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Filtering by Tag: Rachel Manteuffel

Hey, Read This: "Sex Parts," My Best Friend's Washington Post Magazine Essay About Stage Boinking

Chris Klimek

My friend Rachel is the most underrated writer  and  the most underrated actor in DC.

My friend Rachel is the most underrated writer and the most underrated actor in DC.

I was an admirer of Rachel Manteuffel's writing for years before I got to know her, so kindly disregard that she's my best gal when I say unto you that it is imperative you read her essay in today's Washington Post Magazine entitled "Sex Parts." (Not her title, by the way.) It's about her decision to take a role in a play last summer that required her to perform a pair of sex scenes as explicit as I can ever recall seeing on stage–and I've been getting paid to review plays for six or seven years now.

The play was The Campsite Rule, a wicked-smart sex comedy by Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri. Not enough people saw it. There was no WaPo review, for numerous, complicated, and infuriating reasons, though my Washington City Paper colleague Trey Graham gave it an admiring notice, as did most of the theatre websites in town. I badgered my friends to go. I made sure I had my tickets to return on closing night before I plugged the show on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hourso confident was I that the local DC contingent of the million people who download that podcast each week would instantly snap up all remaining seats once I told them about this smart, funny, sexy play written by and directed by and starring smart, funny, sexy women. I didn't even mention the explicit sex!

Shows what I know.

Rachel's day job is in the WaPo editorial department, where she regularly deals with big, important Washington types. She's a seriously accomplished journalist outside of Editorial; she won a Livingston Award for this 2012 Washingtonian story about precious objects left at the Vietnam Wall, and she was the first reporter in a city teeming with 'em to point out after the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened it 2011 that it misquoted the man.

All of which is to say she has an additional, entirely different set of reservations about sex and/or nudity than a full-time actor might have. Imagine showing up to interview someone at the Department of the Interior about that MLK memorial only to have that person realize 10 minutes into your conversation that they saw your boobs in a play one time. DC is a small town.

Rachel had knocked the play's lead role of Susan–a librarian in her mid-twenties who returns to her college for homecoming weekend and deflowers an 18-year-old freshman–out of the, er, Kennedy Center when she played it in a staged reading at the Page-to-Stage festival in September of last year. Since then, she and I had both hoped she'd have the chance to play it in a full production. There aren't many plays about women as smart and weird and generous as Rachel. Not 2,400 years ago and not now. But Susan was a rich character, containing multitudes (and occasionally, a lucky freshman's penis).  It was a role Rachel desperately wanted and deeply deserved, and to the surprise of nobody who knows her, she played the hell out of it.

But it wasn't easy. The Campsite Rule's candor and insight into sex and relationships and vulnerability and risk was exactly what made it a play worth doing, pun intended. It was also something that cost Rachel a lot of sleep in the months before the show opened. We talked about the what-ifs. What if she were asked to do something she felt was exploitative? What if the actor cast as Lincoln, the sweet kid she has to rescue from his virginity onstage every night, was a jerk?

Neither of those grim possibilities happened, mercifully. Playing Susan might've been the highlight of her performing career, and it delighted me to see her so delighted during the month the play ran. Now The Campsite Rule has given her one more gift, Rachel's terrific essay reflecting on the logistical and aesthetic problems of performing a sex comedy live. I promise you it's the funniest and most insightful thing you'll ever find in in the family-friendly pages of the paper that brought down President Nixon about pretending to bone someone in front of your parents and coworkers and exes and people from your church. Read it. Team Manteuffel Forever.

 

WaPo Book Review: One Lucky Bastard: Tales from Tinseltown

Chris Klimek

"Passion without pressure" is how Roger Moore describes the kissing technique he says in his (second) memoir that Lana Turner taught him in 1956, a century or so before he replaced Sean Connery as 007. Gross. This poor girl. Gross.

"Passion without pressure" is how Roger Moore describes the kissing technique he says in his (second) memoir that Lana Turner taught him in 1956, a century or so before he replaced Sean Connery as 007. Gross. This poor girl. Gross.

