Oral Morals

Right-wingers dance to the skin flute in 7 Blowjobs.

Even though the presidential election is a year away, you can be sure Republican strategists have their gumshoes on the trail of any supposed sexual misconduct among the announced Democratic candidates. Apparently, there's something in the conservative mindset that forces them to obsess about the sex acts of others -- from Bubba Clinton's infamous hummer to the orgasmic preferences of gays -- and equates such activity with absolute immorality. Forget about the moral squalor of starting pointless wars or allowing corporations to run roughshod over their employees and shareholders. It's what horny people do with their clothes off that's the real evil.

Playwright Mac Wellman has seen this absurdity and turned it into the unambiguously titled and amusingly skewed 7 Blowjobs, a 65-minute tone poem on the jiggly juncture of politics and sex. In this production by the always edgy Convergence-Continuum group, right-wing Senator Bob (played with puffy pomposity by Chuck Richie) and his staff are poring over seven photos delivered to their office, which show naked people in acrobatic versions of fellatio. Of course, we never see the Kodachromes, so we are left to deduce the visual content from the reactions of the characters. Wellman wisely never has anyof these people mention even one body part as they point at the images -- the dialogue is built around the suggestive use of pronouns, as in "Bodies don't have things on them like that, do they?" and "I'll bet you've never done that with this . . . and that!" This technique slyly enlists each audience member as another beady-eyed, sweaty-palmed investigator, our imaginations trying to sort out these unseen contortions.

Wellman refuses to be hamstrung by such theatrical conventions as plot arc or character development; he just latches onto a topic like a pit bull and shakes it till it falls apart. In 7BJ, characters speak a lot of the same phrases in similar cadences, as they try to decipher what they're looking at. Turning one photo sideways, a senatorial aide declares, "That's not a blowjob, that's a Borzoi dog chained to a banister!" Another can't decide if it's a blowjob or the Pope. These analyses become progressively more hysterical and increasingly funny, until the senator summons his personal minister to help them get to the bottom, so to speak, of this obscenity. The Rev (given a bombastic, Jerry Falwellian turn by Cliff Bailey) isn't much help, as he observes, "That part only looks that way because it's not what it looks like." Still, he has everyone fall on their knees and beg God to enter "the piss-mire of the human heart."

Director Clyde Simon has great fun with these proceedings, bathing his leering actors' faces in a crimson glow as they ogle the pix, and throwing some speeches onto a wall-mounted video monitor to echo the public posturings of tinhorn moralists. This troupe has a real affinity for Wellman's eccentric work, having produced his challenging Sincerity Forever a few months ago, and they know how to turn his peculiar word-smithing into sweet stage music.