Saturday, November 30, 2013


In my Velvet Hammer Burlesque heyday, late 1990's

Dedicated to the cast of  The Velvet Hammer Burlesque

 Noon:  Stumble out of bed, wiping last night’s glitter from your eyes. Wake up with a pot of insanely strong coffee, liberally infused with Half ‘n’Half, Down a pint of bottled water. Shower and drink more coffee.

12:28 PM:  With a head full of curlers tied in a chiffon scarf, barefoot and wearing a vintage black slip, cook a huge breakfast full of protein: two organic dark-yolk eggs over easy, covered in grated Parmesan, sitting atop a ground chicken burger, small side salad of spinach, one container of Fage full fat Greek yoghurt. You need a big food base to carry you through your day and night! Drink at least two pints of bottled water.

2:36 PM: Pack costumes, chain smoke cigarettes to alleviate hunger pangs. Drink more water.

3:18 PM: Cave to hunger pangs. Chop up a small Persian cucumber into pennies and consume greedily with two rice-stuffed grape leaves with plenty of hummus on the side. Lick the spoon! Smoke more. You are still hungry but can’t eat any more carbs, cause you will look bloated onstage if you do. Guzzle water in lieu of food.

3:31 PM: Get a double espresso con panna (make that heavy on the panna!) to take to the venue. The extra whip cream is ok…you’re a dancer, you need the calcium! Sip it in the car, alternating with slugs of bottled water, icy cold, and straight from the freezer.

3:45 PM: Rehearsal hasn’t started yet cause some people are late.

 4:22 PM:  Rehearsal is about to begin. Grab a giant handful of raw almonds and walnuts backstage to keep energy up while you dance. The Omega 3’s are great for sore joints, and once again, you can’t be eating carbs. Dream of Macaroni And Cheese while you run your number. More cigarettes, more water.

5:00 PM:  Time for make up! As you apply your faux lashes, indulge in the backstage vegetable tray, say to hell with it and dip into the room-temperature Ranch Dressing …cause it’s too close to the veggies to ignore! Feel guilty for being so weak-willed.

6:49 PM: Tech Check: Mix up a Showgirl’s Cocktail: In a plastic or paper cup (basically whatever’s handy) two shots designer vodka, mixed into a glass of water with a packet of Emergen-C With MSM. This is good for your joints, and also helps immensely to take the edge off any pre-show jitters! Stagehands drink Red Bull, but dancers don’t: there is too much sugar and carbonation and, like practically everything else on Earth, it’ll make you look bloated onstage!  Argue with the lighting designer about your cues. Chain smoke onstage because the house isn’t open yet.

7:15PM:  Doors are open! Obsessively check out the crowd through a slit in the closed curtains, squeal over costumes with the other dancers, and finish applying body glitter. Go into the alley behind the theater with a few other performers and smoke.

8:00 PM:  Showtime! Oh wait, the curtain is being held so  that the crowd has time to get good and wasted.

8:16 PM As the show begins, the performers start trotting out the bottles of booze hidden in their dance bags. Mid-range champagne is always a good choice, because it goes down smoothly, and since everyone shares, it’d be foolish to buy anything expensive! Drink from plastic cups with a straw so you don’t wreck your lipstick. The sound of champagne corks popping almost drowns out the strains of the opening number.

8:46 PM: Since everyone backstage is now just a little bit tipsy, the “No Smoking” ban in the dressing room has been magically lifted!

9:13 PM:  Draft an embarrassed (but extremely happy) stagehand to take some impromptu scandalous photos of all the dancers who are backstage, while the comedians in the cast look on wistfully. Sapphic  and decadent  are  operative words here.

11:00 PM:  Somehow, the show finished on schedule. Down a pint of water, and it’s time for the Post Show Mingle With The Audience… graciously allow them to fawn over you and buy you cocktails.

11:50PM:  The suitcase that was so diligently organized when you arrive at the theater now will hardly close. Cram still-damp lingerie, one high heel, make up bags, sewing kits, boas, corsets, stray lipstick, curling irons, and any random costume or cosmetic articles you find on the floor into your bag haphazardly.

