Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Theatre Bizarre - The Gimpy Review

Jane Hash and Green Beard
photo by Alternative Noise Productions
My small and fragile frame is home to a ridiculously adventurous personality. This leads to many internal arguments when presented with an exciting yet risky new opportunity. Generally, I agree to this compromise with myself – I’ll try almost anything that sounds fun…once. If it turns out to be too dangerous though, I’m in and out like a cheap date and never return to the scene of the crime. However, when it turns out wickedly successful, I’ll likely do it again.

The most recent of my wickedly successful adventures took place last Friday in Detroit, Michigan at the largest Masonic Temple in the world. The venue – Theatre Bizarre! This event has been described as an art installation first and a party second. I agree. The following is a list of reasons why I will return to Theatre Bizarre (hopefully as a performer.)

The staff is truly helpful - When my entourage pulled into the parking lot and made it known to the parking attendants and security folk that a disabled person was on board, they all sprang into action. Not only did they know where the entrance ramp and stair lift was but they also knew how to work the lift! Many times I have been in situations where I was expected to know how to work an establishment’s stair lift. Sorry, I must have skipped that section of the Gimp Handbook.

The ambiance – When I first wheeled into the event, I thought, “This must be what a party would look like at Count Dracula’s castle.” The dim lighting, moving fog, and indescribable characters creeping out of the shadows kept me on my toes – figuratively speaking.

The mind fucking – Every person in attendance was actually part of the overall performance, whether they realized it or not. I was even slow on the uptake myself. Once I found my groove though, I started to play my part. When I sat perfectly still for a few minutes, I could tell that passersby were uncertain if I was a real person or just a prop. Then I would say “hello” and giggle when they’d jump. 

photo by Alternative Noise Productions

The elevators provided opportunities for such mind fuckery as well. I generally rode with my back to the door because it was just too crowded for me to turn my wheelchair around without breaking everyone’s toes. On one occasion though, a woman popped on and rested her ample booty upon my head. I don’t think she was trying to be rude. Her hands were full of beverages so her focus was on trying not to spill them. She just didn’t see me down bellow…I’m pretty damn short. So, I decided to give her booty a backward motorboat. It’s like the backward cowgirl but different. Then I told her that I usually charge for such services but I’d let her slide because she is cute. She was speechless.

Accessibility – I saw at least five other wheelchair-users there! Most of the time, when I participate in a non-mainstream event, I am the only wheelchair-user in attendance. Lack of accessibility is a factor. Every disabled person doesn’t have the luxury of being small and portable like me. Stairs can be a deal breaker for gimpsters. This Masonic Temple where Theatre Bizarre has made its home though has ramps, lifts, and elevators in all the right places.

Variety – Theatre Bizarre is such a large and action packed event, it isn’t possible to see it all. At the same time though, it is impossible to feel like you’ve actually missed anything at all. For example, I was really looking forward to The Dirty Devil’s Peep Show but I just didn’t make it there. However, I did get to see a solo performance of Miss Roxi D’Lite…as well as a singing zombie, rope bondage, flesh hook suspension, The Devil’s Tight Rope, and a few other things that I’m still processing.
Jane Hash & Flec S. Mindscape
The details – Holy visual stimulation Batman! There were absolutely no holes or flaws in this over the top masquerade theme. Everywhere I looked, there was something or someone so captivatingly creepy, strange, and beautiful that it was hard to keep moving. I found myself getting stuck on one intense image after another. Amazing!

Body diversity – Anyone who is shying away from being a performer because they don’t fit pop culture’s mold of what is attractive needs to attend Theatre Bizarre. I have never seen so many talented, professional, and beautiful performers under one roof before! They came in every shape, size, color, gender, and physical ability. It was particularly endearing for me to see a small statured, wheelchair-user play a guitar and dedicate his song to all the “cripples” out there.

The characters – Aside of the amazingly talented headlining acts, there were plenty of other performers who deserve recognition. The Elevator Attendants were great comedic peacekeepers. Keeping the elevators from getting full beyond capacity while staying in character had to be a challenge, especially after drunk-o-clock. Then, there were other characters that mingled with the crowd to maintain the creepy cool vibe throughout the night. I confess…the scary devil woman made me scream like a little girl.

