This Week's Guest: Kevin Yee
What would you do if you sacrificed everything for your dreams -- and then your dreams change? My guest this week is Kevin Yee, who's been a professional performer almost as long as he's been alive. As a teenager, he got the chance of a lifetime when he was cast in a late-90s boy band. Three years later, things hadn't quite turned out as he'd hoped, and he thought his dreams of performing were over before he had even reached adulthood.
These days things are looking a bit better -- you can catch him performing at the Cafe Fear Comedy Festival in Wilmington NC from May 18-21, and the Highlarious Comedy Festival in Seattle this August. You can get details on the performances at KevinYee.com... and you can get the story of his journey from boy band to stand up right now in our conversation.
This Week's Recommendation: Double Life
I met Kevin a couple years ago, long after he put the boy band and clothing store behind him and found his calling in comedy. He is even more fun and funny in person than he is on stage, and I'm so glad I know THAT Kevin, the real Kevin, and that as awful as his time in the band surely was, that it only strengthened his resolve to live a life that's genuine.
And as glitzy and glamorous and gay as showbusiness is, it's long had a way of forcing people to repress their true selves, forcing queer entertainers to adopt a straight facade. That a disservice not just to artists, but also to audiences -- whether and actor or a singer or painter or a poet, art need honesty in order to work.
For my recommendation this week, I'd like to check out the book Double Life, by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine. The two men met in June of 1958, when Norman spotted Alan onstage on the Broadway show Jamaica. And over their six decades together, they've worked onstage, in television, in advertising, in visual arts -- and the memoir they wrote a few years back is a meticulous chronicle of how their lives were shaped by the various closets they endured.
Double Life is a fascinating glimpse at the ways that the entertainment industry forced gay men to remain closeted, to deny their own existence. It's also a tender love letter between two men who shared each other's lives, often through times when only they and their closest friends could know what those lives truly were. And it's a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a time when artists and their art can be honest, and are no longer forced to wear a straight face.