As a lark in 1992, frustrated standup Colin Malone turned to public-access television as an outlet, creating a show dubbed Colin’s Sleazy Friends. Malone conducted no-holds-barred, uncensored, often comical interviews with porno actors. Piqued by the show‘s edgier qualities, comedians like Janeane Garofalo and Margaret Cho appeared as guests, and soon the show enjoyed a sizable cult following.

Now, in an attempt to move beyond the confines of cable, Malone has transferred the concept to the legit stage, slightly renaming it Colin’s Sleazy Friends Live. Squeezed into the Lilliputian confines of Hollywood‘s Zephyr Theater, the show’s set is something like The Merv Griffin Show gone to seed: shag carpet, with a ratty couch in front of a glittering titular marquee. However, turning this bawdy, freestyle talk show (with its deceptively simple recipe of porn, drugs and rock & roll) into a viable theatrical experience has proved to be problematic.

“When you book a porn star, it‘s tricky,” says director–executive producer Amit Itelman, talking about the challenges of corralling a roster of highly eccentric personalities. “Showing up for a comedic performance isn’t [always] their priority.”

Jasmin St. Clair (among whose many accomplishments was being on the receiving end of the largest gangbang on record at the time) pulled a no-show. Another guest, her manager John T. Bone (among whose many accomplishments is transforming the gangbang into a cinema genre), refused to be onstage with Joey Buttofuoco, citing, understandably, moral issues.

Logistically, the live production is a nightmare. While the cable show had the advantage of taping at the Troubadour or visiting a porn set and later editing it together, Malone and crew are now attempting to do it all live. “With almost no budget, we‘re turning this little black-box theater into a studio–concert hall–comedy club,” Itelman tells me with pride. Furthermore, a theater’s captive audience has no remote control, and, with a $12 ticket stub, has purchased higher expectations.

The first of the live shows illustrated to a large extent how putting a group of raucous characters on a couch doesn‘t always make for stimulating fare. The porn-star talk was uninspired, the loutish Buttofuoco appeared pathetic, while host Malone seemed unsure — with good reason — where it was all going. The exception was “Chongo” (Joe Nunez), a day laborer who stood in for the absent entourage that was supposed to accompany Jerry Minor’s “Grand Marquee” gangsta-rapper persona. At show‘s end, everyone plugged upcoming attractions: Marquee touted his new CD, with tracks like “Look at That Dog With the Big Ol’ Dick,” and Chongo advertised his upcoming appearance at the Home Depot parking lot, beginning in 15 minutes. These were brilliant glimpses of what the show could evolve into.

By the following Thursday, Colin‘s Sleazy Friends Live seemed to have found its footing. Sen-Dog of Cypress Hill blew the roof off the theater with his rap-rock band SX-10. Triple-X performer Inari Vachs made the evening’s most absurdly funny comment when she gave her reason for not pursuing a career as a dramatic actress — “I didn‘t want to have to have sex to get a job.” BET’s Kym Whitley added a previously lacking element of incongruity to the show, being hilariously out of her element; and Malone, whose stage persona has been described as “a 14-year-old stuck in a wet dream,” was quick, witty and clearly having a ball. The evening ended with Bacchanal Erotic Circus (imagine the misbegotten offspring of Cats and Kiss on Spanish fly) spontaneously combusting the show into a party.

Colin Malone had finally transformed his public-access oddity into a dynamic, unpredictable and gleefully sleazy live event.

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