For local poet Renda Writer, it all started with a swan. Not a pirouetting, stab-happy, Mila Kunis-obsessed black swan, but a white one, swimming in the middle of Central Park shortly after 9/11. And it was the curve of the bird's neck that inspired Writer to write "Half Hearted," a poem he hopes to read on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
"It's a good one for her audience," Writer says. "It's the most romantic poem I've ever written. It's like my single."
How does he expect to get on air in order to read "Half Hearted" on Ellen's show?
Well, by pulling together dozens of his artist friends to create a series of portraits of the comedienne and throwing a group art show/auction/birthday party for Ellen at GAB Studio this Saturday. Then he'll jump on a plane to Los Angeles shortly after midnight with one toothy, Ellen portrait in tow, and show up at the show to present her the gift. That's how.
But...wait, hold up. How does he expect this to work? Does Ellen know about this? Or, more importantly, why Ellen?
"I'm a fan, but I'm not a fanatic," claims Writer. "I love Ellen, and I always loved her stand-up and when she came out with the talk show, it just happened to work into my schedule well. And eventually her show became part of my regular ritual and I became a bigger and bigger fan. She's just really inspirational. And her guests, like big people who appear on every talk show, they come on her show they just seem to get real, more sincere. Watching Ellen's show every day is like my one guilty pleasure."
Writer started watching Ellen back in 2006 and by 2007, he decided to pursue his goal of getting on her show. He started writing her emails, hand written letters, typed letters, letters letting her know about new quirky products -- like "Handerpants" fingerless gloves that look like tighty-whities -- Ellen likes to feature on her show.
By Writer's own estimate, he sent roughly 40 letters to the show asking Ellen and producers for a shot at the limelight. But he never got any kind of response.
Then, in 2008 he got an artist friend of his, Jeff Dekal, to paint a portrait of Ellen so he could send it to her for her birthday. Which he did, sparking an idea, making the art show at GAB the latest thing Writer's doing "to get positive attention drawn to my goal."
At Saturday's show patrons can partake in a silent auction for each rendering of Ellen. At midnight, Writer will then spout off the highest bid of each portrait to the crowd in attendance and the auction will then shift from silent to live.
"Then I'm going to leave the studio and jump on a plane at 5:30 a.m. and fly to L.A. with one of the paintings to give Ellen as a birthday present."
And is Ellen aware of any this?
"I can't give a definite answer on that. They have to know, I sent all the marketing materials to her show. They're definitely aware. I'm not sure how this is all going to unfold, or the specifics of how I'm actually going to reach this goal, but I have a feeling that this art show is how it's going to make it happen. Watching her show, I know Ellen's big on surprises. She has fans working for her as correspondents, like this girl named Jeannie that she sends all over the U.S. to surprise fans by giving them a car, or $50,000, stuff like that. So I wouldn't be surprised if Jeannie came out to my show and placed bids on all the paintings, or something like that. There's no way I can spend all this time pumping constant positive energy into a goal and not have that goal work out. It wouldn't make sense to not get on the show."
So, everything's based on blind faith. Risky, but something happened to Writer in Orlando while Ellen was shooting her annual show at Universal Studios a few years back that makes him think he can pull this stunt off in his favor.
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"Faith is a funny thing. Some people will laugh at faith and others will be inspired by it. In my life, faith always pans out. When I heard that Ellen was going to be in Orlando, I thought 'I have to go, I have to get tickets, I need to be part of the crowd!' But I couldn't. Then I thought 'I don't need a ticket to go, I'll just go'. So I woke up at 4 in the morning, drove to Orlando, was there by 8 am, and somehow I worked myself into the crowd and up to the front of the stage, although I had no ticket. So, I'm right there in the front row and Ellen's playing this trivia game 'Know or Go' and during it she says the word 'poet'."
And right when she said it, Writer's face popped up on the screen and remained there "for the next minute. That's where my faith comes from. It had to be a sign."
The Ellen Art Show will take place on Saturday from 7pm until 2am at GAB Studio (105 NW 23rd St., Miami). Admission is free. Help Writer reach his goal of performing one of his poems on The Ellen DeGeneres Show by going to www.RendaWriter.com and signing his online petition.