HOT GREEKS ribald hysterical fun

Kai Brothers, Carlos Barrera, Tom Orr, TJ Buswell, Annie, Larson, Kim Larsen, Fennel Skellyman, L. Ron Hubby in Thrillpeddlers' Hot Greeks, The Cockette's musical comedy.

Ste Fishell, Steven Satyricon, and Bobby Singer in Thrillpeddlers' Hot Greeks, The Cockette's musical comedy. Photo by David Wilson.

HOT GREEKS: Revival. Music by Scrumbly Koldewyn. Book & Lyrics by Martin Worman. Additional Lyrics by Scrumbly Koldewyn. Directed by Russell Blackwood. Thrillpeddlers , Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, San Francisco. Tickets www.brownpapertickets.comThursday - Saturday at 8 pm.



Keeping in line with the alliteration of the headline, race to and book your ticket for Hot Greeks because it is playing to full houses and is only extended another three weeks. This is a revival that had its origin in the late 1960s-early70s during the libertine era of San Francisco. That era spawned the infamous gender-bending Cockettes who performed in drag late nights at the Palace Theater (which is no more)in North Beach (where the Beatniks hung out) with the music/lyrics written by the 27 year old Scrumbly Koldewyn who is an icon who is alive and well in the Bay Area music/café scene. In this revival he plays the on-stage piano with élan and still had time to add new songs to the shenanigans. He is backed up by up by Steve Bolinger on the drums and Birdie-Bob Watt on the tenor sax.

Thrillpeddlers Artistic Director Russell Blackwood teamed up with Scrumbly a few years ago to produce the long running (22 months) Pearls Over Shanghai. They went on to produce less successful but equally stimulating Vice Palace.  For Hot Greeks they resurrected the1972 musical, doctored it up a bit (more than a bit) found 22 (count them 22) talented uninhibited actors to strut their stuff  (and sometimes display their ‘wares’) upon the stage at the intimate, funky Hypnodrome venue.

If the music sounds to you as being derivative, it is because this is a send up the 1940s musicals such as Good News and many others. Hot Greeks takes place at “Athens University in a time warp between antiquity and the 1940s.”  There are football players named Ajax, Hector, Orestes, Thersites and quarterback Pendulum Pulaski (use your imagination for that name since he is played by the notorious Tom Orr of Dirty Little Show Tunes fame). Being a “football musical” all the funny business high jinks leads to the big finale of a football game. It may be giving a way too much of the story line, but probably not, to say that the “hero” of the game is Lysistrata (Rik Lopez in drag).

The book by Martin Worman steals (borrows, usurps, satirizes) from Aristophanes account of the Peloponnesian War and has the cheer leaders deny sex to their “men” even to the “horrible” decision to return the fraternity pins. That gesture leads to a line “It isn’t easy to be a girl in Greece!” The antics leave no doubt of its meaning.

There isn’t a weak member of the cast and many high spots for individuals with the ensemble numbers a joy to watch. They even have the chorus of Ionic, Doric and Corinthian decked out to resemble those columns. The costumes are a marvel, less being more, often times only a thong jockstrap hiding a cod piece and an inflatable dildo (sorry, for this show only simulated nudity). There is enough glitter and sequins to dress half a dozen shows.

The acting is extremely broad with a bucketful of mugging that is contagious and yes, “over the top.” But that is a necessary part of the fun especially with hysterical lyrics, exuberant choreography and silly plot.  Hot Greeks is a fast paced one hour and 45 minute show (including intermission) that may not be for the lady in Dubuque but it certainly is for San Franciscans.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of