10. Steven Fales's Confessions of a Mormon Boy
Steven Fales has found international popularity with his eye-opening Confessions of a Mormon Boy. He unflinchingly bared it all and dared us to see both sides of the experience of being Mormon, being gay, being an addict, and being an escort, all with compelling humanity and engaging charm.
9. Joseph Keckler's JOBZ
Joseph Keckler had terrific success with last year's I Am an Opera, a virtuoso trip through the concert halls, costume shops, and general curiosity of his mind, which I loved. But my first inspiration from Joseph was seeing his less elaborate show, JOBZ, which achieved grand artistic expression looking closely at very minute details of his employment struggles -- a subject that resonates powerfully with me.
8. Marga Gomez's Los Big Names
Marga Gomez is a beguiling combination of things I love about Kathy Griffin, Ricky Ricardo, and Dylan from 90210. Her telling-it-like-it-is storytelling is never short on wisdom and belly laughs, and I flock to see her anywhere. Los Big Names was inspiring in its naked look at a life in show business -- warts and all.
7. Jeffery Self's My Life on the Craigslist
I was torn whether to include this or Jeffery Self's second solo play, People I Slept With Who Never Called Me Back, as I relished every second of the two equally, and both reflect the indelible role Jeffery has played in millennial gay pop culture discourse. I chose the first one because Jeffery's first impression on me was so instantly affecting. I still reel from his slyly insightful, frivolous-on-the-surface observations.
6. Dan Fishback's Thirtynothing
Dan Fishback is a gay Jewish renaissance man for the new millennium. He is currently at work on a book based on Thirtynothing, his enlightening solo play that explored the intersection of post-Holocaust Jewishness and "post-AIDS" gayness. Dan's intelligence, sensitivity, and diligence are a model for both communities, and to say his work speaks to me is an enormous understatement.
See Rimalower's top five one-person wonders on the next page.
5. Joey Arias's Arias With a Twist
Drag legend, Billie Holiday channeler, and Cirque du Soleil Zumanity star Joey Arias took an already groundbreaking career to a new level in an acclaimed collaboration with master puppeteer Basil Twist on Arias With a Twist. This nearly hallucinogenic song cycle soared to almost incomprehensible highs while never losing its sensual grounding with the audience in the real world.
4. Susie Mosher's The Great Daisy Theory
Susie Mosher is like a hooker with a heart of gold, except instead of being a hooker, she's a singer and popular Broadway performer. The Great Daisy Theory was so much more than a cabaret show in its fearless and genuinely moving tale of her journey as an artist and a person -- and that's to say nothing of her genius three-minute capsule version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
3. Mike Albo's The Junket
Mike Albo is one of the most important names in solo performance today. His work is always compelling, entertaining, and deeply thought-provoking. These are the qualities that distinguished his popular New York Times column, "The Critical Shopper," as well as his recent triumph onstage, The Junket, all about the brouhaha around his firing from the aforementioned column. When you see a Mike Albo show -- replete with his trademark nervous energy -- there is an undeniable comfort, authority, and mastery of the form.
2. Alec Mapa's Baby Daddy
Alec Mapa is my hero as a gay man in his exemplary roles as father and husband, but originally, of course, because of his comedy. In fact, he may be the funniest person alive. Baby Daddy combines all those aspects of Alec into an inspiring and hilarious performance -- and an even better documentary film.
1. Sandra Bernhard's I'm Still Here ... Damn It!
I saw this show on Broadway January 1, 1999, not long after I moved to New York, expecting a fun, superficial evening of celebrity skewering. What I got was a spiritually and intellectually transcendent visceral experience that forever altered my understanding of theater.
BEN RIMALOWER opens up about his addiction to overspending in Bad With Money, the follow-up to his hit solo piece Patti Issues, at New York's Duplex Cabaret Theatre. Watch a clip here.