Local Arts Reviews
Reviewed by Rob Curran, Fri., July 5, 2002
Making Porn: Good Cop, Bad Cop
Hyde Park Theatre,
through July 13
Running Time: 2 hrs, 10 min
Proscribed as pornography during Ireland's censorship era of the 1920s-50s: James Joyce's Ulysses, Federico Fellini's films, The Threepenny Opera. If art can be viewed as pornography, asks writer Ronnie Larsen, can pornography be viewed as an art form?
His play Making Porn, produced locally by the Naughty Austin theatre company, dramatizes the making of Cops, a gay porn movie, from casting calls to the spin-off calendar. Jack (Marc Anthony Donais), a sexually confused married man, resorts to the porn set following a series of pathetic auditions in the mainstream theatre. The intrigue begins when Jack's wife Linda (Beth Burroughs) expresses a desire to visit his place of work.
In a hilarious turn, Greg Kelly plays the hard-bitten producer/director Arthur, who only speaks in the form of orders: "Let's butch this up." Swearing Jack to secrecy, Arthur points a finger in the young man's face: "I don't want some crazy straight bitch coming over to blow up my house." Chris Steele is excellent as Ray, the jaded veteran of Arthur's movies, a longtime journeyman in leather and chains. Steele, real-life star of Steele Ranger and creator of Finish Me Off, Colton, manages to play the straight man while clamping on a metal crotch guard and zipping up his lederhosen. Bryan Schneider, as caustic Jamie, cuts up the crowd in the comic scenes, but his wit goes to waste on heavier scenes. Jody Lanclos is suitably camp, and so is Graham Norton as Jamie's true love Ricky, who dreams of being Queen of Hollywood.
Director Blake Yelavich realizes the comic potential of the script and the world of porn. In his version of Cops, screened during the performance, Yelavich celebrates the motifs of cheap hardcore like random pizza delivery, disappearing characters, and giveaway names. The director himself makes a cameo appearance as "Commander Cox."
"There is more enterprise in walking naked," as W.B. Yeats told the censors, and there is more uncovered skin onstage in Hyde Park Theatre than at a sausage vendors convention. Such conventions can get old, however, especially for vegetarians.
Making Porn succeeds as a satire on the adult movie industry, but Ronnie Larsen may have overstretched himself by including a tragic subplot. Tragedy, in many ways, is anathema to hardcore porn. After a number of belly laughs, the audience must wonder what Larsen wants to say about his subject by dragging out the tears. Is pornography "art on its back," as Ray claims, the most shocking and courageous route for creative people? Or is it the opposite, a trap laid by cruel mercenaries like Arthur for aspiring artists? Or, as Larsen's play suggests, could pornography be merely an entertaining way to spend an evening with a dubious script?