "This is going to be over-the-top, fun and grounded. I've put a lot of care into making sure that all ethnic backgrounds and sexualities are represented with the performers."

The goal of the event is to build awareness of LGBT youth homelessness issues and raise money for The Crib and other local youth homeless shelters. "It is a response to what was happening in the community with a lot of people pointing fingers at people that I thought were victims," Guerino explained. "They didn't really know what the facts were. They were calling homeless youth outside gangs from other neighborhoods and I don't think these people were doing any research and it was kind of disgusting how people were looking at each other."

With this fundraiser Guerino wants to give homeless youth a voice. That voice will be showcased in between the variety-show acts with two youth speakers telling their stories to the audience. Currently, there are 15,000 homeless youth in the city of Chicago; 20 percent are LGBT—twice the national average of 10 percent.

Guerino has been able to bring to his first-hand experience as a homeless youth, first in Hawaii and then in Chicago, to the table: "I moved to Hawaii when I was 19 after dropping out of college. ... I thought, 'Why not move to a tropical island where I didn't know anybody,' but things fell through, which was a terrifying experience. Then I moved back to Chicago because I didn't like Hawaii that much. I was bouncing around the city so I think that having experiences like that makes me appreciate the terror that goes through homeless youth that much more since I've been there before." Guerino went on to say that he has strong compassion for people who are in different stages of life than he is, and that he doesn't see barriers between himself and the extremely wealthy or the incredibly poor.

Since his years as a homeless youth, Guerino has built a career as a writer, stand-up comedian, MC/host, cartoonist and producer. So how did he get started? While he was recording a musician friend of his five years ago, someone said to him that he was funny and he should be a comedian. He laughed off that person's comments; however, after much prodding (helped by the fact that the person was a booker at that bar where he was doing the recording), Guerino began to do stand-up comedy and has been performing ever since. Becoming a producer started when he began calling venues to get himself booked; from that he started to rent out theater spaces and to do publicity.

As for Guerino's plans for the future, he'd like to accomplish much. He wants to have a couple ongoing shows and produce quarterly events like "We Are Halsted" that are financially successful so he can write either a book, screenplay or play during the day. Guerino added, "I hope to make 'We Are Halsted' an annual or semiannual event. Sometimes awareness needs continual reminding, and I'm always looking for more causes to donate my time and talent."

"If volunteerism or donating and charity is something that you are not usually used to; this show is a really great place to start. It's not going to have that stuffy, sterile smell that you might imagine a fundraiser would be like. It's going to be a fun variety show that just so happens to help people that are less fortunate."

To buy tickets for the event go to www.centeronhalsted.org/coh/calendar/newevents-details.cfm. To find out more about Guerino go to www.adamguerino.com .


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