BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince everyone I meet that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City. That is my way of describing how I feel having cheated death. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

Last year, I turned 60 and I had a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City and played the lead role in a staged reading of a play not written by myself. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin].

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THE GREAT GAME's Nabil Elouahabi

I ran into a guy sitting in the comfy chairs at the Starbucks near the Christopher Street subway entrance. We quickly got into a conversation. I noted his English accent and he, after we had spoken for awhile about our respective projects, he said, "This would never happen in London. Two strangers just sitting excitedly, jabbering on about things. It's what I love about New York."

Turns out he's an actor in a very interesting new work from London, which had a remarkable impact in DC.

Afghanistan is a place nobody knows anything about. But, somehow, we know we're in a war against, um, the bad guys.

New show featuring HIV. Me, Myself and HIV.

New show featuring HIV. Me, Myself and HIV.


Me, Myself & HIV promo from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

ht: Shawn Decker

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Happy Joan Crawford Thanksgiving to Al!

Being Thankful for Friends.

This past weekend, I put together a quick invitation to my Dec. 2 concert for the Afterglow concert for the University Glee Club here in New York when I realized that I have way many more actual friends and close acquaintances than I had thought. How interconnected we all are. So, today I'm going to be thankful for friends.

Friends would come around
And bring me little things
And say how much they
Needed me to live

Everyone is so busy these days, I don't really expect that many people to show up, apart from the members of the Glee Club who have decided to hang around after their rehearsal. Luckily, it's free, and they do encourage a 7:45 arrival.

Also, since it is a glee club, you know I'm gonna make everyone sing.

My Thanksgiving Prayer.

This next Sunday morning, Jake Wesley Stewart and I are going to perform a duet of "My Thanksgiving Prayer" at Christchurch Episcopal in Brooklyn. I was going to post a video, and then I found a blog called sowhatfaith.com that did it for me:

Over the last several days I have read many blogs and news articles, searched Scripture,  talked with several people and participated in and interfaith worship service all in an effort to better grasp both Thanksgiving and thankfulness.  For some reason, this Thanksgiving what resonates deeply with me are the lyrics to a song: “My Thanksgiving Prayer.”  I encourage you to take some time to read them, then to hear them sung, and finally to offer them as a prayer.
In this time of my thanksgiving as my song begins to rise
Listen to the prayer within me - Look into my grateful eyes
May I humbly stand before you, as I reach out with my hand
May the music bring a healing to this cold and troubled land
In this time of my thanksgiving — ohhh — In this time of my thanksgiving
God of love who made apostles out of every clan and race
In this time and in this valley – You are there in every face
As I face the burnished offerings to the gods of power and fear
Make of me a living offering – Let me be your servant here
In this time of my thanksgiving — ohhh — In this time of my thanksgiving
Give us grace to face the struggle which the world yet holds in store
Walk beside us ever loving – Grant us peace forevermore
In this time grant us peace — ohhh — In this time grant us peace
Ohhh — In this time – peace

So What?
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what has been, for what is, and for what can be.  Take time today to reflect on blessings from past, recognize those happening in the present, and imagining those yet to come.  As you look ahead to the place God is guiding, remember and live into these words: “Make of me a living offering – Let me be your servant here.”
About the Song
“My Thanksgiving Prayer” is found in Part 3 of New World Waking: A Musical Insurrection for Peace.  You can view and download a free copy of the sheet music here.
The lyrics were written by Rev. Peter J. Carman who serves as pastor of The Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  The music was composed by Steve Schalchlin who is best known for writing the music and lyrics to two critically-acclaimed, award-winning off-Broadway pop gospel musicals The Last Session and The Big Voice: God or Merman?  The YouTube video clip is of a rehearsal by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Community Women’s Orchestra directed by Dr. Kathleen McGuire.
Don't forget that you can still get the full recording of the entire New World Waking at the website of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jim Brochu to Interview Peter Filichia - Barnes & Noble, Nov. 30.

On Tuesday night at 7:30pm, Jim will interview Peter Filichia about his fantastic new book Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit & the Biggest Flop of the Season, 1959-2009.

Special guests will be NY cabaret legend, Steve Ross and hot new actor, Jake Wesley Stewart, who has just moved to New York. (He and I sang together a lot back in Los Angeles, where he was a sensation in the Celebration Theater production of "Altar Boyz.")

The book itself is beyond priceless, especially if you're studying theatre, or are interested in theatre. Far from being a "dry read," Peter tells all the backstage stories, analyzes why shows hit or flopped, and remembers great performers of the past and present.