11:58 PM: Rush to the craft service table backstage along with the entire cast and eat anything that is left over straight from the package, including but not limited to: cookies, corn chips, dried out doughnuts, soggy sandwich wraps, potato chips… even industrial-sized containers of coleslaw and potato salad that have been sitting out for hours. Don’t worry about the condition of the food; the flasks of Personal Stash alcohol being passed around will kill any germs. Continue to smoke as you stuff food into your face- but be careful not to smear your lipstick!

1:00 AM: Frantically look for a parking space near The After Party.

1:13 AM: Drag all your costumes and props inside The After Party because you are paranoid about leaving them in the car, in case they get stolen.

1:48 AM: There is plenty of food here, a nice spread, actually… but nobody cares-   because there is also plenty of booze and plenty of blow.  It’s almost like Thanksgiving, but with controlled substances!

3:30 AM: Wonder vaguely if you should leave The After Party before the sun rises, but don’t move cause someone has once again put out fat rails. Begin chain smoking in earnest.

3:52 AM: Drink almost an entire liter of water before spilling a martini into your cleavage. More rails, more smoking. Eavesdrop on five conversations while simultaneously telling stories of your own.

4:19 AM:  Even though you don’t smoke pot; take a healthy hit off  the joint that’s just been handed to you. You don’t want to appear rude…and it’s not like it’s going to matter at this point!

4:39 AM:  The blow seems to be all gone, so you prudently decide to leave The After Party, congratulating yourself because it turns out you will not be needing the sunglasses you thoughtfully slipped into your purse before you left the house!  Consume half a pack of Sugarless Gum to alleviate hunger pangs- they’re baaaack!

4:56 AM: Look for a drive through… any drive through will do!

5:17 AM: Eat in your car with no thoughts whatsoever of preserving your make-up. Notice that the other cars surrounding you are all full of drag queens and hookers also scarfing food with no regard for their make-up. Finish the pack of sugarless gum while smoking.

6:12 AM Your make-up, eye leashes, body glitter and pasties are off, your contact lenses are out, your teeth are flossed and brushed and you are slathered in night cream.  Wonder what happened to your other shoe while you chase 800 milligrams of Ibuprophen with a pint of bottled water.  Cross your fingers that the scary drive through food won’t make you look bloated onstage tomorrow.

6:14 AM set the alarm on your phone for noon.




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Monday, November 18, 2013


Every member of family is gifted with mad culinary skills. We’re all consummate cooks, it’s in our blood. Ever since I was a young’un, the real the reason I became adept in the kitchen was because  I’m a slob- I detest housework! So at a very tender age, I learned that if I could whip up luscious culinary creations, I could totally leave the kitchen looking like  an F5 tornado hit it, and  inevitably, somebody else would willingly  step in to clean up the damage!

 A few years ago, my sisters Eddie, Cupcake and I even had a ridiculously popular food blog called “The Haphazard Gourmet”, named after a well-loved cook book that  my  late father,  author Richard Gehman, wrote in 1966, when I was but a tot. 

One of the biggest ironies in my life is that though I love to cook, I almost never have the chance to because I am constantly on the road.  In the 1980’s and  1990’s,  I was frequently on indie rock ‘n ’roll tours with my various bands.  After that, it was either touring for belly dance and burlesque gigs, or on location for film shoots.

 During the holidays, the one time of the year when I am actually home, I always  cook up a storm, and this dressing is one of the things I love to make. It is extremely work intensive, and has a boatload of ingredients…but I’m tellin’ you, all the labor is worth it! Since it’s pretty close to Thanksgiving, and you might  already have your meal plans set, you  maybe  will want to save this to make for Christmas or New Year’s Eve…  or just  to “rehearse” for the up-coming Holiday Pig Out Season.

I’m going to give you an adaptation of a recipe for a scrumptious,  savory, sweet and very spicy holiday dressing that has been in my family for over half a century. I’ve been eating it for as long as I can remember, and making it myself for well over thirty years. A valuable life lesson that this stuffing has taught me over the years is that if you are great cook and make something this yummy...


