Sins of the flesh

Two solo shows, one prurient concern.

For several years now, the dark and stylish dance club Re-bar has been involved in a successful experiment in populist theater. After a show in the early evenings, the glasses are gathered, the seats and tables whisked away, and the dance-till-you-drop atmosphere re-emerges. With its semi-resident theater company GreekActive on extended hiatus, Re-bar's been playing host to a number of other performers who play well before a bar crowd. That means folks who thrive on audience interaction, who specialize in comedy, and, most importantly, can provide some good smut. When you're entertaining the lions, it's best to forgo the tofu and bring the sirloin.

exploring whoring

Re-bar, through July 27

The temptation of Sister windy

Re-bar, through August 10

Monday nights feature local writer/performer David Schmader and his one man show Exploring Whoring, dedicated to finding out what can turn an ordinary person into, as he puts it, "a big ol' fat whore." To this end, he calls up male prostitutes and haggles with them, searching for what sort of limits they might have on their services. He goes for a job interview himself with the manager of an escort agency. And, finally, on a visit to the City of Whores itself for an LA Theater Festival, he hires a moonlighting gay porn star for an evening of bliss.

Schmader, who looks like what Opie might have turned into if he'd moved to Seattle and become a gay intellectual, presents the show with mike in hand and plenty of self-deprecating wit. He's more Dick Cavett than Jerry Springer, despite the subject matter, and there's a great charm in tackling such a serious and complex subject with such playful brevity. Despite the low-key presentation, this is quite a subversive show. It really makes you wonder what's the big deal about selling sex in our anything-for-a-buck society.

Fridays through Sundays, The Temptations of Sister Windy marks the return of Kevin Kent's comic creation, the art historian nun who bears a striking resemblance to a certain PBS host. This sister, however, is as likely to strip down to a mini-habit and belt out some songs to "my main man Jesus" as she is to comment on paintings by the great masters. (Actually, Windy has calmed down a bit since her premiere, even though she does invite a couple of members from the audience to do a nude portrait of her during the intermission.)

In this show, Windy looks at the many facets of temptation from Eve on up, and tells us about them as only a Bride of Christ can. I have to admit to not really understanding Kevin Kent's obsession with Sister Wendy, but clearly there's something about this middle-aged, buck-toothed nun that tickles his funny bone tremendously. She's a channel to direct his fire-hose-like improvisational comedy into more useful channels, though he's still in constant danger of running riot at the slightest provocation. The evening I attended, it was clear that only through sheer force of will was he able to end the show—and not follow his audience out into the parking lot still waving his habit wildly in a plea for our attention.

Fortunately, Kent recognizes his tendency to run rampant, and has ceded control of his antics to a Good Angel in his technical crew equipped with a desk clerk's bell. Whenever his inevitable tangents threatened to grow tangents themselves, a sharp chime sends him hurrying to the next point in the show. As much as I enjoy Kent's comedy, I send a fervent round of applause to that bell-keeper.

 
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