Sunday, July 31, 2016

Armadillocon: Howard Waldrop on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. In keeping with long-standing Armadillocon tradition, we wrap things up with the incomparable Howard Waldrop:

Now Playing: Dave Davies I Will Be Me
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Jennifer Juday on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Jennifer Juday:

Now Playing: Melissa Etheridge Never Enough
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Joe Lansdale on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Joe R. Lansdale:

Now Playing: Melissa Etheridge Your Little Secret
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Scott Cupp discusses Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Scott Cupp:

Now Playing: The Rutles The Rutles
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Renee Babcock discusses Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Renee Babcock:

Now Playing: Eric Clapton 21 Nights
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Willie Siros on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Willie Siros:

Now Playing: Pink Martini Get Happy
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Lawrence Person on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Lawrence Person:

Now Playing: Prince Graffiti Bridge
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Chuck Siros on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Chuck Siros:

Now Playing: The Kinks Lola vs. Power Man and the Moneygoround part 1
Chicken Ranch Central

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Armadillocon: Rick Klaw on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Rick Klaw:

Now Playing: R.E.M. Murmur
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Rhonda Eudaly on Mighty Bill Crider

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. Next up is Rhonda Eudaly:

Now Playing: Willie Nelson Songs
Chicken Ranch Central

Armadillocon: Mark Finn on Mighty Bill Crider!

A few years ago, Bill Crider made a series of guerrilla interviews at Armadillocon armed only with a spiffy-keen flip video. Since the esteemed Mr. Crider is unable to attend this year due to some unfortunate health issue, I decided to turn the tables and launch my own guerrilla interview series, to get the low-down on what con-goers really think about #MightyBillCrider. First up is Mark Finn:

Now Playing: Pink Floyd More
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Ever heard that women have to twice as much to get even half the credit men receive? Well, Vixen is exhibit A. Look, these ladies were never a huge force amongst the hair metal movement, but damn, if they don't double-down on every hair metal cliche and put all their boy band competitors to shame. I mean, look at them in the video for "Edge of a Broken Heart" and tell me Poison wouldn't have killed for hair like that. And that doesn't even begin to take into consideration the leather, studs, scarves and fog machines. These women did it all--and if you'll watch closely, occasionally even backwards, in high heels.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Santana.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Obscured by Clouds
Chicken Ranch Central

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Marvin Zindler (1921-2007)

On this date in 2007, KTRK consumer affairs reporter Marvin Zindler died of pancreatic cancer.

Zindler, of course, is forever linked with the Chicken Ranch, as his series of exposés on the brothel directly led to its closure. And for that reason, many people (mostly men) who are old enough to remember curse his name. Despite being a raging egomaniac, he was a powerful champion of the downtrodden in his lifetime, and did a tremendous amount of good. Where the Chicken Ranch was concerned, he let his lust for fame and the spotlight get the better of him, and this allowed people with a vendetta against the Chicken Ranch to manipulate him from a distance. Zindler was a person who firmly believed in his own righteous infallibility, and once it became clear the vast organized crime conspiracy behind the Chicken Ranch's operation did not exist, well, Zindler doubled down on the conspiracy angle rather than admitting he'd been duped. He went to his grave insisting on criminal conspiracy and corruption, although he was never able to prove any of his claims.

Despite this, nobody could argue Zindler wasn't committed to his job. Despite constant pain from the cancer destroying him, he insisted on delivering his restaurant report from his hospital bed on Aug. 20. It proved to be his final report. Just over a week later, he was dead.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Animals
Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Aggie Song vs. the Tony Awards

If you've ever seen The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas--either the play or the movie--then you're likely to remember "The Aggie Song." This is the part of the show where the Texas A&M football team, having successfully vanquished their arch-rivals during the annual Thanksgiving Day showdown, celebrates in anticipation of an all-expense-paid trip to the legendary Chicken Ranch brothel. It's a funny scene, simply for the sheer absurdity of it. Texas A&M gave the film crew full access to the football locker rooms when they were making the 1982 film, but I have a sneaking suspicion they wouldn't be so cooperative today if approached about a remake.

