Sex AKA Wieners and Boobs 

Preview on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 7 p.m. Runs through Dec. 19.

Alley Repertory TheaterVisual Arts Collective

3638 Osage St., Garden Cityalleyrep.org

First, a disclaimer: Alley Repertory Theater's new play Sex a.k.a. Wieners and Boobs is about as sexy as a small town New Jersey hooker. Penned by Joe Lo Truglio, Michael Showalter and David Wain--of The State and Wet Hot American Summer fame--the play is crammed with all the sophomoric, smart-ass irreverence that one might expect from its creators. Local director Nick Garcia saw the play when it premiered in New York City in 1998 and immediately fell in love.

"I was not expecting it to be as hilarious and strange as it was. It was the stupidest thing I had ever seen, and I hadn't laughed that hard in I don't know how long. Ever since I saw it, I was like, 'I would love to do that show someday or something very similar to it,'" says Garcia. "When I got involved with Alley Rep, the first thing I wanted to bring to them was something really different than what a normal theater company out here would put on."

Sex a.k.a Wieners and Boobs will kick off Alley Repertory Theater's third pillar, Alley Underground. Meant to supplement Alley Rep's Mainstage and New Works programming with more cutting-edge material, Alley Underground gravitates toward "silly, unusual, weird, cool, hip, rock 'n' roll, square pegs in round holes" types of productions.

The plot, only a minor character in Sex, follows Jewish sheriff Jack Greenberg's ambitious crusade to run all the gigolos and prostitutes (wieners and boobs, respectively) out of Teaneck, N.J.

"Basically there's this new sheriff in this speck-on-the-map town ... and he's there to clean up all the hookers and gigolos. He's this man with this quest. He wants justice to be served," explains Garcia. "But in the midst of this, he's got the whole town against him. No one wants this to happen, including the mayor, because the economic contribution is so much. Basically, without the wieners and boobs, the town would sink."

But of course, what good is a play about the sex industry without a little romance? Sheriff Greenberg falls for local divorcee Hillary, played by Renee Knappenberger.

"He falls in love, so there's a love story. But of course, she's afraid for his life because the guy he's going up against--the main pimp--is this really evil, mean, mean guy," says Garcia. "It's a showdown story essentially ... But the story serves more as a structure, which they can just throw this other stupid shit on top of."

So, exactly what kind of stupid shit can audiences expect? Garcia won't blab. But everything, from the characters' names to their slipshod costumes and crappy wigs, he explains, is part of the play's humor. One of the actresses, Lisa Guerricabeitia, whose seven varied roles include Madam Tuso and head crime boss Tad's mom, explains that Sex's wit lies in its ability to turn audience's expectations upside down.

"[The play's writers] have these very sophisticated ideas about genre, stereotypes, things that we've seen done over and over, that have become hackneyed," says Guerricabeitia. "They know them well enough to depict them and then divert them. And the way in which they divert them is very juvenile."

Guerricabeitia continues. "It's stuff that's so ingrained in our culture, from high-quality art to low-rent television movies, it really pulls characters and scenes and situations and dynamics that span all of these different forms."

While the play includes elements that fans of the '90s MTV sketch comedy show The State and sweater-fondling summer camp film Wet Hot American Summer will enjoy, it isn't closely related to either of the two.

"If somebody came to the show expecting to see either of those projects, they might be disappointed," says Guerricabeitia. "But if they like the tone of that type of humor, that sort of irreverence, that very new movement of irreverent but also intelligent kind of humor, that's what it is."

But one aspect of the play that fans will find familiar is its penchant for the unrefined. Everything from the unpolished acting to the unadorned set is meant to remind the audience that they're watching a play. A silly one at that.

"They make a bunch of jokes about how amateur the show is,' said Garcia. "In the direction, they say, 'It should be put on like a bunch of kids putting on a show for their parents.'"

With a loose plot, crude humor and a cobbled-together aesthetic, you might wonder exactly what audience Sex a.k.a Wieners and Boobs hopes to attract. According to Garcia, Alley Underground productions cater to folks who already patronize Visual Arts Collective--the rock 'n' roll crowd.

"I would like them to have more of a rock show feel," says Garcia. "And I don't mean that in the sense that we're in the middle of the fucking play and somebody's like 'Freebird!' But in the sense that I like rowdier theater, how we can explore bigger ideas about life in unconventional ways."

But will the Boise show-going crowd turn out to watch a play, even if it has wieners and boobs in the title? Garcia and Guerricabeitia hope so. But just in case people need a little guitar riffage to sweeten the deal, they've invited local musician Travis Ward (of Hillfolk Noir) to compose the play's soundtrack.

"I think that there's a huge audience for stuff that's irreverent and intelligent. People in their 20s and 30s ...we're more comfortable with stuff that's offensive, and we almost need that in order to engage with things. It keeps us interested because it's pushing some sort of normative," says Guerricabeitia. "And this play certainly does that."

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