Move over Mitt Romney. Someone — a loud, proud, divorce-and-defunct gay Mormon guy with a savage sense of humor — is parading across America.
It’s Steven Fales, the self-described “Mormon American Princess.” His one-man show of the same name, a sequel to the hit “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” has its world premiere next week at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center.
“I’m the anti-Mitt Romney; I learned everything I know about self-promotion through him,” Fales jokes before suggesting that the Mormon Church would cherish Romney as president, “because it would slow down gay rights. We are in a race against time.”
Like “Mormon Boy,” “Princess” weaves together an entertaining mix of political, social and religious humor with Fales’ own life insights. Unlike the previous work, which chronicled, often humorously, Fales’ failed attempt to overcome his same-sex attraction through reparative therapy, the new work is all cabaret with fewer scripted passages.
“It’s a fun subject because I get to explore my own narcissistic tendencies and analyzing where I get it from,” he says, noting a New York Times article that called him an entertainer who can “sell it.”
“Well, where did I learn to sell it?” Fales asks. “I think being a Mormon missionary for two years — if you can sell religion, you can sell anything.”
So far, audiences are buying. But Fales has meaty material to work with — his own life history.
Born in Provo, Utah, he grew up in Las Vegas. After graduating from Brigham Young University, he married in Salt Lake Temple, had two children and continued to immerse himself in Mormonism. He says he valued much of the spiritual teachings, but personally, something wasn’t in sync.
“While most boys my age wanted to be Donny and marry Marie, I wanted to marry Donny and be Marie,” he once quipped.
Yet Fales went on to marry Emily Pearson, beginning a curious odyssey that mirrored that of his mother-in-law at the time, revered Mormon poet Carol Lynn Pearson, whose book “Good-bye, I Love You” chronicled her relationship with her gay ex-husband.
“With the new reparative therapy we thought we could rewrite Emily’s parents’ story and I studied with the top in the field,” he says. “But it wasn’t making me straighter, it was making me depressed.”
He says he eventually created “Mormon Boy” as a way to honor his own passage but also to build a bridge between the Mormon and gay communities, and embrace diversity.
“I see the little shift happening among Mormons and it keeps me going,” Fales says of the work both he and Pearson are doing.
IF YOU GO
‘Mormon American Princess’
Where: New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays; opens Feb. 7; closes Feb. 24
Tickets: $18 to $28
Contact: (415) 861-8972 or www.nctc.org