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The California Theater brings burlesque to Santa Rosa with ‘Forbidden Kiss Live’

I’m weird about sex. I don’t know. Probably the Catholic School. And the Nineties. Purity culture was big back then. There was no actual sex education at St. Mary Ignatius, but as fifth graders we were given a thin paperback called “Family Life” to begrudgingly provide us our Vatican-approved education in human sexuality. Each chapter drilled the same three points repeatedly: heterosexual intercourse is all there is, don’t touch yourself, and Don’t Touch Yourself. What can I say? Patriarchal control. Hetero-normative brain washing. It started early for Generation X. Fast forward to adulthood and I can’t even sit through “Magic Mike.” Too much floor humping.

So am I the right person to write about “Forbidden Kiss Live” – a once-a-month erotic variety show in downtown Santa Rosa featuring pro-sex comedy sketches, live music and original songs about everything from self-love to vaginas being awesome, and burlesque, and boylesque, and neo-burlesque, all the -lesques? Yes. I am. Come to think of it, burlesque is supposed to be for people like me. And probably therapy, but that’s another ball of wax shaped into a butt-plug. I attended a recent presentation of “Forbidden Kiss Live” and it was a total blast. Did the golden shower jokes make me clench a little bit? Sure. But that’s what the cocktails were for. Well-crafted and yes please. A couple of those bad mama-jammas had me in the perfect head space for all things liberating, all things sensual and all things Natasha Nightmare -- whose thoughtful, weird and whimsical bump-and-grinds were the standout moments of the night.

As an arts and entertainment venue, The California is a great spot for a sultry cabaret. Or for anything, really. There’s a bar. There’s food. The service is awesome. Parking garage right across the street. It practically gets you off your couch for you. Created and emceed by ex-New Yorker and “Matriarch of Off-Off Broadway Solo Theater” Cheryl King, “Forbidden Kiss Live” is a sexy vaudeville gem and an easygoing great time. Theater is imploding before our very eyes, just ask the New York Times, so let’s all plan an evening of free-spirited sex-positive fun for the ones we love – and for ourselves!

(Loosely related side note: In yet another episode of “It’s a Small World for Theater Dorks” -- I have been to Cheryl King’s acting studio in Manhattan. 2009 maybe. The salad days. Even then I was impressed with King. And she’s here now! This is very good for us, Sonoma County.)

“Forbidden Kiss Live” will tickle your funny bone and all sorts of other places on Sept. 13, Oct 18, Nov. 8 and Dec. 13 2023. Get your tickets at

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