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This Saturday Story District and Capital Pride is teaming up for their Out/Spoken show at 9:30 Club. We had four of the performers interview each other to preview the event. We’ll begin with Ricky and Andreu and move on to Kelly and Jeffrey.

Ricky is a story teller that’s been based in D.C. for the last 5 years. Andreu is a storyteller and actor that has appeared at Woolly Mammoth in Measure for Pleasure, at The Kennedy Center in The Wings of Ikarus Jackson and on Netflix’s House of Cards.

Ricky Harrison: What’s the most outspoken thing you’ve ever done?

Andreu Honeycutt: I’m on the Metro and a man just pulls out a cigarette and starts smoking, and I’m looking around and no one else is saying shit to this man. I’m like, no, I’m not going to accept this. I know I cannot touch him, I feel, if this mother fucker is smoking a cigarette on a full train it’s probably not a good idea to touch him. So started speaking loudly, “Sir, you can’t smoke in here, will you put the cigarette out, please put the cigarette out.” I’m making some noise, no one else is saying anything. Then the woman beside me starts to speak up with me. Everyone else is stunned and afraid of the man. I felt like that was a moment when I was proud of speaking up instead of giving in.

Andreu: Do you know the game: Marry, Fuck, Murder?

Ricky: No, I don’t know that game.

Andreu: It’s like a slumber party game. Let’s go back twenty-something years and we’re teenagers and no one is married. I will list the names of three celebrities and you have to say whom you would marry, whom you would fuck, but instead of murder because I don’t want to kill anyone, I say banish to Mars. It’s marry, fuck, banish. First, Daniel Craig the current James Bond; second, Sean Connery some say the James Bond, and third Idris Elba—hopefully the new James Bond.

Ricky: Yeah, I would banish Sean Connery to Mars, I would fuck Elba, and I would marry (and fuck) the current James Bond.

Andreu: Okay. I agree with banishing Sean Connery. Though I love Sean Connery. I would fuck Daniel Craig, and marry Idris Elba.

Ricky: You grew up in the south, outside of Atlanta, right? I grew up in the south too. When did you know that you might be gay, and then what was the time between that and then actually you coming out to your parents, if you have come out at all?

Andreu: Right. I knew I liked boys in kindergarten, before I even knew what homosexuality was. I was still chasing girls around the playground because I thought they were cute. But I can remember exchanging hand jobs on the back of the bus with a buddy of mine. I didn’t know the term gay, I just knew what we were doing was fun. That was mid-eighties. My family speculated in the 90s and though a few close members knew in the aughts, I became open to all of them in 2010ish.

Ricky: All right, in 2010 you were roughly what age?

Andreu: Twenty-nine. Yeah, sexuality was something I chose to not talk about with my family. Although that changed when I was in a relationship.

Ricky: Right, okay. You know I’m kind of the same. Growing up it’s like, for me, I was just so afraid that I would go to Hell. I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t do this. I don’t want to go to Hell.” You know what I’m saying? I don’t want to be this way. I can’t do this. The preacher would always be like, “You have to fight temptation, don’t give in.” It was this complete head job for me. If I’m gay it’s my fault, it’s because I’m weak. Then as I got older and became more intelligent, it was like wait, wait, this isn’t right. I think our trajectory is very similar. Mid-eighties I absolutely knew. I probably would not have come out until like 2010 had it not been for my snoopy mother who went onto my computer one day … This was way back, I don’t know if you remember gay.com, but this is way back when gay.com was the site to go to. That was like 2002. Yeah, and that’s all she wrote.

Andreu: Do you still have a connection to religion, or have you moved on, or have you found another sense of spirituality that is more accepting?

Ricky: One of my best friends, I didn’t meet her until graduate school, she’s Christian and I’ve grown up Christian and, obviously, given everything I just said like I struggled with sort of what to do about that … She is a really good model Christian to me. She’s just a good person. Long story short, yeah, I still identify as Christian but not like what I could consider crazy Christian. Not fanatics. For example, I’m a Christian and I believe in the Christian values; actually “virtues” probably is a better word. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, be kind to people, charity, love, all that stuff without the judgment and the looking down on people. Some people say I cherry pick the parts that I like. I just say I actually just found out what it actually is supposed to be. Yeah, that’s my relationship. I’m still Christian. What about you though, because growing up in a small town outside of Atlanta I assume it was similar but maybe not.

