You can count on Kevin Thornton to deliver a dose of chaotic entertainment in any environment. He struts across the stage with a confident swagger, but he balances that arrogant posture with personal, heartfelt anecdotes largely drawn from his childhood in small town Indiana. After the lights have dimmed, both his wild antics and his candid admissions remain in the memory of his adoring audience.
Thornton, a former resident of Nashville, will be performing his new one-man show in Music City with the help of fundraising and social networking web site, Kickstarter.com this fall.
Thornton, a graduate of Ball State University and an alumnus of Chaffin’s Theatre in Bellevue, grew into one of Nashville’s gay entertainers through his stand-up comedy and as frontman of the award-winning rock band, Thornton. He’s reemerging on the national scene with a show that will flash his trademark brand of bawdy humor.
Fans can pre-purchase tickets and promote Thornton’s tour, as well as be involved in the creation of the new show, help with venue selection, and suggest opening acts. According to Thornton, the format will be part comedy and part concert. He’s confident that this innovative approach to touring will reap benefits.
"I just thought it was this super interesting idea," Thornton said in a phone interview from his home in Hollywood. "Typically artists use it when they’re doing one particular project. My issue, especially being on the West Coast, is that it’s a little risky to go to, say, Cincinnati, and know people are going to come. So we’re doing it this way, and if it doesn’t work, we don’t really lose anything."
Early returns are strong for the upcoming tour, Thornton says. He will visit Nashville on November 20, with the event scheduled at PLAY. A local improv group will serve as opening act for Thornton’s performance. Also, a book signing at OUT Loud bookstore will be hosted in advance of the performance on October 13.
Thornton last performed and toured with his first one-man show “Sex, Dreams & Self Control” in Nashville and 10 other cities during 2009. The playwright then wrote a book based on the show and released a soundtrack before moving to Hollywood. Upon his arrival on the West Coast, he began to book spots in popular comedy clubs, and last year he was honored with the "New Faces" award at famous Los Angeles club, The Comedy Store. Thornton says that his new adventure was an invigorating process.
"I’ve done so many different performances, but stand-up comedy had always scared me," he explained. "After a while, something clicked in my brain. I realized that I had what I needed in me."
The multimedia star also maintains his music career, serving as lead singer of the new wave pop band Waves on Waves. Their album Had a Sword was released on iTunes in April 2010, and fresh music is posted on iTunes monthly. Another way for fans to stay in touch is through Thornton’s new podcast titled “The Kevin Thornton Podcast," where you can hear new singles, stories from his daily life, previously released tracks, and excerpts from his book. He acknowledges that the venture has created new opportunities in his career.
"Recently I’ve had this internet epiphany," Thornton said. "It (the internet) is still kind of like the Wild West. But that was the missing piece in my career, that ability to stay in touch with people from around the world. On the podcast, I’m just talking off the top of my head."
That platform largely revolves around GLBT issues, and the comedian often receives letters from fans that discuss their struggles with religion and sexuality. With his frequent updates online, he’s become a more accessible entertainer for his public, which is both a blessing and a curse for the charismatic character.
"In allowing myself to be open, people feel like they’re having a conversation with you," Thornton says with a laugh. "The stalker level does go up, though. I’ve had a couple people cross the line with me and send messages asking if we’re going to hang out."