LA Talk Radio’s Sheena Metal is great on either end of the mic

Sheena Metal

Sheena Metal

Sheena Metal of The Sheena Metal Experience covers a lot of ground when she is the host of her LA talk radio show by, yes, that very name. Turns out she covers a lot of ground here, too, as a guest on Love Letters Live. You probably know her from her years as a well-established radio personality, actor, writer, musician, director and comedienne, but do you know her details? How she became Sheena Metal is a whole story on its own. So is her girlhood with her mother who encouraged her to go into show business instead of medicine.

And, then there is the reality of how she fell in love with musical theater and that was the start of the Sheena we know and love. Life brings changes, and for Sheena one of them was the near death experience she suffered after a car accident on the 405 when she was not yet 24 years old. Listen to her talk about her life, her accomplishments (Vagina Monologues, Hollywood Improv, her band and work at Ensemble Studio Theater Los Angeles for starters), dating, her endless gratitude at her own good luck, the beauty of friendship with a former sweetheart, and why her social life is her work life.

Sheena at Hollywood Improv

Sheena at Hollywood Improv

Her love letters? She is too busy for them, she says in one breath, and in the next she is talking about the 125 love texts she sent to people one day when she was feeling sad and how it healed her. We know she has more of the to write and you will, too, when you hear her talk about how everything she does is from a place of love and about the people she loves with all her heart.

Robert Strong magician is bringing a séance to San Francisco on Halloween night

Robert Strong at work

Robert Strong at work

Robert Strong, a magician of 30 years experience and ever at ease with doing what seems to be impossible, is doing something unusual even by San Francisco and his own standards. A séance. Yes, really. Skeptic though he is, he is willing to give Harry Houdini, who has been trying for 88 years, another chance to reach us. Robert is from a family of what you would have call magic royalty as he found out when at the age of 12 he went on a road trip with his family and did a magic trick for family members. He found out that his great grand uncle Sidney Radner was a great magician who inherited or bought all of Houdini’s magic memorabilia notebooks, photos, drawings, every scrap of paper he could find.

Robert has teamed up with some Bay Area Science organizations to bring séance with a twist, an event that combines science conversations, panel discussion and culminates with a magical séance with a magician celebrity who will, as Robert says, “knock it out of the park.”

Is Robert summoning spirits here?

Is Robert summoning spirits here?

Do you think we can reach the dead, or are you waiting for evidence you can believe? Might as well give it a try. You can get tickets here. So, On Halloween of this year, October 31, 2015, The Official Houdini Séance will take place at San Francisco’s Brava Theater as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Magician Robert Strong will lead WonderfestBay Area Skeptics, and the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in presenting a day of science, history, escapes, and magic.

Love letters, of course. Those you write are part of your history laid down in your own handwriting, dated and signed, so here is hoping that Robert will write a couple to his departed family’s magicians to add to the known history. He talks about this, too.

Listen to Robert talk about this séance, about Harry Houdini and his own Strong pedigree of great magicians. No wonder he is called the Comedy Magician; he is so much fun.  Robert Strong The Comedy Magician Photo

Dana Fredsti talented horror story author who likes being scared

Dana Fredsti, author and former Hollywood combat stuntwoman

Dana Fredsti, horror story author and former Hollywood combat stuntwoman

Dana Fredsti, author of the Ashley Parker series and other modern horror stories, is a spellbinding combination of talents, charm, good cheer, quirky attitudes, a courageous sense of good against evil and love of animals.

It was years ago at a Renaissance Faire that she stood in line waiting for a turkey leg and piped up an “I’ll do it,” in response to a cute guy in a white shirt with big flowing sleeves standing next to her lamenting that his combat partner had bailed. This performance and further study with this man who was, as luck would have it, a theatrical combat instructor and choreographer led to a significant career as a Hollywood stuntwoman.