This is a magnificent event that I am fortunate enough to have experienced. Thank you Theatre Bizarre family for putting on a show that compares to no other. See you all next year!
Jane Hash and Tutu Twin
photo by Alternative Noise Productions

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jane Hash - MyCare Consumer Advocate Co-Chair

Dear Readers,

It is no secret that I have been fiercely vocal on social media, regarding the sloppy and irresponsible manner in which the MyCare Ohio program has been implemented. Numerous elderly and disabled citizens are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. 

The population that is most affected by the MyCare Ohio crisis, are those who are no stranger to abuse and neglect because of their physical and/or intellectual vulnerabilities. Many are afraid and unable to advocate for themselves for fear of further mistreatment. Instead of reaching out to Social Workers, Case Managers, or representatives of the Managed Care Plans, these victims of MyCare Ohio are reaching out to me...Jane Hash.

In case you are wondering why these folks would come to me for help, just glance at this blog's description there to your right. When I said, "I am the politically incorrect voice of the unheard" I meant it. These victims are about to be heard...loud and clear.

Allow me to reintroduce myself... My name is Jane Hash and I am the MyCare Consumer Advocate Co-Chair for the East Central Region. I have volunteered to take on this role to make sure all of the heartbreaking and compelling personal stories that have been shared with me, are heard by those who have the power to make the needed changes.

Below is a brief description of our plan of action. I encourage you to share this information because we still are unclear as to how many people are being affected. Also, if you are a dual-eligible who is being affected by MyCare Ohio, please look below and join the conference call that is scheduled for your area. Consumers - this is your opportunity, your safe place, to share your story. I will go to battle for you but I need to know from you EXACTLY what you want me to fight for.

In solidarity,
Jane Hash

Date: Friday, October 31st

Times: (1:00pm -2:00pm Northwest, Northeast and Northeast Central), (2:00pm – 3:00pm East Central and West Central); and (3:00pm – 4:00pm Central and Southwest)

Not sure what region you're in? Click here and scroll down to map.

The call-in number (free call) and participant code is: 
(877) 366-0711 Participant code - 53257144#

What you can do:
  • ·       Let your voice be heard
  • ·     Share your story
  • ·     Help provide a feedback loop the Plan, State and Federal Government
  • ·     Want a say in your treatment delivery
  • ·     Want to ensure you are getting your medical equipment
  • ·     Happy or frustrated with MyCare Ohio

  RSVP - For more information or to join the coalition contact:

John Arnold
OCVIC, Project Coordinator
614-456-0060 x 237

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Dance for All Seasons


Setting the stage for a spectacular 34th season, the Dancing Wheels Company has created a subscription initiative that will showcase the diversity and expressiveness of the Company. 

Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Founder of
Dancing Wheels Company
photo by Alternative Noise Productions
The fall program kicks off the season on October 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a Sweetest Day concert “For the Young & the Young at Heart”!  Bring your loved ones to this family-oriented repertory concert at the Rainey Institute, which will include repertory favorites State of Mind/Mine choreographed by Young Park, former Artistic Director of the Cleveland based SAFMOD Company; the Temptation Suite, a fun and romantic work created by Sean Rawls, a emerging choreographer from New York City chosen for the Rock that Rolls Project; and A Wing/a Prayer, a fast-paced precision piece choreographed by the Company’s Artistic Advisor Mark Tomasic specifically for all wheelchair dancers. A special surprise appearance by the School of Dancing Wheels’ Performance Ensemble will bring smiles and uplifted spirits to audiences of all ages.  New to the stage will be a collaborative piece entitled Plight & Pain on a Plane, a satirical study of the many eccentricities of passengers on an airplane co-choreographed by Company members Dezare Foster, Frank Polk, Kelly Clymer, and Emma Parker with input by Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher.  The finale, Let the Good Times Roll, was choreographed by Ginger Cox and is a steamy and sultry suite that is sure to raise the temperature in the room.  A Sweetest Day treat will “sweeten” the evening for all of our loyal and loving patrons as they continue on with their special evening. The Rainey Institute is located at 1705 E. 55th Street in Cleveland. A guarded lot is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

