WBEZ | pornography http://www.wbez.org/tags/pornography Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Taking back sex: Why we need to talk about porn http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/taking-back-sex-why-we-need-talk-about-porn-107321 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.5; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/r-FIFTY-SHADES-BANNED-large570.jpg" style="line-height: 1.5;" title="Woman reading paperback copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, one-third of the fastest-selling trilogy in history. (AP)" /></p><p dir="ltr">To say that <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> has been a phenomenon is an understatement. Since debuting in 2011, the series has sold more than <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/03/27/sex-sells-50-shades-series-sells-70-million-copies/" target="_blank">70 million copies</a>&mdash;the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9459779/50-Shades-of-Grey-is-best-selling-book-of-all-time.html" target="_blank">fastest-selling trilogy</a> in history. During that time, its success has led to a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/10/sex-fifty-shades-of-grey-effect-bondage-trend_n_1662122.html" target="_blank">spike in the sale</a> of sex gear, the rate of extramarital bondage, a projected baby boom and much <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/newsweek-magazine-cover-argues-working-women-want-be-domi" target="_blank">hand-wringing</a> over kinky intercourse entering the mainstream. Although everyone has written about the rise of &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50143476n" target="_blank">mommy porn</a>,&rdquo; few have written about the role erotica plays in readers&rsquo; lives&mdash;or the utility of sexual discourse.</p><p dir="ltr">We&rsquo;re talking about 50 Shades of Grey, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean we&rsquo;re having a discussion. For those trying to educate themselves on pornography&mdash;whether that&rsquo;s for themselves, their wives or their children, who may be porn users <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/cybertruth/2013/05/14/childrens-online-safety-porn/2158015/" target="_blank">as early as 6</a> &mdash;there are limited resources beyond puritanical hysteria. The dialogue on porn is unsurprisingly abstinence-only oriented &mdash; focused on <a href="http://www.feedtherightwolf.org/2010/05/how-to-stop-porn-addiction-stop-watching-porn/" target="_blank">limiting porn use </a>or &ldquo;<a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4638096/how-porn-addiction-ruins-lives.html" target="_blank">how to fight your porn addiction</a>,&rdquo; rather than engaging with the medium at hand.</p><p dir="ltr">For a series like <em>50 Shades</em>, that&#39;s an important distinction, as the book has been <a href="http://litreactor.com/news/50-shades-of-grey-criticized-for-inaccurate-portrayl-of-bdsm" target="_blank">widely criticized</a> by the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/shortcuts/2012/jul/08/fifty-shades-grey-bad-bondage" target="_blank">BDSM communit</a>y for its <a href="http://www.blogher.com/troubling-message-fifty-shades-grey" target="_blank">portrayals</a> of <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/bdsm-advocates-worry-fifty-shades-grey-sex/story?id=17369406" target="_blank">S&amp;M relationships</a>. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM" target="_blank">BDSM</a> advocates fear popular literature like this is giving people the wrong information. Thus, if there&#39;s a time to talk about sex, it&#39;s now.</p><p dir="ltr">A new movement of academics is attempting to do just that, challenging our cultural phobia of sex the best way they know how: education. Set to launch next spring, a journal called &ldquo;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2013/may/02/porn-studies-new-discipline-academics" target="_blank">Porn Studies</a>&rdquo; plans to focus on how porn &ldquo;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2318997/Porn-Studies-journal-launch-Spring.html" target="_blank">impacts our lives</a>&rdquo; and promote healthy practices and relationships for those who use it.</p><p dir="ltr">According to <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/routledge-to-publish-porn-studies-journal/" target="_blank">Routledge</a>, the publisher of <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2318997/Porn-Studies-journal-launch-Spring.html" target="_blank">Porn Studies</a>, the journal <a href="http://jezebel.com/at-long-last-porn-is-getting-its-very-own-academic-jou-487867536" target="_blank">will</a> &ldquo;be the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal and social contexts.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">However, the study of pornography as an academic discipline is hardly new. As The Atlantic&rsquo;s Hugo Schwyzer <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/i-teach-a-college-class-on-how-to-think-and-talk-about-pornography/275666/" target="_blank">points out</a>, &ldquo;scholars [like UC Santa Barbara&rsquo;s Constance Penley] have been writing and teaching about porn for more than two decades.