The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey was an ABSOLUTE Delight

From the co-founder of the Trevor Project and Academy Award-winning writer of Trevor comes James Lecesne in the Off-Broadway play The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.

In this 70 minutes production, James portrays several characters including a Jersey detective who was put on an  assignment – to find a missing 14-year-old boy named Leonard Pelkey. Throughout the town, Leonard was known as the flamboyant, over-the-top, gay kid. He was best known for his colorful platform sneakers made of Converse sneakers on top of flip-flop soles, dark mascara, nail polish and a girly hair clip. He was bullied every single day at school and on the streets.

But the bullying never weakened Leonard. He would advise the ladies at the hair salon what to wear or what hairstyle to strut. He always saw the brighter side in people. While many found him strange or repulsive, Leonard found nothing wrong with who he was. He never dressed or acted a certain way for attention. He was just being himself. The family he lived with asked him to tone it down for his safety. But he never did. How can you tell someone to “tone it down” when the person sees nothing wrong with what he or she is doing?

After his death – murder – many lives at the Jersey Shore changed. The ladies Leonard helped dress and the men he inspired with his love for the theater (Shakespeare) took away something deep and powerful from his grueling death. They each for different reasons understood how Leonard left a beautiful light in their lives. He was just a normal boy who saw brightness in every person and in life. He was innocent and others couldn’t see it. Sadly, it took a death to come to terms with who Leonard really was and his wonderful ways.

James had me in tears yet managed to make me laugh. Though this is a fictitious character, Leonard felt so real. And you know what? He is real because there are countless teenagers who are bullied, persecuted and hated on because of his or her sexual preference. There are teenagers afraid to seek help or advice for fear of being turned away, judged or hurt. I find it unjust that people judge others for being who they want to be. I find it unjust when people act righteous and almighty towards teens and adults who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Why the hurtful words? Why the hate crimes? Why the bullying? Why the judgement? Not all of us come from the same religion or beliefs, so let us not use religion as a reason. Why can’t we just accept and respect each other for who we are?

I am delighted that I saw this play. It’s brilliant, touching, heartfelt and meaningful. Let’s open our minds and hearts and extend a helping hand. The more love we give, the better the world will be.

2016 #FDNY Calendar of Heroes at the Hard Rock Cafe NY

Every year, the Fire Department of New York debuts its annual FDNY Calendar of Heroes, which features 13 actively working firefighters. It also includes safety messages per month. This year the event was held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. And I was lucky to run into two good-looking heroes and one beautiful meteorologist this afternoon.

I think I was a tad more excited to see Fox 5 NY meteorologist Audrey Puente. No offense my handsome, brave gentlemen. ;)

“All proceeds from the sale of the calendar go directly to the FDNY Foundation.” – FDNY Foundation

The 2015 Tony Awards Sparks Inspiration

What a wonderful evening I had at the 69th Annual Tony Awards which took place at Radio City Music Hall!

It was a honor sitting in the same room with incredible talent from the actors to the directors to the costume designers. I believe everyone involved in a production should be recognized for his or her contribution. Putting productions together are far from easy. Nevertheless, they make it look smooth and flawless. Their passion and love for their work shines bright.

Attending last night’s Tony Awards and surrounding myself with energy and talent in the area of my dreams has simply inspired me to push forward with my writing. And more so with my very first play.

Last night Alex Sharp –  Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – won Best Actor in a play. Same time last year, he received his degree from Juilliard and last night he held his first Tony Award! He was thankful that he was given a chance though he had a “blank sumé.” He followed his dream – and someone believed in him.

Follow your dreams. Remember it only takes one person to believe in you. When that happens, your dreams will see the light of day. ;)

A Play and A Novel 

I have postponed indefinitely my freelance writing (articles, book reviews, personal essays, poems, etc.) so I can dedicate all my free time to my third novel and my very first play. Seeing countless Broadway shows (and at one point I worked in the industry) has inspired the play writer in me. This is going to be a challenge, but I love challenges. Let us see where this journey takes me. ;)

The 3rd Annual Bollywood in the Bronx: A Taste of Culture

The Westchester Square Business Improvement District and New York City Councilman, James Vacca presented today’s 3rd Annual Bollywood in the Bronx. Present was Lisa Sorin, Executive Director of Westchester Square and Bharati S. Kemraji, Founder and Choreographer of Bharati Dance Academy who organized a fantastic Saturday afternoon with dance and live music.

Among the incredible talent were Singer/Songwriter/Author/Actress, Nisha Ramracha, Middle Eastern Dancer, Nahla and Mariachi dancers.

I took the liberty of capturing some fun and amazing moments from the event.

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Bellydancer, Nahla
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Bellydancer, Nahla
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Mariachi Dancers
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Mariachi Dancers

 

 

Nahla, Nisha and Bharati were so sweet. Thanks ladies for a wonderful event. My mother and I enjoyed every minute.

