I Saw Kevin Cooney in His Drawers, without His Wig

One of my most precious memories is the hours spent in the company of some doggone fine Texas Thespians. I stood on stage with true professionals and my knees knocked “Hullabahlookunekkunek”, every second of the time. You won’t find me listed in any of the playbills since my name was already enshrined in the Equity.  Talk about a Nimrod, I was absolutely the last chance for this august body of folk. I was working overnights at KODA-fm, Beautiful Music, in Houston and on Super Bowl Sunday when my Dallas Cowboys got whomped by Terry Bradshaw and those pesky Steelers, just as the game was beginning, I got a call from a buddy working at KODA. He said, “Jim, Sydney Rojo called here looking for you”. She left her number and asked me to have you call her as soon as possible. I did and it was at that very moment that my life changed for the best grab at the brass ring any good old East Texas youngun could get. The rest is history, but not important enough to be in ‘wikipedia’. My family and I were whisked from what was to be a ‘brief’ run of  “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (Houston Company) playing on the refurbished stage of the Tower Theater, to over 25 cities, coast-to-coast, for nearly four years. Precious and Few are memories of times like those. Westward Productions’, Stevie Philips, gathered entire families under her wings and transported us to pinnacles of audience response that very few ‘amateurs’ experience. I learned very quickly that what is important isn’t an individual, but the magical ball of fire in ‘Ensemble’. I was a clutz. I was mortified to ‘dance’ and do choreography. I was a danger to myself and others. ( I was so bad, the entire company took a whole Saturday to work out my kinks in the ‘SideStep’). Tommy Tune brought in his favorite ‘hatchet man’ to deal with me and that man was meaner than Paw-Gus Hoffmann. I cannot imagine what went on behind the scenes as I bumbled my way across the boards, emoting. I learned a bunch about life during that run. I experienced love in the company of solid citizens who heard the beat of a different drum. I wept with them in sad times; I celebrated several ‘extended runs’ and saw my beautiful America from behind a professional proscenium. Now, let me tell you about my ‘boys’ and Kevin, David, Jim, Ed, Pete, Roger, Angie, Bill, Glenn, William, Richard, Larry, Marietta, June, Jackie and the ‘other’ Tommie. top L (K-Dawn, The Talk of The West, Las Vegas, Nevada (1988); with the notorious Robert Blake, KORK, Las Vegas, 1986 and the ‘Finale’ of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, Tower Theater, 1978 (sorry to not recall Chorus Boy, but Bill Hardy was the Governor, Larry Hovis (“Hogan’s Heroes”) was our first Melvin P. Thorpe and JNik Walker (me) as Senator JT Wingwoah. I would have failed in my first and last attempt at professional theater had it not been for Kevin Cooney, David Doty, Roger Raby, Angie Wheeler, Sydney Rojo, Ed Geldart, Peggy Byars and Jim Goode. They overlooked my faults and lifted me on their experienced shoulders. They showered my family with love and I will forever be their “Fan”. National Tour II experienced a full gambit of emotional blasts, from babies born to death of our Sheriff, Glenn Holtzman, while playing the Sahara in Reno, Nevada. I’ve thought so many times about the humor of My GOD. I smile with HIM as we recall the grinding off of rough edges of this unworthy son. Because of my dear, dear friends who shared ‘years of their lives’ with me, I can only say, “Too Anointed to be disappointed and Too Blessed to be depressed. As my Aunt Myrtle would say, “HEE LAWsie!”.  That’s what I get from My Box of Chocolates.    AMEN

One thought on “I Saw Kevin Cooney in His Drawers, without His Wig

  1. BLWIT is still one of my favorite plays! We took my grandmother to see it in Houston and she lived it too. I love to read your behibd-the-scenes stories about the show and the cast.


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