There was a lot that could’ve distracted Mike Sager from his 51st birthday. A writer-at-large for Esquire magazine, Sager was on assignment in Las Vegas with Kobe Bryant, the L.A. Lakers guard, when August 17 rolled by; his latest collection of narrative nonfiction pieces (Revenge of the Donut Boys, in which Sager embeds himself with Roseanne Barr long enough to chat with her multiple personalities and spends Christmas Eve with Fredericks of Hollywood model Brooke Burke while she contemplates gifts under her tree) was released days before.
So Curtain Calls was surprised to hear from Sager at all, much less after receiving word that he’d been stopped by security for travelling with an expired license ("Coming home from Vegas yesterday, the sec guard jacks me up: ‘Your ID has expired.’")
Esquire’s lead man: Mike Sager talks Roseanne, local ties and tactics for his latest collection of stories.
Here’s the local payoff (or what Sager might call parts of his "pointillist profile"): The Washington Post/Rolling Stone/GQ alumnus has quite a few ties to our neck of the woods. Born at the UVA Hospital (delivered by his med student father’s obstetrics professor), Sager lived in Charlottesville for a few years before his family moved to Baltimore and, though accepted by UVA, opted to attend Emory to play soccer. Sager’s wife, Rebekah, made her own local mark; she spent the summer of 1992 performing at the Heritage Repertory Theatre (darker than a dungeon this season).
Sager calls 15 minutes early, and talks with Curt for 45 minutes or so about being turned away from Kobe’s home and personally turning down an invitation to Gary Condon‘s sanctuary while on assignment in connection to Sager’s anthropological approach to journalism.
"You want to observe your subjects in sanctu," Sager says. "It’s like dating: You want to get in their bedroom."
Ready for some promiscuity, folks? Let’s get naked and start bed-hoppin’!
Good cop, bad cop
"If you want to see Driving Miss Daisy, there’s a good chance it’s playing somewhere," says Kevin Postupack, founder and director (or self-described "benevolent dictator") of the Kronos gallery in Staunton. "If you want to see, say, early Sam Shepard, it’s hard to find a place. So I thought, ‘We’ll be the center for that.’"
Sure, early Sam Shepard. And art. And maybe poetry nights, opera, heavy metal, two dudes playing Keanu Reeves performing Shakespeare and three performers in pink, neon-fetus duds for a play called "Deliver Us Not, or Birth, Where is thy Sting?" which incorporates garden hose umbilical cords and an elevator shaft birth canal (and was a "packed house" at 30 or so audience members each night).
Staunton’s madhouse of multimedia, Kronos makes room for opera, poetry, paints and punk rockers. But who are the beasts behind this behemoth?
And on Friday, August 24, a reading from the novella Marsupial Man, by an author identified as only "PSM" but who is remarkably straightforward regarding his identity ("We’ll skip ahead: My name is Paul McCormick"), his book (he tells Curt it will "hit you over the head—parricide, drugs, alcohol, suicide…") and his sales record ("Maybe 45 copies over the last few months").
McCormick’s inspiration stems from work in psychiatric hospitals and seven years working at an unspecified police department. So which department is the lucky one?
"That’s where my sheriff would draw the line," McCormick says before CC can even finish the question, explaining that some people might fail to understand that "fiction is fiction."
Down in front
Proving yet again that you can’t dim the lights with a handful of bright filmmakers in the room, Light House Studio will host its sixth annual Youth Film Festival at Live Arts on September 7. The evening’s films include a music video by The Dreamers, a teenage quartet of girls from the I Have a Dream Foundation that recorded the song "Somebody" at the Music Resource Center (with a hand from locals Damani Harrison of the Beetnix and Heather Maxwell) and 16-year-old fashion designer-hopeful Quintin Franklyn‘s film, "Sew What?" winner of the Listen Up! national documentary prize.
Video clips from movies that will appear at Light House’s Youth Film Festival.
Bag o’ SWAG
Curt was thrilled to receive the press release from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA announcing the Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s $5,000 grant to encourage the spaying and neutering of stray animals (read: C-VILLE’s culture section is pro cat-stration), in which "Foundation Bear" Matt Oldani stresses that "animal welfare is an important concern to the guests of Build-A-Bear Workshop." In CC’s opinion, the release raises a few provocative questions, namely:
1. Isn’t it funny that a toy company that encourages the creation of genderless animals supports spaying Sparky?
2. There’s a person that gets paid to be a professional "Foundation Bear"?