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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in NYC (4)

Tuesday
Nov142017

Call Redialed: Chris Harder: "Porn to be a Star" at Stonewall Inn

Chris Harder, Photo Credit: Adrian BuckmasterLast year, Chris Harder stripped down to reveal all with me about his show #BigBrightStar. Now Chris is back, unzipping even more details of his professional life in his new show Porn to be a Star, directed by Obie-winner David Drake. Porn to be a Star is loosely based on Chris' own experiences in porn. Chris takes you by the hand on an up, close, and in your face search for fame, followers and a place to shine in the gay adult industry.

Featuring new characters and plenty of surprises to unzip, Porn to be a Star is set around the annual "Dirty Dish Porn Awards." Chris introduces you to a variety of adult performers, directors and even his mother, all weighing in on the coveted "Porn Star of the Year" trophy. Who will take home the title? Zach Parks, the trailer park kid turned Twitter socialite? Gay for pay bang bro’s, Patrick and Duncan? Or that home grown, homo-from-the-range himself, Chris Harder? (He’ll put a camera anywhere, you know.) You’ll have to click at the Dish to find out.

Porn to be a Star will play at the Stonewall Inn in NYC's West Village (53 Christopher Street) November 29-December 7 at 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Chris be sure to visit http://www.harderburlesque.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This November/December you are bringing your new show Porn to be a Star to the Stonewall Inn. Loosely based on your own experiences in gay porn, how does this show differ from your previous show #BigBrightStar? Well, in a nut shell, Porn to be a Star is all the good parts of #BigBrightStar restructured into a new plot with additional characters and also choreography. It really is a completely new show, but fans who saw #BigBrightStar might recognize certain monologues and characters too. Essentially I wanted to expand the scope of my work to not just be my story but the combined stories of all these different porn stars each battling to win the fictional "Dirty Dish Porn Star of the Year" award. So I would say Porn to be a Star gives you the extra inch view into the world of gay porn where as #BigBrightStar was just a taste of my own life.

2. Porn to be a Star takes the audience by the hand on an up, close, and in your face search for fame, followers and a place to shine in the gay adult industry. In our last interview we discussed how you got into the gay adult film industry, now I want to know, what do you remember about your first film---excitement? nerves? When did you realize you were a porn star? I think more than anything I was just excited for my first "on camera" experience, which was a solo scene but done in a documentary style so I was also stripping and go-go dancing. I imagine a lot of male performers might worry about whether or not they can get an erection on film and I won’t lie, I felt the same way. But once the camera was on I suddenly felt very at home with myself and things just kind of, "sprang" into action. In some ways that feeling is no different from when I’m doing a burlesque number or even acting. There is definitely an exhibitionist bone in my body and a joy that comes from entertaining an audience. I think one of the questions Porn to be a Star asks is what happens when it seems the audience is no longer watching? And what does it really mean to be a star? There are millions of stars in the sky but we don't see everyone and we certainly can't name everyone, so are they stars? And...if a porn star falls in the woods and no one hears him...actually never mind.

The Official Porn to be a Star Trailer! from Chris Harder on Vimeo.

3. What has been the best part about being a gay porn star? What was your most frightening moment? Performing on camera helped me understand my body in ways I don't think I otherwise would have realized. A common misconception about adult film performers and sex workers is that we become "numb" to sex. However, I learned how to value and use my body to literally work in ways that many people I think at times feel self conscious and intimidated by even when the camera isn't watching. That doesn't mean every day onset feels completely "empowering" or that I'm having transcendental orgasms with every scene partner either. Porn is pleasure. Porn is work. And porn is product.

The most frightening thing to happen to me onset? Well, I can honestly say I've always felt very well taken care of by my directors onset, even if I haven't always enjoyed my scene partner(s)--again, porn is work. I think the most "scary" time onset though was when I shot a scene in an abandoned cotton gin outside of Manchester--you know, a typical Monday. We were on the second floor and my friend casually said, "Watch out for the mossy areas, the floor is basically eaten away and you'll fall into the basement." Nothing like a potential death drop to motivate you through missionary!

