Sex, Love, & Yoga at the MACHA Theatre

Reviewed by Marc Wheeler
Kim-Reed

Cast: Kim Reed and Casey Hayden

Lovers, Lotus poses and labias are explored in this lofty new musical whose premise might be considered far-fetched if it weren’t based on a true story (and even then…)

A 52-year-old widowed sexologist walks into a yoga studio (stop me if you’ve heard this one) and is immediately overwhelmed and intrigued with the unfamiliarity of it all — people dressed in white, chanting faces beaming light. A Kundalini virgin, Beverly (Kim Reed) soon finds herself in Venus Kriyas with a handsome, 20-years-her-junior yogi named Cody (Casey Hayden) with whom she shares a rapturous, cosmic encounter (”Sat Nam”) that begs her wondering if these two have some sort of past life history. (Wouldn’t be my first thought, but hey, not bad for a beginner!) They agree to meet again, but this meeting is held suspect when Beverly’s longtime friend Cynthia (Stephanie Andersen) doubts his heterosexuality after scrolling through the Facebook photos of him Beverly so enthusiastically displays. Not one to back down to speculated orientation, Beverly soon meets Cody in his apartment, questions his possible fondness for the fellas, and hears the sad-but-true confirmation — he’s gay. She goes in for a kiss (”labels” be damned!) to which he recoils (lady kisses are gross!), then offers to “honor” him with a Tantric blowjob instead (naturally!), and soon more than his Kundalini is rising (Go with it, it’s a true story!) Beverly spends the night, Cody is wonderstruck, and weeks later our heroine is singing about the joys of doing his laundry (”Laundry”), because, hey, it’s a musical!

As this below-the-lips cosmic affair takes flight, best friend Cynthia is dealing with her own sexless marriage to always-distant Noah (Tod Macofsky) by feeding her three a.m. emotional aches with rich and delicious chocolate cakes (”Ambrosia”). Meanwhile, Beverly’s roommate Jenny (Katherine Washington) is feeling sexually-blocked with her transgender boyfriend Riley (Shen Heckel), this being the lesbian’s first relationship with a male-identifying partner. On the horizon a lovelorn Gabriel (Espiridion Magana) is puppy-love deep with the now MILF-diving Cody.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a comedy.

“Sex, Love, & Yoga” is based on the true life tale of creative sexologist and co-producer Dr. Stephanie Torres, with book, music and lyrics by director Kate Sullivan Gibbens. While billed as “A Provocative New Musical” with sex-positive and body-loving themes, there is interestingly no nudity (except for a shirtless Cody) and all sexual situations are simulated under covers — an understandable choice for a musical, of course, but a noticeable one for a show that so vocally advocates eradicating shame of our bodies and what we do with them.

While sexuality and gender are increasingly being viewed as fluid concepts, the explanations of why a self-described gay man would embark on a sexual relationship with an older woman are frustratingly lacking — “past life lovers” and his admiration for the “divine feminine” probably won’t satisfy most audiences. At the same time, “Sex, Love, & Yoga” plays less like a musical and more like endless therapy sessions between Beverly and the remaining characters. We never really get to the heart of anyone’s problems, but circle around them ad nauseam until the expected happy ending attempts to finger it all out and tie up loose ends with “sacred spot massages,” suspect smiles and self-love.

Performances are quite solid across the board — actors doing their best to bring an improbable story with hard-to-swallow dialogue to life.

Kate Sullivan Gibbens’ music, however, offers more than one gem, thanks in part to many soulful vocalists under the guidance of musical director Kate Marley. The melodies are often quite beautiful, as in the case of ballads “Sat Nam” and “The Rest of Me.” Lyrics, however, fall flat under the weight of clunky self-help realizations and silly subject matters (”Safe” and “Laundry” respectively), but shine when tackling issues like gender roles in the bold and sassy ”Good Girls Don’t.” Additional song credits go to Snatam Kaur. Anthony Starble gets props for arrangements.

Set design is uncredited, but features great use of space for the various households, yoga studio and nightclub. Michelle Stann’s lighting design is effective. And costumes, also uncredited, are relevant and appropriate. Bren Coombs is co-producer. Julie Ouellette is stage manager. Katherine Washington is Casting Director, with additional casting by Michael Donovan and casting associate Richie Ferris.

Sexual fluidity, body issues, relationships, trauma, healing, gender roles and identity are certainly important if challenging subject matters. Theater can tackle them (even in musicals), but “Sex, Love, & Yoga” takes on too many and forgoes entertainment and story for clinical, esoteric introspection. While based on a true story, its credibility is lost with two-dimensional characters and unlikely scenarios that need more outside perspectives and fleshed-out narratives to ring true.

