Thursday, 7 June 2012


As I wrote the title for this essay, a burning issue of my life, I knew that I was going to write about something I have very little knowledge of. The lack of experience in this matter will make my job difficult, for I haven’t really dated anyone. Still, I would like to talk about gay dating and gays, about whom I have good knowledge.
Do not get me wrong, for I do go on dates, once in a while, with guys I meet online or in real life, but we rarely see each other for a second date. I know what you are thinking: these guys have poor taste in men, which is the only logical explanation why they never call again, right? There is this mantra that I keep saying to myself: there is nothing wrong with me. I am not saying I am perfect, and that every guy should fall in love with me, which would be a nightmare, but I am honest, responsible, and cute, and if these are not good reasons to go on a second date with me, I must be missing somethig because there is nothing wrong with me.
Being gay is hard. Feeling the need to prove that you have the right to live and to love is ridiculous but, unfortunately, it is a big part of every gay guy out there. Wether it’s your family and friends, or it is yourself, whom you have to accept and learn to live comfortably with -- it is a battle, and it is one that we do not always win. I can’t even win this battle with my mom, whom I love and respect, but who still thinks it’s my choice to be gay and that it’s an illness. Dating a gay guy could be more challenging than being alone or lonely, for several, troubling at times,  reasons.
Getting a first date is not what concerns me, but it is a challenging task to make it to the second date. Here are some dry numbers with no emotional attachment, which I know I tend to overuse, that prove my statement. Since the beginning of this year, I have been stood up five times. Guys didn’t show up for a date with me five bloody times this year, and four out of five of these queer fellows cancelled on the day! As it should be in every professional presentation, here are the examples. 
The first guy, whom I was to meet at the Royal Alexandra Theatre to see a play, texted me an hour before the meeting time and said that he needed to help his mother to move and, therefore, would not be able to meet me. That’s fine, I thought, because moving unexpectedly with only one hour notice is what mothers usually do. I went to see the play, and needless to say, the guy, whom I was so looking forward meeting, has never texted me since.
I met the second guy in my yoga class, and months later, when we met online, he asked me out. On the day, just an hour or so before the meeting time, he texted me, saying he was stuck at work. No problem, I texted back, I will wait. Don’t wait for me, was his reply, and I didn’t, but I went out and got drunk.
Just a week ago, I met a handsome guy at a bar, and we hit it off right away. We both were a little tipsy, so there were no icebreaking routines needed, and we went on talking for an hour. The chemistry was great, and we liked each other quite a lot. We shared a cab on the way home, where he tried to kiss me; I didn’t play hard to get, and we kissed; we also exchanged numbers and parted with sweet feelings and even sweeter expectations. The very next day, I texted him asking if he was feeling well, and whether he had any regrets about the previous night. He suggested that we see each other soon. Well, his idea of soon was eight days later.  Canadians are like that, when rushed could mean several weeks. Patience is hard, but I can manage, for I have been single for a year, and eight days are not going to make any difference. On Thursday, a day before we were suppose to meet, I received a text from him with unfortunate news that there was a chance he might not be able to make it on Friday because he was not feeling well. Do I need to say he didn’t feel well on Friday and, therefore, we didn’t meet. On Saturday, I texted him asking about his health, but my message was ignored. Needless to say that I still haven’t heard from him. I guess the guy is dead-sick because there is no other explanation why someone would not want to meet and date me because there is nothing wrong with me.
