Monday, April 9, 2018

Pheaturing Margot Bingham

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Good afternoon. I hope your day is going good. Some other people are having a terrible day. Singer-songwriter Lorde, the real-life Wednesday Addams, posted an extremely tone-deaf Instagram that may or may not have been intentional. The Kiwi pseudo-goth posted a picture this of a bathtub with the caption...

That's a song made famous by Whitney Houston. As every Houstonhead knows, Whitney tragically drowned in a bathtub in 2012. Needless to say, after relaxing in the bath, Lorde ceased to be zen after reading her notifications. After drying off, Lorde quickly apologized, insisting that she wasn't thinking about Houston's tragic accident but rather was super psyched to relax in a hot tub. Lorde once covered Houston while cosplaying as Captain Underpants, so you know that she means well. Children like Lorde are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. I am just disappointed there's not a pic of Lorde in the tub.
This just in: a shocking development. Fox News actually reported something accurate for once, displaying a fact that's not only against their propagandistic brand but was also at their own expense. Yesterday morning on "Tight Shot," host Howard Kurtz was yik yakking with his guest Frank Luntz about how good the economy is, but how bad Trump's tweets are, because the latter distracts from the former. Discussing Trump's favorite catch phrase "FAKE NEWS!", Kurtz put up a poll that said that nearly half of all Americans trusted CNN... Trump's least favorite channel after the History channel... more than they trusted him. The graph also showed that according to the Monmouth University poll, Fox News is the least trusted network, which Kurtz caught and said, " That is not the graphic we are looking for. Hold off. Take that down please." Sorry, Fox. To quote a t-shirt often seen at Trump rallies, "Facts don't care about your feelings."
Mark Zuckerberg would like you to know that he's sorry Facebook dot com made your personal information available to third-party apps and therefore open a Pandora's Box of misinformation and targeted ads that resulted in catastrophic votes around the world. Tomorrow, the character that earned Jesse Eisenberg an Oscar nomination is testifying before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, and later he will address the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has already published his prepared remarks. "It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well," Zuckerberg plans to tell Congress. "That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech, as well as developers and data privacy. We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here." While that may not be Aaron Sorkin-level writing, Zuckerberg insists that he feels real bad about his business model that rewards controversy over accuracy, and is humbly surprised by how vast his power overseeing the communications and private information of 2.2 billion individuals has become. C-SPAN is already pitching Zuckerberg vs. Congress as the biggest showdown since Wrestlemania, so get your popcorn ready. It's going to be more awkward than a Facebook "poke."
Okay, I love Disney, I have worked for that company for 30 years, but I have to tell you this story... by the way, Disney is the greatest company to work for... ever. Anyway... Someone at Disney's social media decided to trade their "Happiest Place on Earth!" brand for some emo attempt at humor and it did not go over too well. Sad!

Twitter is filled with enough nihilistic jokes without the House of Mouse trying to relate to the sad, sad millennials. By this morning, the tweet was gone, but not forgotten. And the same can be said about the person who tweeted it.
We are living in a time where the world of dating needs its own dictionary. Every one and their mother is familiar with the cruel dating trend known as ghosting. If you're truly deep in the terrifying waters of online dating, you might also be familiar with sidebarring, the bullshit dating trend known as submarining, and the self-induced psychological torture of microcheating. Just when you thought you'd learned all the terms, there is yet another to add to your list: getting haunted. Not to be confused with getting Marleyed, which is when you hook up with an old flame during the holidays, getting haunted is when an ex won't stop hovering over your life. Whether it's through social media stalking or IRL social encounters, getting haunted is when your ex won't fully let the relationship die. While speaking to "Daily Mail," the sex expert Nikki Goldstein described the phenomenon of haunting, and how it's just a new term for a very old romantic problem. "Haunting comes out in two different ways, when an ex is purposefully popping up in your lives or they're looking at your social media. The downside of technology is you can haunt someone so easily. The introduction of a like or a click can really unnerve somebody." If you're reading this, it's likely you've been on both ends of a haunting at one time or another. While the concept of lingering emotionally (or physically) over an ex's life certainly isn't new, our current age of social media and technology makes the hauntings ever more real and treacherous. Basically, love is hell and the reality of "haunting" is just another manifestation of that hell.
So, I was thinking... instead of doing this blog thing maybe I should spend my time listening to this record...

