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He’s a familiar face on any number of TV shows, but now David Dean Bottrell is back in his spiritual home of New York City he’s ready to spill the beans in a wide-ranging one-man theater show. Get a taste of what’s in store as David shares his West Side Story…
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
After 23 years of acting on many, many TV shows in Los Angeles, I came back to New York for what I’m hoping is gonna be an excellent third act as a theatre artist and writer.
How did you end up in Hell’s Kitchen?
Luckily for me, I never gave up my rent stabilized apartment in the west 50s. How I managed to hang onto it is a longer story than you probably want to hear. But it’s a great apartment on a great block and I don’t pay much for it.
What’s your favorite thing about Hell’s Kitchen?
The people. I love the way it’s grown into a lively, reasonably safe, very diverse neighborhood.
And what’s your Hell’s Kitchen pet peeve?
I’m sad about the huge rent increases. This used to be a very affordable neighborhood for young artists arriving in the city. And although I really enjoy all the new bars and restaurants, the parade of loud drunk people walking back to the 8th Avenue subway wakes me up almost every night.
Did you stay put when the pandemic hit or did you find an escape for some of the time? I stuck it out. Not even my Mom wanted me to come visit for fear that I would track COVID into her house. I didn’t have a lot of invitations.
What did you do for work pre-COVID? What are you doing now?
The first week of March 2020, I’d just finished a week of sold out performances of my solo show, David Dean Bottrell Makes Love: A One-Man Show. I’d just gotten new representation and was about to extend my run when the world closed down. I taught online during the quarantine, and just recently went back to in-person classes. Happily, my show is now back at the Triad.
What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve learned during the pandemic?
Having had a dual career all my life as an actor-writer, I think I realized that the most unique thing I can offer as an artist is to combine the two. I was born into a strange family who launched me into a strange life, so I’ve got a lot of odd stories to tell. Pretty much every time I recount some strange tale in one of my shows, someone comes up afterward and shyly whispers, “Thank you. That happened to me too. I thought I was the only one.”
Tell us one thing that’s given you hope during the pandemic?
Kindness, We took care of each other. And commitment. Voters came out of the woodwork to toss out that madman who almost destroyed democracy in four short years.
What’s the most serendipitous (random/obscure/ insane) experience that’s happened to you in Hell’s Kitchen?
In December of 2019, I was strolling down what I thought was a totally empty block close to my house. It was late, maybe 11pm. I was in a good mood and since nobody was around, I starting singing a Christmas carol, and suddenly, a woman’s voice behind me said, “You have a lovely voice.” I almost jumped out of my skin. It was like she had materialized out of nowhere. That person turned out to be an established talent manager. We had a nice talk. Two days later, I signed with her.
What’s your closest brush with world fame and celebrity?
The most famous person I ever met was Katharine Hepburn (many years ago in front of her house on E. 49th Street). I sort of forced her to talk to me for a whole 60 seconds. On a personal level, I was on a TV show — Boston Legal —for a few months in 2006-2007. I had a great, flashy role, and for a while I was being stopped for autographs on the street, which was great and sort of annoying at the same time.
What’s your superpower?
What song do you sing at the top of your voice in the shower?
Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams Come True. I don’t actually know all the lyrics, but I don’t let that stop me. I love that fucking song.
Which people inspire you the most?
My old answer would have been artists. My new answer is healthcare workers. I’m floored by what they have faced in the past two years (and will continue to face for God knows how long). I don’t think I could have handled it.
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” — Doris Lessing
Do you love Times Square? Why, or why not?
When I first came to New York, I sort of loved it because of its electric combination of low sleaze and high art. I tend to avoid it now because of the crowds. Too many people. Not enough sidewalk.
Do you love Hudson Yards? Why, or why not?
I oddly feel sort of sad for the developers. Something went wrong in the planning. It never quite came together.
If you could bring one thing (person/place/event) back to HK that is no longer around, what would it be?
