If you want to go out in Austin, you have a wide variety of options. You could see music, comedy, burlesque, aerial dance or even chickens pooping on bingo cards to the music of Dale Watson.
Four local women, however, thought Austin needed something else. Sadie Smythe, Mia Martina, Rosie Weaver and Julie Gillis envisioned a show that blended humor, sincerity, and community with a sex-positive message.
Combining their skills they created the wildy popular Bedpost Confessions. The monthly reading and performance series, now in its second year, has a new home at ND studio starting Thursday, April 19. We sat down with two of the producers to talk to about the popular show.
CM: Why, personally, did you feel like this show needed to be made?
Rosie Weaver: I’ve been writing a blog under a pseudonym for a long time, and it was just so exciting and fun to share my work — to participate in the blog community, to read other people’s work and get to know them. I wanted to bring that into the real world. For me, it was a very personal coming out experience to tell people that had no idea in my life that this is what I do for fun. I’m probably much more into writing fiction than the other ladies.
Julie Gillis: I liked the idea of this particular show for two reasons. It brought together two of my loves. One is theater production and producing an event and the other is the political landscape of sexual rights for people of all stripes who want to love and connect and have it be considered okay in this world. That to me was a beautiful joining.
RW: I think the meaning for me changed as soon as we did the first show. I had that experience of coming out and being accepted and getting applause and meeting other people that were excited about sexuality. It very quickly became this whole building of community.
CM: Do you guys feel like you created a community?
JG: Yeah, I would say a good one-third of the audience is regulars.
One of the things we hear most often after shows is “This is so important.” You’d be happy if you’re hearing “Oh my gosh, that is sexy. I feel inspired to be sexual right now.” But to me hearing “We’ve got to make this country better for humans to be sexual or to love.”
That to me means it is striking a deeper cord in people. Something is going on beyond entertainment value.
We have very a good friend named Missy Dugan who says, “You’re like those moms that put broccoli in the brownies." It tastes amazing, and you feel healthy afterwards.
RW: There’s nothing else out there like that. If you want to have a sexy experience and go out, you can go to a strip club. You could go out for burlesque. There’s no conversation happening there and there may or may not be any real sex-positive message going on.
This is a place we can talk about all the different aspects of sex. Not every story we tell is an erotic story. There’s lots of stories about dumb mistakes or lessons learned.
JG: History lessons.
RW: There are sad stories.
CM: What are some of your favorite performances and moments from past Bedpost Confession shows?
RW: The lecture on the Oneida colony was one of my favorite things that happened at Bedpost. It was a slideshow lecture about a utopian group in the 19th century that had very specific rules around sex and sexuality. They actually founded the Oneida silverware company, which is still existence.
JG: It was Mo Daviau who did that piece. It was a told with a very funny point of view on it. Back in the 1850s, there was a polyamorous commune in America — kind of crazy. That was one of my favorite moments too.
RW: Reading the confessions every time yields some really profound moments.
JG: Yeah, we’ve had everything from sexual champions that want to share with you really outrageous, nearly physically impossible things they’ve done to people that never have truly dated or have remained celibate, not out of choice necessarily, who are searching on how to make those connections finally.
We get questions like, “What do I do if my boyfriend/girlfriend wants to do this particular act and I don’t want to do it and I’m scared?” People are not having conversations with their lovers and they are asking us anonymously. You’re up there and you’re thinking, “I got to answer this question the right way. I’ve got help this person.” That’s pretty intense.
RW: Another exciting thing about this show, we had Jessica Leigh Graves of The Love Leighs play her own music for us. She plays ukulele and sings dirty songs. She hooked us into the ASL community and we now have through her several different ASL interpreters who take turns coming to our show and interrupting for those who need it.
It’s just added a whole another dimension, not only to the show, but to the community around the show. It’s a very obvious way of showing that we are here for everybody. We want to be accessible to everyone.
RW: Plus everyone in the audience adores seeing the signs for sexy words. I’ve learned some awesome signs.
JG: The accessibility issue is s big deal.
RW: Sex is for everyone.
CM: What’s the biggest surprise you’ve come across while putting on Bedpost Confessions?
JG: We’ve, knock on wood, had very little negative reaction to our work.
CM: Were you expecting that?
JG: I wasn’t sure to be honest. I think one of the biggest surprises to me is that statement, which I thought was true, but was surprising to me validated, which is: This is important. We need to talk about this. We need a place where it is isn’t just policy or “don’t do it” or just porn.
Not that there is anything wrong with images of sexual stuff, but it isn’t the intersection we are working at. This intersection is valuable to older people, people from Round Rock, people that are gender queer sitting next to the people from Round Rock, trip-hop poets. These folks are actually all in the same room.
RW: That’s one of our goals, to build diversity.
Check out Bedpost this Thursday at 8pm (doors at 7pm) at ND. This month’s show has dating coach Charlie Nox, sex educator Amy Cavender, comic Holly Lorka, and readings from show producers Rosie Weaver and Mia Martina.