John Fleck in Nothin Beats
New York, 10 October
2003—""Watching John Fleck work," wrote Travis Michael Holder
(Entertainment Today), "is like seeing Buster Keaton on crack, racing with
total abandon through his dysfunctional life while we sit howling at his
bravely self-deprecating humor."
Currently at La MaMa Experimental
Theater Club (until 19 October) Fleck portrays his butch ex-army father, his
glamour-hungry mother, a talking fist named Pussy and an entire cast of
characters in his new one man cabaret where, according to Fleck, "blond
ambition and upward mobility rear their ugly heads."
workshopped at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Warhol Museum in
Pittsburg and the Evidence Room in Los Angeles over the past year, Nothin'
Beats Pussy takes its title from a conversation Fleck had with his father
about being gay. After discovering an adolescent Fleck dressed in his mother's
nightgown and wearing one of her blonde wigs, his father's only words of advice
or encouragement to his son after demanding to know if he was a fruit were
simply, "Nothin' Beats Pussy.".
Fleck's provocative performance piece
explores pussy as a metaphor for the clichéd American dream his parents
hopelessly groped for in suburban Middle America with their cocktails and blond
beehive coifs via the bargain basement. "Everyone wants pussy," Fleck explains
with his lipstick besmeared Señor Wences-style puppet. "And everyone
wants blonde pussy."
In the L.A. production, Fleck greeted the incoming
audience members with highballs and his nieces, imported from Cleveland, served
cookies and helped take off people's shoes. Fleck transformed the space not
just into a home, but his home-kitschy, Midwestern, filled with Andy Williams
records, but often sharply poignant and difficult to be in.
a year and a half developing Nothin' Beats Pussy in various workshops at
Dixon Place and PS 122 before taking the show to Los Angeles where it had a
successful run at the groundbreaking Evidence Room that prompted the Los
Angeles Times to call it a production that "reconfirms his genius at
As varied as the multiple characters he performs on
stage, John Fleck is a contradiction in terms. He is at once a scandalous
member of the infamous NEA Four that were defunded for obscenity and a
mainstream actor who is one of only two people to have the distinction of being
in all four incarnations of the modern-day "Star Trek" series (Start Trek:
The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise).
previous solo shows include Mud in Your Eye, Dirt, Snowball's Chance in
Hell and All for You (the last was presented by the Joseph Papp Public
Theater). Fleck is currently appearing in a new "supernatural drama" on HBO,
Carnivále, that made its debut last month. His character, Gecko
the snake man, is part of an ensemble of freak show spectacles in a
La MaMa E.T.C. (The Club
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