Chris Harder4. Since the show talks about other voices commenting on what it means to be a star, what was that conversation like when you told your mom you were a porn star? My mother and my family in general were less than thrilled when I told them I was "officially Harder" online. That said, they didn’t denounce me either. I think I’m very fortunate to have a mother who wants me to succeed in life and also worries about all my life choices, whether it’s wearing a leather jacket in winter or a leather jock strap onset. At this point though I don’t think anything can faze her. In general the relationship I have with my mother has been on a long journey ever since coming out to her in high school. I even play a version of her in Porn to be a Star--spoiler alert! She requested a pink wig but we’re in talks.

5. What advice would you give someone wanting to break into the gay adult film industry? What's one warning you would tell them as well? I’ve never directly told anyone, "you should definitely do porn," because even though I don’t regret my own decision, it is one of those "big adult choices." It’s like buying a car except everyone can Google your car and then say things like, "wow, your car obviously has a lot of miles on it." Or write you really short messages on Facebook like, "Hey. Hot car."

What I️ would say above all else is respect your body. It is literally your work tool. And also, have fun. Sex should be enjoyed. Filming porn is hard work but ideally there are moments when you can actually enjoy that work—even when you have to freeze in mid-thrust while a light is adjusted.

Chris Harder6. You probably have a lot of stories you can tell about your time in the porn industry. What is one story you are ready to unzip and reveal that you have not told previously? One of the most fun yet bizarre scenes I filmed was this FBI agent/criminal scene with Wolf Hudson for Kink.com. I️ (as agent Harder) chased Wolf all across the giant rooftop of a reconverted cathedral in San Francisco until he masterfully disarmed me and then captured me with my own handcuffs--we call that porn magic. You can fill in the rest--Wolf certainly did--but during the shoot a bunch of construction workers on the roof directly across from us would cheer and shout encouragement. You know you're having a true San Francisco moment when you're strapped up in bondage on an abandoned cathedral now owned by a hippie colony while questionably gay construction workers provide commentary during their lunch break.

7. I have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I give the interviewee the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions about themselves. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about you that you want to clear up? To be honest, one of the hardest parts of being a performer for me, whether it’s onstage or in front of the camera, is letting go of what people think of me and specifically of my work. I want people to enjoy both my porn and my writing but you can’t be everyone’s favorite. In fact, now I would worry I was doing something wrong if I️ was everyone’s favorite. That said, I’d love it if people acknowledged that I actually am the writer of my plays and solo pieces. I️ usually get at least one person each show who says, "Did you right that all by yourself?" That to me is the equivalent of a pat on the head. But again, you can't control what people think. No matter what you do for a living, I think we are always trying to impress someone to get to that "next level." And simultaneously, we are all most likely guilty of underestimating a person we perceive to be below us in some capacity. It's more motivation for me to just get back to the work.

Chris Harder, Photo Credit: Richard Burrowes8. Let's go in a bit deeper now. Yeah, you like it deeper? Haha. The by-line of Porn to be a Star is "Porn to be a Star is funny, shocking, and biting in all the right places. My question to you is, what is the funniest thing to happen to you during sex? What's the most shocking thing to happen to you during sex? What are all the right places you like to bite someone? I like it any way as long as my scene minimum is being met.

Funniest moment: This is probably only funny to me, but I think it's hilarious that we have "lunch breaks" onset. I'd rather plow through the work but inevitably we will stop and a PA will ask me, "Do you want a burrito?" Well, not unless you want to make this a really long day for everyone else.

Most shocking moment: The day my scene partner had a burrito.

(Consensual) biting: Neck and back--just like Kelis! I like a little nipple play too although I feel like most gay men I've been with have only two speeds in that area: "rip my nipples off" or maybe, maybe give them a little flick. The journey is long my friends.

9. Along the same lines, what are your favorite things to do in bed? I can't give away all my secrets--no one would come to my play! Working in nightlife and porn has always been an interesting line for me to walk with my public and personal sex life. Every performer handles it differently but I like being able to have private, "me time" sex and relationships. I don't post a lot of photos of my boyfriend or "BTS" moments in my bedroom because I like having something for myself. Also, the lighting in my room sucks.

