The Unusual Creatures
By Thomas Dane and Jenny Gomez
Cover Art : MyKoWu
The Unusual CreaturesJul 12, 2022
Telling the Real Stories with Jenni Ruiza
Jenni Ruiza is a Goddess. She has her finger on the pulse of where life and the meaning of art crash. She does it all. Write. Act. Produce. LIVE. And she does it not only to thrive as a creative, but to challenge the world and herself.
Fearless. Funny. Flawed. Complicated. Passionate. What more do you want? Grab a cool drink in this summer heat and listen up. Jenni has a few things to say and you're definitely going to want to soak it all in. And as always follow the #TheUnusualCreatures
Jenni Ruiza is a Puerto Rican writer/actress from The Bronx, who thrives on telling stories that explore the concept of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. The world around her is diverse in color, thought, and purpose and she’ll be damned if her characters don’t reflect that. The kind of content that resonates deeply with Jenni explores mental health, grief, and self-inflicted toxicity by way of intergenerational trauma—all grounded in humor. Jenni is no stranger to comedic commentary, producing segments on ABC/Fusion’s “Come Here and Say That” with Alicia Menendez and appearances on Buzzfeed, Funny or Die, and TBS’s “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”. Jenni's writing credits included Fitz Games’ ¡Dios Mio!, co-writing the main, sucia, and holiday decks and solo-writing their “Puertorriqueña” deck, a fantastical journey of resurrecting the spirit of Vanessa Gomez’s dead abuela via ash-ridden blunt with Maydé Alpi, called “Smoking Abuela” and “Lovexes”, a story about a woman who needs to decide between her job and her sanity at a chaotic NYC love tech startup. You can find Jenni in the upcoming films, “Playing Sam” and “Honey” and on HBO’s “Fantasmas” with Julio Torres.
Trailer for feature film "Playing Sam" (producer/co-writer)
An op-ed I wrote for Syndrome Mag on mental health, familia, and Bustelo
Thomas Dane Will Keep Fighting to Perform and Scribe
Who is Thomas Dane? The Unusual Creatures take their interview pod and turns it on it's head, with one of their illustrious hosts being interviewed by Jenny and Season One guest extraordinaire, Kim Berrios-Lin. We dig into Tom's tumultuous journey (and who's journey isn't) and learn why he has always stayed with the arts. Against all odds.
Thomas Dane is an actor, writer, pod host, visionary, dog daddy, unabashed homosexual, producer, soap opera fan and dancing-enthusiast human. He is an in tune Sagittarius who loves Blood Orange Cosmos. His go to Karaoke song is ‘Purple Rain.’
Thomas was born in Astoria, Queens, and then spent many formative years in West Palm Beach, Florida being raised by a steel-strong single mother. For his studies he attended the International Fine Arts College with thoughts of becoming a film director. That focus changed on his first film set when he realized the camera was not on him. Not because he needed the attention, but because he realized the kind of storyteller he wanted to be - which was a human chameleon. Acting is something he loves deeply and has brought him great healing and pain. He has performed extensively in NYC and premiered original work in Amsterdam.
Some of his favorite roles include Marc Antony (Julius Caesar), Hal (Proof), Berdine (Psycho Beach Party), Pontius Pilate (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), Sebastian (Raised in Captivity). He has also starred in the internationally awarded and viewed film ‘CAKE’ by Anne Hu, a film in which you can observe his naked rear end. Later, he realized his joy and gift for writing. His one act play ‘Scrambled’ has been performed nationally and he writes on the daily for ‘The Social Edge and GeorgeTakei.com”. Thomas has found that this crazy world of art and storytelling seems to be his calling and dark mistress. Which is why when his best gal pal, ride or die, bad influence, Jesus to his Judas, Jenny Gomez called to host a podcast, he jumped at the chance.
Let’s discuss it all. Art. Creativity, Pain. Frustration. TRIUMPH! The journey. The success, the perceived failures. In the end, he wants to be a better person through his art. Maybe it’s the dreamer’s way. Maybe it’s the harder, more weathered road. But it’s his.
So get ready. Because Thomas is ok taking all the world with him in any direction. XO
The Naked (Acting) Truth with Coach Sean Tyler Foley
There is no clear path when one embraces their journey of being a creative. As an artist, well as a human really, one of our most over looked lessons is the need to learn... the Pivot. You have to be limber enough to pivot. There will be no straight line in any life. Nothing is fair and nothing will ever go exactly as planned. And that's ok. So we keep learning and growing and following our passions. And nobody understands that lesson better than this week's guest. Unusual Creatures... please welcome, Sean Tyler Foley.
Sean Tyler Foley is an accomplished film and stage performer and has been acting in film and television since he was 6 years old. He has appeared in productions including Freddy Vs Jason, Door to Door, Carrie, and the musical Ragtime. Tyler is passionate about helping others confidently take the stage and impact an audience with their stories. He is currently the Managing Director of Total Buy In and author of the #1 best-selling book The Power to Speak Naked. Visit his website at https://www.seantylerfoley.com/about
As Summer 2022 takes it's bow, take a listen to Sean. He has navigated his way through ups, downs and sideways and learned that using one's own voice will always lead us to where we need to be. And stay until the end and learn how to get his bestseller.
Thank you of tuning in and enjoy our Season 1 Finale.
Ben Jennings Explores His Metallurgist "Condition"
It's not often you come across a small town metallurgist with a penchant for the Fluxus movement. But that's this week's guest, the wildly interesting and incredibly skilled Ben Jennings. Hailing from Wisconsin Rapids, WI, Ben has played in many physical mediums like ceramics and jewelry-making before landing on the complex and challenging medium of metal casting. He calls his art his "condition", a state of mind and being that he can't escape - or stray from- no matter how hard he's tried. Like so many artists whose names aren't ones you know in your household, Ben works a day job for the local municipality where he's been inspired by the GIS work in his day to day.
