Caroline Waters: Sugar From Above


 

By A.J. Llewellyn

Three years ago I had a life-changing experience seeing Norwegian superstar Caroline Waters’ searing musical, Finding Venus. Every moment is still in my brain and last night she launched the CD of Finding Venus at Kulak’s Woodshed in the NoHo Arts District in LA.

Having seen the show a few times in the past and blogging about it: http://www.ajllewellyn.com/site/2013/02/25/2016/ I was excited to see how much it has changed in three years. It’s changed a lot.

In some ways it hasn’t. The amazing Katisse Buckingham is still there playing flute, sax, clarinet, and being part of every second of the performance. Jennifer Richardson was still on hand, but sitting in the audience.

For the uninitiated, Kulak’s Woodshed is as stripped-down as you can get. Interestingly, it’s alsothe perfect space for a show like Finding Venus, allowing the words and music to fill the space like nothing else can.

Waters shines like a Pollia berry, or perhaps many of them, in this show that has evolved since I first saw it. It’s a deeply personal telling of a terrible bicycle accident that sidelined her for over a year when she was a child star in Norway, touring with her father, Per Asplin, the Norwegian equivalent of Frank Sinatra.

For months, Waters lingered in a dark mental and emotional cloud. Even as her smashed left leg slowly healed, traumatic brain injury left her with no memory and a lingering depression she hid from doctors, afraid of what they would do to her if they knew. “I had no idea who I was,” she said. Music school helped ease her soul until she confessed her truth and a couple of teachers staged an exorcism that was devastating. They burned her journals, the only things keeping her sane.

As Waters opens her soul to the world, the musicians performing with her are truly astonishing. For me, the wonderful cellist Ruti Celli was an astonishing, brilliant addition. Her artistry is in perfect sync with Waters.

At the center of this piece is Waters, who had no idea who is mentally wandering during this time period and responds to the name Venus. Waters reveals that with her brain in turmoil, other facets of life came into focus, such as psychic ability and prescience.

Caroline is an unknown entity until she travels with her parents to San Francisco at the age of 16 to perform, because her father believed work was the answer to all her problems. It was there that she met Stefanie Stroh, who became her best friend and the woman she came to love.  This is the fathomless, dark, glorious, tragic heart of the show. Just as Venus/Caroline is finding herself and embracing her sexual identity, Stefanie disappears during a year-long backpacking trip.

Waters had dreams before this and warned her beloved not to backpack alone. She knew something bad was going to happen. Stefanie survived India, Pakistan, and other far-flung places but was last seen in Nevada one day before she was due to travel home.

As shocking as this revelation is, there are funny moments in the show such as an astrologer telling Caroline the way to finding herself was dancing naked in front of the mirror every morning. Great advice!

Waters left Norway and traveled to the town of Wells, Nevada, the last known sighting of Stefanie. Armed with a machete in one hand, and a gun in the other, she walked for a year, searching for Stefanie. She also carried a pick to dig the earth. “I was searching for a body at this point. I knew she was dead.”

According to serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells,  he picked up Stefanie who was hitchhiking to Reno. They shared some LSD, allegedly, and he strangled her. Stefanie’s body has never been found, but while authorities do believe she’s gone, they don’t necessarily believe Sells’ version of the events.

It was here in the high desert that Waters did a private ceremony releasing the spirit of Stefanie Stroh to the winds and sky. She let her go home. In letting her go, Venus and Caroline found themselves. These moments in the show remain unforgettable and tear-provoking. In allowing Stefanie’s soul to fly, Caroline found her own wings. And the courage and passion to live.

Caroline and Venus are focused on a Finding Venus Broadway show and I can’t wait to fly to New York to see it. The final song I am Venus says it all.

The lyrics in part say:

I am Venus.

I am love.

I am sugar from above.

Yes, Miss Waters, you are. All that, and more.

http://carolinewaters.com/music

Aloha oe,

A. J.

Are Love and Sex the Same Thing and Should Either be for Sale?

LOVE FOR SALE IS OUT TODAY!

Purchase Link: https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2438-1-love-for-sale/

Can Killian save Dane and show him that sex isn’t love and love isn’t sex…that love is amazing and is not for sale?

When Matt Killian, an LAPD cop-turned-private-eye, is approached one rainy day in Hollywood to take on a missing person case, he initially wants to say “no” when the potential client tells him he chose Killian because he’s gay. Killian changes his mind, however, when he learns the man is distraught because his son, Dane Marks—AKA notorious gay porn director, Danny Dark—is missing. Matt is further surprised to learn that Dane has already tried to take his own life, twice, and has now disappeared, possibly to escape interference in his third attempt.

It’s a race against time as Killian tracks down Danny Dark and attempts to short-circuit the man’s desire for self-destruction. Plunged headlong into the sometimes-amusing, sometimes-terrifying world of gay porn, Killian is mistaken for a go-go dancer and performs in a live show to get close to Dane.

This book has been previously published.

Can Love Ever Find Its Way Home Again On Santa Claus Lane?

 

Purchase Link: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=AJL_OSCL

 

Can a lost love ever find its way home again?

Rudy Keller’s always felt like a bit of a misfit. Growing up, he felt different from everyone around him. Somehow every toy he was given at Christmas was either missing parts or just didn’t work. As an adult, he’s taken a weird pleasure in collecting toy farm animals that are broken, especially reindeer called Rudolph. Meeting Boris, his Finnish boyfriend and one of the few vets in the town of Kemi, Rudy feels like an outsider all over again in the tiny, freezing town close to the Arctic Circle.

Somehow though, he and Boris fit perfectly and now that gay marriage is legal in Finland, Rudy’s keen to tie the knot. But now, after a decade of waiting, Boris is balking at the idea. In fact, he ends his relationship with Rudy, who flies home to Santa Claus Lane, a tiny eccentric neighborhood in Santa Barbara, California. He seeks comfort from his family and the familiarity of his idyllic enclave, which is actually only a street. But everything’s changed and Rudy’s in for one shock after another. Can his anguished heart reclaim what he’s lost, and what is his, on Santa Claus Lane?

Read an Excerpt.

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Other books by A.J. Llewellyn
This book is part of Isle of Misfit Toys

My Favorite Obsession – Comment to Enter Draw for $10 Amazon Gift Card & $25 See’s Candy Card!

 

 

I haven’t blogged for a while but a recent author retreat in Pigeon Point–a remote central coast lighthouse here in California– reminded me how much I enjoyed it. So I’m diving in again.

We did a writing exercise that prompted this blog and I can’t get it out of my head.

We had to write for five minutes on our most favorite obsessions (and our least favorite) and the results were hilarious. I can only talk about my own weird obsession…and I won’t name the author who is into guy’s feet. That’s fine except I had a huge crush on actor Thomas Jane until I learned he walks the streets barefoot. I used to do that because I’m Australian and we’re stupid, then I stepped on crushed glass so the idea of “walkabout” isn’t so hot anymore in the big city. Besides, somebody took a photo of Thomas’s feet and they were dirty!

But I digress. I have plenty of obsessions but my main one is Pyrex. Vintage pyrex to be precise. I had no real passion until I came across the nesting bowls pictured above right after I moved to L.A. in 1984. I saw these bowls in a corner of Treasures of Ojai, a fantastic antique store in Ojai, California (and the only one left standing after all the other vintage stores in that cute little country town became art galleries and high-end jewelry boutiques.

I bought the bowls because they reminded me of my mother and I remember she had the same mixing bowls. Same colors and sizes. She died when I was six and my grief-stricken dad threw out almost everything we owned, including my books and toys, and my brothers’s things too.

No wonder we are so demented.

Anyway, I bought the bowls and have used them ever since. This led to an obsession to mid-century kitchenware  I’ve found online. I wonder about who owned the pieces and why they are selling them. I will forever hang on to the ones I’ve purchased because the hold sacred memories–the very few that I have–of my mother. I recall her mixing bechamel sauce. I can still remember the tang of hers. Her secret ingredient was a dash of fresh ground nutmeg. She was a very typical modern Greek woman, but her cooking was pure tradition. I also recall her singing Tom Jones’ The Green, Green Grass of Home along with the radio while she worked. She kept her radio on the windowsill and I still have mine there, too. We had so much in common now that I think of it.