10. How hard does Chris Harder get? No matter what I'm doing, there's a good chance I really like my work on a given day. So I try "harder" (see what I did there) to push myself to be the best porn/burlesque/writer/actor/naked freelancer I can be.

Chris HarderMore on Chris:

Chris Harder is a New York male burlesque performer, writer, and porn star. Known as "The Raunchy Romeo of Burlesque," Harder has toured his solo burlesque performances throughout the US as well as Europe including shows in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. Harder was named "Best of the Naked City" by the Village Voice (2011) and also crowned "Best International Male Performer" at the 2011 World Burlesque Games, London. Recently, Chris Harder was one of the American Headliners for the 2017 Helsinki Burlesque Festival and also a featured burlesque performer at the 2017 World Buskers Festival, New Zealand. Harder is also the writer and producer of the Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy series, New York. Find out more and #getHarder at www.HarderBurlesque.com and @HarderBurlesque on Instagram and Twitter.

Sunday
Nov122017

Call Redialed: Aaron David Gleason: "Wry Observer"

Aaron David GleasonIt's so great to catch up singer/songwriter Aaron David Gleason on the heels of his new album Wry Observer being released last month. I really enjoyed learning about the making of this album, why Aaron waited 12 years between albums, finding his place in this world, his favorite things to do in NYC, and remembering his grandfather, Monty Hall, co-creator of the hit game show Let's Make A Deal.

Aaron will be celebrating the release of his new album with a concert this Tuesday, November 14 at Rockwood Music Hall (169 Allen Street) at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

Wry Observer is available via iTunes!

For more on Aaron be sure to visit https://www.aarondavidgleason.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer/singer/songwriter? David Bowie, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, The Beatles....and a million others....but Bowie and Rufus at that age when you really decide.

2. Last month you released, your second album, Wry Observer, 12 years after your second album. Why did you wait 12 years in between albums? I was waiting because my first album got crushed by the press and by the industry after that. That hurt. I also felt like I wasn't as good as I would like to be. I had to reevaluate and take inventory. I did that. I came to New York where I was dressed down immediately! That was painful but necessary. I'm grateful for the New York kiss, as it were. Is that a term? Nope, just made it up. But there is a term, "Glasgow Kiss," and it was figuratively similar.

3. How do you feel you have grown as a singer/songwriter in these 12 years? I feel like I'm naked now as a singer. I'm not hiding behind artifice. That took me a long time, since despite what it seems, I'm very shy.

4. On November 14 you are celebrating the release of Wry Observer with a concert at Rockwood Music Hall. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? What are you most nervous about premiering this new music? Most looking forward to sharing this excitement with a crowd and a crowd mostly of friends. I love my band, and time stands still when we perform, so it will be nice to stop the clock again. As far as performing 10 songs in a row for the first time, yeah...trying not to think about that haha....

5. Why did you name the album Wry Observer? I've always felt like a reporter. Maybe it was a protective shield. I'm a watcher. I'm fascinated by the human condition. But I also know very much that as much as I think I'm the watcher, there will always be someone watching me. So...who is the wry observer? I think Rashoman has an interesting answer to that question.

6. One of the songs on your new album is "Place in the World." How did making this album help you find your place in this world? I'm a songwriter. As much as I love acting, or performing music, my deepest passion is songwriter. I think about it like a puzzle and talk about it ad nauseum.

Aaron David Gleason7. Another song you recorded for Wry Observer is called "Brooklyn at Dawn," an ode to the clarity and introspection that only exists in the wee hours of the morning. What is something you learned or got clarity on at the wee hours in the morning? There is no bravado early in the morning. So anything I've ever done by sheer bravado, doesn't count. When I'm up that early, I see myself in the most brutal but purifying light. It's not fun, but like meditation, its ripple effect of good is very appreciated.

8. One more song on the album is "Nueva York." What are some of your favorite things to do in NYC? How do you like to spend the holidays in NYC? Oh I love The Village and part of me just adores the funkiness of Alphabet City, though I'm sure it's a much more sanitized, homogenized place than in 1979, say. But there is a pulse there, and it's undeniable. I lived in Greenpoint for 7 years--I'm so grateful for that time, it fed my soul a lot. Holidays? I live in Tarrytown now, it's pretty beautiful around that time.

