Marga Gomez is 'Swimming With Lesbians'

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday September 26, 2023
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Marga Gomez (photo: Jim McCambridge)
Marga Gomez (photo: Jim McCambridge)

Ahoy, mateys! Lesbian comic Marga Gomez brings her 14th one-person show, "Swimming With Lesbians," to Brava Cabaret October 6-22. Presented as the memoir of Isabelle, who's yearning for her first lesbian affair, she boards a notorious cruise ship known as "the Celesbian." Gomez said that the show has been in development since the 1990s, when she was working as a cruise ship entertainer. The show will run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"I play about seven lesbian characters on the ship, from Captain Debbie to Aurora the Astrologer," Gomez said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "It's like lesbian 'Poseidon Adventure' meets 'Sponge Bob.'"

Gomez came up with the show's title in January when she was invited to perform a new solo piece in a four-person bill at Stagewerx SF. She knew she was going to write something on a lesbian cruise ship because it was on her shortlist of story ideas, but Stagewerx needed a title on the spot.

"'Swimming With Lesbians' was the first title that came to mind," Gomez recalled. "I thought I'd change the title to something brainier if I wanted to keep it going but people fucking love the title. Lesbians love it because we are so ignored and kind of undermined in comedies. This is something for us."

Gomez added that she had auditioned for the part of the lesbian in the recent gay rom-com "Bros" and found the part to be so badly written that she had to eat an entire bag of cookies when she got home.

"Where was I?" she said. "Oh yeah, people fucking love this title, the straight people, not the creepy ones, but the smart, straight people. Their ears perk up when they hear the title. If I have flyers on me, they beg me for a flyer. Finally, the physical act of swimming factors big time in the plot."

Isabelle, the narrator of the story, is her favorite of the seven characters she plays in the show because the character's story arc includes trying to sleep with the captain and the ship's DJ.

"I love her because she's shameless," Gomez said.

The pandemic played a role in Gomez' creation of the show. She felt that after coming out of the pandemic, LGBT people —and everyone else— needs to laugh and to escape into a theater.

"It was the perfect time to write my cruise ship romp," she said.

Marga Gomez (photo: Jim McCambridge)  

Nautical comedy
Gomez has fond memories of her time as a cruise ship performer, though she points out that "Swimming With Lesbians" has nothing to do with Olivia Cruises, the company she worked with during the 1990s. She traveled with Olivia to such diverse locales as Alaska, Greece, and to various Caribbean spots.

"It was a lot of fun," she recalled. "I was very charmed by all aspects of ship life. I think about trying a Princess Cruise because I studied 'Love Boat' reruns this year. But there seems to be a lot of cutbacks happening in the industry. I think all the cruise companies are cutting midnight buffets. I object, ha ha! I gained weight on every cruise. Maybe when ships allow cannabis, I'll book a cruise."

Her objective in writing and performing this show is to make the audience laugh and forget their troubles.

"I want everyone to feel like they're on a lesbian cruise and laugh the next day when they think about something raunchy or goofy that one of my characters did," she said. "There is a playful queerness to this show that I hope others will adopt in their day-to-day."

Gomez hasn't been performing in anti-LGBT parts of the country but there is one thing she'd like to do in that regard.

"I have a fantasy of touring 'Swimming With Lesbians' all over Florida and put Mrs. DeSantis on my guest list," she said. "Ya never know."

Marga Gomez in Swimming With Lesbians, October 6-22, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 5 pm, $25, Brava Cabaret, 2773 24th St.

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