Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winners Circle

It's midnight and I'm at New York City's Flaming Saddles, where well-muscled men strut along the bartop and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (I think) plays silently on giant screens behind the bar. I'm rocking a rented tuxedo and clutching a trophy and dancing with Pretty the Series' awesome, scene-stealing Dee Freeman, who knows all the words to "Don't Stop Believin'," and the whole bar is going apeshit, because even in a country-western gay bar in Hell's Kitchen, everyone goes apeshit when "Don't Stop Believin'" comes on. And I feel like a rock star because the trophy in my hand says that Ragged Isle has been named Best Web Series (Drama) at the Third Annual Indie Soap Awards, which I've just attended with a bunch of Ragged Isle pals, and where we (and by "we," I mean Barry Dodd) also won Best Director (Drama) and Best Cinematography. And everything and everyone is awesome, and the party is far, far from over.

Wait. Let me back up.

In January, we learned that Ragged Isle had been nominated for eight Indie Soap Awards, placing us in such prestigious company as Aidan 5, DeVanity, Out With Dad, Thurston, Anacostia, Sundays, California Heaven, and Pretty, to name but a few of the amazing series up for recognition.

Which is how Best Actor nominee Rick Dalton, Best Director (and Cinematography) nominee Barry Dodd, Best Series nominee Karen Dodd, and Best Writing nominee, um, me (along with everyone else in the car, as well as Jacob Lear) ended up piled into a car together to drive from Maine to New York City for the awards ceremony. On the way down, Barry and I somehow got it into our heads that it would be hilarious if we were to sing the old Gatorade jingle as an acceptance speech, which led to us to belting out in the car (many, many times) "Gatorade is thirst aid / For that deep down body thirst!", to the ongoing delight of our car-mates. Barry made me promise to sing it if we won for Best Writing, which we did not (probably fortunately, now that I think about it).

The venue for the Indie Soap Awards was snazzy and swank, complete with a genuine red carpet and paparazzi and microphones and questions from the entertainment press, including, predictably, "Who are you wearing?", to which I could only reply, "Strictly Formal, Auburn, Maine."

Mingling around the open bar were soap stars of TV and the web, including the aforementioned Dee Freeman, whom Barry very much wanted to tell that she was his favorite actor on the Internet, but shyness held him back until we pushed him into it -- and I'm glad we did, because she ended up presenting the award for Best Director to him, and partly because of their earlier interaction, he got to hold her in a long, long hug before delivering his acceptance speech.

But I'm getting ahead of myself again. The ceremony proper kicked off with a musical number performed by soap star Colleen Zenk, who flubbed a line a few seconds into the song and gutsily (and charmingly) insisted on starting over. After the ceremony, I got to tell her how brave I thought that was, and she couldn't have been more gracious and delightful.

The first three awards we were up for (Best Writing, Best Ensemble, Fans' Choice), we didn't win, and with each non-win, I could feel each of us, introverts all, relax a little bit -- especially Barry. But then Dee Freeman announced Barry for Best Director and it felt like my chest would explode with joy. That's when Barry got up and hugged Dee, and hugged her and hugged her and hugged her until her co-presenter pried them apart. A visibly moved Barry then delivered a charming and humble speech, thanking the people we had written down on a piece of cardboard moments before the ceremony. He then started to walk away from the podium, but quickly raced back when he realized he hadn't yet thanked his wife, Ragged Isle producer and assistant director Karen Dodd. It was quite cute and I can't wait to share the moment once the ceremony shows up on video.

When Barry won again for Best Cinematography, he got up there and said, "First of all, I'd like to thank my wife, Karen Dodd," which (deservedly) got a huge laugh.

Finally, it was down to the last award of the night, Best Web Series (Drama), presented by soap star Michael O'Leary (Dr. Rick Bauer on Guiding Light). And then he said, "Ragged Isle," and I thought to myself, "Did he just say 'Ragged Isle'?", but I was also screaming and jumping around, so part of me knew he had. As all of us raced down to the stage, Barry whispered to me that I would have to speak, because he was acceptance-speeched out. But when we got to the stage, I saw that my awesomely cool and talented friend Rick Dalton was already at the podium, thank God, because words were no longer forming in my head. The cast and crew in attendance milled behind Rick, grinning stupidly and exchanging hugs, as Rick said something that none of us (including him) can remember. But I'm sure it was awesome. And I'm also sure it was NOT, "Gatorade is thirst aid / For that deep down body thirst!"

After the awards, it was on to the after-party at Flaming Saddles, which went on and on and on and included much, much dancing and drinking and dancing and celebrating and dancing and singing ("Don't Stop Believin'") and dancing and hugging and hugging and hugging. All of the other web series makers in attendance were incredibly awesome and gracious and friendly and welcoming and smart and fun, and when the bar closed at 4 a.m., the "Ragged Isle" crew wasn't quite ready to call it a night, carrying the celebration over to an all-night diner.

At 4:30 a.m., it was finally time for me to head downtown to where I was staying (thanks, Kate!). When I lived in the city years ago, there were many late nights in which I would wait forever for a subway to arrive. But the moment I stepped onto the platform, the train was pulling into the station. I sauntered aboard, still decked out in my tux and still clutching the award.

"It's that kind of night," I thought to myself.


  1. You guys are so unbelievably gracious and genuine. Everyone fell in love with your entire gang. So proud of you all!!

    1. Thank you, Michael. We are HUGE fans of DeVanity and so proud to be included in your company and humbled to be welcomed to the party.

  2. It was such a pleasure to meet everyone from Ragged Isle. What an fun post to read tonight. Talent coupled with class and charm, you are all going places!

    1. Thanks, Roger. And thank you for welcoming us into the community. We're thrilled to be a part of it.

  3. Thanks for writing this Greg. What a wonderful recap of our adventure in NY. I wish with all my heart that you could get paid to write. Your words move people. Michael, your friendship means so much to me and it is because of people like you, we have felt so welcome. Roger, I'll never forget the wonderful gathering that you, Damon, Kevin, Todd & Stewart put on. Everyone won everything that night. There's no other way to put it.

    1. Barry -- Ragged Isle has been the adventure of a lifetime, thanks to your leadership and vision. Thank you, my friend.