The Story of Porn Minus Porn
I recently had a chance to talk to Ben Bowman about the show he created for Under The Gun Theater, Porn Minus Porn. The show is a staged reading of a soft core porn script performed without the nudity or sex, so that we can all concentrate on the elegant plots and thoughtful character development.
Where did you get the idea to do this show?
When I was growing up, I watched really cheesy movies that were presented as part of the USA network’s “Up All Night” series. Whenever there was a sex scene, they’d have to cut away, so you were left with this weird, unsexy, structureless mess. I figured we could do the same thing on stage, replicating all the dumb dialogue from adult movies without showing the only thing anyone wants to see when watching an adult film. It’s addition by subtraction.
What about this show gets you excited?
I love being the only one who knows what’s going to be said during the show. I keep the scripts secret, so the audience and performers discover the dialogue at the same time. When a line is so stupid that our actors start laughing, the audience inevitably follows along. It’s a ticking time bomb of laughter and I know exactly when it’s going to explode.
How do you cast the show each week?
I tally the number of male and female parts available for each episode, then throw the casting open to the first ensemble to volunteer. Surprisingly, we have several female performers who love coming back week after week, portraying the same characters throughout the series. The actors will ask me what happens to their characters down the road, but they’re paying closer attention than the guys who write this nonsense. They say a camel is a horse designed by committee. In that way, these scripts are like camels. Maybe camels missing a couple legs. It’s so dumb.
What makes this project different than anything else you have worked on?
When you see the best improvisation in Chicago, you see the joy that comes from the sudden discoveries the performers make. This show is scripted, but the performers enjoy the same sudden discovery as the audience. There’s only one person in the room who isn’t surprised, and that’s me. I also think this is the only live show that is completely repackaged and available as a podcast. The live show is great, but the podcast captures much of the same energy. Every show is different, but many of the characters remain the same. In that way, it’s serialized. Let’s call it serialized stupidity.
There are 2 more performances of 50 Shades of Grey in 50 Minutes, the Porn Minus Morn version of the movie. December 11th & 18th at 10:30pm. The original version of Porn Minus Porn returns to the theater in January on Saturday nights at 10:30. You can listen to past performances on the Porn Minus Porn podcast at it’s website or on iTunes.
Need more reason to come? Read the review of Porn Minus Porn at New City Stage.