Sunday, November 30, 2008

Babs Manilow

Ladies and Gentlemen!

And if you couldn't play that...

Don't worry about me,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tastes like leather

Ladies and Gentlemen!

What a Thanksgiving! Because I tragically lost my family years ago due to my actions, I had dinner at
LaSwan's house (Lady Across the Street Without A Name) and oh, boy! It will be a night we will not soon forget, if I can ever remember it. Thank God for my cell phone camera! See, I'm still giving thanks!

All I know for sure is that this lady ate up that Hungry Man -- Swanson's Hungry Man TV dinner which included, but did not exceed, Turkey and limited "fixins." I must say the best part was the gallon of "Egg Nog Daiquiris" I picked up for the occasion. Drive-thru! Yes, you can still go to a drive-thru and order a drink in New Orleans. Proud to call it home!

Mrs. Danvers, Post "Lady" Surgery (two weeks ago)

Speaking of leather, while I was chewing on my piece, Mrs. Danvers, my spiritual guide and loyal Boston Terrier, was chewing on a piece of leather of her own. Well, it wasn't hers. It actually belonged to LaSwan.

LaSwan's Chair/Mrs Danvers' Dinner

Notice how LaSwan's chair now has a "tongue." "A chair with a tongue! Now that's my kind of seat!" I squealed, trying to change the mood as I pointed it out to LaSwan. LaSwan has never been a fan of my "brand" of "humor," and after she vocally and physically reminded me of that, I decided (with LaSwan's help) that it was time to go home.

I explained to LaSwan that Mrs. Danvers had just had her "tubes tied" two weeks ago and wasn't "herself." LaSwan said she had her own "tubes tied" in 1973 and she still hasn't destroyed anybody's furniture. She even punctuated her sentences with passionate expletives. Everyone reacts differently, I having their "tubes tied," not to my humor...everyone loves that! Even LaSwan, deep down inside. She'll come around with a few more nights like tonight!

Anyhoo, having been filled with the holiday spirit, and a gallon of egg nog daiquiris, Mrs. Danvers and I went home and continued the festivities until she used her teeth to let me know she'd had enough.

Don't worry about me,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something's growing in the toilet

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Well, it's official! New Orleans has the highest crime rate in the country! But, as me and Heather Locklear will tell you, besides that we're fine to drive, is that any publicity is good publicity! See! I found a "silver lining" on the rape-robbery-aggravated assault-burglary-theft cloud hovering over my hometown. It's an adventure here! Kind of like Iraq, but with drink specials. There I go again, with the lining...

Now some of you may not be shocked that I, Varla Jean Merman, live in the most crime infested city in the land. In fact, "some" of you may think there might even be a correlation. But I am a good person, mostly. And that one time when I discovered that I accidentally took several bags of roasted almonds and eight Duffy CD's while leaning against the back of the cash register at Starbuck's, I went right back there and returned the all of the CD's.

Mrs. Danvers

So, to help me deny the fact that I live in a depressed, decaying urban wasteland riddled with violence and corruption, I try to fill each day with a lil' bit-o-beauty! Like today! I ventured into my courtyard to let Mrs. Danvers "water" the lawn, and what did I see? Four broken down toilets I threw back there after Katrina. Well, at first I saw four toilets. But, with a little grunt work, I saw four pots. Pots of gold!

Soiled Toilets on Rampart Street

You should have seen the neighbors' faces when I put my soiled toilets in front of the house. LaSwan (Lady Across the Street Without A Name) said she has never, ever seen such a display in the thirty years she has lived on the block. And now, "watering" the flowers has never been so much fun! But beware! The snap dragons may tickle your whiskers! These commodes are certain to wipe away your troubles!

Hey! And, here's yet another lil' bit-o-beauty! On Monday, I wrote how my friend and soprano Nell Snaidas helped Alicia Keys with the arrangement of Kathleen Battle's part in Ms. Keys' performance of "Superwoman" at the American Music Awards. But not only is she an arranger to the stars, she is also an amazing singer!

Well, here is Miss Nell and I singing the famous Flower Duet from Delibes' opera Lakmé! You may recognize it as the theme from the
British Airways commercials if you are a world traveler. Or, if you are a lesbian, you may recognize it as the love theme from the movie "The Hunger." Enjoy, Lesbians!

Don't worry about me,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Six bottles of red

Ladies and Gentleman!

