Sunday, November 29, 2009

GUYS & DOLLS | Hewlett High School, Long Island


For the past 2 ½ months, I’ve been doing something pretty amazing. I have been choreographing Guys & Dolls for G.W. Hewlett High School, under the direction of Walter Lastowski and Eric Williams. Walter was one of my judges in Miss Jubilee and after supporting me in Miss New York, he thought “Ah she didn’t win – she’s gonna need a job!” And the rest is history. These kids have worked so incredibly hard and it was inspiring and motivating to be a part of. 10 weeks ago, the boys were having a rough time with coffee grinders and cartwheels, and now they’re seamlessly jumping in each other’s places in absence and adding their own humor and flairs to the choreography.

After rehearsals and rehearsals, I sat in the audience on opening night and witnessed something so beautiful. To observe the parents in the lobby gushing over their kids and to see the pride on not only their faces, but the smile-streaked faces of the 80 kids in this production was just soooo neat. And their directors/teachers. I was in musicals in high school, so I get it. There is just something uniquely special about the relationship that is built between people in theatre. Walter and Eric give these kids a gift they love now, but may not completely understand until they are 23 and they return to Hewlett (or another high school) to watch a production, or even more, help choreograph or direct one. Hewlett HS and MS are so fortunate to have the blessing of these two teachers who genuinely love and care about every student who graces their stage, classroom, or office. And I’m so thankful to have been a part of the musical, yes, but more importantly, their lives. This was made possible by a relationship that formed from the Miss America Organization. You never know what you're going to get out of something. Expect the unexpected.

Stepping off the soap box and putting on my entrepreneurial cap… I wanted to give something else to the show and the kids besides dance, so I photographed their final dress rehearsal. Approximately 750 pictures later, fajitas cooked by Eric, and a moment of sleep-deprived slap-happiness with Walter, I present to you, Guys & Dolls, in photographs. HERE – we narrowed it to 500. Look closely -- you'll see Miss Jubilee's OT, Nirvanna, as well as some future Miss Jubilee & OT contestants!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking a sitting down.

As I stood for the Pledge of Allegiance before the overture of Guys & Dolls at Hewlett High School last night, I was reminded of the CNN story from Arkansas of the 10 year old boy who refused to stand and say the pledge at his school until there truly was “justice for all.” This boy is intelligent and courageous, and his father is proud. That’s such a cool part about it. Listen to what Will has to say.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Miss Staten Island


After a long day at Dress Rehearsal for Hewlett High School's production of Guys and Dolls, it was off to Staten Island for the Miss Staten Island Pageant. As far as local pageants go in NY and beyond, this one is crazy! Yes, it was almost 5 hours long, however, it was so entertaining!! The Star Struck Dance Company brought much excitement to the show with their hard-hitting, fast-paced performances to open each act.

From the first 4 steps she took on stage, I leaned over to Sharon, Arnie's daughter, and said "There's your Miss Staten Island." A while later, the same girl, Jennifer Scacco was named Miss Staten Island 2010! Two teens were also awarded titles and every person on stage was awarded part of the $14,000 scholarships they gave out that night. Way to go SI!

It was great to see Kim Cantoni and the hundreds of people who can to support her -- congrats on your return to Miss New York 2010 as Miss Richmond County! Nirvanna and I also got to catch up with Kara Kolwaski, Miss New York's OT 2009, Ali Stroming, Miss Manhattan's OT, Alex Mazzucchelli, Miss NY OT 2008, and we met Miss Hawaii 2009, Raceen Woolford - beautiful!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marriage vote to NY on Tuesday!


Gov. Paterson has put the marriage bill on the State Senate’s agenda for next Tuesday, November 10. Now as many know, we've said this many times before - especially this summer before the Senate coup paralyzed change in Albany. It's the time for you to call your Senators and share your belief and your story. Ask them to say "YES" to marriage or thank them for supporting the LGBT community and equality. Click HERE to find your senator's information.

It only takes 2 minutes to call your senator, but if you need some motivation and have 9 minutes to spare, watch this video about all the progress and work that has been done by Empire State Pride Agenda this year.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Miss Jubilee 2010!!

Hello there future contestants! Miss Jubilee 2010 details have arrived!

Miss Jubilee and Miss Jubilee's Outstanding Teen
March 14, 2010 at 2:00
George W Hewlett High School
Hewlett, NY (Long Island)
Contestants will arrive at 9:00 am for Interviews followed by a 2:00 pageant.

Miss Contestants (18-24 yrs old or senior in high school) and Teen Contestants (13-17 yrs old) who live, attend school or work in the Five Boroughs of New York, Long Island, Westchester County or Rockland County are eligible to compete.

Email Executive Director, Arnie Berkins for more information or download an application HERE. Please return your application to Arnie Berkins. And of course, feel free to email me with any questions: We will once again have a Miss Jubilee Workshop in mid-February in Manhattan. Keep your eyes out for more details on that event.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Obama signed the Hate Crime Bill into LAW


The Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has now been signed into law.

The FBI reported 7,600 hate crimes in the US in the past year. Over the past 10 years, 12,000 hate crimes were committed based on sexual orientation. These are only the reported crimes. The new law will provide inclusion for gender, disability and sexual orientation bias in hate crime legislation. "Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love." -Obama

"At root this isn't about our laws, this is about who we are as people. Whether we value one another. Whether we embrace our differences rather than using them as animus."

The government can change a law, but it's the people that have to change the climate. Sure, I'm thankful that this gives legislation tools for punishment after the fact, but it makes me sad that we even have to have such a law. And what about prevention? It is going to take the charge of people - people who recognize similarities that unite us, and celebrate the differences that make us unique - to change our society into one in which we don't even need such legislation. You cannot only talk with or to like-minded people. We haveto step beyond the comfort of agreement and speak to those who need a reminder of humanity and that we should value each person equally.

In case you do not know who Matthew Shepard is, let me share with you. Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. He was attacked by two men on the night of October 6–7, 1998 - robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die. He was found 18 hours later, mistaken for a scarecrow and died on October 12 from severe head injuries. During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because he was gay.