Alex Trajano is Production Manager at one of The Moth’s beloved partner stations, WDET. When we first decided to launch a StorySLAM in Detroit, WDET’s Pro-Moth, uber-supportive station manager, Mikel Elcessor, recommended Alex Trajano to be our WDET-Moth liaison.
Hilarious, efficient, wise and also wise-cracking (as you’ll soon read), Alex helped us land the beautiful Cliff Bell’s for the premier show. He helped us with all the logistics, found our sound person, videographer and started to assemble a team of impressive, glamorous (Hello Michelle!) volunteers.
We loved this guy. It was clear, he was our new Detroit Moth StorySLAM Producer.
For the very first show, we flew veteran Moth StorySLAM host, Dan Kennedy into Detroit. The people that showed up to tell stories blew us away. As we scouted for a local host to continue the monthly show, one name kept rising to the top. But at The Moth the producer and the host are always two different people! Alex Trajano, not for the first time in his life I’m sure, broke the mold.
I spoke with Alex about his dual gig as producer and host.
JENIFER: I remember trying to force you to choose producing or hosting and you would not budge.
ALEX: I love doing both for different reasons. As host, The Moth has propelled me into the upper echelon of Detroit’s cultural elite. There’s fame and skinny jeans in hosting the hottest ticket in town. As producer I get to yell at people. I win.
JENIFER: What’s been the most surprising thing about hosting the shows?
ALEX: I’m most surprised that I am not covered in tomatoes at the end of the night.
JENIFER: One of the things I love most about The StorySLAMs are the wonderful little families formed. You really get to know people. Who are some of your regulars?
ALEX: John McCune, Matt James, Satori, Ted Olds and lots of really cool WDET donors. It always puts me at ease when I see some familiar faces at the gig. I’ve gotten to know some of them pretty well. It’s nice. I usually get them to buy me all kinds of drinks.
JENIFER: Tell us a little about your background. You’re a musician?
ALEX: I grew up on the mean streets of suburban Detroit and discovered the power of rock in the 5th grade. It’s been downhill ever since. I learned how to play drums by playing along to Beatles records. Later, I got a degree in music from Wayne State University and am proud to be a product of the Detroit music scene. I’m lucky to have seen some of the great musicians of the Motown era play gigs around town; even got to play with some. Being a musician has taken me all over the world and I would have never gotten a date if I wasn’t one.
JENIFER: What parallels have you found in the music and storytelling worlds?
ALEX: When you’re honest, sincere and show some vulnerability, with a dash of style, people will connect with you. And you’ll feel good about it no matter the response.
JENIFER: What is different?
ALEX: When you make music you’re most likely sharing the stage with others. At the Moth it’s just you and a mic.
JENIFER: Have you ever cried during a story? COME ON! CONFESS!
ALEX: I never let tragic, heartfelt stories manipulate my emotions. I’m a man, for pity’s sake. Don’t be silly. Of course I don’t cry. That being said, sometimes when I’m alone I randomly start balling for no reason.
JENIFER: Are there any particular Detroit StorySLAM tales that stand out in your mind?
ALEX: Kevin Wilson’s “Firsts” story from the first Detroit StorySLAM, Travis Wright’s “Love Hurts” story and Satori’s foot fetish story.
JENIFER: What’s your best advice for storytellers?
1. Stay on theme. You’re being judged. Going on a tangent about your mom screwing you up for life will not fix you. See a shrink. I do.
2. Mind the time. Five minutes. Don’t get seduced by the power of the mic. I do.
3. Nervous? Picture the audience in their underwear. In case you wanna know, I don’t wear any.
4. Don’t workshop your audition material or one-man show at our expense. We’re Detroiters. The BS detector is finely tuned.
5. Chew some gum before taking the stage. I have to smell the mic when you’re done.
6. Most important: be yourself and have fun! You’re instantly sexy just for being there.
JENIFER: What are the best themes?
ALEX: My favorite theme is Love Hurts. I also like Blunders. Two themes that have defined my life.
JENIFER: We’re using a story by Detroit’s Satori Shakoor in an upcoming Moth Radio Hour. Who is the next star from Detroit?
ALEX: Hard to say because there are so many great people with great stories in Detroit. Whoever it is, I’m sure they will be as real, honest, fearless and engaging as Satori!
JENIFER: If you could see (or hear) anyone tell a story at The Moth, who would it be and why?
ALEX: I’d like to see Bernie Madoff at Duped. Or Rick Perry at Blunders. Or Tiger Woods at Busted.
JENIFER: Thanks Alex, we’ll get the curatorial committee on that immediately!
To see Alex live in action, make it out to The Moth StorySLAM in Detroit on the first Thursday of every month at Cliff Bell’s.