What the Heck?
John Heckathorn

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Howard Bishop as Harold Nichols, left, Malcolm Rolsal as Noah "Horse" Simmons, R. Andrew Doan as Dave Bukatinsky, Brent Yoshikami as Ethan Girard, Christopher Obenchain as Malcolm MacGregor and, seated in front, Matthew Pennaz as Jerry Lukowski star in Diamond Head Theatre's production of "The Full Monty," a Hawaii premiere, on stage through Oct. 9.

Fonda fun, racy
novels and nudity

Easy Rider: Peter Fonda (Henry's son, Jane's brother, Bridget's father) flew in last week to tape a PBS "Na Mele" show featuring buddy Barry Flanagan's band, Hapa. PBS Hawaii producer Michael Harris rode the "Easy Rider" star around town. Says Harris: "He was fun, low-key. Except maybe when he put the chopsticks in his nose at the yakiniku restaurant, he was the epitome of cool." The "Na Mele" episode airs in December.

Book of Love: A scribble of top Hawaii writers (Ian MacMillan, Gary Pak, Steven Goldsberry) gathered on the lanai of Bob and Dr. Janet Onopa. Among them: Lee Siegel celebrating his compelling new novel, "The Book of Love." Salon.com said of Siegel's work, "It instills a pleasure so guilty only illicit sex on a hot summer night could outdo it." Why then is he working next on an historical novel about a 16th-century Spanish explorer? "Oh, don't worry, it's dirty," confides girlfriend Elizabeth Blaylock. Siegel teaches religion at UH.

Trash talking: At Chefs For Hope, the Katrina fund-raiser at Aloha Tower, Blaine Miyasato, Hawaiian Air's vice president of customer services, bought a $10,000 sponsor table. He didn't eat there. Instead, he donned a purple volunteer T-shirt and cleaned up trash all night.

"Feel better when I'm working," said Miyasato.

Last course: Fans of chef Philippe Padovani should get in one last meal before year's end. Citing various woes, Philippe insists he'll shutter Padovani's Restaurant & Wine Bar next January, sooner if he can pull off a deal to market his chocolates.

What the Heck: My 18-year-old daughter got a letter from a local bank with something that looked like a check, offering to loan her $5,000. I got a similar offer, only for $4,000. It stung that I was $1,000 less credit-worthy than a college freshman without a job, but then again she doesn't have a kid to put through college.

Sheer courage: It's like a nightmare. You're naked on stage, in front of several hundred people. Would you do that?

Six average Honolulu guys -- ages 24 to 53, with day jobs like database administrator, car salesman, and waiter -- took that challenge. They're the six male leads in "The Full Monty," which opened Friday at Diamond Head Theatre.

This musical version of "The Full Monty" is set in Buffalo, N.Y. With their factory shut down, six unemployed men recoup their pride (and turn a quick buck) by putting on a male strip revue. Their gimmick: Unlike the better-looking pro dancers, they promise to strip all the way. At show's end, the actors have to deliver on that promise.

For high school counselor Christopher Obenchain, playing a tormented character who lives with his mother, the nudity wasn't a challenge. "I grew up a skinny kid, always embarrassed." He got over it. "I own my body!" he says exultantly. "Of course, nobody else wants it, but that's another problem."

Malcolm Rolsals, a singer for the band eightOeight, hated the idea. "My momma's a gospel singer, my uncle's a Baptist reverend. I said, 'Oh, no.' These guys talked me into it." Rolsals even hated some of his lines. "I don't curse, I'm glad my momma couldn't hear me."

Howard Bishop, who sells Mercedes, worried about the community reaction.

"I sell cars to doctors, attorneys. What would they think?"

"We all worried, a lot," says Matthew Pennaz, an economic researcher who plays the lead. "We just did it anyway."

That they did. At final dress (perhaps undress) rehearsal, I watched backstage. Backstage you see the props, the illusions. Brent Yoshikami, a mild mannered database administrator in real life, plays a character who's slightly nuts. When he runs offstage, he doesn't run into the wall, as the sound effects suggest. He runs into me.

Still, the play works its magic. The actors turn into characters. "I wouldn't do this, but my character has no trouble taking off his clothes, so when I'm him, I don't," says Yoshikami.

When it comes to the climactic moment, backstage is cleared for the actors' privacy. When they fling off their red G-strings, the scene is over almost as soon as it's begun. It's fleeting, hard to see, but it's real.

The rehearsal audience stands and cheers.

Andrew Doan plays a character who's overweight, like he is, and unemployed, as he was briefly a few months ago. "At the end, it's not us they're cheering, it's the characters. Anyone can relate to these characters, their problems," he says. "After the show, if one of us walked up to an audience member and started stripping in real life, they'd scream. Maybe run."

John Heckathorn's radio show, Heckathorn's Hot Plate, simulcasts weekday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. on SportsRadio1420 and sister station 1080 AM. Reach him at jheck@pacificbasin.net

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