(NOTE: The following chapters are excerpts from my book in progress, YOUTH SERUM AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ART)
YOUTH SERUM AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ART - PROLOGUE / WHY?
Art is my muse. And always has been. It is the breath inside me, and the beauty around me. I have never known a world that was not filled with the arts—and I would never want to. To my parents, it wasn’t just an object that filled a space, or sounds that took the quiet out of the air. Art was a
way of thinking and a way of viewing the world. It was so obviously intertwined with life that the fact didn’t need to be verbalized. It just was.
Parts of my life have been magical. Parts have definitely not been. Art has been there for me through all of it. Even when I was growing up, I went to it for pleasure and for answers—to find out who I was and what I thought. Writing, all of the arts, have kept my soul alive—and brought it back to life when I felt like it was dying.
It is even more than my belief—it is my conviction—that art is like youth serum. And life is a fountain of art. Once we have experienced it, it imprints on our souls forever. Because art is a voice that speaks to us, and for us, and sustains us as much as food and water. We crave it because it is a magnet that can draw out the best in life, and the best in us. And because it is a chameleon that can be whatever it wants to be. In the process, it crosses all boundaries and takes the hard edge off of life.
YOUTH SERUM AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ART mirrors the essence of fifteen extraordinary people and their passions. From land and sky artist to guitar builder. From outsider intuitive visionary artist to glassblower. All weave their dreams out of visions and intuition. Understanding them helps us to understand ourselves.
Each chapter can stand alone, while together they create a tapestry of the arts. These artists remind us of the times when others told us that we “couldn’t” and we still believed that we “could”. So we chose to err on the side of our dreams. They remind us of when we decided it was time to break rules that did nothing except hold us back—because whose rules were they anyway?
This story is written from a point of view that is both emotive and intuitive—much like the way we thought when we were children. It is about leaving the intimidation behind, and seeing what we really think and feel. About realizing that it’s not necessary to be an artist, or in a related field, to have artistic sensibilities.
Because of art, we can almost reach out and touch our own dreams. Seriously, serious dreams. Funky, enchanting dreams. We remember times when we were afraid to dream—and others believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. And dreams that people stepped on, until we tucked them into the backs of our minds, where we alone could go.
Art feels safe because it turns being different into a positive, instead of the negative that we always believed it was. It helps us to be daring enough to shine our own lights brightly. To stretch and grow and risk making mistakes. Or to risk being a success.
MARK NADLER / YOUTH SERUM AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ART
If Mark Nadler were a cartoon character, his fingers and eyebrows would dance with his spats, while his heart would sing love songs of old. His legs would spring up and he’d laugh at himself as—Honky Tonk meets Tchaikovsky and Chopsticks?
Yes. Which explains why Rex Reed said, “Mark Nadler seems to have been shot out of a cannon.” Why Al Hirschfeld’s caricature of him looks like hilarity in motion. And why a thirty-two year old fan called him, “The Reincarnation of Vaudeville.”
Nadler is a virtuoso of classical piano—a singer, dancer, writer, comedic pianist, and—a goof extraordinaire. A goof extraordinaire who sometimes has a rubber chicken lying on top of his baby grand. What else does he have? Countless major awards, such as MAC and Broadway World. A constantly expanding list of important nominations, like Drama Desk and Helpman. And reviewers and fans who rave about him and compare him to such icons as Danny Kaye, Jimmy Durante, and Groucho Marx.
Nadler is a risk taker who sees the music, not the hurdles. A risk taker who doesn’t give performances. He dives into them—On Broadway, Off Broadway, on TV, and at major cabarets and theaters worldwide. He dives into the music, whether playing Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra—or tap dancing atop his piano bench, at Sardi’s.
Mark was born with a heart that beats in two separate eras. He grew up in Iowa—but Vaudeville was his home. There were other differences that set him apart from his peers, as well. Like being the son of Jewish immigrants while most people were from the Midwest. And being gay. Mark saw his differences. But he also saw the light of his passions. So he followed that light to a place where music and lyrics were his mentors—dance was his sidekick—and improv was never far away. He followed that light throughout grade school, junior high, and high school. Until at seventeen, Mark moved to New York City. And suddenly, the light of his passions followed him.
Now, he includes his differences in his shows, and spoofs himself on stage. Which gives fans from teens to their nineties even more reasons to adore him—to celebrate their birthdays at his shows—and to give him standing ovations. Even more reasons for a fan from London to fly to New York, solely to watch one performance. And why his fan-base includes celebrities from around the globe and back again.
Mark Nadler is comedic timing meets dramatic flair. And energy unleashed—yet he calms us. One minute he is a dashing sophisticate in black tie and tails—and the next minute, a Bar Mitzvah boy whose eyes twinkle mischievously as he vigorously wipes his face on those very same tails! He takes us inside his joy in such songs as, “I Love A Piano”, by Irving Berlin. Shares the wonders of love, and of life, by other such treasures from The Great American Songbook, like Rodgers & Hammerstein, Rodgers & Hart, etc. Then takes us to the heart of gems written by contemporary songwriters such as John Wallowitch, Carol Hall, and Larry Kerchner. And even into a song from "Hamilton".
Mark is also known for joyfully sharing the stage. Sometimes with much loved vocalists and entertainers. And other times with emerging artists—
LGBT homeless youth—from Art Start, for which he generously and passionately holds benefits, and volunteers his time giving piano lessons and songwriting workshops for New York City shelters.
Mark Nadler is an entertainer who is as present in yesterday as he is in today. An entertainer who makes us wonder—does he bring the past to us—or take us back in time? Either way, he is a link to long ago and far away. Either way, he is a reminder that love, laughter, and the arts are universal teachers.