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Until 2011, Northwestern offered a <a href="http://www.theawl.com/2011/03/that-northwestern-human-sexuality-class-was-the-best-course-i-ever-took" target="_blank">Human Sexuality course</a> that <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/10/northwestern-university-cancels-human-sexuality-class-professor-defends/" target="_blank">got yanked</a> after its <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/northwestern-university-p_n_830423.html" target="_blank">very controversial</a> professor held a sex toy demo front of the class. Loyola University, DePaul, Columbia and University of Chicago all offer courses on the Sociology, Psychology or Science of Sexuality, but the use of porn as a pedagogical tool is still taboo. As we see from the Northwestern example, we don&rsquo;t mind when you talk about sex, but actually showing it is a different matter.</p><p dir="ltr">Hugo Schwyzer experienced that <a href="http://www.scpr.org/blogs/news/2013/02/27/12717/james-deen-porn-lecture-gets-snow-job-in-pasadena/" target="_blank">pushback</a> first-hand. Earlier this year, Schwyzer brought <a href="http://wrbw.membercenter.worldnow.com/story/21420374/porn-star-james-deen-shows-up-for-lecture-at-pasadena-college" target="_blank">James Deen</a>, the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Deen" target="_blank">well-known</a> porn star, in to his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/porn-class-pasadena-city-college-navigating-pornography_n_3085208.html" target="_blank">Navigating Pornography</a> class, which he teaches at <a href="http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_22666447/porn-star-james-deen-speak-at-pasadena-city" target="_blank">Pasadena City College</a>. Deen talked about the misconceptions young people often get about sex from watching porn, which could mark their first impressions on sex.</p><p dir="ltr">Deen <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/i-teach-a-college-class-on-how-to-think-and-talk-about-pornography/275666/" target="_blank">told the students</a>, &quot;It&#39;s as if instead of offering driver&#39;s ed, we taught you how to operate a car by showing you a James Bond movie.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Hugo Schwyzer agreed. &quot;In this country, pornography is held responsible for sex education, and that&#39;s unfair,&rdquo; Schwyzer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/porn-class-pasadena-city-college-navigating-pornography_n_3085208.html" target="_blank">argued</a>. &ldquo;Similarly, porn should not be held up as being responsible for teaching people about how to behave during sex.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Schwyzer wants to use Deen as a way to &ldquo;[give] students [the] tools to understand pornography as a historical and contemporary phenomenon.&rdquo; Schwyzer <a href="http://www.policymic.com/articles/39851/nsfw-but-safe-for-school-porn-studies-journal-will-launch-in-2014" target="_blank">told reporters</a>, &ldquo;Students today live in a porn-saturated culture and very rarely get a chance to learn about it in a safe, non-judgmental, intellectually thoughtful way.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The professor hopes Navigating Pornography will <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/i-teach-a-college-class-on-how-to-think-and-talk-about-pornography/275666/">help his students</a> &ldquo;combat sexual shame,&rdquo; where studies have shown that <a href="http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2005/06/adolescent-virginity-pledges-and-risky-sexual-behaviors">sexual repression</a> leads to <a href="http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705288350/Utah-No-1-in-online-porn-subscriptions-report-says.html?pg=all">higher rates of porn use</a> and <a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-03-18-sex-study_x.htm?csp=34">riskier</a> <a href="http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/04/03/how-abstinence-only-sex-ed-driving-std-rates">sexual behaviors</a>. This is especially true for queer people, who might not have outlets in their families and communities for any expression of their desires. Studies show that conservative Utah -- dominated by the <a href="http://www.care2.com/causes/is-the-mormon-church-losing-its-homophobia.html">historically homophobic</a> Mormon church -- <a href="http://consumerist.com/2009/03/05/which-state-consumes-the-most-online-porn/">watches more porn</a> than any other state in America.</p><p dir="ltr">Queer or otherwise, a majority of Hugo Schwyzer&rsquo;s students grow up in households where abstinence is taught, but the expression of sexuality is not talked about.