Monty Hall, "Let's Make A Deal"9. In these 12 years between albums, what is the biggest change you made in your life that you feel allowed you to finally make new music? The biggest change has just been to incrementally follow the path to humanity instead of lusting after celebrity. I lust after humanity now and it's much more gratifying.

10. This past September your grandfather, Monty Hall (co-creator of the game show Let's Make A Deal) passed away. What is something you learned from your grandfather about the world of entertainment? What do you miss most about him? The world of entertainment is a mirage...a very beautifully crafted one. Life is family and good deeds and loyalty--he embodied that more than humanly possible at times. That education will never leave me. He always asked how my gigs went. I miss very much sharing victories with him. But it's my job now to be that to someone else. So Adam, tell me what's going on in YOUR life :)

Aaron David Gleason, Photo Credit: Alex TurshMore on Aaron:

Singer-songwriter Aaron David Gleason isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. His approach to creating his music is nothing less than inspired -- years in the making, his new album, Wry Observer, finally expresses exactly the things he’s needed to say.

Wry Observer was recorded over four days at Nashville’s Sputnik Sound with producer Brad Lindsay. Filled with mystery and humor, the album offers insight on what Aaron has learned about life in the past 15 years – after overcoming several obstacles both personally and professionally, he’s arrived at a place where his songs tell his stories the way he wants them to be told, with his unique wit weaved in.

During a nine-year hiatus from music, he moved from Los Angeles to New York City, embarked on an acting career and eventually started over from scratch with music. Now 38, with the aid of therapy and a new-found community of artist friends in New York and Nashville, he’s made another record – 12 years after his last.

Offering matured songwriting, a liberated vocal and experimentation with open tuning, the songs on the album dovetail into each other musically and thematically. "The Last To Die In Battle," written about England’s infamous 15th-century king Richard III, flows into the title track, which represents many things for Aaron. He’s felt like an observer for much of his life -- a journalist of sorts taking notes on the world around him -- though the song is ultimately about his wife and how she helped him heal. "Pops" then offers a tribute to The Staple Singers and how their music also helped Aaron through tough times, along with fragments of his own relationship with his father. "Nueva York," and its poetic take on New York’s persuasive powers are juxtaposed with "Brooklyn At Dawn," an ode to the clarity and introspection that only exists in the wee hours of the morning.

Aaron released In Flagrante Delicto when he was 22 with his then-band All Hours. With its collage of pointed lyrics and song fragments that only touched the surface of his ability to create quality songs. The band and their label eventually parted ways, and Aaron later self-produced a self-titled album. Both were lessons that he needed to experience to arrive at the music he’s making now – and Wry Observer is finally, genuinely, him.

Surrounded by music and entertainment for much of his life as the son of Tony Award-winning actress Joanna Gleason and the grandson of Let’s Make A Deal co-creator Monty Hall, Gleason released his first album when he was 22, and later self-produced a self-titled album. He eventually moved from Los Angeles to New York City, embarked on an acting career and now started over from scratch with music. Now 38, with the aid of therapy and a new-found community of artist friends in New York and Nashville, he’s made another record – 12 years after his last – an album that is finally, genuinely, him.

Monday
Nov062017

Call Answered: Harrison Holzer: "The After Party" and "My Friend Dahmer"

Harrison HolzerI love interviewing the next generation of actors. It's always so exciting to see who will be entertaining us for years to come. When Harrison Holzer was brought to my attention, I jumped at this opportunity primarily because Harrison chose to defer his admission to Harvard to take his first shot at a lead in a movie, which in turn, changed the course of his career. With several films, such as Sextape, and TV shows under his belt, Harrison is going to Harvard next fall. But before he walks through those steel gates, Harrison has two films coming out.

