Hollywood may dazzle the world with its cinematic special effects, but New York thinks it is the nation's real capital of culture. It has the art galleries, the opera, the jazz clubs, the great publishing houses and most of all, the theater.
New York is trying to offer this cosmopolitan cornucopia to the arriving delegates of (as well as the ragtag armies of professional protesters to) the Republican National Convention. But some productions aren't exactly on the Grand Old Party wavelength. The producer of an off-Broadway musical called "Naked Boys Singing" is accusing the Republican National Committee of "censoring" the entertainment that otherwise would be available to convention-goers.
The adults-only musical -- starring eight naked men and plenty of homosexual vibes -- was among the shows offering discounts to convention-goers though the New York City Visitors & Convention Bureau. But a few days ago, the show was dropped from the list of discounted theatrical offerings. Using a very elastic definition of "censorship," the producers believe that canceling the coupon on the nudie-boy show amounts to a First Amendment violation of some sort.
Martian Entertainment, the show's producer, charged the convention's Committee on Arrangements refused to offer the show's discount to delegates and "asked that the show be removed" from New York City's official tourism Website. Carl White, the show's general manager, complained, "I find their actions discriminatory, and morally and ethically reprehensible. He also complained that the RNC Committee on Arrangements did not return phone calls requesting an explanation of "why they felt it necessary to protect conventioneers from a musical comedy."
Only in the topsy-turvy world of off-Broadway can an effort to depress the audience numbers for a grotesque nudie-boy show be classified as a "morally reprehensible" action.
"Naked Boys Singing," billed by its producers as "the little naked show that could," has been presented off-Broadway for over 2,100 performances. It is now in its sixth year, making it one of the top 10 longest-running off-Broadway shows. (Producers boast the show has outlasted other pelvic productions like "The Full Monty," "10 Naked Men" and "Puppetry of the Penis.") The show features a score of campy songs, including "Gratuitous Nudity" and "Perky Little Porn Star." It also has a circumcision number called "Bliss of the Bris." It's best categorized as part of the gay subculture, proudly outside the mainstream of cultural sanity. Creator Bob Schrock admits the audiences are largely gay and proudly proclaims, "I've had producers ask me to de-gay the show, and I've refused."