The last guy called me, after chatting with me online, offering to meet for a drink. Naturally, I said yes, and went on with my homework because the chance of a Canadian guy meeting you right away are close to zero. An hour later, he called again, saying he was on his way, and asked me to pick a restaurant. Obviously, I rushed to the shower,  googled a good place with a patio, and jumped on my bike to meet the guy. It’s the first time, when after meeting someone online, I got a phone call on the same day, and agreed to meet on the same day. I was confused because it doesn’t happen here in Canada with Canadian boys. We did meet. He was not Canadian, but Austrian, which explained why he was so real and ready. A couple of hours later, we hit our third bar and this time it was in the village, since he had never been there and, naturally, I took him on a tour. It was there we met David, a friend of mine, and my ex lover and my current hairdresser,  who joined us for a couple of drinks and a casual conversation. An hour later, my date and I decided to leave. On the way to his car and my bike, parked together, my date, named Iohan, said several things, listed below as they were. You shall decide for yourself what to make of it. Firstly, Iohan said, that David, my friend, was a very nice guy; He followed this with comment about David’s face wondering how was it possible to be single with a face like that; and lastly, Iohan suggested we meet again for dinner, and that we should cook it at David’s place. I got on my bike and said, sure. Later that night, I poured myself a glass of wine to celebrate the fact that there is nothing wrong with me, and that the right guy will come along one warm sunny day.  That is just how it is because there is nothing wrong with me. Cheers.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


When I first heard the expression “culture shock”, I ignored it and laughed it off as something of no importance. How could I be shocked by museums and art galleries, movies and music, I thought, when I am an artist and an actor? That is my life and my career, so I ignored culture shock as one of no importance. Paintings and art exhibitions were the substance of culture shock in my mind, but I got it all wrong. It was not soon after I had moved to Canada, but years later when I started noticing odd things when making connections and making friends. 
Foreign culture shocks you with a new and strange way of living a life.  Culture shock  hits you with little details. It is never anything major, so you have to know what these little things are in order to notice them. Knowing them is still not enough because one needs to learn how to use the knowledge correctly. 
Here are several major thing to look out for. Language is the first one, but I would not say that it is the biggest or most important part of culture shock. I base my statement on the opinion that one simply must know the language. Although I have been speaking English for more than 14 years, I still have troubles understanding everything that native speakers say while they are talking to each other. When the same people talk to me, somehow unconsciously, they change the way they speak by making it simpler. They avoid using references to facts, events and people which and whom I, the foreigner, may not be familiar with. Locals use idioms, linguistic nuances, and locally invented expressions that are new to even a fluent stranger. We still speak the same language, but we speak it from different perspectives. 
Culture shock also bites you with non-verbal communication. Facial expressions, body language, intonation, and voice are as important as verbal expression, maybe even more. For example, one needs to learn how to read and interpret non verbal signs in order to understand people correctly. Learning how to use it will help you to be understood. It is a recent discovery of mine, I find, that Canadians have very reserved facial expressions. Sometimes, polar emotions are expressed with the same polite look -- calm and smiling. The same goes for body language. While “hot” nations (those countries with the majority of hot days in a year), like Spain, Italy, or the whole South American region are very articulate and animated with their bodies, North American people are calm and reserved with their expressions. If you tie up an Italian guy’s hands, he would not be able to talk. Italians cannot communicate without gesturing. I am very animated myself, and I sometimes shock locals with my way of talking. 
Being unable to adjust to the environment makes you very frustrated and lost. I wish I could see myself from aside without being subjective. If I only could look at myself through Canadians eyes to see how different, odd, strange and foreign I am, so I can make changes and adjust to the local culture. I am not saying I want to change who I am, but I want to know, learn and play by the local unspoken rules.
Canada, unlike its southern neighbor with its “melting pot” ideology, promotes the idea and provides support to sub-cultures among new immigrants. People tend to mingle with their own kind, when in New York, for example, small circle of close friends are much more diverse. These facts also makes it more difficult to make local, born and bred,  friends.
Canadians are great at making plans and following routines. Being able to plan a dinner with a close friend a couple of months in advance is a remarkable quality. Not only they can keep the promise, but also will be in the mood for it on the day. Russians are much more spontaneous, even unpredictable. Planning has never been in our system. From Government and law-making to the everyday life activities of regular people, chaos rules our lives. Some things are good to be planned in advance, and that I can agree with, but there should be room for surprises and spontaneity. Another and more serious reason for being alert is the constantly changing social and political environment. You never know what’s coming next and what to be prepared for. Revolution, banking crises, or abuse makes Russians all hyper vigilant, unlike our calm and stress free Canadians. 
