the next service is in Los Angeles on June 11

About Chris Wells

Chris Wells

CHRIS WELLS is an Obie award-winning writer, actor, singer, cabaret performer, lyricist, teacher and arts activist who has made original theatre, music and performance for many years.

Food Offering | Amanda Freitag

Amanda Freitag

Yippee!! Amanda’s coming back! This Sunday, the theme is SKIN–March 26th at 11:30am at Dixon Place. And, I asked our dear pal Amanda Freitag if she would do the honors. YES, she said. And, so, Amanda is making something special for us. Some kind of skin-like thing–that is going to be delicious, I’m sure. It’s a surprise. And it’s not a pork skin. I have a feeling there’s going to be chocolate involved. COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Here’s Amanda’s bio:

manda Freitag is the co-star of Food Network’s hit series, Chopped, and the co-host of Food Network’s American Diner Revival, alongside Ty Pennington. Amanda has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and can also be found contributing to Unique Eats on Cooking Channel. In the fall of 2009, she competed for the title of America’s Next Iron Chef.
Growing up in New Jersey, Amanda’s passion for food was fostered by everyone from her grandparents to her high school home economics teacher. They encouraged her to pursue a cooking career and to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After graduation from culinary school, Amanda’s first position in a New York City kitchen was as rotissier and garde manger at Vong under the guidance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It was there that she was introduced to marrying French technique with Southeast Asian ingredients and flavors.

In 1994, Amanda began working with chef Diane Forley at Verbena, where she rose quickly through the ranks to become the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. Forley taught Amanda the importance of using local, organic ingredients and introduced her to the Union Square Greenmarket. During her time at Verbena, Amanda realized how much she had yet to learn about the culinary world, and in 1999 she traveled extensively through France and Italy to explore the bountiful markets and progressive restaurant scenes.

While in Paris, she spent two weeks working under chef Alain Passard at his venerable Arpege restaurant. While her time there was short, the lessons she learned were life changing. At Arpege, Passard insisted on the freshest ingredients and therefore, there was nothing left in the walk-in refrigerators at the end of service besides butter. This eye-opening experience helped Amanda to further develop her deep appreciation of superlative ingredients and the flavors of the Mediterranean region.

Upon returning to New York, Amanda worked at some of the city’s most popular restaurants including Cesca, where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times. Following Cesca, Amanda accepted the position of executive chef at Gusto in the West Village, where her food was met with critical acclaim.

In January 2008, Amanda took over as the executive chef at The Harrison in TriBeCa. Over the three years that she helmed the kitchen, The Harrison received numerous accolades from local and national media, including a two- star review from The New York Times. Her first cookbook, The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chefs Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking, was released in September 2015. When she is not in the kitchen, Amanda enjoys traveling the world and collecting restaurant menus to add to her ever-growing collection.


Contributing Artist | Bo Gehring

Bo Gehring

When the eblast went out about this Sunday’s service–Sunday, March 26th at 11:30 at Dixon Place–I immediately got an email back from a friend saying he knew a guy who had made these amazing videos of people and their tattoos. The theme is SKIN, see? We already had our featured visual artist for the event–the wonderful Gwen Shockey–but, I was so excited and feeling greedy so I reached out to the guy–Bo Gehring is his name. Bo has got these videos running–they’re video portraits– in a show in NYC right now and they’re stunning. He agreed to let us screen one of them so we’re going to show it as the house is opening. I’m thrilled at the creative bounty of our ever expanding community. And, delighted that Bo has agreed to let us screen his work. Join us this Sunday for SKIN.

Here’s Bo’s bio:

Bo Gehring’s background includes computer animation, 3D audio, and sculpture. For several years he has transformed tiny clips of music by Thelonious Monk and others into complex 3D sculptures in polished stainless steel, machined foam, and other materials. The largest of these to date is the 160′ Monk Wall commissioned by the Katonah Museum of Art. About a year ago. Gehring began creating abstract video animations and now has adapted those techniques to make live portraits set to music by “flying” a video camera with a computer-controlled milling machine.


The Reading | Charlotte Booker

Charlotte Booker

This Sunday, March 26th at 11:30am we will gather at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side. The theme is SKIN. And, one of my all time favorite people EVER is going to be part of the service. The one and only Charlotte Booker! She brings joy, wit and a wicked laugh to the proceedings and it’s always more fun when she’s around. Join us for Charlotte and SKIN.