Nisha shared with me that her first American CD is coming out soon. So please visit her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further information. And don’t forget to visit Nisha’s Youtube channel to indulge in good music and hear her glorious voice. She is available for weddings, events and parties.

In addition, feel free to visit the sensational bellydancer, Nahla on Facebook for party and event requests.

Until next year!

Please take a moment to read some interesting and important facts on India. Thank you.

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The Broadway Enthusiast

This afternoon was fantastic. I had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant and talented cast of Finding Neverland The Musical. Everyone was gracious. I cannot wait for the Tony Awards so I can see these wonderful actors live once again. (continue reading)…

Broadway’s Best New Comedy Musical ‘It Shoulda Been You’ Is Phenomenal

SBU

Welcome to the St. George Hotel where everything and anything can happen.

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Future in-laws, Judy (Tyne Daly) and Georgette (Harriet Harris), do not see eye-to-eye on anything. Judy is eager for her daughter Rebecca (Sierra Boggess) to get married, but Georgette does not share the same sentiment. She confesses to her husband, George (Michael X. Martin) that she hopes the wedding  never manifests. After all, she is losing her only son, Brian (David Burtka).

Jenny (Lisa Howard), who is ill-fated when it comes to love, adores her sister Rebecca and wants nothing to interfere with her big day. And this includes keeping Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend, Marty Kaufman (Josh Grisetti) far away from the bride-to-be.

Despite the clashing in-laws and the return of the ex-boyfriend, Rebecca and Brian tie the knot. But what happens post-nuptials,  no one sees coming. Not even Albert (Edward Hibbert) the know-it-all wedding planner.

The wedding takes many unexpected turns including the revelation of a secret told by the intoxicated Aunt Sheila (Anne L. Nathan) – who happens to hear it in the powder room.

The intelligently written comedy musical ‘It Shoulda Been You‘ by Brian Hargrove blends humor and sarcasm with intense and emotional moments while tastefully delivering a profound message of acceptance. And in his first Broadway directorial role, David Hyde Pierce shined bright.

The actors were enchanting and gave riveting performances. The cast never missed a beat and delivered one-liners with ease and perfection. Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris were exceptional. One of the best ensemble ever.

I highly recommend this sensational comedy musical to anyone. Experience the fun, excitement and unexpected twists first hand. You won’t regret it!

Below are some photos of a sweet proposal and the talented cast which took place after the show. Much happiness to the future bride and groom.

My Review on “Dating” As Told By The Modern Whore

“Dating” As Told By The Modern Whore – Aylin Vega

Publisher: Aois21 Publishing

Publication Date: March 17, 2015

Pages: 129

Dating” As Told By The Modern Whore is a non-fiction book based on the author’s most outrageous and at times comical sexual escapades. The twenty-something year old author insists dating is not how you may envision it. Old-fashion courtship does not exist. And if it does, good luck finding it. Nowadays, dating is all about meeting (and having sex with) complete strangers and doing the nasty at the drop of a hat. Though she does hint at finding a permanent relationship, she is content with sleeping around.

The author is a sexually active college graduate who has no shame in sleeping with men on the first or second date, in the presence of strangers who happen to be doing the deed, or having sex with different men in one day. When she is not in physical contact with a man, she is on a date hoping to have sex. But the guys or the dates turn into utter chaos. One particular date assumes she ran out on him; meanwhile, she was waiting on line to use the facilities. The entire encounter was a misunderstanding, but it managed to bring some humor. Throughout her book, she explains similar dating scenarios that had me in tears laughing. On the other hand, the book is drenched with hardcore sexual encounters and vivid descriptions. She definitely lives up to her title: The Modern Whore.

Risqué. Raw. Sultry. These words best describe “Dating” As Told By The Modern Whore. Who doesn’t enjoy a good non-fiction novel reflecting on dating and relationships? I know I do. It was fun, witty and most entertaining. Nevertheless, certain behaviors were disconcerting. Ms. Vega tries to promote safe sex by elaborating on the importance of condoms during each sexual adventure, which is commendable. However, she is involved in plenty of oral sex with men she doesn’t know. Safe? No. In addition, the author is easily trustworthy when it comes to asking strange men to come over to her house (with or without roommates present) to smoke, drink and have sex. Safe? No. The author makes it abundantly clear that she is content with the way she lives her life and does not care how others perceive her. I do respect her for not caring and living her life as she pleases. But life is very precious and should be treated as such. This book does not create awareness or attentiveness to safeguarding one’s life.

If I put aside the topic of the lack of safe sex and asking strange men over, Ms. Vega did produce a real-life erotica that held my attention from beginning to end. If you are looking for a sexy book, “Dating” As Told By The Modern Whore is it.

Purchase “Dating” here.

My Review on Please Save Me From Myself: A Memoir Of Mental Illness

Please Save Me From Myself– Sebastian Aiden Daniels

Publisher: Amazon Kindle

Publication Date: July 31, 2014

Pages: 221

please save me

Sebastian Aiden Daniels is handsome, intelligent, and has the potential to be anything he wants to be. But in his eyes, he is not worthy. He is not worth living anymore. The demons, the uncertainties, the paranoia rapidly increases his eccentric behavior leading to a self-destructive life. Sebastian struggles with suicidal ideation, psychotic and delusional thoughts, depression, and anxiety.

