Sunday Night Sex Talks, a Storytelling Show That Does Not Allow Men in the Audience
Jessie RosenFunny or Die writer Erin Gibson tells a story about an unexpected night in a hotel room with a man who lied better than she did.
Apparently the hormones that doctors give you when you donate eggs make you so horny that you want to be gang raped, rotating from man to man while lying on a giant lazy susan.
Or so I learned last week at the one-year anniversary of the no-boys-allowed storytelling show, Sunday Night Sex Talks, which takes over the Red Room in the back of Bar Lubitsch on the first Sunday of each month, doesn't allow men to perform or watch and asks the audience to take a vow of privacy to prevent racy details about well-known female performers like Jennifer Hall from NBC's Up All Night and Stevie Ryan from VH1's StevieTV from going viral. (Hence my inability to share the name of the performer who said she wanted to be gang raped. The organizers said we could divulge details as long as they didn't have names attached, and allowed some other details with names, below.)
Other lessons? Doing lines of coke off a toilet bowl with the stripper who just gave your husband a lap dance will not make you feel better about your sexless marriage. At least one straight man out there loves to play with dildos. If you get ringworm the day after you realize you're a lesbian, God is probably not punishing you. And at least one woman in Los Angeles considers her gynecologist the only man who "actually really" knows her before he puts his hands inside her.
Founder Jessie Rosen, 29, got the idea for the event from a weekly college ritual she and her friends began when a girl confessed one Sunday over a bottle of wine that she needed help figuring out what to say when her boyfriend started talking dirty. Fifteen minutes before the October show starts, Rosen hops on stage with Ryan and Funny or Die writer Erin Gibson, adjusting the mic and giving them a chance to get comfortable under the lights. Ryan proclaims she hates the way her amplified voice sounds and seems nervous about performing live.
"Don't worry," Rosen tells her. "Just pretend you're talking to your girls at brunch."
Small groups of twenty and thirty-something women soon begin to fill the ottomans, booths and chairs, toting margaritas and tall glasses with thin red straws.
"She's so pissed," one woman tells her companion, explaining their friend's absence. "She's like, 'I'm literally giving birth this week. Otherwise I would be there.'"
A multicolored "Happy 1st Birthday" sign hangs across the back of the stage, and the tables are strewn with conical paper hats, shiny cardboard horns and party favors that unfurl when blown.
"I have a feeling these are going to turn into something less innocent," one woman says dryly, turning a phallic trinket over in her hands.
Rosen bounds on stage at 8:30 p.m. in sparkling gold ankle boots, a gold belt and a black sundress with a cutaway neck. In honor of a full year of shows, she announces, tonight's theme is "one sexual anniversary I'd rather not celebrate." (Past themes include unfinished relationship business, favorite mistakes and "I swear it made perfect sense at the time.")
"This show runs an hour with no intermission, so I'm glad you have drinks!" she says, before launching into a story that involved waking up in her "bra and unders" following a party at the house of Tom Irwin, who played the father on My So-Called Life. Rosen typically tells a five-minute story to set the theme, followed by ten-minute tales from a rotating cast of performers.
Ryan, who is known for satirical impressions of pop culture and reality show stars, starts off with a bizarre tale in which she jealously wields a switchblade. Hall seems even wackier in real life than she does playing opposite Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph on Up All Night, serenading us with dirty ditties on her guitar. Gibson and stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito tickle the crowd, but the funniest (and raunchiest) raconteur of the night was certainly newcomer Dawn O'Malley.
Although this is only her third time performing on stage, O'Malley crackles with sardonic wit, modulating her voice and contorting her face to suit her every disapproval. The room collapses in giggles at her brilliant breakdown of how irritating and gross it is when a woman smiles and says, "We're trying," forcing her friends to picture her having a lot of sex with her husband in an attempt to get pregnant.
Past performers have included Modern Family and Sex and the City writer Cindy Chupack, Newsroom and Parks and Recreation actress Alison Becker, and comedians such as JC Coccoli, Molly Prather and Michelle Buteau. Rosen has also invited friends of hers to perform, but she mostly started Sunday Night Sex Talks as a personal networking opportunity. After working in marketing in New York after college, Rosen moved to L.A. two years ago to try to write comedy for TV; her current full time job involves producing digital content for brands at Santa Monica firm Generate.
"I was feeling a little lost before I founded [Sunday Night Sex Talks] and found people who were just so willing to perform in a show for free without knowing me at all on a Sunday," she says. "I've met two people who have become some of my first readers of [scripts], and I've performed in other people's shows."
It's clear Rosen's Madison Avenue training helped inspire both the name and concept behind the show. She decided to ban boys to stand out from the storytelling crowd and give the event a mysterious aura.
"Guys are really curious. Like, what goes on there and what are you saying?" she says, laughing. Twice she's had to turn away men who hadn't heard the rules.
And she hates to break it to all the Y chromosomes out there, but the show isn't all incest jokes, blow job anecdotes and threesome dissections.
"The truth is it's far less racy," she says, "and very kind of emotional." Rosen's favorite story from the past year, about a woman returning to her home town in Iowa to come out of the closet, was more Lifetime than Showtime. "The crowd is far more interested in the story that got you to that graphic detail and what you did after than, like, the specific sex position."
So is Sunday Night Sex Talks a misnomer?
"I think it's good advertising," she says.
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