Feb 082017
 

“If perticular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.”
– Abigail Adams, 1776

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OH YEAH!

chicago tribune-womens-march-national-pg-20170121 copyPhoto Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

WOMEN’S HISTORY NEWS

March is Women’s History Month,
But Women (And Men) Made Some Amazing HERstory in January.

January 21st, 2017, a day that will live in hearts, minds, books, blogs, newspapers, magazines, airwaves, tweets, posts, pictures – HERstory – forever!

A grandmother in Hawaii – Theresa Shook – had an idea. “What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?” she posted on Facebook. And LAUNCHED a movement.

Women’s March on Washington Trumps Inauguration

Theresa invited 40 of her friends to march on Washington for women’s rights. Then, she went to bed AND WOKE UP TO 10,000 RESPONSES!

LA TIMES Who Started the March

So much has happened in our country and to our collective psyche since Saturday, January 21st, when I cuddled under the covers, home sick, drinking tea and inhaling eucalyptus infused steam. Unable to march, but able to watch – in absolute awe – and take in, be inspired by, blown away by – not just moved – but catapulted to DO…. to TAKE ACTION! What a day. Completely inspired by what I was witnessing and from all the calls, texts, emails and messages from all of YOU – my world of fabulous – males and females, I began writing this email, hoping to somehow capture the energy, community, heart, empowerment, and passion that POURED out of my television and straight into my heart.

My tears flowed ALL DAY. I watched the Washington March.

There was Gloria…

Gloria Steinem Speech

…and families…

Families March Together

…and America Ferrara, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Senators Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tammy Duckworth, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Celebrities, Activists, Artists; Janelle Monae, Michael Moore, Alicia Keyes, Scarlett Johansson, Angela Davis, Melissa Harris Perry, Van Jones. Amy Schumer introduced Madonna who spoke, sang danced and cursed. There were so many more – unknown peeps and peeps with “names” like Cher – who couldn’t make it to the stage because of crowd gridlock. I SOBBED watching Ashley Judd. She knocked it out of the park performing a poem and seared my soul with her passion and its beauty. Titled “I Am A Nasty Woman”, it was written by nineteen year old Nina Donovan.

Ashley Judd Performs “I Am A Nasty Woman”

There were record breaking totally peaceful protest marches everywhere!

In Los Angeles, where I live and planned to march, around 750,000 people showed up! SO many friends marched along with Jane Fonda, Barbara Streisand, Lily Tomlin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Natalie Portman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Laverne Cox, Kerry Washington, Juliette Lewis, Mandy Moore, Jessica Biel, Vanessa Hudgens, Marcia Gay Harden, Helen Hunt, just to name a few. Around the country speakers included Elizabeth Warren, Whoopi, Iconic Congressman John Lewis, Helen Mirren, Yoko!

Since 2007, I have been researching, reading, studying, producing and performing SHE’S HISTORY!, my play about women who make and made history. Overcome with emotion, I was struck by our herstory.

March 31st, 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband John asking him to “Remember the Ladies.”

“…and, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Dear John does NOT pay attention to, or remember the Ladies.

In 1848, rich, privileged thirty-two year old Elizabeth Cady Stanton, mother of three “hellions”, is suffering from “mental hunger and domestic drudgery.” She inspires her mentor Lucretia Mott (the Gloria Steinem of her day) and others to organize “our very own” (and the VERY first) Women’s Convention. “A Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women.” It was held in a church in Seneca Falls, New York (where Elizabeth lived and demanded it be held so she did not have to shlep her three hellions).
ecs&hellions

Elizabeth Cady Stanton with two of her three “hellions.”

A Declaration of Sentiments was hammered out (modeled after the Declaration of Independence) including a resolution that “all men AND WOMEN” are created equal. A radical notion that caused quite the stir!

It wasn’t until 1920 that American women WON the right to vote.

But back in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton had the nerve – the audacity – to demand that a woman’s right to vote be included in the Declaration. She stood up, but was shot down, mocked, told her notion was “ridiculous”. Her response:

“…what is ridiculous, is to have drunkards, idiots, horse-racing rum-selling rowdies, ignorant foreigners and silly boys fully recognized with the right to vote, while we ourselves are thrust out from all the rights that belong to citizens, is too grossly insulting to be quietly submitted to. The right is ours. Have it we must. Use it we will.”

