While I’ve had some great people influence my life, I can’t say that I’m lucky enough to have a mentor per se. My dad taught me to tie my shoes, my mom taught me how to color, and Fr. Goodrow taught me how to feel guilty about everything. As an entertainer, I can’t say that I’ve had a mentor. But in many aspects, you can still learn a lot from someone, even if you’ve never met and they’ve never sat down to teach you- look at Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I consider my “virtual” mentor to be the one and only Divine Miss M, Bette Midler. She sings, she dances, she acts, she tells jokes, she’s crass, and she’s fabulous. I embarked on a great pilgrimage to see Bette when her show first opened in Las Vegas. Most people go to Vegas to drink, party, and gamble, but I go for the divas (and a quick visit to the Liberace museum). And like a true pilgrimage, it didn’t start off easy. I bought my tickets the day they went on sale and then 3 hours before departure, couldn’t remember where I put them. I ended up finding them hidden in the bottom of my sock drawer. I don’t know why I felt the need to hide them, maybe I was I afraid that Richard Simmons was going to burglarize my apartment and he’d go right for those tickets (or the Pottery Barn window treatments).
On the ride for the airport to the hotel, I was overjoyed by seeing the strip covered with oversized billboards featuring the Divine Miss M, covering herself in nothing but a feather boa. The promoters had certainly hit their target audience. I stayed at Cesar’s , where Bette was playing and as I was checking-in, I noticed that the show rotation was Bette Midler, Cher and Elton John. I remember thinking, if Cesar’s gets any gayer they would have had to change their theme from ancient Roman to ancient Greek. The newest installation at Cesar’s was the Pussycat Dolls Lounge, which my partner begged me to go into. I had to remind him that we were 2 gay men on a vacation and I was not about to go into a bar that starts with the word “pussy.” It would have been easier to get me to go across the street to the Hilton and eat at Toby Keith’s American Sports Bar (where intolerance is served fresh daily).
Bette’s show was not a disappointment. We hard third row seats and I swear that she acknowledged me by a head nod or a wink at least five times. Although, my partner claims that she was simply trying to get securities attention to stop me from shouting, “I’ve loved you since I could speak.” Well, I got my point across. And so, even though I wasn’t able to meet her, despite camping out for five hours, three days in a row, by the bank of Wheel of Fortune slot machines in front of theatre, I was still inspired; and that is the most powerful thing a mentor can give you.
Photo Credit: Don Hanover III