The Off-Off-Broadway theater world is known for showing a little more skin than the family affairs on the Great White Way (minus the occasional disrobing of a stunt-cast celebrity), but Stage Left Studio and its director, Cheryl King, are in a class all their own. King, a former topless dancer and an acting coach on All My Children (go figure), has been running the 30-seat space since she mounted her solo show Not a Nice Girl there in 2006, in which she explored her sex-positive development, beginning with a predilection for masturbation at the age of nine. “Sex is life-affirming,” explains King. “Not dirty, not shameful, but a passionate affirmation of the joy of pleasure and the value of pleasure in life. What other activity has bliss as its end result?” With that philosophy front and center, Stage Left Studio was born. While it’s billed as a workshop theater where emerging playwrights test their work in short runs, a healthy dose of that work is hot and steamy, and often touches on queer and sexually subversive themes. “Forbidden Kiss,” which occurs every three weeks, is King’s own baby—a three-year-old variety show featuring sexy monologues, poetry, dance, and more. King also founded the Left Out Festival, which hosts LGBT solo artists. This summer, King created Beyond the Pale, a week-long festival of erotic, “edgy, and dangerous” performances. And it was a success: The theater saw more mid-show bathroom breaks than ever before.
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