Comic and now burlesque performer, 84-years-young Lynn Ruth Miller, is coming to the end of her three week series of return gigs in and around San Francisco – after living in the UK for four years.
This is her penultimate blog about being in the city that was her home for 30 years.
Last Wednesday was the highlight of my trip to this part of the world.
The Marsh theater is a highly prestigious intellectual venue that presents one hour solo shows much like London’s Soho Theatre and the Barbican on a smaller scale.
When I lived here, I could not get them to let me do any of my storytelling or cabaret shows. They did not think I was accomplished enough. However, thanks to reviews I have received over the years from London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Melbourne, this time they said I could do my show I Love Men in their Rising Star section. (I am ‘rising’ at 84!).
I worked with a wonderful woman named Lauren, who was very efficient and very thorough. But, although my show was listed on the website, it was not promoted or highlighted in any way. So I was pretty sure I would be lucky if five people showed up. Still, it was a pleasure to prepare a show there. The theater is professional in every way. I had a spacious dressing room, a grand piano for Larry to play and a beautiful tech person named Alexa to troubleshoot the performance before we began.
Ticket sales turned out to be far better than I dared hope and, with our walk-ins, we had nearly 60 people in the audience.
Bay Area people know very little about my life or why I do the things I do and I Love Men is a show about my failure to find a relationship. I was worried that it would seem insipid and pointless in a world where people find each other online and have sex before they have a coffee. My mother always told me my life would be ruined if I had sex before marriage. Now I think it is ruined if you do not.
I could not believe my audience. I had people come from Napa, Reno, Tahoe, Los Angeles and even Austin, Texas. It was all I could do not to weep.
I had thought that I was no more than a shadow totally unnoticed here and it was not until I moved to the UK that anyone thought I had anything of value to offer on a stage. Evidently this was not so.
This audience was with me to the finish and, once again, I got a standing ovation. Do we ever take a thing like that for granted?
Suddenly, I felt that all the work I have invested in these past 15 years of finding my voice as a performer had paid off. I felt validated and very, very proud. I really did it. I told a true story that touched a universal chord.
It was an amazing evening for me. But the next night was just as exciting.
Jamie DeWolf runs a tour de force show called Tourettes Without Regrets. I was in that show five years ago and he always told me that, whenever I wanted to return, I had a place in his line-up.
This is a show of incredible talent and variety with pole dancers, acrobats, strippers, singers and poets… just about everything you can imagine.
I wanted to do something new for him so I decided to do the song I did in Edinburgh last month for the London Burlesque Best of Burlesque shows.
It is a feminist diatribe and a bit different from the “give it a go” type songs I ordinarily sing. The response was totally amazing and once again I got a standing ovation from an immense audience. It was almost too good to be true.
In the afternoon, I had done a storytelling event for a tiny group of Holocaust survivors and that was one of the most beautiful highlights of this trip. There are very few of these people left and most of them were children in the camps so, although scarred in ways most of us cannot imagine, not nearly as bruised and torn-apart as their parents who were tortured, starved and beaten without mercy.
I always feel that the most important thing I did and have done is to give these people my time and my performance skills so they know that their very existence is that important to me and to all of us who care about human survival.
… TO BE CONCLUDED TOMORROW …