From his artist statement, his art explores the interpretation of mapping systems through cast metal sculpture. This interpretation can be seen within maps and geospatial layers of lines, features and symbols which create unique identity. On a day to day basis he works with mapping systems to maintain data for the collections system for the city of Wisconsin Rapids. Within Geographical Imaging System (GIS) software he is able to organize and do an accurate inventory of infrastructure maintenance though layers of collected data. His work is an evolving quest to strip down the complexities of GIS within the constraints of industrial grade foundry materials as expressed through sculpture. This process allows him to focus on the aesthetics surrounding these beautiful systems. His practice has allowed him to translate information through the transformation of 2D images into 3D sculpture by direct carving and in a sense, drawing with power tools. The dichotomy between natural and manmade space is a constant theme throughout his work.
Ben has over 15 years of mold making experience and casting metals such as bronze, aluminum, and iron. Art is the condition that defines who he is and like so many of the unusual creatures we talk to, the thing he keeps coming back to. We talk to him about his former installations - including one that attracted national news for it's unusual materials - and what it means to him to bring his daughter into his studio to learn some metal casting skills. This is a conversation about permanency and legacy that you don't want to miss. Let's dig into our latest Unusual Creature and a brand new medium to explore. Ben Jennings, ladies, gentlemen and non-binary humans. Dig in.
From Graphic Design to the Canvas with Tony Bartolucci
Happy August Creatures! This week we have a guest who's life is all about imagination. Like a magician, he creates art out of thin air. His canvas is a blank piece of cloth, a Times Square billboard, a NYC subway ad or whatever space is possible to transform. He has traveled the world and through his career and his passion he shares what creation can be. Will you please welcome... Tony Batolucci...
Tony Bartolucci is an artist, designer and creative director based in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and studied Design at The Ohio State University's Department of Industrial, Interior and Visual Communication Design. As a designer and creative director he helps organizations establish or redefine their brands and visual identities on a global scale. As an artist, he is best known for his bold and highly stylized scenes, either real or imagined, that inspect moments in time through a cheeky and off-kilter lens. There’s an element of organized chaos in his contemplative images, which place context and story around people, objects and landscapes, and explore human emotions and states of being. He is inspired by patterns, textiles, human-made artifacts, the outdoors, the indoors, the pulse of cities, and the people he has met.
Anything is possible is you just try. Sort of a Tony motto. Doodle. Write. Think. Express. Dance. Inspire. Dream. So take a listen for a bit to a person who has tapped into the well of artistry. Maybe you'll awaken a voice you always knew was there. Tony did. Let's be like Tony.
Lindsie VanWinkle-Guthrie Walked from the Stage Down the Aisle
Hello Creatures... it's a new week and a new creature family member for all of us to get to know. This week's guest is an artist of many trades. Her artistic roots were forged in music and on the stage, and now she has branched out into the business world and has fashioned her art for... well, fashion. From Oklahoma, to sailing around the world, to New York and then back to the home of her origins and Route 66, this maverick has seen it and done it all. Well, for now. Please welcome... Lindsie VanWinkle-Guthrie.
Lindsie spent 13+ years in NYC where she originated roles in 4 Off-Broadway shows (The Magdaelne, Flipside: The Patti Page Story, Nevermore and A Dog Story), did the national tour of White Christmas and crisscrossed the country working in regional theatres all over the US. She’s played a lot of roles, but none better than Mama to her 3 year old son Jed… and wife to her husband of 14 years, Scott. Her list of side gigs is as intriguing as her theatrical resume, and one spawned her new career- owner of a boutique bridal consignment shop! The shop is called Found Love Bridal Consignment-
After just a few minutes with Lindsie, you soon realize, she's someone we all should aspire to be. Life is never going to work out the exact way you want. And too many of us refuse to adapt. Lindsie is a lesson in adapting, pivoting, growing, thriving and spreading one's passion in all directions. So settle in and take a moment with someone who can show you how most things are possible. And how to recognize the fun in all the highs and lows.
And just for a little extra fun... learn about Lindsie's small connection to Madonna. Happy Birthday Madonna!
From Makeup Artistry to Window Dressing with Felicita Munoz
Felicita Munoz is both a "stayer" and a "strayer" and this episode will make you realize that even though you might stray, you will always, inevitably, stay somehow in the arts. She felt the creative bug when she was a little girl. Her first performance was when she was three years old on an Amtrak train going from NY to Fl. She were having breakfast in the dining car and all of a sudden she stood up and started singing “Tomorrow “ from Annie. Everyone applauded. She still doesn't know if she was any good or if she was just cute - but that was it - she was hooked.
We discuss her journey from Homosassa Springs, FL to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York to Orlando to study make up effects and back to Jersey City where she's thrilling the community with windows at Morlees. She started displaying art from local artists in her store windows and incorporating the merchandise like an outdoor gallery. It was a great way to bring art to the community. At the end of the day, no matter where life takes her, when you’re an artist, you’ll always find a way to create. Or, maybe the creativity finds you. So to all the unusual creatures out there.. keep shining bright!
We love the windy paths that bring us home again. And Felicita's story is one of perseverance, tenacity, and a real love for creativity. She's found it in every nook and cranny and we hope her words will help you do the same.
Adam Perabo is Creating Healing Sounds But Not Before Some Detours
This week's guest is just who we need to hear in the midst of the everything going on in the world these days. This Unusual Creature is an actor, artist, father, healer and New York City aficionado. After years of trodding the boards and becoming immersed in the best of all New York City had to offer, Adam Perabo changed direction slightly to attain what meant most to him. And his pivot has paid off brilliantly.