I really miss the many Mom and Pop restaurants and shops that used to line the avenues when I first moved here. It was probably inevitable that they wouldn’t last. But that was a sad loss for the neighborhood and the city.
Add your shameless plug or personal profile?
Thank you! I thought you’d never ask! My extremely funny story telling show, David Dean Makes Love: A One-Man Show has finally returned to the Triad Theatre on W72nd Street. I’m playing Wednesday nights at 7pm until May 18. $20 tickets at TriadNYC.com
Anything we missed?
Don’t underestimate the M11 bus covering the span of Hell’s Kitchen and more going both south on 9th and up 10th. If you can’t make the shows, feel free to buy my book! Working Actor: Breaking in, Making a Living, and Making a Life in the Fabulous Trenches of Show Business (Penguin Random House, 2019). It’s very funny and very honest about the business.
David’s Hell’s Kitchen Happy Places
Rumour’s: It’s a great little Irish Bar and it’s dangerously close to my apartment. Plus, I’m mostly a wine drinker and they specialize in the heavy pour.
DJ Reynolds: This is another great, very popular, Irish bar that has a big dining room that’s usually empty. I wrote my whole book sitting in that dining room. Dennis, the owner is a fantastic barkeep. He seems to know everyone in his bar.
Westerly Natural Market: They’re open late, and they have a huge variety of great, healthy stuff. And the staff is young and cute.
Ninth Avenue Wine & Liquor at W56th St: I love this place. The employees are friendly and knowledgeable. And during quarantine they stayed open VERY LATE. So late that the city shut them down for a while for violating some stupid law about selling bottles of booze after midnight. Personally, I thought they were offering a very important, life-saving service to the neighborhood.
West 55th Street at Christmas Time: W55th always strings up Christmas lights in the trees every December and leaves them up for several months. It’s really sweet and welcoming.
The Pocket Park at 56th & 8th: When I first came to NY, this was the site where Showcase Studios once stood, and where in 1882(!), I auditioned for and booked my first Equity job playing a troubled British teenager who worked in a potato chip factory. I’m trying to get the city to put up a bronze plaque, but so far no luck.
44&X: The food is incredible. It’s Gay-owned. Everybody is welcome. And when the weather is nice, it’s great to sit outside.
World Wide Plaza Courtyard: There aren’t that many urban pocket parks with that much space and light. It’s a nice place to duck into and have a coffee or eat your lunch in peace.
Hudson River / Waterfront Greenway & Bike Path: I often forget we’re living on an island. It’s nice to stroll and let the wind off the river wake you up while it calms you down. With all the noisy newness of Manhattan, it’s nice to remember that this is exact same beautiful river that the Lenape Indians used to cross long before any Europeans got here.
Manhattan Plaza on 43rd: I don’t live there, but every time I visit friends (or even walk by) it makes me happy to see a whole city block packed with crazy people (old and new) who have a stable, safe, affordable place to live. The city needs more Manhattan Plazas.
Delphinium Home: W47th Street between 8th and 9th is not a place you’d expect to find a quirky little gift shop like this. It has tons of greeting cards, candles and eclectic affordable gifts, plus the owners’ sense of humor is certainly reflected in the awesome merchandise. It’s my go-to place for a fun present or card.
The Alvin Ailey Dance Center: This beautiful multistoried modern dance center on the corner of W57th & 9th not only houses the iconic Ailey Company, but also offers affordable dance classes for anybody who’d like to move their body to music. I love passing by and seeing people of all ages (and levels of experience) taking beginning to advanced classes in everything from ballet to African dance. Someday, I’m gonna get up the guts to sign up for a class.
The Waylon on 10th Avenue is a great roadhouse-style bar with live country music that reminds me of misspent college days in Texas, while Flaming Saddles on 9th & 53rd is a super fun, friendly Gay bar where fellows can enjoy a cold one while watching the adorable waitstaff dancing a tightly choreographed number in cowboy boots on the bar. I’m sure Sam Elliott would love it there!