If the reaction from previous showings is any indication, porn fans are sure to be reaching for the Kleenex when Shooting Star – A Revealing New Musical debuts later this month (because of the tears, you pervs! Sheesh!).
With just over three weeks to go until opening night, Hans Berlin has been working hard to put the finishing touches on his musical set in the gay porn world. Tickets are now on sale, the production’s Facebook page is up and running (with some pretty limber cast members!) and the crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo is still offering special perks for contributors (including a personalized picture, underwear and a date night with Berlin).
As The Sword shared last week, the musical officially opens May 25 for its six-week run at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood, with two special previews now scheduled for May 23 and May 24.
“It is funny, being in the porn world and now creating similar scenarios in the musical. Just looking at my actors—who are all Broadway or theater actors—and turning turn them into believable porn stars. That’s the job of my director, but I can give them feedback and knowledge, the background and some resource material,” Berlin says.
No, he can’t show them porn, but he did share G-rated links of performers making appearances and at events, and of podcasts focused on sex workers.
“There’s no question they cannot ask me. I said that to my performers. And then it also becomes a little tricky because as a lead producer, I’m the boss of everything. I’m very open about my porn persona, so they just have to google ‘Hans Berlin.’ And it’s one of these situations where they might happen to see their boss naked or fucking. I don’t ask people if they look me up, but one of my cast members said, ‘I did a lot of research. You look even cuter in person’…something like that. I think she was the only one.”
The story revolves around Taylor “TNT” Trent—a young, struggling Hollywood actor from the Midwest who, in a quest for success, finds himself rocketing to stardom as a porn performer. But as he achieves fame, he discovers it might not be what he expected.
“I don’t want to give away too much, but it was very important for me to create one of the characters a certain way, and it relates to never regretting anything he did in his life—especially not getting into porn. For many fans, porn is just a fantasy; but behind the camera, we are human beings. We cry, too,” Berlin says, noting that one song in particular had an effect on attendees at a special showing last year. “mr. Pam and Armond Rizzo were in the audience, and they balled their eyes out.”
mr. Pam even got her own tribute in the form of mr. Sue, “a porn director with a heart of gold and mother hen to her cast” (although Berlin notes he has never actually worked with mr. Pam in his porn career). He says the show is loosely based on his own experiences—and that extends to his personal life. As the project grew, the story evolved to address social media’s place in society.
“This generation that grew up with Grindr and Scruff, sometimes you only have to send a dick or an ass picture and you can hook up with someone in a few minutes. And I’m a ‘victim’ to that as well, where you have sex with someone—which should be an intimate act—but then you go home and you’re lonely. You wish you had someone in your life and not just a sexual adventure. And that’s what happens with Taylor. In the porn world, he has sex with so many hot guys, but he wants to find more. There’s one song that speaks to that called ‘All the Lovers’: ‘Where’s the love in all the lovers?’ It was written by Erik Ransom, our lyricist, and is beautiful.”
Ransom is a New York-based composer and lyricist who also created GRINDR: The Opera, which picked up the award for Best New Musical earlier this year at London’s ninth annual Off-West End Awards (aka the Offies). That made him the perfect choice for Shooting Star, and Berlin knows all too well how hookup apps are ingrained in gay culture.
“Back in the days, you actually had to talk to a human being in the bar or club if you wanted to get laid. You had to talk to them and have some kind of human interaction. Many times you ask for their names and you knew their names—unlike in Grindr where you ask their names after, if at all. Yes, there was cruising areas and pubic cruising, and that was very anonymous. But now I feel the anonymity is more with all the apps, and now the straights can relate to that with things like Tinder and Bumble.
“I’ve lost the ability to walk up to someone in a club and talk to them. I think I’m also one of these guys who goes home and then goes on Grindr and sees what’s in the neighborhood. And when I’m out, I’m out with my friends—and I’m also afraid of rejection. I don’t want to walk up to someone and get rejected. But for many people that hopefully usually doesn’t happen. Usually the average gay guy is like a 14-year-old teenage girl, and they’re flattered when you talk to them. But we’re all afraid of rejection, and it’s so much easier to get rejected on those dating apps. But it’s also easier to reject someone on these apps.”
And that dynamic of finding oneself and a family is one aspect that Berlin notes will make Shooting Star appeal not just to gay men, but a much wider audience.
Fans are encouraged to check out the project’s Indiegogo page for more information, and individuals or companies interested in partnership and investment opportunities can contact ShootingStarTheMusical@gmail.com.