It was after having spent 45 minutes chatting by telephone with the fabulous writer/director/actor/producer/activist and now stand-up comic that I discovered one undiscovered secret in his professional history. Shores, who exploded on the theater scene with 1987's Daddy's Dyin': Who's Got The Will?, wrote, directed and executive produced the Showtime movie The Wilde Girls starring Olivia Newton-John and Swoosie Kurtz.
For those of you interested in obscure The Independent Critic trivia, all three of you, "Swoosie" was my nickname all throughout high school and it has continued to stick with me nearly thirty years later thanks to a lifelong fondness for the acclaimed Broadway, television and film actress. I sang Kurtz's part from the theme song to her short-lived television series Love, Sidney, a rendition that remains famous among Pike High School grads simply for its godawfulness.
The easiest way to summarize Del Shores is that if he writes it, the work inevitably wins awards. I could write all the awards he's received for his insightful and entertaining plays, but to do so would require all the space I have and would likely still come up lacking. Shores' 1987 stage play Daddy's Dyin': Who's Got the Will? became an acclaimed film in 1990. He's also penned the highly acclaimed plays Sordid Lives, Southern Baptist Sissies and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, the latter of which becomes Shores' fourth stage play to be turned into a film when it opens in Los Angeles on October 5th. The film stars recent Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, the fantastic Dale Dickey (from Winter's Bone), Beth Grant, Debby Holiday and David Steen. Additionally, Shores' latest one-man show, Sordid Confessions, has just arrived on DVD courtesy of those fine folks at Breaking Glass Pictures.
I really enjoyed your review of Sordid Confessions. I have to tell you that I have that stuff about amputees because of Sordid Lives. I truly did have a lot of relatives with missing limbs. I have to tell you that when I was doing the show in Atlanta, I'd just started into the bit about amputees and midgets and I look up and there's this amputee wheeling in. It was perfect timing.
The Independent Critic
(Laughing). That's one of the things I most admire about your work. You have this way of taking real life experiences and real family experiences and sharing them in a way that is real, is touching and is just downright funny.
Thank you. You know, I have to be honest I don't think that's something that was learned. I think I was just born with it. My whole family...They were just amazing storytellers. In my family, they don't have transitions into another story. It's like one continuous story.
The Independent Critic
You could probably do stand-up comedy for the rest of your life just with stories from your family. One of the things I found pretty remarkable about this most recent stand-up release is just how fresh and how real it all felt. You were newly out of a marriage, a subject you address in the show, but Sordid Confessions felt darker and edgier than My Sordid Life, which had a more affectionate and playful tone to it. It's pretty amazing to me that you not only addressed such a painful subject in the film, but did so in a way that was both real, vulnerable AND entertaining.
It was fresh. The divorce was announced in late November of last year, and filming was scheduled for January 13th. I'll let you in on a secret. I postponed it. I just needed more time. I ended up filming the show two weeks later. I learned a lot about myself. It was one of those things where afterwards, I knew that everything was going to be okay.
The Independent Critic
How hard was that for you as a performer? It's relatively easy when you're telling stories about your family, even very revealing ones, but you know your family loves you and they're laughing with you and all is well. It's different, though, to share such an intimate part of your life about someone where that relationship has become fractured. I mean, this wasn't Judge Reinhold or someone in your professional world - It was your husband.
It is hard, but I tell my truth and it's part of how I deal with it and really how I deal with everything. I think a true artist really does draw on their lives. I know that those are the artists that I really most appreciate. I've really done that my entire career and I don't think I could not do it. When he got mad that I was talking about him, or about our break-up, in my shows I was like "What did you expect?" This is who I am and how I deal with things. You're right, though, Sordid Confessions is a darker, edgier show because of when it happened and what I was going through in my life.
The Independent Critic Now then, I just saw a post about forgiveness on your page this morning. I think it involved yet another frivolous headline with Paris Hilton.
Yeah, I had to call her out again. Let's face it. Paris Hilton's an idiot. She and Kim Kardashian.