It came from beyond the fringe

  • by Richard Dodds
  • Tuesday September 1, 2015
Share this Post:

A little gay girl dancing for Perry Como, a faux-queen's variation on Dame Edna Everage, a queer Latina who thinks she's the next Rita Hayworth, and God's earthly visit to a prostitute are among the characters that show up in the 24th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival. Running Sept. 11-26 on the three stages at the Exit Theatre, the 2015 edition will feature 150 performances by 34 indie companies and performers.

The SF Fringe Fest has always been an unjuried affair, with selections made by a lottery system. This means quality and content are going to be all over the place, but a fringe fest calls for an adventuresome audience. What follows is just a sampling of several intriguing offerings, based on subjective reactions to the presenters' own descriptions of their works.

From Como to Homo If you're old enough, or a nostalgia buff, you probably remember uber-casual singer Perry Como from his long-running music and television career. For one year, in 1957, his TV variety show featured six little dancing girls known as the Como-ettes. Lynne Jassem was one of those girls, and she tells her story of being pushed into showbiz by her ex-Rockette mother and her growing inner life convinced she is a boy. The Como-ettes were discharged after 10 weeks �" the producers couldn't abide the bickering mothers �" but Jassem continued performing professionally for years, and offers tap-dance interludes during From Como to Homo.

A queer Latina with a Rita Hayworth obsession heads to Las Vegas to find stardom in The Rita Hayworth of This Generation. Photo: Antworks Studios

The Rita Hayworth of This Generation Tina D'Elia performs in her own solo show about Carmelita Cristina Rivera, a Hayworth-obsessed queer Latina who heads to Las Vegas in search of stardom. She's in love with a transgender blackjack champion while her butch producer is in love with her, and then there's an evil casino executive who seems to hold all the cards.

In Denial: A One-Woman Clown Show This is another solo show about an aspiring star, in this case with Broadway the destination, as a clown decides she deserves acclaim minus the big red nose. Rachel Resnick, who also wrote the show, plays Velma Patterson, in whose head her starry opening night takes place.

Bend the Rules, Eat the Head Barry Humphries is a man who pretends to be a woman in the guise of Dame Edna Everage. In Bend the Rules, Micael Bogar is a real-life woman who pretends to be a man who pretends to be a woman in the guise of stage character Ms. Durdah Devil. Coiffed, costumed, and bespectacled in the style of Dame Edna, Ms. Durdah Devil is on her 50th-anniversary tour with her loyal assistant Rudolph (Sabrina Wenske), but a broken heart mars this supposedly triumphant victory lap. Clown-inspired characters, shadow play, and a touch of magic are promised in this show written by Bogar.

My Name Is God, Motherf***er This is a dark comedy about a ticked-off God who arrives on Earth in human form to see if mankind is worth saving. Along the way he gets drunk, smokes crack, has sex with a prostitute, and discovers how the human soul really works. Matthew Close is the author and director, and is also featured in a cast that includes Bora Celebi, Ryan Hammond, Ron Elwell, and Anya Absten.

In Schachner vs. Schachner, Abby Schachner uses boxing as a metaphor to dig in her own life and her parents’ messy divorce.

Photo: Steve Robles

Schachner vs. Schachner A metaphorical boxing ring provides the setting for Abby Schachner's solo play, in which she spars with herself, her past, and her parents' tabloid-worthy divorce that involved both a hit man and an undercover cop. Incorporating the footwork of a professional boxer, Schachner comes out swinging in search of the truth.

All productions will have several performances presented on a rotating schedule at the Exit. All the details are available at


Musical 'Moments'

Truth will out, but sometimes it needs a jolt. A lie detector becomes a central figure in Moments of Truth, a new musical comedy beginning its debut run on Sept. 16 at Royce Gallery. The converted Mission District warehouse, which features both visual and performing arts, is an appropriate home for a story of a love triangle that develops when two artists begin an uneasy collaboration.

Presented by 3Girls Theatre Company, the musical has songs by Caroline Altman and a book by Patricia Milton. It features Bekka Finke as a foundering artist whose art dealer husband, played by Tyler McKenna, suggests she collaborate with a "shock photographer," played by Danielle Thys.

This collaboration involves using a lie detector to catch artists' models in their "moments of truth." When the artist suspects that her husband and the photographer are becoming an item, she thinks perhaps the lie detector might find a better use at home.

Louis Parnell is directing the musical, which has spent the past two years being developed in workshops and readings. Scrumbly Koldewyn, the former member of the Cockettes, is the musical director. 3Girls Theater Company was founded in 2011 with a goal to increase female representation among playwrights being produced on stage. More information is available at