Adult Entertainment

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“Adult Entertainment”

by Elaine May


Playing a former teenage television star turned pornography star turned art-film actress, Ms. Berlin acts out the show’s scripts-within-the-script with a marvellous, vanity-free ineptitude that suggests that her character is really trying hard. Ms. Berlin is Ms. May’s daughter, and she shares the lisping, loopy sincerity her mother trades on as an actress.



The inspiration for this jovial satire would appear to be ”The Robin Byrd Show,” a late-night forum on public-access television for pornographic performers to take off their clothes and answer calls from viewers. The set designer Neil Patel has created a deep-red studio environment that looks mighty like Ms. Byrd’s, and Carl Casella has created dead-on spoof strip videos in the same spirit.

In ”Adult Entertainment,” it’s Heidi-the-Ho (Linda Halaska) who presides over such proceedings. And it is her show that brings together the team of industry veterans who decide to buck the pornography establishment and make a film on their own. These include the gold-chain-flashing producer Guy Akens (Mr. Aiello); Jimbo J (Eric Elice), who recently starred in a movie called ”Jumbo” for obvious reasons; the enterprising Vixen Fox (Mary Birdsong); and Frosty. Then there is Heidi’s cameraman, a recent Yale graduate named Gerry DiMarco (Brandon Demery), who is recruited to class up the script and who aspires toward ”a kind of Merchant-Ivory porn movie.”

The characters’ noms de cinéma aren’t far removed from those of actual pornography stars, and the prospective titles they come up with for their film sound like the real thing: ”Melissa Goes South” or ”Saving Ryan’s Privates.” Ms. May knows that satire is most pungent when it’s only a fraction away from the truth. And she, Mr. Donen (yes, that Mr. Donen, co-director of ”Singin’ in the Rain”) and the cast mine the innate absurdity of a subculture with deadpan glee.

External Links

Adult Entertainment Review NY Times