MEET Sofia, the Proprietress at Salon de Sofia

SNEAK PREVIEW: This is the first time I performed "SOFIA, the Argentinean Bikini Waxer" during Monologues and Madness night at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village. Like all the characters in Dames Like Her, Sofia is based on a real woman who happens to be MY Argentinean Bikini Waxer.

When people ask me - "How in the world do you come up with these things?" I say, "I don't make this up. I just look around and besides my own experiences, there are a wealth of fascinating women to choose from. My collection of monologues are either based on women I know or women I've seen on TV or read about in books, magazines and the web.

Come see DAMES LIKE HER September 2nd & 3rd!

Great GIRL'S NIGHT OUT play! 

Are you a baby-boomer dame looking for something REALLY fun and easy to do with your dame-friends over the next couple of weekends?

Never Underestimate 

Edith Piaf LIVES! Viva la Janey Cutler!

Janey Cutler is yet another older gal who has stepped out from the shadows to share her talent and heart with us all on Britain's Got Talent. You know, there is something about us dames that you can't keep down. Dear Janey is a mom, grandmom and great grandmom with a set of pipes and an Edith Piaf style that's unmistakeable.
Édith PiafImage via Wikipedia
Take a gander at her audition where she belts out "No Regrets". Ladies, if Janey can do it at 80 - what are we worried about? We've still got a couple more decades to get our act(s) together!
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KNEELING TOWARDS MECCA: My experience downtown 9/11

You know,  for eight of the past ten years I had been in fog of sorts. Unable to plan ahead. Unable to make long-term goals. Unable to believe that there IS a future. The bad part is that it's not like "me" and the good part is - hey, I live more in the moment now.

Yet, I always feel shocked when doctors refer to me as a 9/11 survivor or worse, a 9/11 victim. It's beyond embarrassing, really. I wasn't in the building or under the building or anywhere near the building. I was 11 blocks away, standing on the intersection of Church and Leonard Streets with dozens of other people - frozen. Transfixed. Oddly unafraid. Or so afraid, I couldn't even feel it.

I've never written about my experience there because ... ah, who the hell knows. I just never have. Now, after so much time has passed that day remains as vivid and startling clear as the day it happened. So I'm going to try to describe what I saw and felt for whomever wants to know. I kinda have to do this for myself. Please share with me your experience, no matter how near or far. They are all profound.

A little background. After 25 years in Manhattan, I had just moved back to NJ but relocated my miniscule video production company to a miniscule office in a building crammed with other miniscule companies on Broadway & Franklin Streets.

I had no income for three months because that's how long it took me  to effect both moves on crutches (surprise ACL surgery) and it was past imperative that I get back to the business of making money or my 13 year old company wouldn't make it through the end of the year.

So I planned an elaborate launch party with wine, cheese and a whole slew of short films & videos to screen for my prospective clients on a brand new HUGE television that took up most of the office. The year was 2001, and the date for the launch was set for the afternoon and evening of ... September 11.

To put the finishing touches on everything, I made the fateful decision to forgo sleeping in my comfy NJ apartment, and rough it on the office futon overnight with my little Yorkie, Samantha. I worked into the night, and zonked out. Early the next morning the office phone rang. It was my friend Libby calling from Jersey.

"Fran. Something weird is happening at the World Trade Center. A plane flew into it."

"Jeez, that IS weird."

"No, wait, two planes flew into it?" she asked, turning to someone else at her office. Then back to me,  "TWO planes flew into it. You better get out of there. This is bad. Really bad."

"Um. Okay." I was still groggy. The office has no real window and it's pitch black day or night.

I threw on some clothes, grabbed my purse and my little dog and ran down the hall to wake up the artist I knew who was illegally living in his studio. I knocked and after awhile he groggily opened the door. (It seems creative people tend to be groggy in the mornings.)

I said, "Two planes flew into the World Trade Center, we gotta get out of here."

