Reediculous Media Productions Presents, Don Reed's "East 14th"
By Jeannine Etter
Before there was International Boulevard in Oakland, there was East 14th.
A land of pimps, hustlers, players, musicians, along with the ultra-religious and the socially awkward. And Don Reed knew them all, many of whom he called “family.”
This Oakland native, stand-up comedian, actor and producer now invites us into the fold through his intimate autobiographical one-man show, "East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player," playing at Yoshi’s in San Francisco this Sunday, Dec. 2, for one night only. The purpose: To serve as a fundraising benefit for local nonprofit youth organization, 51Oakland.
Co-established in 2011 by Yoshie Akiba, co-owner of the two acclaimed musical venues, Yoshi’s Oakland and Yoshi’s San Francisco, 51Oakland provides educational, artistic and musical opportunities for youth in the Oakland public school system, with access to mentoring, nurturing and training by professional musicians.
Reed came of age in Oakland in the 1970s, shuttling between a strict, religious Jehovah's Witness family and a more “worldly” family of players, pimps and hustlers where he never quite “fit in” (although he may have had quite a fun time trying). From playing the role of himself as a boy, nicknamed “blinky” because of a nervous tic, to schoolmates, to siblings, to an ultra-religious stepfather and to his own biological father, a pimp who pushed him to excel in life no matter what the odds, Reed portrays the broad range of characters accurately and poignantly, painting an interactive true-to-life moving picture with the craftsmanship and mastery of the finest of artists.
For anyone who can relate to growing up feeling like an awkward misfit, there is something in this narrative for you. Through this uncommon story, we time travel to the 1970s, to glimpse a sample of personal and local history in a unique tale with a universal human spirit, via Oakland. And although a common profession, especially in the infamous city of Oakland, this performance offers an uncommon lens to the stereotypes and assumptions made about society’s social “underclass” of “pimps.” However you may feel about pimps, players or the socially awkward, this chronicle offers a hilarious, fresh and rare perspective from the other side of the game. "East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player" gives a humanistic insider’s view of the ironies of life and the unique way that some of the best and brightest that society has to offer are born.
After leaving Oakland as a young adult, Reed - who went on to star in TV shows like “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World” and the movie “Hollywood Shuffle” and now warms up Jay Leno’s audience - is a motivational speaker and owns an entertainment copywriting company, Reediculous Media. In 2008, Reed also was nominated for the NAACP Theatre Award for Best Actor and Best Playwright for “East 14th.”
Due to its overwhelming popularity, “East 14th” has played for months in Los Angeles, for a summer off-Broadway in New York and has been extended several times at many Bay Area locations, including Laney College, the Marsh in San Francisco and the Marsh in Berkeley. This one man performance now shares its talents with the Bay Area legacy of Yoshi’s.
If You Go
Don Reed's "East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player"
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2
Where: 1330 Fillmore, San Francisco
Cost: $25; ages 17+ only due some mature language and themes
For tickets and more information: (415) 655.5600