There’s certainly a story in here, it just needs found — like an elusive G-spot.

Namaste.

Now playing through August 30, 2015

Sex Love & Yoga - imageMACHA Theatre
1107 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Fridays and Saturdays – 8pm
Sundays – 2pm and 7pm

Tickets:
www.sexloveandyoga.com

General Admission:
$30

For Mature Audiences Only.

Carol Mendes Premieres Lanotte+Verso at La Mama NYC

Lanotte-Verson

LANOTTE+VERSO
September 10-13
at the LA MAMA First Floor Theater

Lanotte-verso

LANOTTE is an assertively absurdist dance romp about being a woman. VERSO is the B side of LANOTTE; a reaction to ourselves and the change in our own creative process. LANOTTE +VERSO are inextricably linked: LANOTTE, a dark journey of the female mind, and VERSO, a fast paced succession of dancescapes. Each dance relies on the other, as a coin with two distinct sides.

Lanotte

Abounding with darkness, LANOTTE explores different aspects of the female mind. Successive scenes that are at times theatrical and confrontational portray the performers’ innermost emotions to bring the audience on an emotional journey of the whole person. This work seeks to peel off layers off the self, exposing the internal female, vulnerable but strong. Ultimately, this dance is an ode to the complexities of womanhood.

Verso

At VERSO, three dancers explore the human body’s coordination, creating extreme movement and violent conversations in space inspired by the electronic creations of Denmark musician Trentemøller. At moments an interactive performance, VERSO stretches the boundaries of performance space, with a visceral dialogue with the audience.

ARTISTS: Frankie Fernandes, Lauren Elise Kravitz, and Erika Wuhrer.

Carol Mendes & Artists presents LANOTTE+VERSO.

LA MAMA First Floor Theater, 74A E. 4th Street, New York, NYC

brown paper ticketsPerformances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 3:30pm.

Tickets are $15 in advance/$18 day of show, and are available at carolmendes.brownpapertickets.com.

ABOUT CAROL MENDES

Carol Mendes is a choreographer, dance filmmaker and dance educator. A native of Brazil, she received her BFA in Dance and her Teaching Certificate from State University of Campinas (Brazil). She also holds a Master’s in Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Her work has been presented at Judson Church, Triskelion Arts, at the Wild Project, at Martha Graham Studio Theater, at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, at Dixon Place, and at The Green Building. As a dance filmmaker, Carol has worked with the New York City Ballet Media Department as Production Assistant and Media Fellow. She co-directs and edits her own dance films screened in Brazil, Finland, US, Argentina and France. She is currently the Production Manager of WestFest2015 and the artistic director of Carol Mendes & Artists.

ABOUT CAROL MENDES & ARTISTS

Carol Mendes & Artists is a band of empowered female artists who strive to unveil the unexpected and challenge the familiar in the medium of dance. We dialogue with society through movement of highly trained bodies that defies all forms of classification. We are inspired by human diversity and we work in live dance performance and film to demolish comfort zones, creating a common ground amongst people of different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. We believe in partnership with organizations and initiatives that foster cultural outreach through the arts. CM&A is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas – a registered 501c3 nonprofit.

CREDITS:

CHOREOGRAPHY: Carol Mendes & Artists
ARTISTS: Frankie Fernandes, Lauren Elise Kravitz, and Erika Wuhrer.
COSTUME DESIGN: Lauren Beirne (LANOTTE ), and Lauren Kravitz (VERSO)
PHOTOS: Nicolas Pirata
LIGHTING DESIGN: Amith A. Chandrashaker
MUSIC: Franz Liszt, Gramatik, Manu Chao & Trentemoller.

What You Want: Fiona Grey at Dirty Laundry LA

Live Performance at
DIRTY LAUNDRY Los Angeles with Room 8
Tuesday, August 18 at 9:00 PM

ChaseRMcCurdyFionaGray

“The 19 year old singer brings Hollywood glamour to a sultry story of love, drugs, and vanity” ~Galore Magazine

After a busy summer filled with sold out performance dates, fashion magazine shoots, and filming ABC Family’s Switched At Birth, Los Angeles-based indie-pop songwriter Fiona Grey has released her newest single, What You Want, which will be included on her upcoming EP currently scheduled for released this Fall. The single What You Want, glistens with heartfelt lyrics driven by electronic beats that demands to be heard loud and clear. Filled with edgy melodies and introspective lyrics, What You Want is Fiona’s most personal composition to date.

What You Want is, at its heart, an airing of grievances aimed at would-be romantic interests too indecisive, too preoccupied or simply too intimidated to commit to. “Hold me a little bit closer,” belts Fiona in her signature dusky timbre. “Show me you’re a little bit stronger or you’re never gonna get what you want.