But that's neither here nor there. Back in 1978, after some fits and starts, the play exploded on Broadway and became a major hit. In fact, it garnered a bunch of Tony Award nominations in 1979, including one for best musical (it lost out to Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which I suppose means that cannibalism is more socially acceptable than prostitution). Strangely enough, they picked "The Aggie Song" to represent the play. Out of all the songs, I'd have thought they'd choose "Little Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place" or maybe "The Sidestep." But no, they choose the song where a bunch of men wax poetic about visiting a brothel. All I can figure is that somebody decided Tommy Tune's creative choreography would look good on TV... and it does. But the censors went absolutely nuts with the bleeping out of words, making the song sound far dirtier than it actually is. And instead of simple bleeps, they use a xylophone, which makes the whole thing that much more surreal. And is it possible for poor Henry Fonda to look any more uncomfortable during his introduction? This is one of those "You've got to see it to believe it" things. Enjoy!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: The Police Message in a Box
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 77: The first review!

I have my first, genuine, for-true book review of my new book, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse. It appears in the current issue of the San Antonio Current, on newsstands today. I knew Bryan Rindfuss was working on something, but I hadn't realized he'd actually received an advance review copy. Here's a taste of what he thinks:

Ahead of its August 1 publication date, author Jayme Lynn Blaschke’s Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch comes hailed (by former Texas Lieutenant Governor William P. “Bill” Hobby Jr.) as “the best account of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas ever written.” Preceded by a 1978 Broadway musical and a 1982 film (both titled The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and based on a story by Larry L. King) and Jan Hutson’s 1980 book The Chicken Ranch: The True Story of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Blaschke’s update delivers much more than its title suggests — shedding light on the history of prostitution and brothels in the Lone Star State in the processing of building a compelling portrait of “that home out on the range” immortalized in ZZ Top’s 1973 classic “La Grange.”
If you're not in the San Antonio area, you're still in luck, because the review is published online: Jayme Lynn Blaschke Ventures Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch. Read it! Share it! Call the neighbors and wake the kids! This thing is real, and it's happening now...

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Jerry Jeff Walker Live at Gruene Hall
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Armadillocon off the port bow!

Armadillocon 38 is coming up this weekend, and I'll be in attendance as I have been for the past 15 years or so (my first was Armadillocon 13, but there were some gaps after that). This year, I'll only be there Friday and Saturday (July 29-30) because of my pre-existing commitment to appear at Sunday's Best Little Whorehouse in Texas performance at the Playhouse San Antonio. And that brings up the $64 question, doesn't it: Will I have copies of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse available at the convention?

Unfortunately, the answer is "I don't know." The book's official release date is August 1, and History Press will only begin shipping the books out July 27. That's tomorrow. So it is possible I could get them in by Saturday, or even Friday with a good tail wind, but Monday is just as likely--which, for the purposes of Armadillocon, does us little good. Even without the book, I'll have some goodies to give out and there's always the August 15 signing at BookPeople. So, we have options. Here's my schedule for the weekend (I've got no programming on Friday, but I'll be around):

Saturday, August 29
  • Autographing
    11 a.m.-Noon, Dealers' Room
    Allen, Blaschke, Cardin, Swendson, Wells

  • Learning from Others' Mistakes
    9 p.m.-10 p.m., Ballroom E
    Blaschke, Bracken, Dimond*, Fung, Jewell, Marmell
    "Stories from the trenches." Panelists will discuss writing mistakes and how to avoid them.

  • Doing Research for Your Story
    10 p.m.-11 p.m., Ballroom E
    Blaschke*, Marmell, Moyer, White
    Panelists will discuss the strategies for doing effective research for stories, including examples of what has and has not worked.

