That Golden Girls Show is night of nostalgic fun!

Did you know the Golden Girls are back in puppet form? That Golden Girls Puppet Show is running right now at the DR2 Theatre in NYC and it’s an experience any Golden Girls fan should not miss!

Anyone who knows me or follows me on social media knows I am a huge Golden Girls fan. I can quote lines from the show on demand and I sometimes sneak it into conversation or use lines in my own daily dialogues. I had heard there was a puppet show based on the Golden Girls and put in on my “must do” list and shortly after I received an invitation to attend one of the preview shows. I will tell you that the second I read the email, I did not hesitate to respond.

The first thing that got me upon walking into the theater was the set. The living room and kitchen look EXACTLY like they did in the show. I immediately felt like I was at home and at this moment I hoped the evening would be everything the show has been. One of the reasons the Golden Girls was always so special to me is because I used to watch it with my late grandmother. I also watched with my parents and I still do when I visit them. Most nights, I fall asleep with the girls on and when TV Land has a Golden Girls marathon I’ll admit I get a bit too wrapped up in them. Don’t expect me to be ready to go anywhere too early on a Sunday!  You can find them in syndication on Logo, TV Land, and Hallmark Channel all times of the day and night which has made the show available to multiple generations even decades after it went off the air.

The Original show aried from 1985 – 1992 on NBC and was part of the Thursday night line up but then moved to Saturday nights. One description of the Golden Girls reads “Four previously married women live together in Miami, sharing their various experiences together and enjoying themselves despite hard times.” But any true fan of the show knows it was about so much more. They tackled issues like gay marriage, infidelity, agism, women’s rights, gay rights, addiction, homelessness, and politics.
The original cast included Bea Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak), Betty White (Rose Nylund), Rue McClanahan (Blanche Devereaux), and Estelle Getty (Sophia Petrillo) with Herb Edleman as Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan Zbornak.
The puppet version of the girls definitely live up to their TV counterparts and the cast consists of Weston Chandler Long as Dorothy (This particular night Dorothy was played impeccably by Michael LaMasa down to Bea Arthur’s manerisms), Arlee Chadwick as Rose, Cat Greenfield as Blanche, Emmanuelle Zeesman as Sophia, and Zach Kononov as Stan.
Tickets are available now through the end of the year so if you are in New York City or plan to be, you should consider experiencing this evening of laughter and nostalgia. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/That-Golden-Girls-Show-A-Puppet-tickets/artist/2276879#artist_table_focus.
They even recreated the theme song sequence from the original show:

You’ll be leaving the theater feeling good and singing “Thank you for being a friend” for sure!

 

Nico Tortorella and the Heart of Hunter&Game

It’s not secret that I love all things TV Land and am a huge fan of their show, Younger. I have worked alongside my TV Land family, live tweeting the premiere and am an avid viewer from home. I don’t need a twitter party to motivate me to live tweet what I love (as you all know). I have enjoyed the entire first season but haven’t crossed paths with any of the stars, until now.

A mutual friend, Richard Hine alerted me to the fact that Nico Tortorella had done this amazing Indie film, Hunter&Game,  about the world of Indie music in my hometown of Brooklyn, NY. This was of major interest to me because Nico is a favorite actor of mine but also because I have many friends who are Indie musicians in NYC and was even a part of the scene for a few years myself. (promotions mostly, not performing).

When I was given the opportunity to speak to Nico about the film, I didn’t hesitate to say YES. I was not disappointed in any way. Nico Tortorella is as fun to talk to as you would imagine from seeing him on screen. He definitely shares many qualities with his character Josh on Younger in his spirit, authenticity, and ability to make others feel comfortable around him. He also shares the fun loving quality of his character in Hunter&Game, Carson. You can tell why he was drawn to the character and why the character is so endearing.

We spoke last Friday night about life, Younger, and of course Hunter&Game. I think you will enjoy Nico’s advice, humor, and insight as much as I did:

Q: Tell me a little about Hunter and Game. What drew you to the role?

Nico Tortorella: Ninety percent of the film was real life. I was supposed to read for Sasha but I knew I had to go in for Carson. Carson was obviously the role I was meant to play, he is the heart of the movie. So, I smoked a joint, put on a fur coat, and got the role.

