I was born a little too late to have more than a vague, if warm, memory of Betty Buckley’s work as a TV mom (on Eight Is Enough), but I have thought of her for years as a quintessential Broadway star. My sister and I used to dance around the living room to the tape of Cats, exhausted just in time to collapse and listen breathlessly to Betty singing Memory. Years later, when I was getting into musicals, “Memory” sounded weird on the Andrew Lloyd Webber CD my mom bought for the car, Elaine Paige’s recording felt unfamiliar, rarified, far away. Then, a friend gave me a video where Angela Lansbury introduced Broadway originals to sing their signature songs. From the alliteration of Buckley’s name, I got the tingle of Broadway magic. Betty Buckley is a goddess to me, in the pantheon of divas along with Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Bette Midler, as well as Betty’s own contemporaries in more recent musical theatre, Bernadette Peters and my beloved Patti LuPone. One of the hallmarks of divahood is a signature song, a calling card, something to be known for in the great tradition of Judy with “Over The Rainbow” – an excellent model not only because of its popularity, but also for the way Judy, later in life, found a new take, a totally different way to sing the song, separate but equal to, or arguably better than her youthfully pure, exquisite original in The Wizard of Oz.
There’s a list of shoulds I mean to tackle every single day: write, read, exercise, quit smoking, pay off debts, save for vacation, save for retirement, call my mother, etc. In my holidaze of the last two months, I’ve felt incapable of doing anything but the dishes after night after night of drinking and eating with friends over at my house.
My roommate has been gone for over two months, but I haven’t been alone for one night, between the parties and partying, and going out and dating and having my friend crashing on my couch in between apartments. Part of why I wanted to live alone was so that I could entertain like this, cook and drink and not have to leave the house. I love being a host. I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I haven’t written a page in almost two months, not for The New Old Gay nor for the show I’m hardly working on.