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Steven Fales has been doing his one-man show Confessions of a Mormon Boy for a long time—for 18 years, to be exact.

After a 2001 Salt Lake City premiere and 10-week developmental run in Miami in 2003, Mormon Boy was a hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, and enjoyed a four-month Off-Broadway run in 2006. Since then, it’s been performed all around the world—including South Africa this past summer.

However, Fales and Confessions of a Mormon Boy have now created a home, of sorts, right here in Palm Springs: Fales will be performing the show every Tuesday night at The Club at Hotel Zoso through the end of January. After a month or so of previews, the official opening night will take place Tuesday, Oct. 22.

This is the third Coachella Valley stint this year alone for Confessions of a Mormon Boy, following performances at the Desert Rose Playhouse and Oscar’s. I spoke to Fales during the show’s month-long stint at Oscar’s.

“The desert is becoming home,” Fales told me in May.

Fales invited me to check out a recent preview performance. The autobiographical show, using original direction by Tony Award winner Jack Hofsiss, chronicles Fales’ life journey as a sixth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—who realizes early on that he’s gay. The show starts with a recording of Fales blaring out a song he made up as a child.

“I just made up songs like this,” Fales tells the audience. “Mormons record everything.”

Over the next 90 minutes, Fales takes us along with him on that journey—including a mission to Portugal and college at Brigham Young University, during which he joined the Young Ambassadors, a BYU song-and-dance group. It was as a Young Ambassador he had his first gay experience—something Fales promptly confessed to his bishop.

The church encourages Fales to undergo reparative therapy—which, of course, only makes matters worse. Despite the fact that he’s attracted to men, Fales is encouraged to date women, and he eventually falls in love with a woman who just so happens to be the daughter of Carol Lynn Pearson, the author of Goodbye, I Love You—an autobiography about her marriage to a gay man who eventually dies of AIDS. Even though Fales is honest with his girlfriend, Emily, about his same-sex attraction, they get married and have two children.

“We were going to write a different story,” Fales tells the audience.

Despite Fales’ best efforts to battle his homosexuality—including therapy costing $135 for a 45-minute session—Fales and Emily grow progressively unhappy. When Fales eventually confesses a series of sexual affairs to his wife, their marriage is over. So, too, is Fales’ life as a member of the church. For me—myself a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the most moving part of the play comes when Fales recounts his experience in church court, which results in his excommunication.

After this, the play’s tone changes considerably, becoming more frantic and more graphic (including Fales stripping down to his skivvies and simulated sex)—which, appropriately, mirrors what happens in Fales life: He moves to New York City, ostensibly to pursue his acting career. What actually follows is work as an escort, drug use and, as Fales puts it, six months of “my own personal Moulin Rouge.”

There is no suspense, really, in Confessions of a Mormon Boy—we know Fales makes it through, because he’s standing right in front of us, 18 years after the concluding moments in the play, which Fales has tweaked and refined over the years (including the addition of a reveal toward the end of the play I won’t give away here). However, Fales makes up for that lack of suspense by keeping the audience engaged through every minute of the show’s run time: There’s not a lull or a dull moment. There are funny moments, moving moments and appropriately awkward moments (as well as a handful of moments that could be refined or excised, such as more than one brag by Fales about his endowment size). But there is never a dull one.

Steven Fales has been invited to perform Confessions of a Mormon Boy all over the country and the world for almost two decades for good reason: It’s a great show by a talented performer.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 7:30 p.m., every Tuesday, through Jan. 28, at The Club at Hotel Zozo, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $24.95 to $99.95. The Tuesday, Oct. 15, show is a preview with discounted tickets; opening night is Tuesday, Oct. 22, and includes a special performance at 7 p.m. by Jill Kimmel. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyexperience.com.

Published in Theater and Dance

Steven Fales has performed his Confessions of a Mormon Boy one-man show all over the world since its debut off-Broadway more than 13 years ago—but the show may never have happened without the support of the Desert Hot Springs woman Fales calls his “Mormon Auntie Mame.”

“She loved me unconditionally,” Fales said about Linda Parkin, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014. “She never had kids, but she always called me her ‘first born.’”

After successful shows at Rancho Mirage’s Desert Rose Playhouse earlier this year, Confessions of a Mormon Boy is being performed each Tuesday in May at Oscar’s Café and Bar in downtown Palm Springs.

The show tells the story of Fales’ upbringing as part of a prominent Mormon family in Utah, and focuses on the realization that he’s gay; his attempts at “reparative therapy”; his excommunication from the church; his fall into drug use and prostitution; and his eventual self-acceptance. While the show contains neither full nudity nor profanity, it should be considered R-rated due to its subject matter.

Fales said the show has always been hugely popular with gay members and former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (disclosure: I fall into the “gay former member” category), but some other audience-goers found some of the show’s content uncomfortable—particularly the portion dealing with Fales’ time as a prostitute.

“We weren’t ready to talk about all of this before marriage equality,” he said. “For the gay Mormons, they were so hungry to be shown onstage. They’d fly in from all over the country to see the show. To my knowledge, I was the first gay Mormon to tell his own story in any mainstream way.”

Fales said that the Confessions of a Mormon Boy script has been updated and refreshed over the years. In addition to other shows, including a cabaret act, Fales has been developing a trilogy—two plays to pair with Confessions of a Mormon Boy, meant to be performed on three consecutive nights. Missionary Position is a prequel, focusing on his younger years, while Prodigal Dad focuses on his battle during the Great Recession to keep his parental rights in not-so-gay-friendly Utah. However, he’s put the other two shows on the shelf for now to focus on bringing Confessions of a Mormon Boy to both audiences old and new.

After the show’s at Oscar’s this month, Fales is going on the road, taking the show to Norway and South Africa, and he has plans to later take the show to Asia and back to New York City. In between, however, he hopes to return to perform in Palm Springs—a place he fell in love with in large part due to his loving and accepting Mormon aunt—in the fall.

“The desert is becoming home,” Fales said.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 8 p.m., Tuesdays, through Tuesday, May 28, at Oscar’s Café and Bar, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $44.95, and include a free special cocktail; premium seating and dinner packages are also available. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyoffbroadway.com.

Published in Theater and Dance