There is a saying “You don’t bring old rules into a new church”, which means that you have to learn and accept the rules and customs of a new place. You may not like them, but you have to accept them and stop trying to change  them because you can’t. Stop wasting your energy and your talent on changing the way people communicate in this county, and learn to live and to love their rules. You will start enjoying it at some point because so many people do and it will be beneficial for all of us.


“Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions
of people based on some prior assumptions”

“Stereotypes are standardized and simplified conceptions
of people based on some prior assumptions”
Since I moved to Canada, about 4years ago, I have learned quite a few new facts about myself and my country of origin. Here is a list of the five most common stereotypes or myths I usually hear about Russia and Russians. I  am also offering here some commentary and some explanation about my newly obtained knowledge.
Myth number one claims that Russia is very cold. Russia is the largest country in the world, and it is spread throughout several climate zones from  year-round frozen lands around the Baltic sea to always hot and sunny coasts of the Black sea. In some Russian territories, snowfall in the winter is a very rare event, and it comes as much of a surprise as would snow in Egypt. Russia has hot and dry sand deserts in the south-east, as well as humid subtropical territories in the south. The climate of Russia’s capital Moscow, unlike a popular but false belief, is very much like the climate in Toronto, with the exception of a longer and much nicer spring. Almost every time when I mention that I am cold, people act very surprised that a Russian can get cold. I don’t have any logical explanation for that.
The following note has nothing to do with the subject of this story, but I feel an urge to share my idea. Unlike many Russians, I do not think that the country’s  status as the largest in the world is a legit reason for national pride simply because it is only a geographical fact. Having happy citizens with healthy lives and a positive attitude is something to be proud of, but not the size of the country you live in. Russia is the largest country, but it is far from being the best place to live in.
A common stereotype, which is number two on my list, suggests that Russians drink a lot. It is as true as saying that Canadians use canoes as public transport. Some people drink socially, others drink heavily, a lot of people do not drink at all. We do, though, have customs and traditions with consuming a lot of alcohol on special occasions, but that barely equals the fact that we are all drunks. Russia, like any other country in the world, has an issue with alcoholism, especially in the last decade. People are poor, unhappy, and hopeless, and as a result many Russians drink. Some people want to take the pressure off, others  are trying to get away from a dull reality, and everyone raises a  glass or two when they are happy. 
Myth number three assures me that Russians have wild bears as pets. Some myths and stereotypes are sillier than others. This myth in particular makes me speechless. I never know what to answer, so everytime someone asks me if there are bears on the streets of Moscow, I just nod my head and smile. 
Myth number four talks about the male population of the largest country in the world. Russian men, or as we are often called, savage lovers, are very good in bed. This is true and I couldn’t agree more.
Myth number five rumours that all Russians are spies. If this were true, it would make us very bad spies. If everyone knows that you are a spy, then I believe you have failed at your job. I blame books and movies about the red danger as well as the Cold War with American government’s propaganda about dangerous and unpredictable communists Russians. If you were wondering, I am not a spy, I think.
There is one fact about Russia that I wish was a myth. Russia has a very corrupt and bureaucratic government. There is organized crime in Russia, which is controlled by the wealthiest mob in the world, the Kremlin’s elite. They  are blamed for stealing billions of dollars, murdering and imprisoning hundreds of people and, unfortunately, those accusations are supported by undeniable evidence. Unfortunately it is true, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
These are five stereotypes about Russia and its citizens that I have learned about since I moved to Canada. Summing up all the above, Canadians believe that Russians are freezing cold all year round, therefore Russians drink vodka every day like fish and live next to wild bears who walk freely in big cities, yet you are surprised why Russians never smile?!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


I do not know. I just did. It felt rather out of blue, but I just could care anymore. There were more thrills, no more excitement, and it all kinda died in me. All was left is irritation, boredom, and dullness. One does arts simply because if one doesn’t do it. it will hurt. It was true for me once, but not anymore.
