Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Jun 8th, 2017

THE SEX FILES: Talking Chaturbate: The Musical! with Dan Margules

Dan Margules is a music journalist, author, publisher, playwright, and award-winning filmmaker. Through his association with New Musicals Inc., he has written three musicals: the short time-travel comedy Have a Nice Trip, a full-length show based on Candace Jane Kringle’s acclaimed North Pole High: A Rebel Without a Claus, and currently playing in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Chaturbate: The Musical! (if you don’t know Chaturbate, go here). I had a chance to sit down with Dan about this most unique marriage of naughty, fun, song and dance.

Had you known of before developing this show? How does one take the concept/business of camming and make it into a show?

I first heard about camming when I found out someone I knew had a roommate who was a cam model. I sort of knew it existed, but I had a completely different impression of it. When you see camming portrayed in a movie like 2012’s Disconnect, it’s always treated as being synonymous with child sex slavery. But when you look at sites like you see adults, first of all. And they’re empowered. The community looks after itself and they all sort of respect that no one is expected to do anything they’re not comfortable with. The cam girls have a level of control over their careers that wouldn’t be found in any other area of “sex work” and a kind of pride you wouldn’t see from someone working some minimum wage job. All those things fascinated me, and I knew I wanted to tell a story set in this world that was more positive about it than your typical Law & Order: SVU episode.

Why a musical?

I heard about one cam model whose stated goal was to raise money to pursue her lifelong dream of moving to New York to become a comedy writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I loved the specificity of that goal and in musicals in particular, you want some specific, tangible goal that the lead actor or actress can sing about in a “want” song and that you can see if she got it at the end of the show. I didn’t think it would make sense to have someone singing about wanting to write jokes, so I made my story about a girl trying to make it on Broadway as a singer and dancer while camming as a day job. That certainly gave us much more for our character to sing and dance about.

How did you hook up with

The first time I heard the name “Chaturbate” I loved how funny and descriptive the word was. Once I had my story and teamed up with my songwriters and we knew that we were actually doing this, I knew “Chaturbate” would be the best title. It’s recognizable to many, and self-descriptive to everyone else. I contacted Chaturbate directly and sent them my pitch and they’ve been totally on board with everything from the minute I contacted them. I think they responded mostly to the fact that the show portrays camming in a positive light, with lighthearted humor, while most other media tries to demonize the industry.

When you do this kind of a show, built around a particularly sexy subject, can you get stained with a certain reputation?

I guess I’ll find out. I don’t think it should matter, though. At the end of the day, I’m just telling a lighthearted story that’s not that dissimilar to Gypsy. In the 1980s there was a writer/director named Bob Clark who had a huge hit with a very hard R-rated teen sex comedy called Porky’s. He followed that up with the PG-rated A Christmas Story, which was an even bigger hit and became a holiday classic and was eventually turned into a musical. Ironically, the other musical I’m developing is a full-length, family-friendly Christmas musical called North Pole High, adapted from the young adult novel by Candace Jane Kringle. Very different audiences.

Seeing how many Broadway musicals are based on popular movies, a good percentage of those movies not musicals, are we living in a culture now where we might indeed see more sexy, even downright salacious fare hit mainstream theaters in the form of the often times more palatable parody and musical?

I think theater audiences were accepting of racier fare even before movies were. Modern shows like Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon are well known for their raunchiness, but go back further and you have vulgar but humorous lyrics in A Chorus Line from the 70s. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in the 80s and Sweet Charity in the 60s were both successful musicals about sex workers, and as I mentioned earlier, Gypsy, from the 50s, was about a stripper. And don’t forget the nudity in Oh! Calcutta! from 1969. So sex on the Broadway stage is not as new as it sounds. Language in the arts, as in everyday general usage, does tend to get more explicit as time goes on, but it really only works when it’s funny and in service of a good story.

Following, what are the future plans for Chaturbate: The Musical!

The songwriters and I have been talking about expanding it to a full-length version if it is received well at the Fringe Festival. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to do it at the Fringe, as a short trial version. There’s a lot of room for this story to grow.

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THE SEX FILES: Talking Chaturbate: The Musical! with Dan Margules