26 September 2012

Ben Rimalower

Ben Rimalower photographed by Christian Coulson

The fabulous Ben Rimalower has extended his autobiographical one-man show, Patti Issues, through the 1st of November. I went to see the premier of his show last month at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre in the West Village and went again a few weeks back to take a friend to see it. This week I interviewed the mensch himself as our Hottie of the Week, check out the interview after the jump!

Patti and Ben photographed by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com

What was the inspiration behind putting together such an intimate telling of your early life and development into adulthood?

I originally wanted to show Patti LuPone videos and talk about them like I do for everyone who comes to my house. I asked Patti for permission to use the videos she had given me and she asked to see a draft of the show. I hadn’t planned to write it out, but it seemed like a good exercise and you don’t say no to Patti LuPone, so I started writing little personal stories to contextualize the videos. Ultimately, what came out was much more about me than about Patti.

Even some of your closest friends were shocked to learn more about certain parts of your history. How has the reception been from the general public and media?

The reception has been great! It seems like people are finding my story very interesting and compelling. It’s funny to me because I used to tell everyone I met a lot of this stuff. At one point there was even a line in the show that referred to "an earlier version of this piece, which I performed everyday at lunch in Fifth Grade." I still tend to assume everyone knows everything, when in fact, they do not.

You finally popped your performer cherry with the first showing of Patti Issues, right? It was amazing for me, how was it for you?

It was overwhelming! I came into this project wanting to be a writer and the performing thing just seemed to go with this personal monologue territory. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that it was gonna be my ass up there, or I might have chickened out, so it’s been a bit of a baptism by fire. I was so nervous the first night and then the second show, with Patti LuPone in the house. I think I’m finally starting to relax into it. I guess I’m a performer after all! I know, what a shocker, right?

I have a huge crush on all three of these beautiful people.

Patti Issues was originally set to play from the 13th of September to the 4th of October but has since been extended to the 1st of November. Do you think you may be extending the show any longer past that date?

I certainly hope to extend longer. We have to see how whether ticket sales continue at this same strong pace. Also, I plan to take the show to some other cities. "Hey, L.A., I’m coming your way!"

In your performance you say that in order to love and appreciate Patti completely you also had to learn to love and appreciate other divas. Why is Patti still number one in your books?

Patti is best at the things that are most important to me in a performer. In my show, I quote John Housman saying that Patti has "the smell of the gallows." People get it wrong - the smell of the footlights or whatever, but he said gallows. There’s a fierceness to Patti, not just in the "snap, snap, snap, work, bitch" sense, but like she has a taste for blood. That thrills me and holds my attention - even in the dark times, especially in the dark times.

And also, that is very empowering. Patti is my superhero. And it’s not just in her acting, there’s a quality to her voice. Adam Feldman says it’s not so much that she’s making a sound, but that she’s unleashing one, opening the floodgates. My friend Kenn Russell talks about her spraying a room with her sound when she just unlocks her jaw and that vibrato comes ripping out. I honestly don’t think anyone can touch her.

Check out exclusive photos of Patti LuPone and Ben Rimalower here!

Go online and grab your tickets to the show now, you won't want to miss it!

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