The first half of Marga Gomez’s new autobiographical one-woman show is absolutely brilliant, an engaging, hysterical, and poignantly honest look at celesbians, celibacy, and the depiction of lesbians in mainstream films. Gomez, a GLAAD Award-winning actress who appeared in Barry Levinson’s 1998 underwater thriller, Sphere, alongside fellow lesbian Queen Latifah, compares her lack of sex with her search for a movie that portrays realistic lesbians who get physical with one another. “I will go to any movie if I think chicks will make out,” she says, “even documentaries on cabinet making. Because I have medical needs. I have a condition.” Dressed in the stereotypical dyke outfit of plaid shirt, shorts, and army boots, the gap-toothed Gomez commands the stage at Dixon Place, engaging the audience with direct address and constant eye contact as she discusses the damage that was done to her by watching The Children’s Hour as a small girl, mimicking Audrey Hepburn as Karen Wright and Shirley MacLaine as Martha Dobie. “Not once in the one hundred and eight minutes of The Children’s Hour was the word ‘lesbian’ spoken. All I knew then was ‘I think I’m a . . . a . . . Martha Dobie,’” Gomez says. Embodying various characters, she also examines such other lesbian-related films as Basic Instinct (Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell), The Killing of Sister George (Susannah York as Childie), Showgirls (Gina Gershon as Cristal Connors), The Fox (Sandy Dennis as Jill Banford, Anne Heywood as Ellen March), Notes on a Scandal (Judi Dench as Barbara Covett, Cate Blanchett as Bathsheba Hart), and her favorite of them all, Bound (Gershon as Corky, Jennifer Tilly as Violet).
Along the way, she explains that when she grew up it was “not like today, when lesbian characters lead happy lives in prison,” tries to pick up a fellow Bound fan in an online chat room, gets excited when her gynecologist squeezes her nipples, and insists that her nephew Mikey refer to her as her cousin when they go dancing at a gay club. Pound, which is set up as a screenplay being dictated by a deep-voiced Hollywood-type man, takes a strange turn when Gomez gets sucked into a woman’s vagina and enters the data cloud of cinematic dysfunctional lesbian and bisexual archetypes, getting caught up in meeting and interacting with many of the aforementioned fictional characters. The show, which had been so on point, loses its focus, notwithstanding numerous intelligent insights and some riotous, and extremely dirty, lines that cannot be shared here. But Gomez eventually returns to reality and Dixon Place, declaring, “I’m so celibate my legs have been together longer than Aerosmith.” Gomez, whose previous one-woman shows include Long Island Iced Latina, A Line Around the Block, and Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty & Gay, is a wonderfully talented performer, compelling and fearlessly funny. With energy reminiscent of Jack Ferver, she has a natural rapport with the audience, an inviting self-deprecation that is as brutally honest as it is cathartic. Despite dealing with some very heady subject matter, Gomez is at ease with her place in the world, and that puts the crowd at ease as well as we follow her on her deeply personal journey. Directed by David Schweizer, Pound continues July 18-19 and 25-26 as part of Dixon Place’s twenty-fourth annual Hot! Festival: The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture, which continues through August 8 with such other works as Douglas Santiago Pomales’s Thank You Mr. Douglas, G. J. Dowding’s Out of the Ash, and Michael Cross Burke’s Michael Jackson Was Innocent and I Didn’t Kill JonBenet Ramsey . . . But I Was There the Night She Died.