John Cameron Mitchell

John Cameron Mitchell

A weeklong electronic journal.
March 17 1998 3:30 AM

John Cameron Mitchell

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       It was a fun weekend for my show. I play a rock 'n' roll songstress named Hedwig who was originally a boy in Communist East Germany and wanted more. He agrees reluctantly to a sex change so he can marry an American GI and get the fuck out. He/she ends up divorced in a Kansas trailer park, watching the Berlin Wall come down on bootleg cable.
       The musical takes the form of one of Hedwig's pathetic gigs. The rock band Cheater backs me up, and we perform in the ballroom of an ancient flophouse where the surviving crew of the Titanic once stayed. Nowadays, a bunch of welfare cases and a few German backpackers loiter around the coffee machine in the lobby (the condoms are in the candy machine). Our dressing room is in the Rapunzel-like tower at the top of the hotel. People had better not pull on my hair, though, unless they want the wig to come off in their hands!
       Last week, somebody overdosed, and the body was carried out through the incoming audience. Last night, the audience was annoyingly quiet. A few too many uptown, button-down folks. The show was tough going at first--my voice was strained by our Saturday doubleheader--but the audience warmed up to us by the end (even though nobody raised their hands when I asked them to in the bombastic finale).
       On our way back up to the dressing room, a very cute Israeli cornered me. He had just seen the show and tried to pull me into his hotel room. I considered this a rave. I heard later he was a callboy. On my way out, two very self-possessed 13-year-old twin girls told me they had heard about us on the Internet and come all the way from Toronto to see the show ... and to shop at Saks. "A cross between Bowie and Rocky [Horror, they clarified]." Bob Mould, a punk rock god (who played with Hüsker Dü and Sugar), attended the show tonight for the second time. We dined delightfully afterward. He told me he was even more moved seeing the show again. My cranky dissatisfaction with the audience melted.
       I've been around actors for 15 years, and I'm not impressed by any of them anymore (except maybe Gena Rowlands) ... but a rock star is another story. I just get all giggly. David Bowie and Lou Reed have already come, and I almost did. It's all very heady for the very mainstream meat 'n' potatoes 'n' theater 'n' TV performer that I've been until recently. Last year I was flush with sitcom cash, and now I'm singing in a Farrah Fawcett wig for pennies. And having the time of my life.

John Cameron Mitchell is a New York based actor, writer, and director whose credits include Six Degrees of Separation, Big River, and The Secret Garden. He is currently starring in Hedwig and The Angry Inch, the hit rock musical he wrote with composer Stephen Trask.