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In Memoriam: Broadway Bares

June 24, 2013

What are you wearing right now?  If you are most of my friends, the answer is probably glitter and a g-string.   This isn’t because most of my friends are strippers (I don’t think)…but because this is that special time of year when the Broadway community drops trou to fight AIDS.  Yes, you guessed it…tonight is the 23rd Edition of Broadway Bares. Now, I will not be performing tonight…because A) I don’t dance and B) I sincerely doubt that people would pay to see me in a thong.  (If it helps, though, I am only wearing underwear as I write this blog.  Kinky, right? )  Anyway, as I await the inevitable onslaught of mostly nude selfies on Facebook with captions like “Like my hair?”, I want to take a sec to remind everyone why this event is so much more than a bunch of beautiful, starving dancers, hopped up on creatine and Redbull.

This is David Carroll.

He is one of the greatest singers/leading men to ever grace the Broadway stage.  The reason you may have never heard of him is because, David Carroll died March 11, 1992  of a pulmonary embolism, caused by AIDS, in the bathroom of BMG/RCA studios while attempting to record the Original Broadway Cast album of “Grand Hotel: The Musical”. He was 41.

I was too young to remember the peak of the AIDS crisis, as were most of the people that will be dancing in Broadway Bares.  In fact, some weren’t even alive.   So, I think it’s sometimes easy for us to get lost in the spectacle that is Broadway Bares and forget the real reason for the season. However, behind the bulging biceps and…well…bulges…is a community that is still picking up the pieces after losing almost an entire generation of young performers.   As we all know, the AIDS crisis hit gay men in Manhattan the hardest and, in turn, the Broadway community.   David Carroll is just one of hundreds of stars who burned out before they could really shine. Not to be morbid, but when I see all of these beautiful bodies kicking their faces, I can’t help but think that there was a time when many of these vibrant young men, full of life, would have withered away and disappeared at staggering rates.  I think about all of the songs never sung and all of the stories never told.

Actors are a remarkable breed. We love with all our hearts and bare our souls for the entertainment of others.  We are inherently bound to one another in the uniqueness of our species. The bond we share as artists and as people is ironclad and, consequently, the loss of one is a loss to our entire community. We will never fill the giant void that was left by the devastation that AIDS caused to our community. However, we CAN come together, as a community, and honor the memory of our fallen heroes. That’s what Broadway Bares is.  It is Broadway honoring members of our family, like David Carroll, who left us too soon and it’s Broadway’s attempt to do whatever we can to end this devastating disease…even if that means wearing pasties.

I don’t know if Heaven exists, but…I can tell you one thing…If it does…that choir sounds FIERCE.

R.I.P. David Carroll and all those lost to HIV/AIDS.  Please honor their memory by donating whatever you can at http://www.broadwaycares.org .

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