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    We are devos

    Based on the writer's actual phone-sex experiences, "Deviant" explores fetishes ranging from the ridiculous to the scary in a way that's almost totally unsexy but morbidly intriguing.


    More daring, kinky and just plain Fringe-y than the ready-for-prime-time likes of "The Joys of Sex," "Deviant" explores the simultaneously sleazy and gleefully libertine world of the fetish industry. Written by Sophie Rand, and based on her experiences as a phone-sex operator, the play manages to be raunchy without almost ever being sexy, which probably says something about the nature of fetishes themselves.

    Written by: Sophie Rand.
    Directed by: Melissa Boswell, Jane Steinberg.
    Cast: Marci Adilman, Cheryl Anne Belkin, Ariel Brooke, Jim Cairl, Rob DeRosa, Randy Harrison, Jason Lopez, Tracey Renee Mathis, Emily Parker, Sara Trachtenberg, Fred Urfer, Melanie Warner.
    Kraine Theater
    85 East 4th St. near 2nd Ave.
    Fringe Festival 2002, Aug. 9-25, 2002

    Fringe Festival 2002

    • Show listings

    • All American Boy
    • Beat
    • Confessions of an Art School Model
    • Deviant
    • The Joys of Sex
    • Living London
    • Naked Girls Drinking
    • Out to Lunch
    • Portrait of a President
    • Refugees
    • Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
    • Room to Swing an Axe
    • Sajjil
    • Star
    • Seeing Each Other
    • Up Your Rabbit Hole
    • The Welcoming Committee

    • ASPIC
    • Stalking Christopher Walken
    • Wet Blue and Friends

    Other Fringe Festivals
    • Fringe 2000
    • Fringe 2001
    The intermittent plot — interspersed with amusing vignettes about other sexual oddballs — brings together the boyishly insecure Marshall (Randy Harrison of the Showtime series "Queer as Folk) and a nameless woman (Marci Adilman) who meet in the teasingly named "Beat My Guest" fetish club. While others are paired up and amusing each other with whips and leashes and other leather playthings, the woman is alone in a corner trying to satisfy herself with a big 10-inch, um, peeled carrot. (For which there's a very funny explanation that you probably shouldn't laugh at but you do.)

    "I have 200 bucks," he mentions, out of nowhere.

    "Do I have to fuck you?" she asks.

    "Nope, no fucking at all," he answers.

    "Do I have to touch you?" she asks.

    "I'd prefer if you didn't," he says.

    "Two-fifty," she says, pleased with herself for getting the best of this bargain.

    Off they go to privately fulfill Marshall's fantasy, which involves watching a woman squash live bugs (worms are also acceptable) underfoot. How does a person become a "crush freak," you might wonder? The play is fuzzy about that, but not about what Marshall is thinking while he watches a tiny creature die. He pictures himself in the bug's place and gets off on imagining the panic it must feel as its guts are crushed out through its throat. Why this would be a turn-on I'm not sure, but it is an established fetish with its own web pages, videos, Yahoo groups, angry opponents in the animal-rights community, and a federal law against it.

    If fetishes are all about pushing back limits, "Deviant" seems to exalt that idea up to a point. But there's at least one moment in the play that provokes an audible gasp from the audience along with one of the characters.  

    "Deviant" includes a variety of fetishes that invite a variety of reactions. Some of them seem to be just harmless, dirty fun — we can laugh at the phone-sex customer who pays to hear a woman "vrooom" like a sports car. Others are disturbing, possibly connected to mental illness and violence against women. Virtually all seem to be almost entirely disassociated from actual sex — they have everything to do with the fetishist's insecurity, self-hatred or self-image.

    If the play is about one thing, maybe it's the question of limits. If fetishes are all about pushing back limits, "Deviant" seems to exalt that idea up to a point. But there's at least one moment in the play that provokes an audible gasp from the audience along with one of the characters. Marshall, surprised and a little frustrated, asks why one thing is okay and not another — a question not only for the woman involved but for everyone in the audience who had the same gut reaction.

    "Deviant" explores these subjects with a healthy sense of fun as well as a cautionary note about how far is too far to take the abuse and objectification of human beings. Go see it with a sense of morbid curiosity rather than titillation and you'll have a disturbingly good time.

    AUGUST 19, 2002

    Reader comments on Deviant:

  • Deviant   from Tiffany Hott, Aug 20, 2002
  • Deviant Emily Parker   from visonary, Sep 1, 2002
  • Harrison's Talented   from Olivia, Dec 7, 2002
  • Running   from Joe, Jun 30, 2004
  • Deviant   from Joe DiFrancesco, Feb 15, 2006
  • weirdo   from taylor, May 3, 2006
  • something   from elf, Aug 25, 2006
  • question   from sam b., Oct 7, 2007
  • Sophie Rand   from Geoffrey C., Aug 1, 2010
  • The play   from Michaela, Dec 26, 2012

  • Post a comment on "Deviant"