NOFX's Fat Mike, Soma Snakeoil's Punk Rock Musical Depicts 'Real' BDSM
SAN FRANCISCO — What happens when punk rock and BDSM collides with the jazz-fingered world of musical theatre? Where do those wiggling fingers end up??
NOFX bassist Fat Mike, noted adult director/writer/performer Soma Snakeoil and Tony Award-winner Jeff Marx (of “Avenue Q” fame) — luminaries from each respective cultural enclave — spent years figuring out just that with their latest collaborative project, “Home Street Home.”
“Home Street Home,” slated for an 11-show run between Feb. 20 and March 7 at San Francisco’s Z Space, centers on Sue, a 16-year old runaway who plunges headfirst into the deviant subculture and alternative lifestyle of the streets. After being adopted into a colorful tribe of homeless teens, Sue finds empowerment, self-realization and acceptance from her new chosen family.
According to Snakeoil, the finished piece is “very human,” emotionally and aesthetically accessible for a diverse audience base, of all ages and persuasions. “It’s not just for punk rockers and whores,” she assured XBIZ.
“The cool thing is that our musical is very much a traditional musical,” Snakeoil said. “It’s plot-driven. The songs are just phenomenal. Beautiful, melodic songs — they’re not all punk songs. There’s a lot of show tunes. So we’re definitely staying true to the tradition of musical theatre, but we’re bringing in these stories that, some of them are pretty hard to deal with, but we deal with them with levity and dignity and entertainment. I think it makes these stories palatable for a larger audience.”
Fat Mike conceived of a rough notion of the production about eight years ago. After writing many of the songs, he could not find a good writing partner to work with and further develop the project. Snakeoil, Mike’s long-time romantic partner, put together character sketches for each of the kids that inhabits the crust-punk world of “Home Street Home,” and half-jokingly says she tried out for the job — and was ultimately hired.
“Even though we’re lovers of the musical theatre, neither of us come from the musical theatre world, obviously with him being from the punk world and myself being from the BDSM world. So when we had a first draft of the musical, it was like, ‘what’s next?’”
That’s when serendipity stepped in.
When “Avenue Q” came to LA a few years ago, the duo dropped by a performance and attended a cast party afterwards where they met Jeff Marx, one of the show’s writers. Snakeoil and Mike ended up mentioning their fledgling musical to Marx, and later sent him the songs. “He loved it, and so we went on that adventure with him,” Snakeoil said. “And he introduced us to a lot of other people in the theatre world, and some of the more formal processes, if that makes sense.”
Plot-wise, “Home Street Home” is a composite of true events gleaned from Snakeoil and Mike’s lives, as well as their friends.
As a young adult, Snakeoil lived on the street in various punk houses, including one called the Slut Hut, which is where the majority of the play takes place.
“The ‘Home Street Home’ story definitely really happened, but not exactly as you see it on stage,” Snakeoil told XBIZ. “I had a lot of experiences that we’re talking about in the play. I ate out of dumpsters and traveled across America hitchhiking, really went on this great big dirty adventure, and that just became part of my lifestyle.”
One character in in particular, a “street dominatrix”/den mother that takes care of other wayward kids, is directly based on Snakeoil.
While no genital-to-genital contact will take place on stage, “Home Street Home” does push traditional theatre boundaries. Snakeoil says audience members will see blowjobs, whippings, a lesbian polyamorous love triangle, a girl cutting herself and, perhaps most significantly, real depictions of BDSM and sex work.
“We really explore the intimacy of the BDSM relationship, and we’re keeping BDSM scenes on stage. I don’t know that it’s really been done before,” Snakeoil said. “I mean, the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ musical is a parody, and you might see a dominatrix with a whip, smacking it, but I don’t think that the real version of BDSM and sex workers has been done in a musical before.”
Snakeoil personally instructed actors on the art of “spankology,” aka the proper ways to spank, flog, bind, you name it. She also augmented authenticity in the costume department, working with a professional to help create outfits representing true street punk style (rather than a outsider’s stereotyped vision) — by offering clothes from her own closet, thrift stores and the dumpster.
Despite the pervasive salacious themes, Snakeoil believes that “Home Street Home” offers a glimpse into the street hustling life from a comfortable distance, allowing those far outside the lifestyles depicted to connect and enjoy.
“’Home Street Home’ is dangerous and racy and sexy, but we keep it safe,” Snakeoil said. “We take you through the gutters and the alleyways. It’s a wild, wild ride, but it’s a safe wild ride.”