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Many grow up in homes where masturbation&mdash;which is, after all, almost inextricably linked with pornography viewing&mdash;is still seen as shameful or sinful,&quot;&nbsp;Schwyzer <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/i-teach-a-college-class-on-how-to-think-and-talk-about-pornography/275666/">explains</a>. &quot;Many worry that they watch porn too much, or watch the &lsquo;wrong kind,&rsquo; while quite a few have had bitter arguments with romantic partners over the ethics of porn use in a committed relationship.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s this notion of ethics that seems to be the sticking point. In the days leading up to the events, administrators <a href="http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/02/27/porn-actor-james-deen/">prepared for protests</a> as media swarmed the campus. The school received complaint calls from concerned citizens, but the school smartly refused to allow the public into the lecture. Reports indicate that the class was packed and the students &quot;<a href="http://wftc.membercenter.worldnow.com/story/21420374/porn-star-james-deen-shows-up-for-lecture-at-pasadena-college">enthusiastic</a>,&quot; ready to learn. If only all of us were so open.</p><p dir="ltr">This isn&rsquo;t the first time the public lost its mind over porn stars using their platform for education. In 2011, retired porn icon Sasha Grey <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVklrL3Zb5k">read to a classroom</a> of Compton, CA first-graders for the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.readacrossamerica.org/">Read Across America</a>&rdquo; program. Instead of thanking her for promoting literacy, parents <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/sasha-grey-ex-porn-stars-_n_1095783.html">threw a fit</a> and the school <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2011/11/porn-star-reads-to-school-kids/">quickly denied</a> that she ever visited. Even though Grey is a noted activist for PETA and Occupy Wall Street and a genuinely <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/sasha-grey-the-dirtiest-girl-in-the-world-the-story-behind-the-story-20090429">fascinating and intelligent person</a>, they could only see her for what she does in front of the camera.</p><p dir="ltr">A recent documentary called Aroused <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/aroused-documentary-porn-stars_n_3199772.html">talked to porn stars</a> about these experiences of dehumanization. They are often asked what &ldquo;led them&rdquo; into doing porn, as if they had no choice or no person would ever want to do what they do. One interviewee, Misty Stone, was surprised the filmmakers would even want her opinion. &ldquo;No one usually cares what we have to say,&rdquo; Stone said.</p><p dir="ltr">However, it&rsquo;s not just folks like Misty Stone and Sasha Grey who experience our shame around sex. It&rsquo;s users of porn themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">In an <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/07/24/o.women.watching.porn/">article for CNN</a>, Violet Blue argues, &ldquo;When everyone tells you that what you might be curious about, or even secretly like, is wrong, bad, sleazy, and shameful, you don&#39;t have to cast a line very far to land a set of inhibitions.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">This leaves us feeling disempowered about our bodies and sexualities, meaning that our pleasure is secretive, remaining underground. Why do you think Fifty Shades of Grey took off in its e-book editions? It&rsquo;s because no one could <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/03/29/can_erotica_be_serious_fleshbot_fiction_50_shades_of_grey_and_the_future.html">see you reading it</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Blue states that this reality can be particularly difficult for women, who are usually left out of the discourse on porn to begin with, as the films are considered a <a href="http://manifestamagazine.com/2013/04/24/how-to-make-a-feminist-porno/">medium for male desires</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Many a smart, strong, sexually self-reliant girl has popped in a porn DVD and ejected it just as quickly because she saw something that offended her or made her uncomfortable,&rdquo; Blue writes. &ldquo;I&#39;ve heard from many women that they don&#39;t like the sense of being &lsquo;out of control&rsquo; they get from watching porn -- that disconnect between how their body is feeling and what their brain is telling them is acceptable.</p><p dir="ltr">When we don&rsquo;t quickly change the channel, though, we can learn a lot about sex and begin to challenge the norms of pornography, the way it operates as a tool that humiliates and debases women.