Chicago, IL —
Zach Zimmerman is turning a real-life dating debacle from five years ago into a unique walking tour, based on those true events – of the three dates he went on with The Twink, as Zimmerman tagged the "cute and kind former host of a Swedish breakfast restaurant in Chicago." And if you thought, it probably is Ann Sather's Restaurant, you're right – as that's where the 60-minute tour kicks off.
Zimmerman debuts "The Twink on the Fire Escape" this Sunday, March 19 – and it will continue for several more Sundays over the next couple of months before Zimmerman, a writer, performer and improviser, moves to New York City.
"The Twink on the Fire Escape" follows the short-lived gay love affair, visiting key landmarks that led to The Twink to winding up on Zimmerman's fourth-story fire escape.
The show is Zimmerman's farewell project to Chicago, hitting a few local landmarks that tie around The Twink.
"I gave The Twink my number, which was a monumental moment for me," Zimmerman recalled. "I was raised Southern Baptist and had only recently (come out), so it was a big deal to flirt with a boy in the wild. Flash-forward a few dates, and he was climbing out on my fire escape."
The Twink, Zimmerman described, was originally from the Midwest, though Zimmerman now can't recall exactly where, but "it started with an m.. Michigan, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Madison."
"We went to a hot dog restaurant/bar, the most romantic of Chicago date locations, which is also the second stop on the tour," Zimmerman said. "He got too boozy, so I went home at a respectable hour and he stayed out. Then, I woke up to a series of voicemails at 3 a.m."
An hour later, The Twink was on the fire escape.
"I turn terrifying things in my life into stories because it gives me control over them," Zimmerman said. "The story is told in three parts, at three locations. After arriving at (the intersection of) Clark and Belmont (streets in Lakeview), you'll be escorted to the first stop, where you'll enjoy a cinnamon roll and a mimosa. The second location (will include) another drink, and then (it's off to) the final destination where the climax of the story occurs.
"At the end of the tour, we'll find a bar and debrief if people are interested. I love a good post-show talkback."
Yes, this show involves about 15 minutes of walking. And hey, it'll help for those pursuing their 10,000 daily steps, Zimmerman points out with a smile.
Zimmerman has not seen or talked to The Twink since the night he wound up on the fire escape. "A few years ago, when I still remembered his last name, I looked at his Facebook profile and he now lives in Los Angeles, (which) I guess is a good thing because LA has more one-level homes."
Each show can accommodate up to 10 guests, to help maintain intimacy, Zimmerman said.
"I've been developing the show by telling parts of the story at Baby Wine, an LBGT improv group that hosts an incredible variety show at the Annoyance on Fridays at 10 p.m.," Zimmerman said. "So thanks to Chris Kervick for that opportunity, and their amazing queer-friendly audiences. Also, the talented and kind Josie Benedetti and Martin Scheeler are going to help me wrangle people between the different locations. Lastly, Halcyon Person and Jacob Kosior deserve credit for the 'show' in that they were my roommates at the time and knocked on the downstairs neighbor's door at 4 a.m. to try to save The Twink."
Zimmerman, 28, lives in Lakeview and has called Chicago home for close to seven years. He is originally from Roanoke, Va., and is a Princeton University graduate. His solo work includes Straight Man (iO, Peoples Improv Theatre), Sunday School (Peoples Improv Theatre), Chicago Reader-Recommended Spell (iO), and Luke Babylon: The Christian Magician (Annoyance Theatre
). He has improvised around the world with The Second City Theatricals, iO Theatre, Mission Improvable, and Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvised Musical.
"I grew up in Chicago's improv scene, so my sense of humor is very immediate and interactive," he said. "While I was performing on a cruise ship with The Second City Theatricals last year, I wrote a solo show called 'Spell,' where every scene involved audience interaction. I've been very interested since then in creating theatrical experiences that draw people together and acknowledge the energy they bring."
Zimmerman added, with his wit, that 'The Twink on the Fire Escape' will teach the audience about The Twink, the fire escape, "and more than you ever knew you wanted to know about my sexuality."For tickets to this witty, wacky, 60-minute walking show, go to www.twinkonfire.com – and tickets include multiple drinks and a snack.