Jonny's Top 10 Enemies of 2015
Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in.
I had vowed to take a hiatus from crapping out Enemies Lists in 2015 because what was left of my heart and soul couldn't withstand the stress of bringing the assholes and irritants who slither along the surface of the planet to task anymore. What I hadn't taken into consideration was that even without my vigilant monitoring of your activities and bringing you to justice, you people continued to exist. But just because I published only 3 Enemies Lists in 2015, don't imagine for a second that you were off my radar. I may not have been public with the constant sources of aggravation that caused my spastic colon to beat a constant disco rhythm, but rest assured that I was keeping an eye on you. And I didn't like what I saw.rnrnIt's never easy for me to pick a Top 10 of all the cosmic wangs that are inserted into my metaphoric a-hole during the preceding 365 days, and the 2015 list was no different. Many of you longtime fans of the Enemies List will be shocked to see that my cyber-paramour and issuer of restraining orders Mara Marini wasn't included on the list for the first time since 2009. I wanted to included my longtime nemesis God, but even He didn't have the power to crack the Top 10 this year. Perennials like Bro Joe, Tom Ashworth and Robin Greenspan all came close, but couldn't quite grab the brass ring after making the list in 2014. In fact for the first time ever, there was only one returning entry from last year. But all of these yahoos have been named to Top 10 lists past, and if you're curious you can find them here:
But those are all a distant memory, and you're here to find out who made the cut in the here-and-now. Very well, enough with the prick-teasing. Here are Jonny's Top 10 Enemies for the year 2015:
Glenn "Piece of Shit" Simon had fallen blissfully out of my life and hadn't been included on the list of my Top 10 Enemies since 2011, but he made an exasperating comeback this year when he took on a series of smallish roles in the legendary production of Shakespeare's Richard III in which I brilliantly essayed the title character. Indeed, all of the actors in the show were annoying cockroaches (I seriously considered listing the entire sorry lot on this list, much like I did the last of the 2009 production of The Apple Tree in which I starred as The Snake), but Simon stood out as such a consistently bothersome little turd that he required his own spotlight. The countless fans of these pages best know Simon for his obsession with the Boob Cup, a porcelain mammary gland from which he suckles all manner of liver-swelling intoxicants. And with his large amount of offstage time (his greatest responsibility during the show was delivering a basket of strawberries as the Bishop of Ely, which on most nights he entered with the unmistakable stagger of a drunken sow), he spent most of the show holding court at "Baynard's Castle," the name the cast had given to the tent which served as our green room in the parking lot behind the theatre. Regrettably, "Baynard's Castle" had an open bar which meant that I could never be certain which scene Simon would stumble into bearing his basket of strawberries. I finally had to convince myself that strawberry daiquiris were the official libation of the Plantagenet to justify the Bishop of Ely rushing drunkenly onto the stage at any given moment bearing the fruit. It may not have been ideal Shakespeare, but it did make getting my nuts sliced off in Bosworth Field every night a little more tolerable.
One of the few times that I was dragged out of my blissful retirement from cranking out these god-awful lists was when I was forced to take a Twitter Group called The North Hollywood 10 to task. For those of you who spent 2015 under a rock (and knowing my readership like I do, it's no great surprise that many of you did exactly that), I spent a lot of my year working on behalf of the Pro99 campaign to save intimate theatre in Los Angeles from being chemically castrated by Actors Equity Association, the union of professional theatre actors. The NoHo 10 is a cluster of people dedicated to spreading propaganda about AEA's attempted gutting of the last vestiges of actors having any creative authority over their own artistic destiny by decrying unimaginatively tired missives that “actors deserve to be paid” (perpetuating the ridiculous fantasy that a living wage can be made from acting in theatres that have a maximum audience of 99 people, usually for three performances a week) and lashing out at anyone who disagrees with them as being “anti-union” and blocking them from being able to see the NoHo 10 Twitter feed. I have no idea who comprises the NoHo 10 or what their numbers actually stack up to but I always found it chilling that the banner image on their Twitter page disconcertingly depicts an empty audience in front of a closed curtain. If the NoHo 10 gets what they want, that could very likely be what theatre in Los Angeles turns out to be.
