CVIndependent

Tue10222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jason Stuart has taken on a lot of different roles in his career. As of this writing, he has 145 IMBb.com acting credits listed, going all the way back to 1980.

One of his latest credits is the titular role in the short film Hank, which will be screening at the Palm Springs International Shortfest as part of the “Coupling and Uncoupling” program on Wednesday, June 19, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

The Hongyu Li-directed short features Stuart as the main character, Hank, who is feeling down about the desire of his husband, Tommy, to open up their relationship. Tommy is a gorgeous musician, while Hank is overweight and bald. Over the course of a day, Hank feels even more alone and alienated as he tries to deal with the predicament.

During a recent phone interview, Stuart—who has also made a name for himself as an openly gay comedian—talked about how he was approached for the role.

“I had done another film called Tangerine a couple of years ago, and it was the first (feature-length) film to be shot on an iPhone,” Stuart said. “It was directed by Sean Baker, and it was written by Sean and Chris Bergoch. This Chinese kid (director Hongyu Li) saw this movie and said he wanted me to play (in Hank),” Stuart said. “I got this part of this sweet, kind, middle-aged gay man who didn’t have a voice but gains his voice through the film.”

I asked Stuart if he felt the short-film format was restrictive.

“In the old days, I would agree with that. When you do an independent film, you want people to be able to see it, and that’s important,” Stuart said. “Now, it seems like everything is every size, every length: You watch things online, and it doesn’t matter what it is.

“The world over the past five years has changed so much. I would love for it to be in the theaters, and I hope it gets a decent release. That’s what you care about these days. In every film that I’m in, I ask, ‘How do you get people to see it?’”

One of Stuart’s biggest roles came in the 2016 film Birth of a Nation, playing Joseph Randall, a plantation owner. He said that while the film was disturbing to many, it has important historical context.

“That is probably one of the top 10 things I’ve done in my career. It changed me completely,” Stuart said. “I think that it’s the antithesis of Black Lives Matter. It’s the antithesis of saying, ‘Hey, we’re not going to take this anymore,’ and the antithesis of paying it forward in life—to the worst of consequences.”

Surprisingly, he said it was easier to play Joseph Randall than it was to play Hank.

“When I did Hank, I had just broken up with a boyfriend,” he said. “ … It was one of the hardest roles to play, because he was a different character to me. People say, ‘Was it hard to play a plantation owner?’ I say, ‘Not as hard as it was to do Hank, because I worked on (a character like the plantation owner) in a different project in my acting class. I worked on it years ago when I was cast in something about Vietnam that was never made. (The plantation owner) was kind of a show-off and a guy with an odd sense of humor. In Hank, I had to be so quiet. I had to actually ask the director to cut the dialogue down, because I thought it would be better that he didn’t have a voice.”

Stuart said he was impressed by working with Hongyu Li.

“He had a bit of a challenge with language, but he was so open,” he said. “… What was really interesting was his youth: He’s only 25. That was wonderful, and I couldn’t believe that he had so much intelligence for that. I think he would love to do a full-length film, and I hope that he does.”

Stuart continues to act and do comedy—he’s slated to appear at Oscar’s here in Palm Springs on Aug. 1—but he’s also excited about his soon-to-be-released autobiography.

“It’s pretty exciting, given I’ve never written a book or even thought I could get a book published,” Stuart said. “It was really an exciting thing, because (the publishers I went with) weren’t the only people to say yes. The book is called Shut Up, I’m Talking!

He said the personal reflection required for the book was not easy.

“It was fucking awful!” he said. “The first chapter is all about my dad leaving Poland running away from the Nazis, and it was really difficult. The second chapter is about me. My mom also has a chapter in the book, and I really love my mom a lot. My mom is 82, and she still shops at Forever 71. She, very much so, gave me the title of the book, because the original title was supposed to be I’m Not Barbra Streisand because of a story that happened to me as a child when I went to see Funny Girl. As a kid, I see this woman on a stage, and she’s funny on the outside, but sad on the inside and looks like someone from my neighborhood. I’m attracted, just like her, to Omar Sharif, and if I’m attracted to Omar Sharif, who is left for me to be attracted to?”

Hank will be screened as part of the Palm Springs International Shortfest at 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $12 to $13. For tickets or more information, visit www.psfilmfest.org.

Published in Previews and Features

October is finally here, and that means the valley is starting to churn back to life after its summer slumber.

With help from the Independent and Chill Bar, I will once again be throwing a concert series to benefit the Community Food Bank at the LGBT Center of the Desert. The Oktoberfest Concert Series Benefiting the Community Food Bank at the Center will take place every Thursday in October at 9:30 p.m. On Thursday, Oct. 1, Palm Desert band The Flusters will performing a modern take on vintage rock ’n’ roll and ’60s surf rock. On Thursday, Oct. 8, EeVaan Tre and the Show will be bringing its fantastic R&B and hip-hop sound back to Chill. On Thursday, Oct. 15, the high desert’s Gene Evaro and the Family will take the stage. On Thursday, Oct. 22, Tribesmen will play with special guest Venus and the Traps. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Hollace—winners of the recent Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands—will perform with special guest Johnny Elsewhere. A $5 donation is suggested; 21 and older. Chill Bar, 217 E. Arenas Road, Palm Springs; 760-327-1079; www.facebook.com/ChillBarPalmSprings.