A little history  on the dressing itself: my father was a famous writer,  a bohemian bon vivant, and  a consummate chef, who absolutely adored making-and enjoying- extraordinary food. He was handsome, dapper and ultra-charming.  He was  alternately witty and brooding, and never without a drink in his hand.  Actually, now that I think about, my father was not unlike Don Draper from "Mad Men". Anyway, before I was born, he interviewed his friend Morton Thompson, also a very well-known writer and man-about-town, and apparently this stuffing originated with Morton Thompson. I’ve put a link to my father’s article, and the original recipe at the bottom of this post, if you want to look it up.
This Gehman family take on Morton Thompson's recipe makes a ton of dressing, enough to feed an army and last you, your family, friends and neighbors for a few days so you can halve the recipe if you don’t want lots of leftovers… but of course you’ll want them, cause this dressing is the damn bomb!

Before I go into the exact details, you need to know a couple of the most important parts of the recipe.

The first thing is that there was a reason my father’s book, and our family cooking blog, were both called “The Haphazard Gourmet”. It’s because we improvise freely in the kitchen… dancing madly around in an apron,  brandishing spoons,  taking healthy tastes frequently, andusing crazy ingredients, adding or subtracting them on a whim, making do with whatever is around.

Like improv in dancing, comedy or acting, it’s fun  to just wing it with food.  Don’t be scared to cook according to your own taste, and don’t feel lost without specific measurements. I’m  just giving you a guideline… don't be afraid of to making substitutions or adding in some new elements. My own personal version of this is quite different than the original version, but they taste similar and they’re both divine.

The second  ultra-important thing you need to know is that while you are making the dressing, you need to brag loudly, obnoxiously and continuously…or the dish simply won’t turn out right.

Tell everyone within earshot that you are not only foxy, but also the best cook on earth and they’re blessed just to be inhaling the same oxygen that you’re breathing.

Tell them they’ll be on their knees kissing your feet- just seconds after they take their first bite! Let them know you are an immortal being with culinary gifts from the heavens above…then let them clean up your mess…and thank you profusely the whole time they’re doing it!

Once I was cooking for Thanksgiving with my neighbor, and he had a recipe for dressing he got off the Internet. He handed it to me and actually expected I’d make it.

“Are you kidding?” I cried, “I never use recipes, I always cook by instinct! You’re gonna love my stuffing!”

He regarded me suspiciously, like I was a teenage shoplifter.

“Ok,” he said finally, “But if you fuck this up, I’m going to be really mad.”

“Whatever!”, I sniffed indignantly.

The moment he tasted my stuffing, a strange look came over his face… the kind of pie-eyed expression Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson get in those stupid rom-coms when they  finally realize they’re in love. 

My neighbor  finally shook it off and came back to earth,  exclaiming loudly,

I will never doubt another word you say, as long as I am alive!”

Then he started cleaning the kitchen.

So: you will need a large frying pan with a cover, couple of small bowls, a couple of large bowls, aluminum foil, and two Pyrex or disposable aluminum baking pans.

Two boxes bread cubes or stuffing mix, of any type you prefer….or if you’re really a dyed-in-the-wool foodie, get a couple of loaves and hand-shred the bread yourself.

Six stalks of celery- take off the strings

Two green peppers

Four large yellow onions

Six to ten fresh garlic cloves (or fresh mashed garlic from a jar)

A handful of loose white mushrooms

Two large apples (red or green, either is fine)

Two large oranges, or a medium sized can of Mandarin oranges

Two cans of sliced or chunk pineapple in plain water- not syrup

One large can sliced water chestnuts

One and a half giant handfuls of walnut halves or walnut pieces
( I’ve also thrown in pecans, and in some years added pre-made trail mix here as well. Like I said, improvise!)

Two large containers of chicken or vegetable stock

Quarter pound stick of butter
(If you don’t eat dairy, then eliminate this step, and just use more stock to keep the stuffing moist. But if you do eat dairy, don’t skip on the fucking butter, ok?)

Four or five links of spicy Italian sausage
( If you don’t like traditional pork sausage, then chicken or turkey sausage is ok…  if you are a vegetarian, just eliminate the sausage altogether!)

The herbs can be fresh or dried; it’s your call! Fresh is obviously better though.

You’ll need rosemary, oregano, sage, marjoram and thyme… plus three or four large, whole bay leaves, and a small bunch of fresh parsley. The parsley must be fresh. Separate the leaves from the stems, and snip them up with a scissors.