Mr. Perabo comes from under the boardwalk of the Jersey Shore. His joyous adventurism led him to the funhouses above and beyond and finally to New York City where he's called home since 2004. A graduate of Ohio University's Department of Theatre, he's always created and followed the arts and artists into all their lairs and laboratories working with theatre companies and production houses who were fearless in creating from their hearts. Perabo now heads a progressive music collective called Golden World Music - releasing sound healing music into the world. You can likely find him with his wife, Victoria and daughter Florence kicking around Hell's Kitchen or flopping down the Shore.
Adam is the shining example of how to follow your dreams with your heart. Dreams change, and life is rarely what you think it's going to be, and some people just know how to make the most of that magic. Enter Adam... Take a listen, embrace the smile and follow your passion with Adam as your guide.
Acting and Activism with Kim Berrios Lin
Shanti Hershenson is Breaking Every Barrier as a Novelist
It's not often you get to have a deep and meaningful conversation with a novelist, who, only three years into their professional career is currently writing their 17th book - and they're only fourteen. Shanti Hershenson embodies the word wunderkind and then frankly, blows the label out of the water. Her commitment and passion for writing genre-focused novels will not only inspire you to get off your butt and start creating, it will also school you on how to time manage and couple the writing and work itself with a hefty dose of business acumen. We're also wildly grateful that Shanti was open and willing to wade into some heavier waters with us - we talk about bullying in school and how gun violence is an omnipresent stress when you're a young person these days. And how important it is to channel all of that into the art itself.
In her own words, her first two novellas were published when she was in the sixth grade, although her writing journey started long before then. Ever since she could hold a pencil, marker, or crayon, she was creating stories. They started from pictures, mere scribbles, and eventually, turned into captivating tales.
We're not shy to say this is without a doubt one of our favorite episodes, not only because Shanti is so inquisitive and inspiring but because these are the types of conversations that we hope will light a fire under everyone in our audience. Dig in this week and enjoy this incredibly talented and brilliant writer and get to say you knew her before she created and helmed her inevitable media empire. Ladies, gentlemen, non-binary humans - the barrier-breaking Shanti Hershenson.
The Indomitable Joyce Beauvais
Hold on to your seats people, because this week we have one of the greatest Unusual Creatures of all. Our guest is the human embodiment of what it means to be a creative vessel. She has seen and done it before anyone else, and in the grandest of diva fashions. Dear audience, take some time to meet... the brilliant and larger than life... Ms. Joyce Beauvais.
Joyce Beauvais, a master of theatre and comedy, lived in New York, New York performing in hundreds of shows for twenty-nine years. About nine years ago, she found a new home in Niantic, along the shoreline of Southeastern Connecticut. She develops local talent of adults who previously acted while in school, or any adult who has a passion for theatre and has dreamed of being a part of it. As an equity actor Ms. Beauvais worked with some of the best and brightest in the theatre world, performing under the bright lights in the Big Apple. In NYC, she also ran Chez Beauvais Restaurant and Cabaret where, along with friend Ronny Whyte and partner, Uber agent, Jack Rollins, she highlighted the greatest of Jazz talent and introduced young artists who have blossomed into jazz stars. She operated Chez Beauvais from 1986-1991. As well as producing and directing off and on Broadway.
The lights are still bright for Ms. Beauvais, and she still sparkles like the stars, but under new and different venues. As the Founder of Theater Under the Shell (TUTS) along with Parks & Rec and Cathy Wilson Director of the E L Senior Center. Joyce writes, directs and produces Murder Mystery scripts. While teaching theatre classes which are full of rigor and bring out the talent in all who are willing to do the work.
In all honesty, this is really the episode to listen and learn about what it means to hone and perfect a craft. Being an artist is hard, but when it calls you, you can't hang up. And it can be a rip roaring good time, in between all the trauma. So grab a refreshment and be dazzled.
Ivy Le is Queering Up Comedy (and Podcasting)
We have to say, it was harder than usual coming up with a title for this episode. Ivy Le is more than a comic and more than a podcaster. She started as a writer but we don't mean like that. She's brilliant and she's a fighter and she's really, really trying to change the way things are done in this world. She reminded us that we're lucky to have showcased the amazing guests that we've already had on the pod and she reminded us that artists are humans that create thought-provoking work to drive radical change in this world.
In her own words, she's a Vietnamese-American comedian, actress, and writer based in Austin, Texas. She is the creator of the critically-acclaimed Spotify Studios podcast FOGO: Fear of Going Outside, a nature show by the most reluctant host ever. Ivy was selected to be one of the 10 out of 18,000 applicants to go through Spotify’s first SoundUp podcast accelerator for women of color. She’s a bisexual mom of two kids, and is on a mission to queer comedy and decolonize everything.
Ivy was the perfect guest to close out our Pride Series because she's the type of unusual creature that has been swimming against the tide in America her whole life. And she doesn't plan on trying to assimilate or create anything that doesn't align to her steadfast values. Never compromise. That's what Ivy has taught us. We're united with Ivy, and we're united with out queer community and this gorgeous community of creatures we've been blessed to coalesce. Happy pride, fam. It begins. In honor of this last episode of Pride, please consider donating and supporting the organizations mentioned on the show, TENT in Texas, The LGBTQ Center of Durham and HRC.
Eston Dunn Builds a Theatrical Community
This week, buckle up babies... The Unusual Creature featured is the ultimate multi-hyphenate. He is a writer, actor, producer, fitness guru, activist and all around fantastic humanitarian. In this PRIDE spotlight series we are humbled to shine a light on him. He has survived and brilliantly thrived through everything life has had to throw. And he is the epitome and proof of how art can save us all. Humans, creatures meet ... Eston Robert Dunn.
