Men Eat Mars Bars While Touching Their Penis
nytheatre.com review by Kimberly Wadsworth
June 29, 2006
I once had a friend who frequented a burlesque club, which featured a very unusual act that was more performance art than erotica; it starred a woman known only as "Pig Girl." My friend soon used this as the creative standard to which he compared all the other acts—if a dancer presented a tamer, more conventional act, no matter how pretty they were, my friend would usually dismiss them by saying, "Eh, they're not like Pig Girl."
Jennifer Slack-Eaton claims to be presenting an expose of exotic dancers in her new work Men Eat Mars Bars While Touching Their Penis; at the very beginning, there were parts where I found myself thinking "they're not like Pig Girl." As the show went on, though, that didn't seem to matter as much.
The show is a series of monologues delivered by "Ginger" (Darcie Champagne), an exotic dancer, with occasional comments from a team of four other dancers. The text itself doesn't say anything new or different from what you've heard before in works like The Vagina Monologues or In The Boom Boom Room or Sex in the City; there's the segment about men objectifying women, the segment about the Madonna/Whore complex, the segment about the first time Ginger danced, the segment poking fun at the kinkiest customers.
It's the performances that carry the day—and for most of the show, it's actually the supporting performances that do so. Amanda Hamilton has an especially fun turn as a former boyfriend of Ginger's who has a Dave Matthews fixation, while Anne Dyas takes on the role of a man who was "just a friend" of Ginger's, and gets recurring laughs just by waving at the audience. The four supporting actors (Hamilton and Dyas, plus Victoria Cengia and Katryn Kinser) also each get a star turn, with each performing a "dance" during the evening amid Ginger's monologues.
The reason Champagne is overshadowed a little, though, is because most of the monologues are comedic, and Champagne, as narrator, has to play straight woman to the others. Two of the monologues take a more serious turn, and here is where Champagne really stands out. Again, it's nothing you haven't heard before, and you'll definitely be able to predict the outcome of Ginger's story about a dance at a private party. But knowing exactly what's going to happen doesn't take away the chill you get hearing Champagne tell the tale. Even more powerful is a piece in which Ginger speaks about and to her father, wondering what he must think of her lifestyle; now, I haven't ever done anything that even comes close to exotic dancing, but I do have a fairly close bond with my own father, and some of the things Champagne was saying about that bond and about missing being "Daddy's little girl" brought a lump to my throat nevertheless.
Director Jared Culverhouse sets the tone with an amusing "pre-show" for those who arrive early—the door to the dressing room is open to the audience, who thus are able to "see the dancers getting into makeup" as they come in. Then about five minutes before the show starts, the four supporting actors come out to mingle with the audience and flirt with the men, purring over them, sitting on laps, ad-libbing invitations to "watch for my act" and the like. The men in the audience seemed especially pleased at this (and I couldn't help but wonder what they all thought later during the monologue about how easily won over some men are by a pretty girl in a skimpy outfit).
Men Eat Mars Bars isn't about anything new; it's not like Pig Girl. What it is is a well-performed piece, with some surprising highlights.