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Monday, October 20, 2014

Gonzo Erotica: Fight Club Author Chuck Palahniuk Talks About Sex and Death in His New Novel

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM


Chuck Palahniuk, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, reading and Q&A at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., S.F. $34; www.dnalounge.com
  • Chuck Palahniuk, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, reading and Q&A at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., S.F. $34; www.dnalounge.com
Rather than take recent advice delivered by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, to ease the reader into it a piece of writing, coaxing them with laughter before bombarding them with the graphic underbelly, let's jump right into it.

In his upcoming novel Beautiful You, a 200-year-old sex witch pleases herself with her dead mother's finger. A flaming dildo kills someone at the alter when it's rocketed through a stained-glass church window, launched by a thousand angry husbands at Yankee Stadium. Sex toys are crafted from human bones.

Why yes, Palahniuk's new book has plenty of sex and death.

Beautiful You tells the story of a nobody law-student Penny Harrigan who falls into a sexual relationship with Cornelius Linus Maxwell, or "Climax-well," the billionaire founder of a tech company. Maxwell dresses her in lavish designer brands, gives her national attention in tabloids, and showers her with a trust fund. But there's a catch: whenever he takes her into the bedroom, meticulously scrawling observations into his notebook as he brings Penny to orgasm, he's also testing his a new line of mind-control sex toys called Beautiful You. The billionaire has an evil plan, and it's up to Penny to stop him by seeking the guidance of Maxwell's mentor, an ages-old sex witch who lives in a cave atop Mount Everest. The witch, Baba Gray-Beard, has pubic hair that drags along the ground as she walks, but Penny must please her in order to learn her ways and fight the brain-numbing sex powers that Climax-well manipulates for world domination.

Beautiful You will make you wonder whether Palahniuk has gone too far, all while contemplating the state of human sexuality. Could someone really use archaic sex practices to control the women of the industrialized world, and therefore the national economy? Probably not, but that's beside the point.

SF Weekly spoke with Palahniuk about the new novel, a generation of men with arousal addiction, his new genre called 'Gonzo Erotica' and the upcoming Fight Club graphic novel.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Marsh's Acid Test Tests the Limits of Boomers' Affection for Ram Dass

Posted By on Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM

marshphoto.JPG

Lynne Kaufman's Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass, now at the Marsh SF after an extended run at the Marsh's Berkeley venue, doesn't feel like a work of theater -- and not in a good way.

The 90-minute play about the rich-kid-turned-Ivy-League-professor-turned-psychedelic -turned-spiritual guru is a solo show -- a format that's already relatively untheatrical. Performer Warren David Keith has almost nothing to separate him from the audience. His only set is a chair and an end table that holds photos of important people from his life, as well as a projection screen that allows audiences to see larger versions of those pictures.

See also:

Symmetry Theatre's The Language Archive has many plot threads; most unravel

Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Symmetry Theatre's The Language Archive has many plot threads; most unravel

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM

The only new word captured during this foreign language recording was "fuckbutt." - DOUG MCKECHNIE
  • Doug McKechnie
  • The only new word captured during this foreign language recording was "fuckbutt."

Julia Cho's The Language Archive, now in a Symmetry Theatre production directed by Chloe Bronzan, is several different unfinished plays rolled into one. Only toward the end does it become the play it's supposed to be.

See also:

Gender Roles: Local Theater Confronts the Lack of Women Behind the Scenes

Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sound Design Seizes the Lead in Custom Made's Eurydice But Fails to Deliver

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Eurydice (Jessica Rudholm) goes to hell in Sarah Ruhl's eponymous play. - JAY YAMADA
  • Jay Yamada
  • Eurydice (Jessica Rudholm) goes to hell in Sarah Ruhl's eponymous play.

Sound design is one of those aspects of theater that usually slips by under the radar. It almost never makes or breaks a production. Instead, ideally, it should help make individual moments more complete, helping to fully immerse an audience into the world of a play.

The design in Custom Made Theatre Company's production of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice is a rare exception to this rule.

See also:

The Arsonists Explores the Downside of Appeasement

The Happy Ones Messes With Your (American) Dreams

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's Rainin' Pastel: Mr. Marina Gets Crowned

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Alex Schmitt shows off his bronzed bod in the swimwear portion of the show
  • Alex Schmitt shows off his bronzed bod in the swimwear portion of the show

Last night we got the chance to channel our inner party bitch, the one who has a penchant for grape-flavored vodka and male strip clubs.

Ah, Mr. Marina, you did not disappoint. Amid the throngs of well-heeled spectators vying for the open bar, we basked in the manly glow of 10 fine specimens workin' the crowd harder than Tina Turner circa 1984.

