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Gay Hist-Orgy! Part 1 & 2, by Ian MacKinnon

Ian MacKinnon: "I'm a pervert, and I'm proud."
PHOTO BY LEO GARCIA

Ian MacKinnon is a pleasant, bearded guy in his mid-30s, whose relentlessly vivacious, salacious one-man lecture/carny act, Ian MacKinnon's Gay Hist-Orgy! Part 1 & 2 (at Moving Arts Theater until March 24), is dedicated to the proposition that art and ideas are more enduring, and useful, than children.

To demonstrate this theory, MacKinnon traverses world history from ancient China on. Through impersonations and with video support, he touches upon a stream of male gay artists and philosophers who have changed the way we think, so that the whole two-act, two-part extravaganza resembles a long rope of ejaculate, linking continents and centuries.

"I have a fetish for gay history!" MacKinnon exudes, prancing around the stage in short shorts, with a large button on his crotch that shows animated bolts of lightning. "Or just saying it gets my nipples so hard! It sounds academic but I'm no expert, I'm a pervert, and I'm proud. I'm no scholar, I'm a nasty little history pig who needs to teach a lesson!"

In Act 2, the lesson is being taught by MacKinnon in leather, buttock-exposing chaps.

The device for MacKinnon's journey is a Gay Hist-Orgy-a-Tron, a "cybersexual multimedia computerized masturbation time machine," which projects onto a screen a scantily clad male genie who writhes on a divan while a voice-over takes over for MacKinnon in providing historical footnotes to the figures being discussed. These range from Socrates to Sufi poet Hafiz to Frederick of Prussia (whose father, on learning of his son's gay proclivities, is said to have forced the young man to watch his lover being decapitated — speaking of teaching a lesson). Can't leave out Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, whose paintings and statues, supplemented with biographies from the era, suggest a certain erotic leaning.

MacKinnon concludes that Herman Melville was gay, entirely from an excerpt from Moby Dick, read by the performer with salivating urgency, describing the whalers' hands kneading and purifying gallons of whale sperm. Add Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln to the list, as well as civil rights activist Bayard Rustin — among Martin Luther King Jr.'s unsung deputies on the Freedom March, who tried with considerable impediments to include gay rights on the banner of civil rights.

MacKinnon's deeper concern, expressed nonetheless with a twist of sarcastic stridency, is one of legacy. A computer virus keeps popping up on the screen in the form of a bellicose and dismissive Professor of Queer Studies at Every University, appalled by MacKinnon's attempt to track homosexuality back to the origin of the species. Homosexuality came into being, as a defined entity, in 1869, the bookish professor insists.

The need to raise this as an issue of legacy recalls Tom Jacobson's play last season, House of the Rising Son, about a gay dynasty situated in New Orleans but dating back to ancient Rome.

And a similar angst over leaving behind something meaningful was evident in Charlayne Woodard's solo performance, The Night Watcher, with its probing examination of what it means to be a fertile, married woman who chooses not to have children of her own. Her legacy, Woodard suggests, will be through her relationships with the children of others and, moreover, through her art.

MacKinnon's lecture is agitprop comedy, a sermon to a choir spurned by a hetero culture insistent that the purpose of being is neither art nor a room of one's own but a kid of one's own. The number of gay couples adopting children is a testament to the intensity of the pressure to offer something to the world that might be remembered.

But there's also a poignant side to MacKinnon's comedy, that for all the libido, and erotic posturing, and porno videos of penises ejaculating, and talk and talk and talk of sex, MacKinnon confesses how difficult it is to get somebody to go home with him. He tells of calling an ex, who sees him, and a familiar pernicious dynamic sets in: MacKinnon says he turns needy and his ex emotionally withdraws; they have soulless sex, after which MacKinnon returns to his apartment feeling the walls and the empty space crashing in around him.

With this confession, the larger purpose of his show — to comprehend the incomprehensible question of who he is and what he's doing with his life — makes all the sense in the world.

IAN MacKINNON'S GAY HIST-ORGY! PART 1 & 2 | By Ian MacKinnon | Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake | Sat., 8 p.m. | Through March 24 | (323) 666-3259 | brownpapertickets.com/event/214106

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Moving Arts

1822 Hyperion Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

323-666-3259

www.movingarts.org


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