by BeBe Sweetbriar

Their Baloney has a first name it’s A-L-L-M-A-L-E! Their Baloney has a second name it’s R-E-V-U-E! That’s right! San Francisco’s first and only gay All-Male Revue called Baloney comes to Oasis, the city’s newest gay venue, and it promises to take those vintage fantasies out of our heads and project them right on the stage before our very eyes. Peek-a-boo, I see you! Creators and longtime collaborators, Michael Phillis (director) and Rory Davis (choreographer), have developed Baloney using vintage male erotica as their inspiration. The cabaret-style performance will feature sweaty, sexy, scantily-clad men (yippee) set in choreographed vignettes. The part theater, part peep show, all-male revue will use characters such as the hot-and-bothered businessman, the randy cowboys, pumped wrestlers and the sleazy pizza boy to play out those steamy fantasies in our heads that we could only wish, until now, to see in person. “We based the show on fantasies and male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself,” says co-creator Phillis about show’s vignettes.

In addition to Phillis and Davis, the creative team includes drag superstar Heklina, who along with being a co-owner of Oasis, acts as a co-producer of Baloney. But with any all-male peep show, the hoorah belongs to those we will be peeping at. The Baloney Boys are Davis, James Martin and Adam Roy (both appeared in D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne), Shaun Mullen, Moe Arikat, Alex Steinhaus, Tim Wingert and Aaron Sarazan. “Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off,” commented Davis about the cast of Baloney.

I had an opportunity to speak with Michael and Rory over the phone about their new project to mostly satisfy my curiosity, but also to further delve into the premise behind the show, what the audience can expect beyond a sexual charge, the journey the show plans to take us on, and where does it go after its premiere. And as usual, these guys didn’t fail to answer all we want to know.

BeBe: Congratulations, guys, on the creation and world premiere of
your All-Male Revue Baloney. I guess I don’t have to ask what the
“baloney” means.

Michael: Thanks so much. We are really excited about this. As far as
the name goes, it is kind of one of those things where we came up

BALONEY Director & Co-creator Michael Phillis
BALONEY Director & Co-creator Michael Phillis

with in a funny working title that we planned to change later, but nothing better came along. It is all about the “baloney”. The only thing we did change was originally we had it spelled like the Oscar Mayer B-O-L-O-G-N-A. Then we thought let’s process meat more fun
and use B-A-L-O-N-E-Y as in poking fun at something which is whatthis review is all about.

BeBe: As put out in your press release, Baloney is part theater and part peep show. Can you tell me how both of those elements are being combined?

Michael: The fun for us was coming up with the stories behind these numbers. We wanted to have something that was completely immersive which is why we wanted it to be part theater. So, when you
walk through the door (at Oasis SF), we want to bring you somewhere
new. We are taking the audience back in time a little bit. The vintage
feel was very important to us. We based the show on fantasies and
male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will
be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios
can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself.

BeBe: So, are we talking red lights on the street with a guy
underneath a light pole on a street corner waiting for…yada yada

Rory: You know what’s up, BeBe.

Michael: Exactly! We have certain characters that are featured during
the show and some of them are based on profession, like penned-up
businessman. There’s like a heatwave in the office and what does that
do to the boys? And then we have cowboys with one in a white hat and another in a black hat representing the good and bad coming together and sexually charged. We have the high school wrestlers who are seeing the sex education video in class and then they get towrestling on the mat and all of their sexual frustrations come out. All of these are taking ideas from pornography and erotica and putting them on stage in a peep show element. Similar to a burlesque show, this is all about the journey and not so much the destination.

Rory: It’s so much more sexy to see someone unbutton their shirt
than to see them shirtless.

BeBe: But, there will be complete nudity? Or, partial?

Michael: Because of the venue, complete nudity is problematic.
There are only certain places where that is allowed. We’ll just say we
will take you as far as we can take you.

BeBe: Hearing about these vignettes and scenarios that you are
doing, and recalling your stage show WunderWorld (based on a
grown-up Alice in Wonderland) and how it was completely mimed, will
the guys in Baloney be acting out these scenarios without dialogue?

