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When Broadway went dark on March 12, when her industry closed and she lost her source of income overnight, Susie Mosher was kind of preoccupied: she was hoping her wife, Hope, didn’t die.
The couple will have been together 26 years. “She’s younger than I am,” says Susie, host of The Lineup at Birdland, “and she was always saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to have a baby.’ And I was like, ‘OK,’ thinking. ‘That will never happen, because we’re both artists. When are we going to have a stable situation like that?’
“Then almost four years ago, she said, ‘It’s now.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean it’s now? We don’t have any money, and we don’t have the groundwork to have a child.’ But we had also just moved into Manhattan Plaza, which changed our circumstances because, for anyone who doesn’t know, if you’re an artist, it goes with the ebb and flow of your career. So if you’re making more money one year, you pay more rent; but if you’re not making any money, you’re not paying very much rent.”
It meant they could actually consider having a baby. Hope was dead set for it, so Susie said OK, why not? “We started the long process of in vitro, and it took a long time. I kept thinking through all of it, ‘It’s not going to happen.’
“We spent a bazillion dollars that we didn’t have, credit cards and everything, and lo and behold, she got pregnant.” That was last year.
As Hope went into surgery, Susie was told, starkly: “We’re going to try and save her life.” She replied: “What? Please do.”
But there were complications at the birth. Hope had a placenta abruption, and was facing a life and death situation. “I went from seeing the baby to her being rushed into emergency,” recalls Susie. “That was a devastating day. I was really terrified of … bad things happening.”
As Hope went into surgery, Susie was told, starkly: “We’re going to try and save her life.” She replied: “What? Please do.
“But once I found out she was going to make it, then I was suddenly like, ‘Oh my God, that little baby’s down in the nursery. I’ve got to go let him know he has family.’ We locked eyes, and I went, ‘Oh, I’m going to love you for the rest of my life.’ And I understood something that I’d never gotten. I never knew that was even possible, that kind of feeling, and it’s only grown. I am madly in love with him. It’s been remarkable that we’ve both had this opportunity to grow as a family.”
They came home to a changed New York. The world had shut down while they were in hospital – Birdland included. And while she worries about the future of live performance (and The Lineup was unapologetically intimate), she has had the gift of a full five months to bond with her baby boy.
“We’re a super tight unit,” she says. “Our home life is so happy, it’s ridiculous. I never imagined this experience, and here I am having it now.”
“I’m at the very beginning of his life, but he’s coming into my life at the very end of my life. So the fact that I’m going to have this wonderful understanding about love on a different level is a marvelous thing,”
She muses on the reality of being an older mom and admits: “I’m not going to be around for most of Hudson’s life, let’s face it. I’m at the very beginning of his life, but he’s coming into my life at the very end of my life. So the fact that I’m going to have this wonderful understanding about love on a different level is a marvelous thing,”
And, since she can’t perform on stage right now (her secret power is making up ridiculous, hilarious improv songs on the spot), she’s taken to social media to share her joy at this small human in her life. Which is how, before he was even six months old, he became a viral sensation.
“I was taking photos of him because he’s so photogenic, and what else did I have to do?” says Susie. “And I thought, “Oh, look. This’ll make a fun video.”
“This” was a moment on the changing table – Hudson looking up at Mama with a quizzical gaze. “So I just turned on the camera and started making up a song. I thought, ‘That’s sort of funny,’ and I posted it.”
“All these people started making these covers … people, like Marc Shaiman [who wrote the music for Hairspray} and Billy Stritch [Liza Minnelli’s music director]. And then Kate Pierson of the B-52s made one with her wife, Monica.”
Her friend Alice Ripley (from Next to Normal on Broadway) posted a cover version, which started a ripple effect. “All these people started making these covers, and it was just bizarre and so funny,” says Susie. “Really great people, like Marc Shaiman [who wrote the music for Hairspray} and Billy Stritch [Liza Minnelli’s music director]. And then Kate Pierson of the B-52s made one with her wife, Monica. And Tally Sessions [Company on Broadway] gave a really wonderful reading. We ended up having 53 people do covers, in all different genres: spoken word, dramatic interps of the ridiculous lyrics of it.
“It was at the point when we had been in lockdown long enough that we hadn’t lost the spirit yet, but we were looking for stuff to do,” she says. “I don’t think the same thing would happen now because I feel like people have had it beat out of them.”
She has no idea what the future holds for cabaret and live entertainment. “I don’t have any inside information, but I can’t imagine how, financially, social distancing is going to work. It’s almost like the joy is sucked out, man. Going to a nightclub is so sexy. You want to look good, and you want to feel flirty, and wearing masks and staying socially distanced, not being able to hug people, not being able to be physical at all with your guests – it just becomes so sad and sterile, and that’s not what live performance is.”
So, until there’s a vaccine, she’s staying focused on her son, her wife, and the beauty of life. “Look at this day,” she says, as we sit on benches outside Manhattan Plaza, on W43rd St – 9th/10th Ave. “It’s so gorgeous. And New York is still the greatest city in the world. I never want to live anywhere else, and I’m hopeful.