As a young child, Sebastian suffered from sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse along with not feeling the love and acceptance of his father. He explains in details his relationship with his siblings, parents, friends, and girlfriends. Each time something went sour in any of his relationships, Sebastian would immediately struggle with depression and suicide. His solution was to eliminate himself from everyone’s life. After all, no one would care. They would be sad for a little while, but get over it and move on. Sebastian’s war with himself was a constant uphill battle. Until one day with the support of his parents, Sebastian accepted the fact he needed professional help.

While receiving the appropriate medical care, which includes group therapies, one-to-one therapy, and medications, Sebastian is still learning how to cope with mental illness one day at a time. Nevertheless, he has come a long way from those days in which he thought killing himself was the solution to life’s troubles.

Compelling and heart-wrenching is the best way to describe this riveting memoir. He pulled me into his world instantaneously. There is a lot of content to take in. There are many vivid, descriptive moments on sex, death, and more that may leave some people with an extremely uneasy feeling. Nevertheless, those moments are critical in telling the story. The author made me think, feel, understand, sympathize, hurt, laugh, cry all throughout the book. I was on an emotional roller coaster ride along side Sebastian. I commend him for writing this heartfelt memoir as a form of reaching out to people suffering from the illness. His message is very clear: not to give up. He has opened my eyes to a whole new world, a world that exists right under our noses; but so many of us choose to ignore.

Most of us may not know what mental illness is. There are misconceptions about the illness. Allow me to suggest the following: conduct the appropriate research, ask questions, and keep informed. Mental illness is not fake nor is it humorous. This illness is detrimental to the person and the person’s family and friends.

Let’s help spread awareness on Mental Illness – and reading Sebastian’s memoir is a great place to start. In my opinion, there is no better way to educate oneself on mental illness then from someone living with it.

 Purchase Sebastian’s book here.

My Review: True Love by Jennifer Lopez

True Love – Jennifer Lopez

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: November 4, 2014

Pages: 288 pages

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“Sometimes you have to explore the darkness to get to the light and get back to who you are.” – Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, one of the most influential Latinas in Hollywood, pens a heartwarming memoir. This is one more accomplishment to include on her already impressive résumé. Dancer, actress, singer, producer, fashion designer and now author. Is there anything Jennifer cannot do?

The public envisions Jennifer as such a diva. She’s gorgeous, wealthy, talented, one of Hollywood’s most influential and powerful women. Though she could have had some diva ways, Jennifer shows us who she is today. She is human. She is down to earth. She is a beautiful soul looking for love.

In True Love, Jennifer lets us into her real world behind the cameras, behind the glamour. She shares moments of low self-esteem, panic attacks, emotional and verbal abuse. In trying to make her partners happy, she forgot to love herself. Sadly, she found love in all the wrong places. Furthermore, Jennifer gives us a play-by-play of her highly successful World Tour and how it integrates with her innermost emotions. For many years, Jennifer contemplated doing a World Tour but, when the idea surfaced, it was never the right time to pursue it. But the day did come. The day Marc Anthony and Jennifer decided to end their 7-year marriage, she knew it was time for her tour. It was time for her to Dance Again.

Jennifer briefly touches on her past relationships. For example, she recalls a conversation she held with Sean “Diddy” Combs about her career, but never gets into details about their intimate relationship. Later, she explains how she and Marc united. When Jennifer suffered a heartbreak after her break up with actor and then fiancé, Ben Affleck, she took comfort in Marc. After all, they’ve been friends for many years. He’s always been there for her – and still is. In addition, Jennifer shares some American Idol moments including her anxiety before taking on the job as judge and lovely pictures of her tour and one of her sitting at the dining room table in her Castle Hill home. That image was on my favorites.

If you are expecting intimate details about Jennifer’s love life, then this book is not for you. Jennifer lets you know that early on. Nevertheless, the admirable and inspiring Latina does open up her heart to talk about the different types of love shared with lovers, family, children, friends and above all – oneself. The essence of her book is finding true love. And in her particular situation she has two different types of love – love for dance and love for her beautiful twins.

I read True Love in one day. I normally take my time reading books (interesting or not), but this particular book spoke to me. I connected with Jennifer, not only because we are both from Puerto Rican descent and we were both born and raised in the Bronx. But because we both experienced some type of abuse in our past relationships, low self-esteem and other factors. While reading her book, I will admit I had tears in my eyes. Especially when she expressed her anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve been there before. Though Jennifer wrote this book for her fans (JLovers), I felt as if she wrote it just for me. Sounds weird, right? Nevertheless, if you can relate to her journey in some way, you will definitely appreciate True Love. The essence of her memoir is to never forget to accept and love yourself.

Purchase your very own copy at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.