Author: Jerry Douglas
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions
Release Date: June 1, 2019
Genre(s): Gay Erotic Theater (Screenplay)
Page Count: 180
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Jerry Douglas’s Tubstrip, a risqué comedy set in a gay bathhouse, was a popular sensation when produced onstage in 1973-1974, in the era of gay liberation and the sexual revolution. The play, often dismissed by mainstream critics but hailed as “funny, sexy, and important” by the gay press, ran for 140 performances off-Broadway, then toured to eight cities over nine months, and returned to Broadway starring the legendary adult film star Casey Donovan in the lead role. Despite its unprecedented success and acclaim, the play has never been published.
Along with the debut publication of the script of the play, this edition includes a foreword by Jordan Schildcrout titled “Tubstrip and The Erotic Theatre of Gay Liberation,” which examines the significance of the play as one of a wave of erotic gay plays (most of them forgotten or lost) that emerged between 1969 and 1974. This edition also features rarely seen publicity photos, posters, and advertisements from the original production of the play.
“Tubstrip” has been compared to “The Boys in the Band,” the seminal 1968 play featuring a group of gay men gathering for a birthday party in NYC. “Tubstrip” takes place in a bathhouse and introduces us to a community of nine men:
BRIAN (22) — The Unavailable Attendant
DARRYL (29) — The Restless Lover
ANDY (21) — The Permanent Resident
WALLY (59) — The Skinflick Mogul
TONY (32) — The Sadist
KEVIN (22) — The Masochist
RICHIE (21) — The Faithful Lover
DUSTY (25) — The Hustler
BOB (26) — The Viet Nam Veteran
Justin Schilcrout, in his foreword, points out an important difference between the two works:
Jerry Douglas’s play creates a fantasy in which characters connect—as sexual partners, as romantic lovers, as friends, and as a community. The play does not dwell on the trauma of the closet, no one agonizes over what “made them” gay, no one is forced to pretend to be straight, no one drowns himself in alcohol, and even the characters who do drugs (pot and poppers) seem motivated by sexual enhancement rather than self-destruction.
There’s no “bury your gays” here – Tubstrip is a sex positive celebration of sexual as well as romantic love, along with some marvelously bitchy commentary. I would love to see this play staged and performed in all its glory! 4 stars.