The Spotlight: ‘A Pretty Filthy Evening’ at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
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First politics, now porn. Michael Friedman, composer-lyricist for Broadway’s “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” takes on L.A.’s adult entertainment industry in “Pretty Filthy,” a new musical commissioned by the Center Theatre Group. On Saturday, the Kirk Douglas Theatre presents selections from this work-in-progress, performed by Kathryn Hahn (‘Hung’), Steven Weber (“Brothers & Sisters”) and others. Here, Friedman and book writer Bess Wohl discuss their research.
So you’re developing a scripted musical based on real-life interviews?
Wohl: A lot of what people said is in the script, verbatim.
What kind of research have you been doing?
Wohl: On one set, Michael and I watched a vignette between a teacher and student. They didn’t have enough grips that day, so I held a light.
Wohl: Not sexy at all.
Friedman: Porn stars are sexy. But the making of the product is like sausage. They stop and start over. You have to wait until the guy can start again. There’s a lot of down time.
What was your strangest interview?
Wohl: I went to the set of “Not the Bradys XXX.” That pretty much collapsed every fantasy of my childhood.
Did anyone discuss the controversy surrounding Derrick Burts, a.k.a. Patient Zeta, the performer who tested positive for HIV?
Friedman: Industry people feel that story’s been wildly inflated by the media: that these stories are exceptional proves the rule. There’s a dark side to any part of entertainment — music, television. People are abused everywhere. That’s why the interviewing is so important. We’ll put in a detail of our own and wonder, will the audience think that’s true in all cases? We don’t have an agenda. We’re letting the show ask the questions.
Wohl: People warned us early on, Everything everyone tells you is going to be a lie. We know we’re getting lied to a lot. We’re talking to performers; part of what’s fun about them is the performance.
Friedman: What is a lie and what is a fantasy? Those gray areas are in the editing.
Wohl: There is no “truth” about porn.
Michael, the world of adult entertainment seems wildly different from the emo-history of ‘Andrew Jackson.’
Friedman: Actually musical theater is very similar to porn. It’s a fantasy about attractive people who do cool things. It’s a place you go to learn what you like. Porn knows more than you do about what you want.
Saturday’s cabaret is just a selection from the musical. What will we see?
Friedman: A few monologues from interviews, some of which are not in the show itself. Five songs. Some special guests, like Ginger Lynn. There will be games and prizes. We’ll play Porn Charades, where you act out porn titles.
Wohl: Which usually leads to some spectacular acting.
-- Charlotte Stoudt
At the Kirk Douglas Theatre Saturday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.