After L Word: Vote for a Change…of Medium

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After L Word: Vote for a Change…of Medium

There is an upside to small-time productions: less influence (read: money) to send writers and directors on wayward paths, less pressure to follow mainstream requirements for beauty, and less chance of an Act of God that would cut a final season in half, leaving it in shambles.Aside from lesbian plays and lesbian sketch comedy, a slew of big, queer theater companies are doing their own version of “representing lesbians in the media.”

Chicago’s Andersonville gayborhood has been home to a local production called The Ville, a queer soap opera beginning its third season this year. Unlike anyone you saw on the L Word, this show confirms that talent does not fit into a size 4 pair of pants. Written and directed by active teachers at Second City, The Ville has a sense of humor that is more pointed (and much, much dirtier) than its TV predecessor.

photo-taken-by-alexandra-klimczak.jpg

Photo by Alexandra Klimczak

In New York, the Dyke Division begins its second season of Room for Cream, a lesbian soap that takes place in the fictional town of Sappho, a vaguely crunchy academic town that – gasp – features lesbians over the age of 50. If I had grown up under a televised rock, I never would have known that lesbians live past the age of 50. You would think, in Hollywood, that they are shoved off a cliff, because you don’t see any of them on the ol’ boob tube. Not only is the cast diverse in age, but they have a fantastic, funny group of writers that help sell out the house every episode.

Before Cream oozed into the scene, the Beebo Brinker Chronicles played up the lesbian pulp scene of the 1950’s in a 10-episode series. Based on Ann Bannon’s pulp novels, the Chronicles presented the stylized goods that the L Word only created in hit-or-miss detours. Taking place in the Village when the Village was cool, the show did evoke the nostalgic, mythic qualities that our two loved-and-hated American cities share.

What’s most fun about all of these projects is their home-grown quality, where you know that everything is quickly rehearsed and executed with a sense of realness that you can’t find on television. Often, the flubs are the finest moments, making you aware of the very real, living production going on in front of you.

If you need fresh lesbian schlock and The Farm isn’t gonna cut it, make local theater happen in your own city. While variations on this model are wildly successful in bigger cities, there are hundreds of bored lesbians in Cleveland and Detroit. It’s time to represent. Your gayborhood will thank you.



Comments [14]

Micky's picture

Hi all! I'm a former New

Hi all!

I'm a former New York theatre person who did shows at WOW Cafe and HERE who moved to LA a few years ago. I'm on the Board of a great theatre organization called The LA Women's Theatre Project. We exist to create opportunities for women in the performing arts. We have produced several lesbian productions here (as many of us on the board are lesbian) and would welcome you to come see our shows when you visit. We have a show coming up during Dinah next weekend at the Annenberg Theater. It's called "Prove It On Me" starring Sweet Baby J'ai and it's a play with music about an African American blues singer who falls for a white flapper girl. Check out our 2 for 1 ticket special at www.proveitonme.com.

Thanks!

mysticsmb's picture

Hey PK, I don't think it has

Hey PK, I don't think it has to be an 'either...or' situation. I personally had no objection to the high-glam fantasy of LWord, though I do think it probably hamstrung the creators in terms of being as socially and politically relevant as they might have wanted to be (or thought they were, lol). But, bottom line is...the 'bottom line' when it comes to film and television. Though cable television has put more control back into artists hands, the final say still rests with the bean-counters, the studio or network executives. A writer in Hollywood maintains no artistic control over his or her script--ANYONE, from a producer, to an actor, to an actor's agent (yes, this has happened) can alter it WITHOUT their permission.

In the theatre, however, the writer reigns supreme. Changes to the script can only be made with his or her permission. This is not to say directors and actors do not have input, but it is a much more collaborative and ultimately egalitarian process that strives to serve the 'art' first and foremost.

I admit there's nothing worse than bad theatre--it can be excruciating to sit through, with no ability to simply change the channel. On the other hand, sublime theatre still has no peer--I don't care how good a filmed work is, it is still 'canned'--live performance always involves risk and to bear witness to that, to share the same room with those risk-takers, is truly exciting.

minniesota's picture

Oh, I see. Thanks! :-) I

Oh, I see. Thanks! Smile I probably read too fast because I'm in my hotel room and multi-tasking this morning.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

peacekitty's picture

p.s. Jill Bennett is

p.s. Jill Bennett is awesome!

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

peacekitty's picture

HI Minnie...no I don't assume

HI Minnie...no I don't assume butch lesbians are large, sorry I came across that way. I only mentioned it because Sarah did in her article.

Trust me...I love butch lesbians. Smile

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

minniesota's picture

I like to watch two

I like to watch two beautiful, feminine women too but I also like butches/butchier lesbians and I think that two hot butch chicks would fulfill my television fantasies as much as two feminine women or a butch/femme or two tomboys. PK, are you assuming butch women must be large? They do come in all sizes for our appreciation. Wink

I agree with you about the Big Gay Sketch Show on Logo. In fact, I'm not really thrilled at all with Logo and mostly avoid it because there is some lame commercial every five minutes so you can never get into the flow of a show.

