If you think camp is all about gay men, then check out Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama. Since the summer of 2001, On the Verge Theatre Company has been presenting campy tales of Sapphic desire that are inspired by the sensationalistic lesbian pulp fiction novels of the 1950s and ’60s as well as popular films of the era. The latest installment, Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama Gets Sweaty!, features a brief yet amusing musical prelude and four new vignettes of hilarious girl-on-girl action that is exceedingly raunchy yet always playful.
My favorite piece of the evening is “Hollywood Harlots,” set in Hollywood circa 1950 at the studio of big-shot producer Lotta Fisting (Beatrice Terry), who is busy casting a new movie. It’s narrated by Sparky Sanders (Gretchen M. Michelfeld), who tells a tale of doomed dyke love in an era during which, according to Fisting, the only two sins Hollywood can’t forgive are growing old and being exposed as a lesbian. The hilarious Anna Fitzwater does double duty in this sketch as both the conniving Dana Dish, who seeks revenge against Fisting after a casting couch session fails to get her the part she desires, and the washed up Nora Swann — a not-so-subtle parody of Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard. Fitzwater has enormously expressive eyes and a rail-thin body that can look both comical and sexy, sometimes in the same moment.
“Camp Desire” is the least developed of the evening’s vignettes. It chronicles the adventures of an all-girl summer camp that is just as absurdly depraved as you might imagine. However, the sketch fails to go beyond its one-joke premise. Certainly, there are funny moments scattered throughout, but one gets the feeling that the piece goes on just a little too long for its own good.
“Lesbo Beach Party,” on the other hand, is among the funniest segments of the show. If you’ve ever seen any of those summer surfer flicks, then you know the basic plot. Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama puts its own queer twist on the story, of course, but you can be sure that it still includes a couple of random musical numbers, romantic entanglements galore, and a big surfboard contest at the end.
The evening is loosely unified via the song stylings of balladeer Melineh Kurdian, who offers “The Ballad of Mewanna Likiclitti.” This story-song is split up into three different installments and performed between the other pieces of the show. Though the song never gets much funnier than the initial mention of the title character’s name, there’s still plenty to enjoy — particularly the quirky and energetic stage presence of Kurdian.
Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama Gets Sweaty! is the centerpiece of FUSE: The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture, a combination of two of the summer’s biggest gay theater events: Queer@HERE and Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival. Most of the other FUSE shows play for only one or two nights, but Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama runs through June 28 and is the perfect way to celebrate Gay Pride Month. At the performance I attended, it seemed to appeal to a mixed crowd of gay men, lesbians, transgendered persons — and maybe even a few heterosexuals!