I’ve often wondered what happened to her collection of bowls. I believe they were a wedding present. Does the person who got them ever know this? And what about the bowls I’ve seen in second-hand shops? Who owned and loved them? And how did they come to be abandoned? Did someone die? Or did they just stop loving their bowls? I’ve bought others since then. They started showing up and I found them cheaper by the way than the initial set I bought, but I found many of them at the fabulous Ros0e Bowl Flea Market. If you live in LA and you’ve never been, do yourself a favor and go. It’s on the second Sunday of every month. I’ve come to discover this is where Pyrex bowls go to die. Er, I mean, where they go looking for a second chance at culinary love. I found a wonderful bowl there years ago called the Friendship pattern. Others call it Cinderella but Pyrex calls it Friendship. My bowl was white with red and yellow pictures of birds and a floral design. Very 50s.

 

It was a thrill to buy it for $10 and I adored that bowl! I used it to mix pancake batter when my nieces and nephews came to stay and I loved the pouring handles. A couple of years ago I inexplicably broke it. I was stunned. I thought those things were indestructible.

I immediately set out to find a replacement but the world has caught up with my Pyrex obsession and everything online was $50 and up. The Rose Bowl didn’t have them. I passed countless sellers with all kinds of Pyrex. I even found a set of bowls I’d never seen before and was thrilled to take them home. One is a lavender color and it’s my new favorite.

 

So I kept looking for Friendship but couldn’t find one cheap enough. I couldn’t justify the cost. I kept checking eBay and local antique malls hoping I’d find some seller desperate enough one at a reasonable price — and then I gave up. Oddly, once I stopped obsessing and no longer looked, I found one.

I was walking my dog one Saturday morning and a woman who lives at the end of the street was having a mini yard sale. I knew Ruth well because I walked by her place daily and we’d talk. She is an Orthodox Jewish woman who cooks all day for her family. She became the victim of urban development and her landlord evicted her so he could demolish the property an build a McMansion. She fought it for two years and I even went to court to speak on her behalf. But she lost the case and she and her invalid husband were forced to move.

So there she was selling off kitchen items and I saw the devastation in her eyes. She had a Friendship bowl and she wanted two bucks for it. As much as I wanted it, I was worried I was taking a precious heirloom.

“I’ll buy it and give it back to you,” I said. She wouldn’t hear of it. I gave her $5 which still wasn’t enough to be honest, but I took home the bowl, a huge grin on my face. I had to laugh because there was still food stuck on the outside of it. Maybe she gave it a quick rinse and really wanted to get rid of it. I don’t know.  All I know is she is the same age my mother would have been if she were alive, and I feel I have strong tangible connections to both of them.

The new Friendship has replaced the old one, but I still love them both. And with every meal I prepare with this well-loved bowl, I will think of Ruth and I will think of my mother. And the green, green grass of home.

Do you have a favorite obsession? Please share and you will enter the draw to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a $25 gift card for yummy See’s Candies (available for us online and in-store).

The FLUFFER

 

Purchase Link: http://www.extasybooks.com/a-j-llewellyn/978-1-4874-1899-1-the-fluffer/

Being a fluffer for a magazine’s male centerfolds should be a dream job for Jack, or will it be a ticket to hell?

Jack Casey has a communications degree and a ton of experience in the journalism field, but can’t land a full-time job. When one crops up for a mysterious new men’s magazine, he meets the hottest man he’s ever seen in his life. Somebody submitted garlic farmer Luke Silverfall to Men’s World as a centerfold. But it wasn’t Luke himself. Can Jack persuade him to model and let Jack er, fluff him up for the camera? Or is fate about to take a nasty turn for Jack?

Luke Silverfall had no idea he’d been submitted for a centerfold spread for a magazine. When Jack Casey calls him and asks about Luke’s new line of peeled onions, he assumes the guy’s a chef of some kind. Well, Jack likes to cook all right. He cooks up lies and subterfuge, or so Luke thinks. Can he trust the fluffer? Or will he have to give up the career he once wanted so desperately? Will it lie, with all his other wishes in a field of broken dreams?

 

 

On King Kamehameha Day…

 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DNKFLTT

Pelo is a troubled man whose mixed ancestry of Hawaiian and Filipino has always made him feel like he has no place in either culture. He’s back home on the Big Island of Hawaii after serving time for manslaughter—a crime he did not commit. And now, a chance encounter with a newly widowed Filipina turns Pelo’s life upside down.

