Monday, June 16, 2008

Herpes Tonight!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, step right up... it's an actual play about the one, the only, HERPES!

I was so blown away when I saw on http://yoshi2me.com/sexual-health/ that someone actually had the balls to do a one man show about this subject.

The LA HELP group was meeting up that very night in Hollywood at a performace of a play called Herpes Tonight!, a one man show performed and co-written by Corey Moosa. Who was this brave man?

I checked out the link (the website is, conveniently, http://www.herpestonight.com/.) and was pleasantly surprised by a close up picture of the actor; young, cute, and brooding. Concerned, furrowed brows atop earnest blue eyes beseeching you to consider the injustice of it all. Facial scruff, good hair. Okay. Now we're talking.

In the past I have been too paranoid to even show up for a simple cup of coffee in the freakin' far out valley for fear that passersby would take one look at the group and the non-herpes related display item they use for inter-group recognition and just KNOW. And point and laugh and call it in to the evening news, of course.

But now, for whatever reason, I had no reservations about meeting up with a group of people in Hollywood, where I was much more likely to run into friends, with literally a huge "HERPES" sign above our heads. Call it insanity, or call it progress.

I drove by the theater and saw a lone man outside sort of pacing about. I found parking, and got a sign of reassurance as I waited for the walk signal. A tranny was talking at me, babbling without having even glanced my way. I laughed at something she said, and she looked up at me and her dazed expression changed. "Girl, you are beautiful. My goodness. You could be a model, for real." I was touched. I thanked her and crossed the street in my skinny jeans and strappy heels to her cries of "Work it!" I worked it right on over to my lil' herpes group.

A couple more guys were now outside the theater, looking to be in their 40's or so. For some reason, the style theme seemed to be sort of randomly Native American. Fringed leather jacket on one, eagle t-shirt on another. Did they have Native American heritage, or is this some kind of secret herpes dress code?

Nope, the rest of the group inside wasn't rocking the Navajo chic look. (But someone call Marc Jacobs, I think those dudes may be onto something.) I didn't see the symbol and didn't want to introduce myself to a group of people who may or may not look at me like I had two heads (or worse, herpes!) So I just sort of smiled brightly and blankly at everyone and perched noncommittally on a nearby couch arm. Someone shifted and I finally noticed that behind him was the merciful symbol signifying that this was the HELP group. Introductions were made all around. Everyone seemed nice and normal. Although not necessarily would I have anything else in common with anyone other than being humans and having one of two strains of the same virus. But a lot less awkward than I had assumed it would be.

After a few minutes I ended up somehow sort of paired off with one guy. He was nice enough and not bad looking, but again not someone I necessarily have anything else in common with. He has genital type 1, which I was surprised he knew very little about. He didn't realize that the transmission rates are much lower than type 2 and it will probably never even recur. (it hadn't.) He didn't realize that most people already have type 1 anyway and are pretty much immune from getting it in a second location. And he didn't seem to be as excited as he should have upon learning this. Who knows. We sat together. The fringed leather jacket dude was on my other side.

The audience seemed to be mostly made up of our group, so I wondered what other kinds of people were showing up on other nights. After all, I would think most people would be way too put off by anything herpes, or just a general lack of interest of something being outside of their world. Like for example, as a straight girl, it doesn't really occur to me to watch "Queer as Folk" and I would assume that the majority of the viewers are gay males. But of course I hope that people who don't have herpes also show up. Getting people to the theater in LA is hard enough. Bless Corey Moosa's heart for stacking the obstacles even higher and upping the ante. Sign of a true artist.

While we waited for the play to begin, funny altered TV show titles (like Heroes changed into Herpes, a similarity I have notice before when I saw a huge billboard for it and had to do a double take) were mixed in with herpes fun factazoids. I chatted with my new buddy and chugged an Amstel Light.

Okay, the play. Keep in mind I am not a professional critic or even much of a theater-goer, so this is my informal review. Corey was cute and charming in person too. It's a one man show, but he is great at filling the space and creatively hopping between characters, who are all seen from his perspective. The overall effect is very appropriate for the herpes experience; you feel like it's sort of him verses the world. Other actual people become sketches or blurs, not nearly as important as the solo, lonely experience of being diagnosed with herpes that only you can really understand.

He tells his unique story and infuses it with information, anecdotes, honesty, and above all, humor. A projector screen is creatively used as a visual from time to time, as are sound effects, but overall the minimal props and effects proved that less is more when the acting and storytelling is compelling enough, like it is here.

I never found myself bored or drifting. I didn't crave an intermission like I often do during plays. I reveled the experience of being out in the open at a public performace about herpes; not a depressing seminar, but something hip and funny and young. The concept alone of Corey's play is so bold and brave. And the material and performance are wonderful. In a way, if you can understand this, it made me feel sort of proud to have herpes. We are part of a select group of people who have to rise above this obstacle in life.

Anyone who does have the virus will find themselves relating to many of Corey's experiences and musings. (Asshole doctors, wondering at first if you're a walking biohazard, encountering uninformed people both hsv negative and positive, withdrawing upon diagnosis and smoking lotsa ganga, etc. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.)

And anyone who doesn't have it will leave with a new perspective.

There is a twist at the end which I won't reveal. You'll have to come see the play for yourself to find out! It runs Jun 06 – Jun 28 Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm at the Lounge Theater in Hollywood and costs 20 bucks. Well worth your money and time. UPDATE - NOW EXTENDED THRU JULY 12! (no july 4th show.) Must be doing well!

I read an essay recently commending those who are brave enough to put a face and sense of humanity behind the virus, and help to chip away at the stupid stigma. Corey Moosa can be added to this small list of what the author referred to as "herpes heroes." Let's hope others are inspired to join him, in their own creative ways!

4 comments:

www.firey_spirit_66@yahoo.com said...

I only wish i could find a native american man with herpes that would be half my battle. I like to date native american men but in the area where i live they are few and far between. This place sounds like i need to go there.

generic viagra said...

It is a good adaptation actually, very detailed and informative on such an awful condition.

viagra online said...

Can you explain me more about genital Herpes type 1?

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