Eston began his Entertainment career when, at the age of 7, he appeared as a butterfly in a grammar school play; from there, his career took flight landing him in musicals, comedies, as well as dramatic roles on stage, in film, and on TV. Under the pen name E. Robert Dunn, he has penned three plays; two of which have been seen in Off-Broadway festivals, and one in Fringe of the Fringe Festival in Toronto, Canada. Born in the Midwest, raised in the Northeast, he began writing at the age of 14 and continued through his higher education in the Southeast where he currently resides. In addition to penning the science fiction series “Echelon’s End”, he has also written two off-Broadway plays, “LipSync” and “A Dragged Out Haunting”, and solo-penned the short-play entitled “VOiCES”. He was a contributing writer to the online STAR TREK: Odyssey’s Season One Finale webisode [featured in STARLOG Magazine, January 2008, “Beyond Hidden Frontiers”, p.89]. Besides being a produced playwright and published author, he has had articles printed in local newspapers as well as medical newsletters
He is the founder of the nonprofit organization, artsUnited, Inc (www.artsunitedonline.org). A recent project is founding another nonprofit, online webcasting charity to educate while entertaining through programming that unites those that were separated by the walls of stereotyping, prejudice, and bigotry (www.watchoutweb.org).
This week is not just a spotlight on creativity and PRIDE. Through Eston, take a look back at how far we've come. PRIDE is built on the souls we've lost. Eston was a soldier in a war that took too many. But got us to where we are. As an out and proud gay artist he has never allowed fear to dictate his journey. Let's take a lesson and join him.
Nico Grelli Discovers Their Artistic Voice
This week, as we continue our June Pride Month Series, we enjoy a heavy dose of a Tuesday version of Super Soul Sundays, care of the magnificent Nico Grelli (they/them). A multi-hyphenate, queer af, multi-disciplinary artist, Nico brings us home to a place where we can all learn to accept ourselves and fight not just to be heard, but to experience aggressive joy in a space of "otherness". Join us for this special episode where vulnerability is the dish du jour and tackling difficult creative topics in the midst of a changing world becomes the status quo.
In their own words, Nico is a NON-BINARY, ITALO-AMERICANO, MULTI-LINGUAL FILMMAKER, SCREENWRITER, DIRECTOR, and ACTOR (aka super geek, multi-hyphenate, pasta-making, music-obsessed art queerdo, yaaass!) Originally from San Francisco, Nico is a proud drop out of the London Film School's Masters in Filmmaking program and they create genre and hybrid-genre TV Series' and Films--worlds that are queer-saturated, boldly diverse, muscular and tender, and that break down norms with an irreverent and passionate wrecking ball. Nico's goal is to elevate and evolve genre film and tv making, and to place characters, communities, and circumstances in the forefront of stories in which they've been--if included at all--often sidelined, stereotyped, and ridiculed. And to move beyond stories that make otherized, marginalized people and their communities more palatable to Straight Cis Anglo Heteronormative audiences.
Currently, Nico is developing two 6-episode, 30 minute TV series, a Historical Crime Drama Feature Film, and A Creature Feature Trilogy. Nico and their writing partner Nidia Medina's Pilot/TV Series "The Triumph of Tatty Bojangles" was a recent Finalist for The Orchard Project's Episodic Lab. Nico has been the recipient of three HowlRound Micro-Grants as a screenwriter and playwright--commissioned by J.Nicole Brooks through their National Playwrights Residency Project funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and was a recent Quarter-Finalist in the SF International Screenwriting Competition. Nico wrote and directed the short films 'NUTELLA' and 'OH BONDAGE, UP YOURS' and directed two episodes of the acclaimed webseries 'BULK' by C. Julian Jiminez and Deneen Reynolds-Knott. Nico was the creator, director, writer, DP, Editor, and Composer for their LATE NIGHT PUBLIC ACCESS STONER QUEERDO WEBSERIES: Pier Valentino's: SHOW WITHOUT END!, which has also existed as a live show (supported by The So-Fi Festival and The Tank), and a Cabaret--and Pier often made pre-Pandemic appearances at places like Shawn Randall's Symphonics Live at The Bowery Poetry Club, and Fear/Love at 67 Local. Nico's acting work in Theatre has garnered a New York Innovative Theatre Award, and a Jeff Award Nomination, and is now primarily focused on Acting for TV and FILM. Nico is a member of Theatre Breaking Through Barriers, and is a frequent teaching artist with places like Epic Theatre Ensemble, The 52nd St Project, and The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and spent many years staging violence in NY and Regional theatres as a side hustle. For more info, visit www.nicgrelli.com.
This Pride Month, enjoy a voice like no other as we spend some time with Nico. Be healed and be inspired as we take you down a path you've never experienced. Unusual Creatures, indeed.
Ripping Up the Stage with Hennessy Winkler
This week, we launch our incredibly special Pride Month series and oh boy, are we lucky to feature this week's guest to kick off this extra-important month. Hennessy Winkler (he/him) is a remarkable actor who discovered his calling at a very, very early age. He's worked every odd job you could think of just to make his art happen but he's never looked back. We're excited to feature his profound voice in the LGBTQIA+ community - as a trans man - and dig into some of the challenges he's had to overcome in order to rediscover his artistry after his affirmation.
