Charles Sanchez is one busy New Yorker. There’s the writing he does for nearly all of the major HIV outlets, his regular Instagram show featuring community notables, and then his dashes to the gym to contend with the five pounds, give or take, that continue to mock him despite the high level of fitness he maintains. And, oh yes, on this day there is the proper choice of costume to select.
“I’ve picked out a feather boa,” he tells me by phone with the breathlessness of Diane Nyad at the halfway point of the English channel, “and now I’m looking at women’s glasses. I might wear a pair for one of my characters.”
Those characters will populate, through an evening of song, his one-man cabaret show, Life is Fabulous, slated for Saturday, November 4th at the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City.
We make our best attempt to begin the interview but the subject of theater, and of BROADWAY! pops up for no particular reason – that’s a lie, there’s always a reason, usually as an opportunity for Charles to dish about the shows he has seen, wants to see, has heard rumors about or cannot forget.
“Did you know I saw Starlight Express with the original Broadway cast including Jane Krakowski and Andrea McArdle?” he asks, rhetorically, about the disastrous Andrew Lloyd Weber musical of the 1980s. “Everyone was on roller skates. It was ridiculous! It is unrevivable. They had so many injuries!”
His own show may not be as physically treacherous but will still require him to sing an assortment of songs written especially for him over the years by his friend and collaborator Joel B. New, the award-winning composer who wrote music for one of Charles’ first forays into video production, Manhattan Man Travels, many years ago. Since then, Joel has featured Charles in many of his own original musical projects, while Charles called upon Joel to write the song, “The More You Can Ho,” (a video that must be seen to be believed, below) for a video project that featured Merce, the character Charles created for his remarkable musical comedy web series about a gay New Yorker living with HIV.
So, Life is Fabulous is an encore of all of that music, a celebration of a productive musical partnership, and something else as well.
“I’m not dead. That’s what we’re celebrating,” Charles says. “That’s basically it. Twenty years ago, who would have known I’d be doing a cabaret show with music written for me? Unbelievable!”
Indeed. It is particularly astonishing because, twenty years ago, Charles Sanchez awoke from a lengthy coma after being found unconscious in his apartment. One of the first things he was told after waking up was the reason for his serious medical emergency: he had AIDS.
Since then, anniversaries of his diagnosis have come and gone, but this year, at the twenty year mark, Charles knows the time is right to put on a show, a dream he has had since he was 19 years old. Even so, he refuses to allow the topic of HIV to upstage him. Only one song, “The More You Can Ho,” deals directly with the virus that nearly brought down the lights on his ambitions, if not his life.
“We had AI write the press release for Life is Fabulous, just to see what it would say,” Charles offers with typical transparency, “and it came back with all these over-the-top superlatives. And we just made it even more ridiculous. Why not? I mean, the thing says I’m ‘a beacon to many.’ A beacon of what? That’s the question.”
On November 4th at the Laurie Beechman Theater, the stars will align around Charles Sanchez and the show he once thought unimaginable will become a reality. It has a musical director with a Broadway pedigree, a small live band, and a glamorous venue. “Not only will I do this concert,” Charles says mischievously, “I’m wearing sequins.”
To find out what pair of women’s glasses he selected, you’ll just have to buy a ticket for $25.00 and see for yourself.