Friday, March 15, 2013

THE SONGS OF BILITIS STAGE SHOW REVIEW



PAST SONGS FOR FUTURE WOMEN

Temecula, CA – The year after high school graduation I learned two things. When hired over the phone for a cool summer job, the opportunity disappeared when my tan hide showed up in person for the ‘white only’ gig. My Male High ‘American Dream’ life of equality didn’t extend past those hallowed halls of learning and there were other things undreamt of outside my humble philosophy, sexual things way past my virgin understanding of the birds and the bees.
Finding an element of adventure in attending an ‘after hours’ underground bar, I was sitting at a café table when I witnessed my first girl-on-girl kiss. Though not turned on or turned off, the scene was hypnotic and I wondered about the happy girl pair in the midst of the more typical couples at the table in this speakeasy kind of place. That was then.






Today we have the internet with access to everything, and I have my experience with the underground music scene at Java Joz and later Cuppys. Though never outted but sometimes hinted at, the 'scene' during those days was highly charged sexually. Visited sometimes by gay males and later by gay male circle ketches, the scene was more metrosexual, curiosexual, and bi-sexual. Now I also have a bi-sexual BFF who treats me like a sister, though she doesn’t divulge that side of her sex life to me, just the hetro side. Two women being affectionate to each other is the real world and I have long since accepted it. By the same token, I don’t dwell on the club photos of women grinding on each other just to titillate either.

When you look at the reality that everything told to you is a lie, save one, then perhaps the Adam and Eve role model of romance is part of the program for a weak drone society made strong again by capitalism, a male concept. With the changing of dominant roles in the next 26K year universal cycle from male to female, the inquiring/searching female of the future is that told of in Sappho love poems from the past. 


Sappho's poetry centers on passions and love towards various people of both genders. The word lesbian derives from the name of the island of her birth, Lesbos, while her name is also the origin of the word sapphic; neither word was applied to female homosexuality until the nineteenth century. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love (sometimes requited, sometimes not) for various females, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate. Whether these poems are meant to be autobiographical is not known, although elements of other parts of Sappho's life do make appearances in her work; and it would be compatible with her style to have these intimate encounters expressed poetically, as well. Her homo erotica should be placed in the context of the seventh century (BCE). The poems of Alcaeus and later Pindar record similar romantic bonds between the members of a given circle. (All above from Wikipedia sources)

Though I did not recognize it at the time, I was part of such a circle when I was the only man in the circle of Max, Wanda, and The Widge, (see Memoirs). Though with no ‘bi’ overtones, the 3 girls and I enjoyed a poly amorous unrestricted relationship that I nicknamed ‘the wolf pack’ in Memoirs. It is with this newly realized mindset that I sought out the Greek erotica play Songs

In 1894 Pierre Louÿs, travelling in Italy with his friend Ferdinand Hérold, met André Gide, who described to them how he had just lost his virginity to a Berber girl named Meriem in the oasis resort-town of Biskra in Algeria; Gide urged his friends to go to Biskra and follow his example. The Songs of Bilitis are the result of Louÿs and Hérold's shared encounter with Meriem the dancing-girl, and the poems are dedicated to Gide with a special mention to "M.b.A", Meriem ben Atala. (Again Wikipedia)

Outside research seems to reveal that the travel adventures of the two men were more on the order of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas since the two men smoked hashish/opium and consumed absinthe, two psychoactive drugs, with wild and reckless abandon. The Songs of Bilitis, a collection of erotic poetry, was published by Pierre Louÿs in Paris the same year in 1894.


The book's sensual poems are in the manner of Sappho; the introduction claims they were found on the walls of a tomb in Cyprus, written by a woman of Ancient Greece called Bilitis, a courtesan and contemporary of Sappho, to whose 'life' Louÿs dedicated a small section of his book. Louÿs claimed the 143 prose poems, excluding 3 epitaphs, were entirely the work of this ancient poet—a compilation from childhood innocence in Pamphylia to the loneliness and chagrin of her later years where she poured both her most intimate thoughts and most public actions.

On publication, the volume deceived even the most expert of scholars.Like the poems of Sappho, those of 'Bilitis' address themselves to Sapphic love. The book became a sought-after cult item among the 20th-century lesbian underground and was only reprinted officially in the 1970s. The expanded French second edition is reprinted in facsimile by Dover Books in America. This second edition had a title page that read: "This little book of antique love is respectfully dedicated to the young women of a future society."

Seventy years later, the first lesbian organization would call itself Daughters of Bilitis. Founded in 1955 in San Francisco, it was organized for lesbians to meet other lesbians while promoting the acceptance of lesbians as legitimate members of society.


Though the poems were actually clever fabrications, authored by Louÿs himself, they are still considered important literature. The poems were eventually exposed as a literary fraud. This did little to taint their literary value in the eyes of the readers, however, and Louÿs' open and sympathetic celebration of lesbian sexuality earned him sensation and historic significance. After reading a few of the poems one wonders whether or not the drugs consumed actually opened them up to an astrophysical channeling from the muse Bilitis. The play Songs seems to suggest that possibility as the story of Louÿs is staged and played out in the simple but spacious darkened auditorium.


Through simple use of hanging curtains which can be lowered or raised to create stage vistas, most nudity and seduction scenes are played out in back lighted silhouettes with live ‘real time’ characters Pierre Louÿs, Meriem, friend Claude, and Pierre’s brother/sponsor, Georges, being out front with the mixed-media stylings of shadow play, puppets, masks and ritualized movement adding their best effect to the production. The staged play scheduled to end March 30th has an extended run until April 6th. Check below banner.

The Bootleg Theatre, which opened in 2006, added live music shows to the stage show plays about two years ago, thereby widening their prospective audience crossover market. To read the provocative poetry go here.

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