By Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, Burgh Vivant
Moriah Ella Mason gives us the dirty details of working as a stripper in her one-woman show “Sex Werque.” The show may be dirty with a capital D, but it’s a dark and surprisingly humorous journey into the seedy underbelly of this special brand of American entertainment.
Mason, who wrote, choreographed and performed the show, tries to answer the question, “Why do women take their clothes off for money?” Her answer is complicated, misleading, and an almost unending series of lies. The real answer is; “Because they can.”
While strippers exist in some realm of fantasy, Mason shows us how real she really is. She will be the first to tell you that she is tall, gangly and small-breasted. When she dances, she is divine, beautiful; a writhing work of art.
When Mason is on the pole, she defies gravity in a way that would make Elphaba green(er) with envy. She contorts while moving upward and downward on the steel post, pushing and pulling her body effortlessly.
There are some extremely light moments, unexpected bursts of sharp wit and some general silliness. You will learn your stripper name, and share it with other audience members.
Side note: Mason uses the most trusted formula of your-first-pet plus the-street-where-you-grew-up equals your stripper name. Since I was Turtle Saranac, who I assume is a WASP from Long Island, I decided to go with my favorite flavor of ice cream, Cherry Vanilla.
Video artist Liz Barentine provides interstitial material of strippers discussing the ups and downs of life on the stripper pole. The women are shot from the neck down, and while you will see an occasional bare breast or naked buttock, you never see their faces.
J.F. Winkles and Eric Weidenhof perform music to her movements (and make a brief appearance on center stage). The musicians gel together quite well. Winkles’ provides some additional recorded music – let’s call it ‘recorded sounds’ since it’s a bit grating to the ear; industrial noises that sound like a passel of pigs partying in their pen.
Mason’s perspectives may not be new (everything you imagine happens in a strip club does really happen), but it’s candid, raw and sometimes unsettling. The show isn’t just tits and ass, but it’s a unique look into a private world.
“Sex Werque” runs this weekend (July 27, 28, 29 and 30) at the Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main Street, Carnegie, PA 15106. For additional information, show times and tickets, click here.