What could be more mortifying than a roomful of strangers who want to hear you read your adolescent diary aloud? Mortified proves we're really all the same: awkward, all to-human and eagar to get laid.
In essence, Mortified is a live show, a celebration of our teenage years, in which the performers are orators who share their previously hidden thoughts, secrets and kinkiness with the public. In San Francisco, it takes place onstage at, appropriately enough, the Make-Out Room, in the heart of the Mission district. It is a voyeur's dream brought to life by the brave souls who are willing to recall their teenage yearnings and disappointments.
"My whole life is shit ... my self-image is shot...torn between utter sadness or complete joy, they do not come sold separately. Life is a place of confining thoughts ... whoever said it's a wonderful life had no clue at all, because it's not at all!" spills Amber Milner, one such brave soul, to a breathless crowd.
It may not be therapy in the traditional sense, but it's the act of letting go--a release--letting words float into the ears of people who also may need to remember what it feels like to finally kiss that special someone for the first time.
The Mortified audience is transported back to the actual experiences of the performers, reliving the fears and thrills along with them--and as any good friend would, we cheer for that first taste of tongue or that first brush of breast. We listen closely to a girl's misadventures with boys and applaud when she finally comes out of the closet.
"I told her that I was pretending she was Brad Pirt--though she felt more like Gwyneth Paltrow," reveals Cynthia Brinkman to the hungry, crowd, despite her long ago "pact of secrecy" with Kerri, the girl she locked lips with in the early '90s.
Though founded by a man (David Nadelberg), Mortified is popular with lesbians, many of whom are eager to see other LGBT folks perform. Some audience members say they don't because they were still in the closet when they were adolescents, or don't have diary entries that far back. Still, they spread the word, hoping more LGBT members will attend future shows.
I was raving about the show for weeks when I finally convinced my rommate to check it out. After her first show, she gushed, "It was indescribable, really; I wished I had [realized] before--I would have gone to all of the shows!"
Another anonymous Mortified fan explains, "After a while, it becomes like church." She feels compelled to attend the reclaiming of adolescence. It makes us believe something fresh is out there for each of us--something raw and something new. It makes the single woman believe in love again. It makes the couple remember heartache. As for me, it makes me realize that humanity is--and has always been--as horny as ever.
Mortified is a celebration of the universally awkward, raw and unthinking surge of hope that led us to our first encounters with ecstasy and inevitable heartache. The Mortified "cast" is there to remind us that these experiences exist, whether we are ready to remember them or not, To get a taste of the action, check out the book, Mortified: Love Is a Battlefield.