“We are Oceans of Darkness, Glimmers of Light.
Savor us Like Wine. Our Stories are Meant to be Told”
Pomo Afro Homos’ Fierce Love (Remix):
Friday, October 19, 2012
@ the New Conservatory Theater, San Francisco CA
Pomo Afro Homos, short for Postmodern Afro-American Homosexuals was founded by Brian Freeman, Bernard ‘Djola’ Branner, and Eric Gupton in 1991 debuting with the production, Fierce Love.
In the years since Fierce Love 1st premiered in San Francisco back in 1991, a new generation has grown up, a generation less involved in Black/Gay political didactics or action.
The “Remix” features three younger actors;(also exceptional singers and dancers) Duane Boutte, who has appeared on Broadway in the plays “Carousel” and “Parade”, Thandiwe DeShazor, who has recently starred against Stanley Bennett Clay in his play “Armstrong’s Kid” and Rashad Pridgen, who starred as “Napoleon” in Jacinta Vlach/Liberation Dance Theater’s production of “Animal Farm”; under the stewardship of Director (original cast member) Brian Freeman, famous for his contributions to the San Francisco Mime Troupe, who participated in many of the skits, I must admit that I never saw the original production.
First, I was taken aback by the way the characters in the promo were dressed. I mused that these were three guys who spend most of their time in the white gay community who decided to do a Black Gay Production, cause nobody I knew, and I did lots of psychedelic drugs in my youth dressed like that! Second, my opinion was reinforced by my friendship with one of the actors who went to Samuel Gompers Jr. High in Los Angeles my school, a rough school, but recognized as the premier music, dance and drama Jr, High in Los Angeles. He transferred to a lame all-white school. So, I panned the play. If the original production was as good as Friday’s performance, I made a mistake.
The play’s title comes from a line in a poem by Essex Hemphill. Brian Freeman explains “The larger poem itself is a poem about trying to find a personal love with the idea of finding community.” The skits in the play deal with anger, self-love, fun, solidarity, pain and loss.
Among the high points of the show are:
The story of Mr. Freeman’s life from puberty, growing up in Roxbury, the Black ghetto of Boston with two educated assimilationist parents to early adulthood in an elite college, trying to fit in Black and Gay (white) political college organizations and eventually coming out.
We get insights to the inner person, his political/cultural alliances, what and how he writes and who he writes to. I would have liked to have witnessed the audience vibe in the play’s Roxbury production. Postmodern Afro-American Homosexuals It is the Queer often feminine faction of the Black Gay Male community that is so often doing the cutting edge political work. There’s skit about him being a Same Gender Loving man. Also one about a “straight” man who gets a “taste for the other side” maintaining his hetero persona and preferring that Gays remain in the closet
Duane Boutte’ character is a totally assimilated Negro on his way to the theater. In New York City, distressed he can’t hail a cab, he suddenly hears drums. At first disturbed and then terrified when he sees the Spirit of his Soul in the form of dancer Rashad Pridgen, bare from the chest up with white chalk markings and a grass skirt performing Sabar (a West African Dance), the Spirit enters the Negro’s feet up to his butt which brings pleasure to Rashad who grabs Duane’s waist dancing off stage right smiling at the rhythm in Duane’s behind. I feel the influence of George Clinton’s “Butt-to-Butt Resuscitation“. Another scene has Duane’s character in the back room of a bar cruising for quick sex. It calls for vibrant sexuality and it doesn’t come off. Let’s try Rashad in the role.
Thandiwe is brilliant as the Queen Mother in the skit “Just Us” which describes the effects of alienation resulting from limiting social roles often assigned to men living in Black Gay Male society.
Close to the end of the play while in a club the characters hear a mysterious sound – ooh ooh ooh. Could it be Spirits from the earliest days of Black Gay dance culture when we slow danced to songs like Detroit Emeralds’ “Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)” and the Moments’ “Sexy Mama”?
Fierce Love plays at the New Conservatory Theater, 25 Van Ness Ave. Show times are Wednesday thru Saturday at 8pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2pm.
A Parting Comment: There were scarcely any Black Gay Males (1 out of 10 at best) in the audience and all over 50. Come on people, let’s support this production.