In his own words, Hennessy originates from Hawaii and settled in NYC. He's an acclaimed actor, having won several awards including; 'Audience Choice Award' at the Looking Glass Theatre; 'Best Actor Overall' at the NYfringe festival; and a nomination of 'Best Actor' for the Icelandic Academy (EDDA) Awards. He recently originated a role at the La Jolla Playhouse and starred in the new musical Far From Canterbury. He is currently starring as Will Parker in the buzzworthy Broadway national tour of Daniel Fish's Oklahoma!
This episode rips up any preconceptions around being a trans artist but most importantly, we just get to know Hennessy. His story is so rad, because it starts on the islands and ends with him tearing things up on Broadway - for now. We are so excited to see where he takes his journey and we hope you adore his story as much as we do. It's episodes like this one that solidify why we want to keep this podcast going as long as is humanly possible - there's so many creative humans out there that the world needs to hear. And Hennessy is one of those humans and then some.
Dev Bhat, From the Trumpet to the Mosh Pit and Beyond
Born in San Jose and living in San Francisco’s Sunset District, Dev Bhat is a communications manager by day and independent musician, composer, performer, sound designer, and writer by night. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has performed in many bands spanning genres such as post rock, industrial, shoegaze, hardcore punk, doom, and ambient. As an undergrad Dev studied sound design, film, and screenwriting. He carries a Master’s degree in creative writing, and has occasionally been paid to write about music and art. Dev is constantly pursuing unique projects that blend his passion for music, writing, and beyond. His most current and unique project is Club Chicxulub, a quarterly science fiction reading series that features Bay Area writers performing their short stories with Dev as live musical accompaniment. You can also listen to his solo ambient work, or check out his band Grimoires, which is playing around San Francisco these days.
Did you get all of that? It's a whole life of accomplishment. Take some time this week and listen to a maestro teach. Creativity and music go hand in hand. And Dev is the one to guide us.
Audrey Martells Sings into the Stars
J. Holtham Turns Up the T.V.
This conversation was electric. J. Holtham is a former playwright turned T.V. writer - and comic book writer! - and he graciously shares the story of the windy path that led him from stage to small screen to comic book panels to more T.V. Currently a co-executive producer of The Handmaid's Tale, Mr. Holtham has a story about as untraditional as it gets. He's a self-proclaimed nerd and has found his way in L.A. - which we'll learn from him, was truly the unlikeliest of places where he thought he would find, dare we say, success?
In his words, he's a is a screenwriter, playwright, comic book writer and blogger. He's written for PITCH (Fox), MARVEL’S CLOAK & DAGGER (Freeform), MARVEL’S JESSICA JONES (Netflix), SUPERGIRL (CW), THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Hulu). His plays include stints short and long with the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Second Stage Theater, Bespoke Plays. Some of the essays and reporting he's proud of has appeared in American Theatre, Thrillist, and Slate, and his comics include Star Trek: The Mirror War, Marvel Voices: Legacy (2022), Spider-verse Unlimited. He's also shared his voice on previous podcasts; Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye, and he sits on the board of the 24 Hour Plays and Ojai Playwrights Conference. He is a proud product of public education.
We loved every piece of how J.'s journey led up to every other path he's walked and we talk about some heady issues, like where we still need to make some improvements when it comes to diversity in Hollywood - but we're making progress. There's no regrets here, just an appreciation for the hard rights that can set you on the straight and narrow and make sure you find exactly where you need to be. Keep being unusual creatures, fam.
Monique Carter is Using Art to Heal
This week's Unusual Creature is the epitome of how art and creativity can change lives. Monique Carter is a dancer, ex-model and former actress specializing in the gift of Middle Eastern and Arabic dance. But most importantly she is a fierce and loving mother to two young sons who through their artistic expression are finding ways to thrive. Monique is a single California mom raising Sol and Micah and life has been an uneasy road for this family, as both boys were born with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. Recently they've been given a MASSIVE opportunity that we felt deserved to shown given a spotlight. So we had to invite her on for a chat.
Monique grew up loving all genres of music. Her grandma would have her AM radio blaring Aretha, The Stones, Otis and Al Green. Monique had a young mother so she’d bop around to Madonna, Wham!, The Culture Club, and Tears for Fear. Her mom’s older brother was also a DJ, so he mixed everything from Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire to The Go-Go’s and the Beastie Boys… as she says... she was born at a time when real rap was coming on the scene.
After she fell in love with a boy of Arabic descent she learned and became inspired by Arabic music. She found something that truly moved her and wanted more. So she went to her local community college to sign up for a class. The instructor had a traveling dance ensemble that she immediately became a part of. They toured the country, and throughout Egypt, performing folk dances from countries such as India to Iran. Upon return from Egypt she packed her car and traveled East… to New York to be exact. Lived, worked, performed and traveled with another dance company until she got knocked up by a musician five years later.
She gave birth to the twins and moved back home to California. By age two her kids were receiving intervention services and by five they were officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other diagnoses. She has given her children the gift of appreciation for music and a love for the arts. Her youngest son taught himself piano and the violin. He recently auditioned for a youth orchestra in which he landed second chair. The orchestra will be playing in Spain this coming June. She will do everything in her power to continue to nurture the beautiful gift he possesses, because she can’t wait to see where it will continue to take him. Please, find out more on his Indiegogo page “Oh, the Places Sol Will Go!"
Music has the power to heal and empower. So please take a listen to this extraordinary story. If you can spare a penny, a dollar, twenty and so on, it would be greatly appreciated. If all you can do is listen and share this episode and send good vibes that is amazing as well. Let's get this family to Spain. But also take in this particular show and truly discover how art and creativity can make a significant difference for everyone.
