Skip to main content

Stage Left

It was years ago, probably a decade or more, that I first saw Andy Bendel. Sitting in the audience of the darkened Station Theatre, I was enjoying the production of Deathtrap, and especially the performance of one of the leads. This would have been Andy. Having watched the Christopher Reeve/Michael Caine movie, I was pretty familiar with the plot of the play, but it still managed to mesmerize. A lot of that was down to Andy.

Then there was the classic farce Charley's Aunt, also produced at the Station Theatre. There, Andy played a butler, and nearly stole the show. He did so much just by standing there, raising his eyebrow. Everyone else on stage was great. It was a wonderful production, full of energy, and yet through it all my focus kept coming back to Andy's performance of the staid butler, very much the (extra) comic relief.

A few years later, I would finally meet Andy, socially, at a friend's house one evening. It was one of those nice, laid back parties, and there was Andy, sitting on a couch, and I had a moment of feeling star struck. 'There's that cool dude from the Station Theatre!' I thought. I said hello to him, and he was easy to talk to. Polite, unassuming, Andy's first impression was that of a gentleman.

Over the next few years I'd see Andy again - at parties, and especially on the campus where we both worked. Our paths would often cross at the end of the day, when we were on the way home. We would exchange pleasantries, and Andy would always offer a faint smile and a "Hi, how are you?" as he ambled toward the bus stop, and a brief conversation ensued. We would also see each other at the dining room in the Illini Union. Andy would often sit alone. There's something to be said for those who are comfortable in their solitude.

Andy Bendel died early yesterday morning, a few weeks after suffering a massive stroke. His friends -- those far, far closer to him than I -- did a stellar job of being by his side during his illness. He definitely was not alone in the end, and that's about all most of us can ask for. I will miss his presence, knowing that I'd run into him on campus, or at a friend's house, or the possibility that, hey, maybe he'd be in another play. He will be missed.


  1. A lovely article, and a beautiful photo, of Andy.

    Andy's visitation and funeral will be coming up on Friday, April 8, 2016 - both the same day.

    Visitation is 11am - 1pm. Funeral will start thereafter. Both of these will be at Morgan Funeral Home, 1304 Regency Dr West, Savoy, IL 61874. (near savoy cinemas, and the MTD Yellow Bus route)

    Burial will be in Mount Hope cemetary, the one "on campus" east of Memorial Stadium.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …


"Step out from the mask you stand behind Fearful lost and blind Time to take the time The pressure’s on you Hide away, hide away No tomorrow, just today"
- Brilliant, Ultravox
Today was National Coming Out Day, so of course it gives some pause for reflection on my own coming out story. It was in April 1993, my junior year of high school (go Chargers!). In the six years of writing this blog, I have alluded to how I came out, but never really delved into the intricacies of how it came about. What better day to do so than today?
My first (small) indications of homosexuality manifested in grade school. While in first grade, I thought a fifth grader looked cute. In fifth grade, I would stare, longingly, at a boy in class, until he caught me looking at him. There were some infatuations with boys in middle school, and a first sexual experience during freshman year of high school. Everything up to that point had been, for the most part, based in the physical realm. I liked the way certain…