My friend of the arts, writer/producer Nancy Long, sent me and others an invite/email this week: “AND, Wednesday, January 12th at 7:00pm at the Pelican Art Gallery is Storytelling Night. Those of you that went last month…wasn’t that so fun! Dave from Cinnabar Theatre has a winner and I highly recommend this event. People show up to tell a 5 Minute true story of their life with NO paper. Winner wins $50! at the end of the night. The subject is: Starting Over. You do not need to sign up and tell a story…just show up and listen! (BUT, then again…you COULD give it try…what the heck!)”

So I told a few friendly souls (a few so I wouldn’t be scared off) I’d recite a True Story for the Westside Stories series, Pelican Gallery 2nd Wednesdays of each month, 7pm. This theater can’t be more local – sounds like super fun … but I feel so – EXPOSED. I tell my story – WHAT IF no body likes it? Some will. You take yer chances.

And then there’s the fact that a friend, Laure Reichek, won the first prize, so, ha, I can win, right? Only her story involved living in Paris surrounded by Existentialists. No matter; I feel winning is being gutsy enough to stand up and tell your story at all.

“Take in a story slam with Dave Pokorny” I read in Petaluma Patch this week, the email listing of local stuff through AOL. I’ll meet the editor of that new online pub, Katrina, at Vine and Barrell on Petaluma Blvd. Jan. 13th at 5:30pm.

Instigator of Westside Stories is Dave Pokorny. We saw him recite a story of his own as part of Twisted Christmas at Glaser Center in December. Ironic, funny, twisted.

Read that Pokorny was a comedian, on the road, working with Ellen DeGeneres and Jim Carrey doing stand-up in Las Vegas. Not surprised noting his polished style.

The Petaluma Patch story says Pokorny “likes nothing better than getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and telling stories. So when he and his wife Juliet saw a show at The Moth in Brooklyn, N.Y. – inspiration struck.

“They had 300 people lined up on the street, waiting to put their names in a hat to tell stories; stories from people’s hearts. That’s where we learned about these story slams and we wanted to get involved,” Pokorny said.

Described by The Wall Street Journal as “New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket,” The Moth was founded in 1997, dedicated to the art of storytelling. It is now in four locations including: Brooklyn, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Pokorny is running Westside Stories in conjunction with Cinnabar Theater where his wife works as well. This next Wednesday will be month 3 with themes thus far “the first time,” “the most awful thing,” and now “starting over”.

Westside Stories works this way: You pay $5 at the door and put your name in a hat if you wish to recite. About ten people go on stage when their names are drawn. And a final name is pulled from the hat tob e judge of who presents the best five-minute story. Winner gets $50 and wine and beer sales benefit the Cinnabar Theater.

Another local theater night upcoming: Nancy Long handed me a postcard in Aqus Cafe’ last night as we watched the fine LOCAL food film, Turning Point, based a lot on experience of people at Findhorn in Scotland with a number of incredible people including Joanna Macy, the Buddhist scholar and author and Richard Heinberg, the Post Carbon Institute guy. Nancy wanted to be sure I wouldn’t miss Petaluma Readers Theatre appearance at Aqus Tuesday, January 18th at 7:30pm. This event is co-hosted by Nancy with Susan Bono of Tiny-Light Publications with the theme: Brats, Bullies and Bras: Stories from Childhood. It is an affordable fundraiser for Petaluma Readers Theatre at only $5.00! Glad to say these events do get packed, so come early.