Six generations of family devotion, two years in a missionary position, a traditional heterosexual marriage that produced two children, and a set of teeth ivory hunters would frantically load and cock (their guns) for; yet none of this could suppress the gay man trapped in a Mormon’s body, Steven Fales. After journeying to hell – meth addiction, prostitution, self-loathing – and back Fales found redemption through humour, song, and candid storytelling in his one-man performance memoir, Confessions Of A Mormon Boy, which he is bringing to Australia for the first time as part of Mardi Gras Festival.
“I have inside jokes for every kind of audience from religion (Mormons to Jews), politics (Republican to Democrat), and sexual orientation (gay to straight), but the gays are gonna laugh and groan and sigh and gasp at things only they can relate to – especially the kinds of sex we are capable of having! Ever had your pleasure centre gaskets blown, guys and gals? Well, let me remind you of what that feels like!” says Fales.
He has performed “Confessions” consistently for the past 20 years with only minor modifications (e.g. Trump jokes) and that familiarity allows him room for a bit of spontaneous improvisation. The show still resonates with new audiences. “[…] it’s more timely than ever,” says Fales. “Believe it or not, every time I do the show I learn something new about my own story.”
His own story includes a trial by ecclesiastical leaders for being homosexual, during which he was asked if he had ever sexually abused his son. It’s the kind of ugly accusation that was raised during Australia’s Marriage Equality poll, and something about which Fales is vocal.
“We must fight for our rights as parents, as partners, as contributing members of society. We must end all this spiritual abuse and religious violence… and political bigotry.”
Far from being angry and sombre, though, his show is energetic and optimistic.
“I wrote a song called You & Utah that is filled with hope and irony. I sing and quip lines from all kinds of Broadway Shows. […] I purposely did not write a one-man musical, but Confessions tips its hat to everything from Les Mis to Cats to Evita to Carousel… to all those beloved Mormon hymns that I actually still miss…”
With an element of unpredictability:
“We’ll see what Aussie audiences bring out in me. I’ll tell you, the Brits found some things far more deliciously cheeky than Americans. I wanna see what Aussies consider cheeky! Woof!”
Until Mar 9. Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland St, Redfern. $35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.giantdwarf.com.au
By Rita Bratovich.