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There is no script for phone sex

I'm working on my lines for my one-woman play right now. Well, to be precise, right now I'm procrastinating. Somewhere in the middle of drafting this post I'm working on my lines, and will do so again after I put this bad boy up. Point is, I'm all in the middle of prepping for the world premiere of Phone Whore (read about it here...), and I just want to say...

Thank god there is no script for phone sex, 'cuz memorizing is HARD.

The play has four seven-minute calls in it, interrupting the title character during an interview with a camera crew. The calls are composites, drawn from archetypes and standard openings and approaches that I've gotten pretty familiar with over the past 10 months. The audience hears the phone whore's side of the calls only, so in theory I could say whatever I want and not be off. But my director likes the flow and the tone of the calls the way I wrote them, with all the pauses and plot points and imagery, and asked that I get as close to the script as possible. What has been challenging for me as a performer is getting as close to the feel of phone sex as possible, without actual input from the other side.

In my head I'm holding on to what I imagine the caller would be saying, to remember when I need to make those abrupt shifts from one track to another. That helps with the lines. But I have to dig deep to reproduce the "surprise" and the "excitement" that the caller would hear, when I already know what's coming around the corner.

In a real call, I hesitate as a negotiating strategy for getting through the really sensitive stuff. I use non-vocal sounds, reflective responses, and very casual speech to play my part in the two-person improv piece that unfolds. Performative linguists would have a field day analyzing this shit. Scriptwriters, on the other hand, would go bonkers. I mean, I did.

And now I'm trying to put it out there in a way that keeps it fresh for audiences, but reproducibly authentic for myself. Mad props to my director for keeping me on that path. (Yes, Elizabeth, I'm getting back to my lines right now!) And mad props to my callers for staying so insanely unpredictable, so genuinely dedicated to their own turn-ons, that I can't use a script in my daily work. In real life, I usually have no idea where we're going. It's an adventure. Thanks, guys.

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