I don't mean to shock any of you or spoil the illusion of my bon vivant lifestyle, but last night I stayed home and didn't drink! Instead, I curled up in front of the television with a couple of bottles of wine and watched the American Music Awards! Well, I watched the "performances." I TIVO the whole thing and skip the awards and speeches. Please! The whole thing is "framed," just like the Presidential Election. Ooopsie Daisy! I can't use that excuse anymore, I guess. That's so four years ago...

Oh, and I don't have TIVO, cause I rarely watch TV, unless I'm on it. And, that is rare. I actually watched the show at LaSwan's house. (LaSwan is my name for "Lady Across the Street Without A Name." She told me her name, like, eight years ago, when I moved in. But, I didn't "process" it, and now eight years later, it really is too late to ask her again.)

Chanteuse Christina Auguleriueriaeria

Highlights? Chunky, at best. Christina Auguleriueriaeria opened the show with a "medley," that was at least two glasses of wine long! At least! I also noticed that she must have finally felt the pressure of aghast fashionista's who had accused her of "procuring" Lady Gaga's "look." (Believe me, when Ann-Margret accused me of "stealing" her look, I denied it, although being caught red-handed in her Beverly Hills home with her red wig in my hand didn't help. Non je ne regrette rien!)

The Landers Sisters • Judy and Audrey

Alicia Keys looked so beautiful accepting her awards, although I did think it was odd that she carried her handbag to the stage with her EVERY SINGLE TIME. But, then I noticed she was sitting next to Queen Latifah, and believe me, I wouldn't leave my handbag with her either. She's a tough girl! One of those kind that don't carry a handbag, even. But she's not as tough as her "lady bodyguard" who accompanies her. I saw the two of them dining at a Houston's restaurant in Century City last year and you should have seen the look the "bodyguard" gave me when I jumped up to finish their spinach artichoke dip. They were leaving, so I thought, but it turns out they were only going to the powder room, even though I don't think either of them had a handbag, much less powder.

Ludacris and Kanye West

Kanye West took his award with his ususual bravado. I know this is terrible, but every time I see him I want to hug him. Really, really, hard. I just sense he is headed for a bit of a "let down" in life. Let's all pray that it happens soon, so he can get over it quickly. He seemed a bit perturbed last night that people didn't think his generation (is that still my generation?) could be compared to the musical icons of the past and even walked off stage touting himself as the "new Elvis." Well, let's give the boy a chance! You never know, maybe one day, when people are asked to list the greatest rock songs of all time, they will respond confidently "Stairway to Heaven," "Let It Be," "Purple Haze," and "She a Goldigger, But She Ain't Playin' With No Broke Ni**er."

Mariah Carey and her biggest fan

Mariah Carey can never be accused of stealing anyone's "look." She has stuck by hers through think and thin! I do love to see her perform because there is something so moving in her entrances. She always enters looking catatonic until she hits her mark for her "hair fan" and suddenly comes alive. It's almost as exciting as the end of the movie "Awakenings," when Robin Williams administers that drug to Robert DeNiro. I swear they have the same exact look of comfort and joy! Viva Vornado!

Beyoncé's alibi, Sasha Fierce

I love Beyoncé, but I have seen that "All the Single Ladies" one too many times this week. It's soon to be on my list of "Things I Hope I Never See Again, " right in between "1. Faye Dunaway doing the wire hanger scene," and "3. Skinny white boys in drag lip-synching Jennifer Holliday's And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going..."

Did anybody notice when Melody from The Pussycat Dolls couldn't get her jacket off during their number? BTW, the only reason I know her name is because it was written on her podium, right underneath her stripper pole. That's the truth. The camera unmercifully stayed on her, struggling the entire time. And, to make herself seem "human" rather that "professional," she even screamed to the girl next to her, "I can't get it off!" Oopsie. I guess there's another season of "Search For The Next Doll...with smaller wrists" on the horizon.

