|There is a trend
in the mainstream media towards getting ratings and ticket sales by
"exposing" strip clubs and exotic dancers for the general public. This trend
did not stop with movies and TV shows. Now it's time for stage plays to
catch up with the rest. This section will review some of the ones that
caught my fancy.
"Will Strip For Food" Comes Out of Closet
The cast from left to right: Angie Gibbs (Jessie), Sera Gamble (Sonya), Rebecca, Christina Bebes (Kelly) and Raelle Tucker (Carmen)
What happens when five creative and intelligent exotic dancers get together? No. Not a lesbian gang bang. In this case, what comes out is a powerful, funny, yet insightful play about strippers, strip clubs and of course, customers. If you are a casual strip club goer, you will find this play amusing or funny. If you are a long time regular who has never spent a lot of time with a dancer outside the club, you may have an epiphany. If you are a long time dancer in burnout, you may fall into a depression.
Of course, I'm somewhat exaggerating to get your attention. But these real life dancers who co-wrote the play, "Will Strip for Food" (which was conceived by Raelle Tucker) do not hold back any punches. Sit down, sit back and get ready for a new form of high mileage action. This one will be delivered to you via your brain, not your willie.
|“The audience is even taken through a class showing the do's and don'ts of shaving your private area, with full diagrams.”|
In the first act, you see the excitement and discoveries of new dancers and how they all got there. The audience is even taken through a class showing the do's and don'ts of shaving your private area, with full diagrams. You'll also learn what the dancers must do when they are on their period. Like I said, no punches pulled. Like it or not, the dancers start to come to terms with what they are doing.
There is an intermission, followed by the second and final act, which shows what the world of strip clubs look like from the dancer's point of view. This is where the regular club customer may have an eye opener. Be ready to squirm a little when one of the examples resemble you. You may even swear they are looking right at you when they say it.
At one point, one of the dancers, Jesse, dances with crutches to the "Elephant Walk" in what I consider to be the most hilarious moment of the play. Actually, there are many moments of clarity for the dancers, which are very funny to the outsider. However, there are other moments where reality blurs with fiction. Although the play is fictional, the dancers all use their real names as well as their real stage names in the play. In fact, several real club names are also mentioned and a club owner is parodied. I know from talking to the performers that some of the more intimate moments of the play are based on factual events and when I see tears in their eyes, I'm not sure if it's good acting or therapy. Whatever the case, it's compelling, and riveting.
I'm not used to reviewing plays. I've only attended half a dozen or so in my entire life. But I do know a lot about strip clubs, and dancers. In about two hours, 5 dancers basically spill their guts and come out of the closet to the audience. Nudity just becomes a metaphor for them to show it all. Everything. Yes, it's definitely uncomfortable at times. Once in a while, I felt myself laughing and cringing at the same time. As for other technical aspects of the play, the lighting was adequate, lines were flubbed a few times, but otherwise, more than passable for a play of this size.
Many of you will be glad to know that all of the dancers strut their stuff with a "set" and prove that they are indeed, real dancers and not just actresses. Raelle happens to be very good at pole work and the stage is equipped with a pole right at the center of the stage for some of that action. The pole seems to be a little too close to the front row and I noticed that she had to pull back on her usual moves a little.
Virtually no stone is unturned in this in-your-face play. However, alcohol and drugs, which I consider to be a large influence in the industry, are barely mentioned a few times when relating how dancers must drink or smoke to feel relaxed enough to work. The most glaring omission was lesbianism and bi-sexuality in the industry. Unless I missed a casual mention of it, I don't think it was even touched upon in the entire play. I'm guessing that perhaps this was intentional and it may reflect the fact that all the co-writers are probably straight.
One thing is for sure. You will not come out of this play without thinking or talking about the strip world and dancers for a few hours with your friends. That was more than worth the price of admission for me. For those more pragmatic or price conscious, please note that there are no LA Weekly half-off coupons or 3 for 1 discounts for this play. However, there is nudity, and if you sit in the front row, it's likely you will get a little more than your normal share of audience participation than your average play. Look at it this way. It's cheaper than the price of an average lap dance and it lasts over 2 hours. That's a great bargain!
The play will run until March 13, 1999 at the Glaxa Studios in Los Angeles near Silverlake at 3707 Sunset Blvd. The performances are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $15 at the door. You can get more information by calling (323) 769-5666.
The play has been extended by popular demand from April 8th through May 2 at the Tamarind Theatre, 5919 Franklin Blvd., Hollywood. Call the same hotline at (323) 769-5666 for reservations.
Highly recommended for dancers, customers and wives!
Shows -- 1999, 2001