“There aren’t any lesbians anymore!” Doris Anderson tells the audience at the beginning of In Heat. Then: “I’m just kidding!” But Doris (Sally Sockwell) is on a mission: as the director of the Self-Identified Lesbian Center (SILC) she’s taking to the airwaves with her very own public access show to reach out to the lesbians who may be confused or mystified by a community that now includes genderqueer bois, tranny fags, and transmen.
“Scoot over, Ellen!” she tells her live audience and the one out there in TV-land as she prepares to guide us through the intricacies and symbols of lesbian life in the early 21st century. Her campaign comes complete with helpful drawings, a call-in segment and accompanying music on her boombox.
The public access show is the perfect frame for the authors’ message and for the New York International Fringe Festival, of which In Heat is a highlight: it allows the presentation of a unique point of view, and the set is portable enough to be struck in 15 minutes and put into a rolling suitcase.
Within its clever setup is a smart show that gives Sockwell a chance to flex her considerable comic muscles as Doris Anderson. The script by Lisa Haas (recently seen in the indie film Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same), and direction by Jocelyn Sawyer, divides Doris’s show into segments—from an illustrated talk on gender (in which she explains that “the whole butch/femme thing is out of style right now, like boot-cut jeans”) to a non-commercial that Doris turns into a rant about Babeland. She feels they exploit the lesbian community by charging too much for high-end vibrators. The staff, she says, caters too much to the straight community and, she points out, “A straight woman who can afford a Hitachi Magic Wand doesn’t need any more help.”
Lesbians need a sister of a certain age to set them straight, so to speak, and share her sinister wisdom on such topics as “spot the lesbian” in the Macy’s ad; to tell them the truth about online dating and personal ads; and to facilitate cat rescue. Anderson also takes calls from viewers, though a couple of stubborn women insist they are bisexual, and that’s just not who Doris is talking to. She also hears from an ex, currently incarcerated upstate.
Doris whips us into shape with her “New Age No Nos,” and reads off some “crackpot positive affirmations,” assuring us that the universe is a taker. She shows us her homemade “Hate Basket,” in which she’s put the names of the people and things which she make her mad. (She doesn’t know how Lady Gaga got in there…Doris rather likes her. But don’t get her started on Chaz Bono or Ilene Chaiken).
Doris Anderson could be one of GO’s “Women We Love” this year and every year: she’s a soulful, spirited, flag-bearer for Self-Identified Lesbians, who may or may not be an endangered species. Long may she wave.
In Heat: Is She Hot Under Her Collar or Under Her Skirt? Conceived and Written by Lisa Haas; Director/Contributing Writer Jocelyn Sawyer; Performer/Contributing Writer: Sally Sockwell. At the Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond St (between Lafayette St & the Bowery). Shows Thursday, August 16 at 3:45pm; Wednesday, August 22 at 7:45 pm; Saturday, August 25 at 2:00pm. Tickets $15-$18.