"You're kidding." he said. He turned on his ancient TV set and adjusted the tin-foiled rabbit ears until we were able to see that iconic image of the two towers afire. We stood there. "Holy shit."

We better get out of here.  But we both knew we weren't about to run out the door and run uptown. Like any fire or twister or act of God, we wanted to get a closer look first.

As we opened the front door of our office building, we found ourselves in a stream of ashen office workers carrying briefcases, not running yet but definitely walking purposefully uptown. No one seemed scared. Just determined. It reminded me of a scene in THX 1138 when Duvall opens his cubicle door and is sucked into the stream of humanity and carried along with it.

But the artist and I weren't headed uptown to safety. We wanted to see it. So we slowly threaded our way across the throng and hung a right onto Franklin, walking the one block to that intersection. There were a bunch of people collecting on the corner like us, looking kind of excited and kind of scared. Everybody was on their cells trying to get a connection or with radios to their ears hoping for some news, any news.

I remember getting to the corner and turning my head to look down the street and was stunned at the sight. It was SO close, like I could touch it, almost. It was an unobstructed view, right straight to the towers which loomed above us. That's what's different for me when I see most of the photos of the towers. They're usually taken from above, but for us on the street corner our sight was from below, looking up.

The World Trade Center looked ... odd with two fiery planes biting into it. They stuck out at weird angles, it seemed to me. Jet planes shouldn't be in buildings. How could TWO huge planes be stuck in a building? My mind was trying to take it in. One little plane could mean a malfunction or some unfortunate pilot error - two passenger jets was just wacky. Was it some MAJOR air traffic control error?

Over and over this image kept flashing into my mind. A woman is sitting down at her desk with a hot cup of coffee and a donut wondering if she should eat it - and suddenly a huge jet flies in her window, and kills her. This image haunts me to this day. The innocence of the morning annihilated by the impossible. The inability to rely on the next moment, I suppose.

Around me were plenty of people - some from nearby office buildings and some from downtown. You could tell the downtown people because they were a little gray and dusty. The rest of us were just kind of bewildered. There was definite adrenalin pumping all around - people yelling out whatever tidbits of news they were able to get.

As we stood there, fire-trucks, ambulances, police cars where whizzing by us, sirens blaring. It was heartening to see so many people rushing to help. It made me proud of my city. I looked up and stared at the towers until noticed something that confused me.

"What are all those things falling off it everywhere?" I asked those standing next to me. No one said anything.

"What are all those little things bouncing off the side?" I asked again. Nobody would answer me.

A well-dressed manager-type woman near me who'd been fiddling with her radio called out, "They got the Pentagon!"

It was those words that ratcheted everything up from the surreal to the possible.  "They got the Pentagon" meant there was a "they" and it meant we were under attack. A HUGE attack. When you attack the Pentagon it can only mean one thing ... World War III.

I looked up to see if bomber planes were flying over us. Were bombs going to start dropping on us from above? Were MORE planes going to fly into buildings?  What was next?

I think, on an emotional level, what was happening was SO big and I got SO scared - that it cancelled itself out. It's like when I fly, I never get scared. It's like - if the plane is going down - it's going down.  I have no control over it so why even worry?

And there was another thing. That adrenaline was still pumping and now it had turned into a thrill at being a part of something sooo big. Being a part of history. We were IN it.

Next to me was a tall young black man, very hip, with his camouflage pants and doo rag. He was on the cell phone with someone who he was talking to intently as he stared at the towers. Was he reporting this to his friends uptown or in another part of the country? I hadn't even thought to call anyone. I hadn't thought to do anything.

I just stood there, holding my purse over my shoulder and 4 lb little dog in my arms, transfixed. "How horrible" was all I could think. Those people in the planes had to be dead. The people closest to the crash site. The people above the planes.

I knew my artist friend was next to me but I didn't connect with him at all. I don't think anyone was connecting. We were just looking.

