L.A. Story #3: Where’s Your Voice?


Him: It’s steep. I told you not to wear Converse, Michael.

Me: Eh. I’ve hiked the Adirondack trail in Converse. I bet I’ll be fine.

Him: I forgot to tell you how steep it is. Where’s my car?

Me: I don’t know?

Him: I took a photo of the street signs. It’s okay. I know how to find it. Don’t worry so much?

Me: I wasn’t – Fischer –

Him: I’ve been here for 6 weeks, Michael I know how to get around.

Me: Okay.

Him: Don’t walk over there! It’s really steep! What if someone came up and pushed you?

Me: I’m four feet away from the edge. Also, if someone pushed me that person would be a murderous sociopath. I prefer the company of narcissistic sociopaths, personally.

Him: This is way deeper than it needs to be. Look at the canyon!

Me: I’m looking. It’s beautiful.


Him: Look around – do you see any recognizable faces?

Me: Yeah. Everyone sort of looks like everyone else. Part of that is conformity, probably. Part of that is surgery, probably.

Him: Do you know that to be true?

Me: I’ve been in town four days, three of which I was sequestered by Network.

Him: So you’re just making blind assumptions.

Me: I’m just making jokes.

Him: Well, people could be listening.

Me: Good. I think my jokes are funny, sometimes.  Maybe they’ll give me a dollar? You’ve only been here three weeks, by the way.

Him: Doesn’t mean I’m not careful what I say and when.

Me: Let’s yell really loud into the canyon and listen for the echo.

Him: OMG no! Is that Aubrey Plaza?

Me: No. Aubrey is prettier than her. Also, she’s gabbing away. Aubrey listens and judges.

Him: How do you know?

Me: I might’ve been on an improv team with her, once upon a time.



Me: Who can remember? Ancient history.

Him: Introduce me to her!

Me: She’s not here! But that’s Gus Van Sant.

Him: Let’s get a photo with him.

Me: I’m joking. That’s not him. He lives in Williamsburg. That’s a Pilates instructor that takes screenwriting classes on Thursday afternoons.

Him: Michael, people could be listening to you!

Me: They should be listening to you. Are you singing?

Him: I don’t sing anymore. I want to write television and that’s the only thing I care about.

Me: You have a lovely voice. Frank and I had our eye on you. You probably would have made a team.

Him: You’re not my teacher anymore, Michael. This is Los Angeles.

Me: Yes.


Me: It certainly is, Fischer.



Me: Even at Peg’s apartment you wouldn’t sing. Even just in front of the dogs.

Him: I don’t know about my voice. It has problems.

Me: It’s a legit musical theater voice. You have a great voice. I want to hear you sing my songs.

Him: Could we make money selling songs?

Me: We certainly could.

Him: How’s that done?

Me: I imagine you go over to Gaga’s house and sing her a song you wrote on your uke.

Him: That’s too twee. Also she writes her own.

Me: That’s true. Gaga has actual writing talent. But quite a few pop stars don’t.

Him: People could be listening.

Me: Fischer.

Him: What?

Me: You’re my friend.

Him: So?


Me: So, I know this is L.A. but let’s just pretend this is New York, for a sec? Let’s just pretend, Fischer, that it’s totally okay to just talk without getting incredibly paranoid Stephen Spielberg might be listening to us. He has bigger problems than two homos talking philosophy. Trust me.

Him: It’s not the type of conversation you have on Runyon Canyon.  I think that’s Omarosa.

Me: It’s not. It’s Michelle Obama.

Him: Really?!

Me: Who cares?!


Me: I think it’s Serena. No – Beyonce. No – Miley. It’s Miley.

Him: Don’t walk so close to the edge!

Me: Why did you stop singing? Where’s your lovely voice, Fischer?

Him: I don’t. I don’t want to perform.

Me: If you want to sell a song, you gotta sing a song.

Him: I just want to write.

Me: All the best comedy writers I know perform all the time.

Him: I don’t have to. Don’t walk so close to the edge!

Me: You’re right. I’m going to run the rest of the way.

Him: What? Why?!

Me: We have to remind ourselves to do brave things, sometimes, Fischer. Otherwise we wind up moving to Hollywood with a beautiful voice – and then become too shy to even sing.

Him: What? Stop! Don’t!

Me: See you at the bottom of the canyonnnnnnnnn!

(I run away, singing, and flailing my arms. Fischer looks mortified. Paris Hilton is amused, then annoyed. Also, she wasn’t there at all.)



Piefolk Salon Party





Once or twice a month we have a salon party. I invite notable New Yorkers over to my place and we bake and podcast in the afternoon. Then, we serve the pies to our guests that evening. Artists, singers, poets, comics, essayists – storytellers of all types are invited. It’s a big hearted affair.

video by naruki kukita

It used to be ‘gay men only.’ But, I’m expanding the mission statement. Lesbians, trans folk, cis-boys and girls, straights, bulldykes, bears, otters, radical faeries, log cabin republicans, and homos. Anyone feeling a little ‘queer’ that day can come share, as long as you’re willing to play nice, show some kindness, and make our hearts shine.

Straight boys can expect some light hazing.

Big thanks to Naruki for this surprise video.

