Puppetry of the Penis' Prickly business from Down Under

Private Parts go public in this hilarious romp from Down Under. But there's nothing dirty going on; these organs play purely for laughs. Just two exuberant, 30-something straight guys from Australia doing wild and crazy things with their individual penises. "Puppetry of the Penis" might be a shock-and-awe Garden of Eden experience for some, but once you get used to frontal nudity, it's just another stand-up routine. Even Eve would have laughed, had Adam been as creative. And if you didn't score front-row tickets or bring binoculars, relax. POP's testicular antics get blown up on a huge upstage screen; you won't miss a follicle.

After a warmup by quick-witted comedienne Peggy Platt, the penis posse, Simon Morley and David Friend, saunter onstage covered by capes. After teasing the audience a bit, they doff their cover and get down to the business at hand. Truthfully, you have to see it to believe it. They may be flashing genitals, but in a flagrantly funny fashion statement, keep their socks, Reeboks and beanie hats on. Taking turns, the two Aussies twist, turn, stretch and spin their manroots and nearby anatomy into 40 hilarious genital formations. They recreate national monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower and the famous Australian rock known as Urulu. They ape animals, including the pelican, the Loch Ness Monster, a squirrel, snail, sea anemone, baby kangaroo and bullfrog. Then come body parts: the eye (it winks), the heart (it pumps) and the brain (supposedly it thinks).

There's a flurry of additional installations, as they prefer to call them. Inanimate objects such as a wristwatch, the Aboriginal instrument didgeridoo and a vacillating fan. Or the epicurean portion, like Kentucky Fried Chicken-these two Aussies could close down the Colonel's food chain-and POP's signature creation, the hamburger. Morley and Friend constantly reassure the audience that it doesn't hurt, but one concerned matron mumbled something about their reproductive abilities after one particularly stretching "installation."

"Puppetry of the Penis" - or as they call it, "the ancient Australian art of genital origami" - first went pubic when creator Simon Morley conceived a classy, highbrow art calendar in 1996 to showcase 12 favorite penis installations. After several beers New Years Eve 1997, Morley unleashed his manly talents on a live audience, soon joined by pal David Friend, himself a bit of a tricky dicky. Their talents grew, as did their followers, so they took their hanging art on the road, touring Australia, Europe and America to sell-out audiences.

For some reason, men are shy about attending this good-natured full monty; audiences run 90 percent female. Two busloads of local ladies rode in from Kent and surrounding areas to take advantage of a special radio promotion that included dinner at Dick's, a nut bag filled with peanuts and a psychedelic cardboard cock ring. A bride-to-be named Stephanie was blindfolded and brought to the performance by her well-meaning girlfriends. During the interactive part of the performance and no groom in sight, the unsuspecting bachelorette wound up onstage, holding Morley's legs in an upside down installation called "the fruit bat." We couldn't see the resemblance, but Stephanie may have - when she glanced down.

It must be admitted that the show reeks of grade-school exhibitionism, obviously akin to Australian pub prankery. Morley and Friend banter their way through their "dick tricks" with comments on the order of "As you can imagine, our country is very, very proud of us" and "I think you'll agree, the camera really does add 10 pounds." They even poke at politics, with conceptual portraits of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

Of course, every dick trick advances you closer to the big climax of the evening, "The Windsurfer," performed by Morley on a roller board, propelled by the whirling blade of a fan.

"Puppetry of the Penis" may not be for everyone, but the Chippendale set will feel right at home. Truthfully, this show could arouse only a chuckle. Most of us have glimpsed the male organ at least once. Still, it's a bit disconcerting to see two adult males strutting cheerfully about the stage with their naughty bits swinging free. Museum aficionados might pause to wonder why Michelangelo was so inspired. But after all is said and done, this penile import runs a tad long. Or maybe it's just too much of a good thing.

Puppetry of the Penis will be performed at Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., through Aug. 31. Prices: $25-$39, via Ticketmaster, 292-2787.

Freelance writer Starla Smith can be reached c/o editor@capitolhilltimes.com

.[[In-content Ad]]