Masters of Puppet
After ducking a little local controversy, the two-man Puppetry of the Penis is yanking in the Colorado crowds. Lincoln Davies and new-kid-on-the-jock Jef Benjamin are exposing their talents in the name of art.
Once you get used to the terror of seeing two naked men and a seventeen-by-fourteen-foot Godzilla-sized phallus on the giant multimedia screen provided by a live camera zoom, the show-and-tell show somehow becomes -- dare I say -- engrossing entertainment for much of its duration. The long and the short of it is that Puppetry is about comedy, and though it may not be for everyone, it may be for more of you than you think.
The crowd at last week's opening night was gender-mixed and surprisingly full of baby boomers. In the front row was a woman easily in her late fifties, wiping the tears from her eyes as she was unrelentlessly whipped into laugh-out-loud lewdness by the nude dudes. At one point, one of the performers asked, "You purchased front-row seats to a dick show? What were you thinking?"
In the next row was a twenty-something bloke who chuckled consistently throughout the evening. Commenting during the bizarre "Windsurfer" finale, he admitted, "My package is sore just from watching them."
Puppetry gives a whole new meaning to the term "penis envy," with the performers astonishing men and women alike as they tug and twist their talented tallywhackers into over 35 installations. Puffing out their chests and standing up tall in cheesy superhero capes and gym shoes, the puppeteers offer shapely shafted sculptures with intriguing names -- Atomic Mushroom, the Spooky Eye and the Frill-Necked Lizard -- and complete each stunt with a little wag and an ear-to-ear grin as if to say "Look what I made!" The genital gurus are also happy to walk any willing willies from the audience through the puppetry process of the Hamburger.
Davies is flawless when it comes to playing with his penis. The former financial advisor from Australia has now pulled out over 500 performances for audiences across the United States and Europe, and it shows. Nimble newbie Benjamin gets into the swing of things as a "relief" puppeteer, dazzling audiences with his "dick trick" portfolio. With just seven shows under his belt, Benjamin may be a little raw in his timing, but his technique is a bit smoother.
Not to be forgotten is the show's official audience-fluffer, Lori Callahan, who looks like she could preside over the PTA but pounds out raucous fun, bringing the house to its knees way before any nakedness is revealed.
Puppetry of the Penis, which has nine duos on tour, is currently seeking other talented benders who can hold their own in front of a crowd. Those secure in their manhood can audition in front of a panel of celebrity judges at 11 a.m. on October 21 at the Denver Civic Theatre. Or they can go to firstname.lastname@example.org for information on how to get their freak on on the international penile-puppetry stage.
So is it crude? Sometimes. Is it obscene? Absolutely not. Does it objectify men and their privates? Who cares? Even though it gets a little limp here and there, overall it's a romp that's as tasteful as it is bizarre.
"I do this show as a laugh, not to shock people," says Davies. "Most people who slam the show haven't come to see it."
Fans, on the other hand, say the production is endowed with larger-than-average talent.
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