Dabbling, Addiction, and Zombie Dad

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. This year I have decided to give up lenting for drink.

2.

The fans of the Disney’s Zombies musical series (in which I play Zed’s zombie dad, Zevon) are awesome. And they create a lot of fantastic art, but this meme created by a Romanian fan takes the crown. The idea of drug lord Pablo Escobar watching the series is fantastic alone—but for him to fall into a deep, listless depression because it’s over and he will now have to wait until the next installment is inspired fucking brilliance.

3. The upside of playing an asshole on stage is that when someone in the audience is coughing all over your lines, it just pisses you off and makes you an even bigger asshole. Thanks, coughers!!!

4. Just using this space because I can to remind everyone that I am offering a two-day Auditioning for the Camera Intensive on Saturday March 7th and Saturday March 14th. It takes place on College near Palmerston from 10-6pm both days. The form to fill out is available here. I don’t do these very often because I am too busy doing all of the work I got from auditioning myself.

5. Any award that you can win BY having the most family and friends vote for you is really nothing more than an award FOR having the most family and friends vote for you.

I honestly have no idea how winning one could possibly mean anything to anybody. And even more baffling to me is why anybody would bother to give out an award if they don’t actually give a fuck who wins it.

6. Best Fucking Line on Facebook of the Week:

7. Had a good chat with Daniel MacIvor last week about addiction, where I am at, and where I have been. He is and always has been a great support and encourages me to call him when I am in crisis. I told him that, like most addicts, when I am in crisis is when I am least likely to call anyone. He suggested I may need a bigger support group that the one featured in the Nappoholics photo, which made me laugh because it was, obviously, funny, but also so astutely insightful. That photo speaks more truth about the history of my personal recovery than I had ever realized, or probably ever wanted the world to know.

8. Guest Post of the Week: (I love this fucking guy)

9. Artist of the Week:

“There are creative people who really focus on one thing, one medium. I really admire them. But I’m a dabbler. I decided a long time ago that this was okay.” These are the words Linda Kash answered me with when I approached her about a recent painting she posted. This piece here is a painting of her daughter, Dylan, in San Miguel. We talked a bit about what draws people to painting and art. “I’m trying to figure it all out,” she says. “The search for truth?” I posit. “It’s an embellished reality,” she replies. “It’s prettier than what was there. Wires. Garbage. I chose to leave those things out, probably because it was such a perfect day with my kid.”

And that’s a part of it, I think, isn’t it? With art. In art. We speak a lot about truth. Or capturing and representing life and moments that communicate a universal thought or feeling that is so ultimately human that it can be experienced by someone who is looking at the piece—or watching the play or film, listening to the song—a hundred years from now. But the vision, the communication, is always relative. The artist has no objective responsibility to be true to a subject. They need only be true to themselves and honestly relate their own experience, whatever that may be; an editorializing or personalizing of the subject so that an audience may see or feel what the artist saw or felt in a given moment in time. Linda works in acrylics because she says it easier to go back and fix the many mistakes she makes. There is no link to her other works because she has only made two paintings so far. But you can always catch her on a stage, in a classroom, improvising, voicing an animated character, on a cream cheese cloud, or on a Seinfeld rerun. She’s everywhere. Big respect and love to you, my friend (sometimes wife, sometimes daughter). Dabble On, Motherfucker!

10.

I told my daughter (whom I called the Uber for) that it was just a matter of time before this day would come.

11. Top 5 Things That Moved Me to Tears Last Week:

1. JoJo Rabbit tying his mother’s shoes.

2. KD Lang singing “Hallejulah.”

3. A very private moment with a very, very special friend.

4. When Zed and Addison sing the “Someday” refrain at the Prawn at the end of Zombies 2.

5. The final curtain call for Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.

12. I’ve never (knowingly) worked with a trans actor before. Until now, of course. Because I just finished working with Xavier Lopez on stage in Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, which closed on Sunday. For a month we worked together every day and I tried to be as supportive and encouraging as a veteran should be to a young actor tackling such a big and demanding part—especially when that actor is “the baby” in a cast composed entirely of already very accomplished actors.