My own association with the Pro99 campaign might have turned out to be inconsequential if I hadn't the unfortunate experience of encountering Kevin Delin, a Los Angeles theatre journalist and director of some renown who ran the Pro99 Twitter campaign. Once I became aware of the Pro99 social network feed, I was immediately struck by two things. One was how intelligent, passionate and dedicated everyone was who were fighting to stop AEA's attempts to kill L.A.'s intimate theatre. The other thing I became acutely aware of was that if someone didn't introduce a note of levity to the proceedings, I was going to have to kill myself. So I started posting the delightful illustrations that followers of Jonny's Enemies List have come to expect over the years, focusing on the current union controversy. Regrettably, these images came to the attention of Mr. Delin, who immediately began crawling up my ass to provide cartoons for the Pro99 Twitter feed. This, I dutifully did, not realizing that the thing which sets Mr. Delin apart from other mortals is his uncanny ability to analyze statistics. When AEA held a vote of a non-binding referendum to gut the 99-seat theatre agreement, they had their asses handed to them when a massive 60% of the AEA members who voted opted against their plan. But since the referendum was nothing more than advisory, it meant the union could do whatever they wanted and disregarded the vote. This fed right into Poindexter Delin's wheelhouse and he crapped out article after article tearing apart AEA's lame-ass arithmetic, and coerced me into coming up with cartoons to explain his erudite equations to the masses. I've been the victim of bullies since the age of 5, but they were always over-developed Neanderthals. This is the first time I've been terrorized by a math geek and let me tell you, it's a lot worse. You still end up with the equivalence of a wedgie and no lunch money, but you walk away feeling intellectually inferior to boot. It's the worst of both worlds.
Although Richard III was the apex of my theatrical year, I appeared in another (and in its way, equally successful) theatrical production in 2015: Timeshare, a show written, produced and directed by Steve B. Green. I first met Mr. Green some 30 years ago when we were both acting in a production of Jean Anouilh's Becket in which Mr. Green played the King of France and I depicted assorted spear carriers. Our statuses had not been altered one notch in the ensuing years as Mr. Green ruled the Timeshare set with an iron fist and I was expected to carry out his every whim as if it was a directive from God himself. The play was loosely based on Mr. Green's experiences as a salesman of timeshare condos many years ago and if the story is to be believed, he spent his working hours having smoking hot women throw themselves at him and effortlessly schmoozing desperate gunmen out of trying to brutally murder him. I have no firsthand experience of Mr. Green living out the first scenario but I do recall his spending a lot of time on Becket trying to talk his fellow actors out of wanting to kill him, so there just might be a element of authenticity to the Timeshare script. I'm just glad the costume designer talked Mr. Green out of having the character based on him attired in a superhero's cape.
Natasha Troop, the director who cast me in the title role of Shakespeare's Richard III and then crawled up my ass to make a home there for most of 2015. Ms. Troop is a transgender woman, meaning that she started out life as a dude but resorted to surgical means to transform herself into a member of the coven of cackling yentas who have made my life the nightmare that is has been lo these many decades. In Ms. Troop's case, the transformation was more than perfect because she is annoying as all the other desperate women who have dedicated to transforming my existence into an unbearable hell. But my transformation was the result of ceaseless yammering by Ms. Troop, who had the gall to think that her position as director meant that she was in a position to advise me how to play Richard III, which believe me is a lot more painful than any change I might have gone through under the mere knife of a surgeon. While she was preparing Richard III, Ms. Troop managed to produce a wonderful one-woman show called Something Something New Vagina in which a transgender woman named Rebecca Kling acted out her journey from male to female. Ms. Kling described how she made a cast of her male genitalia (while it was still attached to her) in order to create chocolate pops in its exact likeness, and gave away one of the treats to a lucky member of the audience. I don't know what anything I had sheared off me by interacting with Ms. Troop would look like if it was recreated in candy form, but I suspect it would have an uncanny resemblance to my self-respect and will to live.
The day after a gunman went on a rampage at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, killing 9 people and wounding seven others, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush summed up the violence by saying "stuff happens." Mr. Bush took a lot of heat for his apparent insensitivity but if by "stuff," you're referring to senseless gun violence taking place within the borders of the United States, Mr. Bush was absolutely correct: it happens with alarming frequency. This is due almost entirely to the lobbying of gun nuts, who seem to think that the only amendment to the U.S. constitution is the second one which states that "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Sound thinking when the amendment was ratified by Congress on December 15, 1791, but the NRA-supporting legumes who Mr. Bush and his political allies live in fear of are under the impression that this freedom extends to assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition which has led to at least 423 people being killed in mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015 alone. The gun nuts claim that the best way to defend against such assaults is to allow everyone to carry assault weapons with armor-piercing ammunition so that they could be in a position to return the fire, despite the fact that of the spiraling number of mass shootings which have taken place in the U.S, since the tragedy at Colombine in 1999, a grand total of zero have been stopped by civilians who were carrying firepower sufficient to shoot back. But it's not surprising that the gun nuts would come to that conclusion. When you crack open the shell of a nut, you're bound to find a tasty, chewable kernel inside. You almost never encounter a brain.
