Michael Kearns | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Michael Kearns 

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Chicago-trained, LA-based actor-writer Michael Kearns doesn't play it safe. His open homosexuality has cost him more than a few opportunities in the Hollywood casting scene, and his grittily erotic material, couched in alternately ironic and ecstatic attitudes as he dramatizes sexual and social realities in the age of AIDS, strikes even some gay audiences as overly blunt. In Intimacies, previously seen at the Halsted Theatre Centre in 1989, Kearns plays six marginal and sometimes mean people with AIDS, including a prostitute with an infected newborn, a teenage speed freak, and a demented street person. In the more recent Rock, he intersperses personal reminiscences including video playbacks of himself in circumstances ranging from an Entertainment Tonight interview to a porn film to the series Life Goes On, in which he guest-starred as an HIV-positive actor very much like himself--with monologues by characters whose lives were touched by movie star Rock Hudson. One is a kid from Arkansas who lost his virginity in a Hollywood rest room after he and his faith-healer mother visited the dying actor; another is an acid-tongued old queen who gave the up-and-coming Hudson "butch lessons"; another, in a tour de force impersonation, is Marilyn Monroe, who compares the lies she was forced to embody with the hypocrisy and homophobia that infected Hudson's life and career. Kearns's gutsy, tightly focused work is among the most interesting being done on the theme of AIDS. He'll perform Intimacies Saturday, December 5, at 7 PM at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Gallery 2, 1040 W. Huron; call 226-1449. Tickets are $8. Then he'll perform Rock Sunday, December 6, at 8 PM at the Circle Theatre, 7300 W. Madison, Forest Park; call 708-771-7469. Tickets are $12.

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