The Good Time Girls | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Good Time Girls


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THE GOOD TIME GIRLS, at Cafe Voltaire. Michael Flores's play exemplifies a key principle in the genre of erotic literature, whether hard-core porn or soft-core soap--namely, that nobody gets excited about a bad girl doing bad things, only about a good girl doing bad things. A trilogy of monologues ostensibly delivered by legendary 50s cheesecake model Betty Page, self-promoting 60s supergroupie Pamela Des Barres, and accused 90s "Hollywood Madame" Heidi Fleiss, The Good Time Girls examines women "whose strength is their sexuality," according to the program. Yet it conveys not a trace of Des Barres's and Fleiss's considerable senses of humor (the latter posed for the cover of Esquire's 1993 "dubious achievements" issue, after all). Nor does it reveal the self-analytical distance inevitably developed by those who make works of art of themselves. Instead, each waiflike odalisque has a brief moment of introspection in which she confides a wish to "get away from all this," then gets back to the business of dropping names, sharing the gossip and the goods, wiggling butt and widening eyes in mock coyness, and generally reveling in being a naughty little girl.

Heather Prete, who plays all three characters in the same mandatory breathy whisper (Page also sports a molasses-heavy southern accent), has a leggy nubility and runs through Page's calendar-art poses with athletic grace. Her Fleiss is such a Dragon Lady, however, that one almost expects the arresting officer to identify himself as Steve Canyon. But never does she suggest that she or her characters take themselves or the roles they play any way but seriously, making The Good Time Girls as blatant an exploitation of female subservience as those originally foisted on the women this show claims to liberate.

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