And then, as I stared, an even stranger thing was happening. The tower started to look like it was wavering, you know, shimmering in the sun like you sometimes see on a steamy hot day. It seemed to undulate for a crazy second and then ... it just dropped down, disappearing into a huge mushrooming cloud of ash.

All of us on the corner screamed. I remember actually stepping behind the artist to try to block my view, like I would in the movies when a scary part was on. Except I never took my eyes off the blue sky that was there where the tower had once been.

My mind and heart went on overload - the horror was multiplying. I couldn't stop thinking of all the layers of people who were being killed in that very moment.

I kept repeating, to myself, "Oh my God, on top of all the people still stuck inside, all the people who thought they got out, all the people who went in to save them, all the people in all the fire trucks and police cars that whizzed by 5 minutes before with their sirens blaring.  On top of EVERYONE."

People around me were screaming and sobbing. But it was the young guy next to me on the cell phone who broke me.

He kept screaming loudly, "NO, NO, NO, NO," over and over again into the phone as he dropped to his knees on the street.  And as he kneeled, facing the towers like Mecca, I suddenly knew who he'd been talking to. His hand with the cell phone in it now hung by his side.

I suddenly pictured his girlfriend or wife: He had been staying with her, keeping her company as she attempted to make her way down one of the smoke-filled staircases. His voice was the only way he could protect her and lead her to safety. To be on the phone with a loved one in the building at that moment in time was unfathomable to me. My heart just kept breaking again and again.

No matter what iconic photos have emerged since that day, it is this image of that powerful young man brought to his knees, blindly screaming "NO" that will always be September 11th to me.

As the big white cloud where the tower once stood grew bigger, it formed itself into a shape and, like a Godzilla, this greyish monster of smoke, ash and debris lumbered towards us. It was a few stories high, filling Church Street, and was gaining speed.

Suddenly there was a different kind of scream from the people around me - still one of horror but now mixed with fear for your life. I couldn't believe this was happening, it really did look like it does in the movies, with people running away, tripping over themselves, helping the ones who had fallen, briefcases and high heels were strewn about the street.

But, oddly, I wasn't afraid. I was frozen staring at it, I somehow, rightly, deduced it wouldn't reach us - it would dissipate. We were safe. But the people, oh, the people underneath.

I wanted so desperately to run forward through the smoke and help.  Start pulling the people out, dragging them to safety. But I felt entirely powerless. Helpless. This was too, too big and I didn't believe there was any safety anymore. I would be useless.

Yet I couldn't run. I couldn't leave them. So I stood there stuck somewhere between fight or flight,  facing the only tower left standing, clutching my little dog tightly to me, as the frightened crowd continued to stream around me.

I remember feeling a tug on my arm, it was my artist friend, he kept saying, "Come on, Fran, we gotta run. We gotta RUN!" But I was determined not to leave the people under the building. Even if I couldn't help, I could keep them company. I could be there for them somehow.

"We're okay. It's stopping, we're fine," I calmly told him, really believing it somehow. I thought he and the other people were just being babies - c'mon, we have to stay and help. There was nothing that would get me to leave until he said the one thing that hadn't occurred to me. 

"We have to get away, really Fran. It could be germ warfare."

Germ warfare. You mean maybe that big cloud of smoke is really filled with something that can kill us all, everyone in New York City? And I could carry it on me and infect everyone else I came in contact with? 

And I know this sounds sick, but that's when I thought of my little dog, and how she needed to be protected so I covered her snout with my hand and reluctantly turned around and joined the throngs making our way uptown. 

But I will tell you this. I was not proud of my decision. To this day.  I felt like a coward walking away from the people. Abandoning them. I felt a portion of my heart tear away from me and stay put on the street corner.

And now, nine years later, I cringe when anyone calls me a 9/11 victim or survivor. It disgusts me. It seems sacrilegious, in a way, to wear that mantle. I wasn't hurt or maimed. I didn't lose a loved one. I don't cough and have trouble breathing. I was merely a witness.