Andreu: Yeah, very similar. I grew up very Christian, we were nondenominational. I experienced small congregations all the way up to a large congregation that was televised. By the time of my senior year, I was not going to church as often. I just felt like I couldn’t support a religion that wasn’t supportive of me. When I got to college church was completely out of the picture. I felt that my inner nature and true self were whole. I was a good person that focused on treating people well and that was all that mattered. I think southern church congregations are like reality shows. From my recollection there was always some kind of drama, gossip, or beef though masked with a polite, “Bless your heart.”

Ricky: Right. Oh my God, yes. Yes.

Andreu: Southern churches are good theatrics.

Ricky: Right, right. To be fair they’re not all bad, but certainly my experience has been not one that was very pleasant. Linking it back to who I am and my sexuality, oh my gosh, it lead to so much personal pain. I spent so much money on somebody’s couch just talking about this stuff. It was just unnecessary in my opinion. Anyway, thanks for sharing that, Andreu.

Andreu: No problem. I have a lighter question. Let’s go back to the early 1990s. Who were your biggest celebrity crushes?

Ricky: Let me think if I can remember who they were. Do you remember that show 90210? Every male character on 90210, so Dillon, and … Basically all of them. Who else? Uncle Jesse on Full House. Clearly I leaned older, I skewed older. Who else? Let me think. There was that dude who was on ER who was the … Then he played in that movie about the planes. I should know this, he’s like a big character. George Clooney. Yeah, and of course like that dude who married Jessica … Nick Lachey. Nick Lachey.

Andreu: Oh yes. From Ninety-eight degrees.

Ricky: For sure Nick Lachey, yeah. Yeah, definitely him. What about you, what were yours?

Andreu: All of my crushes were movie actors and still are. I had the biggest crush on Christian Slater, he was the sensitive rebel. Another one is Keanu Reeves. He just seems like a nice guy. He gets panned for being for a bad actor but I’m like you know what, out of most of his 1980s actor contemporaries, he still works. While many have falling off, Reeves is still pulling in some box offices. So he’s doing something right. The third is someone closer to my age, Elijah Wood.

Ricky: Right, right, right.

Okay, final question from me is just what made you audition for the show?

Andreu: I think the concept of telling a first person narrative story is frightening.

Ricky: Agreed.

Andreu: It was a fear I wanted to face and when the opportunity came around, I jumped at it. Personally, my profession is acting. With acting, you’re often hiding behind, or living life through another character. Out/Spoken is allowing me to face my fear of allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others and letting the audience choose how they’re going to view me. Essentially you can’t care as much, you just have to put yourself out there and let go.

Ricky: Nice. Yeah. I think for me it’s been a real fear and, honestly, I’ve had this sort of need to tell my particular story. Very likely it’s a selfish need, but regardless it’s a need to tell it. I’m very frightened for all the reasons that you just mentioned, because I find that the best stories that I’ve ever heard on Story District are the ones that just are so real. Where the storyteller is just so open and honest about the events that he or she are sharing. To do that one has the be very vulnerable. It’s one thing I think to be vulnerable at Town, which is an intimidating space that’s big and intense. It’s certainly another thing to be at the Nine Thirty Club. I’m dreading this but I’m excited at the same time.

Andreu: Yes.

My last question, because I think all the gay’s want to know, what are you wearing to the show?

Ricky: What am I wearing to the show? I’m still working out my outfit, but I’m probably going to wear a short sleeve button-up, a tie, some jeans that will probably be very tight. I haven’t worked out the shoes and the belt, but they’ll match. What about you?

Andreu: Yes. I think I’ve solidified my outfit. I’ve gone out and bought some coral jeans. I’ve never spent so much money on jeans before in my life, but I felt was worth it, like it’s a celebration.

Ricky: It is a celebration.

Andreu: These pair of expensive jeans I will only break out for this performance. I’m not wearing them beforehand, I don’t want anything to happen to them. I also purchased white button-up shirt from ZARA. I’m wearing them with some brown boots, and a brown belt.

Ricky: Oh, nice.

Andreu: A little edgy.

Ricky: Very edgy. I can’t wait to see. I can’t wait to see you on the fourth. Going to have to do a photo shoot with you.

Andreu: Bring it! I love a photo shoot. Although I’m going to have to be careful with that white shirt, I don’t want sweat, pit, or food stains on it before I go on. It’s the danger of white.

Ricky: It’s so the danger of white. It’s the danger of white when anyone is in the room with me, so it’s a probably a good idea that you’re not going to wear that shirt before you perform.

