"Freedom of speech will not be silenced!" said Naked Boys Singing! producer Jennifer Dumas outside the Actors' Playhouse yesterday morning (August 29). Unfortunately, most of her press conference in defense of the Provincetown, Massachusetts production of the giddy gay romp was silenced by buses and trucks whirring down Seventh Avenue. Still, Dumas pressed on, as did three Naked cast members--toweled at the waist for the occasion--who marched in a tight circle behind her, bearing protest signs: "WE'RE NUDE, NOT LEWD!" and "RESPECT THE FIRST AMENDMENT" and "NAKED BOYS SINGING IS FABULOUS THEATER."
Both the First Amendment and fabulousness have found an unlikely enemy in the Provincetown Department of Regulatory Management, which has swooped down on the Crown and Anchor Inn--home of the P-Town production of Naked Boys--and charged it with violating local zoning laws which prohibit the presentation of "adult entertainment" within 500 feet of decent, family-oriented institutions like schools, nursing homes, and cemeteries. The Crown and Anchor is vigorously protesting (a hearing is scheduled for September 4), and Dumas and other New York Naked people are joining the chorus. "Naked Boys Singing is not adult entertainment," Dumas says. "It's not a sexual show. Its subject is nudity, not sex."
As Dumas reminded the small crowd assembled outside the Playhouse, even Mr. Decency himself, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wouldn't touch Naked Boys. In 1999, some strip joint tried to protest its own shutdown by comparing itself to the Off-Broadway hit, but the City's lawyers weren't buying it. Dumas notes that "The head of the New York City Corporation Counsel went on record as saying, 'We see a significant difference between a strip club and an Off-Broadway show.' "
Naked Boys Singing, now in its third year in New York and springing up in productions from Chicago to Amsterdam, has at least one other ardent supporter: an enthusiastic fellow who identified himself as 'Eric from Brooklyn.' He interrupted the press conference to loudly acclaim the show and plant air kisses on each of the stunned cast members. "Respect the naked boys!" he hollered. "Respect them! This is one of the best Off-Broadway shows in New York. And I'm not gay!" So take heart, Naked Boys of Provincetown: The New York cast is behind you all the way and, as the non-gay enthusiast concluded with his fist in the air, "Eric from Brooklyn has got your back!"