[Warning: The Performers is a sexually explicit show which utilizes vulgar language. As a result, so does this review. If you're looking for more conservative content, please enjoy this video from the opening night of Scandalous.]
Hurricane Sandy blew our Bros off track for several shows, but we're happy to report the boys are dried off and catching up with Broadway. This week, former frat-boy turned upstanding citizen Greg stumbles upon the final performance of The Performers at the Longacre Theatre, the ill-fated pornographic sex farce starring Henry Winkler and Alicia Silverstone that closed on November 18 after just six post-preview performances.
Like all Bros, he's been asked to write uncensored and without agenda, in the exact way he would to his own bros when recommending (or burying) a show.
Name: Greg Harleston
Occupation: Former Sports-Writer turned Staff Manager
Bro Cred: "When I was president of my fraternity [TKE] a group of Korean grad students told me my aura was so powerful it could make people around me achieve greatness."
Fun Fact: Greg has nightmares about Dakota Fanning sitting on a throne of skulls as a "ruler of a post apocalyptic world."
Show Reviewed: The Performers (now closed on Broadway)
I went into The Performers completely blind. I had thought I was going to see Kathie Lee Gifford's Scandalous up until the day of the show—which, based on a review I read, looked like it would have been a night spent in a giant Baptist church wearing a big church-lady hat, so it's probably a good thing I ended up at The Performers. I had no idea the play was about porn until I sat down in the theater and saw a giant flat-screen TV flashing the words "Adult Movie Awards." And then I was like, "Ok. Adult movies. I can do this."
I've seen my fair share of porn. I've even seen one of the real adult film awards shows, and can say based on that experience that porn people are just like not-porn people. They're vain and insecure. Like my exes. So I felt ready.
An aside: The theater itself was nice, but it was like God's waiting room in there. Everyone in the audience was 65 or older. When I found out the performance I attended was basically the funeral for the play, which was closing that day, I wondered if they'd all come out because they're naturally drawn to death.
Anyway, The Performers had me at "pulling out." The moving sets. The acting. The blatant disregard for political correctness. I didn't even have to watch it through to the end to appreciate the writing, which was completely in your face—my sister leaned over at one point to say she felt sorry for anyone who came with their parents—but I think it had to be. If you're writing about the porn industry, that's what it's going to sound like. As a play I thoroughly enjoyed it, and think it sucks they closed it.
For those of you who haven't had [and never will have] the pleasure, The Performers is about a group of porn stars struggling with things porn stars struggle with on the night of the Adult Movie Awards. It is the biggest night of their sexy lives.
Because two women fake-breast-slapping each other in a fit of jealous rage (because even in the adult film world it's not cool to make out with your girlfriend's best friend) isn't enough to build a show on, they threw a "normal" couple into the mix for balance: A journalist in town to interview a nominee for Male Porn Star of the Year, and his Barry Manilow-obsessed fiancee.
The journalist [Daniel Breaker] has only slept with one woman his entire life, and is now engaged to her. I suppose the audience was meant to find that endearing. Maybe they did, because the AARP frowns upon one night stands, but I really just felt bad for the guy. I can't wait for a spin-off play where that dude has a downward spiral into the bowels of male prostitution and cocaine and ends up looking for loose change to spend on the dollar menu at McDonald's.
His fiancée Sara, played by Alicia Silverstone, is confused about her feelings and spends the whole show complaining. To which I'm like, "Just get yourself a bottle of sweet tea vodka like you did at your junior prom and drown those sorrows of regret like everybody else."
These two, although they provided contrast to the general ridiculousness, bored the sh*t out of me.
Everything else in the show was raw, uncensored, hilarious and absolutely right.
Mandrew [Cheyenne Jackson], one of the stars up for Male Stud of the Year, established himself very early on as having a low IQ and an allergic reaction to wearing shirts. He was entertaining, but had nothing on his Jersey Shore-inspired fiancée Peeps [Ari Graynor], who surprisingly was my favorite character in the whole play. I hate the Jersey Shore…none of them should breed. Ever. But this girl was easily the best part of the show. She was BAUCE.
[Ed's Note: We believe "bauce" to be a Bro-variation on "boss," which would make it a compliment for Miss Graynor.]
Peeps was also the realest character. All she wanted was her porn star hubby to not kiss other chicks on the lips. That's it—screw yourself into porn career hall of fame, but boyfriend please don't go kissing bimbos on the lips. That's that realness. And so what does Mandrew do? Not only does he kiss a girl on the lips, but it's Peeps' best friend.
But don't judge him.
Mandrew's a man—of course he was going to do it. He didn't kiss her friend because he wanted to. He did because his genetic code tells him to break the rules. We've all been there. And if you haven't, it's probably because you hang out with the boring journalist virgin guy who fell in love with the first lady he landed who complains all the time.
Mandrew spends the rest of the show weighing his career against being with his woman, and it would be an easy decision if legendary TV star Henry Winkler [who plays Chuck Wood] wasn't constantly onstage bragging about his 65-year-old massive manhood and/or making out with chicks in the audience. That stuff's distracting.
And what a boss, Winkler. He plays the The Fonz on Happy Days thirty years ago, and still has enough swagger to outshine everybody else on stage? Winkler, or Chuck Wood, the eventual winner of the Adult Male of the Year Award, offered life advice to both his confused co-stars and the audience. I mean, I can't speak for the guy next to me wheezing his way into oblivion, but I learned stuff. Like:
You have to be more in life than just an erection, even if you're an impressive one.
If you haven't watched a porno, fantasized about being a porn star, or filmed a little video at home with your willing but hesitant girlfriend, you would probably not enjoy this show. But I did, and actually would have recommended it to people if it hadn't closed.
Next time someone does a show about porn, I'd really like to sign up as a research partner. So, you know. Call me. I'm seriously considering changing careers.