</p><p dir="ltr">There&rsquo;s a <a href="http://jezebel.com/5984021/how-i-became-a-feminist-porn-star">movement</a> <a href="http://puckerup.com/feminist-porn/what-is-fp/">of</a> <a href="http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/why-we-need-an-academic-journal-for-pornography">women</a> -- like <a href="http://www.thehumanist.com/humanist/10_sept_oct/Shaffer.html">Nina Hartley</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Sprinkle">Annie Sprinkle</a> and <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/authors/tristan-taormino/">Tristan Taormino</a> -- in the industry who are trying to <a href="http://www.rolereboot.org/sex-and-relationships/details/2013-02-what-does-egalitarian-porn-look-like">make pleasure egalitarian</a> and show human sexuality shouldn&rsquo;t be dictated by the <a href="http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/faq-what-is-the-%E2%80%9Cmale-gaze%E2%80%9D/">male gaze</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Sprinkle once <a href="http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/open-thread-can-there-be-feminist-porn/">famously claimed</a>, &quot;The answer to bad porn isn&#39;t no porn. It&#39;s to try and make better porn.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Looking at porn through this feminist lens, Schwyzer likewise <a href="http://http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/i-teach-a-college-class-on-how-to-think-and-talk-about-pornography/275666/">hopes his class</a> will &ldquo;help my students to see the ways in which porn can construct and reinforce misogyny,&rdquo; while helping them seek out more inclusive, woman-positive sex resources. Instead of banning porn, he argues we need to help make young people better users of it.</p><p dir="ltr">However, these folks shouldn&rsquo;t be alone in pushing the boundaries of how we talk about sexuality. Whether or not you agree porn can be feminized, one thing is clear: We all need to take back sex.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/taking-back-sex-why-we-need-talk-about-porn-107321 'Battling Pornography' documents the rise and fall of feminist anti-porn movement http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/battling-pornography-documents-rise-and-fall-feminist-anti-porn-movement <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/BattlingPornography.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The growth of the commercial sex industry in the 1970s resulted in a proliferation of sexually explicit images of women. Feminists critiqued the graphic images as a form of sex discrimination; and some in the anti-pornography movement argued that there was a direct link between pornographic images of women and violence against women. <a href="http://www.depaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">DePaul University</a> professor <a href="http://communication.depaul.edu/Faculty%20and%20Staff/Full%20Time%20Faculty/bronstein.asp" target="_blank">Carolyn Bronstein</a> traces the evolution of this movement in her new book, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item6038447/?site_locale=en_US" target="_blank"><em>Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976 – 1986. </em></a>She discussed her findings with <em>Eight Forty-Eight.</em></p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/battling-pornography-documents-rise-and-fall-feminist-anti-porn-movement 'A Labor of Love' peeks behind the scenes of a Chicago porn film http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/labor-love-peeks-behind-scenes-chicago-porn-film-93654 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-01/labor of love fim.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last week, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> looked at the business end of modern pornography by taking the pulse of <a href="http://www.playboyenterprises.com/" target="_blank">Playboy Enterprises</a>. Tuesday, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> revisited a conversation about some pornography closer to home. Back in 1976, Robert Flaxman and Daniel Goldman released the film <a href="http://alaboroflovethemovie.com/" target="_blank"><em>A Labor of Love</em></a>. <em>Labor</em> is not a porn flick, but a documentary about the making of one called <em>The Last Affair</em>. So how did two filmmakers, not at all involved in porn, end up making a documentary about one? Flaxman and Goldman discussed the project with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p></p> Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-01/labor-love-peeks-behind-scenes-chicago-porn-film-93654 Daily Rehearsal: Get ready for October, and lots of free theater http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-31/daily-rehearsal-get-ready-october-and-lots-free-theater-91235 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/nogender.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. Steep's show&nbsp;<i>Pornography</i>&nbsp;is being extended</strong></span></span> for two weeks through September 17th, but everything else is the same; shows Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays at 8pm. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/critics-theater-picks-pornography-bigger-and-being-side-man-89465">Kelly Kleiman</a> reminds us that "advance reservations are a must" due to Steep's "stellar" reputation. None of this last minute stuff, you crazy kids.