Now Playing: David Bowie Best of Bowie
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, July 25, 2016

Inside The Texas Chicken Ranch | Official Book Trailer

We're in the home stretch now, folks! Less than seven days before Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch drops! In anticipation of that, today I share with you the official book trailer! Special thanks goes out to Ron Rose for permission to use "The Ballad of the La Grange Chicken Ranch." If you like it, share it!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Blondie The Best of Blondie
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 76: Texas Matters

I am very pleased to report that an extensive interview of my self by David Martin Davies aired today on the syndicated National Public Radio program Texas Matters. The program airs in select Texas cities 3:30 p.m. Fridays, 6:30 a.m. Saturdays and 9:30 p.m. Sundays in San Antonio on KSTX. Other stations may air it at other times, but here's the really cool part: you don't have to be near one of the stations that airs the show, and you don't have to wait for a pre-determined time to listen to it. You can check it out right now, as it's archived online for all to listen: Texas Matters: The History of the Chicken Ranch.

I've never done a radio interview before. Sure, I've give a few soundbites to radio folk as well as television reporters as a matter of course with the day job, but those have always been fairly terse answers to specific questions of limited scope. This was different--an extended discussion where the focus was squarely on me. Anyone who's ever had any kind of extended discussion with me knows that I tend to ramble and veer off on wild tangents when the notion strikes. I also get... animated. None of that translates well to radio. Fortunately, I was able to maintain focus for the most part and not come off as sounding like deranged Uncle Otis after a few too many beers. I did go off on a couple of tangents and may have babbled incoherently a time or two, but David was kind enough to edit those out so I didn't sound like a complete nincompoop.

One thing we touched on in the interview that, on second listen, I don't think I made clear at all was the two competing strategies used to deal with prostitution in the 19th and 20th centuries--prohibition and regulation. Without getting into a deep discussion of either, let me just say that neither approach has proven effective or satisfactory. Both have proven to be deeply flawed and do little to eliminate prostitution or control corruption or curb exploitation of women. A new strategy is needed, but that's a discussion for another time. Until then, let me know what you think about the interview!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Hotel Buffett
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

It's been a stressful week, so how about something a little chill to set the mood for the weekend? Here's Santana with "Samba Pa Ti", live in Mexico.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Falco.

Now Playing: Lou Reed Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed
Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alas, poor Hastings. I knew it well.

Well, that is that. The other shoe had dropped and the fat lady has taken the stage. Hastings Entertainment, the entertainment superstore chain so prevalent in mid-sized cities in Texas and throughout the mid- and southwest, is to be liquidated by October 31 after a bankruptcy auction attracted only bidders interested in carving up the corpse.

I'm in something of a depressed mood today--mostly for reasons you folks wouldn't get or would find absurd--but the demise of Hastings is a significant contributor. There's nothing about this that I don't find depressing:

Bidding on the beleaguered company in a Delaware bankruptcy court ended Wednesday afternoon, and according to the agency agreement an “everything must go” sale, which ends Oct. 31 at the latest, will be the end of the Amarillo retail chain’s story.

Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC, two financial consultation and management companies, bought the company in a contractual joint venture.

The documents say that these companies, which will oversee the liquidation, will be authorized to advertise the move as a "store closing," "sale on everything," "going out of business" sale.
Here's the deal: Hastings was the first bookstore I ever went into that wasn't based in a shopping mall and named Waldenbooks or B.Dalton. Compared to those, Hastings was huge. They had books! They had music! They had movies! Aisles that seemed to go on forever! Realize that I grew up in a small Texas town that only ever had one bookstore--open for about three weeks total, if I recall correctly--and my reading matter was wholly dependent upon the local library, semi-annual trips to "big city" malls and the Science Fiction Book Club. Hastings was nirvana. Oh, sure, years later we got Borders and Barnes & Noble, but I always preferred Hastings when given the choice.

I'd known they were in trouble for some time. Around November 2009, with the Great Recession still raging, I was wandering the stacks in the San Marcos location and overhead an employee meeting going on in the back corner. The store manager was going over the store's losses the previous months, and I was staggered. The store was hemorrhaging tens of thousands of dollars a month. I was stunned--in fact, I eavesdropped a bit longer just to be certain I'd heard right. I'd heard right. I got a sinking feeling that this location wouldn't be long for the world, but I was proven wrong. A few years ago, they dramatically remodeled the store. Business seemed to pick up considerably. I thought they were finally in the clear.

