‘Porn to Be a Star’ Play Coming to Menjos in Detroit
“Get ready to get Harder!” That’s the slogan for Chris Harder’s play, “Porn to Be a Star,” directed by Obie Award-winning performer and playwright David Drake. The play, which incorporates elements of burlesque, video and footage of Harder’s own adult scenes, is coming to Detroit. Harder, a “North Dakota boy turned New Yorker,” is a performer and writer. He moved to NYC about 10 years ago to be an actor and soon after found himself on stages in a different kind of way. BTL spoke with him to see what all the rage was about.
What is your play about and what we can expect from it?
“Porn to be a Star” is loosely based off my own experiences in the adult industry. I play a variety of adult performers — including a version of myself — all competing to win the fictional Dirty Dish Porn Star of the Year Award. Along the way, the audience also meets a gossipy gay blogger, a foot obsessed director and even my own Mom — though I should say she’s much prettier in real person. The play also incorporates burlesque numbers so there’s plenty of skin to accompany the satire.
What got you started in burlesque?
My start in burlesque was pretty accidental. I started working as a go-go dancer—after accidentally losing my job as a waiter — and it was in the gay bars and clubs of New York that I also met all these amazing burlesque and performance artists.
What’s been some of the best experiences you’ve had working in burlesque?
Some of the best experiences I’ve had as a burlesque performer have happened all over the place. I’ve been able to perform of beautiful stages in Vienna, Stockholm and New Zealand, but I also love doing shows in dive bars too. And I promise I’m not kissing ass, but I love performing at the annual Detroit Dirty Show. It’s actually one of my favorite gigs because it’s such an eclectic mix of performers and audience members — and nudity.
What kinds of sexual and/or gender themes or messages do you hope come across during your shows?
I think one of the larger themes of the show revolves around the idea that everyone wants to be seen, whether it’s on the cover of Vogue or the cover of Inches Magazine. Social media has so dramatically changed not only the way our culture looks at “celebrity” but also how one achieves that celebrity status. The other central theme of “Porn to be a Star” then becomes what does it mean to achieve that celebrity status — if it means anything at all? That all said, I wrote “Porn to be a Star” because I wanted to talk about the sex industry in a way that didn’t demonize porn and especially victimize its performers. I think there are plenty of narratives already that give audiences the impression that porn will ruin your life (Boogie Nights, etc). Culturally we’re led to believe that sex equals guilt. I wanted to enforce the idea that it’s possible to enjoy one’s sexuality — even monetize it — and still live a full life.
Do you have a kind of … behind-the-scenes story for us? Anything that most of your fans would be surprised to hear or would laugh at hearing?
One of the funniest memories I have from doing porn was a scene I shot with Kink.com a few years ago. I played an FBI agent in pursuit of an escaped convict (Wolf Hudson) who then manages to turn the tables and capture me with my own handcuffs. You can imagine how the rest played, or, you know, Google it. The crazy part is that we filmed the entire thing on top of an old monastery that was reconverted into a hippie artist commune — did I mention this was San Francisco? Then while we were filming the scene I happened to look to my left and see a bunch of construction workers just chilling out on the roof across from us eating their lunch and watching the scene play out. It was very Village People meets porn meets religious awakening.
The play starts at 7:30 p.m. and will run from Feb. 14-15, at Menjos Complex-Olympus Theater, 928/950 W. McNichols Road in Detroit. Find out more and #getHarder at HarderBurlesque.com and @HarderBurlesque on Instagram and Twitter. To purchase tickets for $18, visit Menjos on facebook.com/olympustheater/.