And I remained one for some time. We'd all been evacuated below Canal but I had been able to return to my office the next week by showing my lease. And for some reason, I chose to live there rather than my home in NJ, sleeping on the futon night after night, taking long nocturnal walks throughout the streets with my dog. It was just the two of us, one lone 25 hour deli, the trucks hauling mangled steel and the volunteers doing their holy work.

One night, I couldn't take it any more and I kept walking further and further downtown to be closer to the people but was stopped by a bunch of workers taking a break. "Really, Sweetheart, go back," they told me.  "You don't wanna go down there. Trust us, you don't wanna see."

I have never gone to the site.

And throughout the weeks that followed, I haunted a four block radius around my office. I ate cereal and deli food night after night. I had no business, no one did. I didn't even have phones for three months. But I needed to be there.

I eventually lost the company and myself before the first anniversary. Had to declare bankruptcy. I began to just float from day to day - something I had never done in my life. It's taken me years but I have recently started to feel like "me" again. Creative. Funny. Useful. A different me, less goal-oriented, but I'm now someone I recognize.

I still struggle with the ability to believe that anything can be made so strong that it won't crumble in an instant. I struggle with the ability to believe that I can make something sturdy enough that it won't crumble before it's even done.

Vividly, I still see the woman at her desk with her coffee and donut in my mind's eye. I still see the young man prone on the street, praying in pain. 

And a piece of my heart remains forever on that street corner, wanting to keep the people company.

With love,


_________________________  <^>  ___________________________

If anyone is interested,  I've found actual 
on YouTube mostly taken by 
that most capture the experience 
of those of us in that area of Manhattan. 
While not graphic, 
they're very raw emotionally.

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Oksana Grigorieva: Gold-Digger or Professional Musician?

I am just sick and tired of Oksana being portrayed as a gold-digger. It's this kind of twisted statement that abusive men like Mel Gibson commonly use to trivialize a woman. And it is REALLY pissing me off, especially given her background. With all this press I haven't heard a word about her actual career - she's being made out to be a money-grubbing young ditsy model who's whole life is spent leeching off men.

On the contrary, she's over 40 years old and has had a VERY respectable career as a pianist and composer. Here's what I've gleamed from her from Wikipedia and other places:

Oksana Grigorieva (born 1970) is a 40 year old Russian pianist, composer and singer-songwriter. She was born in Saransk, Russia to parents who were both music professors and completed conservatoire studies in Moscow and Kazan, before moving to London. While studying music there at the Royal Academy of Music, she worked as a model, "In order to support myself I started to model. I did a lot of it, print, mostly. I've always looked after myself." says Grigorieva. I've never been dependent on anyone financially."

Grigorieva subsequently moved to the United States, and spent time living in New York and Los Angeles where she Grigorieva composed and performed music, and produced works for theatre, independent film and commercials. She also taught music and patented a technique of teaching musical notation to children.

Grigorieva gained attention as a songwriter in 2006, after the song that she wrote, "Un Dia Llegara", became popular on the Josh Groban album, Awake. Las Vegas Review-Journal highlighted the song in a review of the album commenting, "Groban's most effective tunes tend to be his most unadorned, when he favors understatement over ostentation, such as on ... the tremulous slow burn of 'Un Dia Llegara,' with its touches of flamenco guitar." In a 2007 concert, Groban himself introduced the song to his fans as a "beauty" and the Philippine Daily Inquirer hailed it as an "outstanding track".  Fred Shuster of Daily News of Los Angeles reviewed the album, and commented, "The gorgeous 'Un Dia Llegara,' opening with a sweep of guitar, sets the mood for romantic highlights to come"
In 2009, Grigorieva's music album Beautiful Heartache (exec-produced by Gibson) was released and well-received, with positive reception from Reuters calling it, " a collection of wistful love songs, blending shimmering string arrangements with pop and jazz-influenced arrangements that showcase Grigorieva's soulful voice." The album garnered the singer "rave reviews" from ABC News' music critics and Jack Foley of IndieLondon gave it a rating of 4 out of 5 commenting, "throughout, she displays a keen ear for melody, for honest emotional simplicity and classic values. She’s well worth taking the time to check out".

