Philly Fringe 2017: Tiel Guarino and HoneyTree EvilEye’s ‘A List of Common Misconceptions’

Finally: a feel-good show about sex

Tiel Guarino and HoneyTree EvilEye, of Polyglamorous Productions, must have bugged my Christian high-school classrooms. How else could their Fringe show, which promised to “enlighten, entertain, and weird you the hell out,” get right what was so, so wrong about my education? For a run of four performances, East Passyunk’s Adobe Café played host to A List of Common Misconceptions in a flawlessly glum and flaky upstairs venue.

No yucking the yum! (Photo by Diane Cotrim.)

It was the perfect place for Tiel, HoneyTree, and an irresistible ensemble to transport us to the after-school special we never knew we always wanted (and needed).  

A staircase with crumbling plastic edge-treads led to a large, low-ceilinged room. Water-stained tiles covered the ceiling, with dusky red carpet and a wooden dance floor below. A giant mirror flanked by aggressively faux-brick accents was lit by bulbs in recessed squares paved with a sparkly white popcorn finish.

Their small, carpeted rectangle of a stage looked like something the City of Philadelphia would require you to seal in plastic for disposal.

The science of Scotch tape

Principal Montgomery Schill called this Creek County school assembly, emceed by Noodlemonster McSqueedlecheese, an effervescent frog (HoneyTree) who promised to never “yuck your yum,” and Beth, a deadpan goth fairy with electric-blue hair and the means to take control whenever necessary (Tiel). 

They squared off with Dr. Hicks, from “the straight cis-guy foundation to make sure everyone is being objective enough.” He knows all the scientific reasons men are naturally strong, logical, and promiscuous, while women are sensitive and romantic. There’s also Noodlemonster’s nemesis, her sister Prudence Sandyvagina, of the What You Want Doesn’t Matter Foundation.

Prudence’s lesson on STDs (that they’re disgusting, fatal, incurable conditions with no treatment and no means of prevention besides abstinence) squared pretty well with my own high school's “health” curriculum. She demonstrated that the more times you stick a piece of tape to someone’s skin, the yuckier and more useless it gets — just like women who have had multiple partners.

Mary Magdalene, IUDs, and the sex positive truth

Fortunately, in a show encompassing live music, burlesque, theater, and drag, Noodlemonster had more up her velvety lime-green sleeves. Veronica Vicious melded a silky striptease with verbal commentary on the mendacious associations that turned Mary Magdalene into a sex worker (“Who wanted to admit that a woman was a disciple of Christ?”) and Iguana B. Lyzard offered a new exploration of the chastity belt.

Earnest, nubile, take-no-prisoners Gertrude (Minnie Crisis) offered a pellucid primer on sex-positive people: they’re not all bisexual women. They can be sex-positive and have zero partners, or one, or many. They might be sluts. Or not. Either way, this is not an open invitation to hit on them. They’re not sex-positive for the sake of feminism — but sex-positivity does just happen to be more feminist than the alternative.

There was a guitar paean to IUDs; we learned why venerating virginity is just another aspect of rape culture; and, FYI, “we all have herpes (and probably HPV too).” We also got a visceral demonstration of what happens when teenagers who are denied responsible information on sex must process the fallacious, risky, overwrought sexuality of contemporary mass media.

As one of HoneyTree EvilEye’s onstage alter egos pointed out, if we let a paternalistic society control our bodies and dictate whom and what we desire, there’s nothing they can’t control. 

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