San Francisco comedian Marga Gomez knows how to find the funny bone of sex.
Gomez developed her latest solo show, Pound, at Dixon Place in New York City, and has now brought it back to her home here in San Francisco, where Pound plays at the Brava Theater Center through Nov. 15th. The production explores what happens when a mysterious gynecologist diagnoses Gomez with a condition known as “unplanned celibacy," and she's forced to confront a notorious lesbian movie character she grew up with to resolve her ailment.
You’re Puerto Rican, Cuban and lesbian. But you say in the show you’re not into labels. So who are you in Pound?
Well I’m pretty much celibate right now, which sounds like “I’m a little bit pregnant.” But as I was writing this show about lesbian desire in the movies, I started using my own situation, and also started blaming these dysfunctional lesbian movie characters for my celibacy, my lack of physical connection with another person.
Right: Lesbians on film don’t often have good fates, and that’s one of your themes.
As just one example, in Pound I appear in the show as Marga Gomez, and I introduce myself as one of the actresses in Sphere, a Warner Brothers movie from 1997, where I played a computer expert manning an underwater biosphere with one other character, played by Queen Latifah. I mention that both of our characters are attacked by sea creatures and we die in the first thirty minutes, because they always kill the lesbians of color first.
But all the lesbians in the films that I grew up with are shadowy figures. In The Children’s Hour, Shirley MacLaine played a character where at the end when she confesses her love to her best friend and is rebuffed, she goes off and hangs herself. And there was another movie called The Fox that starred Sandy Dennis from 1967. She’s killed by a tree.
Yet you're a successful lesbian comedian. You have somehow survived.
Yes, I have become a lesbian despite what Hollywood taught us. Yet it has influenced my dating life, because I’ve always kind of gone for drama and dysfunction in my partners. And I feel most passionate when I’m being done wrong. But I’m changing all that. With these solo shows I save the money on therapy and I work it out on stage. So I think I show what not to do: Don’t follow these terrible plot lines that were given us by the mainstream and not by our own tribe.
One of your themes is that lesbians are hot.
Well, there’s nothing in my show that’s sexy or a turn-on. I’m wearing a giant plaid shirt, and these big combat boots and shorts, and I go through all these reenactments of sexy scenes from movies. But look at me I’m like a plaid shirted lesbian clown.
Why is sex so funny?
The first thing is because sex does not separate us from the animals. So we have to laugh at our selves because we spend our days as cerebral beings. But when it comes to sex, we write songs, and we try to make it elegant and sophisticated, but when it comes down to it, we’re just grunting little animals trying to carry on our species. And it never changes. There’s no app for it. It’s kind of like passing gas. It’s hilarious, when you hang out with your friends and you’re drinking, there’s nothing funnier. So these are the things that keep us real.