As the government increases regulation of entertainment and art, it’s a wonder that Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment: One Girl’s guide to Living and Dying was ever put on.
It’s also a wonder that its star, River Huston, wasn’t put on house arrest.
A feisty-flirty-dirty-funny-sunny-yenta-sex-machine, Huston is the definition of bawdy in her one-woman theater event about her life as a…as many things.
Sex educator, stand-up comedian, Poet Laureate of Bucks County (she knows how it sounds and boasts regardless – one of the many loveable things about Houston’s self-deprecating routine), cabbie, pot farmer and now, a wife and dog fanatic dropping anchor in the sticks.
Huston crams the journey into a 90-minute explosion of sound, light, color, efficient use of sex toys and, most importantly, laughter.
Emerging from an elevated black pleasure chest through a cloud of smoke and breaking into a salsa routine in her first 10 seconds on stage, River elicits sighs of relief that this material will not be another tour through the menstrual and emotional cycle of the single American girl.
Huston’s dialogue with the crowd is loose and informal. Eye contact is frequent and deliberate; her winks, smiles and occasional pelvic thrusts are all pointed lovingly to the rows beneath her.
These elements twist together to let the audience know that she’s a storyteller, not an actress. An educator, not a preacher. A woman, not a caricature.
Huston was once arrested for demonstrating condom application on a “demonstration penis,” or utilizing her mouth.
She was diagnosed HIV positive in college. She was an alcoholic on the West Coast, married to a Charles Manson look-alike. She was simultaneously suicidal and a prolific poetess in New Hope, Pa.
Now she plays with her dogs and prays for better places to shop in Upper Black Eddy with her husband.
Reinvention has become a marketing tool for aging pop stars, a gimmick for religion and politics, yet Huston’s rebirths are not only conducive to her changing environments and circumstances, but a credit to the strength and life force inside of her.
Journeying with Huston is delightful. The trip has sharp curves and an uncertain end, laced with pain but dusted with optimism. She’s a survivor, and more than that – a winner.
Under the direction of Stephen Stahl, Huston served as producer (billed Brook Dallas in the program, further evidence that self-indulgence and self-importance are not mutually exclusive in theater or in River herself).
Beyond the sex, beneath the cellulite and over the roar of sizeable farm equipment, the audience can find Huston laughing and learning as she goes, passing on what she picks up and loving herself at any cost.
What more could a ticket-holder ask for? An autographed demonstration penis? Not included with price of admission.
Matt Donnelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.