She was derided and booed and then… Frederick Douglass stood up for and with her! Together they got enough attendees to sign, and the Declaration of Sentiments was published.

And all hell broke loose.

The New York Herald called The Declaration of Sentiments “the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity.”

Speaking of “womanity”, whatever the heck that is…

1883, Emma Lazarus, of Jewish immigrant ancestry, raised privileged and educated is inspired by The Statue of Liberty, who Emma calls “Mother of Exiles.” She famously writes; “Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

March 3rd, 1913, Alice Paul, brilliant, ballsy, Ivy League educated, soft-spoken, militant, suffragist, pisses off President Wilson, when she steals his parade.

The day before his Inauguration, the President-Elect arrives in Washington D.C., at Union Station. The same Union Station that on January 21st, 2017, was OVERCOME with record breaking riders going to the Women’s March. The President-Elect was expecting a welcoming crowd, or two. “Where are the people?” he asks. Well, thanks to Alice Paul’s brilliant orchestration, the crowds were, he was told,

“On the Avenue watching Alice Paul’s suffragist parade.”

Alice Paul organized 8,000 women to march down Pennsylvania Avenue for the right to vote.  She very smartly, very strategically, planned the parade, raised the money, got the word out, promoted it, publicized it, gave interviews about it…

“Mr. Wilson opposes suffrage and we oppose him. We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. This is the most conspicuous and important demonstration that has ever been attempted by suffragists in this country. Because this parade has been taken to indicate the importance of the suffrage movement by the press of the country and thousands of spectators from all over the United States gathered in Washington for the inauguration. Unless women are prepared to fight politically, they must be content to be ignored politically.”

Half a million people watched the parade! It was the largest parade ever in Washington. Imagine what she could do with Facebook!parade 1913 LOC
But, unlike the January 21st, 2017 March, the 1913 women really suffered for the cause. They were mobbed, yelled at, spit on – had lit cigars thrown at them. They were totally harassed. Mostly by men who were in D.C. for President Wilson’s Inauguration. But the police – they just looked the other way.

Crowds-converges-on-marchers

Inez Milholland, Brooklyn born, privileged, ivy-league educated labor lawyer and trailblazer, was the utterly Fabulous Female who led the parade (and many others).

inez 1913

In 1916, she died of pernicious anemia, while giving a speech on women’s rights in Los Angeles.

January 10, 1917, Alice Paul and her pals peacefully picket in front of President Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

Alice-Paul-01
For eighteen months, they stood, not saying a word. These beautiful, heroic “Silent Sentinels”, as they were called were ultimately arrested, charged with obstructing sidewalk traffic. They were manhandled, brutalized and literally, physically THROWN into jail. So Alice Paul goes on a hunger strike. They strap her down, tie her up, shove tubes up her nose and down her throat and force-feed her raw eggs every day twice a day for a month.

Alice-Paul-05
Then our Government hires a shrink to say she’s insane.  Because that’s what we did with our women back then when they got out of hand.  We just threw ’em in the psych ward.  But the doctor said…

“This woman is not insane. Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”

In 1977 – New York Courageous Congresswoman and general ball-buster Bella Abzug plans and organizes the first – and only – federally funded Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, “to promote equality between men and women.”

On September 29th, 1977,  a torch was lighted in Seneca Falls and carried by a relay of runners to Houston – 2600 miles away.

houston last mile copy 2

Photo By Diana Mara Henry

Maya Angelou wrote a new Declaration Of Sentiments that was signed along the way.

One hundred and fifty thousand people participated in the planning of the conference with every state being represented. Twenty thousand people attended the November 1977 conference, including our glorious Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony Jr., (the grand niece of Susan B. Anthony), Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Betty Friedan, Barbara Jordan, Billie Jean King, and Elizabeth Holtzman, the youngest woman to have been elected to the House of Representatives. And three First Ladies; Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and Lady Bird Johnson.