Everything seemed to be going just fine. Every day, Xavier was growing—same as all of us—Weyni wasn’t easy on him or any of us as she strove to find all the right balances and notes to maximize the impact of this brilliant play. Then, one day, about a month into the process, I posted a photo on Instagram and tagged Xavier, which brought me to his Instagram page for a quick perusal. And the first thing I saw in his profile was the hashtag #TRANSACTOR. I swear to God, my first thought was, “Oh. I wonder what he was before he was an actor.” Then, I scrolled down through his photos only to discover that he had, only three short years before now, more or less, been… I’m not even sure what the correct phrase to use is, except maybe to say that he was born female. This information blew my fucking mind because he was just a dude to me. A tiny one, which I often broke his balls about, but 100 percent guy to me, through and through. And we had had many private conversations, by this point—both personal and work related—chewing on scenes or moments and how we might be able to unlock some shit and where it was all headed. Lots of checking in. A handful of texts. My point is we were very much involved in each other’s day to day.

So, when this information hit me, I immediately raced through my memories of our interactions, the way I spoke to him or physically handled him (which I do a bit of in the show). I couldn’t recall anything he or I might have been embarrassed by. I did refer to his wardrobe as doll clothes a few times, but that was a size issue more than anything else. I also wondered why nobody had informed me that he was trans—and quickly concluded that it was because there was no reason to. It was irrelevant as anything more than a curiosity and likely would have affected the way I treated him whether it had been conscious on my part or not.

Next thing I had was, probably predictably, an impulse to say things to him like “You are all man to me, brother.” As if being a man was some kind of compliment I was trying to pay him. But he isn’t a CIS man. We aren’t the same physically. He and I have different genitalia. Would I be insulting him to say he was a man, in my books? Was that a condescending statement, in and of itself, despite my intent? And who the fuck was I to validate or congratulate or give permission to someone for simply being who they are? Should I say nothing at all? Or would that have just been an act of cowardice? It couldn’t possibly achieve anything but highlight my own ignorance to think I could give him a passing grade as a man. At the end of all of my ME thoughts, I think I settled on wanting to just express admiration to him for being who he was and the way he was doing it. To let him know that I loved him and cared for him and had his back no matter where, when or what—if he ever needed me. And that is ultimately what I did. Literally and exactly.

But first, I was faced with the dilemma of how to bring this new discovery up without sounding like an asshole. Luckily, I had been texting Rachel Cairns that day and she was a mutual friend who asked me to say hi for her, which I did. Xavi said that he had guest starred on one of her web series playing her lover. I don’t remember his exact words, but they were something to the effect of, “We were great friends but then she cast me as her lover, and she had to spend the whole day going down on my pussy.”

Ah, I thought. This seems to be as good an opening as any to address the subject. I’m pretty sure I said something very much like, “Yeah. About that pussy. I didn’t know you had one…”

And none of the rest matters except we’ve had a lot of laughs and a lot of personal conversations both ways about both of our lives. I’m not trying to sound condescending or look like I am trying to be rewarded in any way when I say that I love this motherfucker and am in awe of him. Not just for tackling a huge and demanding role and fulfilling it in every way imaginable so relatively soon into his transition, but for simply honouring himself by being who he is and walking in the world that way without apology.

I waited until the run was over to share this so that people who didn’t know him who came to the show would just watch Xavier’s work the same as they would watch any other actor’s work on the stage. Because his work is rock solid, and he is a part of a true ensemble of actors on that stage, without any footnotes or asterisks to separate him in any way.

‘Til the next time, Droopy Dogg. Keep keeping your shit real and the world around you and meatheads like me honest and accountable. Always remember, from this point forward, that anyone who fucks with you is fucking with me. I love ya, ya little fucker.


5 Responses to “Dabbling, Addiction, and Zombie Dad”

  1. I kind of love all of this fucking inspirational goodness you’re throwing out into this marble we’re spinning on. 👊🏼❤️

  2. I love this! It’s my first time checking it out and it’s beautiful, thought provoking and funny. Just like you!! I’m signing up to receive weekly. xo

  3. Thanks, Robert and Ingrid. I love you both. Together and individually. I’m glad we crossed paths during the brief time we have in this life. Thanks for your support.

  4. You’re amazing, Tony. The essence of compassion and straight talking. You’re blessing a helluvalotta folks, babe. Thank you! I’m deeply sorry I couldn’t see your show. Huge hugs, and hey, if you get a chance, text Mackenzie. My son Carson T. Foster (key rigging grip, living in Vancouver now) visited his special bro on Monday. Texting works best for starters. Big hugs, Tony. Pam Hyatt

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Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.