Beautiful Heartache includes 11 tracks, and features a cover of the Russian song "Dark Eyes" and a collaboration with Charlie Midnight. It was marketed as "grown-up, piano-led pop, heavy on classical motifs". Grigorieva wrote the entire album, save for the song "Say My Name" (co-written with Gibson) which was included in the 2010 film, Edge of Darkness. The song "Angel" was named for her son Alexander.

In her personal life, Grigorieva was married in 1989 to a fellow Russian. In 1992, she married British artist Nicholas Rowland, then in 1995 met actor Timothy Dalton while she was employed as a translator for filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov. The two married in 1997 had her son Alexander, together,

10 years later, Grigorieva became romantically involved with actor Mel Gibson and their daughter Lucia was born on October 30, 2009. The couple later separated and in June 2010, Grigorieva obtained a restraining order against Gibson, stating he had physically assaulted her. And that's where we are now.
I listened to her music and liked it so much I bought the album.  I also listened to her composition on the Groban album. Really wonderful. As far as I'm concerned she's like so many other talented struggling artists who continue to do their work however they can.

After reading the transcripts to the conversations below, I can imagine what happened.

At 37, Grigorieva had been able to make a humble but respectable living off her skills as a composer, singer and music teacher.  She meets Mel Gibson, a huge movie star and leading man who whisks her off her feet and she falls madly in love. I mean, come on, he's Mel Gibson. But he's a married man and the only way they can be together is when he's on location away from his family. He's obviously not going to join her world - so it's she who must join his. She's now hanging out in the upper echelon of Hollywood where money flows like water and everyone lives high on the hog. She goes with the flow. Mel, being the magnanimous soul that he is, invites her to live with him and offers to pay her way if she makes herself free to travel with him.

The problem is, she actually does have a career, as pitiful as it seems compared to his, and she's  concerned about dropping everything when she needs to make a living and do her art. So he tells her how extraordinarily talented he thinks she is and how she can do her music with him. He's so impressed with her work, he wants her to compose a song for his Edge of Darkness flick and will build her professional recording studio at a home they share so she never has to even leave the house! When that's done, he offers to produce an album for her - that sure will keep her busy.

What struggling musician wouldn't jump at this? Create beautiful music with the man you love? Not only that, but in a TV interview for Beautiful Heartache she reveals that she's also set to score an upcoming film he's producing set in Mexico.

Now, for some reason, his wife of almost 30 years, Robyn, has been ignoring this affair since it's well known that Mel has always been quite the ladies man. She's more of a traditional housewife and mother whose sole career has been running their home and raising their seven children - content to let Mel do his Hollywood thing.  But when Oksana gets pregnant - the shit hits the proverbial fan. Apparently, Robyn finally got mad, and gives him an ultimatum.

But, instead of dumping the trifle like he's done in the past - Mel makes the decision to leave his wife and children start a new life with Oksana.

This is when it ALL starts to really unravel.  My guess is this that real-life with Oksana is VERY different from life with Robyn. Robyn built her entire life around Mel - HE was her career. Although Oksana is in love and happy to start their family, Mel now has to deal with a "modern" woman for the first time. And a fellow artist. An equal who's trying to balance her honey, baby and career.  And combine that with the enormous guilt he must have for leaving his wife and family - and you get pressure.

THIS woman BETTER measure up.
THIS woman BETTER be worth losing everything for.
THIS woman BETTER do whatever the fuck he says.

Unfortunately, THIS woman didn't. And therein lies the rub.

