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'Heaven Or Hell 3' Explores San Diego In 1971

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This weekend you can find San Diego International Fringe performers squaring off with new versions of their shows. Tom Steward has shaken not stirred his “One Man Bond” into “James Bond in Space” while Kata Pierce-Morgan and Kate McGrew will be offering the third installment of “Heaven or Hell” at Les Girls, Part 2 debuted this past summer at Fringe.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 This weekend you can find San Diego international fringe performers squaring off with new versions of their shows. Tom steward has transformed his one man bond into James Bond in space for a Sunday matinee at Chula Vista is on stage Playhouse. Plus he'll be doing a staged reading of war of the worlds at onstage Playhouse on Saturday for a full Saifai weekend. You can also find fellow fringers kata Pierce Morgan and Kate McGrew performing the third installment of heaven or hell at Lake girls. Par two debuted this past summer at fringe KPBS arts reporter Beth haka. Mando speaks with the two women about their politically charged play.

Speaker 2: 00:45 CATIA, I got to see heaven or hell too during fringe festival and now you have a new version having her hell three 1971 San Diego. So what can people expect from this one? Well, in the original heaven or hell too, we were dealing with the stages of grief. My husband had just died and so we, we put this show on the back burner and address that for heaven or health three we're back on track with our political stance. We are exposing the darker underbelly of San Diego in 1971 and it's relevant because so much of the corruption, the abuse of power, the prejudice towards diversity, the silent bystanders with the good old boys code of silence that is relevant for today. And so this show pretty much like our town by Thornton Wilder, it's immersed with story poems, which you'll get to discover the inner workings of the pimp, the streetwalker, the stripper, the medieval ghosts, none who represents the homeless or anyone who's been dis and franchised and the sailor who was really, uh, an icon on the streets of San Diego in 1971.

Speaker 2: 02:00 You own and run Les girls here in San Diego. But you are also using this as a venue to perform your play. So is that something that people find kind of unexpected? It's becoming more and more accepted. I started this in 2012. What's really interesting is that the energy and the spirit of the place is morphing. Like when, when I first started the after show, the girl show, the girl, his show was so big, it was like a big elephant in the building. And now it's like a little mouse. And what we're doing has expanded and grown and you can feel the changes that are taking place in Lee girls theater and Cade also known as lady GRU, who has performed in San Diego a number of times at fringe. And you are a part of this show. You have come all the way from Ireland to be a part of this. What's your role here? What are you doing this time? I'll be doing a rap about rape. So, um, I'll be a story

Speaker 1: 03:00 of an incident that happened in 1971 in San Diego. And it's about police abuse and the power dynamic between people in the sex industry and the police. And it's a story that could be told today, uh, in Ireland or anywhere in the world, sadly. And are you contributing the rap to it in terms of writing it yourself or just performing? I'm writing it myself, so I'm again writing it based on the story. Uh, details of, of what happened in this one incident, but, um, as director of the sex workers Alliance in Ireland and an escort myself, I'm very familiar with, as I said, inevitable tensions between police and, um, people such as ourselves. Both of you have jobs which seem to be informing your work, your artistic work very powerfully. So talk a little bit about how their, what the exchanges

Speaker 2: 03:53 between what you do and what you create in your art. Um, one thing I like about Kate is that I loved her dynamic. I love her stance on sex workers' rights. What we have in common, we've just discovered is that the objection that I have, the mission, I have to speak out, not be a silent bystander about police abuse. She's got the same story. And um, and that's what Kate and I have in common. Not so much. Um, I'm not advocating, um, the legalization of prostitution here in San Diego. I think we're way too conservative. We're military town, but that's what she's doing. And I thought there was a wall between us on that topic, but actually it's not. It's all about the abuse of power. So I'm so thrilled to have her.

Speaker 1: 04:44 Absolutely. I think it's at that, um, CATIA and I know that life in the sex industry, people what they're doing is paying their bills and people are finding a means for survival. And so the common ground around this, uh, police abuse is people will try and abolish, uh, the sex industry thinking that it's all exploitation or that our clients are exploiting us. Well actually it's, it's work for many people who have little to no other option or who find it as the most, um, suitable work for them for a number of reasons. It actually is a, the police and the criminal aspect that comes from illegality and comes from people in the sex industry not having labor rights. That is where our exploitation largely occurs. And so that's the kind of, um, message that we feel like it's really important that people hear that this is the, the, um, reality and this is how it gets parsed out. And people need to listen to people who have real experience in the sex industry to understand this, the math of it. If you all, all right. Well, I want to thank you both very much for talking about heaven nor hell. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3: 06:05 You.

Speaker 1: 06:12 That was Beth Armando speaking with like girls owner [inaudible] Pierce, Morgan and singer activist Kate McGrew about heaven or hell three that will be performed Saturday and Sunday at Lake girls.

Speaker 3: 06:40 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.