It's safe to say that 2012 was the year for BDSM.
That's right – bondage/discipline, sadism/masochism were terms that became the norm thanks to a tiny little trilogy you may have heard of that's centered around Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, characters that sprung from the imagination of British author E.L. James.
Fifty Shades of Grey (quickly followed by Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Free, to satiate the hungry masses) is an erotic novel that focuses on the couple, a wealthy billionaire with a penchant for strange sex and the na√Įve virgin he's set his sights on.
Though the book did very well among readers, it was no secret that perhaps the writing wasn't the most stellar, and some of the plot points were easily laughable. It may have left some wondering, What the hell was she thinking when she wrote this?
Thanks to the creative genius of writer and director Jim Millan and his troupe of comedy scribes, we can now find out through Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, a raucous show that comes to the F.M. Kirby Center Feb. 2.
Spank! follows author EBJ (Easy Breezy Janet) as she creates the characters of Tasha Wood and Hugh Hanson and the various sexy situations she puts them in that eventually become a provocative novel.
Given the source material, this was a show that was practically begging to be produced.
As soon as you say there's a 28-year-old billionaire who looks like a male model and he's in love with a 21-year-old virgin, well, it starts writing itself, Millan said in a phone interview from home. The great thing is that because we're following the story of the writer trying to write it, and not necessarily the end product, there could be a lot of fun things in there that don't make it into the final version of the book.
Silly is certainly the name of the game here, a notion that becomes glaringly obvious when speaking with Gabe Bowling, the man who will play Hanson alongside Suzanne Sole as EBJ and Danielle Trzcinski as Wood. The actor simply couldn't stop chuckling when talking about the show.
The first time we did it in front of an audience, I was off-put by just how long we had to pause for laughter, he said. You almost have to plow through your lines in order to get the show moving along.
Even through the silliness, there's an undertone of sexy. Bowling strips down to his underwear at one point – and that's just the start of the wardrobe he wears throughout.
There is a point where all I'm wearing is Batman underwear, and then I'm in a really short robe. He pauses for a breath and breaks out into laughter. And then I have a jetpack that I'm in for a while and a hang glider. There are certainly some extremely strange props.
Despite all this, Bowling's favorite scene boils down to a single object.
I'll leave it at this – it's got to do with a toothbrush.
For all the silliness, there are many recognizable plot points along the way, for both those who have and have not read the series.
[The author] tries borrowing inspiration from film and television, so there are some ‘Twilight' references, among other things, Millan said. For those who have read the books, they'll get extra fun out of it; they'll see the way we paralleled things or were inspired by the book.
The fun doesn't stop at the stage (where Bowling and Trzcinski not only interact with the author, but with the audience), as there's a meet-and-greet opportunity after the show with all the actors.
It's no wonder Spank! has become such a hit, with crowds screaming like it's a Justin Bieber concert, according to Millan. He thinks the message of the show, as well as the Grey books, sends is one anyone can enjoy.
I think that anything that promotes fantasy and telling people to be a little braver, just saying do what you want to do, be free – well, that's fun.
Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody: Feb. 2, 8 p.m., F.M. Kirby Center (71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre). $28.50-$36.50.