by BeBe Sweetbriar www.bebesweetbriar.com
Their Baloney has a first name it’s A-L-L-M-A-L-E! Their Baloney has a second name it’s R-E-V-U-E! That’s right! San Francisco’s first and only gay All-Male Revue called Baloney comes to Oasis, the city’s newest gay venue, and it promises to take those vintage fantasies out of our heads and project them right on the stage before our very eyes. Peek-a-boo, I see you! Creators and longtime collaborators, Michael Phillis (director) and Rory Davis (choreographer), have developed Baloney using vintage male erotica as their inspiration. The cabaret-style performance will feature sweaty, sexy, scantily-clad men (yippee) set in choreographed vignettes. The part theater, part peep show, all-male revue will use characters such as the hot-and-bothered businessman, the randy cowboys, pumped wrestlers and the sleazy pizza boy to play out those steamy fantasies in our heads that we could only wish, until now, to see in person. “We based the show on fantasies and male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself,” says co-creator Phillis about show’s vignettes.
In addition to Phillis and Davis, the creative team includes drag superstar Heklina, who along with being a co-owner of Oasis, acts as a co-producer of Baloney. But with any all-male peep show, the hoorah belongs to those we will be peeping at. The Baloney Boys are Davis, James Martin and Adam Roy (both appeared in D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne), Shaun Mullen, Moe Arikat, Alex Steinhaus, Tim Wingert and Aaron Sarazan. “Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off,” commented Davis about the cast of Baloney.
I had an opportunity to speak with Michael and Rory over the phone about their new project to mostly satisfy my curiosity, but also to further delve into the premise behind the show, what the audience can expect beyond a sexual charge, the journey the show plans to take us on, and where does it go after its premiere. And as usual, these guys didn’t fail to answer all we want to know.
BeBe: Congratulations, guys, on the creation and world premiere of
your All-Male Revue Baloney. I guess I don’t have to ask what the
Michael: Thanks so much. We are really excited about this. As far as
the name goes, it is kind of one of those things where we came up
with in a funny working title that we planned to change later, but nothing better came along. It is all about the “baloney”. The only thing we did change was originally we had it spelled like the Oscar Mayer B-O-L-O-G-N-A. Then we thought let’s process meat more fun
and use B-A-L-O-N-E-Y as in poking fun at something which is whatthis review is all about.
BeBe: As put out in your press release, Baloney is part theater and part peep show. Can you tell me how both of those elements are being combined?
Michael: The fun for us was coming up with the stories behind these numbers. We wanted to have something that was completely immersive which is why we wanted it to be part theater. So, when you
walk through the door (at Oasis SF), we want to bring you somewhere
new. We are taking the audience back in time a little bit. The vintage
feel was very important to us. We based the show on fantasies and
male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will
be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios
can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself.
BeBe: So, are we talking red lights on the street with a guy
underneath a light pole on a street corner waiting for…yada yada
Rory: You know what’s up, BeBe.
Michael: Exactly! We have certain characters that are featured during
the show and some of them are based on profession, like penned-up
businessman. There’s like a heatwave in the office and what does that
do to the boys? And then we have cowboys with one in a white hat and another in a black hat representing the good and bad coming together and sexually charged. We have the high school wrestlers who are seeing the sex education video in class and then they get towrestling on the mat and all of their sexual frustrations come out. All of these are taking ideas from pornography and erotica and putting them on stage in a peep show element. Similar to a burlesque show, this is all about the journey and not so much the destination.
Rory: It’s so much more sexy to see someone unbutton their shirt
than to see them shirtless.
BeBe: But, there will be complete nudity? Or, partial?
Michael: Because of the venue, complete nudity is problematic.
There are only certain places where that is allowed. We’ll just say we
will take you as far as we can take you.
BeBe: Hearing about these vignettes and scenarios that you are
doing, and recalling your stage show WunderWorld (based on a
grown-up Alice in Wonderland) and how it was completely mimed, will
the guys in Baloney be acting out these scenarios without dialogue?
Michael: Yes, we wanted something that could be done without
words. We have some of the, I think, hottest, sexiest music from the
era we take you to. We chose music that is provocative to be the
backdrop of these numbers. So, the whole show is done, similar to
WunderWorld as you pointed out, without any words spoken on stage.
Everything is done through movement and action and interaction. We
do, however, have a host. So, between the acts you get this host that
is also a sort of character of that era that will be bringing you through
the story and setting up the acts.
BeBe: Rory, you are the choreographer as well as the co-producer of
this show, and is your direction in these scenarios heavy on dancing
or on acting out the scenarios to relay what you are trying to say in
Rory: It’s funny because I hand picked each of the guys in the show. And, the scenarios we are presenting in the show were created before we knew who was going to do the show. Then after I knew in my mind how we wanted these scenes to play out, I reached out to these guys knowing their skill sets. Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off. It’s interesting too because with this theme we are presenting, I really had to spend a lot of time individually with each of the guys because they weren’t skeptical, but wary of what we were doing. What is the story we were presenting? And, how would they be presented on stage? That was really great to me because it sort of showed how intelligent they were as artists. Their skepticism was encouraging to me, and when I spoke with them they were all in.