#OhtheplacesSolwillgo #LetsgoSol #TheUnusualCreatures
Charles Sullivan is the KING of Staten Island (Theater)
This week come and join us for a chat with a master of all trades. Charlie Sullivan, the actual king of Staten Island (Sorry Pete... ok, co-King) sits down and has a cozy and riveting chat with us about how his pursuit of being a creative took him all over the world. Charlie gives a nuanced look into how art and creativity bleeds into careers beyond the field and how it can change the lives of so many. It all starts at home. On a simple island, that is one quick ferry ride from the center of the Universe.
Charlie was an attorney in Manhattan for 30 years, working as a litigator for Sullivan & Cromwell, Arkin, Kaplan & Rice, Gold, Farrell & Marks, and his own firm, Sullivan & Gallion, and as General Counsel to the consulting firm Kazenbach Partners. Along the way, he represented Exxon, Goldman Sachs, Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle, DMX, Price Waterhouse, Biggie Smalls and Prince. He graduated with a BA in English and Theatre Studies from Yale University in 1978, where he was a member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from New York Law School in 1986. Upon retirement from lawyering, Charlie settled back into his home turf of Staten Island and resumed acting in community theatre productions, including portraying Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Big Daddy in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons, Eli Whitney in Anything Goes, Chef Louie in The Little Mermaid, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot and the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father in Hamlet. With Gary Bradley, he co-founded the theatre company Ghostlight Players, Inc., for which he directed Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and Pride and Prejudice and appeared as Ben Franklin in 1776, Herr Schultz in Cabaret and Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Pull up a couch or take us on your travels, and listen as Charlie regales us with tales of the mafia, how to be a good Catholic school boy and the early days of a budding actress we have come to know as one... Meryl Streep. Find out how you can support his building of the local community theater scene. And take a crash course in how the law and being a lawyer is more creative than you ever thought possible. Art is a ripple effect and this episode is proof.
Megan Tusing Unleashes Her Voice
Have you ever wanted to know the humans behind the voices reading your audiobooks? Us too! Well, look no further than Episode Ten of The Unusual Creatures as we interview the absolutely delightful voice over artist, Megan Tusing. Megan has recorded over 250 beloved audio books and also happens to be an award winner in the craft. We dig into her journey from Chinatown bus to professional whisper booth and everything in between.
In her own words, Ms. Tusing is a West Virginia native now based in Brooklyn and is an actor and award-winning audiobook narrator. She developed a love of storytelling and a passion for language at a young age when first introduced to William Shakespeare, which eventually led her to pursue a career in acting. She has recorded hundreds of audiobooks from her home studio with such publishers as Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Harper Collins, and more. Additionally, she has numerous credits in stage, film, and television. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from James Madison University. She also is the host and creator of The Joyful Toolkit Podcast. When not on stage or in the booth, she can be found knitting in the company of good friends.
We loved this episode because it's as actionable as it is inspiring. Megan is gracious enough to let us dip into her own professional toolkit as she spills some tricks of her trade, as well as some of the reasons and regrets she has for not going "all in" sooner than she did. Listen and fall in love with Megan Tusing. And, keep being unusual creatures.
Creatively Centering with Dank
Episode 9 is truly unique. We talk to Dank, a spiritually-driven creative coach (and avid filmmaker, comic book writer and YouTube creator) about what stops us - or keeps us going - as we aim to create work that will make an impact in the world - for the right reasons. This episode gets much more philosophical and metaphysical than episodes past and because of Dank's work as a coach, left us feeling enlightened and inspired to keep going. Dank also talks about his personal experiences and struggles, his close brushes with death and the challenges of being a Korean artist that was woke in the 90s.
In his own words, Dank is a filmmaker, comic book creator, YouTuber, dancer, spiritual counselor, and media coach specializing in helping artists and entrepreneurs manifest a purpose-driven dream into reality. He uses his spiritual and storytelling skills to help individuals reshape the story of themselves, in order to powerfully expose their own destiny to attain their greatest visions. Whether you are looking for a new job, or trying to figure out how to manage relationships, he can offer advice on many topics using principles of Christ Consciousness, Loving Compassion, and Existentialism. He has helped many clients ranging from spiritual leaders, artists, activists, institutional leaders and even life coaches themselves.
Listen carefully to this episode, as it feels like a manifestation of Dank's coaching work gifted as a podcast episode. You'll be challenged to think differently, reframe your perspective, and learn why sacrifice is the only path forward when you want to put your most honest work into the... multiverse. We're so grateful we got to spend some time with Dank. It was an exercise in expansion and filled the creative cup in the most awesome ways. As always, keep being unusual creatures.
Liz Clayman Shoots the Delicious Truth
Liz Clayman is a real treat. A hospitality and culinary photographer by trade (and our first pure photographer on the pod), she sparkles with honesty about what happens when you DO make it as a photog. We delve into Liz's journey from fine art photographer to culinary photographer and what the inspiration was for making the jump from one muse to another. Spoiler, it involves a passionate stint at one of New York City's most beloved restaurants. She teaches us what it takes to make it in the visual arts and sets the story straight about the real day-to-day of a working artist.
Liz Clayman is a commercial and editorial photographer. With over a decade of experience, she specializes in the aforementioned hospitality industry, shooting food and beverage, portraits and interiors. She loves finding the texture and the spirit in the spaces she shoots and the chefs she visually profiles. Not to mention all that delicious food. She's been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Eater, Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler and Edible - to name a few. Her home is in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter, where a lot of cooking, eating, talking about eating and talking about cooking happens.
Tom and Jenny loved this conversation because it got to the real meat of why they started this pod - what makes an artist? How is it truly defined? And when you're making your living reaching the dream you spent so long pursuing, can you separate the commercial from the art itself? Liz's candor and steadfast belief is how she defines her artistic endeavors (and full-time job), will no doubt inspire a discussion on the topic amongst many of you. Not to mention the fact that it's just down right entertaining and educational to listen to a human like Liz who's a real pro. Learn and fall in love with Liz like we did. And, as always, keep being unusual creatures.