Auditioning was never really my thing neither networking, and the idea of going out there and selling yourself to strangers wasn’t appealing. Acting never made me any money, so I couldn’t just shut up and suffer and make a living. Moreover, there is no clear understanding of what to do to make a buck as an actor.
Doubts, lots of doubts all the time and simply minutes of happiness and satisfaction of actual acting job. That is just not enough. I do not know if I am any good at it ether. Bringing  characters to life from a line or two on a page is not what I can do. I am artistic and expressive, very theatrical and charismatic, but it is not enough. There should be luck more than anything else. Talent, looks, passion are amazing things, but they will not get you anywhere. Luck will and there is no real need for any of the qualities. We have plenty of one color actors out there. You can wait and hope to hit your luck if there is burning desire or sick ambition in you, but when there is none it’s time to cut the losses. Regrets? None. I loved every minute of it, but now there is just nothing left to enjoy. The dream has disappeared. Whom to blame? Why to blame? Shut up, write the memoirs and move on.
I go to the theatre often. Partly because I have to and partly to find my love and passion in it once again, but I am disappointed every time. Toronto fringe or New York broadway -  I am bored out of my mind. It’s not that everything  see is bad, which is also true, but mostly because I do not believe in this today’s theatre. It just doesn’t do anything for me anymore. I see people, called actors who are full of lies and pretense. I see dull plays about unimportant matters. I suffer through plain plots and flat characters. Theatre is drama and unfortunately there is no drama left in the theatre I  witness today.
It’s a common believe that actors live for the audience. We do not. It is, of course, feels nice and all when audience like what you do, but it is totally all about us actors. It is all about what I, the actor, find inspiration in. What motivates and bring me up really matters. It might be the love of theatre magic, the lights or the sound of applause, but it is what we need. There is an old russian saying, that the audience is a full. It is very true. Majority of the audience have very little knowledge of what a good theatre or film is. They base their opinions on like or don’t like. They do seem to be experts in theatre once they go see it, they believe they know it. It is not true as being sick all the time does not make you an expert in medicine nor a doctor. Yes, audience influence you and your work a lot. Eventually you do what they want and demand or favor and you make money or you do not feed to audience’s poor tasted and play to empty houses but keep your pride for the sake of art. God bless them. Yes, audience tells you want they want and oh, boy, they don’t want the good things. There is art and there is entertainment. People want a lot of entertainment and sometimes a bit of art. It is not wrong it is just how it is. 
A word for theater and film directors. I do not have a lot of experience and I have never done a hollywood movie with a famous and popular (does not mean great) director on board, but I find out that directors do not how to direct actors. I can’t judge about their ability to direct the whole thing. When I direct couple of things we can go back to this subject. No preparation process, luckily if you have a read through and no work on the character. You do the role almost as you did it when auditioning for it. No, not every theatre does that. Some do and that’s just wrong.
I have this show, you see, that I have been doing for seven years and due to the new course there is a question - what to do with it now? Well, I guess I can still do it once in a while when they call for it, but nothing on my side to push, promote nor sell it. No, I am not closing it, probably because it is the last thing I still enjoy doing. So, letting it sit there for some time and see what happens. That is the beauty of being pisces you either go with the flow or you fight the spring and swim against it.
Reading scripts when preparing for an audition it is fascinating how plain and one dimensional the characters are. Most of the time it is just a talking head with random lines, taken away from a story. Call me old fashioned, but I need to know the whole story in order to understand the character. Three lines of a dialogue is just simply not enough. Character in a play, script or story has to react to events and other character's words and actions in order to be live and interesting.  That is rarely the case in those sides which they send you to prepare for an audition. You can’t really understand what kind of an actor one is, unless you give him a proper monologue, dialogue to read. 
Another fabulous thing is a cold read. You walk into an audition and you are handed a script and asked to read it right away. What the hell? How is that suppose to help any of us? I might understand cold read in Hollywood, with big stars, who only play one character all their life, so it does not matter what is in a script, they will even read a menu at McDonald's as their character. We have young, starting their careers filmmakers who know very little in the business and no nothing about the work with actors. Are these people able to cast exceptionally good actors? No. How do I know that? Watch their movies - the answer is there. It’s bad.
The idea of a vacation or a break from all this acting crap once popped into my head. I was living in New York at a time and after certain incidents I had decided to take a break from a life of an actor. I fond a job, through a friend of mine, as a coat check girl in a restaurant in West village. Simple, local and I made big tips. I worked for thirty days in a row with one day off for Christmas. All I had to do, was to be at work at 6 p.m., help people with their coats, grab tips, grab a bite, drink the night away and go home to my 190th street, hopefully not too drunk to miss my stop. I was living the life of a vegetable. Boy, that felt good. For a month.   It’s time to try that again. Go away, change the job, change life style and see if i miss acting. I can always come back and start again refreshed and eager. Dragging my sorry ass through the life of, lets face it, unsuccessful actor is beyond good and evil.  That’s it then. Wrap it up. Have a break. Move on.


I do not like my given name. That’s it, I have said it. The issue with me not liking my name has been around for a while. You do not choose your name, for it is given to you by your parents, who are not always sane or creative. It wasn’t my mom, who had different names in mind for her baby, but my father who named me Yury. As he explained later, I was named after the guy who saved his life in the army. Yury is not a bad name, but I don’t think it suits me.
I have been looking for a new name, which matches my character, for quite some time. There have been numerous options, but nothing has really stuck. Maybe, I have never been stubborn and determined enough to work hard on possessing any of those names; therefore, I am still Yury. Since I moved to Canada, the issue has became a burning one because Slavic names are hard to spell and difficult to pronounce. It is especially true for my last name: Ruzhyev.
I have a stage name, given to me in Canada, Yura, which I use in my show. For North Americans, Yura sounds feminine, for it ends with an A. I am fine with that, although its not true. Yura is just a short version of my Russian name, Yury. It doesn’t make sense in English spelling, but it does in Russian. See for yourself -- this is how it looks in Cyrillic: Юрий vs Юра.
Picking random names and playing with them is what I have been doing for several years now. Among many names that I have tried over the years only Nikita and Eric were somewhat suitable. These names, used in different periods of my life, didn’t last. I don’t remember how I came up with the name Maxime, but it’s the name that has lasted the longest time. Maxime, which sounds sexy, also has no reference to my heritage, nor to my country of origin. This name could be French, British or Russian;  it is mysterious, and at the same time it sounds masculine and sexy. Did I mention that already?
I was desperate to find my new name, and I was looking for it everywhere.   When walking around San Francisco, a beautiful city on the West coast, I noticed that a lot of streets have cute human names. I decided that I should bump into my new name on one of the streets, and let fortune lead the way. It was my last day in San Francisco, so I was desperate to find the right street with the right name. As I was walking closer to the subway to catch a train to the airport, I saw a street named Julian, such a good name to have. Julian sounds English and resembles my given name, but I still didn’t have my last name. As I was looking around, I noticed a street perpendicular to Julian street, a street named Rondel. Here it was: Julian Rondel. Was the search over? Was Julian Rondel my new name, given to my by fortune? I didn’t know if this name was the one, but at least I had a back-up plan. Still, I was desperate to create my very own name all by myself, without any help from providence.
  I have been woking on translating and adapting my last name, Ruzhyev, into English. After several options like Rouge, Rough, and Rifleman, which is the literal translation of my last name, I came up with Rosh. It is similar to posh and it sounds a little bit like my original surname; therefore, I liked it. A friend of mine, a French girl,  suggested to add a letter C to the name to make it more creative -- Rocsh. Maxime Rocsh was good, but it was not perfect. Something was still missing, so the search was still on. I am my mom’s son. She has had a huge impact on me, on my upbringing, and my life; moreover, I love her very much and would be proud to carry her name, Galina. After losing the last letter A, to make it more masculine, the name became Galin. 
Was the search over? Since I still had doubts, I looked up the meanings of all  the mentioned names in a book with babies’ names. Julian means youthful, Yury means “earth worker”, and Maxime means the “greatest’; consequently, I choose Maxime. The search was over, and now I can concentrate on owning and getting comfortable with my new name: Maxime Galin-Rocsh. 

Monday, 7 May 2012


What is wrong with fucking? I do not mean an actual action verb, which describes an action also known as sexual intercourse, but I am talking about a curse word: fuck. Why is this innocent word, which is almost universally considered vulgar, banned, beeped out, and cut out from our lives? Why does this word offend your slutty grandmother, who in her time was never a good girl to begin with.
People have been fucking since the beginning of time. It is the fucking that was in the beginning of each and everyone of us. Fucking is what we do a lot for pleasure and sometimes we do it to reproduce. We think about fucking a lot, for our sexual desire, or to put it simply, a need to fuck, is the moving force of our every action and is our motive. This is not my thought, as this theory was developed by Freud. Fucking also feels good, very good. Could you name me anything that feels better than fucking? If fucking is very good, why is it a vulgar, inappropriate, and a forbidden word? Both the verb and the curse word fuck appears on pages of good, even classical, books; movie characters say fuck quite a lot; fuck is not a rare guest in song lyrics; we use fuck all the time because fuck is a part of our lives. The expletive fuck or fucking as an action verb is used in everything that reflects and represents real life. Fucking is life. Why is this word so bad? I, honestly, do not understand.
We all know and we all agree that killing is wrong and that killing is death, yet killing, violence, and death are shown openly and frequently on TV, in movies, and  everywhere. You can’t turn on the news or read a paper without hearing that word kill, or seeing footage or a picture where someone is killed.  Why is this normal? When I take the TTC, I often see the news on TV screens, which tells me mostly about accidents and deaths. Why do they need to shove it in my face all the time? Aren’t we afraid that our kids will be influenced by violence and aggression and not by love and passion? Yes, I do connect passion and love with fucking. Soldiers and generals, who promote war, killing, and violence, are heroes, but women and men who serve the very basic urge of every human being, selling their bodies to strangers, are criminals. We give medals and honors to the first ones, and we shame and prosecute the others. It does not make sense.
Not only is it not embarrassing to play games where kids kill each other, but on the contrary it is highly honorable and, moreover, killing others makes you strong and powerful, but showing emotions or loving someone is left for sissies.
Would you rather have two fighting people saying I will kill you, and then kill each other, or would you prefer two arguing people saying I will fuck you, and then do it? If they do fuck each other, instead of killing one another, there will  be less violence and more pleasure, and all quarrels and wars could be settled in beds. Everyone would be satisfied and happy. Everyone is fucking because fucking feels good, and yet fucking is bad?
The same stupid attitude apples to a female’s nipple. The human nipple is forbidden, censored, and taboo and a publicly exposed nipple is scandalous. “The criminal” (who exposes a nipple), is put to shame, banned and punished. A nipple, which we all, every single one of us, used to feed on, is taboo today. The nipple that gives us milk is hidden and forbidden, but a gun, which can kill any living thing, is exposed, shown and paraded. Death won this game long time ago and we haven’t even noticed it.
I propose, that we do not show guns on TV nor in movies unless it’s absolutely necessary for the storyline. If you show a gun, make sure it’s blurred or covered with a black square, as you do with nipples. I am appalled by the hypocrisy and stupidity of censors and lawmakers who ban life and promote death. We live in a world where killing wins over fucking, and guns win over nipples. Am I the only one who see trouble in this?

The main reason that motivated me to talk about this subject is the enormous hypocrisy and pretense that we surrounded ourselves with when deciding what is good and what is bad, what is appropriate and what is not. I can’t tell you what is right for you, but I ask you to be honest at least with yourself; to be honest at least about important things, and at least, be honest.