Vampires come in all shapes and sizes, yes? We know this. From the rat-like mummy Graf Orlock to the drop dead gorgeous creatures of Twilight. More, we know some are aliens. The vampires of Doctor Who for example, as well as the shape-shifting super-psychics of Lifeforce and of course the green alien title character from Queen of Blood!
In North Hollywood, an edgy theatre company called Zombie Joe’s Underground has done its fair share of undead-related plays. Currently they offer one that blends science fiction. Carnivorous sirens men cannot resist, green of hue and sultry of nature, eager to persuade the crew of Earth’s first interstellar spacecraft to take them back to our world…
The Moth Sluts! Go-Go Dancers from Outer Space, the Ravagers of Worlds!
A delirious blend of cheese, cheap 1960s science fiction and more than a few dashes of Beach Blanket Bingo, the play pretty much tells you what’s in store with the title–Captain Dan Dixon Vs. The Moth Sluts From The Fifth Dimension! Dan Dixon, commanding officer of humanity’s first starship the Magellan, is the lantern-jawed, broad-shouldered gentleman above. Played by Matt Sklar (who also wrote the piece) he’s more than anything an American WWII officer in the space age. His crew includes a female android Uranaia, a huge-brained mutant named Dr. Canigulus, and a host of others including the ship’s cowboy cook named Chow. All relentlessly white Americans. In testing the quantum drive which hurls Magellan into the fifth dimension, they accidentally pick up some hitchhikers–a clutch of beautiful green women in hibernation. Batting their eyes, literally cooing and purring, they claim their world is destroyed.
But are they vampires? Let us break it down. Beautiful alien creatures who can sleep un-aging for millions of years. They possess the ability to stimulate the pleasure centers of their victims’ brains. They have wings. Essentially, they eat people–either directly or by implanting eggs in men’s brains that then eat their way out! Oh, and being moths they can be destroyed by sufficiently bright light.
Yeah, sound vampiric enough.
But what really makes this worth seeing is not the sheer cheesy fun of it all. Nor the pasty-clad green seductresses in silver hot pants. No, what makes this really worth the price of admission remains its success as a satire. Coincidence the ship’s contains only two females, one a machine and the other a virtual neutered mutant? Or that Captain Dan doesn’t want to hear what his science officer has to tell him. The whole thing can be seen as a paranoid reaction to both strong women as well as aliens of any kind–with a note mentioned again and again that the only way to win in this situation is for somebody to commit genocide. Yet–and herein is something vital–the show never gets preachy. Even the hardest, most serious question asked (“Did we really give up on war? Or did we just win?”) comes totally in character without any pat answers offered. In a lot of ways this reminded me of Young Frankenstein that way.
Not that it is perfect. The rhythm of the whole thing feels ever so slightly ‘off,’ as if energy isn’t quite carried through when the blackouts between scenes. Each scene felt as if it were an end, rather than a continuing story.
At the same time other rhythms and performances were generally spot on. My personal favorite was when the Moth Sluts were alone, speaking to each other in snarls and clicks, seeming like a weird pack of wild dogs. Until a human crewman entered the room–then they all cooed and purred again, going from scary aliens to exotic coquettes in about half a second! Frankly, one sure sign of how well the show worked overall was that I (and pretty much everyone else) saw the “surprise ending” coming a mile away. Yet it still worked, still got the mix of horror and laughter intended, and we all left the theatre smiling.
For those in the area, Captain Dan Dixon V. The Moth Sluts plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm until September 14 at 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood CA 91601. You can make reservations by calling (818) 202-4120. I for one hope it will earn an extension. Meanwhile, regional repertories looking to plan something for Halloween should maybe make an inquiry or two!
All Photo Credit: Joe-Munoz-Varon