Q: Are you a musician as well as an actor? 

NT: I taught myself to play the guitar and bass. I’ve also written some sappy love songs. When this film came around, it was perfect because I’ve always seen myself as more of a rock star than an actor.

Q: Did you or do you hang out with many Indie musicians?

NT: While filming, I did but I don’t have an abundance of musician friends. Musicians were around constantly during production.

Q: Hunter and Game is being called “Spinal Tap meets Bushwick”. How does that make you feel? 

NT: It feels EPIC, it’s everything we ever hoped for. We went into this with a first time filmmaker, low budget, like a bunch of friends hanging out. I think Hunter and Game has a reality Spinal Tap didn’t have, a relate-ability.

Q: Can we talk about Younger for a minute. The show will be returning for a second season this January after a phenomenal first season. What is that like for you? Have you settled into being a TV star and a leading man?

NT: You can’t really take any of that too seriously. I think I keep a sense of humility, it’s the first series I’m in that hasn’t been canceled early. The first time I’m coming back for a second season. Let’s face it, romantic comedy is a dying genre but we can turn that around.

Q: Do you like your character, Josh?

NT: I’d hang out with Josh, he shares my core values of life. He’s cool, wants to have fun, and wants everyone to live authentically.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? From who?

NT: Scott Fellows (Big Time Rush) said something with me that really resonated early on. He said, “As an actor, if you’re starting off and there’s ANYTHING you think you can do other than act, go do it now”.

That hit me hard and I realized I truly belong in this industry.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you usually able to take or heed your own words of wisdom?

NT: To young actors, I’d say if you have an audition, really think about what everyone else is going to do for theirs and do the opposite. Don’t be predictable or like everyone else going in.

As far as taking my own advice, yeah, I’d like to think I can and do.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

NT: I absolutely cannot live without honey, I just love it. As far as something we could all live without, Jealousy. It’s a nasty mofo!

Q: What’s up next for Nico Tortorella?

NT: There’s a small rumor about a season three for Younger and I’m also reading scripts. I’d love to play a superhero and tackle the action genre. Other than that, I just want to do good work and work with good people.

Q: Do you have a preference between New York City and Los Angeles?

NT: I miss LA, my heart is there for sure.

Q: Since you are in New York City, any plans to do Broadway? 

NT: I’d love to! I just haven’t seen the right script. But it’ll happen at some point for sure!

I’d like to thank Nico for taking time out of his Friday night for me and for being such a delight! Be sure to catch him this January in Season two of Younger on TV Land and be sure to watch Hunter&Game for FREE here:

Allow Aris to Raise your Pulse with his Music

I have been friends with recording artist and performer Aris for a few years now. I enjoy the conversations we have off the record but am honored to be interviewing him so you all can get to know him a bit better! Since the first time I sat down to talk to him, I have found him to be insightful, authentic, and passionate about his work. As a fan of music, I find him to be unique, talented, and genuine as an artist. I believe those of you who read my blog, follow me on Twitter or anywhere in social media will enjoy his music as well. If you live in the NYC area, you may want to catch him at one of his upcoming performances as well!
Q: First, congratulations on the new album, Pulse! Tell me a little about the process of making this album and your process in general when creating new music.

Aris: Thank you Tommy!! I feel like I’m having a baby! I’ve been working on this album for the last year and a half. I started writing it when I finished writing my last album “Twilight Revival”. I set out with the goal to write an album that would celebrate love and life and keep people on their feet dancing.

My last album was more of a rock record with dance elements, where this album is primarily a dance album, weaving in rock, soul and world sounds. I set out to right a really universal, uplifting album. The last album was written while I was going through a lot of heartbreak and stresses in life, so the themes were darker. I wanted this album to be a solace, a shinning light. I channeled a lot of 90s pop and dance influences, soul music and eastern soundscapes. There’s a lot of soaring hooks and big choruses, and really emotional vocals.