You know season is here when the McCallum Theatre is open again, and the McCallum has some great events scheduled for October. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11, Comedy Central’s Daniel Tosh will be performing. He’s calling his performance the “Tosh Saves the World Charity Show,” and proceeds will go to various charities. Ian Edwards, Tom Papa, Greg Hahn and Lachlan Patterson are also scheduled to appear. Tickets are $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, prepare yourself: Bill Maher is coming back. Just a friendly warning: If you’re in the Fox News-viewing demographic, stay away from this show. Also, if you’re easily offended, Bill Maher will probably not be a good time. Tickets are $57 to $107. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, get out your Stetsons, and shine up your boots, because Jason Petty is returning as Hank Williams in Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes. You’ll also be hearing tunes from Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb and George Jones. Tickets are $22 to $52. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino had a fabulous summer, and has a lot of other exciting things booked through the rest of the year. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, there will be a performance by Latin singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas. Venegas is a big name in her native Mexico, and has also found success internationally. Tickets are $29 to $59. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, sitcom star and comedian George Lopez (above) will be appearing. While Lopez has been wildly successful, he’s also known for explosive tweets on Twitter, including a “Fuck you!” response to a fan. Tickets are $49 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is definitely the place to be in October. While the Duran Duran show on Oct. 3 might be sold out, there are other events to consider. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Blue Collar Comedy member Ron White will be appearing. “Tater Salad” has had quite a successful career—because he’s freaking hilarious. Tickets are $70 to $245. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6, country singer-songwriter Frankie Ballard will take the stage. His career started after he won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition, and he has been rising steadily ever since. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, The Tonight Show house band The Roots (above right) will be appearing. The Roots built their legacy on hip-hop and were an indie success; they are one of the few hip-hop acts to feature live instruments. They were the first hip-hop act I ever saw live in 1996. If you go see them, you’ll be blown away. Tickets are $55 to $75. Stay tuned to CVIndependent.com in October for an interview with The Hit Men (appearing Oct. 16) and a live review of Duran Duran’s show. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, Latin sensation Don Omar will perform. Billboard named Omar one of the top-selling Latin artists. He also appeared alongside Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in the Fast and Furious film franchise. Tickets are $54 to $84. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, check out a somewhat interesting event called Brenton Wood’s Love Jam. Wood was a modestly successful R&B/soul singer in the late ’60s. Also appearing will be the Zapp Band, who Dr. Dre sampled several times; Rose Royce; GQ; Atlantic Starr; Candyman; and Peaches and Herb. Tickets are $40 to $60. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has a busy month ahead. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2, there will be another celebrity music show by The Kiefer Sutherland Band. That’s right—you read that correctly. After Macaulay Culkin’s rather awkward appearance last year at Pappy’s with his band The Pizza Underground, I hope Kiefer puts on an excellent show. Tickets are $15. Speaking of awkward … at 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, Daniel Romano and the Trilliums will be performing. After Romano’s excellent performance at Stagecoach in April, I had the opportunity to interview him—and, well, he was strange, distant and didn’t seem to like anything or anyone that particular day. He’s a brilliant performer, but skip trying to talk to him on the back patio at Pappy’s. Tickets are $12. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, it’ll be that time of the year again: Gram Rabbit takes the stage at Pappy’s for the group’s usual Halloween shows. While Gram Rabbit has basically been on hiatus, front woman Jesika Von Rabbit recently toured with Eagles of Death Metal in the Midwest. Buy your tickets now, because it will sell out, and there will be a large crowd. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs is preparing for a busy fall. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 10, the “Gay Don Rickles,” Jason Stuart, will be performing with special guest, local (and friend) Shann Carr. Hopefully Stuart’s material isn’t as offensive as Rickles’ live album. Tickets are $25. Purple Room Palm Springs, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-4422; purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Tryst Lounge continues to host local bands. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 13, Derek Jordan Gregg will be performing. At 10 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 24, Spankshaft will take the stage. At 10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 27, an act calling itself the Techno Hillbillies will play. All shows are free. Tryst Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs; 760-832-6046; www.facebook.com/Trystpalmsprings.

The Date Shed has one intriguing event worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17, post-grunge band Puddle of Mudd (below) will perform. During the early part of the last decade, the group had 15 minutes of fame. Alas, today, frontman Wes Scantlin is known to perform heavily intoxicated, or to lip-sync an entire show. Many of the band’s original members have run away from Puddle of Mudd. I will say that you should go to support local opening acts Mighty Jack and the Rebel Noise, given they both put on great shows. Tickets are $20 to $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews