An erotic art museum owner and an orchestra conductor both make the list
Each year, Barbara Walters selects some of the most intriguing people to interview for her traditional holiday special. For this year’s SFGN Winter Arts and Entertainment Guide, we borrowed a page from the veteran reporter’s playbook and selected eight equally intriguing people—both gay and straight, performing on stage and behind the scenes—from our region’s vibrant and diverse arts community to introduce to our readers.
In their own words, each of these personalities lends insights into their craft, their inspirations and aspirations, and even the quirky traits that contribute to their accomplishments. From female orchestra conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso and award-winning playwright Kim Ehly to outspoken artist/activist Rolando Chang Barrero and Naomi Wilzig, the feisty septuagenarian owner of Miami Beach’s World Erotic Art Museum, each has plenty to say about life, love and art in South Florida.
Sebrina Maria Alfonso
Music Director, South Florida Symphony Orchestra
(photo credit: Stephen Shires)
Number of years in position: With South Florida Symphony, 16 years. In total, 26 years as a professional conductor.
Hometown: Key West, now in Fort Lauderdale
Family: My partner, Jacqueline Lorber; mom, brother, several nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews; and my animals
Pets: Macayla, (standard Poodle, 10), Cesar (Pitbull, 2), Bella (Morkie, 2) Cupid and Valentino (cats), various feral cats that we feed, and about 30 peacocks!
School/University/Training: BM, MM, Virginia Commonwealth University; DMA studies, Peabody Conservatory
Self-portrait: Hmm, perfectionist for sure. Pretty serious person, but perhaps somewhat goofy. Love my family, love my music.
Favorite saying or motto: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’." – Erma Bombeck
Pet peeves: Lateness drives me crazy. I expect that others should know what I am thinking. Disrespect….We need a "Let's be kind to one another movement."
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: At one year old, I was already crawling up to a piano. By seventh grade, I decided I would be a conductor.
Who were your mentors or professional inspiration: My 7th grade band conductor, Martha Stark….I did not have an easy time as a woman wanting to pursue a career in conducting. I was my own inspiration.
What is your dream job or role: I think, at this age, I tend to stay in the moment. My dream is just that each concert is better than the last one and that we reach the highest level of music for our audience.
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: I have asked that and there is no answer. NOTHING comes to me. I would probably go towards computers only because I am interested in computers and learning about them.
Hobbies: I love growing things. Computers, but my favorite hobby is boating, fishing and diving. (Though since an encounter with a HUGE barracuda I have cooled on diving. Not even sharks scared me the way that one did.)
Favorite movie: The Mission and a Russian/Mongolian movie called, Close to Eden (English Translation)
Who would play you in a movie: The office staff agrees on Olympia Dukakis. I like that!
What books are on your bedside table: Right now I am reading scores. Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 and Liszt Hamlet. However, on my computer I have done quite a lot of reading about these composers.
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Coffee, evaporated milk (for café con leche), eggs
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Jesus
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Noah's Ark. Can you imagine co-existing with all those wonderful and wild animals?
Last words: Donny Osmond (Yes, I loved him when I was a young 'un) once said, "Reach for the stars because you will always fall short." Let's look out for one another out there.
Rolando Chang Barrero
Artist, Director and Curator, ActivistArtista, Delray Beach
(Photo credit: Rolando Chang Barrero)
Number of years in position: Way too many
Hometown: South Beach
Family: Gay Community
Pets: Too many – a Cuban dog called TRICK Si' , a Mexican shih wa-wa called SADO, a black dachshund called TABU, and a white toy poodle called BUTCH.
School/University/Training: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Self-portrait: Attractive, bald, Cuban ISO....
Favorite saying or motto: “I wanna date the guy in your profile picture, not you!”
Pet peeves: A broke man-child
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: OLD? I'm seriously offended!
What is your professional inspiration: Tom of Finland
What is your dream job or role: You know the kind of job I want!
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: Drag impersonation of Anita Bryant
Hobbies: Really? You can't handle the truth!
Favorite movie: SALO
Who would play you in a movie: John Malkovich
What books are on your bedside table: iPad, darling, books are so done and over with!
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Crisco, Wesson oil, WD40
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Marquis de Sade, Miss Manners and any Greek boy
Place you'd most like to be stranded: The Louvre Museum
Earl F. Bosworth IV
Director, Broward Cultural Division
(Photo credit: Kara Starzyk)
Age: Somewhere between 46 and 48
Number of years in position: It’s government work….we measure time by the decade.
Hometown: Hoboken, N.J.
Family: Yes, three incredible kids and the best girlfriend in the universe.
Pets: Three goldfish
School/University/Training: The Florida State University & Nova Southeastern University, MBA
Self-portrait: I’m a musician, I can’t paint or draw! If I could sketch it out in music, it would most likely be in a major key with lots of energy and a very catchy hook!
Favorite saying or motto: “Boy, lady have you got your lions crossed!”
Pet peeves: When someone begins a statement or phrase with, ”Honestly.” Does that mean everything mentioned prior to that proclamation is a lie?
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: Probably about 10 years ago. I held the position of Assistant Director with Broward Cultural Division and realized I had a pretty cool gig.
Who were your mentors or professional inspiration: I pick bits and pieces of inspiration from everyone I meet in both worlds—creative and business.
Greatest accomplishment: Being featured in South Florida Gay News.
What is your dream job or role: To write and/or produce a Top 10 album.
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: Play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
Hobbies: Music –playing, writing and listening!
Favorite movie: Wall Street and Lion King are tied for first!
Who would play you in a movie: The hero--or the friend of the homeless guy in Big Daddy---I always wanted to ride a shopping cart down the hills in Central Park.
What books are on your bedside table: Larry King’s Why I Love Baseball
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: orange juice, oatmeal and Coors Light.
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Abe Lincoln, Leonardo Da Vinci and Billie Holiday.
Place you'd most like to be stranded: In an abandoned box car in the high desert of New Mexico with an acoustic guitar and some really good campfire food.
Last words: Honestly?
Principal Dancer, Miami City Ballet
(Photo credit: Miami City Ballet)
Number of years: 5
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Family: Girzelia (mother), Carlos (father), Karla (older sister)
Pets: Tucky (cat)
School/University/Training: Escola de Dança alice ara, Cia. Ballet do Rio de Janeiro,
Miami City Ballet School
Favorite saying or motto: “Don't save it for tomorrow, do it today.”
Pet peeves: Ungrateful, disrespectful people
Best kept secret: My mom’s and family recipes
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: 10 years old or even younger
Who were your mentors or professional inspiration: My sister inspired me to begin dance. All of my teachers, including two special ones – Daniela Silva and Alice Ara.
Greatest accomplishment: Finalist at the Prix de Lausanne, Switzerland. I have had life changes that I consider accomplishments, such as moving to a new country at 15 years old and having the opportunity to join the Miami City Ballet.
What is your dream job or role: I have the job I had always dreamed of. I have a long list of dream roles that I would like to accomplish one day.
Hobbies: Swimming, biking, photography. I’m also passionate for music in general.
Favorite movie: Any good comedy, thriller or dance movies. I also think the Disney movies are fantastic.
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Coconut water, orange juice and iced coffee
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Princess Isabel.
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Somewhere pretty with lots of food.
Last words: I'm always thankful for my family, friends and holidays, when I get to see them. I love my job and other types of art form.
Artistic Director, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus
(Photo credit: Anthony Cabrera)
Number of Years in Position: 7
Family: Wonderful partner and 5 year old daughter
Pets: Fish (mine by default)
School/University/Training: University of Miami
Self-portrait: Passionate about my work, devoted to my family
Favorite saying or motto: "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." – K. Gibran
Pet peeves: Toilet paper incorrectly placed on the dispenser...it should always unravel over the top!