Love for all you boys and girls. And gurls.


naruki kukita



(featured photo by Allison Michael Orenstein)

(additional photos of Michael Martin and Marcos Sanchez by Jack Slomovits)

Him:  Hey.  You’re T.’s friend, right?

Me:  That’s right.

Him:  Pie guy.

Me:  Ha.  Yeah.  Pie guy.  That’s me.

Him:  That’s cool. 

Me:  I guess so.  It’s gotten out of hand.

Him:  Has it?

Me:  I think so.  In a good way.  People have been really nice, and really supportive.

Him:  How so? 

Me:  I’ve had people – strangers – send me art and make me things.  I have had a few people make watercolors or digital images.  Two people designed aprons for me – well three, actually.  My mother commissioned the very first one that says Pie Man on it.

Him:  Your mother??

Me:  Yeah.  She reads the site.  Is that weird?


What do you do?

Him:  I’m an Architect.  It really weighs me down.  Bureaucracy.

Me:  I think architecture is inspiring.

Him:  Whatever…


So what’s your deal?  Is there some sort of message you’re pushing?

Me:  Hm.  I mean, yes.  No.  Probably?  I think people should live openly? I just post about what happens to me on awkward dates, or weird exchanges in New York, and I juxtapose those cringy moments with pics of me baking with cute boys and artists i like.

Him:  Why do that?

Me:  I guess that I want to mix domesticity with a very obviously Gay lifestyle.  I’m trying to get Gays and Straights to see Gay sexuality (and poly-sexuality) as an option that is compatible with domesticity.  Plus who doesn’t love to see cute boys baking and read about them suffering through  dating mishaps?


Him: People love to watch attractive people suffer.  It’s crowded tonight.

Me:  Metropolitan on a weekend.  But look at all these talented boys.  It’s all right here in this room…

Him:  What is? 

Me:  Everything you might need to launch a career, start a movement,  or change the world.  All these boys need to do is realize they’re brothers, and start loving each other instead of ripping each other apart.  They have the talent and connections…

Him:  That’s the stuff I was talking about.  I don’t get that stuff, when I hear it.

Me:  Oh.  I tend to speak philosophically sometimes.  It’s annoying.  I think we (the Gays) could really do to start loving ourselves and each other much more than we allow ourselves to right now.  We have this tendency rip into each other, and act bitchy or jealous of one another.  We shouldn’t do that. Our purpose should be to build each other up, not tear one another down.

Him:  That’s human nature. 

Me:  Don’t do that.

Him:  Do what?

Me:  Don’t be dismissive and excuse the behavior.

Him:  Can you say that it’s not human nature?

Me:  No, but what I can say is this:  I’m not that interested in focusing on how the world and people are so negative that we can’t achieve gains in our community.  I’m not interested in reasons why we can’t achieve brotherhood.

Him:  Brotherhood?  Seriously?

Me:  Other oppressed minorities have achieved moments of brotherhood and solidarity and I know that if we don’t use simple excuses like ‘that’s human nature’ to indulge in an empty pleasure like ripping each other down, that we might be able to start loving and supporting each other.

Him:  Ugh.  That sounds like a lot of work.

Me:  People just need to re-wire themselves, I think.  Instead of immediately being ‘over it’ or sarcastic, they could try supporting their brothers.  For instance – you expect people here to be default setting stand-offish right?

Him:  Sure.

Me:  But, if you make eye contact with someone and touch them, for instance, when you’re speaking to them, they feel you trying to connect with them, and they’re bound to show you their best side.

Him:  Really?  Is it a special moment for them?  Do they unlock a spiritual connection with each other?

Me:  Stop.  We can have this conversation with each other but it’s going to make me upset if I feel like you’re being glib, flippant or dismissive.

Him:  I just don’t believe you.

(long, icy pause)

Me: What?

Him:  I don’t believe you really feel this way.  It sounds good for a second but then i don’t believe it.

Me:  That’s a mixture of self doubt and fear talking.

Him:  Haha!  What??

Me:  It’s intimidating hearing a strong, confident point of view. I’m guessing this subject is something you don’t think about often.  Most Gay people are tired of their own oppression and tune it out.  You don’t exactly know how you feel about this subject and now you’re being called upon to comment on it, and your knee jerk reaction is to be negative and try to find ways to chip away at my philosophy, rather than formulate your own.  ‘It’s human nature.’

Him:  Here’s my philosophy:  any extreme statement is wrong.  Extreme statements are always, always wrong.  Period.  That’s why I don’t trust your philosophy.

Me:  Is that all you’ve got?  ‘You’re wrong?’  Here’s an extreme statement from the Declaration of Independence:  “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”  Here’s an extreme statement from Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Are those statements wrong??

Him:  I just don’t trust your philosophy, or that you believe it.

Me:  Is this what you do when you meet friends of friends?  You call them phony and liars?

Him:  I didn’t do that?

Me: Didn’t you?  You just told me that you don’t trust my philosophy or that I myself believe it.  I don’t know how much more blatantly you can call someone out for being a liar.  Maybe you feel threatened or lazy?  Your philosophy takes the power away from negative extreme statements, sure, but it also takes the power away from anything positive too.  What you’re left with is powerlessness.  You’re left with sarcasm.  You’re left with nihilism.

I don’t find that at all inspiring.

Thanks for chatting.