The song’s mood of restless defiance spills over into its video, where shots flicker through Los Angeles, from dimly-lit bedrooms to luxe high-rise concerts to the city streets themselves, turningWhat You Want into a literal windows-down sing-along.

“Writing and recording this track was like bringing a diary entry to life,” says the 20-year-old songstress. “I was feeling all sorts of emotions about this guy and thinking about all the things I’ll never say to him but wish I could. Songwriting has been a huge emotional outlet for me, and I think the things I was feeling at the time really came through while we were recording in the studio.”What You Want takes listeners on a journey filled with young romantic love and infatuation but if not careful will swallow you up in a whirl wind of adolescent passion.

 @FionaGreyMusic

#WhatsHotNow : The Romance of Railway Travel

#BeIconic

This year bebe stores, inc. has embarked on a journey celebrating iconic looks from around the world.

bebe

With the romance of railway travel as a backdrop, supermodel Irina Shayk stars in the Be Iconic fall 2015 collection which is a contemporary take on the many expressions of classic elegance.

Be Iconic and share your personal interpretation of iconic fashions! Upload photos of your favorite iconic styles and use the Twitter hashtag: 

#beiconic

Luxurious fabrics and dramatic silhouettes, spin an urban, folkloric story with free-spirited boho shift dresses, sleek midi sheaths, romantic sleeve tops, glamorous outerwear, uniquely detailed leggings and embellished denim.

Design elements channel sumptuous style, from organza overlays, lace appliqué and layered tulle to sparkling sequins, high-shine studs and placed crystals. Tartans and tweeds pop up in fresh, unexpected ways. Deep reds, soft blushes and intense violets heat up the color palette and are juxtaposed against black, white and camel neutrals.

The collection’s last stop is accessories, which feature chandelier earrings, statement bib necklaces, stacked bracelets, sleek pointy-toe pumps, tall boots and handbags textured with quilting, reptile embossing and tweed.

 

 

Down The Road with Chaz Bono at the Lounge Theatre Hollywood

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Chaz Bono - Down The RoadLeave it to Chaz Bono to play a creepy, fame hungry, serial killer on stage and get away with it – beautifully!

Luckily I had some distance with this production.  Sitting in the front row might be hard to take if you are not completely in love with the classic sociopath a la Silence of the Lambs storytelling genre.

It gets gnarly pretty quick in Lee Blessing’s “Down The Road”, skillfully directed by Jordan Shappell, where Bono plays, William Reach, a serial killer serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison for the murders of 19 women. 

Experienced husband and wife crime-writing team, Iris (Barbara Howling) and Dan Henniman (Kyle David Pierce) are on assignment to get Reach’s story for a soon to be published autobiography.

It’s an intense psychological drama, the skin crawling “ick” factor amped as tensions mount with each interview separately conducted at the prison, by either Dan or Barbara. Reach begins to penetrate both people’s emotions and thoughts until the closeness with the subject, the living space, the isolation and Reach’s manipulation of them both bring out the worst qualities in the couple, and they find themselves fiercely divided, on what parts of Reach’s story is real or fabricated for fame. Iris obsessively battles against Reach’s ever inflated claims as Dan sides with him and both have to combat Reach’s tirades for control as well as with each other on the issues of journalistic truth.

Originally commissioned and produced at the La Jolla Playhouse and then produced in the 1991 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the beauty of this current rendition is that it lives perfectly in the small intimate Lounge Theatre space, yet far elevated above mere “black box” expectation.

Chaz Bono has inextricably immersed himself in Reach becoming a true centerpiece of this production such that it is impossible to separate the actor from the character. (Even Reach would gleefully approve.) Barbara Howling and Dan Henniman dance steadily around Bono and put in interesting performances although never really take the deep dive into the material in quite the same way as Bono who really caps it.  Nevertheless, it’s a stellar production of Blessing’s provocative play, very much illuminating the frightening mind of a serial killer.

Down The Road PosterWhere:
Lounge Theatres
6201 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Now Playing Until:
August 16
8:00pm – Friday and Saturday

Empowering Latina Culture Through Design, Art & Frida

Mexico Culture & PrideLatin American fashion businesswoman Adriana Pavon is launching Mexico Culture & Pride, an initiative that empowers consumers to own sustainable fashion accessories that will create jobs for the world’s many indigenous cultures starting with the people of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The initiative aims to conserve cultural textile traditions through education and bring fair trade commerce through exhibits to the international market. Mexico Culture & Pride is currently in the first of a three-phase campaign that includes a Kickstarter fundraiser.

