January 21, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

PREVIEW: “Handjob” on Power, Racism

When a gay writer hires a man to work as a “shirtless cleaner,” homophobia, racism and issues of consent bubble to the surface in the world premiere of “Handjob,” an outrageous comedy by Erik Patterson. 

Patterson’s comedy explores the deepest sensitivities in our culture — with unexpected and darkly hilarious consequences. The playwright previously collaborated with Fields on the world premiere of One of the Nice Ones, which the Los Angeles Times called “deliciously uncouth… elicits torrents of laughter from the gobsmacked audience.” “Handjob” is guaranteed to leave the audience similarly “gobsmacked” and most likely gasping for breath — due to both shock and laughter. The hilarity is recommended for mature audiences due to graphic adult content, including male nudity.

The heart of “Handjob,” Patterson explains, is a character who struggles with these questions, but keeps getting it wrong. “His blind spots lead him to create even more complications as he tries to fix the mess he’s made of his life. Ultimately, the play is about how important it is to keep asking these tough questions, and to keep trying to get it right.”

The Pride LA spoke with Patterson on the complexities of bringing such a play to life. Check it out: 

Photo: Echo Theater Company
Playwright Erik Patterson

Can you introduce yourself?

 My name’s Erik Patterson. I write dark comedies about morally complicated people for the stage. I’ve also written several princess movies for kids, and a few of those Hallmark rom coms that your parents love so much. I have a horror movie and a comic book in development, and I recently founded a comedy website called Gleek. 

 In one sentence, what is “Handjob” about? 

 An encounter between a white, gay playwright and his black, straight “shirtless cleaner” goes disastrously wrong when signals are misinterpreted, lines crossed.

 What can the audience expect from this play?

 You can expect a 90-minute Handjob. Expect a lot of laughs. A provocative, queer story. Some titillation. And several surprises. Oh, and expect an exploration of some pretty meaty issues. Yes, that was a double entendre. We’ve got an incredibly talented cast and the best production team in LA, so you can expect to be in good hands. Oh, God, sorry, the double entendres keep coming, don’t they?

Photo: Darrett Sanders.
Steven Culp, Stephen Guarino, Ryan Nealy

 What was the inspiration for this play? 

 I’ll be totally honest and admit I hired a shirtless cleaner and immediately thought, oh, there’s a play here. My experience wasn’t as fraught as the one on-stage. Also, I won’t name names, but awhile back, I saw this gay play that was advertised as being “very sexy while also about something,” and then I went to see it, and the only thing it seemed to be about was the fact that there was a working shower on-stage. So I wanted to write the sexy, meaningful play that I didn’t get to see that night, which got me thinking about my role as a theater-maker, and what goes into making something “provocative.” Those were some of the ingredients I was playing with when I started writing.  

How do you use comedy to cover serious topics in the play?  

Life’s pretty bleak lately, and the only way I’m able to get through each day is to laugh. I try to find the humanity in everyday moments, and a lot of the humor in my plays comes out of that.  

What scene/part has been exciting to see come to life with Echo Theater Company?  

I love working with the Echo. Chris Fields directed my play One of the Nice Ones in 2016 and I’m thrilled to be working with him again. I’ve gotta say, the titular scene of the play is one that carries a lot of weight, and I’ve always been curious about how we’d get away with it. I look forward to seeing how people react. 

Photo: Darrett Sanders.
Stephen Guarino, Tamarra Graham, Ryan Nealy

 What do you want the audience to take away from it? 

I don’t want to tell the audience what to think. I want people to go out for drinks after the play and get into lively debates about what they just saw. The play deals with issues of consent, and racism, and representation, and I hope people leave the theater thinking about and questioning their own biases. I hope the play will just be the start of a conversations we all need to be having as we grapple with issues we should have been grappling with a long time ago.  

“Handjob” runs Friday through Monday from Sept. 7 – Oct. 21.   Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in LA. For more information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Related Posts

Sarah McBride Now Highest Ranking Trans Official – E.P.I.C Pride Show, January, 20th, 2021

January 20, 2021

January 20, 2021

E.P.I.C Pride, Highlighting the latest LGBTQ news in Entertainment, Politics, International affairs, and Culture. *Sarah McBride Now Highest Ranking Trans...

Missing Compton Trans-man

January 18, 2021

January 18, 2021

UPDATE: Luckie Alexander Fuller has been found as on Jan. 19th, 2021. Luckie Alexander Fuller, a local Los Angeles transman...

WeHo Fighting Climate Change

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is currently updating its Climate Action Plan — an effort called “WeHo Climate Action” —...

The Center Offered Free Meals For Those In Need

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

With the unemployment rate in Los Angeles County rising due to the Corona-virus pandemic many are struggling to make ends...

Two New Council Members Sworn-In To The City Council Of WeHo

December 20, 2020

December 20, 2020

The City of West Hollywood has sworn-in two newly elected Councilmembers: Sepi Shyne and John M. Erickson. Each Councilmember took...

L.A. Makeup Artist Is First Trans Man To Compete On “RuPauls Drag Race”

December 13, 2020

December 13, 2020

The cast of RuPauls Drag Race Season 13 has been announced this week revealing its first trans man contestant will...

Weho Celebrates 30th Annual Toy And Food Drive

December 13, 2020

December 13, 2020

The 30th Annual West Hollywood Toy and Food Drive will be accepting monetary donations until Friday, Dec. 18th, 2020 with...

The Center Long Beach Brings Diversity To The Board

December 13, 2020

December 13, 2020

The Center Long Beach has announced the addition of three new members to the board of directors: Long Beach business...

PIQUE Health – Specialized Treatment Plans to Optimize Male Health

December 11, 2020

December 11, 2020

Beverly Hills-based practice helping men come up with a plan to fully optimize their health Now more than ever, amid...

Local LA Teen Named Member Of HRC Foundation Youth Ambassadors

December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

The Human Rights Campaign have announced that Nico Craig, an 18-year-old DJ and music producer from Los Angeles, has been...

Real Housewives Star Comes Out As A Lesbian

December 10, 2020

December 10, 2020

Braunwyn Windham-Burke star of Real Housewives of Orange County has come out as a lesbian.  In an interview with GLAAD...

LGBTQ Latinx Bar Noa Noa Place Opens

December 6, 2020

December 6, 2020

Noa Noa Place, a new bar dedicated full time to the LGBTQ Latinx community, has opened in Boyle Heights.  As...

Wet For Her The Perfect Gift For Your Lover

December 6, 2020

December 6, 2020

Wet For Her is an online retailer designed specifically for lesbian and queer communities offering a new approach to sex...

The Facts And Health Benefits Of Masturbation

December 5, 2020

December 5, 2020

We know about the pleasures associated with masturbation, but are there health benefits of masturbation related to it as well?...

World AIDS Day

December 3, 2020

December 3, 2020

World AIDS Day, designated on Dec.1st each year, was first observed in 1988.  This year, similar to previous years, organizations...