Jack MacCarthy Evolves as More Than a Writer
Talking to Jack MacCarthy is a master class in what it takes to evolve as a writer. He has one of the most fascinating back stories you'll probably hear on this pod. Jack started his career in theater, kicking around in New York City, writing and producing original works. Dig into this episode and hear about their evolution from playwright to critically-acclaimed YA novelist and why he has since relocated to Los Angeles where he's mixing up his career and starting they're path to TV and film.
Jack MacCarthy (he/they) is a non-binary writer and creatrix; they write funny, devastating stories about women and/or queer and/or trans people, all of whom are simultaneously sympathetic and destructive. The New York Times called his work "a lot of fun," and Kate Bornstein said it was "f*cking brilliant." Jack's plays have been performed everywhere from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to the New York City subway and beyond. For eight years, Jack ran Caps Lock Theatre, an award-winning, often site-specific, scrappy af theater company in New York. Jack is a critically acclaimed YA novelist with Squad (published by FSG, 2019), which was a Washington Blade Springs Arts 2019 Book List Pick and Barnes & Noble Most Anticipated LGBTQAP YA Book of 2019 ("won me over" -NPR). He is also a proud birth mother; his true story of giving birth to a child he placed for adoption was the subject of an Amazon Original commission, "My Boy, Their Son," which was #1 in Adoption, as well as the award-winning solo show Baby Mama (“★★★★★” -Broadway Baby). They moved to Los Angeles just before the pandemic hit, where he lives with his cat Sophie. They are Communications Manager of The Outwords Archive, an LGBTQ+ storytelling nonprofit, and he performs comedy on the internet with his Ruby sketch team, Sleepless. Join their Patreon or visit jackmaccarthy.com!
Ascending to the next level takes a special kind of commitment to a craft and Jack has never given up on his talent. They know why they need to keep writing and fighting to get to the next stage. Learn about why you should be picky about your feedback, why laziness doesn't really exist, and the importance of listening to your own heart to discover what's next. And stick around to the end for a special musical surprise! We bow to Jack. As always, keep being unusual creatures.
Playing Along with Bree O'Connor
Bree O'Connor is a Wonder Woman of the arts. She has seen and done it all, from every angle, and she plans to never stop. A lover of creation and an inquisitive student of life, Bree is always examining the human experience, and trying to find ways to magnify its brilliance and pain. She is an artist but also one of the best champions of other's art; all while wearing many hats, including wife, mother and activist. Want to know what the future of creation could look like for everyone... then listen up, Bree has some things to explain.
Bree O’Connor is a co-founder and Artistic Director of Playful Substance, a New York based theater company focused on the development of conscientious collaborators, new works, and substantive productions approached with a sense of fun. Bree is equally at home onstage, backstage, behind the computer or in the box office. As a playwright, director, and writing coach, Bree has fostered over 30 works from page to stage including her own works, Pull, SAHM’s Club and her solo show, Gee, I Hope You Have Fun…., as well as new plays by Raphael Perahia, Grant Harris and Lauren Lindsey White. Bree’s design work includes conjuring 1880’s New York through costumes for Infinite Variety Production’s award winning immersive project Nellie and the Women of Blackwell, costume, set and prop design for Playful Substance’s productions of Frank, by Grant Harris, Tell Me by Lauren Lindsey White, Still We Grow (A benefit for LifeWay Network) and for Bree’s own SAHM’s Club that won Staff Favorite at FRIGID 2017. Bree’s most recent acting credits include Still, Birth. By Coley Campany and Robyne Parrish, her aforementioned solo show and her comedic monologue The Ballad of Roddy Rod Johnson. For more information on Bree’s work and Playful Substance, visit playfulsubstance.com.
Art has never been more important than it is right now, and not just the Goliath of the artistic money machine, but all creation. Yes everyone loves the bright lights of Broadway and the marquees of the Cinema, but there is a world of artists out there who deserve notice as well. Their stories are our stories and Bree is one of the best conduits to find them. So take a few minutes with us this week and be... "Breevigorated."
The Clowns Burn Down the Town
This week we have… clowns. That’s right, real-life clowns. And not just one - two of em! If you’re like, oh hell no, trust us when we say that this episode will 100% change your mind on all things clowns. Isn’t defying preconceived notions fun? The chat gets philosophical and deep and frankly flies delightfully in the face of what you would expect a conversation with two clowns to delve into. We talk at length about finding the beauty and the fun in doing it for yourself and how that’s been a wonderful through line in a lot of our episodes. We dig into mental health and the ups and downs of choosing a creative path. We discern that even though the pandemic was a dumpster fire, it was also a time for the Clowns to get to know themselves - and create things that filled their cup.
Mike Smith Rivera and Kelly Anne Burns (aka Mister & Missus Clown) co-run Burning Clown Productions (www.burning clown.tv). Mister went to a fancy clown school (Dell’Arte International) while Missus is a certified natural - but they are both comedians, actors, writers, directors and producers. Burning Clown Productions’ mission focuses on developing and producing original works of film and theater (16 projects since 2020 with 3 Austin Sketch Fest premieres in 2021) and as actors they both work in TV, film, commercials and voice-overs. Mike (UCB, Blacklist, Church’s Chicken English/Spanish spokesman for 2 years) and Kelly (30 Rock, ANTM, Law & Order: SVU) are currently writing and producing the digital series Call Sheet and recently produced a reality docu-series (Space To Create) starring Anita Durst which is being pitched to networks. In their spare time, they perform site-specific work at events and galas and conduct performance workshops (live and on Zoom). Additional BCP credits include Cold April (Best Int’l Short Black Film Festival of Nashville, Best Political Drama Chicago Reel Shorts Film Fest, Best Narrative short Great Lakes International Film Festival, Best of Fest New Orleans Film Fest), The Deal Breaker (Winner Best Commercial Burbank International Film Festival & BE FILM Underground Film Festival), Find Your Beach (HollyShorts VFX Showcase Award).