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;<em style="color: rgb(0, 104, 150);"><a href="http://www.mercurytheaterchicago.com/" style="color: rgb(0, 104, 150);" target="_blank">Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes</a></em>&nbsp;is coming back</strong></span></span> to Chicago for September. The show is originally from Los Angeles, and must have done well here during <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-30/critics-theater-picks-for-630-73">its last run</a>, or writer and director Brad T. Gottfred is originally from here (both are true).</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Drury Lane Theatre 2012-13 season</strong></span></span> has been announced; they'll be doing a lot of stuff you've heard of, which means make room for <em>Hairspray</em>,<em> The 39 Steps</em>, <em>Promises, Promises</em>, <em>Singin' in the Rain</em>, and <em>Sunset Boulevard</em>.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. <a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1941732566/no-gender-left-behind-the-midwest-tour"><em>No Gender Left Behind</em></a> looks to be</strong></span></span> one of the highlights of the upcoming Chicago Fringe Festival. After being fired from her teaching job for being transgender, Rebecca Kling decided to make a one-woman show about it. She has a Kickstarter account to help her get from festival to festival, and she'll be in Chicago this weekend.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1941732566/no-gender-left-behind-the-midwest-tour/widget/video.html" width="480" frameborder="0" height="410"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. Mark your calendars for October</strong></span>, because there's an upcoming night of theater and it's not like all the other nights -- it's free, and the night is of your choosing. Every year, the League of Chicago Theatres has a Free Night of Theater at more than 40 Chicago theaters, but this isn't just one evening, it's whatever evening in October you win for. Sign up <a href="http://FreeNightChicago.com">here </a>for random tickets. Obviously, for the theaters, it's a good chance to get audiences in these spaces, and hopefully go back, but the program is actually national, and organized by the Theater Communications Group. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a></p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-31/daily-rehearsal-get-ready-october-and-lots-free-theater-91235 Critics' theater picks; 'Fresh Dances' and 'Fillet of Solo' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-04/critics-theater-picks-fresh-dances-and-fillet-solo-90121 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-04/Fresh Dances - Emily Miller.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Jonathan Abarbanel is out this week, but Kelly Kleiman is in -- with double the picks!</em></p><div><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-04/filletofsolo.jpg" title="" width="480" height="333"></p><p>This is the last weekend for <a href="http://www.lifelinetheatre.com/performances/11-12/filletofsolo2011.shtml"><em>Fillet of Solo</em></a>, Lifeline Theatre's showcase of solo performers. Don't miss <em>Holy Sweat!</em>, the latest six-pack of monologues from the Sweat Girls (so called because their first show was the unforgettably-named <em>I'm Sweating Under My Breasts</em>). The performers, including Lifeline's Artistic Director Dorothy Milne, explore everything from the existence of God to the impact of floods on family relationships with a perfect balance of humor and sentiment that never degenerates into sentimentality. They're on Thursday and Saturday nightd, both at 7 p.m., at Lifeline, 6912 North Glenwood. Tickets are $10--which is less than you'd pay for most movies, and certainly less than you'd pay for anything nearly as good. For a complete list of Fillet performances see lifelinetheatre.com.</p><p>Meanwhile, it's the only weekend for the second annual <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-06-15/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-615-87877"><strong>Chicago Theatre (anti-) Conference</strong></a>, running Friday night through Sunday at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. It's hard to describe exactly what's anti-establishment and underground about a theater conference co-sponsored by the League of Chicago Theatres, but the point seems to be that speakers are limited to 12 minutes and then every session turns into a free-for-all of questions, opinions and debates. Topics include how to rescue your theater when it's collapsing, the meaning of an "ensemble" theater identity and how to use stage violence without killing your actors. Register in advance for $45 or pay $75 at the door--prices which include three parties and two lunches. Go to theaterwit.org to register.</p><p>If your weekend extends to Monday night, and you have kids, check out the new show by Barrel of Monkeys at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. It's still called<em> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-11/monkeys-business-whats-behind-grandmas-success-86396">That's Weird, Grandma</a></em>, but new director Molly Brennan (described in the press release as "Long-Standing Company Monkey") has assembled an entirely new show featuring stories from the 2011 school year. 8 o'clock every Monday through August; $10 for adults and $5 for kids.