Michael Kearns | Victory Gardens Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Long before folks like Ellen DeGeneres and Ian McKellen showed it's possible to be openly gay and still have a career in showbiz, actor-writer Michael Kearns was paving the way. Kearns was Hollywood's first out actor in the early 1980s, and the first to announce he was HIV-positive. After a brief career guesting on TV series (The Waltons, Murder, She Wrote) he turned to solo performance with The Truth Is Bad Enough (1983), in which he detailed his bizarre experience posing as the author and subject of The Happy Hustler. The 1975 book was the alleged autobiography of a male prostitute, whom Kearns played in promotional appearances--and in a nude foldout included in the paperback. Nowadays he tours with a repertoire of one-man shows, including Intimacies, a collection of character studies about people living with AIDS. The monologues address numerous issues--homelessness, substance abuse, sexual politics, and relationship dynamics--as Kearns depicts individuals of different races, genders, and classes: a hypocritical gay yuppie, a streetwalker, a strung-out teenage hustler. "All are embarrassments not only to society but to humanity," wrote Reader critic Diana Spinrad, reviewing Intimacies in its 1989 Chicago premiere. "Yet Kearns portrays them so lovingly, and with such technical proficiency, that their humanity shines through." Marking the show's 20th anniversary and World AIDS Day on December 1, Kearns is now offering an updated version, appearing as part of Victory Gardens' Fresh Squeezed performance series.
— Albert Williams



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