Mart Crowley and John Epperson at Pee-wee Herman’s Broadway opening in 2010.

In this second part of our podcast with The Boys in the Band playwright and surrealist performer, writer, and pianist John Epperson (AKA Lypsinka), we talk about why Mississippians of our ilk make it out of the state and thrive in other climes.  John talks about one of the first times he met Mart, who had Roddy McDowall and Hope Lange in tow.  And Mart, who was broke at the time, tells us about writing The Boys in the Band after subletting his apartment to a Hungarian actor who was making a film at Paramount.  He was then invited by an old friend, actress Diana Lynn who was married to the scion of the Dorothy Schiff publishing fortune, to watch their kids in their Bel-Air mansion while they went on a cruise through the Panama Canal.  He wrote the play in their library while working as a stand-by nanny in case any of the children got injured in their absence.   Their ten-year-old son Matthew would come to the door of the library where Mart was typing away and ask what he was working on.  “I”m writing a play about some of our friends,” he told the boy.  And he then tells us about the time even earlier in his life when he was working as Sidney Lumet’s assistant on Tennessee Williams’s The Fugitive Kind, which starred Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward and Anna Magnani, and found himself hanging out with Williams, who himself was born in Mississippi.  Want to hear one Mississippi boy – Mart – talk about another Mississippi boy – Tenn – and how they became for a short time a merry band themselves one drunken night with Tenn’s lover Frank Merlo manning the blender?  Then click on the link below.  It’s a hoot.

  • Kevin Sessums is the author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs, Mississippi Sissy and I Left It on the Mountain.

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