March 10th, 2011 | by REBECCA JACOBSON Arts & Books | Posted In: Theater

LIVE REVIEW: Good Girls' Guide: Dominatrix for Dummies

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Leave the kiddos at home—Good Girls’ Guide: Dominatrix for Dummies is not for the prudish or the faint-of-heart.

Eleanor O’Brien’s solo show, which details her experiences training (well, attempting to train) to become a professional dominatrix, features semi-nudity, simulated masturbation, graphic descriptions of sordid sexual fetishes and jokes about ropes, whips and nipple clamps. O’Brien may not have lasted as a dominatrix, but she’s got an arresting stage presence, by turns commanding and vulnerable.

As O’Brien recounts her night at a professional house of domination in New York City, she shifts seamlessly between characters that verge on caricature but remain hilarious and human—a bawdy black woman named Equinox (“that’s my real name spelled backwards,” she quips); the Russian mistress of the house, Lena, who lends O’Brien a toolbox (butt plug and dildo included) for her first night on the job; and Margo, the ditzy, diminutive blonde who schools O’Brien on the ways of electric shock torture. O’Brien isn’t afraid to unsettle her audience, and there were definite squirms from some viewers at Thursday’s opening performance. But it’s not all ribaldry and fetishism—the hour-long show has its share of raw, affecting moments (which in some ways are more discomforting than the BDSM).

It’s a doozy. Though the show doesn’t hang together perfectly (it could do with fewer new age-y interludes of ecstatic dance), and O’Brien might hammer the theme of self-love a little hard, she’s a compelling, likable and versatile performer with a riotous story to tell.

GO: Good Girls' Guide: Dominatrix for Dummies at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont St. 8 pm Friday and Saturday, March 11-12. $10. Tickets at portlandminifringe.com or dancenakedproductions.com.
 
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