Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Secretaries: Celebratory and Subversive

After spending most of the week installing Velvet in his first apartment, I took a break from scrubbing and went to see The Secretaries in the New York Fringe Festival.

All the characters are played by women.
Elizabeth Whitney is the one lifting the chain saw. From Left to Right, Elizabeth Bell, Jamie Heinlein, Virginia Baeta and Karen Stanion. In real life, some of these hotties are total lesbians; some are not:
The Secretaries has drawn a healthy audience and has been recognized by The Fringe for Excellence in Ensemble - not just because it features hot women, who may or may not be lesbians, in slinky lingerie, with Chain Saws.

The concept starts with typical gender stereotypes, like basic male/female sexual harassment, and twists them. Susan the office manager fondles the girls at will and
demands xeroxes of their naked upper and lower bodies as regular performance reviews. Pushing Fashion Magazine wisdom to extremes, all the secretaries works hard to maintain trim figures by living on Slim-Fast shakes. Peaches, who will be fired if she wears above a size 12, is sent to the bathroom to vomit when Susan sees her eating solid food at lunch.

Although the women are policing each other, they recognize the patriarchal nature of their environment. To achieve a sense of balance the they take
generic fears that men have about women and create an absurd nightmare. Every month when The Secretaries are collectively PMS-ing, they drag a boyfriend out to the woods. Wearing outfits from Victoria's Secret, they torture him by forcing him to watch helplessly while they use his cellphone to charge pizza and liquor to his credit card. They each take a turn cutting him up with a chainsaw and covered in his blood, they dance wildly together around the campfire. They aren't killing men because they are man-haters, however, or because of a Feminist Agenda. These girls just want to have fun. As Queen Bee Susan explains to New Girl Patty, "We don't kill them because they're bad. We kill them because we're bad."

I love this show. It's fast paced, sexy, funny and smart - just like all my favorite people. And since the run has been extended, I have an opportunity to work on the production for the September shows.

I'm not sure where this activity will lead since I went to Cowgirl Hall of Fame with the gang after the performance on Sunday, got drunk and told a story about my college boyfriend's wife that qualified as Lesbian Erotica. Most likely, that's the influence of my dear friend Kathleen, who is the one who got me involved with Off-Off Broadway in the first place. She started a Drunken! Careening! Writers! Chrismas tradition of featuring the annual edition of Best Lesbian Erotica every December at KGB Bar. Her partner - who used to be a nun and is now a member of a lesbian motorcycle club called The Sirens - got me to be a marshal for the Gay Pride parade one year. As it happens, The Sirens lead the Parade, and somehow I wound up carrying their banner at the very front of the Gay Pride Parade as it turned onto Christopher Street - home of the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 - one gloriously sunny day in June.

The Secretaries captures the same celebratory and subversive spirit.


All for under $20 for four Encore performances in The New York Fringe Festival (TICKETS)
on Twitter @TheSecretaries
on Facebook
The Five Lesbian Brothers' "The Secretaries" TOSOS/NYFringe

7 comments:

MRMacrum said...

Just another hum drum weekend in NYC I see.

I tried to google the name of an imfamous female who made her name hating men in NYC. I think she was and maybe still is a resident of Greenwich Villiage.

Anyway, your description of "The Secretaries" reminded me of her.

PENolan said...

MRMacrum, thank heavens for all the infamous males and females in the Village.

Beach Bum said...

I found the lady bearing the chain saw but arousing and terrifying. I wish such a show would come to South Carolina, the "good" WASPs would have a certified hissy fit.

tnlib said...

Beach - and here, too. Heh heh heh. That would be worth the price of admission alone.

Love this post. Sure you really want to move back to Austin?

PENolan said...

tnlib - I'm totally bringing these bitches with me. If there's not a gay theater festival in Austin, we'll start one. We're already plotting. And I'll be coming back to New York all the time.

I just wish there was a straight man for me. Sadly, you don't find many single, straight men when all your buddies are in the theater or preschool teachers.

Beach, those folks in Carolina can handle extramarital affairs on the Appalachian trail, but Jesus hates the gays. All I can say is: We're Here. We're Queer. Deal with it
And I'm not even exactly queer.

verymissmary said...

I am so glad the play will still be on in Sept.! I was so bummed I might miss it.

As far as being gay and queer, well, don't worry, you're not alone. My pal Lia constantly tells me I'm more gay than any lesbian she's ever known, including her hard core butch lesbian self. I realize this news may be "upsetting" to some, but, I believe it has to do with my, ahem, politics.
As you know, many gay people live very straight lives. So be proud to be queer. I realize people outside of my mind (other than you and Lia) may not understand this right away, but really, everyone is so queer, and it's the best thing about them. and queer girls love men! That'll be nice for both of us when we leave New York City...I'm always keeping my apt.

PENolan said...

You're always keeping your apartment?!?!?!?!?

I'm doing the "I'm so excited" dance.

As for you being more a lesbian than anyone she knows? We'll continue this conversation over tea. I can see how plenty of extraneous folks might believe that about me, you and many other single women. You're probably right that in every way we're OUT kind of people, as opposed to closeted. And that has nothing to do with sex, necessarily.

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