Paula Vogel's The Oldest Profession is one of the rare plays that feature exclusively older women in sexy, smart and funny roles. Of the five characters in this play, the youngest is 65, and the oldest is eighty. They are all prostitutes still in the game, some of whom got their start in the fabled bordellos of Storyville in New Orleans.
We meet them in 1980 on the Upper West Side of New York City, just as gentrification and supply-side economics is transforming the neighborhood and the country, and some of their long-term elderly clients (never anonymous "johns") are dying off. While the women operate their business in the old style, with a madam and a stable (no pimp for them), the economic issues they must confront remain, unfortunately, very timely today.
As the women reveal their humanity, the tight bond of their friendship, their individualism and their still very sensual selves, we see how shallow the stereotypes are that would define us by what we do for a living or by how old we are.
The playwright includes a cautionary note to would-be directors of her play that best captures its spirit: "... it doesn't matter what pew you sit in, in what church you worship, if you know what I mean ... if a smart, sexy, sassy woman doesn't make you see the face of God ... you have the wrong play. You've got to love women."
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