Beware of Lovedog.
Cheri Lovedog's Prey for Rock & Roll, an off-off-Broadway musical about four women in a rock band, is such a novel ides, it instantly arouses curiosity. OK, so instead of sappy, sing-along show tunes and jazzy dance routines, this cast will belt out gut-wrenching L7-style lyrics and play live rock and roll. And instead of having this play take place in a theater, Prey is booked for an open-ended run in New York at CBGB, the infamous birthplace of Blondie and the Ramones.
But Prey embodies all the contradictions of its playwright, Lovedog, who says she arrived in Los Angeles in 1978 determined to be a rock star. Her namesake band played for 13 years with groups such as Guns N' Roses and X but never hit it big. "I had decided if I wasn't successful by the age of 35, I would quit, but that's easy to say when you're 20," Lovedog says. When age 35 actually rolled around in 1993, she left Hollywood, moved up to Santa Cruz, Calif., and started her successful tattoo business. She wrote music reviews and a book based on her rock years called 18 Stories, but she missed playing. That's when the idea for Prey, which features 12 original songs by Lovedog (11 hers, one she cowrote), was born. "I just thought it would be funny for me and my friends to be able to play and to comment on it as well. I saw us performing this in little clubs--like performance art."
A chance meeting in her tattoo parlor with Robin Whitehouse, artistic director of indie New York theater company FatChance Productions, changed Lovedog's ambitions. Following on the heels of rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and such frankly feminist theater as The Vagina Monologues, Whitehouse felt it might be the right time for an unapologetic, poignant, all-girl rock-and-roll musical. Lovedog recalls, laughing, "I told Robin, `I don't know what I'm doing.' And she said, `That's good, because that's what's making it interesting.'" After working together for several months in New York, they cast the play and did their first reading back in April.
"Finding people who could act and play live in a rock band has been the hard part," says Lovedog. "This band [in the play] has been playing for so many years--they are a good band--and the reason they haven't been signed is that the music industry is a young white boy's game. So the band had to sound good, or the play wouldn't make sense."
Broadway singer Leenya Rideout had taken on the part of lead singer Jackie, but she dropped out and has been replaced by Lovedog herself. And then Drea de Matteo, who had worked with Whitehouse before playing Adriana on The Sopranos, took on the role of bassist Tracy before leaving Prey for a role in a Hollywood feature. "You can look at Drea and see she has rock-star envy. It was an opportunity to do some juicy acting but also for her to fulfill that dream," Lovedog says. The cast is rounded out by Jan Tilley as Faith and c.c. seymour as Sally, the band mates who are also lesbian lovers.
"I have played in bands that have been primarily women, and that's a small world," says Lovedog. "Certainly not all women in rock and roll are gay, but in that world it's not like, `Oh, how odd, there's a lesbian playing rock and roll.' When I play, people don't come up to me to say, `Hey, are you gay?'" Lovedog explains. "I'm playing rock and roll, and the fact that I'm a dyke doesn't really have anything to do with it."
Prey for Rock & Roll is certainly full of powerful messages. Bad things (incest, rape, cancer) happen to good women every day, and being talented and paying your dues won't necessarily make you famous. But looking back on a life lived doing exactly what you loved doing most, and the friendships and family you formed--that's the payoff. "I feel like I spent my whole life playing rock and roll so I could write this play," says Lovedog. "If you're an artist, it's ridiculous to put a time limit on your work or decide you won't do it because it's not financially rewarding--that's just who you are, and you wouldn't be happy doing anything else, and that's it."
Find more on Cheri Lovedog and Prey for Rock & Roll at www.advocate.com
Che is the author of Deborah Harry.
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|Publication:||The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)|
|Article Type:||Theater Review|
|Date:||Jul 18, 2000|
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