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: 17
Who were your mentors: Michelle Fernandez, my high school band director; Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, Director of Choral Activities at UM while I went to school there.
Greatest accomplishment: Being a dad
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: Art restoration
Hobbies: Reading, gardening, kindergarten homework
Favorite movie: What Dreams May Come
Who would play you in a movie: Robin Williams
What books are on your bedside table: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai; Jack & Lem by David Pitts, Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Peanut butter, peanut butter and peanut butter
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Jesus of Nazareth, Charles Darwin and Salvador Dali
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Anywhere in Tuscany
Last words: “I hope I've made your life worthwhile in some way.”
Playwright, Founder and Artistic Director, Kutumba Theatre Project
(Photo Credit: Kim Ehly)
Age: Anyone who saw my play, Baby GirL, definitely knows my age, so the secret is out. I was born on the first day of summer in 1969, a very good vintage, exactly one week before Stonewall. You do the math!
Number of years in position: I've been in theatre, film, television, and commercials for over 30 years. I founded Kutumba Theatre Project in June 2012.
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, born at Holy Cross Hospital. Yep, I'm a native!
Family: Two amazingly wonderful dogs and an incredible group of friends who are my family. I started to say I'm seeking a sexy, smart, loving life partner, but I guess this isn't a personal ad!
Pets: My two dogs, Monkey and Butter
School/University/Training: BFA, Florida Atlantic University; acting and directing training in New York City with Michael Howard, Olympia Dukakis and Zoe Caldwell.
Self-portrait: Loyal, brave, passionate, genuine, positive, witty, creative, empathetic, committed, generous, sincere, chocoholic
Favorite saying or motto: Saying: "Another train'll be along in a minute." - my Gram, and my motto: “Enjoy where you are on the way to where you're going.”
Pet peeves: Inauthenticity (such as people who change depending on their company), bullying, people who manipulate or lie to get what they want, people who lack empathy
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: To be an actor, five years old; to be a producer, writer, director is something that has evolved over the years.
What is your professional inspiration: I'm inspired by women who are able to pave the way for other women, particularly in the theatre and film worlds, where gender parity is a big challenge. Lucille Ball comes to mind.
Greatest accomplishment: Writing, directing and producing my play, Baby GirL. My goal in life is to inspire others. I know of a few women who wrote their stories, after seeing my play….winning awards and nominations was yummy icing on the cake.
What is your dream job or role: To direct and produce the movie version of Baby GirL.
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: A novelist with a home in the mountains overlooking a lake.
Hobbies: Going to plays, live music, kayaking, jogging, hanging out with close friends or my dogs, writing, reading, spending time in Manhattan.
Favorite movie: Tootsie or The Wizard of Oz (I'm so gay!)
Who would play you in a movie: Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, young Jessica Lange or Charlize Theron. I love these women, because they're strong and talented.
What books are on your bedside table: The Four Agreements and The Power of Now
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Dill pickles, dark chocolate, pistachios
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem (although she's living, she's historical) and Lucille Ball
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Greek Islands, guess which one
Last words: “Be true to yourself and everything else will follow.”
Artistic Director, Zoetic Stage
(Photo credit: Stuart Meltzer)
Number of years in position: 4
Hometown: Miami. I grew up Kendall. I went to Kendale Elementary School and then onto Glades. I attended Miami Killian for a minute.
Family: My partner, Michael McKeever, and our incredible daughter, China. She is a Boston Terrier. She is two and enjoys doing tricks for food, running in the backyard and barking at birds.
School/University/Training: BFA, New World School of the Arts/UF; MFA, The Actors' Studio/New School University
Self-portrait: Charming, funny, ambitious, creative, thoughtful, intelligent and grumpy
Favorite saying or motto: "If you can dream it, you can do it" – Walt Disney. Also, from the great Zach Braff: "Where's my fucking shabbos?"
