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  NIGHTSPOTS

Billy Masters
by Billy Masters
2017-03-22

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If you're anything like me ( and I believe at least some of you are ), you can never have enough Tennessee Williams. Recently, I dashed back to Boston to see Night of the Iguana with Elizabeth Ashley, Amanda Plummer and James Earl Jones. Last week, it was a play about Tennessee Williams at the Pasadena Playhouse starring Al Pacino, Garrett Clayton and Judith Light. This new play was billed as a "development production," but it sure seemed pretty polished, from the star-laden cast to the swanky set to the ticket prices. Mind you, I'm not complaining—the rare chance to see Al Pacino at work is worth every penny.

The play is a fascinating character study of the final years of Williams' life told through the eyes of one of his last beaus, playwright Dotson Rader. On stage, Rader was portrayed by Miles Gaston Villanueva, and if his name is not as familiar as his colleagues', he was no less talented ( or, for that matter, hunky ).

Garrett Clayton has been on quite a roll. He starred in King Cobra ( based on gay-porn pup Brent Corrigan ), he was a lead in Hairspray: Live and, now, he's holding his own opposite Al Pacino. That he's holding his own clad in some skimpy undies only gilds the lily. I must note the breathtaking Andrew Dits, who makes the most of one brief scene. Judith Light, who never disappoints, tackles a character clearly based on the trustee of Williams' legacy, Lady Maria St. Just—who has been described as neither a lady, nor a saint, nor just! Light is one of those rare stage creatures who stalks rather than walks, who intones rather than recites, who becomes rather than acts. She is never less than riveting.

It would all be for naught without a galvanizing presence at the center, and Pacino ( or "Mr. P" as Light calls him ) is certainly that. In a masterful performance that could easily become a caricature, he etches a painfully nuanced portrait of an artist in decline. He even captures Williams' almost musical vocal cadence. The play has some rough edges, but it's a tantalizing morsel of things to come. Should anyone want my notes, all they have to do is ask. For once, I refrained from spouting my unsolicited opinions backstage.

In one weekend, I saw more Busch than I did in my 30s! The divine Charles Busch was touring California with two very different cabaret shows and, as a completist, I had to see both. The Lady at the Mike is his loving tribute to leading ladies he both worked with and admired. The material runs the gamut—from Elaine Stritch to Joan Rivers, from Helen Morgan to Julie Wilson. Like all great artists, he makes the material his own without ever imitating. "That Girl/That Boy" begins with Dolores Gray's "Thanks A Lot, But No Thanks" and doesn't let up until Lucille Ball's "Hey Look Me Over." His "Surabaya Johnny" was one of the more persuasive I've heard—more Lemper than Lenya—and makes a real argument for a full Weill/Brecht show. The audiences ate him up at Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center, and there was near-pandemonium at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles. Nothing turns me on more than talent, and Busch has that in abundance. Should you be so fortunate to get to see him, go!

On March 9, Oklahoma Sen. Ralph Shortey was found in a motel room with an underaged male. Yawn—another married politician found sleeping with a boy. But this Republican was Trump's campaign chair in Oklahoma! The details may make the situation worse for him, but I find them quite amusing. Police responded to a "check welfare" call from someone who saw the senator and youth enter a Super 8 motel—oh, the humanity. When the cops knocked on the door, Shortey said he was alone and refused to let them in. Once they threatened to enter with a pass key, he opened the door and police found him with a 17-year-old boy, who claimed to have known the senator for a year. "I used to sell weed to him," the lad said.

Uncovered texts show the tyke asking Shortey if he could help him make some money for spring break. The senator said, "I don't really have any legitimate things I need help with right now. Would you be interested in 'sexual' stuff?" The boy's dad says that his son "has a history of soliciting himself on Craigslist for sexual conduct." So I guess he's into "sexual stuff." And yet Shortey wasn't arrested—at least not for a week. He was eventually charged with three felonies—engaging in child prostitution, transporting a minor for prostitution, and engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church! Call me old fashioned, but I think we can drop that last charge if it's a Catholic church! Upon his arrest, the State Senate passed a resolution stripping Shortey's name from all legislation and barring him from using his office or parking spot. No—not the parking spot!!!

When I can almost see Garrett Clayton's "busch," it's definitely time to end yet another column. Remind me to tell you all about meeting Pacino—it's quite a story. You can read loads of other stories on www.BillyMasters.com—the site that is into all kinds of "sexual stuff." Send your questions along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before the GOP asks Super 8 for a corporate rate! Until next time, remember: One man's filth is another man's bible.


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