Back in Silverlake by popular demand, and after a Hollywood Fringe Festival run, Anita Bryant’s Playboy Interview returns to the Cavern Club Celebrity Theater at Casita del Campo restaurant for only six performances, opening on September 16. This funny, touching, and thought-provoking play chronicles Anita Bryant's campaign to repeal gay rights in Dade County, Florida in 1977.
Less than 10 years after the Stonewall Riots, Anita Bryant’s nationally notorious campaign gave legitimacy to a new style of right wing politics and helped launch the Moral Majority and other right-wing movements that continue to the present day. But she also had a major impact on the modern gay rights movement, propelling Harvey Milk onto the San Francisco City Council and reviving enthusiasm and anger at a time when it was most needed.
For those who don’t know, Anita Bryant is a former Miss Oklahoma and was runner up in the Miss America beauty pageant. She was a singer and former spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission. She scored four Top 40 hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Paper Roses. She later became known as an outspoken opponent of gay rights and for her 1977 "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal a local ordinance in Dade County, Florida, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Organized boycotts of orange juice, and demonstrations outside of her concert venues significantly affected her popularity and career in show business.
In 1978, Anita Bryant sat down for an outrageous and memorable 8-day interview with Ken Kelley of Playboy Magazine. This is that interview, recreated on stage with additional material that sets the historical scene and brings the issues raised by the interview to the present day. Anita didn’t hold back in her interview, and neither does this funny, touching, and thought-provoking piece.
While Anita Bryant may have been largely forgotten over the past 35 years, her rhetoric has endured. The language from the Playboy interview sounds shockingly familiar to modern audiences, because it’s the same language used by conservative politicians to defend anti-gay legislation today. Nowhere is this more striking than with the current republican vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence. In March 2015 Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed anti-LGBT discrimination as long as it was based on a religious belief. Protest rallies were held, and calls for state-wide boycotts were immediately announced, and Pence had to reconsider his legislation.
Anita Bryant’s Playboy Interview opens for press on September 16 for only six performances, continuing through October 11. Performances take place Fridays at 9 p.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m., and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. All tickets are $20 pre-sale online and $25 cash at the door, The Cavern Club Celebrity Theater is located at Casita del Campo restaurant, 1920 Hyperion Avenue, Silverlake, CA 90027. For reservations and information, please visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2591134 or call (213) 308-1108.