Michael: Yes, we wanted something that could be done without
words. We have some of the, I think, hottest, sexiest music from the
era we take you to. We chose music that is provocative to be the
backdrop of these numbers. So, the whole show is done, similar to
WunderWorld as you pointed out, without any words spoken on stage.
Everything is done through movement and action and interaction. We
do, however, have a host. So, between the acts you get this host that
is also a sort of character of that era that will be bringing you through
the story and setting up the acts.

BeBe: Rory, you are the choreographer as well as the co-producer of
this show, and is your direction in these scenarios heavy on dancing
or on acting out the scenarios to relay what you are trying to say in
the scenes?

BALONEY Choreographer & Co-creator Rory Davis
BALONEY Choreographer & Co-creator Rory Davis

Rory: It’s funny because I hand picked each of the guys in the show. And, the scenarios we are presenting in the show were created before we knew who was going to do the show. Then after I knew in my mind how we wanted these scenes to play out, I reached out to these guys knowing their skill sets. Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off. It’s interesting too because with this theme we are presenting, I really had to spend a lot of time individually with each of the guys because they weren’t skeptical, but wary of what we were doing. What is the story we were presenting? And, how would they be presented on stage? That was really great to me because it sort of showed how intelligent they were as artists. Their skepticism was encouraging to me, and when I spoke with them they were all in.

Michael: They didn’t really know what they were jumping into, and
we didn’t have much in the way of comparison.

Rory: What we said is that it’s sort of like Magic Mike where the guys
are all into each other. So, there is explosive hot dance , but there is
also a lot of character moving. So to answer your initial question on
choreography, there is a little bit of both dance and acting through

BeBe:  Baloney is premiering Friday, February 20th
at one of San Francisco’s hottest new clubs Oasis, which lists drag superstar Heklina
and playwright extraordinaire/actor D’Arcy Drollinger amongst its co-
owners. I think the space is a wonder location for you to showcase
this because it offers so much in the area of performance
accommodation. So many places here in San Francisco that we
perform at were not built to be a performance venue. But, Oasis was
remodeled when purchased with performance in mind. So with that,
how excited are you to be bringing this particular show in its premiere
to the Oasis?

Michael: So excited! It already feels like home after only being open
for a little more than a month. As we walked in there and saw the
stage with this beautiful proscenium around it. With the amazing
lights all dotted and lit up in a sexy way around that proscenium, it really looks like an old-school peep.

The proscenium around the Oasis stage.
The proscenium around the Oasis stage.

The idea that the curtain opens up and you see the man, woman or whatever on the stage and as soon as your money runs out that curtain closes, that all
fits in here. Even though the venue is brand new it has that classic feeling to it.

BeBe: When I first saw the inside of Oasis it reminded me of the old carnival shows that used to go from city to city. Very American Horror Story to me in it’s feel.

Rory: It was Michael who saw this vision of this show the minute he
saw the stage.

BeBe:  Baloney, this all-male revue is something that you
don’t see here in San Francisco. It is very New York. You see all-male
revue shows a lot there, many of them being performed by Broadway
performers between gigs and what-not. And I say that because I think
that is why those shows have that class element to them. You know?
Like you say, it’s more about the journey than the destination. Or
something that drag queens are all to familiar with, the illusion and
idea of something is far more sexy and alluring than the act itself.
With aloney, I am hearing from you that these stories are taking us
on a journey with intent to create sensual imagery that feeds our

Rory: From the opening moment of the show until closing minutes
there is a through-line, but everything won’t click until that moment.
We worked very carefully on the through-line so that by the time the
lights go down there is a complete story being told.

Michael: Rory and I have been directing shows for years in San
Francisco, and my specific goal was to make the people who are
coming out to see the boys happy, but we want to make the actors,
directors and theater folks out there happy as well. So we are hitting
both of those markets, and we think this show’s through-line
effectively appeases both.

Rory: Definitely deeper than your average peep show!

BeBe: You guys are promoting this as a one-off, one night only
event. This can’t be just a one-off! I hope you are planning on making
this a regular show whether at Oasis or elsewhere.

