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Miller, Tim (b. 1958)  
 
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In 1991 Miller and Hughes again applied for NEA grants, and this time each was awarded $8,000. On that occasion Miller commented, "It's certainly nice, when panels have recommended you, that the grant doesn't get tied up in [White House chief of staff] John Sununu's office. But there's still, obviously, enormous concern. . . . The damage that's been done and that continues to be done is enormous. I know many artists now that don't even apply to the NEA." Of his own plans, he stated wryly, "I'll just continue being the little point of light that I am," echoing a catch-phrase of Republican President George H. W. Bush.

Miller proceeded to do just that, developing new shows that weave together his own experiences and the issues that are important to him.

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When in November 1990 he presented his show Stretch Marks (which had debuted the preceding year), reviewer Steven Winn was favorably impressed, noting that it had "more to do with the connections between people than it does with nightmares and alienation" and was strongest when Miller described events in his own life rather than trying to work in extraneous material such as his indignation over the murder of nuns in El Salvador. Winn concluded that "this gentle, upbeat, predominantly positive performer poses no serious threat to the republic."

Miller received particular praise for My Queer Body, which he premiered in 1992. Reviewer Mike Steele found it "more poetic and metaphorical" than his previous work. In the piece Miller strips and wanders among the spectators. Steel considered Miller's "vulnerable nakedness" an effective device for discussing a world in which the body can be a source of fears because of AIDS and other hazards but also a locus of joy.

Because of the NEA controversy, many more people attended Miller's performances than ever before.

In 1997 Miller published Shirts & Skin, a compilation of personal stories that he had told in his shows over the previous decade. He also launched a show of the same name. Reviewer Everett Evans called Miller "one of the best of many performance artists who specialize in autobiographical monologues." He found "the vignettes . . . neatly shaped, each section ending with the punch of a decisive, often thought-provoking line." He praised Miller's "subtle skill" in his use of metaphor and noted that "his chief strengths . . . are his naturalness and genial humor."

Miller took on a new topic, immigration rights for gay and lesbian partners of American citizens, in Glory Box (1999), the title of which comes from the Australian term for a hope chest.

The immigration question is of prime importance to Miller because Alistair McCartney, his partner since 1994, is Australian. The couple have been through several dramas as they waited to see if visa extensions for McCartney would be granted. The most recent--and presumably final--extension will expire at the end of 2005. If no other solution can be found, the pair may move to England since McCartney holds dual Australian and British citizenship, which would allow them to take advantage of more favorable immigration laws. Another possibility is a move to Canada, where they could legally marry.

Miller took Glory Box on an eighty-city tour but still found time to lobby for the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, which so far has not passed in the United States Congress.

In 2002 Miller published Body Blows, a collection of scripts from six of his shows. He wrote essays about the genesis of each one to put them into context. The book is illustrated with photographs by Dona Ann McAdams. In the foreword Tony Kushner writes that "Tim Miller sings that song of the self which interrogates, with explosive, exploding, subversive joy and freedom, the constitution and borderlines of selfhood."

Miller chose the title of the book--and the show based upon it--to reflect "both positive and negative blows." He commented, "We are always aware of the crap that throws in our way, but also constantly reminded of the incredible sweetness and joy that gay life and love offers."

Miller returned to the theme of the problems of Americans with same-sex life partners in Us in 2003. The title refers both to his deep bond with McCartney and to the entity, the U.S., whose oppressive laws could prevent them from being together.

The show has a twist: Miller looks at social issues through the prism of Broadway musicals. In Fiddler on the Roof (book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) he sees a reflection of the question of gay marriage since Tevye's daughter is willing to defy cultural convention to marry for love. In 1776 (book by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards), he sees raised the question of hypocrisy, with slave-owners extolling freedom. South Pacific (book by Oscar Hammerstein and Joshua Logan, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Hammerstein), he says, "showed me you could fight bigotry while being surrounded by hunky, naked sailors and drag queens."

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