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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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Milwaukee Talks: John McGivern


The highly anticipated Milwaukee return engagement of the hilarious whodunit, SHEAR MADNESS, comes to the Marcus Center's Vogel Hall Oct. 15, 2002 - Jan. 19, 2003. Milwaukee’s own, John McGivern will once again star as "Tony Whitcomb," the hairstylist and owner of Shear Madness Salon. Get your tickets now, because "Shear" is funny, quirky and darn-right fun.

The man behind "Shear Madness" is a Milwaukeean. And he has some interesting perspectives on Milwaukee's character, comforts and class. He grew up on the East Side on Bartlett Ave., went to St. Peter and Paul Grade School and as he told us was blessed to live in a city neighborhood with people like the "Wasielewskis, the Jesowsheks, ... the Levys, the McGiverns, the Dulans." The neighborhood "was German, Polish, Irish, Italian, Jewish. So many kids, and porches that men sat on until the end of October."

For McGivern, "there was a string attached to my heart that never ever broke. No matter where I left to and moved to -- and I've lived everywhere -- there was always some softness in my heart for Milwaukee."

McGivern is back in Milwaukee, for now, and recently he talked with us about the city and his impressions of a "new" Milwaukee.

OMC:Compare and contrast Milwaukee to the other cities you have lived in.

JM:I've lived in Chicago, L.A., Atlanta, Washington DC, Florida for a bit and San Francisco. And, I've worked and performed everywhere. In Milwaukee, when someone doesn't like you, they say 'I don't like you.' And you go other places, like L.A., and they say, 'oh, I love you' when they hate you. What I miss most is the midwest perspective and attitude.

I love how reasonable life is here. And that's in all areas, financially and otherwise. But, the climate is a bitch!

OMC: Tell us about it!

JM: I've been cold until last Thursday. Now I'm really hot. Last week there was a hurricane, too. What the heck is that?

OMC: But, weather aside, there's a way about Milwaukee...right?

JM: I just love the fact that life is easy here. It's easy traffic-wise. It's easy to get to places. People who have only lived here need to get out and see what it's like out there, in other places. Parking is so cheap and easy in Milwaukee!

OMC: You got back here in February. Did you hear the talk about the Blue Shirt?

JM: Yeah. I'm on Dave & Carol on WKLH a lot, and when we talked about it ... I loved the fact that people were talking about public art. Amazing! No matter if you loved it, hated it, didn't care about it, it was great to have a dialogue.

And look at the Art Museum! Amazing! There is our baby. The city is cool! Although I would love to see a Chicago Cow-type public art from our local artists in downtown. That would be cool. Public art is such an important aspect of a community. I loved the Blue Shirt concept. Get over it with the 'oh, de gonna dink we blue collar' attitude!

OMC: There's some talk about re-designing the city's flag. What icons would you put on?

JM: Oh, I saw this on your poll. I voted for the Art Museum. And I was so bummed that beer was coming in second As a gay man in recovery -- 12 years without a drink -- don't put beer on a city flag! Look at what we have architecturally here in Milwaukee, there's so much. Don't put beer on it, people will make fun of it. If we gotta put something German on the flag, make it sausage or a brat. Just no beer.

McGivern is the author and star of four one-man shows. His first, "Midwest Side Story," opened to rave reviews at the Baliwick Theater in Chicago. McGivern toured 25 cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and his hometown of Milwaukee.

He opened his second show "More Midwest Side Stories" and continued touring. His third show, "John McGivern Live," and his fourth, "One of the Boys: Stories from the Midwest," have received critical acclaim all over the country.

He is currently playing the role of Tony Whitcomb in the long-running comedy hit, "Shear Madness" and has played the same role in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Tampa, St. Paul, and San Francisco.

Look for McGivern as Bruce McIntosh, the trolley driver in the Disney release of Garry Marshall's new film, "The Princess Diaries," starring Julie Andrews, scheduled for nationwide release in August.

He was last seen on television on HBO in the all-gay special, "We're Funny That Way," a comedy documentary filmed in Toronto at the world's largest gay and lesbian comedy festival. He's also seen in "Out There II," the all-gay comedy special on Comedy Central. For tickets to McGivern's one-man show or "Shear Madness" call (414) 273-7206.

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