Behold: Sweet Talking Ken. This new fella from Mattel will repeat back anything someone says into his wee little recorder, which is puzzling to me considering that if you can get a guy to say exactly what you want into Ken’s wee little recorder, WHY DO YOU NEED KEN? Oh! Maybe that is why you can play the voice back at three different pitches, ranging from Darth Vader to normal to that adorable pre-pubescent kid who sang Dock of the Bay. So like, in hetero-normative toyland, ifa gal records her voice saying, “You’re the only girl for me,” or “Nancy Pelosi: Best speaker ever!” and then sets playback to low-pitched, it might kinda sorta sound like a guy? Okay. I’m still puzzled, but I guess ULTIMATE BOYFRIENDS (see his shirt) are just a little mysterious like that.
You may know him from “How I Met Your Mother” or “School of Rock,” from his popular YouTube channel, or from his critically acclaimed, extended-run show at Hollywood’s Celebration Theater. Or you may know his sidekick, Lucas Coatney, from season 3 of Idol! He’s Ryan O’Connor, a self-described “big fat gay singing Kathy Griffin, and his big fat gay singing show, “Ryan O’Connor Eats His Feelings,” is coming soon — very soon — to a cabaret near you.
The show tells O’Connor’s life story through song and gab, covering his childhood and adolescence in conservative Arizona, his relationship with a Mormon ex-college-football star from Salt Lake City, and his lusts for everything from food to theater.
Our own Amy K. caught up with Ryan as he was preparing for his national tour’s June 7 launch in San Francisco (that’s Monday night!):
AK: Are gay breakups different from straight breakups?
RO: The truth is, gay breakups just tend to be more dramatic. But I’ve also noticed that the transition from boyfriend to friend is more prevalent in the gay community than the straight community. My boyfriend and I are always going out with exes of mine or exes of his. Truth be told, they’re usually his — I’m not as good at it. My breakups tend to be more abrupt. Besides, it’s not my favorite thing, if I’m going to be completely honest. I feel like if you’ve cut it out, really cut it out. That’s part of the magic of crossing that line — knowing that once you cross it, you can’t go back. If I’ve been naked with you, I can’t un-see you naked. And with my boyfriend’s partners? I try to be the bigger person, but I can’t help but be like, “you slept with it?”
AK: I know what you mean! I have my husband’s ex-wife to contend with!
RO: Oh, that’s even worse! Not only did you sleep with it or live with it — you married it! That’s one of the blessings of not having gay marriage — not having ex-husbands to deal with.
AK: Well, speaking of — what did you think of the Prop 8 experience here in California?
RO: It was so surprising, when the Supreme Court even made that ruling in the first place, and it came as a total shock to most of us. I was single at the time, and suddenly there was this right we didn’t know what to do with. We were all aware there was this tiny window of time when we could get married and have it be legal, and it felt like there was tremendous pressure to partner up — now! It was like a giant game of emotional dodgeball.
Then when Prop 8 went through, it was such a letdown. It all happened at once. I was at Obama’s headquarters in Century City here in LA, and it was this huge ballroom where all these giant TVs were showing the announcement that an African-American had been elected president. And on this tiny TV in the corner with about 15 gay and lesbian men and women huddled around it, and that’s where I found out Prop 8 had gone through. So there was all this hope on one side, and disappointment on the other. But never fear. A lot of people have had their consciousness raised by this. I think California will have gay marriage by 2011.
AK: I’ll take that bet. You talk a lot in your act about being a compulsive overeater. What’s that like on a date?
I’ll tell you, I’m so fortunate because my boyfriend is what you might call a chubby-chaser. Though that has its own complications: if someone loves me for the thing I hate most about myself, could I lose the man I love just by getting skinny? I’ve learned to love myself in a whole new way because he loves my body the way it is. And I have to, too: because if I can love myself at any weight, dropping pounds is just icing on the cake — no pun intended!
AK: What’s the show like?
It’s called cabaret, but I’m going out of my way to make it accessible to people who’ve never been to cabaret in their life. Even though it’s very specific, it’s completely relatable — it’s called Ryan O’Connor Eats his Feelings, but it could just as easily be called John Doe Drinks his Feelings or Tiger Woods Fucks his Feelings. Because it’s about learning to feel your feelings through music and laughter rather than whatever addiction you have.
To me, it doesn’t make sense that cabaret is not as popular as standup. They’re both storytelling. Cabaret should be as mainstream as Kathy Griffin or Dane Cook. It just takes a few people getting out there and starting it.
Click here for Ryan O’Connor’s full tour schedule!
Back in 2000, when Breakup Girl fought love crimes out of the halls of Oxygen Media and had her own Just Friends League that was actually paid, there was one pre-(re)launch late night that can only be described as Hanson-fueled. Still ensconced in the internet bubble, a carefree, impromptu post-midnight dance party erupted to the strains of Mmmbop echoing throughout the space-age, Bond-villain-like offices of O2. Since that memorable night — probably typical of internet startups — Hanson have been the musical patron saints of breakupgirl.net. If Hanson are our patron saints, then Siobhan Magnus is our wood nymph, and with her off of AI, the magic has disappeared from our Tuesday nights.
Siobhan’s own, very public, love for Hanson has created a bit of a resurgence of interest in the boys, which is definitely the case around here. (And they’ve been nice enough to return that love to her!) Free from the constraining theme nights and short cleared-song-lists of American Idol, the world finally got to hear Siobhan singing (and playing!) Hanson music, when she had dinner at the If I Can Dream house.
There are full videos of A Song To Sing, Use Me Up and I Will Come To You on YouTube but they have been taken from Friday night’s stream of the house’s closed circuit cameras and the audio is not nearly as good. The LA Times has a full recap of her visit here.
A tribute to the dear departed quirktastic Idol with a voice even bigger than her glasses.
1. Siobhan pre-Idol (say what?), in a reality web-series (come again?) about the making of her high-school’s Oz show (really??) in which she hints at family tragedy (no!!!!) and how she has to care for her little sisters (awwww!!). (This will explain her emotion on the April 6 show.)
2. Siobhan did go to college at Salem State (not making it into Berklee) (Yet Ashley Rodriguez did?), but dropped out after a semester. Her mom was laid off from the bookstore and Siobhan became the primary breadwinner. This pre-top-24 interview makes it sound like dinner is not always a certainty in the Magnus household.
You’re not exactly Springsteen, but anyone who could pen “Ain’t No Other Man” could at least come up with something NOT worse than “Inside Your Heaven.” Or so you’d think.
Mainly, though, we need to discuss the title of this year’s Idol Single ™. “No Boundaries.” I do not think that means what you think it means. Someone with “no boundaries” is not someone with no limits on what he/she can achieve. Someone with no boundaries is someone who overshares on a first date. Someone made of TMI. Someone who says “I know we’ve just met, but could you drive me to the airport?” or, “So how often do you and your wife have sex?” or “Oh, crap. Can I borrow your underwear?” — standing, all the while, just a little too close. So for Idol coronation anthems that double as love songs, we’ll take “A Moment Like This,” and leave it at that.