To some extent, Hastings fell victim to the same forces that killed off the larger Borders. Pressure from Amazon and their pricing-at-a-loss strategy ate away at Hastings' book revenue. Digital downloads and streaming services wiped out the music side of things. Netflix and video-on-demand killed the video rental market. But I saw Hastings make changes. Movies and music were deemphasized. The chain added used books to its inventory, sort of a Half-Price Books hybrid. Gaming, pop culture and comics merchandise were added, and regular social events like gaming nights became part of the landscape. We saw people going and buying. It looked like the chain had carved out a new, specialty niche for itself.

Turns out it was too little, too late.

Over the years, as I've walked through the front doors, I've always looked at the "new arrivals" display with envy. I've seen many friends' names on those new books, and one day, I promised myself, my book would be there to greet customers as they entered the store. Last month, I actually contacted the Hastings stores in New Braunfels and San Marcos about scheduling a book signing the very day the chain filed for bankruptcy--which I learned of about 10 minutes after sending my email. I felt so terrible for the person at the other end who had to respond to my blissfully ignorant query. In a fit of selfishness, felt just a terrible for myself. I'd never achieve that goal of walking in and having my own book greet me. New Braunfels will now be without a book store of any sort. With the San Marcos location closing as well, the nearest option is Half Price Books, which is great in its own way, but not the same. To reach The Twig in San Antonio or BookPeople in Austin, I have to drive an hour in either direction--and that's if traffic cooperates.

To top it off, my kids are going to be very upset. I've raised them to view going to the bookstore as a thing to look forward to, and now that's gone. I don't know what I can do about it, other than be sad with them. Farewell, Hastings. You will be missed.

Now Playing: The Art of Noise The Best of the Art of Noise
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sprechen Sie Chicken Ranch?

Folks, this is very, very cool. It's been in the works since late May, and has finally come to fruition: a write-up on the Chicken Ranch in Spiegel Online: Texas' berüchtigtstes Freudenhaus. The German-language publication is the online companion to Der Speigel, one of the most influential news publications in Europe. The article's author, Jasmin Lörchner, and I spent quite a lot of time discussing the history of the Chicken Ranch by phone and email over the past few months, and I think the end result turned out quite nicely! If nothing else, I learned how to say "Chicken Ranch" in German: Hühnerfarm.

I say "think" because I don't actually read German, which means I've had to rely on Google Translate to parse the article. If you've ever gone down that route, you'll know that translation software is an inexact science at best, and occasionally results in some unintentionally hilarious reading. You can read the imperfect translation here: Texas' infamous House of Pleasure. The title actually uses the word "berüchtigtstes," which confounded Google. I poked around online and found that it meant, loosely, "to be thought of negatively" or somesuch, so "infamous" seemed an appropriate substitute in this context. I also learned my newest favorite word in German--Freudenhaus, which means "house of pleasure." Tell me the Best Little Freudenhaus in Texas doesn't just trip off the tongue!

There's also a nifty photo gallery featuring some of the images that appear in Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch. And remember, folks, those German-language rights to the book are still available!

Now Playing: Whitehorse Leave No Bridge Unburned
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Wow. It was 10 years ago this week that I launched my very first nostalgia-tinged installment of Friday Night Videos. Only I didn't even call it Friday Night Videos back then. I stumbled across a video to Falco's "Vienna Calling" and gave in to the impulse to share. The thing is, though, that this particular video for my favorite Falco song wasn't the same video I recalled watching as a teenager on Night Tracks, Friday Night Videos and all those other weekend programs us kids without MTV had to make do with. Of course, a lot changes in 10 years, and that original video now lives on YouTube to be shared far and wide. Yay!

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Pretenders.

Now Playing: Jerry Jeff Walker Too Old to Change
Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Best Little Whorehouse update

Okay, there's not been a whole lot of news regarding the proposed Broadway revival of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, but I've got a few interesting things to share. Firstly--and this has nothing to do with Broadway--but the Theatre Company of Bryan/College Station is staging its version of the musical August 5-21. It makes me smile to think they'll be performing "The Aggie Song" in Aggieland. Too bad the Fighting Texas Aggie Marching Band doesn't ever perform it at halftime! And don't forget, the Whorehouse run continues through August 7 at the Playhouse San Antonio, where I'll be discussing the real history of the Chicken Ranch prior to matinee performances on Sundays.

