Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mike Albo Shoots His Creative Wad in 'Spermhood'


If you're spending this holiday weekend in the city like we are, might I suggest going to see "Spermhood," Mike Albo's hilarious and insightful one-man show chronicling his experience as a sperm donor to a lesbian couple, and much more. It's based on his Kindle Single of the same name -- available HERE -- and is the perfect follow-up to "The Junket," his biting show about his wrongful dismissal by The New York Times. Damian went into the performance an Albo virgin -- he missed Unitard's recent run at Stonewall Inn -- and came away duly impressed, which led him to put these thoughts to "paper": 


What struck me about the way the show was organized is that rather than simply presenting a linear monologue describing Albo's experience as a sperm donor, that underlying narrative instead supplies a framework in which to relate his findings of gay single-dom of a certain age, what he calls at various points the "condom generation." He also touches on themes of the STD-stigmatization of the LGBT community, the pressures of making ends meet as a creative sort, and the implicit contract of obligation that both romantic and parental relationships entail--a contract he had implicitly assumed was not for him. An altogether energetic, quirky and clever delivery--ostensibly chronological as the subtitle "Diary of a Donor" suggests--strewn with punchy one-liners, "Spermhood" nevertheless has a lot of heart, perhaps best represented during a recollection of Albo's first proper date with a fellow college student, Casey, so (understandably) skittish about the specter of AIDS looming large over the then-late-'80s that he demurs even to engage in open-mouthed kissing. The denouement of the date was limited simply to tentative cheek-nuzzling, which Albo relates without further elaboration, his wistful disappointment as a young gay man being introduced to gay intimacy for the first time already apparent. 


It is this sort of institutional memory that resonates most for those of us gay men who came later in the wake of Albo's age cohort, whom he declares the largest and longest-lived contingent of gay men following the watershed death toll of AIDS. This is not to suggest that the main theme of the conflicting and demanding responsibilities that accompanies agreeing to donate sperm for his lesbian friend and her partner, which snowballs into a longer commitment than Albo anticipated before a child even enters the picture, is not itself compelling. But the context Albo provides with these other autobiographical vignettes succeeds in highlighting the various aspects of the experience particular to one of his sexuality and generation. 


Ticket info HERE.

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