Rosie O’Donnell Show
The first video is my actual appearance on Rosie. The second is our preparation for the crew.
1998 – Like a Big Stick-a Buttah! Six people from Rosie’s crew showed up at my house in mid-March to record my appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell show on April 24 – Barbra Streisand’s birthday. Since I had done a documentary about gay dads just a couple of days before, I felt like a pro with finding the plugs and associated circuit breakers so that the powerful lights did not blow a fuse again. I know nothing about lighting and cameras, but I was surprised at how many of my directorial comments they used throughout the afternoon.
In fact, I felt like Barbra must have felt when she started doing movies as an actress and she verbalized all of her ideas, which resulted in her having the reputation of being “difficult”. As a man whose ideas were so well received – by a female director no less — I think I see the double standard already. Do you remember the fit that people had (like me) when Barbra was not even nominated for best director? The academy is quite an old boys network in the director category in particular. I also see the appeal and power of being the director in the situation I had in my home. Maybe all those film courses paid off (I almost minored in film).
My boyfriend (at the time), my visiting mother, my daughter Alexandra and I had all put out my Barbra stuff on my king-size canopy bed for a good effect over the previous few days. We brought posters and all my other “Barbrabilia” from the other rooms. I try to have Barbra in EVERY room, after all; shouldn’t every shrine? I was just worried that people would think that I lived among so many Barbra objects that I could hardly move, but “let them eat cake!”
Apparently before getting to my house the same day the crew had gone to a dentist’s office and a singer in Manhattan to film his “schtuff”. The dentist said something like “We can drill your teeth while you listen to ‘Funny Girl’”. The singer (probably another queer like me) SANG “Happy Birthday” to Barbra – something I dare not do – I can hardly stand my speaking voice when it is recorded. In fact, someone recently told me that my voice is exactly like James Van Praagh (www.vanpraagh.com), which wasn’t exactly a compliment, but at least he’s cute. Too bad I’m not as clairvoyant as he professes to be.
So the lights were very hot and we couldn’t put the ceiling fan on since it made background noise. The poor camera guy had to carry a huge camera over the side of the bed and focus in on my squinting face over fifty times (felt like a hundred). Sometimes I felt really bad because I would flub my line. He should thank me for great biceps! I only had twenty seconds to speak but there were so many changes to what I would say that I did not always get it right.
They didn’t mention gay parenting, which is something that I really try to push on my web site – the same one with the Barbra pages they liked — and which I strongly believe I have in common with Rosie. I suppose her ratings would have to suffer for her to come out. Isn’t that sad? Ellen Degeneres was accused of coming out for the same reason, but at least the net effect was positive. I also think the director at my house was lesbian, but my female gaydar is not as precise as that other gender.
We sat around while objects were being rearranged around me on the bed and my feet were falling asleep “dissing” Kathy Lee Gifford. I told them about a book that bashed her (Kathy — not Barbra) that I saw in some gay book store in Boston. They didn’t flinch when I said that or when I introduced them to my visiting boyfriend. Speaking of books — for several takes I was holding one of Barbra’s biographies called “Diva”. I realized how much I WOULDN’T want Barbra to see my holding up an UNAUTHORIZED biography, and especially one with a name which has such a negative connotation. I picked up a videotape and coffee mug with Barbra on it in later takes. Barbra probably also wouldn’t appreciate all the tabloid magazines I have (but had covered up) just for the pictures of her. A few of the rare and unique items that I have that I put on the bed prominently will hopefully make it into the tape. I have a not-necessarily-flattering caricature of Barbra which I had made out of love put in front of me.
Sound was a challenge because I am on the second floor of a brownstone on a corner in Brooklyn. While I don’t live near a big street, the sound and reverberation from motorcycles and trucks at the intersection, not to mention that incessant ice cream truck, make lots of noise. So, exacerbating the heat, we couldn’t open the windows for that reason. The blinds were also drawn and the windows behind them had to be closed so the breeze would not bang them up against the window frame. Furthermore, I was wearing a black Barbra sweater and black Barbra baseball cap making my forehead sweat.
What I said roughly follows (Lord knows what will end up on the cutting room floor):
“Hi, I’m Joseph Hayden from good ‘ole Brooklyn New York. [I’ve been a Barbraholic for 15 years.] In this household we celebrate April 24 like a national holiday! [I think I’ll celebrate by going to get a Mello roll.] Happy Birthday Barbra! [I lift one of my Barbra mugs.]”
They were a little worried about the AA groups complaining about the Barbraholic reference, even though chocoholic and workaholic are commonly used. I was going to add a line about “relapsing” and pointing to the stuff I was covered in (album covers, concert clothes, books, CD’s, posters, articles, etc.) but we figured that was too un-PC.
We were also concerned about the backlash from the RR at my saying April 24 is the “holiest day” of the year so we changed it to “like a national holiday”. The “Mello roll” I referred to is an old Brooklyn-specific[?] treat, like egg creams, which don’t seem to be around anymore. Barbra spoke about both these treats in her concert in 1994. I figured since I threw in the part about being in Brooklyn (California native that I am) I should refer to something that proves I’m a big fan to other big fans. I didn’t think it would make too much sense to say something about being a lawyer like the dentist did, especially since we weren’t in my law office. I didn’t get to say anything about my web site either – and that was how they found me (searching the Internet they found my diva web pages on this site and especially the Barbra pages I have there).
They had a makeup artist put some foundation on my face. They also did up my Mom and boyfriend in anticipation of them being in the scene with me, but it was just me in the end since it took so long to get that right. Mom said she was nervous anyway and my almost-six-year old Alexandra was too hyper to even sit still for the makeup, let alone be in the scene. I told the story of how I would have named her Barbra Joan if my ex-wife would have left me. My daughter and Barbra’s birthdays are four days apart. I wanted my ex-wife to wait four days more for the C-section, but I guess you can’t have everything!
I didn’t know if tickets would come into fruition, but I asked. They seemed to sidestep my request. The date I’m going to be on is definitely booked (which is fine because I’ll be traveling anyway) but I’ll inquire as to tickets since they are so hard to come by (Rosie’s show is pretty popular). They said they will add music in the background and it will be what is called a “bumper” for when they break for a commercial. I hope I did it justice. I hope Barbra sees it! Wish me luck!