</p><p>Finally, <a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/shows/shows_main.html"><strong><em>Pornography </em></strong></a>at Steep Theatre was even better than I expected it to be. And somehow it's comforting to watch the world coming to an end in England in 2007 while the world is coming to an end in the U.S. in 2011. Let's hear it for schadenfreude!</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p>Getting in on the ground floor, via promising young talent, is my theme this week.&nbsp;</p><p>A few years ago I laughed—but more often I cried—at a national poetry slam at Columbia College. I went so I could see my niece-in-law, who’d traveled from New Mexico to compete, but I left with a fresh appreciation of this moving art form.&nbsp; Louder Than a Bomb is Chicago’s very own slam, featuring 60 area high schools—and taking center stage in a 2008 documentary. This weekend, LTAB founder Kevin Coval and current and alum slam poets perform&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.victorygardens.org/" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">English Class Hereticsat Victory Gardens</a></em>. The two-day showcase inaugurates a year-long collaboration, culminating in a work to be produced at the Biograph next summer.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-04/Fresh Dances - Emily Miller.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 564px;" title="GET DOWN/PICK UP Company offers “Fresh Dances” (Photo by Emily Miller)"></p><p>The <a href="http://www.linkshall.org/11-pp-aug.shtml">GET DOWN/PICK UP Company offers “Fresh Dances”</a> Friday through Sunday at Link’s Hall, featuring five choreographers from up-and-comers Kate Corby and Dancers, Laboratory Dancers, MaryAnn McGovern, and We Stand Sideways.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/equus-actor-ian-mccabe-streaks-chicago">Ian McCabe</a> wrote and directs his first show at Second City/Donny’s Skybox Theatre, running Saturdays at midnight and opening this weekend. <a href="http://www.secondcity.com/training/chicago/performances/">With the unappetizing title of Tasteless Cake</a>, it is devoted to “Sperm. Pluto. Mime. Satan. Three Doctors. And a Gun,” it says here online. In the grand SC tradition, it sounds pretty tasteless to me.&nbsp;</p></div></p> Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-04/critics-theater-picks-fresh-dances-and-fillet-solo-90121 Daily Rehearsal: Rhys Darby of 'Flight of the Conchords' lands in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/daily-rehearsal-rhys-darby-flight-conchords-lands-chicago-89700 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/flight of theconchords_aphbo_Craig Blankenhorn.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1. <em>Pornography </em>opens this weekend from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/shows/shows_main.html">Steep</a></strong></span></span>, and before you get all hot and bothered, it's not really all about that. It's more about a terrorist attack in the U.K. in 2005. The cast features both the&nbsp;2010 and 2011 winners of the Jeff Award for Best Actress, Kendra Thulin&nbsp;and Caroline Neff.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/side man.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 223px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2. KaTet Theater has <a href="http://katettheatre.org/"><em>Side Man</em></a>&nbsp;opening this weekend</strong></span></span>, about Clifford, who recalls his New York City family and their love of jazz over a period of 30 years. You might remember <em>Side Man</em>; it won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play. Check out <a href="http://katettheatre.org/2011/07/">their blog</a> for remarks from several of the actors and producers over the weeks of rehearsal, and their emotional connection to the piece.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Things look better for <a href="http://www.actone.com/">Act One Studios</a></strong></span></span>&nbsp;than they have recently; their website, in a flurry of fireworks and with the phrase "An Angel Arrived", has annoucned that they've gotten some new funds and free rent, which should alleviate some of their debt issues. The acting studio told <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2011/07/26/no-last-act-yet-for-act-one-studios">the Reader</a> that “It's really embarrassing" but that they're making it work.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4.&nbsp;When I say "casino" you probably don't say "high-class entertainment."</strong></span></span> But&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/theaterloop/ct-ent-0727-focus-casinos-20110726,0,6038180.column?page=1&amp;track=rss" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Chris Jones looks at&nbsp;</a>casinos around the country and what kind of shows they brought with them, from Celine Dion to Cirque du Solei. "Regardless, don't expect somebody to build the biggest theater in Chicago just for Dion, and hope only for warm bodies headed for the casino," says Jones.