The first one was just released this past Friday (11/3) called My Friend Dahmer, a chilling tale of what the American serial killer was like in high school through the eyes of his friends. In this film, Harrison plays "Mike Kukral," a friend and classmate of "Jeffrey Dahmer." The film also stars Anne Heche, Ross Lynch, and Dallas Roberts. For more on My Friend Dahmer visit http://www.myfrienddahmerthemovie.com and follow the film on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

His second movie, currently filming in NYC, is called The After Party, produced by Russell Simmons/Def Pictures and Netflix. The After Party follows two best friends ("Mike" and "Owen") on their last night together trying to achieve a record deal before one heads to college and the other leaves for military service. In one wild night, a lot will go down before the sun comes up and these two lifelong friends either have succeeded on their quest or must go their separate ways. Harrison plays "Jeff," the best friend and manager of aspiring rapper "Owen." Harrison stars alongside Wiz Khalifa, French Montana and Blair Underwood.

For more on Harrison follow him on Facebook and on Twitter, and Instagram @harryholzer27

Harrison Holzer and Sam Rockwell, "Better Living Through Chemistry"1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I would have to say working on my first film with the indomitable Sam Rockwell truly inspired me. I played his son on Better Living Through Chemistry. His work ethic, creativity and kindness was an artistically enlightening experience.

2. You have two films coming up, but before we get to them, I have to ask you about a choice you made. You were accepted to Harvard and all set to go, but you decided to defer Harvard for a year to take your first shot at a lead in a movie. What made you want to take this movie instead? Having worked nearly a decade towards my dream, I knew when the opportunity presented itself I had to take my shot. Working with the exuberant Russell Simmons, Def Jam and Netflix was a tribe I was honored to be invited into. The director, Ian Edelman, is amazingly collaborative. And the incredible cast has become my family. The message of the story is friendship, loyalty and persistence to purpose. This resonates deeply within me. I think this experience was a great lesson in not to allow your dreams to be an inconvenience. If you let go of how you think your life is supposed to look and to expand to what is possible, you can have it all. I got the lead in a great movie AND next year will go Harvard!

Harrison Holzer in "My Friend Dahmer"3. Your first film, My Friend Dahmer, is a chilling tale of what the American serial killer was like in high school through the eyes of his friends, coming out November 3. What made you want to be part of this project? The script was beautifully written and I immediately connected with the director Marc Meyers. And to work with such a stellar cast of young actors. It is a multi-layered haunting film that is relevant today. It tackles bullying, mental illness, alcoholism and the importance of honest communication within the family. Ross Lynch is mesmerizing in this film.

4. In My Friend Dahmer, you play "Mike Kukral," a friend and classmate of "Jeffery." What did you relate to about "Mike"? What was it like to meet the real Mike? What did you learn about your character from this meeting that you didn't know prior? He was very generous in sharing his high school memories he had with Dahmer. He gave me a better understanding of their "Dahmer Fan Club" and the negative impact of it.

5. The next movie you are working on is The After Party, which is currently filming in NYC about two best friends (Mike and Owen) on their last night together trying to achieve a record deal before one heads to college and the other leaves for military service. In one wild night, a lot will go down before the sun comes up and these two lifelong friends either have succeeded on their quest or must go their separate ways. In this film you play the best friend and manager of aspiring rapper "Owen." What excites you about making this movie? I love great comedy. From cast to crew, everyone had a blast working on this project and that will show. It excites me to bring a story to the audience that will make them laugh, inspire them and hopefully see a piece of themselves.

Harrison Holzer filming "The After Party"6. If you had one night left with your best friend, how would you spend it? This is something I can realistically answer because I actually just spent the last night before my best friends and I went off to college. We have known each other since we were five-years-old. First we would hit a classic NYC deli and buy vanilla Cokes with vanilla sprinkled donuts to take back to one of our places. Chow them down while playing Halo or FFA on the Xbox. Next, we would hit downtown and go to our classic Mexican spot Rosa Mexicano and feast of guacamole. We would finish off the night by simply walking home. Since we grew up in the city, the simple things have become cherished amongst us. Something so simple as walking four miles uptown through Central Park. Admiring landmarks like Washington Square Park, the Boat Pond and the Great Lawn are all places where I have had great memories. This was the best way to spend our last night. It made us all nostalgic and proud of the bonds we have made.

7. Since you love NYC so much, what are your top five favorite touristy things to do and top five favorite native NYer things to do? I am so proud to be from this magnificent city.

