Army guy Steve (Johnny Kostney) is looking for a quickie. The word around the barracks is to go to this park and find a guy named John (Brian Dare). For twenty bucks, John will take care of you the way no girl ever has. Not only is Steve astounded when it all comes to pass as described, but he is even more surprised when a sudden uncontrollable guilty rage prompted him to beat-up little John pretty good. It is an act he immediately apologizes for, and for which John miraculously forgives him.
Well, Steve is so stricken with disbelief by the whole encounter that he is telling everyone, including some guy at the gym. Tired of just listening to this self-proclaimed straight guy go on and on about his new friendship with a gay hustler, Marco (Mike Ciriaco), confides that he is having relationship problems of his own. He waits anxiously for his boyfriend to call him back despite the fact he has already told his lover that he is no longer attracted to him sexually.
Kyle (Michael Rachlis), the college student, makes no bones about informing tutor Marco that a) his boyfriend is not going to call, and that b) why keep waiting for a call that’s not going to come when Marco can have him right now. Young, beautiful and Bi, Kyle enjoys the sport of luring men to his dorm room. His encounter with Marco is interrupted, but he has better luck seducing Leo (Sean Galuszka), an older married man he hooked up with on the internet.
Leo is only out having sex with a stranger because he is allowed to. It was an agreement that he made with his husband, Jack (David Pevsner). Indiscretions with other men are fine, so long as it is not the same person twice. It is an agreement that Kyle lobbies very hard to try and get Leo to break. And it is the rule that Jack finds himself breaking with his latest trick, a porn star named Ryan (Jeff Olsen).
Ryan does not mind being a kept man. He knows Jack is married and will never leave his husband, so he has no problem bringing men home to the apartment that Jack is paying for. He won’t stop looking for that one guy who won’t treat him like an object, like a piece of porn meat. After a promising star at a bar, Ryan gets playwright, Sammy (A.J. Tannen) home only to realize that he is not the man Ryan is looking for.
Sammy knows he talks too much. But this week it has not stopped him from getting lucky twice. A porn star one week, and movie star Brandon (Chad Borden) the next. The closeted superstar has a quickie boff with Sammy in a broom closet, and instantly forgets all the promises he made to the playwright not thirty minutes before. But Sammy remembers, and he is willing to out the actor to get satisfaction.
Completely unused to not getting what he wants, Brandon visits to his “friend” television journalist Donald (Gregory Franklin). Brandon has decided that he will respond to Sammy’s broom-closet claims by coming out publicly and wants to do it on Donald’s show. Brandon is coming to Donald because he is sure the journalist can sympathize with his situation. However, Donald is only mildly sympathetic and cautions Brandon to think carefully about the decision he is making.
It doesn’t take much scrutiny to see that the act of sex for these characters is an outcry for some emotional intangible that keep them from feeling whole. Attention. Affection. Intimacy. Adoration. Self-worth. And dare we mention the L-Word, love. In fact, only John, the prostitute, engages in sex for something concrete: money; which perhaps ironically makes him the most emotionally stable character we meet in this show. The best point to take away from DiPietro’s piece is the recognition that when a person uses sex to bargain or compromise or settle for less while in pursuit of that intangible, they do it as emotional human beings, and not necessarily a behavioral default via one’s orientation.
Carl Ramsberg directs this U.S. Premiere of F*cking Men well crafting a production that is funny, moving and provocative. The all male cast double as crew for the play’s transitions, shuffling an inventive geometric network of revolving set pieces for each new pairing. The production does feel a bit like it is still getting its sea legs, but those minor bumps will undoubted work themselves out as this cast gets further into the run. Michael Rachlis, Sean Galuszka & David Pevsner are the rock solid centerpiece of the fine ensemble of talented young actors, weaving this tale of interconnected carnal encounters.
F*cking Men contains nudity and runs now through October 25, 2009 at:
7051-B Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 3pm
PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont