If ever a performance could make you consider a career in phone sex, it’s this one. Tonya Jone Miller’s one-woman show A Story of O’s spans the decade Miller has spent working as a self-proclaimed “aural courtesan.” During that time, she’s faked (and actually had) orgasms, obliged in the sometimes unconventional fetishes of her clients, and role-played many a woman—blondes and brunettes and robots included. With piercing brown eyes and a glass of wine in hand, Miller vividly re-enacts conversations she’s had on the job. The semi-improvised show—which takes place, fittingly, in a room filled with nude paintings and photos—offers several laugh-out-loud moments, as when Miller plays out in extraordinary detail a client’s fantasy of robot hypnosis, or when a caller’s anal fetish quickly escalates to include fire hydrants. (“That’s the most insatiable asshole I’ve ever heard of!” Miller gasps.) But the show’s momentum relies not on mere erotic absurdity. Rather than reducing her clients to caricatures, Miller humanizes them. There’s Richard, whose wife died a year ago of breast cancer and who causes Miller to reckon with her own bodily anxieties. There’s Daniel, a man paralyzed from the waist down who achieves sexual satisfaction only through mental and verbal stimulation. And then there’s Jonathan, with whom Miller shares her own fantasies and fetishes, resulting in a five-year intimacy she still misses today. “My callers don’t pay me for sex,” she says. “They pay me for acceptance.” The show’s message is clear and sex-positive: We all have our quirks, and we all want to be loved. Just one quibble: At barely an hour, it isn’t long enough. But I guess nothing good ever is.
SEE IT: A Story of O’s is at Catalyst Art & Culture Space, 4810 NE Garfield Ave., 888-367-1117. 7:30 pm Fridays, July 18 and 25, and 8 pm Saturday, July 19. $12. 18+.