All that's well and good, but what about Broadway? Glad you asked! Last month, we learned that Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Holliday (that's them being cute in the photo above), Kevin McKidd and a bunch of other Broadway regulars had table reading for uber-director Rob Ashford. That kind of star-power doesn't gather together on a whim, so we've been left wondering. Last week, Chenoweth finally broke radio silence, a little, telling the Hollywood Reporter, "I did a reading of Best Little Whorehouse with my director for Promises, Promises [Rob Ashford]. I love just singing that score that Carol Hall wrote. And Jennifer Holliday was a part of that and kicks butt. Just watching her do her thing I cried. I was just happy we got to kind of see if it has a life." She said she thought financing was in place but was non-committal about the revival's prospects beyond that.

Still, not many tea leaves there to read... until this week, when Chenoweth again dropped an indirect hint about the project: According to Lancaster Online, Chenoweth has rescheduled to January 21 a concert originally slated for October 9. "So?" you say. "Concerts are rescheduled all the time." True, but the key line in the story gives the reason for the postponement as "a new Broadway commitment." Whorehouse is the only active proto-production she is currently associated with (not counting her perpetually in development play about Tammy Faye Bakker, which is currently undergoing rewrites).

So, yay! Whorehouse returning to the Broadway stage would expand my book's market to the northeast and potentially open up New York media to me and prompt bookstores there, which wouldn't give it a second look before, to stock it. That would be utterly fantastic. So yeah, my fingers are crossed. Hopefully, we'll hear a lot more news about the Chicken Ranch and The Best Little Whorehouse sooner rather than later.

Now Playing: David Gilmour About Face
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 75: We've got media!

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the talented Karen Brooks Harper of the Dallas Observer, and the result is the quite excellent article Author Jayme Blaschke Is Setting the Record Straight on Texas' Most Famous Brothel. Unfortunately, the tragic sniper attack on Dallas police threw the publishing plans into disarray, so I do not know if it will appear in this week's edition, next week's, or ever. Them's the breaks. On the upside, it's readily available for anyone to read online at their leisure:

It is perhaps a defining characteristic of Texas Chicken Ranch: When it comes to Texas’ most famous whorehouse, people apparently enjoy being in the dark.

In its bedrooms. In the telling of its history. On stage and on the silver screen.

But a Texas writer is turning on the lights in the story of the Lone Star State’s iconic brothel, unearthing for the first time what he says is the true history of the La Grange “boarding house” — steeped until now in fables told by whispering locals and far-away Hollywood characters.
Not too shabby, eh? I've got a couple more potentially nice media pieces coming out soon, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime, I'd like to remind everyone that I'm making in-person appearances at the Sunday matinee performance of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Playhouse San Antonio, where I'll be discussing my book, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, and talking about this historical brothel and how its closing inspired the play. But don't just come to see me--the musical is a whole heck of a lot of fun, as I wrote earlier. But don't just take my word for it: The San Antonio Express-News gave it a glowing review, and BroadwayWorld give it a rave recommendation--albeit grudgingly. So come on out and say howdy! You won't be sorry!

Now Playing: Blue Öyster Cult Workshop of the Telescopes
Chicken Ranch Central

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Best Little Whorehouse in San Antonio

Last night The Wife and I attended the opening night performance of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Playhouse San Antonio. Let me just cut to the chase and tell you it was a whole hack of a lot of fun. If you've only ever seen the movie version with Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, you owe it to yourself to see the original* version as it was intended. It's a lot funnier with way more emotional resonance.

The Playhouse's production runs Friday-Sunday from now until August 7. As an added bonus, yours truly will be at each Sunday matinee to discuss the real, historical Chicken Ranch and the hijinks that inspired the musical. Anyone who wants to discuss Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, well, I'll talk about that, too. I ended up in a few conversations last night, and people were fascinated by the history behind the play, so it should be a lot of fun!

