October 26, 2018 at 8:00 am PDT | by Billy Masters
Exploring a vibrant Los Angeles, alive with theater


Tony Award-winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones (Bridge & Tunnel), pictured here with Lily Tomlin, Jenifer Lewis, Rashida Jones and Laverne Cox is now performing Sell/Buy/Date at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre through Nov. 3. (Photo courtesy Sarah Jones)

“I actually feel bad for him. What I saw was a minstrel show today. Him in front of all these white people – mostly white people – embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African Americans, because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing.” – Don Lemon on Kanye West’s recent Oval Office visit.

When Sarah Jones’ solo show “Sell/Buy/Date” opened at the Geffen Playhouse last spring, it sold out in a matter of minutes. It’s fortunate that the Los Angeles LGBT Center is mounting this encore presentation so that others can experience this mesmerizing work. Jones is a phenomenon, with many touting her as a successor to Lily Tomlin. Comparisons between the two miss a vital point – while Lily is the face of her work, the words are those of partner Jane Wagner. Sarah Jones writes and performs her own material. 

But like Tomlin’s solo pieces, “Buy/Sell/Date” could be seen repeatedly and leave you gleaning something new each time. The show takes place in the future during a seminar on sex workers. We meet men, women, children, elders, and Miss Jones inhabits them all beautifully.

The audience is not only entertained, but also moved to think. In many ways, Sarah Jones makes one hopeful for the future. Special plaudits must go out to director Carolyn Cantor.

The construct of the show, the seamless transitions, the fully integrated technical aspects, the precise light and sound cues – those things don’t appear out of thin air. Alas, too often a director gets short shrift because one imagines it all begins and ends with the performer.  Towards that end, kudos to set designer Dane Laffrey, lighting designer Matt Richter, and Bray Poor on sound.  The show runs though Nov. 3, and you can get tickets at LALGBTCenter.org.

Opening night was hosted by Lily Tomlin and Laverne Cox. Rashida Jones (no relation) was also listed as a host but, to the best of my knowledge, she showed up, took some photos, and presumably had better places to be. Afterwards, my play mama, Jenifer Lewis, went backstage to congratulate Sarah. I was walking into the lobby with Debra Messing when, right in front of me, I saw her — Brigitte Nielsen

Believe it or not, I would (and did) knock people over to get to Nielsen. Most remember Gitte from her marriage to Sylvester Stallone, her various other romantic entanglements, and her tabloid headlines.  But if you were in the UK when she did “Celebrity Big Brother,” you saw another side of Gitte – a human side and a real person capable of great love and compassion.  She’s smarter than you think, wickedly funny, brutally honest, and a nurturer.

When I came upon her (you can’t miss her – she’s like nine feet tall), she was chatting with a group of women, led by comedian Whitney Cummings! The topic? Fertility, IVF, and older women giving birth. Cummings was asking Brigitte everything about her landmark pregnancy at 54. Whit may be only 36, but she’s obviously thinking about having children – and, more importantly, when. She even said, “You know, they should tell girls when they’re young that they should freeze their eggs so that they have them…just in case.”  What a brilliant idea – and it came from Whitney Cummings!  Nielsen spoke with them endlessly and even offered to stay in touch and be of service.  It was surely anticlimactic when I engaged her in conversation about her time on “CBB,” dished about Jackie Stallone, spoke Italian with her husband, and perhaps drooled a bit over her model son, Douglas Aaron Meyer (picture a male version of Gitte). 

The big theater event in Los Angeles is “Dear Evan Hansen,” which opened at the Ahmanson Theatre and runs through Nov. 25. While I wasn’t able to see this touring company, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the show when it opened on Broadway. I am certain this production will be a transformative experience that will linger with you long after the curtain falls. Should you be in the area, good luck getting a ticket – at CTGLA.org.

Gay porn star Austin Wolf was on a Delta flight when he met a newly hired flight attendant. The FA in question was not working, but he was in uniform.  At a certain point, the two disappeared into a lavatory for eight minutes. I’d say you can only imagine what went on, but no need to imagine – Austin took a video with his phone! Not only is the FA’s face clearly visible (since his mouth is doing much of the initial work), but so is his employee ID. Oops!  And, before you ask, yes, the attendant enjoyed Austin from both ends. Moments after Wolf posted the video, people went crazy and immediately identified the Delta employee.  He claims to have not known he was being filmed, which is: a) unbelievable and 2) hardly the point. He’s been suspended. Austin quickly deleted the video from the web…but not before we snagged it.  Prepare for liftoff!

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