Dana, who has been writing ever since she could string words together, says she likes being scared. As a child she was drawn to books on vampires and werewolves. She always liked horror movies and, although it does not happen often, she still likes a movie that can scare her. Dana talks about favorite movies, the difference between zombies and vampires (one is sexy, the other is just a re-animated corpse with a craving for human flesh) and her own childhood experience with shapeshifters she suspected lived in her house. She shares her fascination of being eaten alive by some animals while she is quite at home and comfortable with other predatory carnivores. With Dana it is easy to understand the fascination and fun of fear.

Dana Fredsti the romantic- photo by Julie Lynn

Dana Fredsti the romantic- photo by Julie Lynn

Love letters? Lots of them. Having been born before computers and internet, pen-pals were a big part of her life. She still has letters from her ex, few but treasured. She has letters from her husband (the writer David Fitzgerald) who is a very romantic fellow. Unbridled romance holds as much sway with Dana as unbridled horror.

Noah Griffin brings his historian self to talk about taking down the Confederate Flag

Noah Griffin, founder and artistic director of the Cole Porter Society, has abilities, talents, education and careers any one of which would be accomplishment enough for most people. Not enough for Noah, who is, in addition to everything else, a remarkable historian who knows how to bring the backdrop of an era to anything he does.

Noah Griffin brings his historian self to talk about taking down the Confederate flag

He is back with us at Love Letters Live to talk about a concept whose time is long overdue and most recently embodied by Bree Newsome, the woman who climbed a flag-pole to take down the Confederate flag.

In Northern California’s Marin County, usually liberal, there exists a school district named Dixie with a dishonorable pedigree after the Dixie Schoolhouse built there in 1864. Noah has been working to change the name of that district as it reflects the hateful time of slavery and its aftermath in American History.

Listen to Noah talk about the issue of changing names, taking down statues and flags as well as reflecting and correcting history that, although all by now a part of our modern culture, have origins we should not be honoring.

David Fitzgerald enthusiastic atheist talks about the Mormons

David Fitzgerald and his wife the author Dana Fredsti

David Fitzgerald and his wife the author Dana Fredsti

You may remember David Fitzgerald,  the enthusiastic atheist guide to western religion and author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed. He is back to talk about the subject of his second book The Mormons. This is an investigation of the beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Joseph Smith’s personal history. Not at all combative, just, as he says, “provocative”.

David, raised in a solidly Christian home, is charmingly devoted to truth in historical representation. As fascinating as the facts he presents, is David’s open-heartedness and affection for participants while rallying against what he sees as cultural mythology and scandal. He presents without pressuring, so listen for yourself and see if your beliefs are supported or challenged by his views.

Gloria Castaneda actress producer of Catholic television and much more

Gloria Castaneda actress, producer of Catholic television programs and moreI am happy to say that Gloria Castaneda, as she laughingly admits, loves to talk about her life, because quite a life it is! Step by step from way before her birth it has been dramatic, but as for her personal  appearance on life’s stage, she was born in El Paso and raised for her first 6 years in Ciudad Juarez where her home was. She wanted to be an actress from as far back as she can remember- performed shows in her back yard as a child. The agent she met in high school wanted her to be rail thin to get parts, to which Gloria, far too sincere to mince words, counter-offered a total no thank you to that.

Her mother was not favorable to Gloria’s acting anyway and wanted her to be a teacher. Gloria agreed until her first job as a pre-school teacher, and then came the meltdown at her aunt’s house when she realized she pretty much detested teaching. Her aunt encouraged her to go her own way, and there you have just the start. Sometimes you do not want to make a long story short, you want to make a nice long personal-adventure movie out of it.

Gloria at 3 photographed by a street photographer in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua

Gloria at 3 photographed by a street photographer in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua

Gloria’s heart and soul, as a devoted Catholic, always resided in life’s most spiritual precinct, so she followed her dream to produce Catholic programs. Sound simple, that part? Turns out the desire was simple, but the actual road was rather bumpy. Gloria, not one to be diverted from a dream, braved the bumps through heavenly times and dicey to land right where she wanted in the first place. And, this is the shortened version of a most interesting in-progress life of a most interesting in-progress woman.