If you’re using dried herbs, use an extremely liberal pinch or about a very full teaspoon of each. For for fresh herbs,  cut up a few leaves of each. I usually go heavy on the sage and rosemary for a more savory taste. Put these herbs into a bowl, mix them up, and set them aside for now.

I’ll say this again: I don’t measure when I cook, I do it mad scientist style!

 So, for the following spices, you’ll need a few very healthy shakes of each: salt, pepper, all spice, cinnamon, nut meg, curry powder, cumin seed, and cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, turmeric, and a small chunk of fresh ginger, which you’ve peeled and sliced.

If you’re scared to spice up your food the way I do, then measure out about a quarter teaspoon of each, and put them in another small bowl, making sure they’re mixed up. Set these aside, too.

Cut up or dice all ingredients-everything!

 This is the time consuming, hellish part. I usually dice  it all up into small, thin pieces, but I’ve also made late-night, post-gig rushed versions of this dressing where I carelessly chopped the peppers, celery and onions into larger chunks… so, whatever you want to do is fine.

I cut the parsley with a scissors- and at the same time, if I am using fresh herbs, I cut them, too. If you want, you can also used diced packaged onions, cause crying while cutting onions is the worst, but I usually just weep my way through this part of the process.

Skin the sausages, and either crumble them or cut them into thin pennies, then get ‘em into in a very large frying pan or skillet with a little blop or two of extra-virgin olive oil, and start cooking them. If you are making the veggie version of this stuffing, eliminate this step and start sautéing the veggies. You want the sausages cooked through, and a little browned. When the sausages are almost done, throw in the diced onions, garlic, peppers and celery, parsley, and a few generous pats of butter and stir. You will need to stir this continuously! Take a few pinches of both the herb mixture and the spice mixture and throw them both in, according to your taste.

Have a glass of wine here if you drink… or if you want to be like my father, make it a scotch.

 Make sure you’ve been bragging to anyone who’ll listen! If nobody is at your house yet,  by all means,  send a few texts, tweet about it annoyingly, and update your status on Facebook, describing in great detail  the manna from heaven which you are creating.  If you really wanna go for it, post pix on Instagram. Do it… remember, you need to brag or it won’t turn out right!

 Preheat your oven to 350.

When the veggies have almost cooked, throw in the apples, walnuts, mushrooms, oranges, and pineapple, with all the juice from the can. Drain the can of water chestnuts and throw those in too. At this point, you will probably need more of the herbs and spice mixtures- I always do! And while you’re at it, just start adding more pats of butter like a crazy person with a death wish! Stir it all up well. Turn down the heat, put a lid on the pan, and keep stirring it occasionally. Take a taste and figure out if you need to add more herbs and spice… I know I would! While you’re at it, throw in some more butter.

Divide your bread cubes up into two large bowls. Prepare according to the package, but use your chicken or vegetable stock instead of water to moisten it up. Mix it well, and then slowly start adding in the big mess of ingredients you’ve got in the frying pan.

When you’ve gotten the entire contents divided into the two big bowls, start mixing it all up. Mix it until you think you’ll get carpal tunnel!

Take a few pats of butter and grease your baking pans, yelling loudly that you’re about to put this divine creation in the oven, and soon everyone’s going to be hearing the angels sing.  Send a few more status updates and pour yourself another drink.

Divide the well-mixed dressing into the baking pans, then put a few more pats of butter on top, cover them with the foil tightly, and pop ‘em into the oven. Let them bake about fifteen or twenty minutes, then take the foil off, and keep them in the oven  for  another ten or fifteen minutes so that the top gets browned and crunchy.

 By this time, you’re going to be beating people out of the kitchen like a lunatic, because the whole house will smell amazing. Have them make you a drink and tell them they need to start cleaning up…cause the gorgeous aroma from the dressing you created just enriched their sad, oh-so-pedestrian humdrum lives!

Take the baking pans out of the oven and keep them covered until you serve them. I usually make this the night before, and keep them in the refrigerator until serving, because it allows the flavors and spices to marry. You can heat them up on Thanksgiving Day (or whatever day falls after you make this unearthly creation) and it’ll be even more divine.

