Sleeping With Straight Men

5 Stars from Gay Times of London


Richard Unwin

This camp, colourful, and consummately comic production is based on a true story that has a devastating sting in its tail.

Small-town America in the early 90’s: Stanley – a trailer-park homosexual who lives with his Mom and dreams of San Francisco – has a major crush on Lee – the handsome straight waiter from his local restaurant – but how to let him know…? Why, fly to New York and surprise him with the revelation on a national television chat-show, of course.

While it may seem like a faintly absurd basis for a plot, this unlikely tale of televisual trauma did actually happen. We won’t give away the ending here, but some of you may remember reading about it in the news at the time – apparently the clip of the original chat-show bombshell is available online. Author Ronnie Larsen has taken a real-life drama and transformed it into a captivating narrative – one that is painted with broad comedic strokes for the most part, but is also capable of suitable gravitas and reflection when required. 

Playing Stanley’s drag-queen best friend Sally, and stunning us with several memorable musical interludes, is cultural icon and scene legend Dave Lynn. Lynn gives a bravura performance and gifts a real sense of 90’s magic to proceedings. Despite it being a solitary anachronistic anomaly, his rendition of ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ is a triumphant highlight. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to witness a true star so thriving in their element.

The whole piece is exceptionally well cast. Richard Watkins, as the straight guy caught by the queer eye – Lee – gives us a complex and layered interpretation of a part that could easily be played as caricature. Watkins displays nuance, depth, and a magnificent arse in the nude sex scene – an artiste with real skill and, doubtless, a bright future. Camp counterpart Stanley – performed with precision mincing by Chris Britton – is another brilliantly realised portrait, with Britton allowing us flashes of a real vulnerable human beneath the gaudy exterior of effeminate excess.

Many of the biggest laughs of the night belong to Louie Westwood as Brian – the acidly acerbic make-up and costume supervisor on the Jill Johnson Show. Westwood is a complete master of the bitchy put-down and flamboyantly steals the stage whenever he’s on it. An absolute theatrical star, Westwood is one to watch. There’s also comic brilliance from Ruth Peterson as Jill Johnson herself – totally nailing the 90’s chat-show vibe with fierce flair.

‘Do You Have A Secret Crush? (Sleeping With Straight Men)’ is a hugely enjoyable and consistently entertaining piece of theatre. If you don’t already know the original outcome, then we urge you to fight the temptation to to find out beforehand – just go and appreciate being surprised by the twists and turns of this sublime slice of 90’s mayhem. With songs, laughs, and nudity – as well as some surprisingly affecting serious moments, Director Robert McWhir has put together a small masterpiece to be savoured – enjoy.

GT gives Do You Have A Secret Crush? (Sleeping With Straight Men) — 5/5


     Story: Inspired by the Jenny Jones Talk Show murder case.


     Script: PDF - Word Document - Web - Excerpt


    Length: 90 minutes



  • STANLEY, a gay man obsessed with straight men
  • MOM, Stanleys' mom
  • SALLY, Stanleys' friend, a female impersonator
  • LEE, a straight man
  • KAREN, his girlfriend
  • JILL JOHNSON, a talk show host
  • JUDY, a talk show producer
  • BRIAN, a make-up artist


     Produced Cities: Chicago (titled The Risk of Being Cruel), Los Angeles (titled Talk Show) , San Francisco (titled Sleeping With Straight Men), Off-Broadway - New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago.


     Actor History:


  • Leila Babson played Mom
  • Joanna Keylock played Judy
  • Hedda Lettuce played Sally
  • Jared Scott played Stanley
  • Mink Stole played Jill Johnson
  • Paul Tena played Brian
  • Aaaron Wimmer played Lee
  • Dia Shepardson played Karen


  • A.J. Davenport played Mom
  • Nora Ludden played Judy
  • Dan Renzi played Brian
  • Sister Roma played Sally
  • Jared Scott played Stanley
  • Dia Shepardson played Karen
  • Mink Stole played Jill Johnson
  • Aaaron Wimmer played Lee


  • Michael Amato played Paul
  • Barry Brisco played Jack
  • Stephanie Bell played Jill Johnson
  • Stephanie Barton played Mom
  • Justin Christopher played Stanley
  • Dan Connelly played Lee (alternating with Frank Krueger)
  • Kerry Ann Cunningham played Karen
  • Frank Krueger played Lee (alternating with Dan Connelly)
  • Michael Lundy played Brian
  • Diane Mizrahi played Judy
  • Tony Trbovich played Roy
  • Toni Marie Davis was the Assistant Director
    Rod Hazzard was the Company Manager


  • Mark Appolloni played Joey
  • Ethan Colchamiro played Roy
  • Chris Daftsios played Suzette
  • J. Bixby Elliott played Dolores Alexander
  • Mitch Ellis play Jack Shepard
  • Vanessa Hall played Jill Johnson
  • Joe Kaplan played Lee
  • Rebecca Langguth played Karen


     Audio Description:




     Video: There is currently no video. Maybe soon.




"Sleeping With Straight Men, having its premiere in the Theatre Rhino Studio, is another successful step by Larsen to reach beyond the reputation of his Making Porn et al. oeuvre. The first step came with A Few Gay Men last year, and this new play reinforces the developing notion that Larsen is a writer and director to be reckoned with."


"Torn from the headlines, but a lot more entertaining, "Sleeping With Straight Men" may turn out to be this summer's surprise hit play. The 90-minute romp had the audience at Friday's opening cheering at the end."


"...all characters are granted more depth than one might anticipate at first, and dialogue is quite well honed to deftly reveal contradictory, potentially land-mined personality traits. Sans intermission, well-paced tale has an arrow-like narrative trajectory that gradually becomes less comic and more tragic as it goes should repeat its local success in upcoming remounts."


"What distinguishes this production is the real-life familiarity of the
characters’ behavior, even as their circumstances approach burlesque. In addition to his clever way with words, Larsen is a director with an eye for nuance, as well as choreographed episodes, and his jokes often find a second wave of laughter through their staging."



     Licensing Availability: Available for production, co-production and/or licensing.