Here are my top five Visitors:

1. Visit Central Park! See the Great Lawn and Sheep’s Meadow

2. Go to Times Square

3. The beautiful Washington Square Park

4. The Burroughs are a must. Flushing in Queens. Arthur Ave in the Bronx. Great food!

5. You didn’t go to New York if you didn’t get a picture of the Statue of Liberty

Native:

I’m a big foodie so my favorite spots mostly have to do with food.

1. Walking around Greenwich Village has the most incredible atmosphere. It’s vibrant and charming. Stop into any restaurant for an amazing meal

2. Canal Street: Nam Wah Tea Parlor and 456 Shanghai. Best soup dumplings in NYC

3. Go to a Rangers game

4. Head to Sutton Place to bask in the serene and calming atmosphere. New Yorkers in need of a walk to clear your head, this is the place to go

5. Going for a run in Central Park. Or taking the subway everywhere

Kristaps Porzingis8. I also read that you are a NY Knicks fan! If you had the chance to play one on one with any member of the Knicks, who would you choose? Are you kidding me?! Definitely Porzingis!! Love that guy. I mean he would destroy me but man would that be fun. I’d honestly spend more of that one on one trying to become his friend than actually playing ball. He’s so cool. Kinda fanning out here but no shame!

9. What is one characteristic about yourself that your friends make fun of you for? My friends and family call me Wikipedia because I often claim to know all the facts with 100% certainty and conviction but am faulty 90% of the time. Hence, I’ve become known as "Wiki."

10. Where can we find you on social media? 

Facebook: Harrison Holzer

Twitter/Instagram: @harryholzer27

Harrison HolzerMore on Harrison:

As a native New Yorker, Harrison Holzer made his film debut playing the incomparable Sam Rockwell's son in Better Living Through Chemistry. He has two great loves: his Knicks and comedy. He was an improvisational tour de force receiving stellar reviews in the Sony movie Sex Tape. He expertly sharpened swords with the masterful Jason Segel. Harrison has very fond memories of that set. The top being when Ms. Diaz, fed him off her fork some of her delicious kale salad. He also was a series regular in the ABC pilot Nerd Herd. He spends much time in LA, but a bit of his heart is always in his beloved NYC.

Thursday
Jun132013

Danielle Grabianowski: Duplex and Night of A Thousand Judys Interview

Danielle Grabianowski is an award-winning singing actress whose performances have been likened to "Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir and Bette Midler at the Continental Baths."  This June, she is making two very special appearances.

On June 17, Danielle will be performing in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys benefit, hosted by The Meeting's Justin Sayre (Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th Street). Night of A Thousand Judys will donate all proceeds to the Ali Forney Center which is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. Joining Danielle in this extraordinary evening are original "Weather Girl" Martha Wash, three-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello, Glee's Telly Leung, Justin Vivian Bond, Lea DeLaria, Christiane Noll, Tituss Burgess, Karen Mason, and many others. Click here for tickets!

Then, on June 19 (and August 28), at 7pm, Danielle will grace the stage of NYC's historic Duplex Cabaret Theatre at in the West Village for an evening of eclectic, impromptu set of standards, stories and pop tunes. Click here for tickets!

For more on Danielle be sure to visit http://daniellegrabianowski.wordpress.com!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My family moved to Florida in the middle of 6th grade and I had come from a really small school and had trouble making new friends in my new school. I was really shy. In 8th grade, I was picked to do a short solo at our chorus concert. The song was "Voices that Care." The teacher was Ms. Jury, we're Facebook friends now. Figuring out I could sing made the future look a little brighter.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I'd like to continue working with my pianist, Nate Buccieri forever, he is amazing. And, I worked with a band at Sleep No More, but I've never worked with a band on my own show. I would love to collaborate on arrangements with a bunch of musicians in that way. I'm hoping to do that later on as our monthly gig at the Duplex gets underway.

3. What excites you about your upcoming cabaret show at The Duplex on June 19? Just that I don't know what's going to happen! It's a little more impromptu than other shows I've done, we're making it a monthly thing, so we're switching things up a little bit every time, so I find the unpredictability of all of that pretty exciting.

4. What do you like about performing at The Duplex as opposed to other venues around the city? THE STAFF!!! They just have a great way of making performers feel really welcome.