The winter season will offer a new holiday tradition with the world premiere of Babes in Toyland!  This re-imagined classic is choreographed by Company Rehearsal Director Catherine Meredith Lambert, and is filled with love, laughter and hysterical hijinks!  This colorful production will include the 15-member Dancing Wheels Company playing such characters as Mother Goose, Jack and Jill, Jack be Nimble, Little Bo Peep, Mary Contrary, Tom Piper, and the villainous Barnaby. An awesome march of 50 toy soldiers will include students from the Dancing Wheels School joined by students from On Your Toes Dance Studio. The production will run for (4) shows at the St. Ignatius Breen Center including two10:30 a.m. Student Matinees on December 4 and 5, an 8p.m. official public opening with a champagne reception on Friday, December 5, and a family matinee on Saturday, December 6 at 2:00 p.m. -- complete with a “Trip through Toyland” kids party! 

Rounding out the spring, Dancing Wheels will join forces with Elec Simon, world percussionist and cast member of the Off-Broadway show STOMP. This high-energy production entitled “Rhythm & Wheels” will get your pulse pumping to the beat of a different drum!  Using alternative and handmade percussion instruments including their very own wheelchairs, the lively cast of hip-hop dancers, tappers and percussionists will set the stage ablaze with excitement.  This one-time-only production will include a VIP pre-party and a meet-and-greet after-party at the Cleveland Masonic and Performance Arts Center… home of the Dancing Wheels Company!

The season subscriber package will include a 10% discount for not only the subscriber, but for any additional tickets they purchase as well throughout the season.  Subscribers will also receive priority seating, backstage tours, and name recognition in programs.  Season ticket prices are from $63-$146 per person, with support to launch this effort generously funded in part by The George Gund Foundation.

The Dancing Wheels Company & School, now in its 34th season, is America’s first and foremost physically integrated dance company.  The 15-member ensemble comprised of highly skilled stand up and sit-down (wheelchair) dancers travel the globe performing and teaching before more than 30,000 people each year.  The Company and its President/Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher are the 2014 recipients of The Governor’s Award for Arts Education in OhioThe 2014 Ohio Dance Award for significant contribution to dance in Ohio, and the 2014 International Henry Viscardi Award for significant contributions made to promote the independence and equality of people with disabilities.  The School of Dancing Wheels, under the leadership of School Coordinator, Emma Parker serves 13 organizations and schools each year with outreach and educational programs and reaches over 6,000 children in Northeast Ohio alone.  The School’s in-studio classes provide opportunities for professional training as well as programs that seek the sheer pleasure of dance for recreational purposes.  The School also offers students to rise to a performance level through its Performance Ensemble.  For more information about the Company and School log ontowww.dancingwheels.org.

Season Sponsors
Bruening Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Honor Project Trust, Invacare Official Supplier of Top End Dance Wheelchairs, Kulas Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Target, The Emerson Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Kennedy Center VSA, The Kuhn Family Foundation, and The Nord Family Foundation.

Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kasich fails disabled and elderly Ohioans

One day this week my PCA (Home Health Aide) got a call on her cell phone while she was on duty at my house. Generally, I prefer my PCA’s do not take personal calls while on duty but I could see such concern wash over her face, I told her to answer it.

My house is small so of course, I heard the conversation that followed. It was my PCA’s other Client calling her to say she had been left abandoned by the PCA who was supposed to provide service to her that day and she was hungry and thirsty…unable to prepare food for herself.

That other PCA is not a criminal. She just didn’t have gas in her car to get to work because she has not been paid since the premature implementation of MyCare Ohio.

Hearing this conversation made my heart sink into my stomach. That could easily be me that was left without basic life sustaining sustenance because my Caregivers have not been paid consistently either due to MyCare Ohio.

Then I started to feel guilty because my PCA has just helped me prepare a delicious organic, gluten-free meatloaf dinner. It made me sick to look at it, knowing someone with similar circumstances was going hungry.

In a Hulk-like transformation, the Gimp Avenger in me came out…pushing emotions aside and formulating a plan-of-action.

Step One: I had my PCA prepare a plate of meatloaf for this disabled stranger (PCA’s are not allowed to disclose their Client’s personal information) and asked her to deliver it to her immediately. I also armed her with contact information for the Universal Healthcare Action Network, which is a nonprofit advocacy group that is intervening to assist victims of MyCare Ohio.