The Kickstarter will fund a multi-city collaborative exhibition tour and deliver the first line of supporter-purchased merchandise of the Frida Kahlo-inspired collection.

From now until August 20, supporters of this Kickstarter campaign become co-launchers for Mexico Culture & Pride by pre-purchasing items such as tickets to the upcoming exhibit “Through Frida’s Eyes” and quality accessories designed in collaboration with indigenous groups. A 50% discount will be reflected as a ‘thank you’ to all supporters of this first stage in exchange for their support. “Our promise to you is that every item is handcrafted and designed specifically for you and no two items are alike due to the uniqueness and organic process; all items are fair trade and each one of our items is child-labor free,” says creator Adriana Pavon. “If you replace even one item in your closet with one of our sustainable pieces, you can change the world. We are using Kickstarter because we feel confident there are others that support fair trade fashion. We also want supporters to feel secure in their purchase as Kickstarter will not charge them unless the goal of $10,000 is raised at 100%” she added.

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Pavon has not only invested the last two years to Mexico Culture & Pride, but also has put her wallet where her mouth is. “I shifted my life and my career. I don’t have a car. I live on a budget. All my energy has gone into this project. My team and I went to Mexico to meet and work with the people and we documented the whole process to be transparent and share the beauty and importance of the culture, ” she says.

Through her work as a consultant and industry influencer for the past 20 years, Pavon discovered how much mass production has stolen the show as today fashion is dictated by the dollar. She learned that techniques and the environmentally friendly materials utilized by the locals are on the verge of extinction at an alarming rate; this is due to the globalization of textiles that are toxic for the environment and European designers plagiarizing the culture. To reverse that trend, she recruited a top-notch team of high caliber individuals who are passionate about their work and have extensive experience in their field with clients such as Project Runway Latin America, Mexico’s Next Top Model, Chrysler and vast experience in manufacturing top brands you purchase in stores today.

Pavon wants to share her cultural traditions by sharing her journey in the process to celebrate the diversity of the world’s indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from our society at a disturbing pace. Her inspiration for the premier collection, Frida Kahlo, was an iconic Mexican artist whose wardrobe took over the pages of Vogue magazine and her paintings were greatly influenced by this particular Mexican culture and art form.

About Mexico Culture & Pride
Mexico Culture & Pride is an initiative to help preserve the Mexican culture for today and future generations. Adriana Pavon will lead this campaign with the purpose of promoting the culture and quality products for fair trade made by indigenous artisans. The importance of Mexican history will inspire the work of a contemporary artist through a variety of their forms and designs, as well as traditions. Guests will have the opportunity to experience the quality of Mexican culture in an interactive way through photography, video, dance, gastronomy and mixology.

For more information on Mexico Culture & Pride, please visit:

Kickstarter
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1811229247/mexico-culture-and-pride

Website:
http://www.mexicoculturayorgullo.com

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/México-Cultura-y-Orgullo/1006752919338325?ref=bookmarks

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/MCulturePride

Instagram:
http://instagram.com/mexicoculturepride/

Engineering Psychology in Chinatown LA

engineering psychology

 Charlie James Gallery is delighted to present Alexander Reben in his solo gallery debut Engineering Psychology, opening at the gallery August 15th in conjunction with the 7th Annual Perform Chinatown.

August 15 – 29, 2015

Opening Reception August 15, 6-9pm

In conjunction with Perform Chinatown: Rush Hour

Engineering Psychology invites the viewer to become the subject in a dialogue between technology and humanity. Ranging from low to high tech and from playful to serious, each piece uses technology to engage an element of human experience: including love, attraction, physical pleasure, repulsion, and pain. Works will include balloons that appear alive, a machine that gives visitors a ‘headgasm’, robots that break down barriers with cuteness, devices that placate and tease, a mask that mechanizes humanity, and installations that invoke child-like joy and suggest unbearable visceral pain.

Alexander Reben (b. 1985) makes work that uses science and technology to probe deeply into synthetic psychology and artificial philosophy. Alexander has exhibited at venues both in the U.S. and internationally including Ars Electronica, Volta, The Whitney Biennial, Axiom, TFI Interactive, IDFA, ArtBots, The Tribeca Film Festival, The Camden Film Festival, Doc/Fest, and The Boston Cyberarts Gallery. His work has been covered by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Filmmaker Magazine, New Scientist, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, Cool Hunting and Wired among others. He has lectured at TED, SXSW, TTI Vanguard, Google, UC Berkeley, SMFA, CCA, MIT and other universities. Reben has built robots for NASA and is a graduate of MIT.

charlie james gallery