My guess is he couldn't control her the way he could easily control Robyn. That's why Robyn was able to declare to an L.A. judge last week that her ex-husband had never engaged in any physical abuse of any kind toward her before. He probably hadn't needed to. They were in sync with who the boss was.

That's just my gut talking. Why not give a read to the following transcripts, and let me know what you think is really going on here.  I'm curious.

O: Listen to me, Mel.

M: What?

O: I don't give a damn if you don't spend another penny on me.

M: Oh, yes you do, because (unintelligible, both of them yelling) ...

O: I'm just fearing for the life of my daughter.

M: … you'll find some other fucker to pay for you.

O: Listen to me, listen to me.

M: Then leave, cunt, bitch, golddigger, cunt, whore. And that's what you are.

O: Listen.

M: And you have just proved it. You got out of here in record time.

O: (yelling) Because I'm saving my life, and I'm saving my daughter's life. That's what I'm doing. I don't give a damn about my music, and I don't give a damn if you spend another penny, I'm saving her life.

and in another charming call ...

M: Um, don't hire (name omitted) to come there, OK? Did you get that message?

O: Well, I'll pay her myself, I found her, she's my dentist's ex-babysitter.

M: I've been paying her. It's my money that she gets paid with. I'm her employer. Not you. You found her. I'm her employer.

O: Fine, but I, I, if I need to use her - I will use her, I …

M: … because I will not pay her if you bring her to your house. I will fire her, and I will do it fast.

O: Okay, then I'll pay her, because I need her. She's good.

M: No! You're paying her with my money. It doesn't matter what you give her, it's my fucking money. You understand? You're not … you don't have your own money, you're only using my money. OK?

O: Because you made me moneyless. I used to have hundred thousand dollars a year when you met me. You took me. You possessed me. Everything I am, you own me with my liver and my kidneys and my thoughts and my soul (getting angry) everything! My career, whatever it is, pathetic career, whatever it is, is yours. You control me like marionette. I don't belong to myself, only to you. I can't do anything and I walk on eggshells always, with you."

M: That's because you're a fucking using whore. Now I own you! Do not use (name omitted) at your house. I have warned you, she will be fired if she goes to your house. You find that cunt (name omitted) and you find some other money that's not mine. OK?

O: No, I'm using (name omitted) …

M: She's fired, do you understand that?

O: Fine, she's fired.

M: So fire her! Because I won't pay her!

O: OK, don't pay her.

M: And I will fire her!

O: That's okay.

M: She only works at my house!

O: Well, she has nothing to do with your house. The baby's here.

M: The baby should be here, and she should work at my house.

O: The baby is where I am. You're insane.

M: The baby will not be there for long. I will fire (name omitted) if she is at your house. I will make it known and fire her.

O: Fine.

M: I'll report her to the fucking people who take fucking money from the wetbacks, OK?

O: Mel. You can't just take a woman who gives you a child, who gives you her entire life, you drag her through god-knows-what, bad press … I've never had a bad word said about me in my entire life …

M: A cunt (unintelligible) …

O: (yelling) And then, and then you're telling me that you take away whatever pennies you just given to me? I don't have anything because I've given you my life! Three years, now!

M: I've given you everything, don't you dare fucking complain to me. How fucking dare you! You don't fucking count. You're a fucking using whore.

O: What did I use you for? I've given you everything I had.

M: Every-fucking-thing!

O: I've given you everything! I've been your woman, I've given you your child, what the fuck are you talking about?

M: (garbled) … bitch. That's all.You would've done it for any fucking (name omitted) you probably fucked (name omitted).

O: Wow.

M: I know you did. That fucking ass.

O: I swear in front of God I never have.

M: Fuck an ugly man, you don't give a fuck, so long as they pay your fucking rent.

O: I am not a whore, and I am not a bitch …

M: (screaming) Are so!

