The last line of the West Coast press release for Shut Up and Love Me reads: “Warning: This show does contain nudity and sexually explicit material.”
Ah, but would it be a Karen Finley show if it didn’t?
One of the most controversial figures in performance art, Finley will do two performances of her latest work, Shut Up and Love Me, at Off Off-Broadway’s Westbeth Theatre Center, April 14-15. She’ll then take the piece to West Hollywood’s Coast Playhouse, April 28-May 21.
She also performed Shut Up and Love Me at NYC’s P.S. 122 in November 1999, at Yale Rep and Seattle’s Behnke Center.
The piece, about sex, features Finley's uniquely histrionic version of "On The Road" as she "deconstructs the Electra complex, skewers Winnie the Pooh," and offers her own striptease. Described by production sources as a "humorous, bawdy, and erotic journey of psychosexual lust and dysfunctional companionship," Finley has promised to be as independent and outspoken in this show as she ever was.
Considered one of the most visceral performance artists of her generation, Finley employs theatre, performance, spoken word and visual art with her darkly humorous and arresting performances.
Synonymous with contemporary performance art, Finley is the recipient of two Obies, two Bessies, and numerous grants from the NEA and NYSCA. She has toured internationally with numerous pieces including The American Chestnut, We Keep Our Victims Ready, and A Certain Level of Denial.
In 1990, after receiving continued support from the NEA, Finley became an unwilling symbol for political influences on arts funding when she, along with Tim Miller, Holly Hughes and John Fleck, sued the NEA for withdrawing grants on the grounds of indecency.
Finley, whose latest book was "Pooh Unplugged," has done a spread in Playboy magazine and made numerous appearances on the televised program, "Politically Incorrect." Other projects include 1-900 ALL-KAREN, which is sponsored by Creative Time, and the Obie Award-winning The Return of The Chocolate Smeared Woman.
Finley's Shut Up and Love Me runs April 14-15 at the Westbeth Theatre Center at 151 Bank Street in NYC. For tickets ($25) and information call (212) 741-0391. The show will then run Thurs-Sun at the Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. For tickets ($25) and information call (323) 655-8587.
-- By David Lefkowitz