FronteraFest Review: How to Be an Ethical Slut

How to have a good time in three parts

Brooke McCarthy (Photo by Michael Rosas)

What can I say about Brooke McCarthy’s touring one-woman cabaret at FronteraFest, How to Be an Ethical Slut? The story of Blake’s discovery of ethical sluttiness and exploration of her own sexual satisfaction has been rallying sluts (and inspiring new ones) across the country to shed their shame and embrace personal pleasure.

Sitting outside at the Vortex after the show, I knew I was in for a classic review-writing struggle: how to come up with 400 words’ worth of thoughts when all you really want to say is, “Holy heck, what an incredibly good time!”

To take a cue from the show itself, let’s break it into parts.

PART ONE: HOW TO GIVE IN

Opening on a killer rendition of “S.L.U.T.” by Bea Miller, Ethical Slut wastes no time pulling the audience into its unapologetic self-love rhythm. McCarthy is an effortlessly charismatic performer, and character analog Blake is the wild and boundlessly loving BFF you’ve always wanted. One-person shows can be tough sells, but McCarthy’s infectious energy is irresistible.

PART TWO: HOW TO PLAY A JUKEBOX

From the “I just got my test results” confessional “STDs” – a hilarious parody rewrite of Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop the Beat” – to the magnificent reenactment of Blake’s first experience in a swingers club, conveyed via Frozen 2’s “Into the Unknown,” every song in this jukebox-esque production sticks its landing. McCarthy slips an original into the mix as well, with delightful explanation of a triad “Three Is Better,” and the medleys peppered throughout recall Moulin Rouge with their cleverness and sense of play.

PART THREE: HOW TO FALL IN LOVE

What’s perhaps most surprising about this show isn’t that it’s funny or that it’s feminist or that it’s a rollicking good time. It’s that there’s a real message lying at its heart about love in all forms, be it polyamorous or monogamous, romantic or platonic or sexual, for ourselves or for someone(s) else. Further, the show addresses the pervasive myth that when open, poly, or otherwise nontraditional (read: ethically nonmonogamous) relationships fail, the root cause is the structure of the relationship itself, and not a combination of the same challenges that plague any long-term arrangement between two or more people. Communication is key no matter how many people you love or who you sleep with. And even with that key factor in place, people can still grow apart. Circumstances can change. Understandings can shift. That doesn’t make the feelings held along the way any less real, nor the people involved any less deserving of happiness, however they may see fit to find it. “Love,” Blake reminds us, “is love.”


FronteraFest BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue)
Sat., Feb. 4, 6pm
Run time: 90 min.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

FronteraFest, Brooke McCarthy, Vortex, How to Be an Ethical Slut, BYOV, Bring Your Own Venue

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