Rory: Something we are definitely working toward. After working
together on this with the guys, we’re finding this is some of the most
fun that we’ve had and we have been doing theater and dance and
film and drag stuff for years now. This has been a delight to do. I
think aloney will be both completely entertaining and surprisingly
challenging for the audience that see it. But one of the reasons we are
doing this at Oasis is because the owners there, being a new venue,
are willing to take some risks, and they have expressed somethings
that they would like to do with the night. But we want you to
experience the vintage journey we are taking you on by being there,
by personally experiencing it. You know, if you weren’t there you
missed it. That’s one of the reasons, along with out of respect for the
guys on stage, will be enforcing a no photo or video policy during the

BeBe: I like the no photo/no video policy. It sounds with your through-line that the audience attention is definitely required, and I am sure the entertainment value of the show will assure that. But,
today’s generation has become so used to camera phones and videos
and the ability to capture today what I can watch tomorrow, that
many times their reliance on such devices, I think, lessens their
attention span. For the audience to get this through-line, commanding
their full attention seems necessary. Also, out of respect for the
performers on stage and in an attempt for them not to be the next
“big” tweet or Instagram post, it is important to also not allow photos
and video. I think it adds to the integrity of the show.

Michael: Exactly. To be honest, this whole kind of policy came from
the fact that a lot of these guys (in the show), experienced and actors
and dancers who are not certainly shy about disrobing and what-not,
but there’s a difference between doing that before a live audience and
feeling the energy and being photographed by cameras and being all
over Facebook the next day. And to keep with the vintage theme,
where there were no iPhones, if you miss it, you’ve missed it.

BeBe: Well when you look at this roster of people involved with the
show from the stage performers, you two as creators and directors of
the show, Heklina and D’Arcy and all those involved at Oasis, you see
an arsenal of respected artists. We can instantly recall the projects
you have all been involved in and how wonderfully they have made us
feel. The draw to this show, cameras or no cameras, is our respect for
the artistry you all bring and the quality product you have always
presented. I want to see it just because of the that.

Michael: Thank you, BeBe. If this continues, we want this to
eventually be a place where you can come to be sexually positive and
get out there and g past your comfort zone because we will protect
you. You won’t be all over social media. You can have a professional
job and still and have this type of entertainment to explore.

BALONEYDirector Michael Phillis and Choreographer Rory Davis present
Baloney on Friday, February 20 at 7pm at OASIS 298 11th Street, San Francisco. For tickets and more info SFOASIS.COM



The 8Bit Inside Former Lady Gaga Producer Comes Out with Cary NoKey


                                        By BeBe Sweetbriar

You are a Grammy-winning songwriter. You have had number one hits with Destiny’s Child. You developed the biggest act to come along in decades in Lady Gaga. You’ve made millions of dollars. But, you can’t find yourself through any of this. That’s what happened to songwriter/producer Rob Fusari. After the end of his involvement with Lady Gaga, Fusari found himself lost without a way to recapture what he thought was the dream he should have been chasing. “I was at a lost to where to go. What do I do next?” says Fusari about his after-Gaga period. It was not until his search to find the magic through other artist failed to provide the answer did he realize that the artist he was seeking was already there, inside himself as 8Bit, the frontman and inspiration behind musical act Cary NoKey. This discovery was more about his real identity than it was about the music, however. “Not only was I able to find the music, but through this I was able to find who I really was,” Fusari says when speaking about his rebirth into 8Bit.

Cary NoKey's 8Bit and ValeNtino
Cary NoKey’s 8Bit and ValeNtino

8Bit and Cary Nokey have always been inside but unknowingly hidden and buried perhaps because it didn’t fit into the American Dream Fusari had been told to chase, a skewed dream he speaks about in his current single American Dream. Other songs like Be Who U Are also speak to 8Bit’s emergence as Fusari’s true self. These songs and a few others apart of Cary Nokey’s current set on tour as the opening act for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons Tour. “(My show) is in-line with the girls because it is about being comfortable in your own skin and putting it out there, but it’s also very different.”

Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race’s lead judge Michelle Visage,tonight, Feb 7, San Francisco’s Regency Theater becomes the venue privileged to stage performances from Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, Courtney Act, Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Raja and other Drag Race series favorites. But, I think there will also be a high level of interest in seeing Carey Nokey open for the drag stars. 8Bit believes “RuPaul folks are saying to their fans that this is something that we saw that was cool and liked it, and you should check it out too.”

I had an opportunity to speak with 8Bit while on the Battle of the Seasons Tour and chatted about his true-self discovery, the true meaning of the American Dream, standing behind his Fusari-written songs, and the release of his first full-length album.


BeBe: Over the past couple of years, you have likened your discovery of 8Bit, by which you are now called, to the discovery of a transgender person’s true self.

8Bit: Yes, very much.

BeBe: When did finding your 8Bit and your musical act, Cary Nokey, with ValeNtino happen for you?

8Bit: I was at a time in my career and my life where I was in a holding patter. I was not admitting that to myself, and I was kind of going in circles. I was coming out of the (Lady) Gaga project which had gotten so big, bigger than any of us could have imagined. When an artist gets that big, there’s nothing to do bigger with that artist at that point. They tour and promote and all that, but for a writer/producer it’s a bit different. I was feeling pushed out. But it was never about the accolades or recognition, it was about being apart of something, and I lost that. The Gaga project was my baby, so when I lost it, I was at a lost to where to go. What do I do next? There were so many new artists that were reaching out to me because they had learned that I developed Lady Gaga. They wanted to meet with me with hopes that I would want to develop them. I kind of fell into this thought of I’ll just find me another Gaga, and I’ll do it again. But, you know what, a Gaga or a David Bowie doesn’t walk into your studio everyday.

BeBe: No, those are phenomenons!


8Bit: Absolutely! That;s a great word for it. But, I was receiving over 100 emails a day a plethera of new artist from all over the world. So, I started to indulge and put myself into developing one, and another one…… I found out sooner rather than later that it wasn’t that simple. I met with a lot of artists and they just didn’t have that “thing”. Whenever a superstar walks into the room I always say that you can have your back turned to them when they walk in and your still going to feel that “thing” without knowing who it is. There’s a presence, a change in the room. Gaga had it even when she wasn’t a superstar. That’s how you know. So, I met with and recorded a ton of artists over the next couple of years. I tried to compensate for some of the artists by thinking if they’re not great on stage, maybe I can get them some bells and whistles. They don’t have a great look, but maybe I can get a stylist to style them differently. But al that didn’t work. And, I just started spiraling down at this point because nothing was sounding to me the way it had before. Nothing was gelling. I couldn’t find that artist.

BeBe: Maybe because you were looking externally, when that artist was within you.

8Bit: There you go! Long story short, one day, I nonchalantly wrote a song, not with a thought of who I would sell it to or anything. I just wrote it. And afterward, I thought about getting an artist to record the demo vocals, and then I thought I’ll just sing it. I wanted to hear it recorded the way I heard it in my head. So, I went to the studio to record the vocals. Later, I went out that evening and when I came back, there were a bunch of people round the mixing panel. Then one engineer turned to me and said “what are you doing? You are looking for an artist, and this is what I’m hearing from you?” I went silent. I couldn’t respond. But I could feel this crack in the sky with one little beam of light shining down. And, that day (February 26, 2013) Cary Nokey was born. I literally said that day was what it was all been for. Not only was I able to find the music, but through this I was able to find who I really was. I didn’t realize I was hiding and burying things. I was raised by my Mom and my aunts. I was always around women. I was in touch with my feminine side, but that was all I had thought of it. It wasn’t that I wanted to cross dress. It wasn’t that. But, I didn’t know how to show it.

BeBe: But what I see in 8Bit and Cary Nokey is no different then the imagery I saw in David Bowie, Elton John, and Boy George. I see all those rock stars who performed in their time when their stage expression was extraordinary, but not looked at as odd. They were rock stars!