Here’s her bio:

Charlotte Booker is an actress/writer/teacher based in New York City, and has been a Secret City fan for years. She appeared on Broadway in both revivals of Garson Kanin’s BORN YESTERDAY, in 1989 with Madeline Kahn and Ed Asner, and in 2011 with Nina Arianda and Robert Sean Leonard. Other New York credits include TEN CHIMNEYS, DEATHBED, FIVE GENOCIDES, FUGUE, PSYCHO BEACH PARTY, and the title role in BITCH!, which she also wrote. Over the last thirty+ years, her numerous regional roles have ranged from Ophelia in HAMLET to Ann Landers in the solo show LADY WITH ALL THE ANSWERS, at theatres all over the place. She played Honey on the short-lived TV series HI HONEY, I’M HOME, and has made guest appearances on BOARDWALK EMPIRE, LAW AND ORDER CI, THIRD WATCH, NEWSRADIO, MURPHY BROWN, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, and many others. Charlotte co-created and performed in the long-running comedy show CAUSE CELEB! in New York, exploiting her lifelong obsession with autobiographies and reading out loud. She enjoys volunteering for the Andrew Heiskell branch of the New York Public Library audio books studio as a narrator, and has also adapted books for audio. She has taught and coached actors of all ages, in New York and Los Angeles. Charlotte recently appeared in the short film BRAZZAVILLE TEENAGER, directed by and starring Michael Cera, and is in the upcoming Coen Brothers film, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS.


Cultural Calendar | Susan Hwang

Susan Hwang

This Sunday, march 26th at 11:30am, we will gather at Dixon Place for SKIN. And one of my favorite people is going to be a part of the fun. Susan Hwang is a great performer and NYC figure–she makes performances, plays accordion, is the creator and host of The Bushwick Book Club and all around good spirit of edgy joy and creativity. I’m delighted to have her with us this Sunday.

Here’s Susan’s bio:

Susan Hwang tells stories and makes things that are usually collapsible, like songs and times. Her instruments take up space (accordion, Janggu—traditional Korean drum, piano, drums) but other physical objects she can’t play intimidate her, so she likes when her creations, like her TV variety talk show—The La La La Show— is broadcast into thin air (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) or elsewhere online ( She founded, curates and hosts The Bushwick Book Club – a monthly performance series presenting new work by local musicians, artists and chefs inspired by literature ( Her duo with songwriter/producer Charlie Nieland is called Lusterlit, and they refuse to play anything but songs about books. They have several recordings and music videos at She’s toured internationally with East Village theater company, Yara Arts, and she just got done playing the goddess Ishtar in Phoebe Kreutz’s epic joke-folk musical, “Go! Go! Gilgamesh!” which won awards in this year’s FRIGID NY Festival. Susan plays accordions because they are pretty and lighter than pianos (barely).

LINKS: (Susan’s blues band!)
Instagram: @soozee3
Twitter: @soozeehwang


Featured Performer | Raquel Cion

Raquel Cion

This Sunday’s theme is SKIN–March 26th at 11:30am at Dixon Place–and, we are going to have a special laying on of hands with one of our dearest community members. Raquel Cion is a beloved downtown NY performer and has been a part of The Secret City for many years. Last year she was diagnosed with breast cancer and, next week, she’s going to have surgery. On Sunday, we’re going to bring our community spirit to the fore as we join forces to support Raquel’s physical/spiritual journey through the next week and beyond. Join us as we wish her well and send her great healing energies.

Here’s Raquel’s bio:

Hailed by The New York Times as “half witch and half cabaret performer” Raquel Cion’s recent projects include her 2015 Broadway World “Best Alt Cabaret Show” nominated Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie (2016 Afterglow Festival, Slipper Room, Judson Arts Wednesdays Open Swim, The Treehouse Theater); Alas, The Nymphs (BAM Next Wave); Gilding the Lonely (Joe’s Pub, Dixon Place); Cou-Cou Bijoux Pour Vous (Galapagos Art Space, Dixon Place); Rationality (A Virtual Performance) and Memoir (LMCC Swing Space); directorial credits include SONS (Ars Nova’s Showgasm); Strays (2016 New York Innovative Theatre Award Outstanding Original Short Script, The Brick, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest and Showgasm); Darkling (IRT Theater, CATCH SERIES); HIP (IRT Theater); On a Lonely Road…Travelin’ with Joni (Pangea, The Duplex).​

Image: Karl Giant


Featured Artist | Gwen Shockey

Gwen Shockey

This Sunday, we gather at Dixon Place–11:30am on Sunday, March 26th. Our theme is SKIN. For our featured visual artist, we reached out to Gwen Shockey, a wonderful practitioner working in a variety of media. Gwen is currently getting her MFA at Pratt and has worked with the figure, in sculpture, video and more. For SKIN, she’s going to screen a short video and share a few pieces on the wall. I’m delighted to have her with us.

Here’s Gwen’s bio:

Gwen Shockey received her BA from Connecticut College in 2010 and is currently working towards her MFA degree at Pratt Institute. Her work has been exhibited nationally and in New York City venues such as A.I.R. Gallery, Equity Gallery, and The Leslie Lohman Museum, which recently acquired three of her pieces into their permanent collection. Gwen was interviewed for the Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” column in 2013 about her artwork. She has been a member of a cooperative gallery called Amos Eno in Bushwick since 2013 where she serves as the secretary of the Board and as the gallery’s Nonprofit Events Coordinator.


