Most fun I've had in a theater since the time I lip-synched in drag as Samantha Fox and my high school crush came up behind me and groped my “tits” — Eternal Flamer: The Ballad of Jessie Blade, a play by Tommy Jamerson, directed by Alex Acevedo.
The comic play, very much in the Charles Busch/Andy Halliday tradition, takes place in, on and all over the '80s, following the titular young, cock-eyed (shut up) optimist (a bubbly, committed Brian Piehl, picturedl) who makes his way to NYC to try to become a famous dancer with Muffy Diver (butch-on-command Billy Berger-Bailey). He's in for a rough coming out, having left behind his childhood crush (effortlessly funny James Tison) only to find himself the target of a revenge bang at the, er, hands of sexy, sleazy Billie Panache (red-hot Joseph Swaggerty, who looks like C. Thomas Howell had a baby naturally with that other dude from Frankie Goes to Hollywood).
You see, Jessie has been rejected by Muffy, so he's shaking his moneymaker as a stripper in a club run by drag queen with a secret The Madam (Dominic Sellers), and since Jessie's her new pet, her ex, Billie, decides to use his penis in the same way Taylor Swift and Katy Perry (wait, who? this is the '80s ...) use music.
The ensemble cast in this production — for which exactly zero of the performers would ever need to be told, “Go broader!” — complements Jamerson's mostly clever, always funny writing. There are no weak links, so I'd be remiss without mentioning my friend Marc Patlan's hysterical Joan Crawford-meets-Eartha-Kitt-meets-Tammy-Faye-Bakker Momma Blade, the first OMG performance of the night; Egbert Bernard's scenery-chewing (he swallows it, too) Rudy; and maybe my favorite in a group of favorites, the hysterical Ty Baumann, whose '80s receptionist Monica (as well as other background characters he steps into) was spookily perfect. I've seen a lot of theater featuring people who went on to do big things, and he gave me that tingling feeling. That, and the guy next to me kept fingering me. I was in jeans.
See this when you can, because this piece will pop up again somewhere; our obsession with the '80s — like The Madam's secret condition — never goes away, it just gets worse.