Ummm... maybe not. If I had a TARDIS I would like to visit Russia but knowing my luck I'll go too far back and see Tsar Nicholas II allows his daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, to smoke.

Is that scene in the Anastasia movie? You know, I have a few tattoos and thinking about getting a few more. This guy though took my idea.

By the way, I have seen that man before at Disney, and that pic was taken in front of Spaceship Earth at Epcot. I love the old Winnie the Pooh books by A.A. Milne but sometimes I think Milne took a things just too far. Check it out...

I want that on a tattoo. Hahahahaha. Here's another sign from the March for Our Lives...

Generic but to the point. Here in Orlando they are getting very clever with the 1-4 408 interchange. If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about take a look...

Crazy, right? So, do you like Oreo's? Did you see the new kind they have coming out?

That's fun. Hahahahaha. Okay, I have to mention this... In place of an assault weapons ban to prevent gun violence, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are now required to wear clear backpacks. The survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida are not impressed with this cosmetic solution to a systemic issue. "They’re just an illusion of security," student Kyra Parrow wrote. The teens are using their creativity and fluency in memes to make their clear backpacks their own... and to own the adults who think this is the solution. I think they're very clever so for the next month or so I will be showing the most creative backpacks these kids are trolling with. Here's the first... Webster's Dictionary defines "privacy" as...

So... do you know what's the best? Want me to tell you?

Though farts come out with varying velocities, we don't typically smell them for about 10-15 seconds after letting them rip. This is because it takes that long for the odor to reach your nostrils.

Ha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, do you kids like games? Wanna play a new one? It's pretty simple. It's called...

Well, is it Danzig or Sigourney? Hahaha. So, you know I'm British, right? Do you know what I think of the French? Well, here's a pheature called...

Guillaume Rey, a waiter in Vancouver, has filed a complaint with British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal against his former restaurant, alleging "discrimination against my culture." RTÉ News reports that Monsieur Rey was fired for being "aggressive, rude and disrespectful," and he's arguing that as a Frenchman, he simply "tends to be more direct and expressive." The restaurant argues that Rey was warned and given an explanation about his behavior, but nevertheless, he persisted. They attempted to have the complaint dismissed, but tribunal member Devyn Cousineau denied the application. "Mr. Rey will have to explain what it is about his French heritage that would result in behaviour that people misinterpret as a violation of workplace standards of acceptable conduct," she wrote in the decision. Pardon my French, but this is fucking nuts.

The 79th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is kinda out of my wheelhouse but it's...

Abby will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks. By the way, I couldn't find a pic of Lorde in a bath unless she's in a bath in this pic...

I'm so stupid. Moving on...

Come on, Shania, come on the Phile.

A guy urgently needed a few days off work, but, he knew the boss would not allow him to leave. He thought that maybe if he acted crazy then he would tell him to take a few days off. So, he hung upside down on the ceiling and made funny noises. His co-worker asked him what he was doing. He told her that he was pretending to be a light bulb, so, that the boss might think he was crazy and give him a few days off. A few minutes later the boss came into the office and asked, "What are you doing?" He told him he was a light bulb. He said, "You are clearly stressed out. Go home and recuperate for a couple of days." He jumped down and walked out of the office. When his co-worker followed him, the boss asked her, "And where do you think you're going?!" She said, "I'm going home too, I can't work in the dark!!"

Today's pheatured guest is an American actress and singer-songwriter. She is best known for her role as jazz singer Daughter Maitland in the HBO period drama series, "Boardwalk Empire." In 2015, Bingham began starring as one of lead characters in the ABC drama series, "The Family." She currently has a cool YouTube series called "Feel Good Studios." Please welcome to the Phile... Margot Bingham.

