Sunday, February 24, 2013

FRIGID New York Interview - Lucas Brooks of "VGL 5'4" Top"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Lucas Brooks
Show: VGL 5'4" Top

Lucas Brooks (Playwright/Performer) is a writer, performer, and sex educator living in Brooklyn. He holds a BA in The Arts from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, where he appeared in OperettaFirefall, and Love's Labours Lost, and directed The Vagina Monologues. His first one-man show, VGL 5'4" Top has been performed at the LGBT Community Center and the Stonewall Inn in New York City, as well as the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2012. His second show, Fame Whore made its debut last summer at Dixon Place's HOT Festival. He is also the creator of the blog "Top to Bottom" where he analyzes gay culture and sexuality.

What’s your show about?

For starters, for those of you who don't speak gay hook-up lingo, let me break down the title of my show for you. "VGL" stands for 'very good looking.' 5'4" is clearly my height, and a 'top' is one who gives penetration in a  gay sexual situation. The show itself chronicles my struggle with body image throughout my many attempts at internet dating.

What inspired you to write it?

When I first moved to New York almost eight years ago, I dove right into true adulthood by taking up internet dating. I met some truly lovely men this way, but even more often I found myself being rejected, ignored, or flat-out insulted because the expectations men had of me didn't match the way I looked. Because I have this young face and boyish frame, guys assumed that I was an effeminate, dim-witted bottom boy. This still happens from time to time, and I've made it my mission to prove to the world, and the gay community in particular, that you can't fully know someone based on a few checked boxes. These are the guys who should know this better than anyone else, but in my experience they are often the guiltiest party.

Who else is involved with the show?

It's just me an my director, Matthew Klein. I write, perform, and produce the show, and he makes sure I look good doing it. He's had my back on this project from the very beginning and he's absolutely terrific.  We've both grown so much since the first production and I can't imagine a more perfect pair for a project like this.

Who is your dream audience for this show?

When I first wrote this show four years ago, I really wanted to lure in the men who inspired me to write it in the first place; the guys who for some reason couldn't fathom the fact that I might not be the twinky bottom they imagined I'd be. However, over the handful of productions I've done of this show, I've mostly attracted the eyes and ears of other men who have experienced the same pigeon-holing that I have. I am so glad to be able to inspire them and have their support. But…just once… I would like to perform to a crowd that really needs to hear what I'm saying. It would be terrifying and amazing.

Who are your biggest influences?

David Drake is the man who inspired me to pursue solo performance in the first place. I performed a selection from his one-man show "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me" for Forensics in high school, and I knew that one day I wanted to create my generation's equivalent of that show.  "VGL" definitely is not that, but it's been a terrific start. I also draw inspiration from Alan Cumming and John Tartaglia, who are not only some of the most talented people on earth, in my book, but absolutely delightful men.

What other shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?

iMime, My Pussy's Purrin' Again, My BoX, JonBenet Ramsey: Murder Mystery Theater… just to name a few! I hope I get to see at least thrice as many as that. One of the best parts of doing a fringe festival is LOTS OF FREE THEATER!

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Later this year I'll be taking "VGL" to the University of Illinois for my first campus performance, which I'm super excited about, and in July I'll be performing in the Toronto Fringe Festival. Until then, New Yorkers can see me as a regular face in the burlesque circuit under the name of Lucky Charming. You ought to catch me amongst a huge flock of naked mens in the second annual New York Boylesque Festival on April 26th and 27th.

Lightning round

Paper or plastic? Reusable tote

Comedy or drama? Comedy

Beach or mountains? Beach

Black box or proscenium? I love both, but I'm going with proscenium because I'm a Leo and like big stages.

Glee or Smash? "Glee".

Cats or dogs? DOGS! Big, fluffy ones!

Musical or straight play? No disrespect to straight plays, but I'll usually choose a musical.

VGL 5'4" Top plays at The Red Room on the following dates:

Feb 26, 10:45PM
Mar 01, 10:50PM