B. Jordan w:bella & first ladies

Barbara Jordan, Bella Abzug, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford & Lady Bird Johnson
Photo by Diana Mara Henry

Meanwhile, across the street, right-wing anti-feminist Phyllis Shlafly led 15,000 protestors. Bella Abzug said: “We were not intimidated by the right wing opponents who held their own pro-God, pro-family protest across the street, who sent their men – and I quote ‘to protect our women from all the militant lesbians. It is not safe for a decent woman to be there’.”

After 1920 when women WON the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment (also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment), Alice Paul famously said; “It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has only just begun.”

Three years later, in 1923, Alice Paul, went to Seneca Falls to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. It was there that she introduced The Equal Rights Amendment (also known as The Lucretia Mott Amendment).

“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”  

And here we…still are.

January 21st, 2017, all around the world, women and men united in solidarity.“We are with you Washington,” came the posts from solo marchers, to city marchers from what seems like every corner of the globe.  Karen Ragan-George, one of my passionate activist friends and theatre sisters who traveled from Los Angeles to march in Washington, posted on Facebook; “I have never been more proud to be an American woman.”

ME TOO!!!!

1913 Suffrage Parade

So how do we harness it? What’s next?

Try this…

Indivisible Guide

And do this…

Call your Senator or Member of Congress by calling 202-225-3121. (If you are put on hold, hang in there. I was on hold for less than a minute!) For my Senator, I was asked which city I live in and then transferred to the office of my Senator, Kamala Harris. For my Member of Congress I was asked for my zip code and transferred to the office of my Congressman Adam Schiff. I could email him or her like this: Schiff.house.gov – and you can do the same for yours. IT’S REALLY EASY!

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UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

Saturday Matinee, March 18th, 2017 at

The Lounge Theatre, Hollywood

Info and tickets coming soon….

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SHE’S HISTORY NEWS

Sunday, January 29th, I had the pleasure of celebrating Thomas Paine’s Birthday. Yes, THAT Thomas Paine…in a meeting of his “Headstrong Club…”

thomaspainesociety.org

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
Thomas Paine

I played Abigail Adams to actress Ellen Snortland’s Mercy Otis Warren in a reading of a scene I wrote for SHE IS HISTORY! I then shared the stage as Bella Abzug with Ian Ruskin as Thomas Paine, Dale Reynolds as Thomas Jefferson, Ellen Snortland as Mary Wollstonecraft and Dianne Williams Phyllis Wheatley. We each made a short presentation about our characters and then, as is the tradition, we took questions from the very informed, engaged and passionate audience, in character. It was QUITE the evening!

abigail, mercy and phyllis

Amy Simon, Ellen Snortland, Dianne Williams

thomas paine-bella

Amy Simon, Dale Reynolds, Ian Ruskin

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I am still working very hard on getting the full cast version of SHE IS HISTORY! produced and published. I will keep you posted….

shes_history_logo2

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Jun 102011
 

A MAY ZING 2011
THREE SHOWS THREE DAYS TWO CITIES THREE VENUES
NO ROADIES

Sunday May 22nd
My Sunday morning audience:  Eighty beautifully dressed, red-hatted well-fed, fifty years and older lovely ladies of The Red Hat Society (www.redhatsociety.com). I booked this gig at Sze Chwan – a Chinese Restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Canoga Park before I was asked to perform two shows two days later in New York City – my hometown – at the Mama Expo (www.mamaexpo.com) on May 24th.  So.  Sunday morning, I load up the car, journey to “the valley” pull up, unload, am surrounded by a sea of red hats, set up, wait for lunch to be over, do the show (which went really well),

strike the set which includes the slide projector, speakers, costumes, props etcetera, get paid, load up and jump in the car – grab a sandwich and head home.  Unpack, re-pack for the New York shows and get it together.

MONDAY MAY 23rd
Wake up at 4:00AM – get to the airport at 6AM – for a 7:20AM flight – on which I get stuck in the middle seat.  Torture. But.  I am bringing my show to New York.  Wow.   Schlep schlep schlep the projector, speakers, laptop and few personal items that filled to the max the one carry-on bag and one personal item allowed (could not, would not, did not risk checking my bags).  The plan is to arrive at 4:00PM – go straight to the theater for tech rehearsal.  I am sharing the show night and the rehearsal with another play that follows mine, and we’re both on another show’s set.  For the uninformed, tech rehearsals are traditionally hell and this one did not disappoint.  Months of planning, negotiating and scheduling had gone into this one tech rehearsal. I had shipped my suitcase of props and costumes ahead to my friend Tom who kindly agreed to meet me at the theater with my show in a suitcase.  After my $55 cab ride from JFK, I checked in to the Excelsior hotel on West 81st Street (one street down from the apartment I had lived in for 10 years as a struggling actress!) and immediately lugged my suitcase to the Drilling Company Theater on West 78th.  Two long long flights up I enter the really sweet “intimate” theater.  It is perfect.  There’s Tom!  Yay!  There’s my suitcase with the cables and adaptors and costumes and props.  I begin setting up and spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out where the screen goes which determines where everything else on the stage goes – including me! The blessing and curse of running my own show is I am technologically empowered, do not have to train – or pay – anyone – to run the show, which includes about 100 slides.  There are lots of transitions, cues and music, which I run with my remote from the stage – it is truly a one-woman show.  After a very arduous and typically trying tech, we get the screen set up – the stage set up – am finally happy and immediately strike, pack up and schlep the TWO suitcases down the two flights of stairs and back to the hotel.  I am wiped out.  Dead.  And starving.  I need a glass of wine and some carbs.  The concierge suggests an Italian restaurant and after walking around trying to find a less swanky one, I go in and order my wine and pasta and – I am a new woman!  Back to the hotel – call home and get the girls on the phone.  They are three hours behind.  I was concerned because my 18-year-old, Rose, was working at Banana Republic and I hated my 14-year-old Ruby eating and being alone on a school night.  I have never left my girls alone for this long before and although I knew my “village” was right there – I still felt guilty.  Ahhh, the curse of the working mother.  But turns out Rose’s shift was changed and they were together. I am so relieved.

I re-organize all the suitcases for tomorrow’s double-header – the first show is at 11AM at the conference.  What is MamaExpo?

MAMA Expo & M.O.M. Conference: Modern Ambassador for Maternal Advancement. Raising Awareness the Museum Of Motherhood (M.O.M.) and Women, (M)others and Families Everywhere. Empowered by Mamapalooza & hosted by Marymount Manhattan University, New York Parks Dept.

The conference is organized by a magnificent magnet of all things mothers and marvelous – Joy Rose, the founder of Mamapalooza, (www.mamapalooza.com), and The Museum of Motherhood (www.museumofmotherhood.org). “Just get here, I’ll do the rest.” Joy told me back in January, when she asked me to bring SHE’S HISTORY! to the conference.  So there I was – a “presenter” at the three day Conference – right smack in the middle of all these really fascinating and accomplished and cool cool cool women http://www.motherhoodmuseum.org/ConferenceSchedule_11.html AND she got me an evening show the same night.  I got TWO slots at the conference.

TUESDAY MAY 24th
Wake up all excited.  SO excited.  Shower, Pilates, forced some breakfast down and grab the suitcases, a latte, a cab and am on my way to Marymount Manhattan College on East 71st Street.  It is almost 10AM and my cell rings.  It is 7:00AM in L.A. and it is the 18-year old.  “Mom?  I did not sleep – my throat hurts and I’m gonna kill the cat”.  She goes on for a while – I am not focusing as we are nearing the destination.  “Honey, I can’t talk. Gargle with salt and warm water, make the ginger lemon honey drink.   Feel better.”  I feel guilty as I pay the $10 fare.  The helpful young gals at the reception desk have my badge and conference bag and I ask them if they know who the first woman to run for President was.  As usual, no one knows – Geraldine Ferraro’s name is offered and I tell them a bit about the show and am escorted up to the room where I will be presenting.  It is a beautiful room.  There is Joy Rose and six or so other women sitting in a circle.  Their session before mine is still going on and it is the discussion of the ongoing activities and future of The Museum Of Motherhood.  “Come join us” Joy invites me and I can hardly focus on what is a really interesting conversation about the goals and identity and branding of this fabulous museum.  All I can think of is how long it will take me to set up the room. The session ends and I swing into action – setting up the projector, the laptop – the speakers… unpacking the suitcase and setting up the props and costumes.  A nice young college student helps me as does an old friend – Jessica – from my comedy days in NYC who is also in Mamapalooza.  A sociology professor from Hunter College arrives – she is a history buff and feminist and was told about the show.  I greet her.   A few other people show up and there is Joy right in the front row with her phone/camera and beautiful energy.  She introduces me; I take a deep breath and begin.  I love doing the show.  I love watching the audience become entertained and moved and engaged and surprised by all the information and stories.  When I finish, they applaud loud and long and we have a Q&A where older women (pioneers) in the audience typically tell me of the gender discrimination they faced in their lives and brag of their accomplishments and I am once again reminded of why I go to all this trouble.

