Stormin' Mormon

Steven Fales brings his off-Broadway show home to Vegas

Las Vegas Review-Journal/April 22, 2010

Confession is good for the gay, once-married, drug-addicted, male-whoring, ex-Mormon soul.

Especially when it's woven into an off-Broadway hit that spurred critics across the country to rapturous reviews.

Confessor? Steven Fales. Confessional? The Onyx Theatre. Confessions? Appropriately titled "Confessions of a Mormon Boy," a tour-de-force tracing the ex-Las Vegan (and Clark High School graduate) from Utah boyhood to excommunication to crystal meth-using, high-priced New York call boy to actor/writer with a powerful tale to tell, glimpsed in a video clip:

"After six months of living my own personal 'Moulin Rouge,' voices of shame were SCREAMING IN MY HEAD!" Fales exclaims onstage, hands grabbing his head for anguished emphasis, as he prowls the stage with driving energy.

"I HAD TO GET AWAY FROM THEM, KEEP THEM QUIET - so I went to the Roxy," he quips about the bawdy, ex-New York nightspot with its weekly gay dances, thumping club music blasting away. "COME AND GET ME BOYS!"

Settled into a couch in the cozy lobby of the intimate Onyx - where "Confessions" opens tonight for a weekend run - the 40-year-old with the quick, bright smile fielded questions about attempting marriage, his children, excommunication, gay prostitution and the Mormon father who still lives in Las Vegas.

Question: How's your relationship with your father after the play's success?

Answer: Up and down. I've avoided bringing this play back to Las Vegas because it's in my dad's backyard. It's a lot about him, but he came to see the show in New York. That takes a big man.

Q: After moving from Utah to Las Vegas as a child, what was life like here?

A: We were all Mormon in high school and we had the best time. We'd go down totally sober to Caesars Palace and throw parties. But I had no experimentation, no sex with anyone, no drinking.

Q: Despite having a "gay adolescence" and eventually coming out, you were married to a woman and have two children (a 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter). What led you to get married?

A: No one ever put a gun to my head. I wanted to be straight and I figured if I went on a mission, the Lord would make me straight. We were married almost seven years. I told my ex-wife I was gay before the marriage. She took me on because there was this new "reparative therapy," not the electroshock therapy of the past; her biological clock was ticking; her mother was a famous Mormon writer who just wowed me. Emily (his ex-wife) has left the church since I got kicked out, and the kids live in Salt Lake City. So much of my story is about the joy of those children.

Q: Do you see your kids regularly?

A: Erratically, but regularly.

Q: What is excommunication like?

A: I was tried in a court of 20 men. I was charged with homosexuality and they invalidate everything you have ever given as a Mormon. It was so fantastical, I couldn't believe it had happened and I thought someone needs to write about this. I moved to New York and got sidetracked in a ferocious gay adolescence.

Q: You were also sidetracked into prostitution and drugs, as you reveal in your play. Have your kids seen it, and how did they react to the events in your life?

A: I've invited them to read the book and see the play, but they haven't yet. I think they're not ready. But my daughter, when she found out I had been excommunicated for being gay, she said, "That's stupid." My son has a problem finding out I'd been an escort. We were working out and he said, "Dad, what's an escort?" What do you say to that? That began one of the teaching opportunities.

Q: Why did you become an escort?

A: For money, at the beginning, I went into survival mode. But I was also looking for validation for my father's love in the penthouses of New York. That dissipated and I realized what I was doing.

Q: How would you summarize "Confessions of a Mormon Boy"?

A: A journey of self-discovery, of who I am in a world where you don't fit in. But I'm accountable for everything. There are bad guys here and there, but what about me? No one wants to see a whiny gay victim play. We're past that.

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