Bon Appetite!

A link to a reprint of the original recipe for this dressing…and for an incredible turkey recipe, too is here: “Morton Thompson’s Turkey” by Richard Gehman:

My father, Richard Gehman’s Wiki page:

Richard Gehman

Friday, November 15, 2013


They moved in one day towards the end of  1980’s, during unseasonably hot October, in a dusty red late-model pickup with New Mexico plates, though they were originally from Indiana. They lived next door to my punk crash pad Disgraceland  for months, but somehow, the things they’d unloaded – some lawn furniture, a  useless washing machine, a dilapidated couch and matching rocker– never left the front porch. 

There were four of them: Chet, a sour, middle-aged man who looked like he’d been a ruggedly handsome greaser-type about twenty-five years ago, and his wife Joy.  Chet still wore his hair in a thinning, stringy D.A. and was never without cowboy boots.  Joy had seventies-style aviator-frame glasses over a cheerful-yet-doughy face.  She was kind of spreading across the hips and favored polyester ensembles that looked like Sears or J.C. Penney’s. She was pleasant enough, though, always watering the lawn barefoot and yelling greetings to me over the fence in a husky voice. Her laughter usually turned into a smoker’s hack, but it was genuine. Their kids, a skinny little girl named Vicky and an acne-ridden adolescent Chet whose name I never discovered, used to hang around the driveway in their friend’s cars, listening to Golden Oldies on the radio.  The son was surly and looked like what Erskine Caldwell would’ve described as “shiftless.” He was as silent as Chet, and both of spent their days unemployed, sitting amidst the rubble on the front stoop drinking can after can of Budweiser, in graying sleeveless T-shirts and Levi’s.

Vicky, however, was full of chatter. She used to come over to the Disgraceland  porch all the time, asking questions non-stop. We’d talk about make-up and cute guys. In the space of a summer, I watched her go from a bony pubescent to a tall, peroxide-blonde teenage dish in tight stretch-jeans and tube tops.

 Even though I was  barely out of my teens, it was disconcerting seeing  her grow up  practically over night. She’d crack her gum like a waitress and ask if she could bum cigarettes, then furtively smoke them just inside the front door to avoid parental detection. Pretty soon, she was keeping a Marlboro Red box in her purse, wearing too much Ultra Lash mascara, and showing me pictures of Emil, her low-rider boyfriend. Joy would call her around dinnertime, loudly and frequently, but Vicky would lay on my couch, one leg slung over the arm, yawning with feigned nonchalance.  She seemed  at home and comfortable with  the vast sea of beer bottles  covering the coffee table, and the stacks of trashed amplifiers littering the floor.

 I began to notice her on Hollywood Boulevard in the afternoons, a sure sign she was cutting classes at Hollywood High. When I delicately broached this subject with her one day, she countered by asking if I had a smoke, and then informed me that if I wanted any “dope or dust,” Emil had some for sale. She had a brand new, tiny cross and c/s (Con Safos) tattooed jailhouse-style in the web of skin between her thumb and forefinger on her left hand. She lit her cigarette with a Bic encased in silver, with a turquoise and mother-of-pearl design inlaid.

In the meantime, the son had gotten some girl who looked no older than Vicky pregnant, and she’d moved into the apartment with him. I could hear Chet and Joy arguing over this loudly, and soon after, Chet, dour as ever, was on the porch drinking straight Jack Daniels, not Bud.

One day, Vicky came over and asked if she could borrow my typewriter. I hadn’t seen her in a while and was pleased that she seemed to be concentrating on her homework.

“What would you like to use it for?” I asked politely, in a tone I hoped was encouraging. Even though it was abundantly clear I was living a degenerate rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, I was trying to be A Role Model.

“Oh,” Vicky sniffed, “It’s not for me, I don’t want it, it’s for Joy.” She’d recently began referring to her mom by her first name.
“She’s writing a book.”

“Really?” I said, more than a little impressed. “What about?”

Vicky sighed long and drawn out, and kind of rolled her eyes.

“Oh… you know… The Lord.”

Two weeks later, the whole clan was gone. The building’s manager, in a confidential moment, told me they’d left in the middle of the night and skipped out on four months worth of back rent.


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