31 YEARS AGO TODAY, I CAME TO NY! This really is a very special day in my life. I celebrate this day as much as I celebrate my birthday.
In 1973, on this date, (at the age of 13!) I happened to be reading CREATIVE VISUALIZATION By Shakti Gawain.
In this book, Shakti said to set your mind on a goal and go after it like a homing pigeon. I closed the book and went in and announced to my family that five years from that day, I was moving to New York! My family laughed at me and made fun of me, but my mind was made up and I was DETERMINED! From that date forward for the next four years I would announce: "Four years to go...", "three years to go...", "two years to go...", "Next year, I'm going to New York..." I never wavered and/or waffled on that decision.
On June 10th of '79, I called Piedmont Airlines (the only airline at that time that flew out of Myrle Beach) to find out how much a one way ticket to New York would be. It was $86.95. Trouble was I didn't have a credit card and would have to go directly to the airport to purchase the ticket. When I asked my dad to take me to the airport, he said no. He was not going to support me in this nonsense, at all. I said, "Fine, I'll do it myself!". I then hitchhiked to the airport! I bought my ticket and it was like finding the holy grail! When I came home with my ticket, my family was shocked and continued to mock me. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but I grew up in a very rural area in South Carolina and most of my family had never been ANYWHERE!
I had never flown before, I had never been to New York, I had never slept in another bed except when I stayed at my grandparents. IT WAS A BIG DEAL...at least to me. As I got closer to August 5th, there were two going away parties.
One from my Aunt Janice and Uncle Bill with a few friends from my church. The other thrown by my dear friend, Beth Mahar, whom I had met earlier that year when I did MARAT/SADE with The Upstage Company with Coastal Carolina's drama department. NOTHING from my family. I was making the biggest mistake of my life. It was a constant joke.
The night before I left for New York, my parents were still in total denial and disbelief.
The day arrived! I was scared, petrified, nervous...but I didn't let it show. My family and I went to The Holland House for pancakes with our neighbors, Mr. Mike and Miss Marian. Then we went to the airport. When last call was announced, I bolted to the plane. I was practically in NY before the plane. Once I got on the plane (out of view from my family), I began to cry. I cried out of fear and excitement. I had $500.00 in my pocket, an umbrella (given to me from Sylvia Reddick from The Theatre of The Republic), a briefcase (!), my portfolio of "headshots" taken by Russell Fowler, and my Bible.
A year prior, at The Conway Christmas Parade, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ray, told me that David Johnson had moved to New York. David's father was the school superintendent.
I had called him to get in touch with David. I wrote to David right after Christmas. I told him of my plans to move to New York in August and asked for SUGGESTIONS as to where I should stay. I never heard anything from him (RED FLAG NUMBER ONE!)On my 19th birthday, February 11th, 1979, I called David. He said he had lost the letter but that he had been meaning to get in touch with me. I was welcome to stay with him. He had lots of room and he had a successful job (he might even find a place for me within his company!). DOORS WERE OPENING!
Now back to the fateful day. I called David that morning. He informed me that he had a "business meeting" and could not meet me at the airport but that I should take a taxi. My neighbors were mortified. They envisioned some crooked taxi driver giving this green kid from the sticks the run around in New York and it costing me a bundle. They suggested I take an "airport limousine" (read shuttle).
When I got off the plane, got my luggage (one large suitcase) and searched for the "limousine" sign.
Are you with me? I RENTED A BLACK STRETCH LIMOUSINE! I had no clue until this car pulled up to taker me to my destination.
I ARRIVED IN NY IN A BLACK STRETCH LIMOUSINE! I arrived at David's at 86th & third. This schmuck didn't even come down to meet me. He buzzed me in. I carried my large suitcase up five flight's to David's railroad flat.
We sat and talked for about 25 minutes at which time he informed me that he was a drug user! I said I didn't mind as long as he didn't try to push things over on me. Then he offered me a mini-tour of the upper East side of Manhattan and Central Park. Oh by the way, did I mention it was the hottest day I had ever experienced!?!?! He took me to The Bethesda Fountain (big drug hangout in '79) and The Rambles (big cruise-y gay area...I didn't know, believe it or not, that I was gay) and then he took me back to the apartment and informed me that I had the place to myself that night, he was staying with a friend. (MY FIRST NIGHT IN NY AND I AM ALONE). He also mentioned that I would be meeting his roommates the next morning, Brad and Lisa! He had never mentioned them. When I asked if they knew about me, he said, "They will meet you tomorrow morning!"
And he left. I was ALONE my first night in NY trapped not knowing anyone else in NY. There was a loaf of bread and a jar of honey in the refrigerator. I didn't even know how to order a pizza. I'm not ashamed to say I sat down and had a long cry. As a matter of fact, I cried myself to sleep that night.
When I woke up the next morning and walked through the railroad flat apartment to the bathroom through Brad and Lisa's bedroom, my first encounter with them was to find them doing what comes naturally! Brad said "Heelloo...", Lisa said, "Who the F!@$ are you!?!?!"
I told them I was David's new roommate. Brad said, "GREAT!". Lisa said "OVER MY DEAD BODY!" Brad told me to leave the room and not to worry, it would be discussed. I went to the bathroom and sat on the edge of the bathtub and had my next cry!
(I cried a lot my first few days in NY!)When I came out of the bathroom, I was informed that this apartment wasn't even their own place. It was a sublet and they had to be out by September 1st! When I asked what we were going to do, Lisa replied with "We don't know what YOU plan to do, but I suggest you go back home!" That wasn't even an option!
