Tom Smith as the Virgin Sacrifice
(L to R) Tom Smith as Madeleine and Josh Tafoya as Etienne
(L to R) Alysyn Byous as Renee Vain and Jemery Tillery as King Carlisle
(L to R) Jason Harsh as Zack and Josh Tafoya as PJ
(L to R) Tom Smith as Madeleine and Claudia Billinga as Magda
May 21-Jun 06, 2004
|Hujar, King Carlisle|
|Assistant Stage Manager|
|Costume, Props & Sound Designer|
|House Manager Coordinator|
|Light Board Operator|
|Sound Board Operator|
'Vampire' offers a lot of funny business
- By Larae Malooly, SUN-NEWS
There's no business like bad show business. Whether it's a tacky Las Vegas number or a B-rated horror film, Charles Busch's "Vampire Lesbians of Sodom" makes campiness an art form that's so bad, it's good.
Spoofing the ridiculous side of many genres, No Strings Theatre Company lays it on extra thick during their production of the contemporary play which runs May 21 through June 6 at the Black Box Theatre.
Two crudely painted vampire fangs dripping with blood provide the background from a Rocky Horror-like mouth. Two soldiers from the ancient Fertile Crescent era set the tacky stage in cheap leather skirts and fake metal ornaments as they exchange rumors about the Succubus (a female demon) and her next hapless sacrifice.
Things go from tacky to hilarious when the sacrificial virgin is escorted onto the stage. She's lovely, with long red hair, an innocently white toga, fragile disposition, and . wait. something's not quite right about this virgin. Why, it's no virgin at all! Ifs actually the play's director, Tom Smith, in hideous drag.
At every overacting turn, Smith plays the stereotypical damsel in distress, with her flailing arms and shrill screams, to perfection. Don't miss Smith writhing his legs in the air as he begs the soldiers to 'break my hyman' and spare his character's imminent sacrificial death.
"Camp is an homage to pop culture," explained Smith. "So we had 'bad Spartacus' in the first scene, any sort of bad vampire film in the second scene, et cetera. We sort of poke fun of all that, and we do it very tongue-in-cheek and play up the big emotions. There's no such thing as over the top in this kind of show."
Over the top is an understatement. That includes the villainous Succubus, played by Claudia Billings, a master at portraying that demon vampire lesbian everyone loves to hate. Billings later evolves into Magda, the same Succubus plagued over centuries with immortality who must fight for the limelight (and virgin blood with Tom Smith's now sullied and undead virgin, who goes by Madeleine.
It makes perfect sense that the play takes place in Sodom, Hollywood, and finally Las Vegas - three cities that never sleep. Think it can't get any campier? Indeed. Try Josh Tafoya playing Etienne, a mutated Egor-like character who breaks into tap dance and song for absolutely no reason. Or Darn Cabot, who plays a catty queer ready to claw his way to the top of Madeleine's Vegas show. There's also young Alysyn Byous who plays a bubbly and naive Hollywood starlet about to get her blood drawn in Magda's mansion. Finally, two other young actors, Jason Harsh and Jeremy Tillery, join Cabot and Tafoya in bad lip synching, fake vibrato, and a stellar homosexually stereotypical cat fight.
"We do a song and dance to 'Fame,' a song the cast picked," Smith added. "I wanted to do something kind of hokey and 'bad' show business."
And why not end it with a crude Vegas show to end all Vegas shows?
"The finale is something I added to the show itself. It's not written into the text. I thought it would be fun to add more bad, cheesy lip synching. The whole finale and montage is a sort of homage to all those bad Vegas-style shows," Smith noted.
All that for a fraction of the cost of seeing La Cage or Jubilee along the Vegas Strip. The production celebrates the campy genre so well, one might expect a cameo from George Hamilton's well-tanned vampire or a brief walk-on by Liza Minelli. No, that would be taking camp too far.
No seating plan has been posted.