8Bit: They weren’t put in a box. I think what started to happen is that it became a little odd, which is weird. Shouldn’t it have gone in the other direction? I think it became odd because of the popularity of rap music which is very masculine, very hard. But, there was always a culture after Bowie, there just wasn’t an artist for it. That’s why when Gaga came out, their was a voice for that again.Cary NoKey

BeBe: Do you think though that the public is saying that it’s okay for a Lady Gaga, a Beyonce or a Katy Perry who are female to be extravagant or drag queen-like, but it’s not okay for a male counterpart to do the same thing?

8Bit: Absolutely! I can’t explain it. For me, I grew up with a lot of Liberace. My mother loved Liberace. Going to his shows, I never thought twice about it. It was a different mindset. I don’t know how it went into this thing where it’s almost uncomfortable. I see it in people when I hit the stage. But, I’m okay with it. I can understand if you haven’t seen the likes of Bowie or what have you, you’re taken a back at first. They really don’t know how to process it.

BeBe: How has this discovery of who you are, or, I’m going to call it what it is, this rebirth….. how has it changed your music? You are the guy who wrote No, No, No for Destiny’s Child. You are the guy who produced Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga, and wrote Paparazzi and those types of songs. That’s not the sound of Cary Nokey.

8Bit: That’s a great question. (My rebirth) changed my music entirely. I never before thought of music as visual when I’d write songs and produce records. Music never came across my creativity screen as a visual element. I never thought how I’d perform it on stage, or how the video would look. It wasn’t until I took on the Gaga project hat I started thinking that way. Before I’d think about the radio, now I think about the stage. I want the music to translate to the stage the same way it translates to the radio. It’s funny because if I had this as a tool as a producer, it would have helped me tremendously. When you are writing for another artist, you can kind of hide behind the lyric because you aren’t the one delivering it. I wasn’t forced to visualize. When you are delivering (the lyric), you have to make people believe this is your story. These are your words. What changed is I had to now open up my life into song and tell my story, and be okay with it. I do a song called My Name is Lisa, and it’s about me being in my room when I was young, and I would think as myself as different female characters. I’d think about how I would walk, act and dress. You’re kind of revealing your soul in song, and then you actually reveal your soul when you go on stage and say this is a song I wrote.

BeBe: And, we have to believe you.

8Bit: That’s the only way it works is for you to believe me.

BeBe: You have a  Web Series  which is basically following you and ValeNtino as you do tour dates across the country. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the series is for you a way for you to help the public understand Rob Fusari vs. 8Bit or the movement from Rob to 8Bit?

8Bit: That’s actually very perceptive. It is true. Right now,whether it’s right or wrong, I’m doing it with a bit of “onetoe in the water” because it’s a life of Rock ‘n Roll. It’s a life out of mayhem. Think of it as….. as amazing and life changing it is to be reborn into someone I want to be and dreamed of, there’s also another side to it. There’s a side of the caterpillar trying to become a butterfly. I can give you an analogy of a woman giving birth to a child. Its painful, but something beautiful comes from that pain. There’s pieces of (my discovery) that are not easy.

Cary NoKey performing
Cary NoKey performing

They are very painful. (Such as) You are someone or something thing wholeheartedly but you still have to live a life of someone or something else, like a Rob. You have family, a mother, a brother, and friends that still call you Rob. You accept it because you know it’s only a small piece of it. It’s almost as if it is a small chapter. I know it sounds a little whacked, but it is what it is. Rob is a chapter. I know I can’t ignore Rob, but I want to speak he truth about what is going on. My reservation and angst about the web series is that my team wants to be careful about the things we are revealing, and I don’t want to be. They are lie “people may look at that in the wrong way.” This is very much my life. There is one episode where I get beat up, and I get beat up because I was being me.

BeBe: I think certain people want to say that your are just portraying a character on stage as Cary Nokey. They want to say that 8Bit is not really you but a performance on stage. That prefer to think that you go off stage and strip 8Bit off like drag queens do. They are more comfortable with thinking 8Bit and Cary Nokey are personas separate from your real identity when the reality is 8Bit is you. Your web series, to me, shows that.

