Sex will end in the Living Room on -- appropriately enough -- Valentine's Day. Mae West's notorious 1926 comedy, which opened in New York in the Gershwin Hotel on Dec. 9, ends after two extensions Feb. 14. The play was originally due to close Jan. 16, then Jan. 31. Elyse Singer (Love in the Void) directs this Hourglass Group venture.
The comic rise of Margy LaMont, a working-class prostitute who hides her past to keep the man she loves, Sex ran for more than a year before the police raided the original production, hauling West away on obscenity charges. She served eight days on Welfare Island. The raid was said to have been set up to prevent the opening of West's second play, The Drag, which featured a transvestite ball. The prison time didn't stop her; she went on to write six more plays, including Pleasure Man and Diamond Lil and became one of the biggest stars of the 1930s.
The Hourglass Sex will be framed by excerpts from the 1927 obscenity trials and West's own words on the subject.
Carolyn Baeumler stars as LaMont, the role originally created by West. Baemuler, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, workshopped Bright Light, Big City as Sally and has appeared in New York at HERE, Dixon Place, the Cherry Lane Theatre and at Joe's Pub in The Erotica Project. Her co-star, Nina Hellman (Agnes), most recently performed in a different Sex, this one subtitled a.k.a. Weiners and Boobs, in Los Angeles.
Also in the cast are Cynthia Darlow, Nick Garrison, Dominic Hamilton Little, Bruce Kronenberg, Andrew Elvis Miller, Chuck Montgomery, T. Ryder Smith and Fred Velde. Special guest appearances will be made by GLAMMY winner Candis Cayne, drag performer Sable and others. Designing Sex are George Xenos (set), Kaye Voyce (costumes) and Tyler Micoleau (lighting). Steven Bernstein, music director of the Lounge Lizards, will direct the Sex Mob in Sex's 1920's jazz.
The Valentine's Day performance Feb. 14 will be a special benefit for the Hourglass Group with tickets at $40.
All other performances, tickets are $25 and available by calling (212) 439 8122. The Gershwin Hotel is at 7 East 27th Street between 5th and Madison. The Hourglass Group is on the web at http://www.hourglassgroup.org.
-- By Christine Ehren