“PopSmart NOLA” on WHIV, Ep. 21: Winston Ho, Evan Spigelman and John Waters on a new day and time!

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This week’s show came to listeners on a new day and time: Friday at noon on WHIV (102.3 FM)! While I will miss hanging out on Saturday afternoon, I have to say I’m thrilled with the opportunity to precede one of WHIV’s coolest shows, Chris Lane’s “Eat, Pray, Fight!” and, hopefully, to follow a very cool new show we hope to announce some time in the future.

On this new day and time, we welcomed:

  • New Orleans historian Winston Ho, who will join two other panelists for “The Chinese in The Gulf South” as part of next week’s Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival held throughout the French Quarter.
  • Producer and performer Evan Spigelman, the Big Easy Award-winning actor whose crazy cabaret and karaoke show “Creep Cuts” has set up shop weekends in March at the Mudlark Public Theater.
  • And finally, especially and delightfully, John Waters — filmmaker, writer, monologist, film critic, YOU NAME IT — and who brings the continually evolving version of his “This Filthy World” back to the Joy Theater on Saturday night.

We also suggest this week’s Relevant Link.

Winston Ho is the son of Taiwanese parents and a native of New Orleans, and a graduate of history and Chinese language from Rutgers University specializing in early 20th century China and Chinese American history in New Orleans. He studied at the Mandarin Training Center at National Taiwan Normal University, Beijing Language and Culture University, the University of Mississippi, and the University of New Orleans. He taught Chinese at the Academy of Chinese Studies and St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans. He is currently collaborating with the Historic New Orleans Collection on documenting the presence of Chinese-owned businesses in the French Quarter from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Winston Ho will join demographer Richard Campanella and Rhodes College professor Shaolu Yu of Memphis, Tennessee, for “The Chinese in the Gulf South.” Many ethnicities combined to form the unique amalgam of cultures that define the Gulf South. Among the least studied are the Chinese, the first wave of whom arrived in New Orleans as agricultural laborers following the Civil War. “The Chinese in the Gulf South” will be moderated by David Johnson and held Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Hotel Monteleone Royal Ballroom.

For the segment Winston Ho gave a broad overview of the Chinese population in New Orleans, which featured a lot of crazy historical nuggets that includes the making of the New Orleans new wave band the Red Rockers and the making of the video for their big hit, “China,” as well as some thoughts on the towering figure that was the late Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee.

You can learn more about Winston Ho at his website.

SEGMENT NO. 2: Evan Spigelman and “Creep Cuts”
Evan Spigelman is a performer, light designer. co-founder of New Orleans performance collective Skin Horse Theater and of LOUD, the New Orleans Queer Youth Theater. He won the Big East Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his lead performance in 2011’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” A recent “draguate” of Vinsantos’ New Orleans Drag Workshop, Spigelman’s venture is “Creep Cuts,” which runs weekends in March at the Mudlark Public Theater.

As noted in its press release, “Creep Cuts” is a “cartoon cloud of dada and drag.” In the show Spigelman performs as Mz. Asa Metric opposite En Between (played by Dylan Hunter) as “New Orleans’ premier electro-cabaret-dada-freak-drag-extra-hyphenated-caffeinated- duo-from-out-of-the-blue-o.” They create a show filled with sketch comedy, lip synch and original electronic music to create a wholly new form of drag cabaret to confound the senses. Bonnie Gabel of the Pelican Bomb calls “Creep Cuts” ‘Virtuosic’ and says it ‘…challenges our perceptions of drag.’ I should add the show is preceded by a karaoke hour hosted by drag performer Kimberly Clark.

I got a chance to spend some time with Evan Spigelman to discuss this and much, much more, which you can hear in an extended version of the segment on at SoundCloud.com/dlsnola. But here, we focused on “Creep Cuts.”

Our next guest needed no introduction, so I’ll just say that filmmaker John Waters is a helluva fun person to interview by phone and in our wide-ranging discussion in advance of his appearance Saturday at the Joy Theater, we covered his new book based on his 2015 commencement address to the Rhode Island School of Design, winning a lifetime achievement award from the Writers Guild of America, how expensive it is for him to set up remote controls for his many TVs in his home, and thoughts on people with whom he’s worked over the years. Go!

SEGMENT FOUR: Relevant Link
For our Relevant Link this week, I’d like to tap into the cultural component of President Trump’s budget that was announced Thursday — through the dulcet translation provided by his budget director Mick Mulvaney — and the proposed zeroing out – or complete elimination – of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A couple weeks ago, we had an informative discussion about these expected proposals featuring the head of the Arts Council of New Orleans, the head of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and an arts advocate. I’ll include the link to that podcast later today.

In the meantime, I’d like to recommend to additional links – so yes, we’re talking THREE this week! Also check out:

Colleen Shalby’s piece in the Los Angeles Times, titled “How has the National Endowment for the Arts impacted you?” Shalby asks:

“Have you worked for an organization that received funding from the NEA? Have you or you children participated in arts programs with NEA support? We want to hear your experience and how you’re feeling about possible cuts.”

Click on it and give your voice.

Also check out syndicated conservative columnist George Will and his piece, “Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts.” In his expected support of this funding cut, George Will concludes:

“Americans’ voluntary contributions to arts organizations (‘arts/culture/humanities’ institutions reaped $17 billion in 2015) dwarf the NEA’s subventions, which would be replaced if those who actually use the organizations — many of them supported by state and local government arts councils — were as enthusiastic about them as they claim to be. The idea that the arts will wither away if the NEA goes away is risible. Distilled to its essence, the argument for the NEA is: Art is a Good Thing, therefore a government subsidy for it is a Good Deed. To appreciate the non sequitur, substitute ‘macaroni and cheese’ for ‘art.’”

The reason why I find it compelling to read this column is it gives supporters of federal arts funding all the ammunition they need to fight back the erroneous logic behind calls for cuts. Here Will misrepresents some of the obvious benefits of federal arts funding – it’s good for the economy, and it supports arts efforts in smaller and not just metropolitan-area arts organizations.

So that’s our show for this week. Big thanks to our guests, Winston Ho, Evan Spigelman and John Waters. Stay tuned for info on next Friday’s episode; I’ll give details about later in the week.

I want to remind everyone that if you like what you hear on “PopSmart NOLA,” we’re here every Saturday from 3-4 p.m. on WHIV (102.3 FM). You can listen to the archived, podcast version of the show on my SoundCloud account, “dlsnola.” Also, you can visit the website at popsmartnola.com, and like our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Instagram at “@popsmartnola” and I’m yammering away as always on Twitter at @dlsnola504.

Also, if you like our show, we’d love your support in the form of underwriting; email me at dlsnola@gmail.com for more info.

Our theme music is “Summertime” by Robin Mitchell.

Thanks again for joining us, y’all. For “PopSmart NOLA,” I’m David Lee Simmons, reminding everyone to keep the intelligent discussion going.

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