8Bit: Yeah, this is more than about the music and gaining success in the music through stage performance. This is literally life or death. I was lost and going down the wrong road, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the success along the way, but I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t getting any prettier after the success. It’s a slap in the face to say that this is about a #1 record or a $1 million publishing deal. Sometimes I wish it were that I come off stage and take off the make up and go into this business world life, but it’s not that way. This is me. There is no goal here. My finish line has already happened (with Rob).

BeBe: You have a new single called American Dream, and you say that our American Dream that we are so hard at work trying to achieve, the one we are told to seek, has been skewed. It is no longer what we told it was. You say those who have the where-with-all to shed the skin that society has said they must wear to become who they really are, they are the ones living the American Dream. Can you elaborate on that?

8Bit: None of the leaders, if you will, have revised over time what we know as the American Dream. It became more clear to me, inside of myself, that all these material things that represented my success didn’t complete me. Not only did it not complete me, it made things worse. I always thought that having a hit record and some success as a producer that people would respect me and I would be fulfilled as a person. But that (notion) kind of turned its head, and I started looking at the so-called American Dream differently realizing that American Dream was a Rule of Exception, almost like playing the lottery. That’s not what I was taught in “work hard, pay your taxes, and follow the rules of society and everything will be okay. You’ll have a better life.” That’s not what happened with me. It was more like propaganda for me. I’m not anti-America. I love this country. It’s the best country imaginable, but I thhink the American Dream needs a little clarity. I think we need to be honest and say that the American dream is different than what we all thought and read in the text books. No one has had the where-with-all to stand up and do that. The thing for me was having the ability to discover my place in this country, and that doesn’t always mean money or a Mercedes Benz. The true Dream is to discover who we are and live that freely.

8Bit performing in Cary NoKey

BeBe: Do you feel then that the success and things you achieved before as Rob Fusari had a lack of authenticity because they were not achieved as your real self?

8Bit: I think that’s absolutely true, yes I do. I hate to admit that. Not to take away from the songs I’ve written. I still stand behind those songs. The tricky part about coming into this (music) business is finding a way to adjust your thought process and still be able to keep your artistic integrity. That was hard for me. I mean I grew up a white guy from New Jersey who liked David Bowie and Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I was trying to write music and find my way in the business during a time when R&B was becoming popular again. I had to find some R&B in me somewhere because I didn’t have an outlet to express the Bowie side of me. I had to continue on this road. I became this R&B producer because “I gotta do what I gotta do”. But, I stand behind the records because an example is when I perform those songs, I perform them Cary Nokey-style, the way I originally heard them in my head. The songs weren’t fake, they were just presented differently.

BeBe: You are currently on tour with RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons Tour as its opening act, and I’m curious, how are the audiences who are coming to see the drag stars responding to your Bowie-esque style, for lack of a better term? Are these audiences accepting of you?

8Bit: It’s funny because I struggled with this when the RuPaul folks asked us to come on the tour. It made sense, but I had to make it make a little more sense. I’m not drag. I don’t do what the girls do. I was trying to connect dots a little bit more. I started saying to myself that I’m not trying to compete with what the drag stars do or trying to give you what they do, but it’s like the RuPaul folks are saying to their fans that this is something that we saw that was cool and liked it, and you should check it out too. It’s different than what they came to see, but they can give it a look. It’s in-line with the girls because it is about being comfortable in your own skin and putting it out there, but it’s also very different. It’s music. It’s theatrical. It’s Bowie-esque. It’s a dance party with angst.

BeBe: Are you currently in the studio now recording new material?

8Bit: Yes. There are so many new songs, but we are about to release our firt full-length album in March or early April (2015). There’s gong to be 8 songs and we’re calling it Journal 8.

After Cary Nokey’s performance tonight in San Francisco, they continue on with the Rupaul’s Drag Race: Battle of Seasons Tour in the following cities:

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons Tour with Special Guest Cary NoKey









Cary NoKey's single "American Dream" now available on iTunes and
Cary NoKey’s single “American Dream” now available on iTunes and Amazon.cFor more information on 8Bit and Cary Nokey:

For more information on Cary NoKey follow them below:

Twitter: @CaryNoKey

Facebook: CareyNoKey




Watch the “American Dream” music video here