By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly
GLAAD award winner Marga Gomez’s POUND – a hilarious, raunchy, queer theater piece is coming to Portland for two shows only; Saturday, December 5th at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 6th at 2 pm at the Portland Triangle Productions. Marga Gomez is the writer and performer of eleven solo plays that have been performed nationally and internationally and has received the Theater LA’s Ovation Award and a nomination for New York’s Drama Desk Award. She’s also one of the nation’s first openly gay stand-up comedians with television appearances on HBO and LOGO.
Her next show POUND is about a mysterious lesbian gynecologist who diagnoses celesbian Marga Gomez with a condition known as “unplanned celibacy.” Marga tries to break her dry spell with online dating and a ‘stranger danger’ ladies room rendezvous, which sends her through a vaginal portal to a Wi-Fi cloud of notorious lesbian movie characters from the 60’s to the present. POUND penetrates the cinematic lesbian limbo where plumbers, showgirls, murderers and school teachers hook up in spectacularly meta ways.
PQ Monthly had a chance to speak with Marga Gomez recently about her life as an openly gay performer and POUND.
PQ: What is the typical demographic of your audience?
Marga Gomez: I could say 55% women 35% men 10% non-binary, but I think of it this way: I get a lot of cool people who smell nice. I probably don’t get a lot of Republicans in my audience. However, I have made more than one conservative laugh against their will during POUND. Everyone is a little freaky when the lights go down in the theater.
PQ: What types of topics do you cover in POUND?
Gomez: POUND looks at lesbian sexuality and how it’s been thwarted, and misunderstood. It’s also about Hollywood and the creative process. But it’s not preachy; I build this show with a lot of gags so the audience doesn’t think too hard even when it gets trippy. I just want them to laugh. The other plot line in POUND is the relationship I have with Mikey a young gay male and what we argue about. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s graphic, funny, and meaningful. If POUND can only change one thing in our community, I hope it encourages lesbians and gay men to kick it more. These days’ lesbians and gay men see each other one day a year for Pride then go off to our own separate corners. So come to my show boys!
PQ: Clearly sex sells….I mean your show is called, “Pound.” Why would the lesbians who are sexually repressed in Oregon want to attend a show called “Pound”?
Gomez: You make Portland sound like Amish country. Hot! Where do you get this “sexually repressed lesbians” study? Was there a lesbian census taker? Can I get that job? Portland sounds perfect for POUND. I’m only in your city for two days, but I’m going to reach out to as many sexually repressed lesbians as I can find. Then I’m gonna get a donut.
PQ: How did you come up with the name POUND for your show?
Gomez: Let me go back to 2014 to answer that. For years, I had this idea: What if all the dysfunctional lesbian characters I knew from the movies walked into a bar? I was in New York that summer having a drink with Ellie Covan, the artistic director of a big queer theater festival and I told her my idea. Right, then she offered me a commission to open my untitled show in New York for July 2015. I said “totally!” Secretly I was terrified because I had never written an outright fantasy before. But one never says no to a paycheck. I opened myself to inspiration and got it. My all time favorite lesbian themed movie is Bound. Though my show includes several films, Bound was my touchstone at the start. I incorporate elements of Bound’s film noir style into my story and Bound’s leading characters Corky and Violet were my butch- femme muses during development. I like short titles and POUND seemed an obvious homage to Bound that no one had ever used as a play title. POUND as a title serves a few purposes in the show; ironically I have put on a few pounds since I started writing a show called POUND.
PQ: Tell us more about your obscure and toxic lesbian characters. Do you find people are attracted to them?
Gomez: Good question I know I am attracted to most of the toxic lesbian/bisexual characters in my piece. Perhaps the most recognized of these villains would be the sociopath serial ice-pick murderer played by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. Lesbians protested that movie in the 90s, but some of us own the Blue Ray. Just saying. I got to work with Sharon Stone in a film a few years later and I always felt slightly faint and moist around her. I also pay tribute to an actress from long ago named Sandy Dennis who played a lesbian named Jill in a 1967 movie called The Fox. Jill was more sad than toxic. She raised chickens and played acoustic guitar. Portland might find that sexy. We’ll see.
PQ: What are your favorite venues to perform?
Gomez: It’s fun to mix it up between theater and my stand-up comedy work. This year I performed on an Olivia Cruise riverboat along the Rhine River. When I do stand-up comedy, I like it big. I played at Yankee Stadium during the Gay Games in the 90s. Can’t top that. But when I do theater like I will Dec 5 & 6th at Triangle, a small room is sometimes better. Don from Triangle Productions had offered me the Mainstage, but I asked him if he had anything smaller for POUND. I’ll be playing their new “Board Room Cabaret.” It’s going to be cozy. I told my friends to get their tickets fast.
PQ: What other ventures are you working on?
Gomez: I am producing an all Latino New Year’s Eve comedy bash in San Francisco at Brava a beautiful theater where Houdini once performed. I have been teaching solo performance for two years as a side project. I love it and hope to teach a workshop next time I come to Portland. In 2016, I will fly to LA to be part of the lesbian romcom “Easy Abby.” I also want to bring POUND to Los Angeles and universities. Queer cinema studies scholars are very excited about POUND.
PQ: How long have you been performing and how have things changed over the years as a woman and out lesbian?
Gomez: My parents were entertainers. Dad was a comic. Mom was a dancer. They put me in the act when I was seven. I guess I have been performing all my life. I think proportionally there has been more progress for LGBT comedians. Unfortunately women comics, in general, are sexually harassed more than ever. There was a depressing Vanity Fair cover this year, big photo of late night talk show hosts, all men. Women can host daytime shows, because its housewives. The men who call the shots in show business don’t like women. They might tell themselves women aren’t funny. But deep down they don’t want women to have access to power. Comedy is power. That’s my theory.
PQ: Do you see yourself pigeonholed as a lesbian comedian? How do you like to represent yourself?
Gomez: I have never liked that term. I have never used it to describe myself. I’m a comedian. I’m a playwright. I sleep with ladies.
PQ: I’m sure the lesbians out there want to know if you are single. Currently Dating?
Gomez: The good news is that I have a hit show where I admit I haven’t had sex in 3 years. The bad news no groupies. I wonder if Sharon Stone is single.
POUND is directed by Gomez’s frequent collaborator David Schweizer. It’s playing at Triangle Productions new Board Room Cabaret space in The Sandy Plaza building located at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door and available online at http://www.trianglepro.org/. There is limited seating for these shows and due to the graphic language it’s 18+. For additional information about Marga Gomez check out her website at www.margagomez.com.