Featured Performer | Barbara Fasano

Barbara Fasano

Our service this Sunday at Dixon Place–11:30 am on March 26th–has as its theme SKIN. And, when thinking of musical numbers, it seemed necessary to have I’ve Got You Under Your Skin by the great Cole Porter, in the mix. I reached out to a wonderful cabaret performer, Barbara Fasano, who has agreed to come sing it for us. Barbara’s a chanteuse with style and chops and I’m thrilled she’s going to be with us.

Here’s her bio:
Barbara Fasano, whose fourth CD, “BUSY BEING FREE” (2016 MAC Award ~ Major Recording of the Year) was released to critical acclaim (“My favorite new vocal album” — Will Friedwald, WSJ) has been hailed as one of the nation’s most stunning and soulful singers. This June Fasano will appear at the Saratoga Jazz Festival with her trio from the album. Frank Scheck of The New York Post raves, “Fasano is a gorgeous, soulful singer who has an actor’s intensity in whatever she sings.” Whether singing a song by Joni Mitchell or Harold Arlen or Cole Porter, Fasano takes her audience on a spellbinding, emotional musical journey. Her performances and recordings have won her three New York Bistro awards, six MAC awards and a New York Nightlife award. Fasano is a regular performer at New York’s most prestigious clubs. Together with her frequent musical partner, Eric Comstock, she was among the last singers to headline at the Algonquin’s legendary Oak Room supper club, with their show “HELLUVA TOWN: A New York Soundtrack”, which enjoyed an acclaimed and sold-out run and continues to tour the country. The New York Times’ Stephen Holden called it “exhilarating”, singling out Fasano as a “lyrically sensitive interpreter” and comparing her to one of her idols, Lena Horne. “Mr. Comstock and Ms. Fasano are turning the neighborhood into a hotbed of pleasure.” Their show, “Shoulder Season” won unanimous raves, & together they were awarded the 2016 MAC Award for Major Duo Artists, as well as receiving a Broadway World nomination for Duo Show of the Year. Their most recent concert is “DOWNTON ABBEY ROAD: The Best of Britain”, a celebration of “American” standards that were penned across the pond, which opened at Birdland Jazz Club in New York, completed a run at the Kravis Center in Palm Beach, and in June will headline the Provincetown Cabaret Festival.


Featured Performer | Elizabeth Guilliams

Elizabeth Guilliams

This Sunday our theme is TWISTS and TURNS and we have a great song for the featured musical presentation. And, it’s going to be sung by Elizabeth Guilliams, a wonderful jazz singer/composer who makes a lot of different kinds of art and performance. And, she’s also just a great, big, bright ray of light. I’m thrilled to have her with us at The Secret City. Join us this Sunday, March 12th at 12noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s her bio:

Elizabeth Guilliams is a singer/composer both for solo projects and with a musical experience called Flowfield. She has worked internationally as a performer, a director, and producer. She loves collaborating and is honored to return to sing at Bootleg and play with The Secret City community.


Featured Artist | Donna “Mom” Reed

Donna Reed

This Sunday, our gathering in LA will celebrate the theme of TWISTS and TURNS–and we have a wonderful artist taking part whose life and career exhibit the surprising turn a life can take. Mom Reed was a stay at home mom of four when she got the theater bug and started making costumes. Over the next 20 years, she costumed musical, straight plays and more, making hundreds of costumes for hundreds of performers. This Sunday, we’ll share some of her work and she’ll tell a bit of her story of becoming an artist. I’m thrilled to have her with us! Join us this Sunday, March 12th at Bootleg Theater at 12 noon.

Here’s Mom’s bio:

Donna Reed has been a costumer for 40 years. It was a series of twists and turns at age 40, that began a second career and passion for this stay-at-home mother of four in 1976. Donna lived in Lancaster from 1956 until 2005, where she volunteered and worked at Antelope Valley College Theater 300 for about 20 years. After her husband Dale passed away in 2005, Donna moved to San Diego with daughter Charmaine and continued her costume crafting for different production companies in Poway. About 5 years ago, she moved to Novato, California near daughters Cristy & Cheriann, where she continues to assemble and oversee costumes for the family’s video productions that can be seen on YouTube at rcpollak. Donna has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, but Donna considers all her actors her KIDS and is so pleased to be here today for a reunion of some of the Theater 300 ‘family members’. Thank you Chris Wells & The Secret City for this opportunity.


Featured Performer | Addi Somekh

Addi Somekh

Our event this Sunday LA — 12noon at Bootleg Theater — has the theme of TWISTS and TURNS. And, so, what’s better than to have someone who twists balloons and then turns them into something else entirely!? Addi Somekh is a balloon artist and jazz musician and I’m so delighted he’s going to come perform for us.

Here’s his bio:

Addi Somekh is a balloon artist specializing in improvised, elaborate balloon hats and large abstract sculptures. He also plays the balloon bass, an all latex instrument with a three and a half octave range, in his LA-based band called Unpopable.

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