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/flight of theconchords_aphbo_Craig Blankenhorn.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="Rhys Darby, left, in Flight of the Conchords (AP-HBO/Craig Blankenhorn)"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5.&nbsp;Like the Flight of the Conchords? Of course you do!</strong></span></span> Rhys Darby, who played manager Murray on the HBO show of the same name, was at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.improv.com/Search/?searchTerm=rhys" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">Improv this weekend</a>&nbsp;for a jam-packed set of shows (5). Jenna Marotta of&nbsp;<a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/comedy/14866445/live-review-rhys-darby-at-the-improv" style="color: rgb(2, 122, 198); text-decoration: none;">TimeOut says</a>&nbsp;of Darby's performance, "Basically, Darby is a good comedian to go see with your mom. I did." Darby was also considered one of the potential Steve Carell replacements for The Office, and at least a few feel that his New Zealand touch would have been a welcome homage to Ricky Gervais' British version.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 14:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/daily-rehearsal-rhys-darby-flight-conchords-lands-chicago-89700 Critics theater picks; 'Pornography', 'Bigger!' and being a 'Side Man' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/critics-theater-picks-pornography-bigger-and-being-side-man-89465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/aerial dance.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></div><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/cuttothequick.jpg" style="width: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; height: 269px; float: left; " title="">First up: site-specific work from <a href="http://www.thesideproject.net/">the side project</a>, whose theater is so minute that any other venue must seem palatial. That, in any case, is my reading of their decision to kick off a festival of site-specific one-acts this Saturday in the office of <a href="http://www.ward49.com/">Alderman Joe Moore</a>.</p><p>side project (lower-case theirs) is celebrating its tenth anniversary and its ties to the 'hood it calls Jarvis Square (Jarvis at Greenview in what I'd style mid-Rogers Park). Alderman Moore's office isn't the only unusual venue for this series, called <em>Cut to the Quick: On Location</em>; neighborhood bars and restaurants, and even a local body shop, are turning themselves into theaters for its brief duration. It starts this Saturday at the Alderman's office at 12:30 (with a piece about lawyers' ethics and other oxymorons), and continues through August 17 in various locales. Tickets are $10.</p><p>If the goings-on in Washington mean you've had your fill of politicans, perhaps you'd prefer to consider the comforting topic of terrorism in other countries. Name the play <em>Pornography</em>, and you're all set for another evening of summertime fluff. It opens tonight at <a href="http://www.steeptheatre.com/">Steep Theatre</a>, whose space is nearly as tiny as side project's (what is this, some kind of competition? "Narrowest space that is not a single bowling lane?" "Shallowest space that is not a bus shelter?") and whose reputation is stellar enough that advance reservations are a must. Tonight's opening is sold out but tickets are available for the rest of the run (through September 3) and are $22 tops. Hard by the Berwyn Red Line stop in Edgewater--or maybe that should be "Berwyn Square."</p><p>And, as previously mentioned, <a href="http://collaboraction.org/">Collaboraction </a>re-opens <strong><em>1001 </em></strong>at the Flatiron Building, vacating Theatre on the Lake so Bohemian Theatre Ensemble can take its turn with <a href="http://bohotheatre.com/"><em>Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn</em></a>.</p><p>I keep mentioning <a href="http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/312df49f-8fbf-4e35-8da1-443a4a50e3e8.cfm">ToL </a>because it's really a remarkable resource: a way to see the cream (or at least some of the cream) of last season's theater crop. Those of us who remember its incarnation as the place where community theaters based in Park District fieldhouses had their moment of glory before returning to well-deserved obscurity know what enormous effort it took to change ToL into a showcase for Chicago's professional companies, and what an incredible contribution it's made and continues to make to the city's summer entertainment options.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/aerial dance.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px; " title="'Bigger!' at Aloft Loft"></p><p><a href="http://www.aloftloft.com/">“<strong>Bigger!