I set out to keep the lyrics more universal, and for every track to move not only your heart and soul but also your
body. Even the slower tracks are built around solid grooves. I named the album Pulse because our heart and our pulse
are our body’s drum, carrying us through the rhythm of life. In the past I’ve let the songs have more space to fall
into other genres, but this time around I wanted a thematic record that would work great live and on the dance floor,
and I drew elements of inspiration from albums like Madonna’s “Confession on a Dancefloor” and Kelis’ “Fleshtone”.
Q: I know you have a Kickstarter for this album. What goodies are you offering fans who contribute? Where can we find out more about it?

Aris: Yes! I have  3 weeks left on my Kickstarter campaign (ending on February 21st!)

I’m utilizing the platform to help finish funding and distribution of the record, and I’m using it as an album pre-sale.
I’m also offering a variety of special merchandise and experiences for higher pledges.
I’m offering a deluxe digital album with several exclusive bonus tracks, and also offering original pieces of art,
private concerts, songwriting sessions, even home cooked meals, nights on the town, and all access passes for life to
all my live shows.
Every pledge of $20 or more also comes with a “best of” EP, and there’s a bunch more goodies too!
You can join the pre-sale, get a sneak peek of some new music and find out more at:

Q: How important is crowdfunding for today’s artists and have you seen it change in the last few years?

Aris: Crowdfunding is a huge platform for independent artists. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen a lot of artists use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to back their albums, generate buzz and also connect with their fans and offer a special pre-sale experience.

Someone actually  raised $55,492 on Kickstarter to make Potato Salad! It’s hard to grasp that, but it actually happened! In comparison,  my goal to make and distribute my new album “Pulse” is far more modest, and it will last much longer and be more universal than any combination of potatoes and mayonnaise!

For me as an independent artist, I’ve self-funded all my work every step of the way for the last 5 years. In that
time, the music industry has changed so much, and few people actually purchase music. This Kickstarter is a huge help
to me in that it allows me to actually have a budget for recording the album, to do it in a timely fashion, and to be
able to give the recordings value via the pre-sale. It also allows my listeners to be a part of the process from early on.
Q: More Congratulations are in order on your OUTMusic Award nominations, can you tell me a little about why it was important to you and how it felt to be recognized by such an organization?
Aris: When I found out I was nominated in 5 categories at the 9th annual OUTmusic awards, I was beyond thrilled . It was a

huge honor to have the work from my last album “twilight revival” recognized. I was most moved by the nomination for
producer of the year. The organization in the past has honored a lot of prominent LGBT artists, and to me being
nominated felt like the community understood and appreciated what I’m doing. It felt like coming home.
Q: The honor was sort of bitter-sweet. I’ve read that they were charging the artists $100 per ticket but that the 

event was postponed without a new date. We’ve spoken about it but can you tell us a little about that?
Aris: Yes, it was definitely bittersweet. Shortly after the nominees were announced, the artists involved received an email

from the organization telling us we had to purchase $100 “nominee tickets” or else we would not be allowed to walk the
red carpet, to sit with the other nominees or to be featured in the documentary the organization was filming.
Something felt very wrong about paying the highest ticket premium to be in attendance to possibly win an award. It
seemed really lob sided especially since they were selling general admission tickets for $25.
Many artists like myself took the risk because sometimes as independent musicians you have to invest in things hoping
they carry you further. It was money I otherwise would have spent recording new music, but it seemed like it could be
a good promotional opportunity.
It really was a huge shock and very alarming when an email came roughly 24 hours before the event saying it was
postponed until an undetermined date, for reasons not disclosed, and that the organization would NOT be issuing
refunds. This actually wasn’t the first time that the OUTmusic awards were postponed, and there seems to be a trail of
murky business practices in the past, so it’s all very disheartening.
Q: Do you think they took advantage of the artists so that they could afford to hold a different ceremony that they held for bigger names like Deborah Cox? I’m sure the bigger names would not be happy if they knew these circumstances.
Aris: I wish I knew the real motivations of the organization and I wish there was a lot more transparency about how the