Andreu: I will be glistening with sweat for sure.

Ricky: Oh, yeah. Oh my God, yeah, we talked about this, we’re going to be so sweaty when we get up there. I hope we don’t go back to back, because if you go after me I think you might slip and fall on my sweat.

Andreu: I just might need one of those personal air conditioning units that I can put around my neck.

Ricky: Yes, yes, that would be great. Maybe we can go in half and buy one.

Andreu: Or one of those fans with the spritzers.

Ricky: Yeah, I’m still worried about that actually. I’ve got to figure out … maybe I’ll go get Botox or something so I don’t sweat.

Andreu: Get Botox?

Ricky: Yeah, yeah, like in your forehead so you don’t sweat.

Andreu: It’s stops your sweat, Botox does?

Ricky: Yeah, yeah, for sure. They close up your sweat glands or something, they fill it in with Botox.

Andreu: I didn’t know that.

Ricky: Yeah, yeah. Crazy.

Let’s move on to Kelly Madrone and Jeffrey Brady. Kelly is a storyteller who published her first short story at the age of seven. She’s currently a freelance writer, teacher, massage therapist and member of the National Storytelling Network. Jeffrey is an animator and Story District veteran.

Kelly Madrone: Okay, I’m recording. I promise not to give it to law enforcement officials or use it in court.

Jeffrey Brady: Okay, great. So… I don’t know you — tell me what are you doing at Story District?

Kelly: I’m new. I’ve wanted to try it out for awhile, because I’m a writer. My wife sent me info about Out/Spoken, saying “You should do this!” It worked out and I’m in the show. I’m a freelance writer and instructor at a massage therapy school.

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah, I heard the term “Massage Barbie” being thrown around in your story!

Kelly: (Laughing) Oh, yeah, it was! One of my friends came up with the term, as a derogatory term, like, “Who is this girl you’re hanging out with, what’s her deal?” I told her about it and she just rolled her eyes and laughed.

Jeffrey: Is there one thing that you love most about storytelling?

Kelly: The engagement. When you’re storytelling, you and the audience are all in it together. It’s like I’m the bus driver. We’re all in it together. I’m responsible for getting us there. It’s a shared journey.

Jeffrey: That’s an unfair question, because there’s just so much to love about it. How do you explain it to people who don’t have a concept of performance storytelling?

Kelly: I’ve been working on my elevator pitch, since people don’t always know about it: I’ll ask, “You know about [famous New York storytelling organization] The Moth?” “…No,” they’ll respond. “It’s first-person stories that you really perform on stage.” But they’ll sometimes look at you and wonder, “Why would you want to do that? Isn’t that terrifying?” Like my mom is terrified that I’ll say something about our family that will reflect badly on her as a mother. For her it’s like tip-toeing across a frozen pond.

Jeffrey: I completely get that. Do you have questions for me?

Kelly: Have you ever come to Colorado [where I’m calling from] to buy pot?

Jeffrey: My mom invited me to join her on a train ride from Colorado to California on a 1949-er, Gold Rush era historic, railway. It was right after cannabis was legalized. “And if it’s not against the law,” she asked, “should we try smoking some of that marriage-Juana on the train? We’ll be rolling high down the tracks!” Just picture this little southern belle librarian with a bouffant hair-do. She has a vegetable garden. She cans pickles and jellies. That’s how wholesome she is on the wholesome-o-meter!

Kelly: How long have you been doing this and what’s your favorite story?

Jeffrey: I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, back from when Story District was just a small once-a-month show in a jazz club for about 75 people. I remember a semi-nude woman, dressed up as the statue of liberty with a flashlight torch, on stage, telling a story. We had some quirky, unique perspectives with COSTUMING back then. There was a sign-up list at the door and you’d just hop up and go on stage without any preparation! My favorite story is when I was a bad guy, a real jerk, in my story about my webcam experiment back in 1999.

Kelly: Storytelling awesome, right? It’s a really important outlet for a place like DC, in our arts scene.

Jeffrey: Yes, absolutely! Well, I’m excited to hear your story and make another of my hand-made stop-motion animations for Out/Spoken. I hope you like the preview I made for it! I call my pre-show animations a “visual overture” because they give little hints about what the stories that people will see. While each storyteller steps up to the mike, the audience will see a 10-second clip with each storyteller’s name and a little clue about their story.

Story District and Capital Pride present Out/Spoken: Queer, Questioning, Bold and Proud will be at 9:30 Club Saturday, June 4.

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