But what about the play itself? First I want to clarify that * above. This is not, technically, the original version that ran for more than 1,500 performances on Broadway. Instead, it is essentially the national touring show reworked for Ann-Margret in 1981. This version has some altered dialog and the song order is rearranged--notably, Miss Mona's elegiac solo, "Bus From Amarillo," which traditionally closes the opening act, instead closes the show. I've never felt this works, as the original finale, "Hard Candy Christmas," is the play's best-known song and anything that comes after is something of a letdown. Following a slow, bittersweet song with a slower, sadder song of missed opportunities results in diminishing returns. Another significant change is the insertion of "Watchdog Report" into the middle of "Texas Has A Whorehouse In It." It's not a bad change, as the two songs are always performed together, but it doesn't add anything and strikes me as change for the sake of change. Curiously, despite using the 2001 version of the play, the Playhouse chose not to use the new song, "A Friend to Me," Carol Hall wrote specifically for that production. The 2001 version also inexplicably makes one of the Aggie football players a foreign student with an indecipherable accent. This is, I suppose, meant to be "wacky" and leave the audience in stitches. In practice, it's annoying as hell and makes no sense. Just so you know.

The Playhouse's production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is uneven and a bit rough around the edges, as regional theatre often is. But make no mistake, there's a lot to like here. Again, it's much more entertaining than the film version, and I'd take Sara Brooks and Bob Galindo's Miss Mona Stangley and Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd over Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds any day of the week. Amanda Tudor steals practically every scene she's in as the awkward, naive would-be prostitute Shy. Elise Lopez's Doatsey Mae solo comes out of nowhere (even though I knew it was coming) and leaves the audience rapt. Ronald Watson's side-stepping Governor is gloriously smarmy and self-aware. Vicky Liendo, as Jewel, absolutely dominates every song she gets with possibly the strongest voice of the entire cast. David Blazer's Melvin P. Thorpe--taking his fashion cues more from Dom Deluise than the real-life Marvin Zindler--is hilariously over-the-top, sporting some of the best comic timing I've seen in the character. The orchestra keeps the music flowing at a nice clip and the entire might was filled with non-stop laughter.

I've previously seen The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas live in Houston, as produced by Theatre Under the Stars. Being the home town of Marvin Zindler, obviously the Houston audience was primed for the story. Despite that, the only real difference I noticed between the two audiences came when Miss Mona talked about a weekend getaway to Galveston, where she marveled at the "crystal blue waters" of the Gulf of Mexico or somesuch. The Houston audience guffawed, as Galveston's waters are notoriously brown. That joke slipped by San Antonians unnoticed.

The only thing that didn't work was the Angelette's march. The original play uses inflatable dolls to highlight the crass hypocrisy of sideline T&A being an acceptable part of the American college and professional sports experience, while the more restrained, out-of-sight lust of the Chicken Ranch was denigrated. That's traded for the women of the ensemble doing a simple dance step routine, which is awkward and serves no purpose other than to fill time. Fortunately, the segment lasts only a few minutes and is quickly forgotten.

So go, go now and see The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Playhouse in San Pedro Park. It's a lovely, intimate venue with talented, enthusiastic performers eager to entertain. You won't be sorry you did.

Now Playing: R.E.M. Automatic for the People
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 08, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Days like today, I wake up, see the news, see the vitriol flying back and forth on social media, and I just want to go back to sleep and not wake up until the storm's passed. Of course, I can't do that, so I'll have to settle for listening to the Pretenders' cover of "I Go To Sleep."

Previously on Friday Night Videos... They Might Be Giants.

Now Playing: Dire Straits Alchemy
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, July 01, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I'm sorry, I can't help it. This may reflect poorly upon me as a person, but this past week whenever I hear news reports on the terror attack in Istanbul, I cannot help but immediately add "not Constantinople." It's a compulsion. I blame They Might Be Giants. Curiously enough, this is not an original song by They Might Be Giants, although it sounds all the world like it should be. It's actually a cover of a 1953 hit by The Four Lads. Learn something new every day.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... LL Cool J.

Now Playing: Peter Gabriel Passion
Chicken Ranch Central