5. On June 17, you are taking part in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys, benefiting the Ali Forney Center. What made you want to be part of this evening? How does it feel to know you are helping so many GLBT Youth? It's just a great thing. I've sung at The Meeting a couple of times and being a part of any evening where Justin Sayre is at the mic is bound to be a blast. Beyond that, I was actually pretty familiar with the Ali Forney Center through my efforts in social work. Someone came to speak about homelessness in the LGBT population in one of my classes and I really came to understand what a huge issue it is. I think living in Manhattan, especially if you're not gay, it can seem like being gay is totally easy, but a lot of these kids are coming from cultures and school settings a lot different than what we accept as the norm at places like the duplex or in the theater district. They are made to feel unsafe in their schools, they're ostracized by their families, and what's most startling is the rates of suicide that we're seeing. That tells you something about the predicament these kids and young adults are in - if the trend among this population is that life is so hard at 18 that the only way you can make it better is to attempt suicide, then clearly we really need to rally and give them the support they need. It's an important issue, it doesn't get nearly enough attention and I hope we make a lot of money!

Danielle Grabianowski at the 24th Annual Mac Awards, Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN.COM6. You are the recipient of the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Vocalist and the Bistro's Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a "Star on the Rise." What do these honors mean to you? It was a great feeling to be recognized. The cabaret community in NYC is such a warm and fascinating group of people - I love being a part of that.

7. You took two years off from performing to go back to school to get a master's degree in Social Work. What made you want to pursue a degree? Do you feel this experience enriched your performing at all? My desire to do social work is totally related to my experience as an artist. When I was going through all the struggles as a performer, there were a lot of people who helped me: my acting teacher, my Alexander Technique teacher, my therapist. Mostly they helped me grow and change, which is what I needed to do. Most of the time, it's really hard to change on your own. No matter how much you want to change, a time will probably come when you don't think you can do it and you give up on yourself. It's a natural part of the process for a lot of us, which is why we need people around believing in us when we don't believe in ourselves and fighting for us when we lack the strength to fight on our own. On a very simple level, that is what social workers do. I wanted to give back to people what had been given to me. I'm still at the beginning of things but at some point I plan on working with other performers on all of this stuff. Social Work School has really shifted the way I see the world and other people and I'm guessing that will come across as I get back into performing.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? When I first moved to the city, so much of my confidence was wrapped up in my identity as a singer and when I didn't have success the first few years, my self-esteem took a huge hit. It was really bad, at the worst point, I couldn't even sing without crying. On some level, I thought that singing was the best thing about me and if no one found it valuable, I didn't know what to do with myself. Eventually I had to learn that there was more to me and more to life than performing. So I actually learned the most about myself through the rejection, which I think is the case for a lot of artists. Ironically, when I stopped grasping at the need to be successful, something more natural and innate took over that people really responded to.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? It's so simple, but when I was auditioning for musicals and making myself miserable, I knew I had to make a change, but I'd been doing it for so long, the idea of simply making the 'right choice' about what to do next seemed impossible. My husband said to me, "it doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that you do something." And it's true. Soon after that responded to a Playbill add for an internship for Miller Wright & Associates. They specialize in PR for Jazz and Cabaret artists. While I didn't become a PR maven, I was exposed to amazing performances that I would have never had the chance to see and I also learned how to promote other people's shows which made it much easier when it came time to promote my own. I eventually got a job there and was surrounded by cabaret all the time and I think that played a huge role in all the great things that have happened to me cabaret-wise. And it all started by a small step of responding to an internship add.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Time travel!!!!

 

More on Danielle:

Danielle Grabianowski won the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Debut, the Bistro’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a “Star on the Rise” and the first-ever 1930s Idol competition. She was last seen as the jazz singer "Josephine Grant" in the award-winning Off-Broadway sensation, Sleep No More. Danielle took a two-year hiatus from performing to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and has performed with various theater companies around the country including the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Bakerloo Theatre Project and Bigfork Summer Playhouse as well as in various readings and workshops of new musicals and plays in New York City. Some of her favorites include "Thea" in Fiorello!, "the Porter" in Macbeth, "Fiona" in Brigadoon and "Angelique" in The Imaginary Invalid