MY CAREER HIGHLIGHTS – Not necessarily my proudest moments, but among the most interesting.

When I was in the cast of an award-winning Filipino play at La Mama, the Villager newspaper praised my performance as “the personification of American sleaze.”

I invented a new kind of textbook series for a publishing company. It brought in millions of dollars in profits each year. After it was launched, my entire staff and I were laid off. The reason, I later found out, was an executive’s scheme to cover up his sexual harassment of one of my assistants. At the time this happened, we had no idea that the law might have been on our side—if in fact it would have been.

In order to attract visitors to a historical museum I worked for in Newark, New Jersey, I developed a Day in Newark program for tourists, combining a visit to us with lunch at a Down Neck restaurant (in the Portuguese neighborhood) and a tour of either the Newark Museum (an art museum) or the Edison lab (in nearby West Orange). We got national publicity because some newspapers found the notion of Newark tourism humorous.

I realized that a student in my 10th-grade English class couldn’t read. When I asked how he’d gotten to 10th grade without being found out, he said he’d always been quiet and polite, so the teachers—usually nuns—had passed him from grade to grade. I worked with him, and two years later he was writing stories and playing the lead in his senior class play, An Italian Straw Hat, which I directed.

I painted murals in a bar in a West African seaport that was owned by the son of Rasputin’s private secretary. As a young boy in the Czar’s court, he had sat on the knee of the Mad Monk himself.

When I interviewed Janis Ian for a magazine article, I found out that her hit song “At Seventeen” was in fact about something that happened to her when she was sixteen. Why “seventeen”? Because it scanned better.

I took a nap on our set between performances at one of Charlotte Moorman’s Avant Garde Festivals. When I opened my eyes, I saw that people had gathered around to watch as if I were a living sculpture or part of an assemblage. I eventually felt foolish and got up to get my lunch.

When a training video was planned, they thought they would cast actors and then have puppets made that looked like them. This turned out to be too expensive, so instead they bought some puppets and then looked for actors who resembled the puppets. That’s how I was cast for the video—because I looked like a puppet. Soon after that, I was turned into a cartoon for the Lumineers’ “Submarines” video. Please note: I am still available to perform as an actual person.

I worked with one of the greats of the American theater, Kim Hunter, late in her life. When we tried out a play of mine in a summer theater, I realized that even if the project went no further (and in fact it didn’t), I would never hear words of mine spoken more beautifully and movingly.


One comment

  1. Judith Lechner · · Reply

    Very moving and of course, funny. The textbook stuff hit home.

    Judy L

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