Imagine a Harlequin romance about a nubile young thing kidnapped by a band of dastardly pirates and desired by their villainous captain, who then catches the eye of a studly cabin boy, thereby inspiring a triangle of love and lust. Make all three characters strappingly virile males whose britches hide not panties, boxers, or jockey shorts but rather that flimsy bit of male lingerie known as the “posing strap” and give the whole affair a campy gay sensibility. Do all this and you come up with Posing Strap Pirates, an hour or so of late night weekend (or Thursday night prime time) entertainment now playing at North Hollywood’s Eclectic Theatre.

The nubile young thing in question is the aptly named Toye Buck (David Robert May), who along with his mentor, the elderly Brother Pierre (John Dickey), finds himself the captive of rakish brigand Rake Matelot (Kerr Seth Lordygan). Beau Ideal (Jeffrey Patrick Olson) is the muscular cabin boy whom our fair Toye finds himself strangely attracted to, though this attraction runs counter to his avowed (though yet untested) interest in the fairer sex. Completing the crew of the pirate ship Billy Budd are the swarthy Sabre (Jonathon Lamer) and the twiglike Bilge (Mason Hallberg), the latter of whom is never seen without a parrot on his shoulder or heard without “Shiver me timbers” on his lips.

Recounting Toye’s tail in words as flowery as his pink sequined tailcoat is our narrator/accompanist, brought to flamboyant life by Paul Duffy.

Inspired by 1950s/60s gay pulp fiction novels with titles like Locker Room Lovers, The Devil Is Gay, Gay Safari, Gay Vigilante, Satin Chaps, The Gay Lords, The Killer Queens, Gay Whore, Blow The Man Down, Hot Pants Homo, and Donnie And Clyde, as well as beefcake magazines like Physique Pictorial, Manorama, and Young Physique (which substituted “posing straps” for then illegal full-frontal nudity), Posing Strap Pirates does precisely what it sets out to do. It entertains, with no pretention of great (or even not-so-great) art. Jokes are campy. Double entendres abound, much being made of the word “seaman” (among other nautical terms). Every effort is made to strip Toye down to a gold lame posing strap as soon and as often as possible. In one sequence, the peach-skinned lad gets treated to a sensuous sponge bath by the brawny Rake. As for the oh-so manly sport of wrestling, there’s a particularly sweaty shirtless matchup between Beau and Sabre that leaves each one begging for more.


Under Laura Lee Bahr’s astute direction, the cast for the most part hit just the right notes, somewhere between heightened and over-the-top, and given that the ensemble is made up of legitimate actors (as opposed to the fresh-off-the-bus TV star wannabes that might get cast in a less professional production), performances range from pretty good to terrific. (Lordygan, Lamer, May, and Olson have all won StageSceneLA Scenie Awards, either for ensemble or individual work.) Duffy gets extra points for his skillful keyboarding.

Ken Patton’s costumes are a eye-pleasing blend of the period and the camp. Ryan Siebrasse’s set, John Dickey’s lighting, and Jeff Folschinsky’s sound design are rudimentary as might be expected in a late night show. Jennifer Salas is stage manager. Posing Strap Pirates is produced by Bahr and Lordygan.

Undoubtedly designed for a gay male audience (and their straight female pals), Posing Strap Pirates is the kind of playlet that might well have inspired the term, “It ain’t Shakespeare.” Shakespeare indeed it ain’t, but I had a whale of a good time at sea, and assuming you fit the abovementioned demographic and adjust your expectations to fit the material, then shiver me timbers, you probably will too.

The Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village.

–Steven Stanley
November 17, 2011
Photos: David Nott

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