Pardon my cynicism if the idea of two grown men manipulating their private parts into the shapes of animals, food, and various other objects didn't initially sound appealing. Many males fancy their members capable of unique and astounding physical feats, and too often, the results of such cockiness are less than impressive. Simon Morley and David "Friendly" Friend, however, may be exceptions. The stars of the much-hyped novelty show Puppetry of the Penis make good on their bragging rights as spokesmen for the "ancient Australian art of genital origami." An international hit that's generating worldwide attention -- not to mention the ire of conservative groups (it was banned in New Zealand, and a Mormon-owned television station in Salt Lake City refused to broadcast the pair's Tonight Show appearance) -- Puppetrypremieres locally this week in an open-ended run.
Morley discovered his gift for "genital gesticulations" after sibling rivalry led him to try to outdo his brother, who introduced him to the show's trademark "installation," The Hamburger. Friend stumbled upon his penchant for playing with himself the way most guys do -- leisurely handling himself in the tub. But unlike your average working stiffs, these two turned their hobby into a profession. The penis puppeteers take their gifts seriously -- and why shouldn't they? The demand for their expertise is so great that they're planning a worldwide tour and have been seeking like-minded practitioners. (Participation requirements, according to the Web site www.puppetryofthepenis.com, are a "flexible working attitude" and a "complete lack of shame.")
Wearing nothing but a cape, socks, and sneakers, Morley and Friend take their pliable genitals -- not just the penis, but the testicles and scrotum, too -- to town, stretching, twisting, and otherwise coaxing their packages into more than 40 surprising forms, much like a clown conjuring a dachshund from a skinny balloon. (For the local engagement, the two are considering the addition of a site-specific installation -- Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, or Lombard Street, for example.) Their creations are projected onto a screen onstage, for those desiring an up-close-and-personal look at their genitalia twisted into, say, the Loch Ness Monster, or a sea anemone, or the Eiffel Tower.
Opens for an extended run at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
Admission is $29.50 for previews, $39.50-44.50 regular
It remains to be seen whether an hour of dick tricks -- supplemented by little more than a live stand-up comedy set and an introduction from Priapus, "God of the Penis" -- will endure or fall flat. Regardless, it won't take much of a stretch to enjoy the show, provided you come with an open mind. These guys don't purport to do anything but provide silly entertainment. Morley and Friend have balls, and after seeing Puppetry of the Penis, you'll never see those balls in the same light again.