The competition consisted of three rounds: a swimwear portion, a talent show section, and of course a Q&A round with each contestant. More importantly, it raised $91,000, all of which goes to cancer research.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jersey Boys: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. Seriously.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli serenades the crowd with "Sherry"
  • Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli serenades the crowd with "Sherry"

Everyone loves a good underdog story. But when you add some mobster shenanigans, drug use, copious sex, betrayal, death, and four blue-collar guys belting out more than 30 epic oldies like a jukebox on amphetamines, you've got Jersey Boys, the musical.

Chronicling the bittersweet saga of The Four Seasons, the 1960s rock n' roll quartet, the play -- directed by Des McAnuff -- traverses more than 40 years of the Boys' lives together from the streetwise corners of New Jersey to the glinting lights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The play opens rather strangely -- in Paris of all places -- with a black rapper flanked by B-Girl dancers circa 2000. Tommy DeVito (played by the rakish John Gardiner) steps into the gyrating mass, freezing the action, and directly addresses the audience. He tells us the rapper was singing Oh What a Night (Ces Soirees), the 1963 hit from the Four Seasons. Yup, they got that big -- Europe big.

Each of the Boys takes over narration for part of the show, offering their own takes on the group's rise to stardom. It works well and offers the audience the occasional breather from Nick Cosgrove's relentless falsetto (more on that in a minute.)

Four seasons (get it?) demarcate the passage of time -- and the boys' different perspectives -- with pop-art projections over the stage. The set, designed by Klara Zieglerova, is fairly stark -- toggling between chain-link fences, scaffolding, bar stools and neon signs -- but transforms the space seamlessly and simply, allowing the music to take center stage.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cutting Ball's The Chairs Leaves Much to the Imagination and Little to Relate to

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Tamar Cohn and David Sinaiko interact with a guest. - SARAH ROLAND
  • Sarah Roland
  • Tamar Cohn and David Sinaiko interact with a guest.

In his note on Cutting Ball's production of The Chairs, translator Rob Melrose calls Eugène Ionesco's tragic farce "a valentine to the imagination." In this production, directed by Annie Elias, imagination loves you back, but not without playing tricks on you.

See also:

Sex and the City: Live!: In Drag and More "Fabulous" Than Ever

Extreme Theater: Strindberg's Chamber Plays in Rep at the Cutting Ball

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Sex and the City: Live!: In Drag and More "Fabulous" Than Ever

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie, and Samantha have never looked better in their Manolo Blahniks. - KENT TAYLOR
  • Kent Taylor
  • Miranda, Charlotte, Carrie, and Samantha have never looked better in their Manolo Blahniks.

The drag queens of Trannyshack are peddlers of nostalgia -- not nostalgia for drag queens like Mom used to make, but for pop culture of yore. The company is on the cutting edge of turning the contemporary into camp. Want to know which new old thing will make us homesick for the past next? Look no further than the subjects of the company's shows.

See also:

Annie Danger: She'll Take Your Body on a Spiritual Journey

The Write Stuff: Erica Lewis on Being a Eulogist of Memory

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea: New Theater Company's First Production, While Not Flawless, Shows Promise

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Danny (Steve Bologna) and Roberta (April Fritz) are not exactly "people persons."
  • Danny (Steve Bologna) and Roberta (April Fritz) are not exactly "people persons."

John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, now playing at the Phoenix Theatre in Breach Once More's inaugural production, is a little bit like Edward Albee's The Zoo Story, in which two strangers meet on a park bench and the first persuades the second to murder the first, except in Shanley's play, the pair take a different but no less extreme course of action: One proposes to the other.

See Also: Do This Tonight: Naked Men Reading H.P. Lovecraft at Stage Werx 

You Know When the Men Are Gone at Z Space: A Marriage of Page and Stage

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You Know When the Men Are Gone at Z Space: A Marriage of Page and Stage

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Chad Deverman and Armando McClain make prose come aliv - MARK LEIALOHA
  • Mark Leialoha
  • Chad Deverman and Armando McClain make prose come aliv

You Know When the Men Are Gone, by Word for Word at Z Space, revels in the power of theater. Linen streamers descending from ceiling to floor are variously the border between the waking and dreaming world, sheets on a bed, and a fresh roll of toilet paper. Spotlights fading in and out on different characters amidst an eerie soundtrack make film's device of montage actually look good onstage. And a costume, in a pinch, becomes a set of twins.

See Also: Locked In: Magic Theatre and SF Playhouse Break Cycles

Waiting for Godot: Marin Theatre Company Revisits Beckett's Absurdist Masterpiece on Its 60th Anniversary

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    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.