I read the book a couple of weeks ago, and I sped through it so fast, my only complaint was that I wanted more! More! More!

GET  Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit & the Biggest Flop of the Season, 1959-2009 at Amazon.

Zero Hour Closes in NY Jan. 9th For Tour.

Adam Feldman sweetly lamented Zero Hour's New York closing, today, in his UPSTAGE Time Out NY blog, . He similarly was saddened by the more sudden closing of Devil Boys From Beyond, which I have not seen. It opened while we were away.
Zero Hour has had a solid run; Devil Boys from Beyond deserved one as well. For what these two very different shows have in common is that they are superb examples of their kind. Critics have noticed: On the StageGrade critical aggregation site, Zero Hour has the second-highest median rating of all current plays in New York; Devil Boys has the sixth-highest. Audiences have noticed too: Everyone I personally know who has seen either show has told me they're glad that they did. So if you haven't seen them yet, fix that soon. Devil Boys is here for another two weeks, Zero Hour for another two months, and who knows how long we'll have to wait for another two shows like these?

Read more: Get there soon: Devil Boys from Beyond and Zero Hour set closing dates - Upstaged Blog - Time Out New York
BTW, that other show that came in number one? "Merchant of Venice" starring Al Pacino.

For the record, Zero Hour is closing in New York because it is going on the road, due to previously booked dates. It should be noted that the producers brought it into town for a limited run of 12 weeks. That it has endured, and run for over a year, is quite an accomplishment. In fact, it was extended from the most recently announced closing date of December 19 because of ticket demand.

So, New Yorkers, we cannot extend even one more performance. January 9th is it. And thank you, Adam, for noticing Jim's performance.
"We owe Jim Brochu a debt of gratitude for Zero Hour, an extraordinary act of reincarnation that restores the outsize actor to us in all of his daunting dimensions," we wrote in our review last December. "From the moment that Brochu spins around to face the audience, he is a Hirschfeld drawing come to pulsing life: the paradoxical lightness of his bulk, the bulging eyes beneath rolling brows, the garish comb-forward of hair."
 I know he's my other half, but I think he's pretty great. So, for Thanksgiving I made him this graphic:



Monday, November 22, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Letter from a Poz Stranger.

I've been writing my blog for so long -- and have been "out" as an positoid for so long, I forgot what it feels like to be starting down this road. So, this email was a welcome wake-up call. In the letter, he tells how he tested positive at the age of 17.

17.

And his parents "basically disowned" him, so they left him to fend for himself. Imagine for a moment being this child. This kind of terror is what many teenagers feel when it comes to just coming out. Imagine having AIDS and being disowned at that age.
Hi Steve,
This is totally out of my character to send random emails to random bloggers. I found your blog this morning when doing a search for "HIV blogs." I recently started my own and wanted to see what everyone else was doing with theirs. I started mine because this year is my 10 year anniversary of having HIV/AIDS and I figured I might have some wisdom to pass on. What struck me about your blog is how open to other topics you are. It is not just a blog about your experience with AIDS. It is more about the "whole you." And I really admire that. Up to this point I've been afraid (for lack of a better term) to put too much of myself into my blog. I guess I am most concerned about "outing myself." My co-workers have no clue. And even some of my friends don't know. Were you always very open about it? Or did you just reach a "fuck it" point? Have you gotten any negative backlash from it?

Anyway, thanks for making me feel less alone out in cyber space.

Pozitively Acquired
http://pozitivelyacquired.blogspot.com/
I wrote him back:
I have to say, in response to your
question, that as soon as I tested positive, I told everyone around me, and I had an office job at the time. It never occurred to me to keep it a secret. So, when I started my blog, since it was based on having written a bunch of songs about living with AIDS, there really wasn't anything left to hide.

So, my circumstance is probably much different from yours. Also, back then, if you got AIDS, you died. It was much more important that everyone know, so that we could change hearts and minds about health care, etc.

The response was amazing when I did tell, in the beginning. People embraced me, loved me, kissed me, came out to me, and felt grateful in that, by revealing this personal thing, they felt like they could also talk to me about things in their own lives. It's incredibly freeing.

What you have to think about, personally, is your own stress level. Your body is now always in a state of low grade infection. It's working harder than other bodies. So, you must thing, first, about your own survival -- and survival is about letting go of irrelevant worries, pulling together a team of people around you who you know care about you, and focusing on your health.

You should ask yourself, aloud in your blog, what is keeping you from sharing the diagnosis -- or more, specifically -- why you are afraid of anyone finding out. Since I don't know your city or your situation, I cannot tell you what is the best course for you.

