"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."
BAY AREA REPORTER
In 1995, I began writing a play about the Jenny Jones murder case. The play was entitled The Risk of Being Cruel.
The Risk of Being Cruel and Making Porn in repertory.
The Risk of being Cruel opened in Chicago one week before Making Porn was scheduled to premiere. The plan was to run the two plays in rep but the Risk of Being Cruel opened and no one showed up.
"It's a shame that more people won't get a chance to see this promising work (The Risk of being Cruel), they'll be packing into Making Porn instead. Larsen's world is sobering in it's psychological accuracy and with a good deal of editing and reworking he might end up with a terrific play." CHICAGO READER
Making Porn opened one week later and it was an instant sold-out hit.
The Risk of being Cruel closed the following week.
A few years later, The Risk of Being Cruel gets retitled as Talk Show, and we workshop it in New York at the Actors Playhouse.
The audience response is extremeley positive.
The NY cast goes to LA, gets good reviews but again, not much box office.
“…a first rate cast…the device of incorporating the audience into the talk-show environment is very effective, and a little disturbing: Watch yourself go from discriminating theatre-goer to clapping seal in milliseconds…this is an on target exploration of human greed, hypocrisy, vanity, debasement, and their merry concatenation in the bear-baiting world of daytime talk.” BACKSTAGE WEST, CRITICS PICK
(Dan Connelly, Stephanie Bell, Justin Christopher in the Los Angeles production of Talk Show)
“…a SCINTILLATING new production…the performances are all PROFESSIONAL and EXCEPTIONAL.” DRAMA-LOGUE
More rewrites and the title is changed again. The play is now called, Sleeping With Straight Men.
Great news comes when Mink Stole agrees to star in the play. I have always been a big fan of hers and I was honored that she would even consider doing my play. To this day, I credit her with the success of the show in SF and the majority of good press we got in New York was directed toward her.
The one and only, Mink Stole.
Sleeping With Straight Men opens in San Francisco to great reviews and sold-out houses.
".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 on...show 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."
BAY AREA REPORTER
Finally, after 8 years, the play is a hit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sleeping With Straight Men then opens Off-Broadway at the Maverick Theatre.
It was an interesting time for New York Theatre.
Les Miserable was closing and Urban Cowboy was opening.
When I was 17 years old I actually worked as a Broadway usher and ushered Les Miserables. It was weird seeing it 17 years later a week before it closed. And meanwhile, my own play was going horribly.
Some nights during previews I would sit in the booth and count how many people were reading thier programs during the show. I knew we were doomed but the producer was convinced we were going to be a hit and we would recoup but I knew differently. I didn't even attend opening night. I went to see Final Destination 2 instead. It was much more entertaining than my own show.
Bad reviews. Bad box-office. Bad everything. The show was shit in NY. It deserved everything it got.
And on top of all that I find out Hedda Lettuce has been trashing the play on her Web site. It was typical of the toxic back-stage energy that filled that theatre every night. Hedda was asking me to tour with the play the whole time she was trashing it. I wasn't even mad at her I was just shocked at her stupidity. It takes a truly special kind of moron to behave the way that Hedda did. I don't believe Hedda has a bad heart but I do suspect that maybe she isn't very intelligent.
(Hedda Lettuce dressed appropriately as a rat with big tits.)
So this is the highlight of the show in New York:
The producer Jared Scott kicks me out of the theater so I picket outside begging audiences not to buy tickets. Mink Stole also quits and joins me on the picket line. The male lead actor can’t take the stress and feints. Ambulances arrive. They save the actor but not the show. It closes. Thank God.
The nightmare is over.
Nine years of working on a script ends with it being trashed in New York and me getting kicked out of the theater.
But there is a silver lining.
Theater Rhinoceros schedules the show for their 2003-2004 season.
Back in San Francisco, the show goes well, gets good reviews, makes money, the cast gets along and all is right with the world.
<------- This is a picture of me on opening night at Theater Rhinceros in SF.
The single worst theatrical experience of my entire life was my play,
Sleeping With Straight Men, off-Broadway. A total nightmare from day one. Thankfully, I barely remember the names of most of the people involved in that fiasco but I do remember the name of the producer, Jared Scott. Jared was involved in three of my shows in SF before we headed to NYC together! We had a flawless relationship before NYC but after arriving in New York, everything went south in a big way!
We reconciled a few years after and last Sunday we had a lovely two hour conversation. The past is the past and I think we're both able to look back now and laugh, a little. My only good memory of the entire production was going to see Final Destination 2, with my friend Joseph, while the cast were performing on "opening night". I heard the opening night party was fun but you couldn't have paid me to go!
Anyway, Jared and I are friends again and Jerry Herman was right: Time Heals Everything.