Hidden Identities – A Panel at the Educational Alliance

Valerie Frankel and Laurie Gwen Shapiro will participate in a "Hidden Identities" Panel at the Educational Alliance.

The Educational Alliance will host what looks to be quite an entertaining panel, “Hidden Identities: Tales From Under the Hood,” next Monday evening at 7:00pm.  The event is inspired by the idea of hidden and unmasked identities, and will feature a diverse group of writers, editors and performers from various creative backgrounds.  Local writer and filmmaker, Laurie Gwen Shapiro curated the panel and will moderate the evening.  I asked her how she decided who to include on the panel. Here’s what she had to say:

I was approached by Dana Weissman, who used to run spectacular events for 92nd Street Y, to do something, “Out of the Box,” as she put it, for our community, and given that it was the Educational Alliance she gingerly wondered if we could make it tie into Purim. I thought well, Purim has a wild backstory – a sexy Jewess hiding out undercover…Voila, a theme, “Hidden Identity” or to broaden it, “Unmasked Identity.”

When I heard one of the wittiest writers I know, Valerie  Frankel, “collaborated” with Snooki on Snooki’s novel, The Shore Thing, I was floored. I so wanted her on the panel but she was tied up on the original date. That was a no brainer, I had to wait for her to hear that story even if the event would now be post Purim. And of course, when it comes to stories, religion should never be a factor. Everyone in New York is “a little bit Jewish,” so we got African American, Italian and Scottish on the panel as well.

My main criteria was, “Does your story or expertise on a secret world blow me away, would other people want to hear about this, especially if they were a little drunk on complimentary leftover kosher Purim wine being provided by the Educational Alliance?”  I actually know all the people on this panel, and have privately pumped them ad nauseum for details on their stories, but they don’t know each other. I want it to be like a boozy dinner party people don’t want to leave. I want them to ask each other questions, audience members to pipe up…

One of my oldest dearest  friends is Corey S. Powell, who is now is Editor in Chief of Discover, and he had me in a frenzy after I heard him on the radio talking about new science pointing to other universes. Corey is the funniest science teacher you ever had, he can distill hard stuff to deliciousness.

Also on the panel is Lower East Side-raised Michele Larsen, who you can’t walk down the street with because she’s a head-turner. When I heard she had been over 300 lbs, pre lap band surgery, I sat down on the street with her and had to hear everything from the beginning, including how she felt as a larger woman.  And now she is sharing this experience with others considering surgery– she was recently profiled on NBC News with Brian Williams…

Also, Conor McCourt, who I co-produced two films with, has held me captive with his stories about 9/11 spy surveillance at the NYPD and his new work with murder and adultery and more as a Private Detective. You have to hear his story about how he solved one murder. I guarantee you will tell this story to  people.

I went to high school and college with the actor, blogger and producer and former media executive Cas Marino and watched him come to terms with his sexuality and his desire to act, even after he was married with a “respectable” job to a college sweetheart and had two adorable kids. I think he is very brave to share his story. There are many hiding their sexuality, and I will probe why.

Michael Learmonth, Digital Editor for Ad Age, who lives in Seward Park, is one of the most sought after experts on the new media age. He has a zillion Twitter followers, go check, and I think it is fitting to have a local expert on the panel to tell us how we all are having our identities stripped, which is radically different from a few years ago, when everyone was Avatar crazy.

$10 // Monday, March 28th // 6:30pm pre-reception with kosher wine and snacks, 7:00pm panel // 197 East Broadway.