When I was living in Los Angeles, I did a couple of shows with the Musical Theater Guild. Singing Actors, directors, musical directors taking advantage of ‘downtime’ to present staged readings of shows whose time has come for a revival. The first time I saw Eric Leviton at work with MTG I thought to myself, ‘That guy is going places!’ He had a natural charm and his remarkable acting and singing appeared effortless. Today, he is in NYC working on Broadway in KINKY BOOTS. Eric also has a successful podcast called HOW WE TALK ABOUT SEX – look for the page on Facebook and the Podcast on iTunes.
What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Will you? How would you like it to look?
At this point in my life, I don’t see myself retiring. However, in my fantasy, I’m retiring on a beach in a comfortable home with someone I love.
Dividing your life into decades: for each decade tell me a self ‘defining’ story.
In my first decade, I apparently acted very much like an adult. I’m told I came downstairs one morning after my parents had decorated the house for Christmas. I looked around very carefully and said, “I like it. I like it.”
Second decade, I spent a lot of time watching other people to see how to behave – especially in high school. I spent my freshman year watching everyone interact with each other, before I put myself out there by the end of the year.
Third decade, I spent in a nine-year relationship (from 21-30) that probably should have only lasted about half of the time, but we stayed together for very poor and probably immature reasons.
Fourth decade, I found my success in this business. I was finally starting to book roles as a character man and go out on national tours in leading roles.
I’m near the end of my fifth decade and I would say that so far, it has been all about breaking myself down and building myself back up, both literally and figuratively. At 45, I had a kidney transplant. My junior high school girlfriend donated the kidney to me. Since that time I can honestly say I am a different and new man and continue to grow in ways I did not expect.
Why does a song survive? Give me an example of a song that has survived at least four decades and why that particular song?
Oh man, the “soundtrack of my life.” I look back at my iTunes and see which songs I have been listening to and singing to since the early 70s and most of them don’t feel that old to me. Most of them carry a small memory of a room or my house or lying down in the back of my parent’s car and listening whether it was The Eagles playing “Peaceful Easy Feeling” or one of the crooners I was introduced to at an early age like Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole. Here’s a weird little side note – for the longest time (while I was VERY young) I used to hear Nat King Cole and think it was Fred Astaire and for the life of me I don’t know why. I don’t think I put it all together until I started looking at the record sleeves and seeing the pictures of Nat King Cole that I realized it was not Fred Astaire at all!
Is there a high school/college course that seemed useless to you at the time but for which you are grateful today?
Honestly no. If I thought it was useless, I wouldn’t take unless it was a requirement. If it was useless then, it’s probably useless now – like algebra. Who the hell cares why 2+2=4? It just does. Let’s move on.
In today’s Facebook ‘Humans of New York’ there was a photograph of an elderly woman holding up a picture of her late husband and herself on the day of their wedding. She was quoted as saying, ‘When my husband was dying I said, ‘How am I going to live without you?’. He replied, ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.’ Whose love are you spreading around?
Mine. I’m spreading my new found love for life around by sharing my experiences with others who care to read or listen to them. It took a while for me to get used to doing that, but the more encouragement I got from so many people who wanted to know more, the more I felt better about talking and writing about what was going on in my life.
Find a map. Close your eyes and put your finger down on it. What is the name of the closest city to your finger
It’s halfway between Bakersfield and Las Vegas. I know that area very well. My buddies and I would jump in a car and head to Vegas for a couple of nights all the time when I lived out in California.
Have you ever owned a cactus?
No. I always thought I had a brown thumb until my 30s when I decided to buy two plants for my new apartment. I was single suddenly and for some reason, I put some love and energy to these plants. They began very small and they are huge today and live out in my mother’s garden in California.
Do you keep a journal/diary? Do you ever spend time reading past entries? Do you recall an entry that surprised you when reading it later?
I used to keep a daily journal years ago, but I’m sure those books are somewhere in storage now. My most recent “journaling” has been on Facebook for the last three years since my kidney transplant.
Have you ever named anything other than a human or animal? What was it and what did you name it and why?
Those two plants that I bought in my 30s were named Felix and Oscar. Felix is a ficus tree. I don’t remember the type of plant Oscar is, but he’s enormous.
Is there a game (as in cards, monopoly etc…) that you play that you rarely, if ever, win, but you still play?
This past summer I played on our Kinky Boots softball team. We were awful, but I just really enjoyed going out and playing on a field again. I felt like a kid again.