Me: Hey, Margot, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Margot: I'm great. What a fantastic and funny blog you have here.

Me: Wow, thank you. It's not that funny. Haha. So, you're from Pittsburgh. Did you like living there? 

Margot: Pittsburgh is surprisingly creative, there's a lot of poets, musicians and dancers and artists that come out of Pittsburgh. So, yeah, I did.

Me: Your dad played for the Steelers as a linebacker, am I right?

Margot: Yeah, but he retired two years I think before I was born. I grew up as the former Pittsburgh Steelers daughter, growing up in the shadows of my father. There definitely was a turning point when that changed and it was weird for my dad because he was always the one in the papers and it was always "Margot Bingham, daughter of former NFL Steeler" but then it started changing to "Craig Bingham, father of actress Margot Bingham." LOL. That was kinda weird.

Me: So, did you live there for long, Margot?

Margot: I grew up in the suburbs and moved into the city with my grandmother to be able to go to this school that was a performing arts type school. Being in the city gave me everything I needed. I was never gonna succeed in the suburbs. I was headed towards a drill team kind of life style. For everybody that doesn't know what that is, that's kind of a dancing formation cheerleaders. I was a dancer so it worked for that and I was definitely moving towards more of a hazing future for myself. More so being the one who got hazed.

Me: How old were you when you decided to be a performer, either singing or acting?

Margot: I was in middle school. I had an opportunity to audition for this school that I knew about because I was actually in a musical there when I was 8-years-old. That was probably my first performance in a theater. I had a great time and always loved the students, the teachers and the directors, and I said to my mom I always wanted to go to that school. So, when it came time to audition it was a huge audition and at the time they were picky about accepting people.

Me: So, who inspired you with singer and acting, Margot?

Margot: Well, I remember seeing Toni Braxton, she was probably one of my first concerts. I was obsessed with Toni Braxton. At the time when I was a kid I had two polyps on my vocal cords which put my natural voice to be really, really low. So, at ten I was singing Toni Braxton songs. I was always singing in  the bass and tenor parts of choruses, not usual for a teen, or a pre-teen. She was one woman who had a low voice like I did and I could do stuff even though it was so beyond my years, she was one gal that I could connect with.

Me: When did you know you really wanted to be a performer?

Margot: Well, I ended up having vocal surgery and I was mute for a couple of months. I had to learn how to sing and speak again. I don't know if there was really a moment for me that I knew it was going to happen. I think there was definitely a moment for me that took me back, and it was a year after my surgery and I went to a vocal recital of mine and I got up on stage to sing in my own little corner and I was dressed so pretty in a beautiful dress my mom got me and I opened my mouth to sing and nothing came out. I was mortified and ran off the stage and locked myself in the bathroom until everybody had left outside. I was balling, crying, I would not leave and literally shut the place down. For a couple years after that I had horrible stage fright, and I still have really bad anxiety on stage. I'm now at the legal age where I can now have "liquid courage." LOL. I don't know if there was a moment that turned my life and I knew I was going to stardom and a successful career, but that was the moment I questioned even doing this.

Me: How frequently do you perform now?

Margot: Not often. I'm sure if I was on tour right now and hit multiple stages a week I'll get more comfortable and better.

Me: Would you say right now you are known to be an actor more than a singer?

Margot: Yeah, which is wild because for awhile I was known more to be a singer but wanted people to desperately recognize me as an actor, like watch what you wish for kinda thing. Now nobody really knows that I sing. Now I'm an actor and my job is to take on other people for a living, different characters, being able to mold myself, and shift. For music, that was also my job for that too, because I had to sing county and pop and rock, and hip-hop, and like everything in-between. When it comes to my own music I have no idea what I sound like. I can write country songs, I can write pop songs, I end up writing folk songs but they're singer-songwriter songs that don't really sound like much, kinda middle of the road non-identifiable kinda tunes. So, I'm stuck in a place where I'm not able to look from outside and look in and figure out what needs to be done 'cause I'm so close to it. So, I have to find somebody willing to work with me and find my voice.

Me: You are known for playing Daughter Maitland on "Boardwalk Empire," and from the show "Family," do you feel like you have to live up to those expectations. If you came out with a country album do you think people would be like what?

Margot: I'd be fine with that. I'm not concerned with any titles or genres I guess I always thought I sounded a like neo soul singer-songwriter, I can do that stuff, but then there's another half of me that had always wanted to run away with another male singer or female singer and call ourselves a group name and become folk artists and do like a bluegrass kinda album and then call it a day.

Me: That's cool. Didn't you tour with Jason Mraz? What was that like?

Margot: I loved that tour more than anything in the world. I left that tour and I was like I literally could do this for the rest of my life this way. I sang the Colbie Caillat song with him. He did yoga and ate sushi and has masseuses, the vibe was so cool and everybody was so happy to be there. It wasn't stressful, we walked out and he has unbelievable fans. It was never stressful with him. It never felt like a job.

Me: He seemed that way to me. I'd love to get him on the Phile. Okay, let's talk about "Boardwalk Empire," Margot. I have to be honest with you, I have never seen that show as I don't have HBO, but I heard it was good. So many people said I would love it. Anyway, I have to show you a pic of you from that show here...

Me: Okay, what was it like being on that show and playing the character of Daughter Maitland? 

Margot: It's interesting because I might not be able to answer this for other actors but for myself it was interesting because I did music in the show. So, I wold basically get the songs before the episodes. My whole life was "Boardwalk" because I would be in the studio recording the songs. I would get the songs via email first and I would practice at home like the day before the studio to record the songs. Then I would go to set, get a fitting for a costume then we would go right into shooting and then it would be the next week again. So that was my every day but the songs would come first and I feel the songs would help properly to get to the place the scene was. For me, because I'm also coming from music, the music always help me, even if I'm not singing in the role, if I could find the character's soundtrack then I can find her. This is weird but I always start out with music and nails... what the music sounds like and what her nails look like. It makes the difference because it's the costumes I could control. When my nails are longer I find out I speak differently. It's actually changes the way that my voice is. When my nails are shorter I act differently because I could do more, I can pick up more, I am a little more brutish. It's almost like putting on a suit for the day. So, for Daughter I always got my nails done in a 1920s way and I would go this one salon which is the only one I could find at the time but now it's a hip way of wearing nails as that style has come back. But in Harlem I would get it uptown and I would have to literally have to go uptown every two weeks, it came out of my own paycheck, it was something out of my own investment. But I needed it for her. That was the way I tapped into her, through her nails, and I felt her all the time.

Me: I listened to the songs you did on iTunes from the soundtracks and I liked them a lot. Was it easy to learn this songs?

Margot: Well, I grew up listening to jazz, but I grew up listening to 1940s and 1950s jazz... which is different as you probably know from 1920s jazz... then different to the late 20s then different to the 30s. But stylistically as a singer and vocalist it's a different kinda cadence and vibrato that's in the voice. There's a different with the type and definitely with the studio performance with the mics and everything. So, I really wanted to focus on making sure the vibrato was right and I could really give a good shake without having to shake my head without having to figure out how to shake my voice and trying to make it sounds it was right out of a recording from the 1920s which I loved to do, because I love accents and dialogues, but instead of that I just took it on as my music. She had a dialect as well, she was from New Orleans, so she had a little hard Louisiana drawl.

Me: Did you listen to singers from that era?

Margot: Yeah, I did. I listened to a lot of Bessie Smith. There was a lot of other people that I listened to but Bessie was definitely one of my favorites. There was something about the show of Bessie with the showmanship in her voice that I could hear what era she was in, and I could also hear the performance and also I could kind of hear where she was in her life. She kinda incapsulated the performance I tried to cover up with Daughter a little bit.

Me: "Boardwalk Empire" was a true story about real people... was Daughter a real person?

Margot: She wasn't written after a specific character, no. It was a slew of characters singing at the Cotton Club in Harlem, which there were hundreds of women that did. They never had a hit, they just came in and out. She was one of those lost souls that kind of command went. I just wanted to really find her and it helped that I didn't pigeon her into a certain sound or look to stance. She just was kind of all above in the 20s.

Me: The show has ended now, so was it hard to let this character go, or any character you play?

Margot: The difference between music and acting is as a musician you can go into the studio with a song, record the song, you are kind of vibing it, you get like a vibe. You immerse yourself but you don't get lost in it, because when the recording is done you walk out and you're gonna learn another song. As an actor we literally have to get lost in these people and I really did get lost in her but I did try to leave her at the studio as much as possible because she was dark and I really couldn't have her with me all the time because that would of been too heavy. I recently played a heroin addict and it was a quick nine day shoot and I really had to leave her behind. That took three months to shake off for nine days. I didn't jump into shooting up or anything but the emotional roller coaster of it. I played a part where I was in a really infectious additive relationship with another man who was also a musician, he and I were musicians in it and we were addicts as well, but I basically had to get addicted to him in nine days because I wanted that to read on screen. We had every day together, and I'm in a full relationship at home, like a real life relationship, but my guy's very good at letting me get immersed like I need to. I always come back and he's not the jealous type and he just let's me do what I need to get done. I asked that we didn't talk for a week and we didn't speak for the week and I texted him every once in a while but I didn't speak to him, I didn't want to hear his voice, I just wanted to hear my partner voice in the movie. We spent all morning, all afternoon, all night together, then did it again for another nine days, and we really got addicted in this gross relationship, that when I left I had moments like I should call him. That's not real, that's Brianna talking. There were moments where I went to kiss my guy and I thought it felt wrong, I felt like I was somewhere else. There are times it'll take awhile for it to move back into my brain because I had to take on somebody else's brain. I don't agree with the method acting kinda thing where you have to live out the lives in that world. I don't believe in any of that shit. That's what acting is for, if you're an actor you just act.

Me: Good point, Okay, so, you did "Rent" on Broadway? I have no idea what that show is about but I heard of it. When I was a coordinator at Epcot years ago two of my Cast Members sang a whole song and acted this whole part in the office and I thought they were making it up as they were going on but turns out it was a song about a candle or something from "Rent." So, who did you play and were you on the show in the beginning of it?

Margot: I was cast as Alexi Darling, but I played Mimi Marquez as an understudy. Our Mimi got injured so I went on all the time as her. And I loved "Rent" growing up. That was going to be my musical. It was the first rock musical that I could relate to with my type of voice to sing. When I was 13 I was singing Mimi Marquez, I loved "Light My Candle," even though I didn't know it was about dropping my stash.

Me: So, how did you get to be in the show?

Margot: First, I got to meet Jonathan Larson's family, who was the writer of the show. He died the day before the big debut of the show. I remember doing book reports on Jonathan Larson so this was HUGE for me. That's what made me move to New York, because I was on tour with Jason Mraz first, then I moved to New York and got "Rent" and then my career started.

Me: Was it everything you hoped it would be?

Margot: No. I guess it was me wanted to be Mimi so badly and not being her, not getting cast as her, and being her on sage and realizing no matter how many times I went on I was still never good enough for the director to be Mimi. That was a harsh realization that no matter how much heart I put into her, Michael Greif, the director never saw me as her. For me I just think I wanted it so badly and needed it to feel validated, it was really hard to break out the darkness of that. There was a lot of anger that went into the show, a lot of disappointment and I became kinda resentful. My grandmother passed right before I got the gig, for my last audition for the show I was supposed to go to Pittsburgh that day and I called my mom afterwards and she told me that she passed away. My grandmother being gone, I got injured on the show, I was out for the first two months and they were basically bringing in replacements in front of me saying if I didn't get better by the opening night I was out. So, it was a lot of those kinda things. It wasn't just Michael and wasn't just not playing Mimi.

Me: Wow. So, in 2019 Fox is gonna do one of those live specials and it's gonna be "Rent." Do you wanna be in that?

Margot: I'm praying that I get a shot at Mimi and I'm sure when and if that happens my experience will be very different. Who knows though, maybe I'll go down the shit hole again. LOL. I think everything happens for a reason.