O: … and I am not a cunt, and I am not a user, and I am not a thief, I'm not all those words. And I am not a liar. All these, all these ... lies …

M: ... what I said (unintelligible cross-yelling) ...

O: … lies. I am not a whore, a cunt, a thief, or prostitute, or anything that you call me. Nor a user, not a golddigger. I don't have any money or any property assigned to me. That's a golddigger for you? Are you insane? Yes, you are.  Of course, we can hear that.

M: You bitch, you get everything you want.

O: Don't call me a bitch. Don't call me …

M: You get everything you want.

O: You have no right. I don't have a penny to me.What kind of golddigging, what kind of golddigging whore is this?

M: Oh, god, cry, poor (garbled), you could go through money like a fucking whore. You want the fucking dress, you want the tickets, you want the fucking equipment. Funny how it went from 33 to 43 …

O: (sigh) Mel ... (cross-talking)

M: … 12,000 dollars …

O: Mel, the equipment is instead of payment. If you hire any composer you'll have to pay $200,000 plus!

M: (screaming) I don't have to! I can do it for nothing! I don't need you, and I don't want you doing it, and I don't think you can do it. Alright?

O: Fine.

M: That's how little I think of your fucking talent.

O: Well, it's clear now. Everything ... it's all coming out now.

M: It's all fucking true.

O: Yeah.

M: Fuck you, you're a fucking whore (unintelligible) ...

O: I think you just, I think you just ... all you wanted to do is just shove me in a hole and sit me at home.  So much for your promise 'I want to let you fly,' It's such bullshit. It's such arrogant bullshit. You never meant to do that.

M: I'm letting you fly now, cunt!

O: What?

M: Fly away!

O: What?

M: I gave you every fucking opportunity (garbled) ...

O: I've done extremely well, but nobody asked you to spend so much money on the videos and everything. And why do you count the food out of my mouth? Why do you do that? I live with you. I gave you a baby. We're together. And you're counting that and summing it all up? Why do you not separate those two? If you count the food in my mouth, why don't you separate it? How about you giving me money and I'm feeding you and going shopping all the time and buying you extravagant presents.

M: (screeching) What are you talking about, you fragging ignorant bitch? I don't understand you! You're saying stupid shit. How dare you even fucking insult me with some of the stupid reasoning you have. Your logic sucks because you're a fucking mentally deprived idiot! You can't even fucking figure out …

O: OK. I have to go to the baby …

M: (unintelligible) ... the tax money is on the credit cards. Don't you get it?

O: Goodbye, Mel. The baby is crying, I have to go.

M: Go look after my child.

O: She's my child, too.

M: Yeah, I know, unfortunately you cunt whore. I hope she doesn't turn out like you. 

Move Over, Mrs. Robinson!

I picked up this seemingly innocuous little humor book in a gift store in Park City, Utah never knowing that it would turn out to singlehandedly change my view of aging as a single women in today's world.  Don't get me wrong, it is hilarious, but it also makes a LOT of sense and covers the realities of life for women of our age still open to love and affection.

In some ways it's very practical - discussing beauty tips and the like but it also helps a woman negotiate the tricky terrain of situational ethics. Some of the ideas may be surprising, but I found it absolutely riveting and read it in two nights. I think you might love it, too!

I'm not sure if your local library will have it, but it's not expensive at all if you buy it used online [ just click the link and see what people are selling it for.After I read it I went back and bought a few more copies and gave it as gifts to some of my single girlfriends.

Dames Like Her: The Play

Just today I had the pleasure of performing three of the monologues from the play I've been developing for the past year. I am here in beautiful Saratoga Springs as the guest of SUNY's Empire State College, my alma mater. (It feels SO funny saying that since I am actually graduating two weeks from now! But that's aNOTHER story.)

I was asked to present my Dames Like Her social art project as part of their Women's Studies Residency this week, which itself has been a fabulous experience for me. Brings me back to the 60's and the 70's when I used to volunteer down at ...