Roger Moore was 45 when he made his first debut as James Bond ­ -- older than Sean Connery, who’d played the role in five films before he got fed up and abdicated, then was coaxed back and quit a second time – and approximately 110 by the last the last of his seven appearances as 007 12 years later. On the DVD extras for Live and Let Die, his 1973 debut as the superspy he and no one else refers to as “Jimmy” Bond, Moore tellingly bemoans the “30 minutes of daily swimming” he endured to develop the not-particularly-athletic physique he displays in the movie. In the three Bonds he made in the 80s, he rarely looked hale enough to survive a tryst with one of his decades-younger leading ladies, much less a dustup with punch-pulling henchpersons like Tee Hee or Jaws or May Day.

Such was the strength of the Bond brand: Audiences would buy that this guy, who looked and acted like the world’s most condescending game show host, was an elite assassin, as long as he looked good in a tuxedo. Which just happened to be Moore’s primary, not to say only, skill.

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To his credit, Moore was aware of his limitations in the part, and in general. This ingrained self-deprecation is present even in the title of his new, low-impact memoir, One Lucky Bastard (which I review in Sunday's Washington Post), wherein Mr. I Hate Swimming, sorry, that’s Sir I Hate Swimming, now, allows that current Bond Daniel Craig -- the most chiseled man to play the part, in concordance with our unforgiving expectations of 21st-century action heroes, but also the best actor, too -- “ looks as though he could actually kill, whereas I just hugged or bored them to death.”

One thing I loved about writing this review is that it meant my best gal Rachel Manteuffel and I were both trying to get references to cunnilingus through the Post's Standards & Practices Dept. at the same time. You'll have to wait another week to read her story, but see to it that you do. It's funny and insightful and honest, like everything she writes, and very, very sexy.

Pop Culture Happy Hour #203: Guardians of the Galaxy and So-Bad-It's-Good

Chris Klimek

Even  this  movie was good this summer. 2014 has been a great year for popcorn flicks.

Even this movie was good this summer. 2014 has been a great year for popcorn flicks.

I was thrilled as always to fill the fourth chair on this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we discuss the latest -- and funniest, and unlikeliest -- Marvel Studios blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy. Even I had no idea who any of these characters were when I sat down to watch this thing.

We also discussed the curious, evergreen phenomenon of Things So Bad They Are Good, a complex topic that did not in this case stray too far from the TV movie that inspired this latest iteration of it, Sharknado 2. 

DISCLOSURE: I have not seen Sharknado 2. Nor, indeed, have I seen Sharknado. I have, however, seen the movie wherein Steven Seagal pledges to take the crooked U.S. Senator who killed his wife and put him in a coma for seven years... to the bank.

...to the U.S. Savings and Loan Bank.

Wait, I think I messed up the line. In any case, I'm sorry our discussion did not proceed in a direction that would've allowed me to play this clip from Seagal's 1990 hit Hard to Kill.

If we all sound unusually somber, it's because this episode was recorded on my birthday! Stream it or download it here.

FURTHER READING: My NPR review of Lucy from two weeks earlier. And my Dissolve review of Jinn and my Village Voice review of Brick Mansionsboth from back in April.

Logan Hill's great story about the new expectation that male film stars sport gym-buffed bodies is here, but it was published in Men's Journal, not Men's Health as I fear I said on the show; my apologies.

Tickets to What's Making Me Happy This Week --  the smart stage sex comedy The Campsite Rule, by Alexandra Petri and starring my best gal Rachel Manteuffel -- are available here for a mere $20. If you're in or near Washington, DC or will be before the show closes on Aug. 16, you'll be doing yourself a big favor if you go.

Read my friend Rachel's insightful story about the Vietnam Wall in the new issue of Washingtonian.

Chris Klimek

Rachel Manteuffel is a writer of upsetting talent. She's also a good actor. We met when I interviewed her a few years ago for a video I made about a play she was in. But her writing prowess is what I resent and feel threatened by. My only consolation is the knowledge -- because we're friends, you see; we talk -- that her brilliance is not extempore. She works very, very hard to be this good. She earns it.

...and then she sends you a dashed off, steam-of-consciousness e-mail that's funnier than anything you've ever flushed away a weekend sweating over.

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