Michael: They didn’t really know what they were jumping into, and
we didn’t have much in the way of comparison.
Rory: What we said is that it’s sort of like Magic Mike where the guys
are all into each other. So, there is explosive hot dance , but there is
also a lot of character moving. So to answer your initial question on
choreography, there is a little bit of both dance and acting through
BeBe: Baloney is premiering Friday, February 20th
at one of San Francisco’s hottest new clubs Oasis, which lists drag superstar Heklina
and playwright extraordinaire/actor D’Arcy Drollinger amongst its co-
owners. I think the space is a wonder location for you to showcase
this because it offers so much in the area of performance
accommodation. So many places here in San Francisco that we
perform at were not built to be a performance venue. But, Oasis was
remodeled when purchased with performance in mind. So with that,
how excited are you to be bringing this particular show in its premiere
to the Oasis?
Michael: So excited! It already feels like home after only being open
for a little more than a month. As we walked in there and saw the
stage with this beautiful proscenium around it. With the amazing
lights all dotted and lit up in a sexy way around that proscenium, it really looks like an old-school peep.
The idea that the curtain opens up and you see the man, woman or whatever on the stage and as soon as your money runs out that curtain closes, that all
fits in here. Even though the venue is brand new it has that classic feeling to it.
BeBe: When I first saw the inside of Oasis it reminded me of the old carnival shows that used to go from city to city. Very American Horror Story to me in it’s feel.
Rory: It was Michael who saw this vision of this show the minute he
saw the stage.
BeBe: Baloney, this all-male revue is something that you
don’t see here in San Francisco. It is very New York. You see all-male
revue shows a lot there, many of them being performed by Broadway
performers between gigs and what-not. And I say that because I think
that is why those shows have that class element to them. You know?
Like you say, it’s more about the journey than the destination. Or
something that drag queens are all to familiar with, the illusion and
idea of something is far more sexy and alluring than the act itself.
With aloney, I am hearing from you that these stories are taking us
on a journey with intent to create sensual imagery that feeds our
Rory: From the opening moment of the show until closing minutes
there is a through-line, but everything won’t click until that moment.
We worked very carefully on the through-line so that by the time the
lights go down there is a complete story being told.
Michael: Rory and I have been directing shows for years in San
Francisco, and my specific goal was to make the people who are
coming out to see the boys happy, but we want to make the actors,
directors and theater folks out there happy as well. So we are hitting
both of those markets, and we think this show’s through-line
effectively appeases both.
Rory: Definitely deeper than your average peep show!
BeBe: You guys are promoting this as a one-off, one night only
event. This can’t be just a one-off! I hope you are planning on making
this a regular show whether at Oasis or elsewhere.
Rory: Something we are definitely working toward. After working
together on this with the guys, we’re finding this is some of the most
fun that we’ve had and we have been doing theater and dance and
film and drag stuff for years now. This has been a delight to do. I
think aloney will be both completely entertaining and surprisingly
challenging for the audience that see it. But one of the reasons we are
doing this at Oasis is because the owners there, being a new venue,
are willing to take some risks, and they have expressed somethings
that they would like to do with the night. But we want you to
experience the vintage journey we are taking you on by being there,
by personally experiencing it. You know, if you weren’t there you
missed it. That’s one of the reasons, along with out of respect for the
guys on stage, will be enforcing a no photo or video policy during the
BeBe: I like the no photo/no video policy. It sounds with your through-line that the audience attention is definitely required, and I am sure the entertainment value of the show will assure that. But,
today’s generation has become so used to camera phones and videos
and the ability to capture today what I can watch tomorrow, that
many times their reliance on such devices, I think, lessens their
attention span. For the audience to get this through-line, commanding
their full attention seems necessary. Also, out of respect for the
performers on stage and in an attempt for them not to be the next
“big” tweet or Instagram post, it is important to also not allow photos
and video. I think it adds to the integrity of the show.
Michael: Exactly. To be honest, this whole kind of policy came from
the fact that a lot of these guys (in the show), experienced and actors
and dancers who are not certainly shy about disrobing and what-not,
but there’s a difference between doing that before a live audience and
feeling the energy and being photographed by cameras and being all
over Facebook the next day. And to keep with the vintage theme,
where there were no iPhones, if you miss it, you’ve missed it.
BeBe: Well when you look at this roster of people involved with the
show from the stage performers, you two as creators and directors of
the show, Heklina and D’Arcy and all those involved at Oasis, you see
an arsenal of respected artists. We can instantly recall the projects
you have all been involved in and how wonderfully they have made us
feel. The draw to this show, cameras or no cameras, is our respect for
the artistry you all bring and the quality product you have always
presented. I want to see it just because of the that.
Michael: Thank you, BeBe. If this continues, we want this to
eventually be a place where you can come to be sexually positive and
get out there and g past your comfort zone because we will protect
you. You won’t be all over social media. You can have a professional
job and still and have this type of entertainment to explore.
Director Michael Phillis and Choreographer Rory Davis present
Baloney on Friday, February 20 at 7pm at OASIS 298 11th Street, San Francisco. For tickets and more info SFOASIS.COM