Written and performed by David Lawson
David Lawson in VCR LOVE. Photo by Cathryn Lynne.
BOTTOM LINE: Lawson’s skill as both a comedian and a storyteller makes his tales of searching for sexually arousing material in both a pre- and post- internet era hilarious and relatable.
One probably would not expect to see the words endearing and heartwarming to describe a one man show focused on how technology has changed the porn industry, but that is exactly what you will find in VCR Love. In this show, solo performer David Lawson explores the changes to the porn industry over the years due and his own memories as a teen and preteen desperate for sexually arousing material.
As a teen and preteen living without a home internet connection, Lawson has to depend on pilfering his mother’s Victoria’s Secret catalogs and later shoplifting videos like “Nude Yoga” with his friends from his learning disablity classes. Lawson also takes to the family’s VCR and cable box, creating tapes of the most sexually arousing music videos MTV has to offer, sitting all day in front of the TV screen just to record certain gems from The Spice Girls and Fiona Apple. Soon, Lawson and his friends begin bashing the family cable box in the hopes of being able to watch the scrambled porn on Skinemax.
Later, when a spattering of his friends first get home internet connections they spend their days waiting for hours via dial-up connections to download nude photos and celebrity sex videos. When Lawson’s own father brings home an internet start-up kit Lawson explores his sexuality further; he shares such embarrassing anecdotes as a chatroom, online-only girlfriend who sends him a fake photo of Amanda Bynes in lieu of one of herself, and scoring a 4 on the Hot or Not website. Those who went through puberty and adolescence in the early to mid-nineties will be able to relate to Lawson’s tales and remember their own first encounters with the internet’s early offerings. Later Lawson describes the explosion of porn on the internet, noting that now amateur normal people can be seen just as readily as the more unrealistic looking stars of mainstream porn.
Lawson delivers his stories with comic skill, and his comfortable demeanor evokes a close friend retelling embarrassing childhood secrets over a round of beers. While his stories are by no means unique, Lawson’s skill for storytelling enables him to illicit laughter from each event in his quest to explore his sexuality via media and technology. Part of the play’s endearingness derives from the fact that Lawson paints himself as a curious, fumbling boy, making his hunger for sexual material seem sweet and normalized.
Lawson however, never finds a problem with his appetite for pornography, arguing in favor of the benefits of porn despite the fact that much of the medium objectifies women. He only hints at its negative effects in an anecdote in which his friends inquire about what his girlfriend looks like and Lawson describes her “perky breasts” and “ass”, then comparing her to a “classier version of Sasha Grey”. Although Lawson at first feels bad at giving this description, he feels reprieve when his girlfriend is flattered by hearing his remarks, and reveals her own love for pornography. He makes his final argument in favor of the benefits of porn by pointing out that pandas watch their own “panda porn” designed to give them “zesty and fulfilling sex lives,” suggesting that perhaps humans can derive the same benefit from the now porn saturated internet.
VCR Love is more laugh-inducing than many of the bigger budget shows now playing. The fact that Lawson could illicit so much audience laughter and attention during the performance I attended, despite having no props or visual aids is a testament to his gift as a performer. Those of us who came of age during the dawn of the internet will find his material highly relatable. When it returns next month to The Dixon Place theater it will be a mere $5 well spent.
(VCR Love only played for two nights, February 17 and 18, 2012 at The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Avenue. It will next play at the Dixon Place Theater, 161A Chrystie Street, on Friday March 23, 2012 at 10:30PM. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door.)