Listen to it all in her own sweet vibrant voice, able to laugh at herself and her challenges, and always ready to take the next step. She is, at present, Program Director and Casting Liaison at the Media Access Office.

Contagious laughter, contagious courage and always a cheerful, gratitude-filled intelligence. Her love letter? To her aunt who sacrificed a lot for family, the details of which make both the love letter and, hopefully, the movie for which Gloria has written the script.                                 Gloria Castaneda actress, producer of Catholic television programs and more

Hillary Baack actress and much more knew from childhood she belonged on stage

Hillary Baack actress and much more knew from childhood she belonged on stageHillary Baack knew, in her heart and soul, from the time she was five years old and went with her parents to the theater, she wanted to be on the stage. And, set about it she did, one foot in front of the other, one undeviating step at a time. After two school plays and with that experience behind her, she auditioned and won, at the age of seven, for her first community theater, the role of Gretl Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. She was simultaneously writing and performing plays and getting her neighborhood friends to take part.

It was not until she was a teenager that she became self-conscious enough of her deafness that it would prevent her from becoming an actress until a professor in her college drama department told her she could absolutely have a career in theater. And, here you have her, a flawless beauty you may have seen in Law and Order, Switched At Birth or a variety of short films.   Hillary Baack actress and much more knew from childhood she belonged on stage

She talks about her life from the start as a dangerously ill newborn, being diagnosed at age three, the years of speech therapy and the impact of being main-streamed in school. She lets us know what it took to learn lip-reading and translate that into speech so she could reaching her goals. She took herself to New York, met her husband, and became the mother of two beautiful sons.  She wrote a one-woman play and is now writing her own scripts, one of which she wrote with her husband who is a film-maker, actor, director, writer, and in Hillary’s words, “a wonderful editor”.

She is able to keep her eye on what is important in life. She is talented, diligent, loving and compassionate, has trust in herself, and never let go of the destiny that called to her when she was a five-year old. Hillary has traveled the road from frail newborn to center stage, where she knew she belonged as a little girl.

Love letters? Yes. She has a wonderful personal history of writing letters to friends and may soon get to the important business of writing to her sons. This, and much more, is best heard in Hillary’s own voice filled with a contagious love for the life she has.

Eduardo Bar actor who lost his sight but never his way

Eduardo Bar actor who lost his sight but never his wayEduardo Bar, talented, handsome, charming, buoyant and courageously ready to catch the next wave is an Argentinian actor who made his way to Los Angeles at the age of 26 after having found success on the musical theater stage in Buenos Aires. He used to write 3,4,5 page letters often to his friends and family in Argentina, probably a real comfort since he did not have family or friends in Los Angeles to help him with a leg up in the business. But he found parts as a background actor (you may have seen him in Pleasantville) and was on the way.

It was a touch of vanity, deciding to get hair restoration, that probably saved his life as the blood-work showed he was HIV positive. Because he felt great, was posing for magazines and ready for any casting that may come his way, he did not bother to see a doctor until the day he felt he had come down with the flu. Antibiotics did not help. The headache was insufferable, he could not keep so much as a drop of water down. He had meningitis.

He offers the frightening narrative of his 3 months in the hospital, tiptoeing past death, hearing the doctors say within earshot that he would probably not make it, losing his sight and having to leave the hospital 40 pounds lighter, blind,  barely able to walk and finding that his friends, with the exception of one, disappeared on him.

Eduardo, however, still Eduardo, the courageous buoyant fellow, ran back to life with full force. He had the service of one woman who came to him daily for help with basic needs and his one friend at his side. One step to another led him to Media Access and the acting classes with other disabled actors that set him on a new course. Eduardo’s life is an ongoing tribute to endless strength and the power of not giving up once faced with undeniable calamity.

