the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

Monthly Archives: June, 2014

Beth Ruscio | Featured Poet


We recently had a wonderful gathering in LA – the theme was adventure and what a raucous, beautiful time it was. The poet we featured was our dear pal Beth Ruscio. Beth is the daughter of actors, the late Al Ruscio and Kate Williamson, part of a family of artists, writers and vaudevillians, she has tried her hand at it all and as a professional actress, has appeared on stage, screen, television and heard on radio. She is the co-playwright (with husband Leon Martell) of 1961 ELDORADO.   In this century, she’s writing poems.  She was a finalist for last year’s Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.  One of her poems won $500 second prize for Beyond Baroque’s Best Poem.  And her manuscript, RAUCOUS SPELL OF LIGHT has semi-final-ed for the Crab Orchard First Book of Poetry twice, and once for The Perugia Press Prize. She has read for The Secret City, The Third Area, The Aloud Series, Beyond Baroque, Moonday, The Rapp Saloon, Library Girl.   She’s most recently published in Cultural Weekly, Spillway, Malpais Review, In Posse, and online, check out the Poetry Goes To The Movies issue of speechlessthemagazine for her essay and tribute to her Dad, On Acting and The Art of Boxing.

See links below for these, and some other recent pieces Beth’s published.


Danza Azteca Xochipilli | Featured Dancers


We had the rare opportunity to experience Aztec Dance at our recent service in LA. Here’s a blurb about them: Danza Azteca Xochipilli preserves the proud traditions of the Aztec people.  Founded in 1987 by Adolfo Arteaga, a native of Mexico, who is currently the company Co-Director.  Trained in the Danza Xochipilli tradition by his grandparents, Arteaga felt a responsibility to keep the tradition alive and to pass his knowledge on to the next generation; a cycle that reaches back thousands of years in Mexico. Arteaga also feels a strong desire to share his passion for Aztec dance with the rest of the world, thus he created a dance company. Soon after the creation of Danza Azteca Xochipilli, Arteaga’s wife Eva joined the company as Co-Director. The Arteaga’s believe that the art of dance is a lifelong learning process and for that reason, they continue to study the ways of the Aztec people.

Today, Danza Azteca Xochipilli embraces the ancient Aztec philosophy; as the company members see dance as a way to better themselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

Danza Azteca Xochipilli includes twenty members. However, Adolfo Arteaga has the privilege to work with his family his wife Eva Arteaga, Tonanzin 24, Ixtac HuitziloXochitl 21, and ItztliXochiltl 16 years old, also participate with Danza Azteca Xochipilli. We are also proud to announce our boy, born on March 21, 2005, Akoatzin Tohtli 9 years old another dancer.


My Androgynous Female Yearning Soul


May 26th, 2014, Memorial Day.

On a quadrophonic stereo from Sears, I’d drop the needle on Side One of my favorite new album:  EURYTHMICS, “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.”  I’d cleaned the needle, but there was always a little pop before…drum machine, bass.  Bass, and a drop in my diaphragm.  A voice, deep, then childish, grunting.  Uhnn.  Massive guitar riff, right down your spine.  Uhnn.  Uhnn.

“Love love love is a dangerous drug /You have to receive it and you still can’t get enough of the stuff.”  Didn’t I know it?  I lived in a state of That yearning.

Dave Stewart’s guitar tickled hot nerves, and Annie Lennox said it all, with a mock.  She knew me.  Uhnn.  “And I want you so, it’s an obsession.”   Poor College Roommate who shared the paper-thin wall with me, as I exerted my newfound Hungry Bisexual self.  “The power of imagination goes right to my head.  I’ve got an angel.”  I’d trap lovers for days, until their escape, then, I’d yearn for more.  Uhnn.  It could be pretty depressing, but EURYTHMICS let me dance to it!  Groove in it.  Play with the Pain of Desire Unquenchable.  “Jealous by nature, false and unkind.”  Yep.  Bum bum bum

“Wrap it up, I’ll take it.”  In Denton, Texas, there were segregated same-sex bars.  But in Austin, we all danced together, boys and girls, gay, straight, bi.  We did everything together, and we danced and danced.  EURYTHMICS’ next album, “Touch,” played as our soundtrack through the mid-80s.  When Annie took off the blond wig, she was MY Victor/Victoria.  She took off the old Female, revealing, a Being, not male or female, and fully sexual.

“Wrap it up, I’ll take it.”  But then, AIDS came around.  Dear Ones died.  Music changed.  The S&L Crisis took our tips, in the restaurants we all worked in.  People danced less and drank more.

I lost Eurythmics in L.A.  They were passé.  Bars, again, were segregated.  Boys bars.  Girls bars.  “Oh, how can you be so cold?”  It was a rough town for me in 1987. “I could give you a mirror to show you disappointments.”   I danced at Rage, but with more rage in me, too. “I could give you a history.”

I finally learned to stop eating people.  I had brave ones teach me Love.  I found my own.  But at 21, it was tough.  Music showed me solidarity.  I had the great Bowie.  I had Prince.  And I had Annie Lennox to sing right into my Androgynous Female yearning soul.   “This is the story.  It’s a little thing.



JAMIE TOLBERT FRANKLIN – wrote and starred in the Sundance hit short HAVE YOU SEEN PATSY WAYNE?  Part of a troop of actors who performed in Justin Tanner’s string of hit plays at the Cast Theater in Hollywood, Jamie originated roles in ZOMBIE ATTACK! and PARTYMIX. She stars in Todd Hughes’ THE NEW WOMEN with Mary Woronov, and in his stand-out short of Gertrude and Alice, HUBBY/WIFEY. For HOT CHICKS, a feature presentation bringing the comic art of Jack T. Chick to life, she is the director of LA PRINCESITA, and is lead actress, starring in BEWITCHED?, DOOM TOWN, WOUNDED CHILDREN, PARTY GIRL and CLEO.  She and Todd Hughes co-wrote and produced the webanovela GIRL COUSINS.  She starred in P. David Ebersole’s music video for Gretchen Phillips’ SWIMMING, with Phranc and Dominique Dibbell.


SECRET ADMIRERS | Benefit for The Secret City


SECRET ADMIRERS, our annual benefit for The Secret City, was originally scheduled in February but had to be cancelled due to winter storms (damn you, Polar Vortex!) – now, we are happy to announce that the benefit will take place Monday, June 30th at Dixon Place.

Join us for this important night celebrating the transcendent work and amazing community of The Secret City. With cocktails, live music, special guest performances, live auction, Artistic Director and Host Chris Wells and The Secret City Singers.

We have three levels of tickets:


Food provided by the fabulous Vanessa’s Dumplings on the Lower East Side
With an incredible array of desserts by Pound for Pound Bakery (The Secret Baker)
All levels attend the service, live auction and after party with dancing. And, desserts!
Tickets available through Paypal – click the link and select the level you wish to purchase and how many.

Come show your LOVE for The Secret City and let’s welcome the summer together.

See you on the 30th. Oh, and feel free to dress up.


Andru Bemis | Featured Musician


WOW! What a treat we have in store for all you Angelenos! For our next LA service on June 22nd, the theme will be ADVENTURE – and, we’ve got a wonderful troubadour coming to town to play for us. His name is Andru Bemis and he’s a really special performer and artist. Since 2001, Andru Bemis has wandered the ends, edges, and in-betweens of North America more times than he can count. A musician misplaced in time, Bemis travels almost exclusively by public transportation, foot, and thumb. Wearing his Sunday best, he carries his battered instruments – guitar, fiddle, banjo, and occasional banjolele – on his back. Call him a “folk” musician if you wish; wherever he goes, Bemis plays music for folks – simple as that. His unmistakable voice, lightning-fast banjo and expressive finger-picked guitar styles, quirky humor, engaging stage presence, and exquisitely crafted tunes of travel, love, and longing have earned Bemis a dedicated following throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, and beyond.


From our Grand Poopah | THE SUMMER OF LOVE, and TRAVEL! Oh, and ADVENTURE.


