Lisa Melinn and Brenton Herwat star in Ronnie Larsen's "Making Porn" at Ferndale's Ringwald Theatre through March 18. Photo: Joe Plambeck

Sometimes You Just Grin And Bare It

By John Quinn

Hard core pornography!

Now that I have your attention, consider what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote about the topic. "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it ..." Well, I've seen "Making Porn," and it's not pornography. Nor, the sign outside the Ringwald Theatre notwithstanding, is it strictly "A Comedy." It recalls a cliche of the past election cycle - you don't want to know what goes on in a sausage factory. It's messy.

"Making Porn" is set in San Francisco in the early 1980s. Would-be actor Jack Hawk (Brenton Herwat) is out of work and desperate. Having tested the waters of male erotica, he takes the plunge and lands on the doorstep of Arthur Mack (Joe Bailey), who hires him to star in his latest porn movie. "Cops" cast includes Ray Tanner (Dan Morrison), a veteran of 70 films, but only remembered for a single scene. Ray ekes out a living from personal appearances and hustling. In stark contrast is Ricky (Bailey Boudreau), 19, new in town and working his way through college. There's a hitch: Jack's straight. How will his wife, Linda (Lisa Melinn), react when she finds out about her husband's career path? How will Arthur react when he finds out his partner-in-life-and-business, Jamie (Richard Payton), falls in love with one of the actors?

Blue Blake is a real life porn actor who once produced "Making Porn" and played Ray Tanner. "I've never made a porn movie and found it sexy." What's true about film can be said for the stage. While Jack, Ray and Ricky cavort in the nude, it's so clinical that it isn't erotic. Sorry, Ricky, there's no glamour here. However, there's a laugh a minute as the play explores the conventions of the gay film industry. I may never be able to look at a milk shake again without a snicker.

Joe Bailey directs "Making Porn" and plays Arthur as well. That combination frequently leads to a shaky production, since the director can't stand back far enough to get the big picture. That hasn't happened here. Bailey has played the role a number of times - in fact, with the aforementioned Blue Blake - and his familiarity with the material has rubbed off in his cast.

The performances are remarkably natural, each character sincerely portrayed. This is indeed a formidable ensemble. But Bailey's most satisfying achievement is the delicate balance between silly and somber, since "Making Porn" is a difficult script. It's set in the '80s, and sex in the City by the Bay is shadowed by a "killer disease that affects only gay men." The film industry, just like the rest of the world, must react to a crisis. That's a serious theme to inject into a comedy, but the Ringwald troupe deftly weaves it all together.

To my mind, doubling municipal parking fees is pretty obscene, but since the new machines aren't performing as advertised, this was "Get into Ferndale Free Weekend." For entertainment like "Making Porn," coughing up the extra coins is worth it.

Making Porn contains nudity and adult situations. No one under 18 will be admitted.


'Making Porn'

The Ringwald Theatre, 22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday & Monday through March 18. 1 hour, 45 minutes. Contains nudity and adult situations; no one under 18 will be admitted. $10-20.

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+