Supermarket Shakespeare

Classics Illustrated cover for Hamlet
Luckily, I had become a Shakespearean scholar while sitting on the stoop

I met Don in 1969 in an off-off-Broadway theater buried in a supermarket basement on the lower West Side. The proximity of the stage to food made it a magnet to the largest cockroaches East of the Sun and West of 8th avenue. We actors developed the ability to smash the creepy critters mid-soliloquy without breaking our iambic pentameter rhythm or the audience noticing.

To be or not to be,


That is the question.

It was my first acting job. I landed it right after I landed in New York from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I’d been evading military induction, aka the Draft. I touched down; bought a showbiz paper at the first newsstand I passed and saw this audition notice –  

Spear-carriers needed for Macbeth

No Pay

Classics Illustrated cover for Macbeth
Again, my years of Shakespearean scholarship on the stoop paid dividends.

Like Gene Kelly in an MGM musical, I raced to the theater with luggage in hand. I’d like to say it was a straw suitcase but it was a duffel bag. I’d like to say I auditioned on a large stage facing red velvet seats but it was in a filthy hallway facing cases of Velveeta cheese. I’d like to say I auditioned for David Merrick but it was for Mark Fink. I’d like to say I had his undivided attention but he read his mail. I’d like to say he wasn’t a married queer on the prowl but he was. 

Fink leered to me that I had a touch of genius but that we must keep that a secret lest it spread jealousy in the ranks of the spear-carriers. He used the same line on all the spear-carriers. And, you’ll notice it’s the same line used by Professor Pervowitz. But, unlike that creep, Fink never asked me to masturbate at his feet while saying I was his bitch-slut-cunt. Fink just tried to suck my cock. When I resisted, he reverted to that hackneyed homo ploy, “What are you afraid of finding out?” 

Hmmnn… maybe there’s a Showbiz Scumbag College where they learn these seduction techniques.

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder memoir by Jack Antonio 
Image: the smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn
Available as a paperback and eBook
And as an eBook here

Columbus Confidential

The world's first Wendy's restaurant. (Columbus, Ohio)
Sorry, New York, Paris and London but Columbus got it first!

Columbus. The capital city of Ohio. Home to me while I perform at the spanking new theater in town. And, home to the world’s first Wendy’s restaurant. For the record, I am second-to-none in my admiration for and appreciation of Wendy’s hamburgers. But, I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing when my “Host Family” drives me to the original Wendy’s as if they are Romans taking me to The Pantheon. They enthuse at me, using an “I know you’re not gonna believe this but” tone of voice that this very building, the very first Wendy’s, was opened in 1969! 

Throughout my time in Columbus,three ancient Black women shadow me. Wherever I go, they are there.

Are they unemployed Witches seeking a production of Macbeth?

The three witches in Macbeth
The Weird Sisters of Columbus, Ohio

The three are identical in size, shape and age. And, they dress identically – cloth coats, hats with veils, orthopedic shoes and black handbags. They seem teleported from an undefined time “back there” somewhere – not quite the 1920s or ’30s but rather from “no time” and “all time.” But, definitely a more righteous time. I assume they are Jehovah’s Witnesses making the rounds. But, no. They carry no religious tracts of any kind or creed. I somehow understand that I may not speak to them. And, they never speak to me but only stare in mute judgment. Compassionate but disapproving. 

Boy Outa Brooklyn a murder memoir by Jack Antonio
Image: The smiling face of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
Available as a paperback and eBook
And as an eBook here