Kathleen Battle

Lastly...Jeez Louise! This blog is almost as long as the show...Alicia Keys decided to end the show by singing "Superwoman" with Queen Latifah. That's one good way to keep an eye on her her. But then, as a "surprise" guest, opera icon Kathleen Battle suddenly appeared to sing a coloratura descant over the whole thing. Yes, you read that right. And, I bet no one was as "surprised" as Miss Battle. I was "surprised" and I even knew about it beforehand! My friend Nell Snaidas wrote the descant for Miss Battle upon the request of Alicia Keys! In fact, in my next blog, I will include a clip of Nell and I singing at "Classical Varla," my annual benefit in Provincetown! But it was Queen Latifah who "acted" the most "surprised." Every time Miss Battle sang a note, they cut to a close-up of Queen Latifah miming, "WHOAH!" I know from experience, that sometimes it's hard to stop "acting" even when someone else has taken center stage. Or taken a bite of your spinach artichoke dip.

Too bad they didn't wheel out Deborah Voight in a tiny black dress for Christina's "Dirrty" number, or Monsterrat Caballe for Beyonce's "All The Single Ladies." Oh, wait. Freddie Mercury did drag her out a long time ago. Well, see, everyone old is new again!

Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé

Oh, and BTW. I'm "available" to be dragged out for any, and I mean "any," occasion.

Don't worry about me,

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen!

Anyhoo, not much is going on here in New Orleans, except I did go to a doctor yesterday and have all the nodules and polyps scraped off of my vocal chords again. "It's just like shootin' squirrels off some power lines," the doctor said to me, laser in hand. I'm not sure if that is a metaphor, simile, or analogy, but who cares! A doctor without some humor and catchy "one-liners" is like Mr. Bean -- too physical, painful, and something I don't want going down my throat. Sorry, Rowan. (He is a colleague, but my blog is my "safe-place.")

While the doctor was picking off my "squirrels" one by one, I had all of the other growths scraped off my other delicate folds of skin. Well, the folds aren't so "delicate" anymore. In fact, "someone" might say they resemble the underwater part of a pier piling. But, I'm not dating that offshoreman anymore. Well, not for a while. Not to be crabby, but one of us was. Otherwise, it's been just another ho-hum day in the life of this "working" singer/actress, except now my voice is up-and-at-em and ready to be sent back to the firing line.

Studs Terkel

Speaking of breakouts and working, that reminds me of Studs Terkel. Not only was he the "breakout character" on the hit sitcom "Family Matters," but it turns out he was also a Pulitzer Prize winner for "Working." I'm not surprised because he always seemed book-smart on the show. And if you haven't heard this yet, I'm sorry, but you're GONNA find out, whether it be from me or Perez Hilton or The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He passed away at only 96 "years young" this month. I had no idea he was that "young," but as my friend said the last time we saw Diahann Caroll looking ageless at a PayLess Shoe Source, "Black Don't Crack!" (Grammar is my pet peeve, so I corrected my friend and started angrily shouting repeatedly "Black DOES NOT Crack! Black DOES NOT Crack!," but, Diahann heard me, and let me tell you, when she turned around and saw me furiously waving a size 12 pair of strappy sandals, her face suddenly "cracked." I actually heard it. It was almost the same sound you hear when you have "someone" crack the scar tissue that has built up around your implant. But "someone's" back on the oil rig again, and who knows when he'll back ashore.

Well, Diahann ran out of there quicker than I did, but the security sensor didn't go off for
her, and they let her keep going. Thanks to racial profiling, the same could not be said for me. I told the security officer that my "friend" would vouch that I was just chasing Diahann Carroll for grammatical reasons, but he said I was in the store by myself, and he could "prove" it with the security camera. I knew already that my "friend" wouldn't appear on the tape, because my "friend" is very camera shy, and she really knows how to avoid the lens...something that I have been trying to do for years.

Diahann (pronounced "Dee•uh•HAWN"*) Caroll

* I used •uh• in the above pronunciation, even though it should be a •schwa• but I can't seem to find the "schwa" button on my keyboard, and I've been looking since Wednesday. Some of my keyboard buttons have stuff stuck to them and I can't see what they are. Fah-HEE-tah. (Speaking of phonetical stuff, that's how you say fajita! I saw that at The Taco Bell written out next to the word on the menu. Try saying it phonetically! Fah-HEE-tah! It's so much more fun. That's how ABBA did every song BTW!)

Anyway, Studs Terkel looked great for 96, even though he obviously had Vitiligo, that Michael Jackson skin disease, cause he died as white as a ghost. But then again Gary Coleman and Emanuel Lewis (disease free, by my knowledge) were like 30 years young, or something, when they were supposed to be children on television. And Stockard Channing was already way past her "lady problem" when she played a high school girl in the movie "Grease." And, the same for Diana Ross in the movie version of "The Wiz," although she still has problems, just not the "lady problem." But now, times have changed, and the industry has the nerve to become age-appropriate! Now, I am being edged out of ingenue roles by my peers, like Dakota Fanning and that Hannah Montana. Jeez Louise! Maybe if I named myself "Nebraska Idaho" I could get some work! Not that I'm not "working"...

Gary Coleman • Emanuel Lewis • Stockard Channing • Diana Ross

So, while I was loitering in the New Orleans Public Library yesterday after settling with my vocal doctor, I picked up a tattered copy of "Working" and read the cover, before putting it back down. And it made me think. People like me talk about what they do all day and how I feel about what I do. But does it matter? Does a blog of a "working" actress matter? It does. But I suppose you don't have to be a ACJF (arm-chair Jessica Fletcher) to realize I must not be "working" that much, because how would I have time to create these intricate, thought provoking essays every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Well, it's more than obvious looking at the "venues" I am performing at, correction, at which I am performing, that I do need money. Money to try and pay for those 7 houses I bought three years ago that I haven't been able to "turnover," as we say in the business of real estate turnovering.


Back to the BLOG! (Sorry, I had to eat.) Anyhoo, I haven't quite figured out how to parlay these hour-long exhausting sessions on my computer in my bedroom into money. Let me clarify. Not all of them. I just hope someone is keeping track of the dozens of people that are reading this, because I want to make the big bucks and follow in the footsteps of my "colleague," Perez Hilton.

Studs Terkel

As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of copying.

Don't worry about me,

Monday, November 17, 2008

My baby!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

After trying my hand at motherhood in 1992, I quickly realized that sometimes a lady has to make choices. I obviously had to follow my dream of becoming a regional celebrity, and so a few of my "responsibilities" fell to the wayside. Thank goodness for Child Services and Family Court for relieving me of some of my burdens and helping me get closer to my dream.

And that's one thing I want you to take home with you today (unless you are already reading this at home.) Don't ever let anything stop you from achieving your dream. I mean nothing. And if you are reading this at home because you have a "career" like me and don't have to go to one of those big buildings with the typewriters and cubicles and stuff, I give you your props! Isn't life great!

But who knew that years later, I would once again get that same itch. Not the kind you get from a toilet seat in my house, or even the kind you get from being the perfect "host," but the kind of itch that creeps up inside you like an inebriated frat boy on a silly dare. Motherhood. Unfortunately (for me at least) I was sterilized here in Louisiana after committing a minor traffic offense. Anyhoo, I have never been one for adoption, well, because Jeez Louise! I felt like my very own daughter was a stranger in my house...Can you imagine if I had a real stranger taking up space, eating my pudding cups, and speaking some crazy language? (If my daughter, Velveeta, is reading this blog, just let me know if mentioning you breaks any of our "rules.")

But that's when I found her! The most beautiful Boston Terrier in all the land! It's amazing when something comes into your life and momentarily makes you care about other creatures. And I didn't have to be pelted with flour to realize that! Her name is Mrs. Danvers, which is also the name of my favorite character in the movie "Rebecca." I named her that, not only because she often whispers in my ear and tries to convince me to throw myself off of cliffs, but because she also bears a striking resemblance to Dame Judith Anderson who played the part in the know, dressed in all black with a collar, and eyes on the sides of her head that seem to glare "I don't want to live here with you!"

Mrs. Danvers Mrs. Danvers
Uncanny! So here a few photos of my darling Mrs Danvers from the past six months! Enjoy!

Two Months Old

Three Months Old

Four Months Old

Five Months Old
She's the submissive one. I really don't know where she learned that.

Six Months Old
Dinner Time! No, Danny! I won't forget to pick you up a
Double with Cheese and a Biggie Fry!
She's just like her mother, I swear!

And lastly, here is a cell phone video of the first time I ever sang to her when she was only two months old! Turn up your volume! You can just imagine how she feels knowing that I will serenade her incessantly for the rest of her entire life. And even though it "appears" as if she is lunging at my throat at the end of the video, she actually enjoys my 3 hour daily warm-ups...

Don't worry about me,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm not a black jogger!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Blog? What’s a BLOG? I always thought it was an amalgam for something like…a blind frog…or a bloody flog…or a bloated hog. Well,
Rosie O’Donnell! You have one! And, now, so do I!

Suddenly, after trying to get it together for 8 years, I, too, will join the ranks of millions of other famous and ordinary people who believe their daily lives are more interesting and worthy of being chronicled than those of busy people!

Varla Jean Merman is a blogger! (Not a black jogger. Although, they do have a certain appeal!)

Anyhoo, last night I was a headliner at a huge party, here, in
New Orleans for the 120 year anniversary of Louisiana’s oldest animal shelter—a benefit for the LA/SPCA called “The Great Catsby: A Roaring 20’s Tribute!” And, no, my little “commentors,” that is not a misprint! The Great Catsby instead of "The Great Gatsby!" Because it is an animal shelter! With cats! (And dogs, but I guess tonight they were only raising money for the cats. Maybe cause felines gets AIDS and dogs don't. I don't know, really.)

Well, supposedly, "The Great Gatsby" was a movie or something about the 20s, starring
Mira Sorvino. Or, was it Marisa Tomei? Well, one of those girls that accidentally got an Oscar. God, I hope I accidentally get one for “Girls Will Be Girls.” Every year I hope I am nominated for it, but every year I go back to bed in tears after not hearing my name read with the other nominees that morning. Being an actress can be so awful, but it’s hard to explain to you civilians. Back to the party…

Now, even though I rarely wear costumes, I decided to put my finest 1920’s gown on for my entrance on the red carpet (which was slightly soiled because of the parade of cats and dogs that entered before me. “It wasn’t me!”, I shouted to the crowd of paparazzi and fans, further proving that my wit isn’t confined to the stage. And, most importantly, it really wasn’t me that soiled the red carpet this time. My dress, on the other hand, was a different story.)

Wowie! What a star-bedazzled event! Besides myself,
Bryan Batt, a New Orleans native and star of the hit TV show “Mad Men” was there. Oh, and thank you, Bryan, for letting me know that my gown was actually more 1930s than 1920s! He immediately recognized it as a “not so subtle” copy of Rosalind Russell’s gown in the 1939 movie “The Women” where she snoops in Joan Crawford’s bathroom.

Believe it or not, I knew that it was a 1930s gown already, but I “acted” like I didn’t, hoping that it wouldn’t kill my chances of him getting me a walk-on role as a secretary or lady copy-writer on “Mad Men.” But, being an actor, Bryan could immediately see that I was “acting,” so I tried using my other talent, “lying.” I told him that I thought fashions of the 1920s wouldn’t make it to Louisiana until the 1930s. Bryan didn’t buy my excuse. And fooling a gay is just about as easy as trying to marry one in 48 states. Just try pulling the cashmere over their eyes! And, now I probably won’t be on “Mad Men.” (Unless you write them and tell them that you think I should be. Bloggers Unite!)

Besides Bryan Batt, New Orleans resident, funny lady, and movie and television star,
Jennifer Coolidge was there! My, I almost thought I was describing myself! She even talked to me without accusing me of not being dressed in the correct period. She asked me where the bar was! I said I didn’t know. But, being an actor, Jennifer could immediately smell that I was “acting.”

After I showed her to the bar, I put on my costume for my big performance -- a “layered” tribute to
Josephine Baker! I tell the story of her life in dance, from the daughter of an Arkansas orphan, to hoochie dancer, to a leader of the Jewish Underground Railroad in France during WWII, all to the tune of the disco hit "Le Freak."

But, even with the promise of such a show-stopper, for some reason, I never made it onto the stage. And, what’s worse is that no one ever tried to find me. I come from the school where they remind you a few dozen times that you have to go on and then fire you. So, I never went on. Or, maybe they thought my choreographic references symbolizing the harboring of Jews in WWII would bring down the festive mood. Or, maybe it was because I wasn't wearing any panties. Well, Bryan Batt told me that "La Baker" didn't wear them, so I thought I might score points with him if I slipped them off publicly by the chocolate fountain. Well, my performance was for charity, so I guess they got what they paid for, I suppose.

Later, I did end up doing the banana dance, to the delight of one patron, although it didn’t really have the same “excitement” when performed shotgun in his Ford Explorer as he gave me a ride home. And, as I vividly remember, he WAS NOT Jewish. But, that accessory can provide some excitement of it's own...

Oh, I heard if they ran out of goody-bags it is perfectly okay to take home the centerpieces.

Don't worry about me,