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More info on the musical "Fascination"

   

 

"Fascination" Synopsis, by Michael Bottari

In 1974 I wrote what was I thought to be the first gay musical. I've since found out there were two others
that actually opened off off Broadway before we opened our show in 1975 at the Westside Gay Theatre
in a building that was really called the Westside Discussion Group, a Mattachine Society type club on 14th
Street and 10th Avenue. My school and theatre friends, Michael Green and Quitman Fludd wrote a great pop
rock score. It started when I saw a newspaper item that there was a scoutmaster who was running a call boy
service in Teaneck, N.J.! Laughing about this, I thought 1) what do they wear for uniforms?, 2) he's like Fagin
in "Oliver" 3) what about a modern day Oliver Twist in Times Square and maybe later move to Teaneck?
Thus "Fascination" (the neon sign that hung over the pin ball palace where all the hustlers found work),
became the symbol and title of the show. After this very successful production, where we'd see Broadway
musical chorus boys in attendance each night, we were approached by the now famous John Glines
("Torch Song Trilogy" producer) to move our little show to a little bit larger Glines Theatre in Soho. We did
just that, made the plot stronger, made the songs better, made new costumes, and it ran all summer and
could have run longer.


We all got lawyers (which was the first problem) started bickering, and soon "Fascination" crumbled as we
all grew up and went our separate ways. Cut to 1989 when Quitman Fludd, a Broadway talent himself by then,
died of AIDS, Michael Green moved to Los Angeles, was married and had two children, and I and my partner
Ron had designed two Broadway Shows, and countless off Broadway and touring productions. We thought we'd
never touch the show again, but now in 2006, 30 years later, we just might try a reading. Maybe a look back at
New York pre-Guilliani, pre-Disney, pre-AIDS is what we need today.

Michael Bottari

STORY

A Narrator takes us back "once upon a time" to 1975 when there was lots of sex for sale in Times Square. He tells
us a story about a young homeless (but hunky) Oliver who hitch hikes from Los Angeles all the way to New York City.
(OPENING: FASCINATION) He tells us (by becoming him) about Older Brother who runs a boys town type club in
Times Square, that saves more than young souls (BOYS, BOYS, BOYS!) Oliver is introduced to the boys as a new
"brother". Older Brother tells the boys about his own father and how he got into the business (PIMP AND A DIRTY
OLD MAN) and is befriended by Dodger (a Dodgers fan) (REPRISE: PIMP AND A DIRTY OLD MAN). Dodger advises
Oliver (I'M LEARNING") and is sent out to try to "sell" his new friend. Dodger and Oliver find the "Fascination Playland,"
and under the enticing neon sign, the sexy, macho characters on a pin ball machine come alive to sing the title song
(FASCINATION). Oliver expresses an interest in females only, so Dodger finds him what appears to be a shapely woman
(Old Sally) and they soon leave together. At Old Sally's Place, Oliver is shocked to find more than meets the eye
(A MAN & A WOMAN). After living there a week, Oliver escapes the androgynous Old Sally, and is homeless again in
a sea of anonymous faces (SO MANY FACES) .

Meanwhile in Teaneck, N.J., Older Brother has reinvented himself as a Scoutmaster (BE PREPARED) and is surprised
to see young Oliver back to his lair. He'll have to hustle men if he's to stay, so Dodger takes him back to Port Authority
Bus Terminal where the story of a hooker, a pimp and a crooked cop enfold (LILY). He's to meet Dodger later at a club,
but for now, he's enjoying his walk down the street (SOAKING UP THE SUNSHINE). At the Blue Bore Club ("YES" DISCO )
Nancy, a go-go girl there laments over losing her man, Billy Sykes, a sexy drug dealer. (LOST HIM, I'M DOWN, AND
I'M BLUE). Oliver arrives and soon Billy sets his sights (and drugs) on him. Oliver, finding someone he loves for the
first time, finds himself in various gay situations with Bill; a Stonewall Street Rally, a Porn Movie, the "Trucks", the
"Rambles" and eventually the Unemployment Line. He wants to settle down with Billy (AFRAID OF HEARING NO.....)
but Billy's just not the type (YES) After Oliver saves Billy from an overdose, Billy sees the light and they move in together.

We find everyone (Oliver & Bill in towels) working legitimate at the Continental Baths (now re-named "Fascination Baths")
and the M.C. (our lovable Narrator) introduces Old Sally, now a comedienne, and does his big drag number (IT JUST
WOULDN'T BE ME) with the boys in white top hat and towels. There is a raid and in the process of showing identification,
we find out who Oliver's real parents are. We end with one (big) happy family reunion. (FINALE)

FASCINATION

SYNOPSIS OF SCENES & MUSICAL NUMBERS

ACT ONE
Prologue: California and cross country
"FASCINATION"...............................................................A Voice
Scene 1: The Older Brothers Boys Club
"BOYS, BOYS, BOYS"....................................................The Boys and The Girl
"A PIMP & A DIRTY OLD MAN".....................................Older Brother and the Boys
"Reprise: PIMP & A DIRTY OLD MAN".......................Dodger & The Boys
Scene 2: Older Brothers Room
"I'M LEARNING"...............................................................Dodger & Oliver
Scene 3: Times Square
"FASCINATION"...............................................................The Pin Ball Characters
Scene 4: Old Sally's Place
"A MAN & A WOMAN".....................................................Sally
"FACES".............................................................................Oliver & Voices
Scene 5: Limbo
"TAKE TO THE ROAD"...................................................Nancy & Dodger

ACT TWO
Scene 1: Teaneck, N.J.
"BE PREPARED"............................................................Scoutmaster & The Scouts
Scene 2: Port Authority Bus Terminal & Times Square
"LILY"..................................................................................Dodger & Entire Cast
"SUNSHINE".....................................................................Oliver & Voices
Scene 3: "The Blue Bore Club".
"LOST HIM, I'M DOWN & I'M BLUE"............................Nancy
Scene 4: A Porno Movie Studio
Scene 5: Bill Sykes place
"AFRAID OF HEARING NO.... YES".............................Oliver & Bill
Scene 6: The Continental Baths
"IT JUST WOULDN'T BE ME"......................................M.C. and the Boys
"FINALE"...........................................................................Entire Cast

Thanks to Michael Bottari for providing me with this information, and copy of a recording of the show.