Standing in line to get into BedPost Confessions at the North Door on East Fifth Street is the first indication that things are about to get a little weird. In the alley behind the venue, an eclectic collection of Austinites are gathering to witness Austin’s monthly storytelling event that celebrates all things sexy.
With me in line are a lady in fishnets, a man in pigtails who rode up on a vintage motorcycle, and a collection of couples who have clearly just come from the office. Now in its third year, BedPost Confessions has quickly garnered a reputation for perpetuating frank, honest conversations about sexuality.
After paying the $10 cover, the erotic adventure begins with people clamoring for a seat. Those who don't get a chair sit anywhere they can find a spot — on the stairs, on tables, even perched on a railing.
In a titillating performance, Chris & Greg read an original piece of erotica. And they do all of the voices, if you know what I mean.
"I Confess..." index cards are passed around so audience members can write down their deepest, darkest secrets, to be read aloud later that evening. Before the show to begins, confessions from the previous audience flash on a large screen, setting the mood for the rest of the evening.
Although the lineup changes every month, when I attend on August 15, Julie Gillis and Pannica Tack emcee this hybrid storytelling-sexy talent show, which begins with a story by Sara Gray. Poignant, sad and, at times, very funny, Gray's essay is about the concessions we make when we fall in love with someone on paper — even if we don't really like them as a person.
The next piece is a titillating performance by Chris & Greg, who read an original piece of erotica. And they do all of the voices, if you know what I mean. After an explosive ending that causes the audience to erupt into laughter, the couple departs, and Jen Mulhern takes the stage.
Mulhern, a gifted cellist, plays an original composition called, "Dick for a Day," which poses a question to all women: What would you do if you a had a dick for a day?
Set to the Beatles' tune "With a Little Help From My Friends," Mulhern's song incites a raucous reaction from the audience. But in between moments of humor and cleverness, Mulhern's composition explores the power dynamic that exists between men and women.
Following Mulhern's performance is Teacher Kate, a woman who reads an impassioned essay about being a closeted middle school math teacher. Voted teacher of the year, she speaks of her fears of being outed — and fired — for wanting to marry her girlfriend.
For the final — and my personal favorite — performance, Bert Ivey, a former medic in the United States Navy and sign language interpreter for BedPost Confessions, takes the stage. He talks about the funny, weird and gross things he encountered as a medic on a ship with a bunch of marines who are far from home.
It's part sex-ed class (he goes into detail about how your throat is the perfect breeding ground for certain STDs) and part memoir. A ferocious, funny storyteller, Ivey is also celebrating his last BedPost Confessions before he moves to Florida. He will be missed.
It must be noted that throughout the evening, each performer is joined onstage by a different sign language interpreter, who signs every sexual position, slang, phrase and act with incredible enthusiasm. Part of the great fun of BedPost Confessions is hearing to a performer explain something and quickly looking over to the interpreter to see his or her passionate translation.
I left that evening feeling exhilarated, entertained and only mildly disturbed. (The STDs in your throat thing really got to me.) Days later, I'm still ruminating on certain moments from the show, questioning why they made me think or why they made me nervous.
At its sexy, provocative heart, BedPost Confessions is about testing the boundaries of sexuality only to find that nothing is clearly defined; it's all left up to interpretation.