C.D'A.: So, what gets you high?
B.S.M.: I'm nuts about life! It sounds so Seventies, but it's true... I'm just fascinated by people. They are a ceaseless source of joy and entertainment for me. I mean the great stuff and the dark, ugly stuff. I just cannot believe the things people do. People are so incredibly fascinating.
C.D'A.: You mean like trash talk shows?
B.S.M.: Yeah, right here on the streets of New York. It's like a horrendous auto accident. You're both fascinated and repulsed; you just can't turn it off.
C.D'A.: El Nino or El Debarge? Discuss...
B.S.M.: (laughing) Well, I'd rather hear El Debarge on the radio than El Nino.
C.D'A.: What is your favorite line from any play or film?
B.S.M.: "BADGES? We don't need no stinking BADGES!" That's from Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
C.D'A.: In times of leisure, what is your greatest extravagance?
B.S.M.: I'm nuts about traveling. Allyson and I love to travel and we travel really well together. When I travel I like to do what the natives do. About ten years ago I went on a cruise to Stockholm and Copenhagen. I don't necessarily recommend a cruise if you're young. I think we were the only ones on the ship under sixty. Happily, I went with eight friends and it still made for a great trip. We made our own fun. We went to The Hermitage in Leningrad (while it was still Leningrad and the USSR was still Communist) with a huge group of people from the ship. They told us not to take flash photography of the paintings but there was a Van Gogh hanging next to an open window! There were gorgeous mosaics, the most intricate inlaid wood and the most incredible object d'art you've ever seen. Kinda like the Frick here but much more opulent. Decadently opulent, there was not an inch in the place that wasn't a work of art.
C.D'A.: I love that. It's all about excess. Excess or minimalism. The middle path bores me.
B.S.M.: (laughing) That's right, that's right. You know, we watched our fellow American tourists following their guides like lemmings without even looking at the art. They were so afraid of getting lost that they were walking right past these amazing works of art without seeing them. Then some of the people told their guide that they had to get back to the ship at 3:00 to hear a lecture on Leningrad! That was when we knew we had to get away from the group.
C.D'A.: Did you watch the Olympics?
B.S.M.: I love the Olympics though I only saw a little bit. You know, during the "Atlantic City" number, someone had a television backstage and I actually got to watch one and a half women perform the short program (figure skating).
C.D'A.: Which brings me to my next question. If you were a figure skater, what Broadway tune would you most like to skate to?
B.S.M.: You know, I was just telling Lynn (Aherns) that she'll know she's made it when someone skates to her music. She turns to me and says, "They did! Tara Lipinski just skated to Anastasia!"...
C.D'A.: She's a major mouth breather that Lipinski but she's very talented.
B.S.M.: ...let's see, If I were a figure skater I would have to choose "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd"... something really dark. You know, the light side of life is a bit boring. The darker side of human nature is so much more fascinating.
C.D'A.: I agree, I hate saccharine.
B.S.M.: Oh, absolutely, you know what I really hate is when people say, "Oh, he's really nice." I hate that word! It's so... NICE! But it's not as bad as "OK". Especially in a review, "So-and-so was okay." Who wants to pay for "okay"?... you want to see the incredible.
C.D'A.: I agree, I want to see incredible or horrible. There's that middle path, again. In your interview with Larry Worth for the New York Post you stated, "We're all racists, with prejudices against overweight people, ugly people, stupid people, people with disabilities. It's such a complex issue." Would you care to expound on that?
B.S.M.: That's a long conversation. First let me preface this with my motto: "I reserve the right to be full of caca."
Okay, now, that said, it's something I've spent a lot of time reading and thinking about. We, as human beings, like the other animals of this planet, are genetically programmed to survive. Some of this programming manifests itself in our modern world in less-than-attractive ways... I believe racism is one of the manifestations of that programming. Racism is simply a version of tribalism... a survival instinct which allowed early man (and woman, of course) to differentiate between friendly and non-friendly tribes. Same tribe, same genetic code, similar appearance. Separate tribes would develop different genetic mutations, which would cause more marked differences in appearance. And tribes back then, as today, competed for land, water, food, etc... you would want to know who was friendly and who was not, and probably the easiest way to tell that would be from appearance... subtle differences at first... height or the shape of a nose or a way of moving... then more disparate as generations and eons passed... color of hair, eyes, skin, etc.
However, our world is different now. We still are tribal, but our tribes are of a different nature. We have become financial tribes, religious tribes, professional tribes, political tribes. The tribes are no longer solely built around race. As a matter of fact, our racial fear of each other no longer is much of an advantage because the whole world is fast becoming a melting pot. Now, the great thing about being a human being is that we developed a mind that can overcome our primitive programming. We don't have to be slaves to many of our animal instincts. We overcame our animal fear of fire, didn't we? And look what happened when we did! Great things! I think the same thing will happen when we, as a species, overcome our racism... our xenophobia... our fear of each other... great things!
C.D'A.: Now, this is a very serious question. Do I look fat in this outfit?
B.S.M.: (throwing his head back... laughing) No, no you don't!
C.D'A.: What's the most important thing in your medicine cabinet?
B.S.M.: Guaifenesin, the singer's drug. It keeps your vocal cords lubricated when you're trying to get through eight shows a week with a cold or the flu.
C.D'A.: If I put a gun to your head, which role in Cats would you perform?
B.S.M.: (bursting with laughter)
C.D'A.: By the way, taking the bullet is not an option.
B.S.M.: Oh, Grizabella because she's got the greatest song. I mean if you're going to put a gun to my head, I might as well do the eleven o'clock number.
C.D'A.: What role, that you are physically inappropriate for, would you most like to perform?
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