</strong>”</a> might sound like a porno, but in some ways it’s the opposite: this Aloft Loft party celebrates that staple of G-rated entertainment, aerial dance. Expect “extreme circus performances,” giant cupcakes, and monster popcorn balls. While <a href="http://www.facebook.com/planetclaireband">B-52s tribute band Planet Claire</a> plays, you can eat the dress off a “towering cotton-candy princess” or maximize your hair at the Gigantic Hair Styling Station. The event, Saturday from 8 PM to midnight near Damen and Fulton, inaugurates and helps support Aloft’s new digs, the largest circus training space in the Midwest—and the third largest in the country. Guests must be 21 or older. NO tickets at the door; sign up <a href="https://www.fracturedatlas.org/s/campaign/310">here</a> to get a ticket and register for a tax-deductible contribution.</p><p>Ever considered taking “a highly athletic look at the number 3” or thought of David Byrne as speaking in tongues? You can see these and other thoughts tackled in <a href="http://www.thodosdancechicago.org/">Thodos Dance Chicago’s 11<sup>th</sup> annual <strong>“New Dances” showcase</strong>.</a> This time around there are nine world premieres, most by company dancers, set to music that runs the gamut from Sufjan Stevens to Talking Heads to Shostakovich. Guest choreographer Rebecca Lemme contributes a piece about loss, <em>Effigy</em>. <a href="http://www.thodosdancechicago.org/NewDances2009TicketPurchase.html">Friday through Sunday at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts</a>.</p><p>Next Monday could be the most exciting evening of <a href="http://www.chicagotap.org/pg.120.149.873_793_802.aspx">the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s <strong>JUBA!</strong> performance series</a>. It’s hard to say for sure because stuff will be improvised. Happening at the Jazz Showcase on the very first night of the series, it features Rhythm World tap-dance faculty and students performing with jazz musicians. And this year’s crowd of faculty/performers definitely seems focused on live improv with live musicians. Literally, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.&nbsp;</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u></p><p><span lang="EN"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-28/side man.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 268px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; " title="">Warren Leight's Tony Award-winning 1998 play, <a href="http://katettheatre.org/"><b><i>Side Man</i></b></a>, may be the best dramatic work ever written about the soul and spirit of a musician. Balancing humor and darkness, Leight's autobiographical play is warm yet pointed and always compelling. A new production is being mounted by Ka-Tet Theatre, an ensemble-driven troupe formed three years ago and still in the process of making its mark locally; this is only their fourth production. Ka-Tet believes theater should be felt first and intellectualized later, and <i>Side Man </i>is an excellent choice for that experience. <i>Side Man </i>plays at City Lit Theatre in Edgewater and runs through Aug. 20.</span></p><p><span lang="EN">We're taking a plunge off a high tower in highlighting <a href="http://www.newrocktheater.com/schedule.html"><b><i>The Swordsman of San Gimignano</i></b></a>, a swashbuckling comedy set in 16th Century Italy. That's the Cinquecento, if you're Italian. It's presented by New Rock Theater and On the Spot Theatre Company and, frankly, we don't know a thing about either troupe except that they're relatively new. They describe <i>The Swordsman of San Gimignano</i> as a "family-friendly full-length production, for adults and children eight and older with parental supervision." It's performed through Aug. 21 at the New Rock Theater, 3933 N. Elston.&nbsp;</span></p></p> Thu, 21 Jul 2011 15:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-21/critics-theater-picks-pornography-bigger-and-being-side-man-89465 Book explores life and times of gay pioneer Samuel Steward http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/book-explores-life-and-times-gay-pioneer-samuel-steward <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/steward tattoo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The talents of Samuel Steward were as varied as the pseudonyms he employed. Under different names, Steward worked in Chicago as an academic, a tattoo artist and a writer of literature and pornography. But his greatest, and most lasting work, resulted from the time he spent with famed sex researcher <a href="http://www.iub.edu/~kinsey/index.html" target="_blank">Alfred Kinsey</a>.</p><p>Steward&rsquo;s candid tales of his many sexual conquests provide a window into gay life in the mid 20th century.</p><p>&quot;<a href="http://secrethistorian.com/" target="_blank">Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade</a>&quot; is a new biography about Steward. <a href="http://secrethistorian.com/justinspring.html" target="_blank">Justin Spring</a> is the author and he joined Eight Forty-Eight to discuss Steward's story.<br />&nbsp;<br />Spring reads from the book Wednesday evening at 7 at the <a href="http://www.borders.com/online/store/StoreDetailView_101" target="_blank">Lincoln Park Borders</a>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Afrocubism, &quot;Djelimady Rumba&quot;, from the CD Afrocubism, (World Circuit/Nonesuch) </em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/book-explores-life-and-times-gay-pioneer-samuel-steward