But – no time for glory basking.  Must turn the room over, so while Joy gets us lunch, I unplug, strike, and pack up, all the while trying to chat with the Hunter College professor who is blown away and keeps telling me what a wonderful teacher I am and that “your performance was an example of creative teaching at its best.”   I am so moved.  We talk about Sojourner Truth (who of course is in the show) and the power of theater.  I feel like I always do after a performance of SHE’S HISTORY!   So high.  So so high.  There is no drug like post performance.

Joy returns and we sit with her conference partner – Lynne – another fabulous female and we talk about how exhausted we are and how fabulous but ambitiously planned and amazingly executed the conference turned out to be.  A beautiful colorfully dressed woman comes in and Joy introduces us.  She is Barbara Glickstein – one of the next presenters.  (Barbara is an RN, MPH, MS, Co-Director of the Center for Health, Media and Policy at Hunter College, a public health nurse, broadcast journalist and global activist).  Joy tells her about SHE’S HISTORY! and when asked which women are in my show (there are about 30) I hand her my playbill.  “Oh”, she says, perusing it.  “Lucretia Mott.  I know her great-great-great-granddaughter” and proceeds to tell me about the yardstick that Lucretia’s father – Thomas Coffin – used to measure cloth.  I am now literally hyperventilating as I ask, “does she live here?” And the next thing I know she promises to try and e-connect us.

Time to go – grab another cab back to the hotel where I return calls, check emails, and actually rest for the two hours until the next show.  I refuel with the help of Starbucks and schlep schlep over to The Drilling Company Theater.  It is 6PM.   Lug lug up the two long flights and no one is in the theater.  Yay!  I set up in silence, happy for the peace and focus.  After a bit I am joined by the owner, Hamilton Clancy, and two theater lovers bond.  Then Joy and Lynne arrive with the wine and cheese.  Sebastian – who is running the lights – arrives and we go over my opening cue.  The audience is now squeezing into the teeny tiny lobby. Space in New York City is the ultimate commodity.   It is 6:40 and I am ready. We need to open the house.   In my Bella Abzug costume, I grab the remote, which I use to run the show, and bolt for the tiny backstage room.  Shut the door.  This is the hard part now.  Waiting.  Waiting and hearing the audience milling and murmuring just on the other side of the door which I open a crack and sneak peeks as friends and family and colleagues make their way up the stairs to be greeted by Joy and Lynne who offer wine and cheese. I love a well-fed slightly buzzed audience. The energy is electric.  I am pacing in circles when I spot the framed poster on the wall.  It is a quote by Margaret Mead.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I am immediately moved to tears. This quote closes the show.  It is a sign.  Grabbing my flip, and with an emotional commentary, I shoot the sign.

It is show time.  Joy has done the intro.  “They are all ready for you,” she says.  I enter the theater, click my remote for the first musical cue (“Que sera sera”) and here we go. The place is packed.  I do my thing and I love it.  They seem to love it too.  As I perform I spot all sorts of people.  My sister Barbara, my former acting teacher Lenore who is helping me develop the show, my friend Jimmy from Long Island who taught me how to French kiss when I was fifteen; my old boyfriend and his lovely girlfriend.

I take my bow – make my speech thanking everyone for coming and explain how I have to turn the theater over immediately to the next show.  With the help of my friend Doug, we strike my stuff and minutes later I am outside with a glass of wine enjoying my friends and sister and so so so happy.


