Thursday, April 07, 2005

Take Me Out

When my friend asked me if I wanted to go see naked men parade onstage at Madrigal’s, the premier local strip club, I was aghast that he would even ask me to go. Why would I go to a strip club for naked men, I asked him, that’s what theatre is for.

Besides, the guys that frequent strip clubs belong to the lower rung of the gay population, you know, the guys who are looking for relationships. I mean, you wouldn’t think so, but strip clubs are where you can find guys who are rich, horny and desperately lonely--all the qualities that nurture successful relationships.

After perfecting musicals, the gays have moved on to the next brave frontier in theatre, the artful presentation of gratuitous male nudity, or as I call it, “nudicals.”

I think it’s very sophisticated to go to nudicals. You get a very cultured boner and you get a souvenir Playbill. And being a proponent of efficiency, this makes me all warm inside, when you can handle two stones and one bird.

And what’s with the spelling of “theatre”? What’s with the “-tre” in the end instead of “-ter”?

Well to begin with, thea-tre is pronounced theeatuh, preferably in a British accent--Cockney if you can manage it, coz I like the sound of "cock."

Theatre is a night on the town, of love and romance. Theatre is art, glamour and wonder. Theatre is what women drag their husbands and boyfriends kicking and screaming to, a night of intense, emotional blackmail.

How about thea-ter? Three words: Blue Man Group.

"Theatre schmeatre," you might say, "what’s the difference? It’s ALL gay. Straight theatre, that’s an oxymoron."

You know what’s an oxymoron? President Bush.

So off we go to a night of theatre.

My friend John S. scored us tickets to a preview of Take Me Out. A preview is basically a full dress performance to iron various kinks out in front of an audience.

Ironing the kinks out. Hmmnn, this kinda brings to mind laundry day for an S&M couple. It also brings up the question of whether there should be a crease in a pair of leather chaps or not, but I digress.

The story is about a popular and well-loved pro baseball player, Darren Lemming (Derrick Nelson) who is at the top of his game. Darren believes that he was put on Earth by God to play baseball. The fact that he was bi-racial and homosexual was beside the point. Darren was not in the closet, he just didn’t feel his homosexuality was relevant to the game or is anyone's business.

But after a conversation with his best friend (who didn’t know of Darren’s homosexuality) about being true to oneself, Darren, without hesitation, decides to come out during a TV press conference. Darren, naively or arrogantly, believed that his mythic prowess would overshadow this teensy revelation.

The play then goes on and examines how the fans, his teammates and friends react to this outing. Some are supportive, some are shocked, still others are resentful and hostile, but not necessarily to Darren’s homosexuality, but for this “lie” of his true nature.

One stand-out performance was that of Tom Aulino, playing Mason Marzac, Darren’s geeky gay accountant and new fan. “Marz” was a veritable mass of tics and nerves, like a Woody Allen unencumbered by the confusion between step-daughter and Korean sex slave, providing comedic relief in just the right places.

Take Me Out blends the various hot topics of our day: race relations, homophobia, circumcision and parades them in front of you, sometimes producing a very uncomfortable feeling inside of my pants. I had to place my Playbill on my lap to cover my 'rising embarrassment,' especially when redneck Shane Mungitt (played by an intense and sexy Kyle Hatley) was being wrestled by Darren in the shower. Also, I found out uncircumcised penises were more prevalent than I thought.

Take Me Out is about baseball, the love of it, the magic of the game, the magic of the fans, but most of all, the magic that happens when hard buns are encased in skintight pants.

I went to see the play because of its merits: a Tony award, glowing reviews, nine sets of ‘twigs and berries’ and I was not disappointed. The play lived up to its reputation and even if it didn’t, the nudity certainly did.

Take Me Out is showing March 24 to May 1st at Steppenwolf Theatre. Chicagoans, go get tickets, it's worth it.

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