(I just have to interject and tell you that as I am writing this, the couple in the next room at the lovely B&B I am staying in are making love and, I gotta tell you, from the sounds she is making, I have a new-found respect for this guy. There is no slamming going on whatsoever but she is in ecstasy. I figure he must be one of those men "with a slow hand." I am jealous. NOTE TO SELF: Must find man with slow hand again. They are good to have around.)

... ANYWAY, back to N.O.W. where I used to volunteer and go to consciousness-raising groups and burn bras (oh PLEASE, do you know ANYBODY who literally burned their bra? Me neither.) Those were the days I thought were long gone but I have found them alive and well in Saratoga Springs except they're different - less fraught, more humor and more determination to have fun and live well.

Well, the monologues seem resonate with other women after all - they're based on a mix of women I know and are chosen to bring to life the ...

(She came.)

... the complexities of being a woman of a certain age. I hate that when you hear a woman is in her 50's or 60's or 70's or whatever, there is this sort of image of an old bitty who's sort of out of the loop. Sure, some of us may be a little bitty-ish but for the most part, we are a raucous, funny, sexy bunch of dames who are at a point in their life where, as the great blues singer Ernestine Anderson says, "You know what to do with your time."

My hopes for Dames Like Her: The Play is to become a really funny, eye-opening, conversation starter that gets audiences laughing, thinking and talking about how COOL it is to be a woman over 50. From the reaction of the audience today, we may have to be handing out Depends at the door, cause there was a lot of belly-laughing going on and we know what THAT means. Hah!

My plan is to continue developing it in front of audiences, so if you know of any educational organizations or women's groups who would like to support this project by inviting me to perform and discuss it with their staff, students or members,well, pop me an email at - I would be happy to travel to your area for a small stipend and travel expenses.

Hmmm ... I can even incorporate a Dames Like Her personal story workshop in which participants cultivate a storytelling monologue from their own lives.

(PS. They've gone to sleep.)

Dames Like Her & the men who believe in them.

You know, guys can be a real pain in the ass. Their misogyny can and has ruined many of our jobs and even our lives. Especially those of us who grew up in the 40's, 50's & 60's.

BUT, they can also be the one person who really believes in you. (Okay, the second person who really believes in you. My producer and good friend Carol Chambers Crumley was and always will be the first.)

Film producer, award-winning photographer and photo journalist Sam Shaw once left a message on my phone after finally reading a screenplay of mine that I had been hounding him about for months. I pressed the button on my answering machine and this is what I heard.

"Fran? Sam. You're a fucking genius."


The call came at a time when I was nearing 50 and had sunk $20,000 into making my first film (that could have been the down payment on my first house) and was unsure of whether I was crazy for even thinking I could call myself a filmmaker when I knew of only a handful of successful women directors.

It came as I was beginning to make the rounds of festivals with my first film, Sullivan's Last Call, and discovered that these trips to Sundance and Chicago and Los Angeles would basically be me and a hundred million 22 year old kids who were also making their first film. I felt like the den mother at a old boy scout convention.

It turned out to be a seven year full-tilt commitment to producing and directing my first feature film, Pardon My French, an unusual screenplay I had written about love, death and my salty mother that would garner kudos from major studios and the commitment of Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands but would, sadly, never find the funding it needed to get made.

But having the unwavering support of Sam Shaw, and another unrelentingly supportive gent, the fearless Boston College film professor and author, Ray Carney - having their belief in me and what I was trying to do with my filmmaking has become, all these years later, what I most cherish.

Now, my career may be very different from yours in content, but I ask you to look back into your history and a man who may have been your Sam. Or your Ray. It's easy for us to focus on the blowhards out there who tried their damndest to crush our spirit, but there are MANY men who wanted the best for us ... who were they for you?

Just CLICK comment below and tell us your story. Take as long as you want. Lord knows, we've got the time.