Happening in Kansas City
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From 1997 through 2007, Kansas City’s gay community boasted a cultural institution that many larger cities would have coveted. Inspired in part by the antics of Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York and propelled by a late-20th-century vogue for parodying the melodramatic pretense of earlier decades, the Late Night Theatre company delighted the city with a steady supply of theatrical subversion.
Valley of the Dolls, 9 to 5, The Birds and other classics of low — and high — culture were all placed under Late Night’s parodic microscope, with female roles almost always played by men in drag. And many times, the company presented original works designed to send up entire genres of popular entertainment.
Writer, director and actor David Wayne Reed’s Mother Trucker, a take on the popular trucker movies of the 1970s and ’80s, was one of the most successful of these, and that show will get the sequel treatment later this month.
Though it is not a Late Night Theatre production per se, Mother Trucker 2: Ride On, continues the lives of the characters Reed created in his 2004 Late Night original. Among these are pink Peterbilt-driving trucker Ruby Lee Jenkins and her crippled son Teddy Bear; Ruby’s brother Slim (played by Reed), an aspiring country-western singer; and an assortment of other “red state characters,” as Reed described them during a recent interview attended by several of his Mother Trucker 2 castmates.
Reed, who grew up on a farm in Louisburg, Kan., and holds a theater degree from Kansas State University, became involved with Late Night Theatre in 1997 with its inaugural production, an all-male adaptation of Hitchcock’s The Birds that played at Westport CoffeeHouse. Reed, along with Mother Trucker 2 castmates Gary Campbell (who plays Teddy Bear) and Darryl W. Jones (who plays Dick E. Walker, “a cop with a grudge”) remember their Late Night Theatre days, and nights, affectionately.
“It was [local actor and producer> Ron Megee’s vision,” Reed says of the Late Night aesthetic. “However, Ron was always very good about not taking that all on himself — it wasn’t all about wearing that title. Ron always wanted to create a theatre that was just about his friends having fun. … It always had that family spirit and it always had that kind of rock-and-roll band spirit about it too, because we were just like this kind of transient band of trannies.”
From Westport, the company moved to its first permanent home, the Old Chelsea, a former porn palace in Kansas City’s River Market district. Here is where the real work of Late Night began.
“They gave us a year and a half in there rent-free,” Reed says of the company’s tenure at the Old Chelsea. “Now, we had to go in there and clean, clean a porn palace. … We literally hand-scrubbed all of the seats. … I often joke with Gary that dressing up as a woman made me a man. You know, it was such a brotherhood. … Seeing Ron Megee in heels and a sequin dress and a power tool is a sight to behold.”
After several successful seasons at the Old Chelsea, there was a move to the West Bottoms, which is fondly remembered as a venue sans bathrooms (the cast took to relieving themselves in buckets of kitty litter). Late Night Theatre finally found a permanent home on Grand Avenue, in a space now occupied by Czar Bar. Here is where the company was finally able to establish a sense of permanence.
At the Grand Avenue space, “We’re like, ‘We’re gonna get legitimate,’” Reed says of what would be the company’s last home. “We became a nonprofit, we established a board. … We really went through all the business paces at that time, and we were really successful. I mean that [the Grand Avenue space"> really became our home.”
The Grand Avenue space was where Reed took on more creative roles. “For 2004 and 2005, that’s when I kind of assumed … a lot more writing responsibilities, which was wonderful. Ron is so great about encouraging new talent, letting them go.
“I wrote and directed four shows for Late Night,” Reed says. These included the 9 to 5 parody, a take on Prince’s Purple Rain, and of course the original Mother Trucker.
In early 2007, skyrocketing rent and mounting debt forced Late Night to close.
Ron Megee spoke about the famed Late Night aesthetic in the April 2010 cover story in Camp: “We always went to the pop culture of the moment, or things to maybe slap people a little bit and [make them"> wake up, or look at their life in a different light. We had men playing women, women playing men. We looked at TV shows, movies, we looked at moments that could be politically incorrect, to hold up a mirror up to society.”
Certainly, Mother Trucker falls in well with this Late Night mission statement, and yet, in some respects, it supersedes it. “This show was not Valley of the Dolls
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
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“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.