Featured Artist: Jonathan Alexandratos
This is a series of posts featuring our artists who are making things happen in and around our great borough of Queens. Please check back weekly for new posts.
Where were you born?
Which Queens neighborhood do you live in and for how long?
I live in Astoria, and have been in that neighborhood for about three years.
How did you get involved in theatre?
In sixth grade, I wrote a spoof of *Star Trek: The Next Generation* that my friends and I filmed. We created fly-bys of the Enterprise by attaching a hastily-built model to fishing wire and wooshing the contraption past a camera in a darkened bathroom, lighting the ship with a flashlight. The Bridge was my living room, and we ignored questions of why birds were chirping by the “viewscreen” (a.k.a. my living room window). We all wore socks in most of the interior scenes because my parents wouldn’t let us wear shoes in the house. It was probably one of the best things I ever wrote. We taped over my friend’s sister’s dance recital in making it. That convinced me I probably shouldn’t film anything else, but I was hooked on the writing. (And, Dear Friend’s Sister: sorry about the tape snafu…)
What do you love most about Queens?
I love that, when I take the 7 each day on my way to Queensborough Community College (where I teach English), I get to see Gemini Titan II and Mercury-Atlas D rockets out the south windows of the train. Some days, usually days when it’s cold, I think of how I’d like to blast off in one of those suckers and see what’s out there. Other days, I think of that *Star Trek* spoof, and how, like (hopefully!) my writing, my spaceships have also grown from plastic Crazy Glue blobs to something more real, more versatile. But I mean, all metaphor aside: there are spaceships in Queens. Actual spaceships. More than the NASA ones, if you count those saucers that were in *Men in Black*. I think we’re the only borough with spaceships. I’d like to see Brooklyn compete with that.
I also want to add that I love the Secret Theatre, and I love that I get to do theatre there. If the Secret Theatre were a rocket, they *wouldn’t* be the Titan, because those are now out of date. They’d be one of those Ares rockets NASA is currently developing – new, mighty, and out of this world. (See how I tied that back to the outer space stuff? You didn’t think I could do that, did you? Yeah. I *earned* that MFA.)
Do you have an “only in Queens” moment you’d like to share?
The other day, I watched a *Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers* marathon. I have the whole series on DVD and all the action figures to go with it, so I’m able to pick my favorite episodes and act out the coolest parts. Technically, that could happen anywhere, but, because all my stuff is in Queens, it actually could’ve only happened in Astoria, realistically. I don’t know. I wish I could tell a funny story about Citi Field or something, but I can’t.
Your top Queens picks (food, entertainment, sights, etc)?
The reason I knew I’d be at home in Queens – Astoria, specifically (and it’s not because of the Greek thing!) – is because I found a place that’s dead center in the Bermuda Triangle of a Best Buy, a Toys ‘R Us, and an amazing bar called DiWine. If I’m not at work, chances are I’m at one of those three places. And if I’m not there, there’s another place on Steinway called Toys & Variety. The “Variety” basically means gloves and luggage, but I never really explore those options. The guy who runs that place is a toy god, and he gets the best Marvel superhero action figures before anyone else. That’s really all I ever wanted: to live in the center of toys and movies, with some booze to help me with the shock of living in the center of toys and movies.
I’m working on a comic book-y, action figure-y, animal allegory-y play called *Duck* with Mission to (dit)Mars, a group that I’m so grateful to be a part of. I’ve also got an excerpt of my update of the Ancient Greek satyr play *The Cyclops* being read in June (June 2nd!) in Wide Eyed Productions’ *The Winks* series. In addition, I’m putting together a collection of academic essays that analyze action figures as academic texts, and co-programming the Page 23 Literary Conference, which is an academic conference on comic books that is attached to Denver Comic Con.