David Vass imbues the ’epitome of urbane,’ which he brushes off with an airwave, when I mention it’s how I appraised him at our initial meeting some years ago. Vass doesn’t define life via platitudes. Given a lemon, he savors it; why resort to masking it as lemonade, as if inferring its original form isn’t worthy in and of itself? Given a bowl of cherries, he wholly shares and doesn’t pretend to save some up for that proverbial—; is there really a need to hang a bad rap on a rainy day?
So, when we connected to chat about his upcoming premiere at The Cabaret at 924 North Pennsylvania, Oct. 27-29, and I ask, “What exactly is Verbal Voyeur?” Vass’s reply comes in a wave of illustrations on “musings of an eccentric raconteur who happened to be at the right places at the right time.”
Here’s the trajectory of what could be straight from the show, or not:
“Since I was eight (and I was eight before I was seven, ha), I have kept diaries. Little things (schoolyard fights,) big things (going to prison for refusing to participate in the Vietnam War / draft because I didn’t think being gay had anything to do with it), to literally pooping myself at Lincoln Center having Montezuma’s revenge during a concert when I was doing sound and lights for a two-time Grammy winner. It’s all in this show. Really it is not a play so much as an ‘evening with’, in the tradition of Quintin Crisp, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs – all cringe memoirists.
“So, I gathered my dairies and took the highlights and wrote Part One - the early 60s through the 80s. If this is successful, there will also be a Part Two, covering the 90s through the present. I consider myself a Diarist and a storyteller, except they aren’t stories – they are my life - my website describes it best; It is adult material, over 18 to enter the website. It is not pornographic, but it is blue material. If you whirled up Lenny Bruce and Phyllis Diller in a Vitamix, you are close. Some people DO walk out.”
“Homo, hobo, prisoner, lighting and sound designer and road manager working with the greats, luxury travel [developer], and now, as I attempt retirement, the sharing of my diaries/ stories to a generation that doesn’t know how we got from the ’50s to where we are now.”
What is your favorite phrase? “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, tis that I may not weep”; Lord Byron at his most succinct – and the heart of my ‘an evening with’.
If you had one thing to do over again?
—just experience the show.
No spoilers here.