Pet peeves: Stupidity, arrogance, the GOP
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: From the age of three, I was singing and dancing. I was addicted to Judy Garland's A Star is Born record at that age and she taught me how to sing. I swear to God this is true.
Greatest accomplishment: This question gives me heart palpitations.
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: (Walter Mitty fantasy) Classical composer. I'd love to be Philip Glass, Arvo Part and Shostakovitch rolled into one brooding Jew.
Hobbies: I pretend to be a gourmet cook. I also love photography.
Favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz, Schindler's List, The Ice Storm, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Virgin Spring, Fanny and Alexander, La Strada, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Interiors and so many more
Who would play you in a movie: Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, Jake Gyllenhaal or any other myriad of Hebrew hotties
What books are on your bedside table: I am going to change this question to my favorite playwrights – Tony Kushner, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and my husband, Michael McKeever
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Wilting fresh baby spinach. Always mean to eat it, but never quite do.
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Judy Garland, Golda Meir and Madeline Kahn
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Anyplace with Michael
Last words: “I like long walks on the beach, kissing, public displays of affection and %*!@ing.”
Owner, World Erotic Art Museum, Miami Beach
(Photo credit: Naomi Wilzig)
Number of years in position: 8 years
Hometown: Newark, N.J.
Family: Widow, three children, four grandchildren
School/University/Training: Some education at Montclair State Teachers College, Montclair, N.J.
Favorite saying or motto: “If you are going to do something, do it the best you can.”
Pet peeves: Antique shows that charge you to come in and spend your money. People who use cell phones during meals and meetings. Beeping horns when traffic is at a standstill.
How old were you when you decided to follow this career path: 58
Who were your mentors: Charlie Cinnamon’s guidance and advice and J.C. Harris’s help
Greatest accomplishment: Educating people about human sexuality and the similarities of people
What is your dream job or role: To leave my art collection intact so it will continue to both educate and entertain people
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: Photograph images I see in cloud formations
Hobbies: Collecting antiques, books, TV and slot machines. Aging has cancelled my karaoke and tennis.
Favorite movie: The Way We Were
Who would play you in a movie: Talia Shire
What books are on your bedside table: My five books on erotic art
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Ice cream, ice cream, and ice cream
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: Sigmund Freud, Golda Meir and Josephine Baker
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Paris
Last words: “Protect your good name. It’s priceless.”
Susan T. Danis
General Director and CEO, Florida Grand Opera
Age: Older than I act
Number of Years: Just one
Hometown: Waterbury, Conn., but I consider New York City my hometown
Family: Boyfriend/partner or whatever is PC these days, Tom
Pets: Two nine-month-old cats that are brother and sister, Max and Ophelia
School/University/Training: BS, Indiana University; MBA, University of Hartford’s Paris (France) Program
Self-portrait: Hard-working perfectionist
Favorite saying or motto: “If you do the same, you get the same.”
Pet peeves: People who lack intellectual curiosity
Best kept secret: I’m a gourmet cook.
Greatest accomplishment: Raising $20 million and completing the total renovation of the Sarasota Opera House. It’s beautiful.
What is your dream job or role: The one I have.
If you couldn't be doing this, what would you do: A Neurologist or a Quantum Physicist, both the brain and string theory fascinate me.
Favorite movie: I am bad at picking one of anything. Of semi-recent cinema, La Vie en Rose.
Who would play you in a movie: Annette Funicello? I guess it depends on looks or character!
What books are on your bedside table: Secrets of the Flesh; A Life of Colette (rereading), I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation: And Other Quotations from Oscar Wilde (always inspiring and entertaining), The Tragedies of William Shakespeare
Name three things you always have in your refrigerator or cupboard: Champagne, espresso and Coke Zero
What three people from history would you invite to a dinner party: May I invite four? Mozart, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and Colette
Place you'd most like to be stranded: Paris
Last words: “I already said too much!”