Listen now and let your imagination run wild and your fear of clowns melt wonderfully away (if that’s your thing). As always, Keep Being Unusual Creatures.
Writing and Fighting with Alan Herrera
Alan Herrera does not mince words. This episode is probably our most political to date (be warned) because Alan is a journalist, and being a journalist - a writer essentially under contract to tell the truth - has been a challenge these days to say the least.
Alan Herrera is an editor and reporter who has worked on interviews with such individuals as former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci; Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the former President of the United Nations General Assembly; and Mariangela Zappia, the Permanent Representative to Italy for the U.N. He has written about politics and LGBTQ issues for such publications as Salon and The Huffington Post and began his career working as an editor on the actor and activist George Takei’s social media team, specializing in breaking news and pushing progressive policy initiatives.
Join us this week for the scintillating conversation about the landscape of journalism in the digital age and learn where the fight and sweat should be pointed as we move to create better experiences for all of us.
Doing it All with Allyson Morgan
This week on The Unusual Creatures, everyone gets to unwrap the gift of talented actress, writer, superstar and fantastic creature... Allyson Morgan.
Allyson Morgan is a performer, writer, producer, and the founder of award-winning film and theatre collective F*It Club. TV appearances include: "Law and Order: SVU," "The Americans," "Inside Amy Schumer," and "Divorce." Her short film “Need For Speed (Dating)” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has twice been selected for the iTV/Catalyst Content Festival pitch competition, and also twice been a top ten Finalist for Cinequest, a Semi-Finalist at Austin Film Festival, and has three times been awarded a Juno Leadership Residency through the Omega Institute. Her short film, “Sitting,” made its world premiere at SCAD Savannah Film Festival and won "Outstanding Narrative Short" at Tallgrass Film Festival. “First Date,” her newest short, commissioned by 20th Digital Studio, is currently airing on Hulu in their "Bite Size Halloween" series and is being developed as a feature film by Fox/Disney. Allyson’s debut novel, “Don’t Want To Remember You,” is currently available through Tapas Media. Allyson was a part of the Webby Award-winning team for Dave Holstein and Alan Schmuckler's “Wait, Wait, Don't Kill Me.” She also co-created and produced “Ghosted,” an AR experience, which was awarded “Most Innovative Immersive Experience” at the North Bend Film Festival.
Chatting with Allyson is a life lesson in learning how to embrace your most confident self, through your art and your spirit. From an early age, as a wise and soulful young lady she embraced her talents and gifts, realising that through creative freedom any one of us could change the world. Follow along on her journey to New York where she found her gaggle of weirdos, who would inspire her to dream even bigger. And be inspired by her no nonsense approach on how we can all dream it and be it, even in the worst of times.
Allyson has done it all and is ready to do so much more. So find a comfy spot and take a listen to the fabulous... Allyson Morgan.
Katie Florez Dances Through It
In episode two of The Unusual Creatures, you get to meet the incredible contemporary dancer, Kathryn Florez.
Katie trained at the SF Conservatory of Dance beginning in 2010 under Summer Lee Rhatigan. Florez founded Fullstop Dance in 2015 and has since presented work at ODC Theater, Palace of Fine Arts, Cowell Theater, and others. Her choreography has been commissioned by The Merde Project (SF), TWObigsteps (Vancouver), as well as SALT Danceís LINK program (SLC), and is currently participating in a residency at SAFEhouse Arts. Fullstop is a repertory company that has commissioned work from international artists, in addition to performing Florez's work, and regularly hosts out-of-town artists for open workshops for the Bay Area dance community. Over the years, Florez has also worked professionally with David Herrera Performance Company, Amy Seiwert, Robert Moses, Lindsey Renee Derry, ZiRu Dance, and others.
Katie is an absolute hoot, and a total wealth of knowledge when it comes to the world of dance. She shares insights into why she chose this “non-competitive team sport” and why she never busts out her best moves at weddings. Listen now and be inspired by this incredible physical artist and learn about how the entire industry could be undergoing a seismic shift.
Albert Beniada Directs with Delight
In the inaugural episode of The Unusual Creatures, you get to meet brilliant screenwriter and film director Albert Beniada.
Albert grew up in Miami, encouraged by his family to cultivate his deepest creative interests. He writes and makes films to explore life in all its complexity and to satisfy his relentless desire to create. As executive director of Filmshop, he relishes the role of supporting a talented and ambitious community of filmmakers and colleagues who continually inspire him. He has a number of projects in development, including a feature film about rebirth, titled "SHOUT!"
Talking to Albert is like audible yoga. An inspirational and measured creative, we dig into his past, his present and all the things that keep him shooting and writing - even if it's just taking a moment to look out the window and take a deep breath into the present.
Meet Your Hosts, Thomas Dane and Jenny Gomez
Thomas Dane and Jenny Gomez have been dear friends and art partners for a looooong time. Hungry for their next creative outlet, in the midst of a violently changing world, they decided to reach out to artists they love to delve into what it really takes to fall in love, stay, stray and hold on to art against all odds.
In this bonus episode, we meet Tom and Jenny and get to know a little bit about them as a pair and what inspired them to embark on this funny little journey into a whole new medium. When you decide to start a new podcast, it's important you trust the hosts guiding you through the experience. This is just the beginning.