We Remember More than You’d Remember! by Leon Acord – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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We Remember More than You’d Remember!

Let’s face it. It’s more fun to have written than it is to be writing.

It’s even more fun still to finally see your work in print.

Since releasing my first book this summer, the comic memoir SUB-LEBRITY* (*The Queer Life of a Show-Biz Footnote), I’ve learned there’s something even better than that!

It’s feedback from readers. I had hoped I’d make them laugh with my silly stories. But I’m completely humbled and sometimes absolutely floored how closely some readers identify with my tales of growing up gay in rural Indiana, or how others related to my struggles as an out-and-outspoken gay actor. Reading their emails, and the life stories they offer in exchange, has been an unexpected perk at the end of this long journey.

But after their always-unique stories and comments, practically every email- and message-writer ends with the same question. Friends, family and fans alike all want to know:

“How did you possibly remember all of that? Do you keep journals? Scrapbooks?”

I understand their surprise. I’m just as stunned! At 57, I often walk into a room then immediately forget why I did. (Scientists call it the “Doorway Effect,” and say the brain “resets” as we pass through a doorway. Just wait, you’ll get there, too, someday!)

And while I do write in a journal daily, I don’t keep them (except for one volume containing 1989). I’m a firm believer that journals are for writing, not for reading. And while I also used to keep detailed scrapbooks, that pretty much ended around the turn of the century as digital replaced film, prints, hard copies, letters and the rest of the “scraps” you’d glue into the books.

So, it was just me and my memories.

Accordingly, when I first decided to write SUB-LEBRITY, I conceived it as a book of comic essays, each about a specific life event I could remember – childhood events, certain films or plays I’ve done. I assumed there would be many, many gaps in my memory. I’d just stick those gaps in-between essays, and leap over them without a second thought to continuity (or senility).

But when I began writing – at the risk of sounding like a click-bait headline – what I found instead completely stunned me!

Let’s go back to my “walking into rooms” motive, and say each memory is a “room.” As I wrote each story – and relived each memory – I’d “cross that room.” And almost invariably, when I reached the far side of the room, there’d be a door awaiting me, leading me to the next room/memory. And that room led to another door Another room. Then another.

Fortunately, passing through those imaginary doorways did not reset my brain, like doorways do in real life. I was quickly stunned by not only how much I remembered, but much detail my memories still contained.

That “book of essays”? Forget about that! I now had more memories – more stories – than I possibly could use. After getting it all down on paper, I had to start cutting.

SUB-LEBRITY is about the challenges and rewards of being a gay actor. Any stories not related directly to being gay, being an actor, being a gay actor, or what that led me to become all-of-the-above, were CUT!

(OK, I may have bent my rule once or twice for a truly funny or moving piece of my history.)
No, I didn’t remember everything. After all, I came of age in the late 1970s and 1980s. I inhaled.

For example, I almost always forget auditions quickly unless I get a call soon inviting me to a callback or, better yet, giving me the role.

And while I discuss many of the “frogs I kissed” in the book, there were more – many more, in fact – whom I didn’t list because I could remember neither the names nor the details. (Oh God. I’m a slut.)

And as for all the other things I’ve forgotten for good? If I can’t remember them, it’s like they never happened!

Wait, what was the point of all this? I forget.

Oh, yeah. I remember! I encourage you to get to work, to write your memoir. Whether you’re a writer or not. Whether you have the nerve to publish it or not.

Because in the act of writing, of walking through your “rooms,” you’ll find many treasures long thought lost and forgotten. Most importantly, you discover lifelong patterns, habits, even themes, that were there all along, that played out your entire life, but perhaps you never before noticed.

I know I did. For example, do you realize how it feels to realize your parents were right all along? At least they loved finding that out!

I’m curious what you will discover! You won’t know until you start!

A droll, oddly inspirational memoir from the actor Breitbart once called “a gay leftist activist,” SUB-LEBRITY by Leon Acord (Old Dogs & New Tricks) is an honest, sometimes bitchy but always sincere story about growing up (very) gay in rural Indiana, achieving acting success outside the closet, and generating headlines with his very-public smackdown with Trump-loving Susan Olsen (Cindy, The Brady Bunch)

Enjoy an Excerpt

One of my nemeses from the jock clique, Rick Sisson, was slumming, playing the bit part of an “Old Man” about to be poisoned by two murderous old ladies in Arsenic & Old Lace.

As Mortimer, I was to rush on stage, see the Old Man about to drink a glass of poisoned elderberry wine, grab him by the jacket, and shove him out of my crazy aunts’ house.

That was how we’d been playing it.

For closing night, he and his jock buddies thought of a hilarious prank. Instead of setting his glass of fake wine on the table before I grabbed him, he’d throw the full glass of Hawaiian Punch into my face! It was closing night, why not? Smear the queer!

The sizable high-school auditorium was packed with a rowdy closing-night crowd of parents, faculty and friends, unaware they were about to witness my humiliation.

The moment arrived. I entered, rushed to the Old Man with the glass near his lips, and SPLASH!

I was stunned. Rick rushed through the door and off stage before I could do a thing.

The audience erupted with laughter. Erupted! And didn’t stop!

I’d seen it on sitcoms all my short life. Actors forced to hold for a laugh. I lived for the moments on the Carol Burnett Show when something went wrong or when the actors tried not to laugh. And now, I was experiencing that myself. It felt wonderful!

Rick wanted me to feel like Carrie White. Instead, I felt like Cary Grant.

The two teenaged actresses playing my aunts just watched, trying not to laugh themselves.

I felt myself about to smile. I turned my back to the audience and fumbled through a desk on stage, pretending to blindly look for a handkerchief – a cover until I could wipe the now-gigantic smile off my face. The audience found this hilarious and continued howling.

Back in character, I gave up at the desk and turned to face the audience just as the laugh was softening. I instinctively yanked off my clip-on tie and began dabbing my wet face with it.

The audience screamed with laughter again – this time, the laughter morphed into applause.

The song from the Broadway musical Applause is right – it’s better than pot, it’s better than booze. Waiting out a long laugh break, instinctively finding ways to prolong it, riding it like a surfer on a wave, then crashing against the shore in a loud burst of applause, is the best feeling in the world.

I had flirted with the idea of being an actor, among other creative pursuits, all though childhood.

But in this moment, I knew. I’d spend the rest of my life chasing that feeling.

About the Author: Leon Acord is an award-winning actor and writer who has appeared in over 35 films you’ve never seen and 30 plays you’ve never heard of. Possible exceptions include the digital TV series Old Dogs & New Tricks on Amazon Prime Video (which he created, wrote & co-produced), and the stage hit Carved in Stone (in which he played Quentin Crisp in both SF and LA productions). His memoir, SUB-LEBRITY: The Queer Life of a Show-Biz Footnote, is now available in paperback & e-book on Amazon. He wrote his one-man show Last Sunday in June (1996) and co-authored the 2014 play Setting the Record Gay. He was a “Take Five” columnist for Back Stage West throughout 2009 and a former contributor to Huffington Post. He has also written for San Francisco Examiner and the journal Human Prospect. He currently lives in West LA with husband Laurence Whiting & their cat Toby.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Old Dogs & New Tricks website

Buy the book at Amazon.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Mya Murphy says

    This sounds like a cute, fun read!!

  3. James Robert says

    Your book sounds like a great read and thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. I like the premise of the book.

  5. Victoria Alexander says

    Happy Friday! Thanks for sharing the great except!

  6. Mya Murphy says

    Sounds like an interesting read!!

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