On August 6th, I grabbed The Village Voice and went job hunting. My options were VERY LIMITED.I had no skills. The first interview I went on, I got! I think they felt sorry for me. It was as a messenger at 55 Water Street. $6.00 an hour!
Life with Brad, David, Lisa was a nightmare. They allowed me to stay there for $100.00 a week, and doing ALL the cleaning and laundry. I stayed there till September 5th, EXACTLY ONE MONTH. Having a discussion with a co-worker about my situation, he mentioned that his mother had just passed away and he could use a room mate. He knew what I was making, so he took a percentage of that and I lived there till December. But I WAS IN NEW YORK. All of this is going into a book that I am writing. STAY TUNED!
Just for the fun of it, I'd like to revisit that date. It was a Sunday. The number one song on the charts was BAD GIRLS by Donna Summer.
Jimmy Carter was on the cover of TIME MAGAZINE.
Now, thanks to ARIEL PUBLICITY, I have decided to take you on my journey to STARRING ON BROADWAY by the time I'm 50 (February 11th!)
THIS WEEK: WEEK 1: GETTING MENTALLY PREPARED
Getting Goals To Happen:
• Do something everyday that moves you towards the goals (a list of 5
successes each day will help with this).
• Make daily lists of tasks you need to do to get complete, in order to get
your goals met – the night before!
• Write out a time frame for each task (15 minutes, 1 hour etc.).
• Do the hardest task first in the morning - don’t procrastinate.
• Studies show that the average person can achieve 6 tasks a day, so
ONLY write 6 a day – don’t get overwhelmed.
• Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people
(you would be surprised what you could do with 4 hours it takes to clean
• Build a TEAM to help you! Get an intern or two.
Log on to http://www.entertainmentcareers.net and post as an employer
seeking interns. You will be amazed at how many bright young people
would like to get their feet wet in the music business. You technically run
a record label so advertise for a label assistant, marketing manager or a
street team director.
If you don’t have an office to accommodate them, that’s OK, Meet 1X per
week at a coffee shop and have your intern work remotely from home.
Goal Achieving TIP # 4 – MAKE ONE HAPPEN ASAP
Start with the easiest one on your list, give it two to four weeks and a deadline.
Then write the exact deadline in the present tense, like this:: By August 10th, 2008,
I will have added 25 new quality friends to my Facebook page.
Now, go back and put dates on every single goal you wrote down.
THANKS TO ALL THE WONDERFUL AUDIENCES I HAVE BEEN HAVING LATELY!
I hope you have had great times. Hope you can make my next appearance next Tuesday night (see below)! If you have NY contacts that you think might be interested in seeing me perform at The Iguana next Tuesday night, August 11th,HAVE THEM RESERVE! Would mean a lot to have you there as well. Please pay it forward. I’ve always said I’m only as good as the audience; I truly believe that. If you've seen a recent show,when you get a moment, please let me know what you liked MOST about the show, what you liked LEAST, and what one thing you think I could do differently for next time.
ALSO, … if you don’t mind, please put your thoughts about my “performance” and/or the evening in my guestbook on my website (http://www.richardskipper.com/guestbook.html).
That helps to sell me and my work as well.
And please tell your friends to visit my website!
Most of my audiences come from referrals. With grateful XOXOXs! Richard Skipper 845-365-0720 PS…If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to The Dr. Carol Channing-Harry Kullijian Endowment For The Arts, Go to http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.html TELL CAROL I SENT YOU!
PS…Please pay this forward to your NY contacts:
IGUANA VIP LOUNGE, 240 West 54th Street, NYC
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA
Barry Levitt on keyboard & Saadi Zain on bass.
Tonight's guests include: Bobbie Horowitz, Leslie Orofino, David Sloan, Frank Torren ...
...and a few other surprises as well! $12.00 Music Charge/No food or drink minimum!
Reservations a must (212) 765-5454
LOOKING FORWARD TO HOPEFULY SEEING YOU SOON!
http://www.richardskipper.com/schedule.html for upcoming appearances
HERE ARE A FEW COMMENTS FROM MY GUESTBOOK ON MY WEBSITE
I had the best time at the Iguana last night (8/4/10). It was a night to remember. Where else can you go and get that vast variety of a show? It was with out a doubt the most entertaining night of my year! Thanks!!
DeOnzell Green, NYC
On Tuesday nite (7/27/10), I saw something at St Luke's theater I am still thinking about today.
I saw Richard Skipper transform himself into one of the Grand Dames of American Theater, Ms. Carol Channing.
From the moment he stepped on the stage, I BELIEVED I was watching Ms. Channing. This wasn't your typical tribute show. This was a show that was put together with love and respect and it showed. I learned more about Carol Channing from this show than I ever knew!
This show was about music and life. The life of Carol Channing and all of the wonderful music she brought to the world and put her signature on.
Who could imagine the role of Dolly Levi or Lorelei Lee with anyone besides Carol Channing...maybe Richard Skipper!
Richard gives performers something to aspire to. He gives audiences something to enjoy. He gives the world the gift of Carol Channing with a touch of Richard Skipper thrown in for good measure. Thank you.
Fran Giannini Leonardis, Ringwood, NJ
Richard, the show at St. Luke's was amazing. I loved every minute of it, and judging from the enthusiastic response, so did every single person in the audience. You are incredibly adept at weaving biography, humor and fabulous entertainment into a truly engaging show.
(I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard as I did during your "scene" with Evan!) I can't wait to see your show again!
Catt John, NY
TILL NEXT WEEK...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL AUGUST!
With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com