Pictures of an Exhibitionist

Performance artist and porn star go head to head

In Victoria Stewart's smart, thought-provoking drama, an African American lesbian performance artist interviews a porn star for her latest documentary theater piece on social injustice and winds up questioning the exploitative nature of her own work. Like Anna Deavere Smith, Sarah Brown (the talented Pamela Hart) mimics the movement and language of her subjects onstage. With skillful direction by Lou Jacob, the action jumps back and forth between her impersonations of the porn star, Sonia Ridge (Suli Holum), and their interview in Sarah's upscale hotel room.

Performance anxiety: Holum and Hart in Live Girls.
photo: Urban Stages
Performance anxiety: Holum and Hart in Live Girls.

Details

Live Girls
By Victoria Stewart
Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street
212-868-4444

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Stewart's razor-sharp and often humorous dialogue explores the porn industry in an "everything you always wanted to know about a sex worker but were afraid to ask" fashion, from the objectification of women to faking orgasms. Unable to believe Sonia's claim that she enjoys being an "exhibitionist," Sarah pressures her for sob stories about her childhood and ultimately portrays her as a one-dimensional victim of an abusive father. Sarah feels no guilt about selling out Sonia (wonderfully acted by Suli Holum) for the sake of her art until her assistant, a doctoral candidate, turns the tables and interviews Sarah for what turns out to be a scathing and, in Sarah's opinion, inaccurate dissertation. A surprise twist at the end involving a tape recorder and Sarah's secret desire for Sonia makes for a steamy, shocking conclusion.

 
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