(left to right) Robin – the lovely girlfriend of my former boyfriend Twad (yes that is his name), Twad, Doug, my sister Barbara and behind her Joe- her husband, Tom Corozza, friend Amy Stiller, ME, old friend Bob Greenberg, friend Terrie Mintz and her friend….

WEDNESDAY MAY 25th
Wake up still so so so so happy and craving pancakes.  Grab some and another cab and hightail over to the conference.  It is the last day and the only day for me to attend any sessions.  It was so hard to pick and choose but I chose Elena Skoko.  Here is the description.

Memoirs of a Singing Birth. Singer and artist Elena Skoko shares her life and discoveries on the path to motherhood that takes her from Croatia to Rome, from Rome to Bali in search of the perfect birth. Memoirs of a Singing Birth is a story of a personal quest for natural birth that ends up in a rural village in the heart of the island of Gods with the help of ‘guerrilla midwife’, Ibu Robin Lim. While giving birth, this rock ‘n’ roll woman sang! Her path to motherhood is exotic, adventurous, unusual, but also witty and deeply emotional. This is a story that will leave a trace in your heart changing your perception of birth forever, whether you’re expecting children or not. Memoirs of a Singing Birth is also a personal research of contemporary and forgotten birth practices. You will find out how the author and newborn mother succeeds to overcome the labor pains by using her voice, a practice much easier than one can imagine. The e-book describes in detail and with photos the practice of lotus birth. But most of all, this is a magic love story about a woman, a man and their child. Memoirs of a Singing Birth is published on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/27398

She sat behind a desk in a classroom and mesmerized me with her story, her singing and especially the bit about eating placenta. She shared the session with writer/performer Anna Fishbeyn
who – like me – has a one-woman show “Sex In Mommyville”.  Here is HER description:

“Sex in Mommyville”. Anna Fishbeyn will perform an excerpt from her show, and discuss the challenges mothers face in maintaining “healthy” sex lives.  “Sex in Mommyville” is a feminist comedy-drama about a neurotic, guilt-ridden, health-conscious, sex-starved Manhattan mom trying to please her high-maintenance children, her lawyer-husband Zeus, and her Russian parents who live upstairs. Add to this mixture failed sex attempts and an article for Bitch Magazine raging against myopic, media-engendered stereotypes and double standards, and you’ve got a fearless portrayal of modern motherhood caught between Feminism and Bridalplasty! www.Sexinmommyville.com

I was SO worried when she began as she was dressed very sexy in a short skirt, fishnet stockings and high heels.  But she totally blew me and everyone else away with her brilliant take on contemporary motherhood and society’s objectifying and devaluing women. I wish I could see the WHOLE show, which she is doing in July at  Manhattan Repertory Theatre.


Anna, Elena and me

The next session was with keynote speaker Phyllis Chessler.
Author of 13 books, feminist, activist and blogger, Phyllis has been active in the women and mother’s movement her entire adult life. This is her third M.O.M. Conference

Mothers On Trial. This is the 25th anniversary edition with eight new chapters. It is still the first and only book of its kind, a book that looks at how women mothers, what happens when good enough mothers are custodially challenged – often by very violent husbands and fathers who prevail more often than not, and whose cause is often assisted by the court system itself. The book documents the heroism and connectedness of mothers, even under tortuous siege. Also this new edition includes chapters which look at legal trends (1986-2011), legal torture, a new chapter about Fathers’ Supremacists groups, an updated international custody chapter, two new chapters about court-enabled incest, a new introduction, a new resources section, and a new closing chapter interview with a leading Manhattan divorce lawyer: “What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Divorce.”

What can I say?  She was brilliant, articulate, passionate, funny, honest, angry and an adoring grandmother!  I could relate so much and felt so validated and supported, as I believe all the mothers in the room felt.  As I have learned from performing “Cheerios In My Underwear” my play about motherhood, there is something so wonderful about being a in a room with people who are going through the same struggle.


Phyllis Chessler and Me!

Maternally and culturally nourished, I went on the next – and last – session of the day.

Ali Smith: Book author, photographer

Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives. Societies need healthy mothers in order to survive, but they rarely know how to take care of mothers’ needs properly. Momma Love looks at the varying degrees of support that women receive from partners, lawmakers, employers and each other. Photographer Ali Smith shares photographs and the very personal stories of her subjects. The mothers depicted range from famous actors to a survivor of incest who is struggling to put the shattered pieces of herself back together so that she may parent her son well. Through the anecdotal evidence revealed in these women’s stories, greater truths about the way mothers are living and are treated in western society are revealed.

I loved getting to know Ali – who – like me – spent many years in the sexist, ego-driven, male dominated often morally bankrupt music business.  She was in a band; I worked in promotion.  She gave me a signed copy of her wonderful first book “Laws of the Bandit Queens -Words To Live by from 35 of Today’s Most Revolutionary Women”.   What a cool book filled with some of the women I portray in my show and whom she interviewed including Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Schroeder and Alice Walker!  Ali showed us a presentation of her upcoming project Momma Love – about motherhood.

It all ended to soon and exhausted but totally inspired and emotionally overwhelmed – but in a good way – I hugged and kissed all the fabulous females I met and bonded with and hit the hot and crowded streets of Manhattan.

THURSDAY MAY 26th
I chilled.  I just chilled.  The whole damned day.  Ahhhhhh.

FRIDAY MAY 27th
DID YOU HEAR?  I HAD A BEER WITH LUCRETIA MOTT’S…..
Great-great-great-great-granddaughter.  I still cannot believe it. Who is Lucretia Mott?  An extremely fabulous female who has a BIG part in my show and in women’s history!  Huge!  A founding mother, famous abolitionist, ordained Quaker minister  – one of the first women in America to preach in public (Anne Hutchinson tried it in the 1600s and she – the mother of the first amendment – was literally run out of town). After a few emails, Lucretia Coffin Mott’s great-great-great-great granddaughter Marianna invited me to her home.  I was so excited I could barely speak. When I emailed asking if I could I bring her coffee, she replied:  “Too damned hot for coffee.  Bring some chips.  We’re having ale”.

Ale?  Ale? With Marianna Mott?  I am plotzing, kvelling, freaking out.  I arrive at her loft, she buzzes me up and I see a mezuzah on her door – which is a sign that a Jew lives there.  A Jew?  Lucretia Coffin Mott was a famous Quaker.  A Jewish Quaker?  Could she get any cooler? A beautiful blonde woman younger than I greets me.  I see Mott in her face.  I feel I am in the presence of royalty.  She turns out to be a gracious, warm, lovely smart, feminist mommy and total girlfriend.  I fall in love with her.  We drink the ale, we eat the chips, we get to know each other.  She shows me Lucretia’s father’s yardstick.  It is engraved Thomas Coffin with the year 1797.  I am moved to tears.  I’m such a wimp. I have never been in the presence of such an artifact.  She shows me more things, a book with letters between Lucretia and her husband James.  Some photographs and an award her teenage son (a history buff!) received.  It was The Mary Wollstonecraft Award for Excellence In History.  Mary Wollstonecraft – our first femisnits writer of also has a nice part in my show.  The whole intense trip was worth this afternoon.  An hour flies by.  We promise to keep in touch and I float away.


Marianna Mott, the Yardstick and me

Marianna Mott, The Yardstick, a picture of Lucretia, and me

I subway it to the Upper West Side where I hit Zabar’s (the greatest deli on Earth) and stock up on bread and cake. I meet my former acting teacher Lenore DeKoven, who takes me out to a real nice Upper East Side restaurant for a real nice dinner. We discuss the future of SHE’S HISTORY!  Lenore is a tough cookie with the highest of standards and has supported this project from the start.

I leave for home the next day.  Sitting in a quiet JFK Airport on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, sipping wine, I am absolutely struck with what I have accomplished.  Three shows, two days, two states, three venues, no roadies, no problems and I am still miraculously alive. This was the first time I brought a show to New York.  The first time I did not SEE a show in New York.  The first time I went to New York and did not have a pizza or knish or Chinese food.   Instead, I did a show – or two, felt more proud of myself than I can articulate and – I had a beer with a Mott.

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