Now if you want some good programming, start watching the new webseries by Cathy DeBonono and Jill Bennett called, "We Have to Stop Now." It is smart, funny, and well-produced. You can find it at Jill's website:
http://jillbennett.com/Series.html

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Good morning P/K :D Hey,

Good morning P/K Laughing out loud

Hey, straight men and women, have their 'preferences' that turn them on when it comes to 'body types'...... why can't those of us in the LGBTQ community?

Some girls like blondes, others brunettes. Some tall, some short. Some find butch girls hot to watch, others more feminine girls. I think we need to stop being so 'homosexually politically correct' , and just enjoy what we enjoy...... with no pressure to conform.

I mean for God's sake, we're homo's.......
conforming isn't really what we do best!! Laughing out loud Laughing out loud

peacekitty's picture

Hello there LB.

Hello there LB. Smile

"watching butch chicks engage in the ‘horizontal mambo’, does zip for me."

lol Me too, although I see it in the clubs all the time and it doesn't bother me. I'm also attracted to all kinds of people, butch, femme, whatever so I don't consider myself to be superficial in that way.

Once I was watching a documentary about lesbians on Logo and there was a clip of two very masculine looking, very round women french kissing with tongue and I was really put off by it. Stare

It doesn't bother me to stumble upon it at Pride events though so maybe I'm brainwashed by tv....conditioned to only enjoy seeing beautiful people making out? That would make an interesting research study.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

LongBeachDogLover's picture

"As for the L-word not

"As for the L-word not representing lesbians everywhere, I think I must be in the minority because I have no problem with the L-word having beautiful women as the main characters. There are beautiful, femme lesbians everywhere and to be honest I’d rather see beautiful women kissing passionately on tv than two large butch women making out. Does that make me superficial?"

THANK YOU PEACEKITTY..... Hello world, it's about time that femme women were thought of as something other than 'fantasy food' for straight guys to jack off to.

It felt fabulous to watch a show where I could see myself. It felt awesome, and I will never apologize for being turned on by beautiful, feminine women.

No show can 'reflect' everyone. Hell, Bonanza didn't represent every 'cowboy', and Desperate Housewives doesn't represent every 'housewife'..... The L Word certainly didn't represent every lesbian.

P/K, you are not superficial. You are realistic and I'm pretty sure, in the majority. I may sound shallow, but watching butch chicks engage in the 'horizontal mambo', does zip for me.

peacekitty's picture

"there are hundreds of bored

"there are hundreds of bored lesbians in Cleveland and Detroit."

I can tell you've been to NE Ohio. Smile Akron is even worse than Cleveland in terms of lesbian community. Lakewood, on the West side of Cleveland, is very gay. Akron has a tiny gay mecca, Highland Square, that is male-dominated so yep we lesbians are very bored here.

In terms of lesbian theater, I honestly don't know if that would fly here. There is a popular annual lesbian variety show in Cleveland but the acts are "hit or miss."

I've seen bits of the "Big Gay Sketch Show" and I don't care for it at all. I don't find it funny or engaging. Is "Room for Cream" anything like that?

As for the L-word not representing lesbians everywhere, I think I must be in the minority because I have no problem with the L-word having beautiful women as the main characters. There are beautiful, femme lesbians everywhere and to be honest I'd rather see beautiful women kissing passionately on tv than two large butch women making out. Does that make me superficial? Stare

I honestly don't care what the setting of a tv show is as long as it's written well.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Tex's picture

Lesbians over 50 on the

Lesbians over 50 on the stage? Horrors be! And since you mentioned L word.....you would have thought Ilene Chaiken was 23 instead of 53 with the characterizations of Phyllis and Joyce on TLW....all the snide comments from Bette (of all characters according to age) about Phyllis (prior to S6)....Phyllis, the shallow, money grabbing, dirty-old-woman! Joyce, the name dropping, silk suit wearing, marry her even though she loves the 'rock' more than you woman! Women over 50 can be intelligent, desirable, sensuous, sensitive, and hot! Ask Rachel Maddow!

Looking for my anti-wrinkle cream,

Tex

Twitter Time @kdhales

lucia_2008's picture

"there are hundreds of bored

"there are hundreds of bored lesbians in Cleveland and Detroit"

So true.

Smile...life is good!!!

Lezbeth's picture

It's great that you city

It's great that you city dykes have these options. One of the things the boob tube (sounds like an uncomfortable undergarment) brings country lezzies (via Logo and the LWord) is a way to feel less isolated, more a part of a bigger community. I'd love to see Logo pick up some of these scripts for low-budget TV production (like The Big Gay Sketch Show). These talented troupes may be setting the stage for something that will meet the needs of a much bigger audience.

mysticsmb's picture

Cool stuff Sarah--thanks for

Cool stuff Sarah--thanks for the links. Wish I'd known about Room for Cream when I was last down in NY, but now I'll keep it in mind. My friends and I noticed a lot of downtown theatre spaces shuttered, but glad to hear there are new ones springing up to take their place. The first Depression was a boon for American theatre--let's hope this one is the shot in the arm that theatre's been needing for quite some time now!