Hunky bear and talented-out musician Mike Flanagan was first introduced to our readers by our late, great Instinct Magazine writer, Ryan Shea. Ryan featured Mike in his popular “Bears you should know” column as well as our “Instinct Hottie” series. And we have covered him many times since — deservedly so, as he’s one of today’s most skilled artists with piano badassery and serious slayage on the saxophone.
As a seasoned performer, songwriter, and college music professor, Mike has performed worldwide, but one of his favorite places ever to perform is on the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, known as Provincetown, or its more affectionately known moniker, Ptown.
Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ tourists were saddened last year as Ptown all but shut down, delivering a devastating economic blow to the community. Ptown relies heavily on summer tourism with its packed tea dances, sunset boat cruises, underwear parties, leather nights, drag shows, celebrity headliners, and of course, the best cabaret shows to behold.
Well, what a difference a year makes; Ptown is back in full swing this summer, and it appears all the bears got the memo, as the town is packed with gorgeous bears and their admirers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds — from everywhere. And as this summer’s new music director at the popular Post Office Cafe, Mike Flanagan aka MikeMRF, is making sure the bears have stellar nights of cabaret performances to consider while in town.
By coincidence, as the world reopens and travel picks up, I happen to be in Ptown myself for Bear Week. I caught up with Mike for a little Q&A about his exciting new residency at the Post Office Cafe and what the Ptown 2021 audience can expect from his shows this summer:
Our Interview With Mike Flanagan:
You have been one of our most popular feature stories and a favorite of our dear late writer Ryan who featured you a few times. Great to reconnect with you as the world is reopening.
Thank you for having me! I’m excited that this is our first interview together.
First, you have an Irish last name, but I know you speak fluent Italian. Were you born and raised in Italy?
I was born in Boston and raised in Brockton, MA. My grandparents (mother’s parents) started teaching me Italian at age 14. My grandfather also started teaching me piano at that age, so they were a huge impact!
As I mentioned, it’s great that things are opening up again but, I’m curious how did you make out during the shutdown; professionally, emotionally?
It was a lot! I didn’t really get into the live stream thing. I just didn’t find it motivating or fulfilling. Financially, I got by with teaching, but I also lost a total of 7 people, including Ryan.
I think it was before the shut down that you shared a post on Facebook showing a remarkable weight loss. So many of us put on weight during the lockdown. Were you able to maintain?
Yes! So actually, I have always wanted to do a bodybuilding competition, and I thought this was the perfect time to get ready for one. I started a diet and cardio plan with my coach, and most kept my training the same. I did home workouts until July 1, 2020, when the gyms reopened (in Provincetown). And I am about to do m first competition on August 7 in NYC. I got about four weeks to get fully ready for it.
It’s terrific to share news of your new gig as music director for the Post Office Cabaret in Provincetown! Congrats! What can audiences expect?
Thank you! I have been working towards an opportunity like this for about 11 seasons in Provincetown. I am so excited to produce and direct shows, bring in my own musicians and artists from Boston and NYC, and book talent that Ptown hasn’t had yet.
I have put together both a Whitney Houston show which will feature an incredible vocalist, Sheree Marcelle. Sheree and I have been working together for about ten years, and we have always done Whitney songs. This felt like the perfect opportunity to do a proper Whitney show. James Zaner (New Kids on the Block, Lil Kim, Jordan Knight, P!nk, Kat Deluna) will be on drums. And Cliff Letsche will be on Bass. Whitney! It opens Sunday, July 18 at 7 PM and runs the rest of the season through at least Labor Day.
I am also doing 90’s night with Lisa Bello and Vancil Cooper (Jidenna, Kimbra, Hamilton Tour). Lisa and I have been collaborators for about 11 years, and she is featured on the majority of my original music. I am equally excited about this show, running Thursday nights at 10 PM at the Post Office Cabaret.
How does it feel returning to PTown in full swing after the COVID shut down basically canceled all the tourism last summer?
It feels incredible. Last summer was a major setback for a lot of us and when I tell you that Ptown being back in full and ( what feels like) bigger than ever? It is right on time and feels absolutely amazing. To have this much live music and live performance opportunity has been a lifesaver.
You are no stranger to performing in PTown; where else have you performed in the past?
In 2018, I toured with Lisa Bello for her EP TommyBoy. We hit several cities in the U.S. and London. Then I maintained a weekly performance residency at ReBar Chelsea in NYC, which lasted two years and really only stopped because of COVID.
You also teach music, and I believe last time we spoke, you were teaching music at the prestigious NYU?
Yes. I was an Adjunct Professor of Composition & Songwriting while I was getting my Master’s at NYU. It was dream-come-true teaching there! I am also teaching instrumental music here in Provincetown during the school year.
It’s so funny to think how I met you years ago in Ptown when you were walking your beautiful dog, and we ended up chatting. Then next thing you know, we invited you to our cookout and ended up laughing, hanging, and discussing music. PTown is magical like that, and I know we both have visited often over the years. What keeps bringing you back?
This town has been my safe haven throughout the years. Even 10-15 years ago, when things weren’t as far along in terms of progress and acceptance, you could come here and feel like you were home. That is something that will always mean the world to me. Also, there is a deep appreciation for art and performance here. It is demonstrated in attendance, in compensation, in opportunities created by venues and Business owners. It’s really special, and I can’t imagine it not being in my life.
How can people get tickets to see your show at the Post Office Cafe?
We sell our tickets on our site: www.postofficecafe.net/events and inside the box office, which is open daily pretty much from 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Thank you! I look forward to seeing you there! Save two seats for Joey and me!