True story. I was dating a brilliant Shakespeare director and wanted to become involved in theatre. There wasn’t room for another director in the house so he suggested I produce. Not knowing exactly what that entailed I threw myself into my first three one-man performance productions; Dr. Scheie’s Traffic School, starring Danny Scheie and mounted at Josie’s Cabaret, David Mill’s Duty Free at Intersection for the Arts, and Michael Gotlfrieds’ Enter Then Pause at Josie’s. I was hooked on bringing groundbreaking performances to San Francisco and created ‘Make It So’ Productions, a non-profit organization dedicated towards developing, nurturing, and presenting gay art in all its forms through event production and sponsorship.
In April 1999 I produced an old style variety show as a memorial tribute to local legend Brownie Mary starring some of my very talented friends and the rest is history. Over the course of 50 shows and 6 years, Viva Variety worked with new up-and-coming artists as well as established performers to allow their works to be seen by the public and to be recorded for the historical record. A critical success and winner of a Best of the Bay Award, the live shows, which were all videotaped for posterity, remain a record of gay and ‘gay-friendly’ performances by the Bay Area’s finest talents. In addition to the Viva series, I produced a couple dozen comedy showcases starring the edgy and dark Scott Capurro, three fine comediennes Diane Amos, Betsy Salkind and Bridget Schwartz and Danny Scheie’s Bill and Chuck and Scrooge.
In 2005 I produced the parody ‘Hush Up Sweet Charlotte’ starring Matthew Martin, Varla Jean Merman and Arturo Galster in a riotous satire of the original Bette Davis gothic melodrama. The show was presented at the now defunct Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and featured the largest two story set ever created there. I followed that success with 2006’s parody of Joan Crawford’s cult classic, TROG! at San Francisco’s famed Theatre Rhino. The show starred Matthew Martin, Mike Finn and Heklina.
For the past six years I’ve been a music reviewer with Cabaret Scenes, covering intimate vocal performances of all genres. I intend on convering the Viva Variety catalog to CD format and make them available to the public. There are about 100 performances from Viva Variety available on YouTube (search for Viva Variety). With the right venue and some sponsorship I’m sure I can be enticed to resume monthly live variety shows, a format that should and will not die.