From helping her family undertake the huge preparations necessary for a traditional Filipino funeral to finding a new chance at love with the woman’s sexy and passionate son, Adan, Pelo finds he might finally have a chance for strong roots. On the single biggest festival day in the islands, King Kamehameha Day, will Pelo find his heart?

This story was previously published under the title Pelo’s Heart. This reissued version of the story has been revised and reedited.

Being the teacher’s pet is one thing…being his evening meal is another!

 

 

 

 

Night School Vampire – Get Him While He’s Hot!

Purchase Link: http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2039-0-night-school-vampire/

Being the teacher’s pet is one thing…being his evening meal is another.

It’s tough being a vampire. For one thing, there’s so much time on your hands. And for another, being undead for centuries means that you meet way too many stupid people…

Socrates Delis, since he has to be awake at night, wonders why he shouldn’t make better use of his time. So to ease his loneliness and hopefully meet a more educated group of people, he enrolls in night school at UCLA’s extension courses and quickly finds that poetry isn’t the only thing on the agenda. Somebody is killing off young gay men around town, and students are nervous. And by the way, didn’t Socrates swear off love? So why’s he finding himself attracted to his hot, human teacher?

Devin Gold loves his work. The great poets are his favorites to share with his English lit students, and while teaching, his life often seems just about perfect. But holy heck, his crazy Uncle Vince just blew into town and has even invaded Devin’s night classes, disrupting his life. Uncle Vince and Devin’s mom think they’re vampire hunters. Devin knows there’s no such thing, and has lived with the shame of their insanity all his life. Now his uncle swears that LA, even night school, is swarming with fangers.

How can Devin keep his sudden attraction to his handsome new student, Socrates, a secret? He’s not sure, but he has to try, especially since his obsessive uncle will undoubtedly insist that Socrates is a vampire. It’s tough being a sane human in La La Land…

He’s Gone Home!

 

Purchase Link: http://www.extasybooks.com/hes-gone-home/

Diego Cabrera thought his turbulent life in Ventura was behind him.

Diego Cabrera gave up his life on the police force, drugs, drink, and a toxic relationship with his family to start a new, sober existence in Hollywood with a fantastic job in creative development at a major studio. But the opportunity for a blind date leads Diego back to the beach and a catastrophic decision to try Tokyo Tea.

Diego’s quickly arrested and charged with a DUI. Ventura is notoriously tough on drunk driving convictions, and in spite of it being Diego’s first offense, he’s given 48 hours in the slammer.

Petrified that his new carefully crafted world is about to be destroyed, Diego receives unexpected support from the sexy Vincent Eagle, the probation officer with whom he had the blind date. Can Diego juggle his newfound feelings for Vincent, memories of an abusive father, his job with a volatile boss, and remain sober? And why did he go home in the first place?

Deep Probe is OUT NOW!

 

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DCHXMHB

Six hot, horny men in space. One mysterious alien probe. Their deepest, darkest sexual fantasies are about to be unleashed.

Space has no fury like an intergalactic sex fiend given free reign. From the twisted, seductive mind of the late film director John Bruno, comes Deep Probe, penned by best-selling authors A.J. Llewellyn and D. J. Manly.

Deep Probe, a hot M/M science-fiction space opera set on a planet far, far away features six astronauts on a rescue mission to a distress signal. They find no signs of unusual life. One of the crew. however, pockets a mysterious green rod. He soon finds it has a mind and sexual tastes all of its own…

 

Visit the ABANDONED PARADISE – TODAY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase Link: http://www.extasybooks.com/abandoned-paradise/

Alessandro Aikau, an anthropologist visiting Hawaii from Boston, has been given rare permission to spend a month on the abandoned and forbidden island of Kaho’olawe.
Kem, whose family has been entrusted with the sacred upkeep of this battered piece of paradise, at first resents Alessandro’s unusual assignment. As the two men come to know each other, Kem begins to realize that there is a deeper, mysterious meaning to the man’s presence on the island. He begins to sense it is a ritual atonement. But for what?
Kem’s kahuna parents won’t divulge the secret, and neither will Alessandro, even as the two men become deeply attracted to one another, and Alessandro suffers several bad accidents, faces continual sabotage, along with a strange invasion of the island.
Will Alessandro survive his twenty-eight-day ritual, and if so, can he find love with Kem in this abandoned paradise?

For an excerpt and/or purchase please click this link: http://www.extasybooks.com/abandoned-paradise/

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