But, I would say this, when people read blogs, they never think it's about themselves. The chances that someone will put two and two together are pretty slim. And, if they did, would do you think is, realistically, the worst that could happen? If it's conceivable you'd lose your job, then you definitely have cause to worry. Or if you think you'll lose clients, etc.

But if it's just office gossip, and no real professional negative backlash, I'd say fuck em. There's a way to do this where you can be a hero. Where you just gather everyone, tell them outright what's the deal, tell them that you feel you're on borrowed time, and that you want to make sure everyone creates a healthy environment, but that, unless they were planning to either have sex with you or drink your blood, they are in no danger -- and, in fact, they're more dangerous
to you than you are to them -- the great irony.

That's the big way to go.

Or, maybe even better, you could write this speech in your blog, and start thinking out loud about what it means to come out with AIDS in whatever town you're in. It might give your blog some focus. I mean, really, we blog to survive. We blog so that we can be remembered. So
that we can think out loud. Or we simply blog because we must.

In fact, we should dual post this email exchange in our respective blogs.

What I learned is that whatever I'm going through, someone else out there is going through it, too. By saying it all out loud, just as you felt a little less lonely in finding my blog, you will do the same for another. Their journey might be closer to yours. And who knows where it will lead? I wasn't a "semi-famous" songwriter when I started my blog. I was a guy behind a desk, helping others in the music biz. I barely wrote a song a year.

Getting AIDS is definitely, for most a kind of death sentence. But, given the fact that all creatures die, it's not really new information. It's just makes us more present. It's why I call it the Bonus Round. We've been given this new lease on life, thanks to the meds, and now we have to make something of it.

*I just now looked at your blog. You're on heavy diet restrictions -- ugh. I am too. This shit made me diabetic. Are you? Ah, and you're candid about having been a hustler. I played a hustler bar in New York, once. Long gone. So, that's another factor that enters into your
coming out. If you're working in a grocery store in the midwest, you might shock the locals.

You're a good writer, by the way. I like how terse and brutally honest your prose is.

He wrote back.

I am totally on board with posting the email exchange. I think the reason why I am hesitant to go balls out and tell everyone my status is because there is just so much back story to it. I tested poz when I was 17, and then people always say "wow, that's young, how did you get it?" So, then I have to share my epic "slut years" story. And, I think I am, in a way, ashamed I got it so young. When I did tell people (in particular my parents) they basically disowned me and I was left to fend for myself. So there is a huge sense of loss connected to disclosure.

I realize that I take up such small real-estate on the web, and the likelihood of anyone ever reading my blog and making the connection that it is me, is slim to none. But, I almost lead two lives. The 9-5er has his shit together and can show up on time, work hard, play the corporate game, and go home. But that's only half of me. There is the ex-druggie, ex-hustler, poz guy that is hiding in the background, who I am so afraid will mix with the 9-5er. It makes me really isolated but I don't see how the two halves can coexist in "real life." They are just starting to mix on my blog, and that makes me nervous. But, maybe that's the real reason why I need to blog. Who knows.

As for the other stuff. MAN, dietary restrictions... I can't stand it. I'm not a diabetic yet but was put on a diet because I was heading down that path. I think one of my previous meds fucked with blood sugar. I think I read that somewhere anyway. But, I switched from that regime but my doc still wants me on the diet. I had a glucose test last Thursday so we'll see. Results should be coming in this week. Oh, and I'm in Las Vegas. Ironically, vegas is such a conservative city. The gay community here is sputtering along, but its not like West Hollywood (my old stomping grounds.) I work as a designer for one of the casinos here. It's totally a desk slave job and am looking for other opportunities. I was unemployed for about a year (did the rehab, and took some "get your shit together" time off.) So, because of that, I took whatever job I could. I used to work as an Art Director in an advertising agency, which is really where I belong. I will get back there. Just took a detour.

Again, thanks for writing back. I'm going to post my email and your response in my blog so if you get a FLOOD of viewers (6 or 7) they are my readers. haha.
Well, my friend. I long ago took the counter off my blog. Chasing numbers is not why I blog. I blog because it is helpful to me, and to the "6 or 7" people who might need the information I share about the virus, myself and whatever else I might be involved in -- whether it's encouraging gay kids and their parents to find places of safety, or encouraging world leaders to create safe spaces.

For each of us, we are all going it alone. But when we reach out and tell our stories, it does, indeed, make each of us feel a little less alone.

Check out my new friend's blog at http://pozitivelyacquired.blogspot.com/.