After being named my #1 Enemy in both 2014 and 2015, Jesse Merlin slipped to the #4 slot this year, although it wasn't for any lack of effort on his part. Mr. Merlin depicted the Duke of Buckingham opposite my Richard III, a role that clearly falls into the "second banana" category. Yet the deep-voiced bastard disregarded his secondary status and walked away with the lion's share of good reviews, essentially sabotaging my function as the Star of the show and stabbing me in the back as a result. An actor who knows his place wouldn't be described by one reviewer with "Merlin makes Shakespeare look easy with an astonishing voice and is a natural on stage...Certainly this is an amazing performance and one not to miss for actors and theatergoers alike." I didn't approve Mr. Merlin's casting (I interpret Mr. Troop as informing me that Merlin was playing the role and my not lapsing into an hysterical tantrum in response as "approving" his casting) with the idea that he would give "an amazing performance." I approved it with the idea that he would fade into the background and anonymously feed me my cues so that I would give "an amazing performance." Regrettably, Mr. Merlin doesn't understand how social classes work in the world of show biz and after stealing my thunder on Richard III, he co-starred in an indie comedy called Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves in which history was reimagined by having the heroine of The Miracle Worker lose her sight and hearing after being attacked by the nocturnal wolverines of the title. It was all played for laughs in Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves but if the payoff was never having to see or hear Jesse Merlin again, I would think that being savagely torn apart by nightwolves would be a small price to pay.
Prior to this year, Donald Trump was barely a blip on my radar as a vulgar little man who managed to parlay a successful career in the New York real estate market and a genius for self promotion into an awareness on the grid of electrons which comprise my brain. Even when he made a vain attempt at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, he was little more than a joke who quickly faded into the irrelevancy of the Miss Universe pageant and The Apprentice. The joke got a lot less funny this year when Mr. Trump made another stab at the White House on platform based entirely on hatred, racism and sexism; and this time people took him seriously enough that he is the Republican front-runner in an admittedly weak field. But when you look at some of his proposals that made him the front-runner, it's genuinely shocking. He wants to build a wall across the southern border of the United States to keep out Mexicans who, he claims are "bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." He wants to start a database of Muslim people in the United States that recalls Hitler's persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany (it mystifies me that Trump's followers will go to any lengths to defend the 2nd amendment but think that the 1st amendment protecting freedom of religion only extends to allowing them to put up nativity scenes on government property). He constantly flip-flops on statements he's made in the past to make himself appear more palatable to his ultra right-wing base. I keep telling myself that Trump's appeal is based strictly on his entertainment value and there's no way he'll actually be able to win the Republican nomination, much less the general election. But before Trump became a serious political force, I could never grasp how Adolph Hitler could rise to power by exploiting people's prejudices and most irrational fears. After seeing "The Donald" in action, I get it and it scares the living hell out of me. I keep thinking. "First, they came for the ignorant, racist ultra-radical tea partiers and I said nothing, because I wasn't an ignorant, racist ultra-radical tea partier...."
I joined Actors' Equity Association in 1988 and shortly afterwards the union instigated the "Waiver Wars" in which the AEA killed the Equity Waiver in which union members were free to act in shows staged in theatres with fewer than 99 seats in Los Angeles County without any union oversight. They replaced it with The 99-Seat Theatre Plan which provided minimal union oversight and a small stipend to union members, which was all the money the tiny theatres could afford to pay and still remain solvent. In the decades since, AEA somehow determined that fat cat producers of intimate theatre were getting rich off the Dickensian labor of its members and took action this year to gut the plan despite holding a vote of its affected participants that overwhelmingly rejected the proposed changes to it. To try and sell their betrayal of their members' wishes, AEA representatives made outrageous public claims about 99-seat theatre, like actors reported routinely collapsing from exhaustion during rehearsals, something I have never seen anything remotely like in 30 years of working in intimate theatre. All this may seem to you like dry infighting to you, but the point is that it forced me to pry my lazy ass off the couch and take action; not only by crapping out my fore-mentioned delightful cartoons and even making the controversy the subject of my 2015 Christmas story, but by doing such non-Jonny grown-up activities as attending meetings and helping to organize rallies. And if there are two things I have never been described as, they are "grown-up" or "organized" so I sincerely hope that that the powers that be at the AEA pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and come up with a compromise solution that will make everyone happy. Because if I have to pry my ass off the couch again in 2016, it's not going to be pretty.
After a great deal of soul-searching and self-examination, I had no choice but to conclude that my biggest enemy in 2015 was the inimitable Jonny M. It all began on January 13th of last year when I made the official announcement that I was taking a hiatus from keeping tabs on you people on my Enemies List, thus opening the floodgates which allowed you soulless jackals to get away with all the hijinks you've been up to without my stern voice calling you out for your shenanigans. Would Donald Trump have risen to be the hideous force of diabolical fascism that he has become if I had not left the incalculable influence of the Enemies List rudderless? Would the tragic shootings in San Bernardino or Colorado Springs still have taken place? Would Glenn "Piece of Shit" Simon still have been the annoying drunk that he was? The answers to all of these questions is, sadly, "yes." But just because evil cannot be vanquished altogether like Frodo tossing the One Ring into the fires of Mt. Doom doesn't give me or anyone else a free pass to stop fighting the good fight. This list proves that there is an inexhaustible amount of fecal matter waiting to be dumped on us and the only way to keep it from consuming us is to call the shit for what it is. I forgot that lesson in 2015, but I'm quickly relearning it when I behold the solid waste that came crashing down on us when I wasn't paying attention. It is a mistake that I have no intention of repeating.
Jonny's Enemies List is back.