It’s a WHIRLWIND of a month right now – I’m at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs working on a new performance called RC Radio Hour – it’s a collaboration with the wonderful pianist/composer, Rachel Grimes. We met through the SITI Company back in 2006 and she approached me about working together this spring. So, I’ll be telling some stories and she’ll be playing some music on the beautiful piano here at Filene Hall. It’s the first of what we hope will become a regular thing – it’s a great opportunity for me to share the stories I’ve been writing since I started The Secret City. So, very exciting. The performance is Weds night. Then, Thursday, Bobby and I drive to Atlanta for Lucy Smith’s wedding! Lucy introduced Bobby and me back in 2006 – just a few months after I met Rachel Grimes, now that I think of it…anyway, we’ll be down in Atlanta celebrating Lucy’s wedding. Monday, I’ll be back in New York City to celebrate the wonderful TODD LONDON, who is leaving New Dramatist’s after many years of wonderful stewardship and service to playwrights and new work. He and his wife Karen Hartman are moving to Seattle. I’m going to emcee the evening’s celebration of Todd. Thursday the 19th we fly to LA for our next service, which is the final LA service of the season – we’ll be there for ADVENTURE on June 22nd at the fabulous Bootleg Theater – lots of amazing guests lining up. June 30th is our benefit back in NYC – Secret Admirers – we had to reschedule it in February due to the storms – so, we’ll be getting our benefit on at the end of the month. Really hope folks will come out and play/dance/celebrate the Secret City with us. And then, can you believe it?? We’re coming to WOODSTOCK! We’re bringing The Secret City to the fabulous town of art and love nestled in the foothills of the Catskills – that’s Sunday, July 27th at the historic Byrdcliffe Theater. So, it’s a wild, full time of ADVENTURE and art and love. Excited to share it all with you – and hope to see some of you along the way. Somewhere in the mix, we’ll be planning the next season and adding dates and artists to the calendar – a really fun part of the year for me. Oh, two more things – Bobby and I are going to Puerto Rico after the Woodstock event – where I’m marrying two lovely people on the beach. We’ll come back to Woodstock just in time for my 50th birthday on August 15th. WOW! 50’s the new 30? Something like that. Very happy to be alive! Love. xo


Tom Bliss | Food Offering


Oh, LA, this is going to be a treat. For this month’s service on ADVENTURE, my dear pal, Tom Bliss is co-author of “Mirror of Intimacy: Daily Reflections on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence” to be available this summer 2014. As a cheap and amateur gourmand, he’s catered film receptions for the likes of Holly Woodlawn to Ingmar Bergman. His over-decorated home is featured in the interior design books “PAD: The Guide to Ultra-Living” and “Kitsch Deluxe”. While penning his college senior project–a symbolic play about a playwright being forced to show up in his own symbolic play–he was privileged to experience Samadhi, the supreme state of enlightenment through meditation. Sign up for his daily email meditations on healthy sexuality and relationships from “Mirror of Intimacy” at


Rae Gouirand | Featured Artist


Another new artist The Secret City has brought into my sphere recently is Rae Gouirand, who’s going to read a poem for us at the LA service on ADVENTURE. Rae’s first collection of poetry, Open Winter, was selected by Elaine Equi for the 2011 Bellday Prize, won a 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award and the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award, and was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, the Audre Lorde Award, and the California Book Award for poetry. Her new work has appeared most recently in American Poetry Review, VOLT, The Brooklyner, The Rumpus, New South, Hobart, ZYZZYVA, The California Journal of Poetics, Barrow Street, The Hat, and in a Distinguished Poet feature for The Inflectionist Review. An upcoming (Fall 2014) guest editor for OCHO: A Journal of Queer Arts, Gouirand has founded numerous community workshops in poetry and prose online and throughout California’s Central Valley and served as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at UC-Davis. She is currently at work on a second collection of poems and a collection of linked essays. (


Stephanie K. Clark | Featured Visual Artist


Los Angeles! We’re heading your way with a whole lot of really great artists. For the theme of ADVENTURE, our visual artist this month is Stephanie K. Clark – born in Portland, Oregon and grew up in Urbana, Missouri. Stephanie’s passion for creating art really blossomed while attending Dixie State College and the University of Utah where she studied painting and drawing. She then discovered her love for working with embroidery and thread drawings (drawing with her sewing machine) leading her from hobby to fine art. She considers herself a painter and she paints with thread, engaging both traditional and innovative techniques in employing formal qualities with density, texture and pattern. Since then, most of Stephanie’s work consists of fiber art, mixing paint and thread/embroidery. Stephanie is currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, sculptor Robin Clark. Stephanie has shown in many galleries throughout Utah and just finished an art residency at the Kimball Art Center in Park City,  Utah.