From the Basement to the Stage

Dancing With the Stars, call me!

After my early childhood performances on the casket shipping case, I finally started performing outside of my basement. Did I mention that I started playing the flute at age 10 in the school band? When the music teacher came to our school to show us the different instruments and asked if anyone wanted to try them, my hand shot up. I don’t know why I picked the flute looking back, but that’s what I did. I practiced often and got pretty good and played for four years in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8thgrade. I could read music and everything.

this isn't me, but I did have hair like that at one time...

In 8th grade I played a solo in the school recital. Remember the song, “The Hustle?” Oh yeah, I rocked that shit! Then high school happened and ruined my budding rock n’ roll career.

I should let you know that I always hated school. I got good grades, but just hated it. Hated the teachers, hated the structure, hated what they taught, hated the uniforms, hated the activities, hated the rules… should I go on? The problem was that there was no high school I wanted to go to. I didn’t want to go to the neighborhood Catholic high school that a lot of my grade school friends were going to and I didn’t want to go to the public school that some of my other friends went to. Both of my sisters were going to a private, all girls, college prep, Catholic, high school about 40 minutes away that they drove to every day. My dad valued education and saw that as a good school before college…blah blah blah, so I got roped into going there….and guess what? I hated it. There was no music program! If I had gone to one of the other schools, both having a band or orchestra, I could have kept playing the flute and ended up with the rock n’ roll career I really wanted. Because when you think of the flute, you think rock n’ roll….or you think of Will Ferrell in “Anchorman.”

"Sex, drugs, and rock n' roll".....the life I always wanted

So that basically ended my music career (at least for awhile, it picks back up again in LA), because I went there for two years, but that’s when I took up dancing. Once I started dancing, that was it. I knew I couldn’t keep pretending that I wanted to go to college and become a lawyer, I knew what I wanted to do, and it wasn’t going to be found at the all girls, academic high school, so I left. By the way, my inspiration for dancing was the movie“Fame” (the original, not that piece of crap remake). I love that movie and if you’ve ever seen it, there’s the part where Leroy gets into the High School of Performing Arts and his dance partner doesn’t make it, and as she’s leaving, she yells up the stairs, “I DIDN’T WANT TO GO TO THIS ASS-LICKIN’ SCHOOL ANYWAY.” That’s how I felt when I left :).

I transferred to the public school and hated that too, but at least there were guys there, and I had extra credits from the other school, so I really didn’t have to work hard, which was great. I took the required classes like English and Math and then got all these elective classes, so I took easy things like cooking, acting and creative writing. I dropped Physics and Spanish 3 because that would have required some effort, although after living in LA for so long, I now know that I should’ve stuck with the Spanish class.

I worked really hard at dancing and practiced a lot when there were no funerals going on because in the parlor area, there was plenty of room and one wall was completely mirrored. It was carpeted, but it still made a great place to practice. I remember one time, my friend Chris came over to practice together (she also took dance class). We were having a funeral that night or the next morning, and there was a body in the casket right behind

obviously taken before I learned to point my toes , but look at the sequined wrist warmers

us. She was a bit freaked out at first, but I assured her, the dead person wouldn’t bother us. I always thought of them as audience members (and believe me, LA audiences aren’t much different.) While I was in dance school, I performed solos in all my recitals, which were held at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, an amazing venue where the Philadelphia Orchestra played.

"Do it like this, you uncoordinated little dorks"....that's what I was thinking


After high school I got a job teaching dancing. I was simultaneously taking classes and getting certification to become a professional teacher and a member of Dance Masters of America. I got my certification and taught on and off for a few years and even considered opening a dance studio. I had a great time teaching but I didn’t want to do it forever because I liked performing better, but was keenly aware of my level of talent at the time. I had balls though. For example, I did a dance routine, choreographed by myself, to the theme from “Shaft,” (one of the coolest songs ever) in the high school talent show. I was horrible, and yet, what a great song to humiliate yourself to, isn’t it? If that tape ever surfaces, I’ll leave the country.

I started taking classes at a place in downtown Philly where a lot of professionals took class so I could expand my knowledge. I had really strong ballet training and now I had to learn the current styles of choreography so I could pursue a career. I knew I was never going to be a ballerina, so I started to focus on contemporary a lot more. All of this was really good preparation for when I moved to LA because there are a thousands of amazing dancers in LA, and I mean amazing!

Is it just me, or do I look like a stripper from 1950?

So, when I got to LA, I trained with the top teachers in the big dance studios in town, and I auditioned my ass off. I scored a few jobs, but sadly, my dance career was cut short due to a lot of injuries. Once I realized my dance career was coming to an end, that’s when I started to focus on music again….but that’s a whole other ballgame. Talk about a weird industry. I don’t know who’s crazier; dancers, singers, or musicians. But actors are just flat out weirdos, and I think comedians take the cake for craziest…but they’re probably the most fun.

The great thing about comedians is that many of them have a nice, sick sense of humor, so you know  that you can say anything twisted around them and won’t feel like a weirdo for saying it. Plus, they’re the only other people who understand what it’s like to get up in front of a room full of strangers and make them laugh…or not.

Stay tuned for stories about my music career, including my first band, bad auditions, the 14-member blues band I was in, and my album. Not to mention more comedy stories…the good, the bad, and the bombing.

You better laugh fuckers!

About Death To Hollywood

My name is Celeste Donohue and I am a writer/comedian who started this blog to tell stories about my life growing up in a funeral home and my adult life which I have spent in Hollywood, California – hence the name, “Death To Hollywood”. Hopefully, you like to read those kinds of stories. If not, go read something serious and boring.....
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8 Responses to From the Basement to the Stage

  1. Josephine says:

    You are so brave being on stage. It is so weird that your first “audiences” couldn’t heckle you or anything. Did you think of your audiences in a casket instead of naked when you started performing or were you just never nervous at all?

    I really, really hope that you start doing something on the other site. Something needs to jump start that place. Right now, if you did do something, it would probably remind you of the basement back home. 🙂

    Maybe, you could post a video or two to jump start the process in case you don’t get a communique from the powers that be. 🙂

    Lady Sauce, doing a routine on “Sticky Situations.” Sounds good to me!

    • I like that…that I thought of people in a casket instead of naked. I might have to use that one Jo. I’d like to do something on AV, and I agree it’s getting a bit dead, which normally would be right up my alley, but it does need something cauz it’s getting boring.

  2. Christine says:

    Loved hearing about the dance days!! I think therapy was involved in order to get over that dance session at your house!! ; ) Actually I do tell that story to this day! “Cee, there’s dead lady here” “Oh don’t worry, she doesn’t mind!” Loved seeing the picture of you too …. remind me, I met you first through Anthony right? Cause I remember your private school days — the burp came down the road, just solidified the friendship, right?! You crack me up my friend!

    • Oh, how I miss our dance days…and I love that story because after a few minutes, as freaked out as you were, you danced anyway 🙂 and yes, I met you through him first, and that’s probably the only good thing that came from knowing him. 🙂 miss you.

  3. mdonohue says:

    Celeste,your stories are a riot,and. actually, I think you are a late bloomer,because,without all the experiences you’ve had, youwouldn’t have these riotous tales to tell.So,keep it going.Love,Mom

  4. klpeach323 says:

    i would do anything to have seen your hs talent show….thats freakin funny.

    keep the stories coming, who knows maybe someone will learn a thing or two or two from your experiences. 🙂

  5. Kris says:

    “I’m your biggest fan, Paul”…..i have loved every show you have done….from dragging me to shows in high school to music concerts to singing cd’s to comedy!! Thank you for always entertaining me:)

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