Step Two: Begin drafting a public statement to Governor John Kasich. Prior to the launch of MyCare Ohio Governor Kasich and Greg Moody, Director of the Health and Transformation Office, had a whole lot of wonderful things to say about MyCare Ohio. Once it launched though, they fell silent on the matter. When my statement is completed, I will post it…might possibly make a video as well.

I am not sharing this story with you because I think I deserve a gold star for sharing my dinner with a stranger. I am sharing this story to bring attention to the fact that there are disabled and elderly Ohioans who are likely going without dinner because of MyCare Ohio. That is abuse.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ohio, stop abusing disabled people and their Caregivers!

Dear Readers. I know you haven’t heard from ‘The Gimp Avenger’ for a while. This doesn’t mean that discrimination and abuse of people with disabilities has ceased. I was simply waiting to see how bad things were going to get, especially here in Ohio, before I suited up for battle.

With claims of streamlining, expanding, and improving services for those who receive both Medicaid and Medicare, MyCare Ohio was created. Under MyCare Ohio, Consumers like me who receive benefits from both entities were described as having the option to choose which HMO we wanted to utilize for Case Management services. I did not find this to be true.

All phone numbers I was given to sign-up with CareSource (my 1st choice) lead to dead ends. One number led me to a recording that gave me the option to by a Wal-Mart gift card. When I declined, I was disconnected.

Against my wishes, I was assigned to UnitedHealth Care. My experience has been downright abusive. It has taken a month for one of my three Home Health Aides (Independent Providers) to get a paycheck. Another should be getting a check by tomorrow. The third however, isn’t even recognized by UnitedHealth Care and therefore can’t submit her billing.

These people have been working a month without pay. I can’t express enough gratitude for these wonderful people. Agency Aide’s would have left me in a puddle of my own waste weeks ago. I am about to lose one of my Independent Providers though if UHC doesn’t get it together this week. That will put my life and safety at risk.

I should also mention that UHC called me multiple times to express that they don’t like my social media ranting about how they are complicating my life and putting me at risk for losing care that is critical to my survival. I am not easily intimidated so I’m not sure if they were feebly attempting to intimidate me.

My Case Manager at UHC has offered to just send me a UHC Home Health Aide if mine stop coming to work. Lovely. I have a rather serious form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta. If a stranger tried to ‘help’ me, he/she will likely break my bones and possibly kill me. Excellent solution there UHC!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Rant - I’m not Captain Save A Gimp

At the risk of sounding like the most horrible disabled person who ever rolled across the face of the Earth, there is something I need to get off my chest.

About once a week, I get a phone call or an email, or someone in person spills the following on me.

“I know this lady who is disabled and doesn’t really have any friends so, she’s depressed a lot. You should hook up with her and hang out. I bet you two would have a ton in common!”

Riiiiiiiight. She has no friends and is depressed so she must be a barrel of laughs. Sign me the fuck up!

This nonsense needs to stop right now. Stop torturing me with your socially inept disabled friends who are depressed because they have negative attitudes!

To further illustrate my point here are a few equally inappropriate scenarios. Imagine what may transpire if you or I approached someone and said:
  • Hey there, morbidly obese lady! I know another morbidly obese lady. You two should totally hang out. You would have a TON in common. Get it? A TON!
  • Hi. I see that you are an ignorant redneck with poor grooming habits. I met a guy just like you at a bar last weekend. He gave me his number. Want it? You’d get along great.
  • Hey, I couldn’t help from noticing that you are black. I have a neighbor who is also black. Want me to get his number for you? Maybe you guys can go shoot some hoops together.
I realize and honestly do appreciate that those of you who have done this, have good intensions.  I don't hate you.  You are just trying to help an unhappy friend.

If your disabled friend contacted me directly, that would be different. I’d be more receptive to establishing a friendship that isn’t forced by a third party. I’m not Captain Save A Gimp though.

If you think that I can be of inspiration to someone, then buy him/her a copy of the movie.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dancing Wheels Benefit Concert Sets the Stage a Blaze

The 2014 Dancing Wheels Benefit Concert Sets the
Stage a Blaze with Rock that Rolls!

