TastiSkank: the writing’s on the stall
ASPEN Sarah Litzsinger and Kate Reinders arrived in New York City as fresh-faced, clean-mouthed innocents from the Midwest – Litzsinger from Carmel, Ind., (“Like Carmel, California,” she says, “except it’s not by the sea, it’s by the Interstate”) and Reinders from Muskegon, Mich. Both had backgrounds in the relatively well-mannered world of musical theater, and in their early days in New York, either could have walked along 42nd Street convincingly telling passersby, “I’m a good girl, I am.” If they had been playing Eliza Doolittle, that is. As it turns out, when Litzsinger and Reinders began collaborating last year, both were Broadway ingenues playing the sweetest of roles: Litzsinger as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” Reinders as Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked.”But by then, a large measure of the good-girl facade has been scrubbed away. For while Litzsinger was exposing the inner Prince in the Beast, and Reinders was floating around inside a shimmering bubble, the two were spending their free nights doing unmentionable things as the duo, TastiSkank.”So we were both ingenues on Broadway and doing TastiSkank on our days off,” said Litzsinger. “It was a Jekyll and Hyde experience.”Both halves of that dual existence have a musical component. But that is where the common ground is split asunder. On Broadway, there were songs like “Be Our Guest” and “Dancing Through Life.” In the Mr. Hyde half of their lives, there are ditties like “Oops, I F___ed You Again” and “The Sex Song.”
“It’s a lot about sex. And some drugs, too,” said Litzsinger of TastiSkank, which the two perform Friday at 11:30 p.m. at the St. Regis Ballroom. (The show is presented, along with Tim Minchin’s one-man show, as part of the Fat City Lounge program, hosted Friday by Rob Corddry.) “It’s candid. And maybe a little shocking. It’s dirty, it’s subversive, it’s provocative.”And on top of it, we have sweet little voices, so we can get it over better.”It was three years ago that the two began putting those sweet voices began singing filthy lyrics. At the New York Stage and Film Theater Festival, at Vassar College, Litzsinger and Reinders were the two girls – in a cast that also featured seven men – in a show called “Nerds.” Upon first meeting, the sweetness instantly poured out.”The first day, she said, ‘Hey, who are you? Come sit with me, be my friend,'” said Litzsinger. “She saw someone she thought she’d like, and we had that inexplicable spark. We’re the same size; we said we could wear each other’s clothes.”When the two went to Los Angeles together and got guitars in hand, that inexplicable spark inexplicably turned naughty. The first song to emerge from the partnership was “In & Out” – a tribute to the famed North Hollywood burger joint on Camrose (near Radford) but easily mistaken for something else. What followed were songs that were less easily disguised: “Manscape the Area,” and “The Sex Song,” a graphic description of bad sex: “You rammed my head into the wall / Trying to get your hot dog down my hall.”
“It’s what girls talk about behind closed doors,” said Litzsinger.”Men have spoken about these topics before, and women aren’t supposed to,” added Reinders. “But the truth is, we do. We just don’t tell anyone about it. This is what we think and talk about, part of being a woman.”Speaking about these things onstage, however, took a little getting used to. Litzsinger and Reinders really had, to some extent, been sheltered musical-theater types. Reinders said her most risqué performance had been an appearance in “Hair”: “But that was a rebirthing, hippie sort of thing,” she insisted. “Not raunchy or sexual. So this is the first time I’ve been a TastiSkank.”It is also the first time either has written her own material. But the two have slipped comfortably into the new roles. TastiSkank has been performed at New York’s Ars Nova Theater and in Los Angeles and London.The girls have even mastered the art of explaining it all away with their most horrified audiences: the women who gave birth to Litzsinger and Reinders.
“We were afraid of what our mothers would think,” said Reinders. “We tell them it’s all a joke; we’re playing characters, all in good fun.”The reality, however, is that the characters they play have always been lurking within.”We’re Broadway girls, sweet and nice, from the Midwest,” offered Reinders. “That’s also part of who we are. But we’re also TastiSkanks.”Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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