The Clever Way Alan Cumming Is Raising Funds for His Club Cumming Staff and Talent

by Eddie Roche

In our latest installment of “Cabin Fever Diaries,” we check in with Alan Cumming, who is spending quarantine in the Catskills with his husband, Grant Shaffer, and two dogs, Lala and Jerry. He’s also using this time to raise funds for the staff and talent of his East Village bar, Club Cumming, who are in need. They’ve created the “Club Cumming Chest” with numerous ways you can donate or bid on fun auction items from Daniel Radcliffe, Christine Baranski, Anderson Cooper, and more.  He tells us how he’s been spending his days and how you can get your hands on the auction items. 

What has been the biggest change to your routine since self-isolation?
Immediately before I came here at I was doing a play in London Samuel Beckett’s Endgame with Daniel Radcliffe – so my routine was very much focused around working in the evening. Up here I find it really important and beneficial to create a new routine. I get up and talk to my assistant each morning for example, before I start my day, and make sure that I exercise daily too. Also we walk down the hill with the dogs around 5pm and they get antsy if we are late!

How are you staying active?
I am very lucky in that I have a little shed in our garden I converted into a gym, and even before the virus shut down I have been using a remote trainer. His name is Guthrie Lewis and I get workouts from him every day in my inbox with little videos showing me how to do the exercises and explaining everything. So my routine in terms of fitness hasn’t changed that much. I really don’t like going to proper gyms but I do love exercising and keeping fit so this is the perfect thing for me

What are you doing to help others?
I’m trying to be very conscious of using my social media to highlight causes and organizations that I think are especially pressed these days. Of course everyone is having a hard time and so many people are struggling financially, but I am trying to reach out about organizations and individuals who are the worst hit. I work with UNHCR and I am trying to remind people of how awful being a refugee must be right now, and also how terrible it must be for homeless people who have even less access to people’s kindness because the streets are empty. Also food banks are busier than they’ve ever been and really in need both our money and time in terms of volunteering. But I suppose the biggest thing I’m doing to help other people is to stay isolated. I have not been in contact with another human for more than five weeks aside from my husband!

You are also trying to help the employees of your bar, Club Cumming. How are you raising funds for the staff?
I have reached out to lots of my celebrity friends and asked them for memorabilia or else to take part in a Zoom call, which we are branding as coffee or cocktails. We then put these items up on eBay and the money all goes to the Club Cumming community chest. Also all the profits of the Club Cumming merchandise are going into the fund too. I’ve been really so happy and excited about the response of my friends and how this whole thing is going. It’s awful to think of the kids who perform at the bar as well as our staff hurting so badly and so this is a great creative way to help them. We also give our CC Instagram page to a different performer or performers each day so that the community of the bar still feels alive. But I’ve also been so amazed at the resourcefulness of many of our artists who are doing virtual performances and finding ways to entertain and express themselves from their homes.

If you want to donate or buy please go to ClubCumming.com

Club Cumming t-shirt (Courtesy)

What are some of the items auctioned and where do we go to bid?
I am auctioning off my Nightcrawler teeth that I wore in the X-Men movie. Dan Radcliffe has given us a signed Harry Potter film book.

Daniel Radcliffe (Courtesy)

John Waters has given us some signed posters. Christine Baranski has given us a red beaded Halston dress that she wore to the Grinch premiere!! And the people who are doing Zoom calls include Anderson Cooper, Julianna Margulies, Jane Lynch, Ari Shaprio, Monica Lewinsky, Hannah Gadsby, and Graham Norton. (Zoom calls will be rolled out in the next few weeks so keep checking in at ClubCumming.com.)

Christine Baranksi (Shutterstock)

What have you been watching on TV lately?
I have been watching a lot of old films. I love the criterion collection and they have been keeping me very happy. Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich was a particularly hilarious find. I also watched Ozark and of course Tiger King! And Unorthodox was amazing

What music have you been listening to?
My friend Sammy Jo the DJ has been sending me his quarantine mixes and it’s so great to play them as it feels like I am in Club Cumming or one of the bars he DJs in with him. My husband is an illustrator and he listens to music while he draws so he’s been into Benjamin Britten of late and I’ve been really enjoying him. Also I found a Scottish band called Teen Canteen and they are making me laugh and tap my feet in equal measure

What have you been eating?
I love cooking and so this is kind of been a dream time for me. It’s ramps season and so I have been picking them even in the snow and making delicious soups and dishes with them, even pickling them. Last night I made my first ever bread. I have also got really good at making turmeric and flaxseed crackers. But every night I cook dinner and I just make stuff up mostly. I sometimes look at recipes during the day for ideas but when it comes down to it I just think of it in a sensual way and feel it.

Have you accomplished anything since self-isolating?
Oh you bet. I am also trying to write, and any writer knows that any household or organizing tasks must be completed before writing can begin! So I have been rearranging furniture, putting up pictures, sorting out my kitchen shelves. If the snow would just stop happening every couple of days I will be working on setting up my hot tub. I have achieved a lot!

What are you most anxious about?
I am most anxious about the world going back to normal too early in order to get the economy going again and divide us coming back even stronger. It’s obvious that we just have to sit this out but frustrations about money should not control scientific decisions.

How has the experience changed your outlook?
I have a very positive outlook about this whole experience. I think this isolation and contemplation and meditation can only make us be come more compassionate people. Everyone around the world is having to think carefully about how their behavior affects other people, so I think that can only be a good thing for humankind in the long run.

What do you want to do when this is all over?
When it’s all over – well what does that actually mean? I’m sure there’s going to be several new normals. I’m looking forward to being in a theater or a club or even in my house with friends over and not having to think about spreading a virus. But I actually feel pretty content with my lot. I think this time is like the world being told to have a time out. I hope that when we return to being able to interact with other people, we will come to it with a new understanding of how we have a responsibility to take care of people as part of that ourselves.

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