Switch Ending: Jean Franzblau’s “Coming Out Kinky”

JEAN FRANZBLAUIt wasn’t always this way, but it’s tough these days to avoid sexual memoirists. From titillating to TMI, there are at least as many carnal raconteurs to regale audiences with their exploits, humblebrags, and name-droppery as there are stages to host them, from storytelling nights (Bawdy Storytelling is my favorite), to blogs, to block parties where we find out too late that our neighbors are trying out swinging. The problem, I think, is that they come to us a little over-ripe, hardened, predatory, and overbearing.

“I get it,” we say. “You’re in touch with your sexuality.”

Into this crowded landscape comes Jean Franzblau’s refreshing solo show “Coming Out Kinky,” playing at Santa Monica’s Promenade Playhouse until June 8. This 70-minute monologue is as much of an exploration as it is a narrative, but it is confident without being boastful; it has nothing to prove, but something to say.

Franzblau’s “coming out” is gentle and gradual, as much a revelation to herself as it is to the people around her.
“Are you happy?” her mother asks.

“Uh huh.”

“Do you boss men around?”

“Uh huh.”

Franzblau is a petite, attractive blonde in her early 40s, a transplant from Hollywood, FL who came to L.A. to study acting. It is clear from her performance that she also took dance, as she fills the stage of the 50-seat Playhouse with easy, purposeful movement. Director Karen Aschenbach sculpts what could have been five static monologues delivered in a spotlight from a stool into a kinetic show.

JEAN FRANZBLAU

As her own sexual preferences make themselves known to her via chance encounters with her older sister’s copy of “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” to Craigslist encounters to “Lifestyle” Malibu happenings, Franzblau avoids being wide-eyed (that would get old fast, and eventually would seem disingenuous) and instead leads us through her journey with sobriety and humility, but with equal parts sass and gratitude.

“Professional pining has become my personal pastime,” she says, having arrived at the Unicorn level of the BDSM world: The Switch. Depending on her mood and her partner, Franzblau realizes she can be dominant or submissive, and she’s fine with either.

JEAN FRANZBLAU

“Coming Out Kinky” may not offer much bang for veteran scenesters, but those weren’t the people I saw in the packed house the night I went. This audience looked like it had come from comfortable coastal communities for an evening of palatably risque theatre delivered by a woman who could be its adult daughter.

Franzblau was not confrontational or vulgar; she could just as easily have been telling us how she finally went gluten-free, except she was talking about safewords and vaginismus. This is the type of show that might make latently non-kinky people a little more comfortable expressing their fantasies, seeing as how that nice woman from Hollywood seemed to turn out OK.

Franzblau has taken “Coming Out Kinky” on the road since this review was first published. She also presents workshops on a variety of touchy-feely subjects around the West Coast. Visit her website for more information.

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: April Flores — an evening at the theatre
See also: Jean Franzblau

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