Jen Sikora, Sara Lawrence-Sucato, Emma Parker, and Catherine Meredith - DW Dancers
Jane Hash, Blogger
photo by Tom Trainer 
The house will be rockin’ on Friday, April 11 when the Dancing Wheels Company ignites the stage at Public Hall with an unforgettable evening of music and dance by America’s most notable Rock Hall inductees: Madonna, R.E.M., Ray Charles, The Temptations and Alice Cooper.

An awesome VIP Party (hosted by more than 55 enthusiastic hosts) will start the festivities at 6:30 p.m.Party goers will be invited to food samplings enjoyed by the rock stars themselves prepared by Executive Caterers, a photo booth where they can dress up like their favorite rocker and peruse unique musical and ‘rock’ and “roll” items on the one of a kind silent auction.

The high energy performance will commence at 8:00 p.m. with a special guest appearance by Bobby Harris and Skip Martin from the Grammy Award-winning, Dazz Band who will open the performance. Guest celebrity hosts Thomas Mulready of CoolCleveland, Dennis Lewins, with WCLV/HD2 Idea Stream and Jeremy James Verdi, Cougar 93.7 will take audiences on a musical journey as they introduce each dance performed by the Dancing Wheels Company.
Ja’Vaughn White, DW Dancer
photo by Tom Trainer

Four emerging choreographers from New York City were chosen to create new dance works for this concert using the music from inductees from the Rock Hall of Fame. Shawn Rawls created The Temptation Suite with Just My Imagination, Ain’t too Proud to Beg and Papa was a Rolling Stone, Ted Thomas went with songs from R.E.M Man on the Mood, At My Most Beautiful and Superman entitled If You Believe; Ashley Carter and Vanessa Martinez used a later Madonna song 4 Minutes, in which she sang with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, they titled their piece Save the World and Ginger Cox brought to life the soulful and hip music of Ray Charles with Let the Good Times Roll, a medley consisting of Let the Good Times Roll Georgia (on my mind) and Hit the Road Jack!

In addition to these four world premieres, the Company will also perform its recent new and exciting high energy work, Straight Down the Middle a suite of Alice Cooper music choreographed by Dance St. Louis Artistic Director, Michael Uthoff. A special guest appearance by the Dancing Wheels School will be an amazing addition to the evening Twenty-two students from the Dancing Wheels School will be joined on stage by students from “On Your Toes” Dance Studio for Pride with music by U2 choreographed by Dancing Wheels School Coordinator, Emma Parker.

After the show all audience members are invited to join in on a dance party like no other with the high energy music of Festivus, Cleveland’s # 1 rated Party Band!

Jason Shaw, DW Dancer
photo by Tom Trainer
About the Company:

Now in its 33rd season, the Dancing Wheels Company under the artistic direction of Mary Verdi-Fletcher and Rehearsal Director, Catherine Meredith, perform throughout the world with more than 75 performances each year. With this new body of work the Company’s wide and diverse repertory has grown to nearly 60 works.

Mary Verdi-Fletcher said “This Rock that Rolls Project proved to be exciting and informative for both the dancers and the choreographers. We engaged in diverse genres of dance while significantly broadening the vocabulary of each of the choreographers with our technique of translation and unique partnering; giving way to the new and endless possibilities that are available through physically integrated dance”

The 15 member Dancing Wheels Company members performing in this eclectic concert include: Kelly Clymer, Dezare Foster*, Samantha Fox, Daniel “Isaah” Henderson*, Emma Parker, Franklin Polk, Jen Sikora, Jason Shaw, Sara Lawrence-Sucato*, Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Apprentices, Lianne Zydowic, Hope Harl and Kevin Marr. Trainees Ja’Vaughn White and Tanya Ewell. *denotes Dance Captains

Benefit VIP tickets are $100, general admission tickets and after party are $30. For more information or to make reservations call (216) 432-0306 or log on to www.dancingwheels.org

Sponsored by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Scene Magazine, Rock the House, AmRamp and Sherwin Williams. All proceeds benefit the Dancing Wheels Company & School’s educational and outreach programs. Additional sponsors: Cleveland Foundation, Bruening Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Emerson Process Management, National Endowment For The Arts, Target, The George Gund Foundation, The Kuhn Family Foundation, The Kennedy Center VSA, The Nord Family Foundation, Invacare, Key Bank, and Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities.