Fierstein at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere.
June 6, 1954 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, playwright, voice actor|
I got the regular call, that they were doing a Broadway musical of Hairspray, and would I come and audition. I was familiar with the movie, because at the time it came out my lover wrote for Premiere magazine, and we had to see everything.
I have the world's worst taste in men, so now I simply have wonderful relationships of the friend kind, but trying to settle down with somebody? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm beyond that.
Also, if you want to reach people, theatre is not always the best way to do it.
I just don't like politics. My rule is if I can put a spotlight on something, I'll do that.
While we dance in the streets and pat ourselves on the back for being a nation great enough to reach beyond racial divides to elect our first African-American president, let us not forget that we remain a nation still proudly practicing prejudice.
I have to work really hard, eight shows a week, to get a nice check as an actor. But when I write a play, and it's a – knock wood – hit, the checks come in for many years.
I have a lot of faith in President Obama. The thing that seems to be true of him is that he doesn't speak when you would expect him to speak. He's very measured in his response to things. He likes to get all the facts first before he shoots his mouth off. It makes me crazy; it makes a lot of people crazy.
I burned out on AIDS and did no AIDS work for a couple of years. I was so angry that people were still getting this disease that nobody can give you – you have to go out and get it!
Beware of anyone who says they know. Trust me, they don't, or they wouldn't have to say they did.
So, did I work with Warhol? I worked with him less on that play then I did on other things. He actually did a portrait of my rabbit and some other stuff. Warhol was definitely… Warhol.
A musical takes two to five years. You have to love it to put in the years.
I really am a theater person. That means you put something out there, and you let it go. Tomorrow night is a new performance.
State-sanctioned marriage is a civil contract, period. A contract is not a judgment of moral value. It is a legal agreement between two parties that testifies to a meeting of minds between those consenting entities. It is not a religious act or rite and so has nothing to do with Adam and Eve or Steve or even Harvey.
As soon as I started writing, other writers stopped wanting me acting in their shows – maybe they thought I was going to rewrite them.
It's a wonderful world. You can't go backwards. You're always moving forward. It's the wonderful part about life. And that's terrific.
Actually, I think the average voice is like 70 percent tone and 30 percent noise. My voice is 95 percent noise.
But actually just yesterday we raised the key of one of my songs two steps up, so my voice is obviously responding. It's a muscle, and the more you use it, the more you use it right, the more you should get out of it. So yes, I sing.
How often are the perpetrators of hate-crimes discovered to be self-loathing? Valued individuals do not strike out against strangers.
When I write stuff and I help cast it, I turn away good people all the time. I may turn them down because this one's too tall and that one doesn't have a high enough voice or this one looks to old to match up with that one – there's a billion reasons not to hire somebody.
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.
In Torch Song, I did that character almost non-stop from 1978 until I made the movie in 1987. Then I had some failure, which also colors how you react to doing other things.
Anyone with a smart phone is a potential eyewitness cameraman capturing and transmitting stories at speeds that turn Reuter photos and traditional reporting into, well… yesterday's news.
When I went into 'Fiddler,' I wondered about the response I'd get – the backlash because I'm openly gay. There was none. I toured Canada and America, and not one single review suggested that I played the role gay or that I seemed anything but Tevye.
What looks absolutely fabulous in rehearsal can fall flat in front of an audience. The audience dictates what you do or don't change.
You know, I always got offered other stuff. Not the romantic leads, obviously. But very often it's a role that's underwritten, where the character has no personality at all. And they need a character actor who can fill it in.
It's a lot of fun to play someone you don't normally think of yourself as.
I am thrilled – I can't stress that enough – thrilled when I see kids getting active.
My play Safe Sex was picked apart because critics thought it was untrue. It was a play in which no one had AIDS, but the characters talked about how it was going to change their lives.
You really, really, really have to love what you are going to do in theater because it is an unmerciful life. It's six days a week. It's eight performances a week. And that's doing the exact same thing over and over and over again.
It would be nice to redefine ourselves – at the moment we are drowning in diversity. That's not a bad thing, its just going to take a while before we refocus.
Nothing binds a people to their leader like a common enemy. Voters don't change governments during war.
Always admit when you're wrong. You'll save thousands in therapy… and a few friendships too.
I don't believe in the afterlife, so I do think when somebody passes, it's worthy of note.
And I believe that you never be limited in what you do, so I like to do movies, I like to do television.
But I'm not adverse to the idea of Torch Song as a musical. It would just be different. Because the play will always be there exactly as it was, and in a musical you could tell a lot of the story through songs.
I have great faith in the United States. It's the only country I would ever live in.
I do believe we're all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.
Movies are all about plot. Theater, even if it's story heavy, it's about ideas. Theater has to resonate in your heart in a way that movies don't.
My father was brought up in an orphanage in the Catskills. He was a factory worker. And because his family wasn't there for him, family was everything. We could disagree inside the house, but outside the house it was us against the world. So when I became a drag actor, he looked sideways but said okay.
I actually may do a musical next year… not one that I've written; one that I may star in. Plus my concert and other people's work and all of a sudden you've got a very full life.
Theater is my temple and my religion and my act of faith. Strangers sit in a room together and believe together.
You may feel powerless as a child, but the world will one day be yours. And you're responsible for it. So, seize the day and take charge of it.
I'm sure there's going to be some material from This Is Not Going To Be Pretty. I usually use that song to just introduce myself to the audience, although the patter in between the song is always different.
I got a lovely check today from being a writer that I earned by sitting at home. That's rewarding.
I've been dating since I was 15 years old, and I just don't seem to do it well.
Art has the power to transform, to illuminate, to educate, inspire and motivate.
To me, if a heterosexual has a right to do it, then I have a right to do it. And if it's important to the gay youth – who are now setting the agenda – then its important to me.
There are times when I don't take roles because I don't want to be perceived a certain way.
When a politician like Marco Rubio is willing to sacrifice his career defining immigration reform legislation solely to insure that gays and lesbians are denied equal protection under the law, we have to admit that we're under attack. This is not pragmatic politics at work. These are the policies of bias, exclusion and unfairness.
Movies are all about plot. Theater, even if it's story heavy, it's about ideas.
I often say that if you want to really want to understand the contract of marriage, just ask anyone who has been divorced. The marriage contract is one of property rights. Or maybe you can look in the Bible to see what Adam had to say about divorce, since Eve was his second wife.
I was exposed to a mix of cultures, lots of different religions and beliefs. I was a spiritual kid and went to Indian powwows and Buddhist temples. But over a period of time, with reading and thinking, I started to feel it was all so absurd: The whole idea of life after death is ridiculous.
The great thing about suicide is that it's not one of those things you have to do now or you lose your chance. I mean, you can always do it later.