I saw this movie on Sunday and it really hit home with me. The lead singer, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner made a pact at 14 to rock together forever. It looked like they were going to be as big as other bands in the 1980s. They’re now in their early 50s and even though they influenced other big rock acts like Metallica, they are still busting their butts and toiling in bad rock clubs. They also have crappy day jobs. Spouses and siblings are wonder when it will ever happen. And you see the band go on a really rough tour of Europe and get ignored by record labels after they make their 13th album, in spite of their history.
I took away a lot of things from this movie. Persistence + Love + Work = Longevity. I know a lot of people in the arts who hate it. The insecurity can be maddening. Giving up certain things can be hard to do. And you wonder if it matters.
Robb Reiner had the blessing of his family. His father survived Auschwitz so I guess he wanted him to just be happy. Lips always had something to prove to his father and, though it’s not stated directly in the movie, his mother. That has been my lot in life. It’s not so much that my parents didn’t approve of this crazy acting life as much as they never accepted it. My dad doesn’t get it and doesn’t like theater. Mom doesn’t think I’m good enough to ever make it and shortly tunes me out after asking how I am doing. They are well-intentioned people who care about me so I can understand where they are coming from but it has left me needing to sort it out and find my way. They’ve never seen my work in NYC or anything I’ve written. I think I am dealing with that each time I get up in front of people.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried several times while watching this movie. I understand the quixotic pursuit. But the thing that got me most was how much LOVE they have for what they do. Somewhere along the way, I let that be taken from me and began putting my stuff down as unimportant, silly, or worthless before anyone else has chance to do so. I’ve let the fact that I’ve needed outside work bum me out.
I’ve played for audiences of less than 5. I’ve worked in spaces that were never made to have theater performed in them. I’ve had casting people say some outrageously offensive and insulting things to me in the room. I’ve had audiences seem to seethe with anger at me. I’ve worked with material that’s been really bad. I’ve done the same with my performing and writing but at the same time I’ve kept reaching out to be accepted through it.
Lips said he can look back with no regrets because he was there, whether it was good or bad, he was there. I’ve lived my life ashamed about where I was and what I had not yet accomplished. I punished my actor side. I persisted but have never really believed in myself. I simply don’t know how and I’m not sure I ever will. If there has been anything I regret it’s that I’ve lived life without belief or love for what I think is most important.
But I’m carrying on. I got my SAG card today and I’m making a new plan. Less to do with getting acceptance and more to do with giving love. I’m going to be there for the good and the bad. And if I get good at this again, I might start doing some teaching again.
The movie was life-changing for me. I hope they get a recording deal, a big tour, a film distribution deal, a Grammy, and an Oscar for Best Documentary. Click HERE to see when and where it is playing near you.