INTERVIEW: JUSTIN SAYRE Talks Ravenswood Manor at Joe's Pub, The Gay Agenda, and Return Night of
Justin Sayre (Ricardo Nelson)
Justin Sayre is a writer and performer who Michael Musto called, “Oscar Wilde meets Whoopi Goldberg.” His hilarious episodic show Ravenswood Manor returns to Joe's Pub on Apri 27th and 28th for Season 2- it is sure to be "one helluva a time!" RyeTheNewsGuy.com caught up with Sayre ahead of his show at Joe's Pub to talk about Ravenswood Manor, the return of Night of a Thousand Judy's, The Gay Agenda, and his advice for LGBTQIA creators.
Can you tell me a little bit more about Ravenswood Manner that is happening at Joe's Pub on April 27th& 28th? So Ravenswood Manor is my episodic theatrical horror camp comedy show- wow, try putting all those words in a row. It's a little bit Dark Shadows, It's a little bit Charles Ludlam, it's episodic. So, you go and see different episodes every night and it's just high camp with some of the funniest people I know in New York. We came up with the idea a couple of months ago and called some folks and said “Hey, do you want to try this two nights in New York?" And we had just some of the most fun that I've had on stage in a very long time. We had an ensemble of Jenn Harris and Jeff Hiller, Nathan Lee Graham, Rob Maitner, Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson and Becca Blackwell. It's just, it's an unbelievable feeling to work with people who are that capable and that funny So, we're going back on the 27th and 28th this time to do the second part is the first season so episode seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12. It's just really thrilling. It's really thrilling. Luckily, we're going to get an opportunity to do it in LA in the fall of this year.
Wow that's super exciting! So for those who come to the show at Joes Pub what can they expect to see? Well, I know there's a kind of fear like "Oh, we missed the first ones will we miss out?” You will be caught up within an inch of your life, the wonderful Angela DiCarlo writing some songs to remind us of everything that has happened. I think what you're going to see is this stunning kind of conclusion. It's high, high camp, and we've already killed two characters and brought one back to life. We're opening hell now, we have a werewolf, a trio of witches, a reanimated head, haha!
Wow you're certainly going all out! Oh yeah, it's cool. My friends are thrilled for me, but also worried for me. They're like "I'm glad you're excited about it but where do you think this stuff up?" I say "I don't know. I just like it!"
That sounds thrilling, and like one hell of a night! So, switching gears a little bit- The Gay Agenda, your comedy album has really put you on the map. It gives such an honest yet humorous look at the gay community. Where did the inspiration come from for that? Well, the album came out of the show that we did. I had a show called "The Meeting" for about eight years in New York and we ran every month for eight years. It became a downtown institution, which was very flattering and really wonderful. And the album was an outgrowth of that, you know, so many times we had great routines or great things that kind of came out of the show and we recorded a lot of the shows, so the album become sort of a 'best of' what The Meeting had been. Can you tell us about your upcoming annual benefit titled 'Night of a Thousand Judy's.' Where did it come from, how did it get started, and what it represents? We do it to benefit the Ali Forney Center, which houses homeless LGBT youth in New York City and they're a wonderful organization that I'm always very proud to work with. The show has gained quite a following but we haven't done it in a few years because of scheduling issues, but we have always wanted to bring it back. And now for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and Judy's death, we're going to do it again, which I think will be a really a great way to kick off pride month and start this tradition again. So, I'm very much looking forward to it.
I understand that your podcast 'Sparkle and Circulate' is coming back. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Sparkle and Circulate essentially is a podcast that we started as an outgrowth of 'The Meeting,' but has been something that has been a great opportunity for me. Certainly, to talk to people--queer professionals, queer artists, people who are making work and making art in the field that we get a chance to just kind of sit down and talk with them. We just go to places you would necessarily go in a regular interview. But that is part of the charm because it is delightfully informal because you get to see people a little more personal.
Well, in closing, what is your best advice you can give to fellow LGBTQIA individuals who are trying to pursue comedy, acting, or screenwriting; or are just trying to put their content out there and are having a hard time identifying with themselves. Especially for the younger generation, and with you being so open about your sexuality, what's your advice or take? Well I have a few pieces of advice. I think that the greatest mistake is don't ever think that you have to teach anybody what it is to be LGBTQIA, don't ever think that is your responsibility. Your responsibility as an artist is always just to show the humanity, the heart, the soul, the mind of the person you're playing, the person you’re writing, the story you're telling, that's all your obligation.
When you write from a place of "I'm going to show what a gay relationship looks like, or a Transgender relationship looks like" you are doing a disservice to your work and the community at large. Because your experience is not everyone’s experience. You cheapen your work by doing that. It goes back to that kind of old adage of "write what you know" I think it comes from a place of write what's in your heart, write the truth that’s in your heart. You have to write about your people and your experience and that’s what will aways make better art.