His love letter?  Probably to Jonathan the friend who stuck by Eduardo even when he was at his lowest when it seemed there was no way to please him try as Jonathan might. Happily there is no statue of limitations on gratitude. Eighteen years later, Eduardo is still that talented, handsome, charming, buoyant actor, courageously ready to catch the next wave of his life. And, there is a surprise ray of hope in Eduardo’s life. It is a complicated life story best heard in Eduardo’s own voice filled with strength, wit and inexhaustible joy. 

What the bleep Betsy Chasse knows is quite a lot

What the bleep Betsy Chasse knows is quite a lotBetsy Chasse is comfortable seeing the world through several lenses at once and acting on what she sees, feels and thinks, while sharing it all with an enthusiastic generosity. Having wrestled with the pain of her own divorce and learning to topple her own once-held beliefs, her book Tipping Sacred Cows is just that, a goodbye to the rules she thought she needed to live by. She is the producer of the film What the Bleep Do We Know, a labyrinthine look at life that reflects Betsy’s conviction that we create our own reality.

Not one to rest on past laurels, Betsy is ever moving to the next take-a-look-at-this moment. Her new film Gotta Go In To Get Out, featuring an abundance of well-known spiritual leaders, is a gripping look at crime, punishment and compassion.

There is so much of Betsy Chasse that you have to pay attention to capture the particulars but her essence of whirlwind stability and luminescence is reliable. Listen to her talk about marriage, divorce, why being a mom comes first, learning how to ride the rising and falling waves of her own life and translating it into a radiant present.

Marc Bovee’s life before in and after Hollywood influential at every turn

Marc Bovee

Marc Bovee

Actor and producer Marc Bovee, who grew up steeped in a difficult emotional milieu, knew as a high school senior exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up, general manager of a Loew’s theater. Self directed as he is, the day after his high school graduation he moved to NYC. He says, “No college, no Dartmouth, no Yale.” Just straight for the success he wanted. Oh, yes, he got that exact job.

In early ’87 watching Heartbreak Ridge, he was inspired him to serve his country. So, at the age of 23, he joined the army, his first real decision without first consulting his mother. Having already lost her older son to a cancer she felt was somehow caused by his service in the US Marine Corp, she was not pleased with Marc’s decision.

Military service was a good but challenging time for Marc who was happy to be part of the mechanism and the brotherhood. His service, however, was cut short by his illness and he felt a sense of brokenness and a “what-if” feeling he knew was not a healthy place to live. Compassionate and adaptable as Marc is, he found his way through this to other successes. He spent the next many years first doing some beautiful work as part of the GI Film Festival and then in the distribution department of Universal Pictures until he sadly faced some personal betrayals and ensuing interpersonal damage with no emotional support. But, the ever self-directed Marc found a healer who is still a part of his life and who brought him to a better understanding of the worldwide problem of mankind’s unkindness and the issues of mental health.

Marc talks with candor and generosity about some of his best days as well as his menacingly dark times. Happily, he has never felt more engaged or more dignity professionally than he does now since the day he learned to say, “It is time to for me to go.” With that simple sentence, Marc took the next important step into his own future met his real self around the next corner.

Marc Bovee happier than ever in his life

Marc Bovee happier than ever in his life

He recently founded Bovee-Killgore, his broadcasting & media production company and entertainment service through which he connects clients who want to make their television and film accessible to the blind, deaf and hard of hearing.

His love letter? Two important people in Marc’s life encouraged him to write a difficult letter of forgiveness to one of his betrayers. And, there will most likely be one to his mother who, Marc says with unbound joy, has found a wonderful man who treats her with dignity.

Marc’s story, ever unfolding, is all so worth hearing in his own compelling, and actually rather angelic, voice. Listen and be buoyed by some real compassion, humor and courage here.