When we asked Amy Saidman about her worst gig she responded with, “how about if there were exposed breasts and a wagging dildo?” Yes. The answer is yes.
Amy Saidman is the director of Story District (formerly known as Speakeasy DC). She’s produced countless numbers of shows at excellent venues like The Lincoln Theatre, 9:30 Club and the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Before those great shows were smaller, more experimental stages. Stages that sometimes showed some skin.
Brightest Young Things: Was the exposed breasts and a wagging dildo part of the bill?
Amy Saidman: Yes, I did not know that but that is what unfolded.
BYT: Would you like to tell that story now?
AS: Yeah, sure!
The worst show we ever did, it was way long ago, we were still in HR57 so it would have been, I don’t know, 2006 or something and we gave the reins, we thought it would be a nice thing to do, to let somebody else curate the show once. You know, we were just experimenting. And I was extremely hands-off, which, I realized later, I shouldn’t have been. The theme was “I’m not that kind of girl/guy” and the stories were supposed to be about sexual orientation and gender identity, so when I saw that there was someone in the line-up doing something about Wonder Woman, I thought that would be interesting. But… what I didn’t expect was a grown woman to show up in a Wonder Woman costume and take the stage with an entourage of adoring young lesbians carrying her cape. I was also not expecting her take the two spaghetti straps off of her shoulders and pull down the top of the costume to her waist to reveal two gigantic low-hanging 70s boobs. She proceeded to leave them there – just hanging there — for the next twenty minutes while she lectured us on the history of Wonder Woman!
AS: It’s supposed to be a seven-minute personal true story with no notes and clothing, but she decided instead to torment us for twenty fucking minutes with a weird kind of burlesque dissertation. But, it didn’t even have the charm of burlesque because she just stood reading from this huge stack of paper.
About half-way in she pulls out a HUGE dildo. She’s got her papers in one hand and the dildo in the other and she just starts wagging it at us, kind of like a pointer.
BYT: Is she wagging it like a…?
AS: It had no point that I could tell. She just wagged it with extra vigor when she really wanted to emphasize a point.
BYT: What happens after the 20 minute lecture?
AS: She gets her applause, her entourage carries her stuff and cape and I think she may have even left.
BYT: What did the crowd do?
AS: They just took it in. They just sat there and I was possibly way too mortified to pay attention and I think they just sat through it. I’m sure half of them were like “what the hell”.
BYT: Do you remember how many people were there?
AS: Thankfully it was so early on that there was probably 50 to 100.
BYT: That’s still a good amount of people!
AS: I know! More than I cared to have seen that.
BYT: So, the moral of the story is if you’re the producer, feel free to cut someone’s time.
AS: Yes and to not be hands-off when you hand over…it’s good to give them space to be creative but not to be completely hands-off. There is somewhere in the middle.
BYT: Did you guys ever establish a no nudity clause or a no props clause?
AS: No. We prefer neither . However, a big dildo showed up a second time in Story District history just last June in our Pride show — Out/Spoken – at the 9:30 Club. Also, unexpected. I’m not sure why we are such a magnet for dildo displays during our shows.
BYT: What was worse, a woman exposed herself or she used notes?
AS: There were so many offenses I don’t even know how to rank them. Ok, let me see. The first was having notes at all, the second was looking at them, then….actually no, the first was the lecture, not a story, that’s a huge offense.