Everyone likes to talk about sex. It’s funny; it’s embarrassing; and it helps us realize that those dark stinky thoughts we all have aren’t so unusual…well most of them. And while there’s a lot of sex talk out there, striking a balance between entertainment and enlightenment is trickier than sitting down with your friends over cocktails and revealing what went on behind the Green Door. Giulia Rozzi and Margot Leitman have found that balance with their show, Stripped Stories. The duo not only shares their personal bedroom adventures, but they also invite writers, musicians, and audience members to join in on the act. The results make for a ribald evening out, and might encourage the type of behavior that spring was meant for. We caught up with the two between gigs and talked about what it takes to make people laugh, cringe, and reveal.
Flavorpill: So all this started in a bathtub?
Margot Leitman: Yeah in Vegas. We drove cross country together, and we were in this bathtub together talking about sex, and laughing, and that was the beginning.
Giulia Rozzi: We weren’t in a bathtub having sex, it was the most platonic bath you could ever possibly take with another person…
ML: But just laughing and gabbing and stuff. And we’ve realized, years later, that that’s still the feel of the show. Just two friends gabbing about funny sex experiences.
FP: Was there an “aha” moment in that tub, when you knew you had something?
ML: At the time no. But that’s the direction our friendship took. A lot of our conversations are really personal, about things we would never tell anyone else, so I don’t think it was an “aha” moment, but it was a beginning.
GR: I think it might have been a moment where we realized we had this great dynamic where we can get each other to spill, and whenever we’re together we can get people to tell us anything — anything!
FP: So, why do you think is sex so funny?
GR: Well first you start with the terminology. I mean as a kid you already laugh when you say words like wiener, vagina, boobs — and they’re still funny sounding now — but then all of a sudden, when you go through puberty, you’re supposed to have this maturity about sex. And now that we’re adults it’s supposed to be [in a stuffy voice] “Oh, his penis entered my vagina.” We’re supposed to be so proper. And honestly, I’ll grab my boyfriend’s wiener and be like [in a child’s voice] “I have your wiener.” It makes it more fun. And the thing about humor is that it’s universal and there’s nothing more universal than having sex.
ML: Or not having it. There’s something universal about that, too. Or whatever it is. Everyone has some sort of story, but they don’t have a place to talk about it. So that’s why I think people come to the show every single month and try to get on that stage.
FP: Which is interesting, because it’s not universal to want to share intimate things about your life with total strangers, but you have no trouble getting people on stage. Why?
GR: I think people are open to sharing private stuff, just not in front of strangers. But I think we have set up an environment that is similar to a cocktail party, where it is so freeing and safe and comfortable. So I think we’ve set this tone of extreme comfort.
ML: Yeah, we’re just having a conversation; a conversation on stage with a couple hundred people watching it. And just coming out with a cocktail in your hand; it’s like we’re all at a party together just talking. And we make an announcement at the start of the show, and it’s the most serious part, that this is a safe zone, and for everyone to respect that. And for the most part there’s been very few betrayals of that, if any.
GR: And since we’re girls doing it, but not Playboy looking girls — I mean we’re very pretty [laughs] — but obtainable.
ML: Yeah, I mean a guy looks at us and probably thinks, “Yeah, I could get her in bed.” And they probably could [laughs]… I mean it’s really hard to listen to a supermodel complain about not getting laid, but we get regular people to come on stage, and Giulia and I are just regular people telling stories.
FP: But you’re still taking a chance, especially with the “never have I ever” game you play, where you basically try to find the sluttiest person in the audience to come on stage…
ML: But it never is the sluttiest person, usually. I mean I’ll never forget that corporate-looking woman, and the last question was, “Have you ever had sex in the snow?” She looked around, and she was the only one left standing, and she had definitely never been on stage before. And she told this crazy story about a bus stop, and her boyfriend in a ski mask. And she was so embarrassed, but everyone was cheering for her.
GR: Yeah, I’ve had friends tell me they could never go on stage, but whenever we play that game, there’s part of them that’s hoping to win. We all want to spill out guts and be accepted. It’s human nature. Especially in an environment where it’s like, “Balls out, yes! I got ass-fucked by three people! Cool!”
FP: The show has a unique format, including the audience participation. It’s like a hybrid of stand-up, reading, and improv. Do audiences get that?
GR: Yeah, I think part of the show came out of our needs, since we both do stand-up, and love stand-up, and will always do stand-up. But sometimes I want to go beyond the joke and the punchline and tell the why, and the how I got there. And those moments might not be laugh out loud funny. With stand-up, it’s literally a format of jokes per minute. Whereas in this format, it might be a little bit sad, a little bit uncomfortable. In the end, the mood is humor, but there’s room to play with all the emotions that lead up to that.
FP: So, what’s harder to talk about: something that happened recently or in the past?
ML: Very few people talk about things that happened last week, because the whole thing with storytelling is that you need to have some perspective and distance, otherwise you’re just recounting events and it’s not interesting. It’s your perspective on it that’s interesting, and the way you can look back at something and say what was really going on. And you can’t get that a week after.
FP: What do your husbands/boyfriends think of all this?
ML: My husband has been and loves the show. And I did a story about us, while we were just dating.
GR: My current boyfriend has come to almost every show, since we started dating, but has been very honest about saying, “If you’re going to tell a story about the best sex in your life ever, and it’s not about me. I think I don’t want to come.” But he supports the show and has said that he thinks it’s sexy that he has a significant other who is so confident to be able to share this stuff. And it has been baby steps. At first he said he would only come to shows where I talked about making out in the 7th grade, and he has worked his way up… so in about a year he’ll be able to come to the one where I talk about that gang bang [laughs]. No, I haven’t had a gang bang…yet.
Stripped Stories heads to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York tomorrow night. Click here for information on that show and upcoming performances in other cities.