money they collected was spent.  It was very disappointing to find out that in place of the awards ceremony, the
organization would be having a “reception for the celebrity artists, such as OUTMusic Award Honoree Deborah Cox and
Monifah Carter, Omar Thomas and superstar recording artist Jonte Moaning as well as many others who journeyed to New
York City for the Awards.” (to quote the official email from OUTmusic)
What’s most upsetting about what happened is, none of the actual nominees were celebrated, and instead the focus was
put on “celebrity” artists the organization hand-selected. Since we really don’t have any transparency about their accounting
practices, we can only speculate that the nominees’ money went to fund this other event.  Also OUTmusic claims non-profit
status, but when looking into their organization, it becomes clear that they may be fudging their taxes and
involved in unethical business practices. I think it’s sad that an organization that frames itself as champions of LGBT
artists would take advantage of the very artists it was supposed to be celebrating. I seem to have been one of the
most out-spoken artists regarding this situation, and it’s also caught the eye of former Village Voice columnist
Michael Musto. Hopefully soon we will all be able to get to the truth about what really happened and why.
Q: What do you think artists can do to avoid being taken advantage of or do you think this is all part of the business and learning process?
Aris: I think the best lesson to be learned is, do NOT pay to play. And do your research! Google is an amazing tool to help

artists understand the validity and reputation of organizations/groups/etc. Before getting involved in something, do
your homework! Also, never lower or diminish your self worth to be included in anything!
Sell up, don’t sell out. Choose your partnerships and associations wisely!
There’s a certain level of investment that comes with the territory of being an artist. Just make sure you are
investing in something that is honorable, effective and beneficial!
Q: What else is coming up for Aris, the artist? Performances? Appearances?
Aris: I’ll be spending the next couple months finalizing my new album and preparing the release of the first single and

video from the album, along with putting together several photo shoots to accompany the release.
I also have some upcoming performances in the next 6 weeks in NYC that I am excited about!
* Friday February 13th at BPM in NYC (time TBA)
* Sunday March 1st at the LGBT expo at the Jacob Javits Center (time TBA)
* Friday March 6th at Triad in NYC (time and additional info soon to be announced)
(Updates regarding these appearances will be posted on my official website at www.aris.fm)
Q: Where can we find you online to keep up with you and your music?
Aris: I’ll be sharing updated about my upcoming album “Pulse” on social media, as well as on Kickstarter.  I also archive

everything on my official website. Connect with me! Share your voice, your feelings and your stories. I read
everything!

omg! Insider One Direction Movie Premiere

 This past Monday, I was honored to be invited by my friends at omg! Insider to attend the 1 Direction Movie Premiere for their new film, “This is Us.”  To say I was excited about it is an understatement.  All of my life, I watched red carpet events and wished I could be right there.  When I was younger, when other kids were playing cops and robbers, I was playing Entertainment Tonight. Imagining I was interviewing my favorite celebrities.  To be invited to a premiere as a Social Media Corespondent was like living my childhood fantasy, plus the 1 Direction Movie Premiere combined my love of pop culture with my love of Media events.

Needless to say, the weekend leading up to the event was all about getting ready, finding something to wear and probably driving my best friend crazy with pictures of what I was thinking of wearing.  Thank God he has great taste and always gives me his honest opinion.  When we agreed on the blazer, t-shirt, and slacks I picked,  I knew I had the perfect look.  After that, it was just about doing the best I could to keep the information coming on the social sites so everyone could see exactly what I was seeing.

As an extra treat, I got to “work” alongside Keltie Knight, who is quite the pop culture expert as well as a corespondent for omg! Insider. Keltie also happens to be one of the sweetest people around. She is genuinely interested and excited about her job and was obviously just as thrilled as I was to be there.   Just being a small part of the event would have been more than enough for me but being able to tweet, post to Facebook, and Instagram gave me the opportunity to connect my experience with my community while affording me a chance to meet a whole new community of 1D fans!

I have two very good friends who I see mostly when I go to Atlanta who have been obsessed with 1D for a while now so I knew that the group not only attracted tweens and teens but they have an influence on all ages.  I was familiar with the music of 1 Direction and after meeting them, I can say I am a fan.  They were charming, funny, sweet, and professional (Ok, they knew how to joke around too).  I also decided to listen to all of their songs for the days leading up to the event and found a few new songs to add to my playlist for when I work out, when I want to just hear something upbeat, and for when I want to just be mellow.

In case you missed the story on omg! Insider, I wanted to share it with all of you. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed being there and you can go to my Instagram and Vine to see all the videos and photos I posted from that night!