Me: So, do you still like or listen to that kinda music?

Margot: Yes, honestly that show was such a sorority with the women and frat with the boys in it that we all still keep in touch. The "Rent" family has been huge and has been huge for decades. I met people that have played in other productions and it's a like a university. We had reunions and to be a part of that is very cool and I still keep in touch with my classmates. I really created friendships there and it is like I went to college.

Me: That's really cool. Okay, so, I have to ask about "Feel Good Studios"... what is that?

Margot: "Feel Good Studios" is a series I created for YouTube. We've uploaded five tunes and I showcase the recording studios around New York City, to kinda bring focus again to this dying generation of studios because we could really record anyone now. There's some amazing studios that are really underground and a lot of people don't know about and I want to really showcase and highlight them while doing an inspirational song along the way with it.

Me: How did this series start? It's a cool premise.

Margot: It started because I was looking to feel inspired. It was around going into the election and I just needed positivity because the world was looking real dark for me. But I also wasn't at the same place musically and I didn't feel I could write because I didn't know my genre. I just needed guidance. I thought why don't I just go back and record some of these iconic amazing songs that just have those words for me and just sing them. I can bring my friends together and we can play together and play those iconic songs and just play homage to it while we're paying homage to these studios. So I started doing that and a lot of studios gave me a lot of love while some studios did not give me love but their minimum was booking a two hour session. We basically go in, set up the cameras, do the song twice and that's it. The point was to play it really live, not practice it, not rehearse it that much... more than once. Just like feel it out, just make it feel good. That was "Feel Good Studios."

Me: Do you plan to continue with this series?

Margot: My hopes is it'll go global and I could go to different countries, different cities, showcase studios everywhere. Local musicians showcase them, local engineers, showcase them. There's so many stories out there and this easily could be one of those. It could work, it could really work. I've been thinking about using it as a pitch to a network but I don't know.

Me: Do you like doing your own thing, Margot, being creative and everything opposed to doing other people's projects?

Margot: I don't know if I'm comfortable with it but I think I've become aware that of I'm not open to that kinda lifestyle you will be waiting forever. Especially as an actor and I guess in music too, but especially as an actor we're always waiting for a yes or we're always waiting for the contract. We can't move forward without somebody else telling us we can or just jump into a movie and say I want that role. I have to be given that role. In the meantime I can't fall out and not be creative because it reflects that creativity just because somebody hasn't given me a yes yet. I shouldn't have to sit on my couch and twiddle my thumbs to wait for a yes. I should be able to look into myself and wonder what is it I always wanted to do. Just like today, if I wanted to wake up today and say I just wanna be inspired, maybe I should start taking pictures of flowers outside or start painting. Just work different musicale that nobody will tell me yes or no for... or I'm not just waiting for gratification from it, the gratification would come just from myself. So, that's where "Feel Good Studios" came from. For me personally it was not for gratification... it was for my friends.

Me: So, you have a new show on Netflix called "She's Gotta Have It," that is a Spike Lee show, right? What is it?

Margot: It's definitely not something I wanna watch with my parents. It's very adult. Not on my end, but the whole show is very adult. There's sex all through it.

Me: What was it like working with Spike Lee?

Margot: It was intimating for sure. If you are not intimidated by Spike Lee I don't know who isn't. He's to say genius is down playing what he is. He's truly something else. It's intimidating to get to work with him, to do a TV series with him is kinda like what... He's doing TV, this is wild, it's Netflix so it's steaming so I guess it's a different kinda episodic content. He directed all ten episodes. His hand is very heavy in all of this. He did not leave the editing room, he didn't really allow any writers on set, he was in charge of those things as well. Spike really knows what he wants. It's the Spike show.

Me: Very cool. Well, thanks so much for being here on the Phile. I'm glad you reached out to me. Plug your website and everything you want, Margot. Please come back again soon.

Margot: I sure will. Thanks, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Margot for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with actor Kevin Conroy. I'm sure my geeks readers will know who that is. Hahahaha. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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