INTERVIEW: Simon Morley – The Original Penis Puppeteer17th August 2013
Let’s be honest, we have all had a little feel “down there”, but some people have taken this to the extreme which has led to lots of hilarity, world tours, a hugely successful career and one of the most original and well received shows in recent memory.
Simon Morley is the co-founder, original cast member, puppeteer and one of the driving forces behind the hugely successful “Puppetry of the Penis”, a show which graced the West End for five months and has gone on to play around the world. Using the (relatively) ancient art of Australian Genital Origami, Simon and his colleagues perform a number of pulls, pushes, stretches and strains to their “bits and bobs”, manipulating them into a whole manner of shapes from a wristwatch to the Eiffel Tower. Their surreal brand of eye watering comedy has been very well received all over the world and we were able to catch up with Simon before his fellow puppeteers embark on a fresh UK tour starting in October this year.
TGUK – Puppetry of the Penis, as a show, has been well established for many years, but the obvious question is how did it come about and how did you initially discover your talent?
SM – For me it was a little bit of sibling rivalry. My brother and I used to make each other laugh and word got out. Pretty soon we were being invited to perform at parties where we didn’t know anyone.
TGUK – The show now boasts an international cast who perform on a number of continents. I can only imagine what an advert in the back of Variety may have said, but how did you go about auditioning new puppeteers and what does the audition process entail?
SM – It’s tough man. When we hold auditions every nutbag for 100 miles comes out of the woodwork. But we also get some likeminded young guys who are pretty comfortable with their bodies. The idea of travelling the world, getting your penis out for an hour a night and getting paid pretty well is rather attractive to some. We line them up, make sure they can do the shapes, and get them to read some lines. Most of the time our guys are pretty raw, so there is a fair bit of training involved.
TGUK – Did you and your fellow puppeteers find it initially daunting to be so publically nude? Does it add to the stage fright? And how do you warm up for your performances?
SM – Not really. We were more concerned about presenting dialogue rather than being naked. You’ve got the power when your nude and don’t care. It’s everyone else freaking out. Most of the warming up is happening on stage, and to be fair, stage fright is not a bad thing in our line of work!
TGUK – Out of you and your colleagues, who is the most reserved performer and who is the greatest exhibitionist?
SM – I really couldn’t say there is a reserved one among us, but our craziest would have to be Nacho Regal who is doing the UK tour. He’s bloody hilarious!
TGUK – How have your family and friends reacted to the show’s contents? What was your parent’s reaction when they first saw your talent on stage?
SM – Mum was a bit freaked out. She has a great sense of humour, but she just wished it was someone else’s son doing it!
TGUK – What is the creative process of developing your show? Do you and your colleagues just sit around pulling and prodding your genitals until they resemble something, or is there a concerted effort to come up with an idea and follow it through?
SM – It’s sort of the chicken or the egg conversation. Sometimes you’ll see something like a landmark or an animal and think, I can do that. Sometimes you’ll step out of a shower and think, hang on, what does this look like?
TGUK – Out of your repertoire of “dick tricks”, which would you consider the most difficult, which is the most painful and which is your personal favourite and why?
SM – The hamburger is the classic. It was the first trick we ever did and still the greatest! The Skateboard can be difficult too. “The fruit bat” is one I don’t so much like doing anymore. I’m getting too old to stand on my head.
SM – When we perform “the fruit bat” we get someone to hold the ankles whilst the Puppeteer is upside down. We also invite men up to perform a hamburger [nb. The Hamburger involves two testicle buns and a penis burger in the middle – use your imagination….]
TGUK – What has been the strangest reaction from an audience member?
SM – On the opening night in the West End I had a guy come on stage for the fruit bat and he licked my balls! I’ve also had a 76 year old woman stick her nose in my ass. There was one occasion when we had an entire audience of 380 men get butt naked and join the show. That’s just to name a few.
TGUK – Out of the many places you have toured with your show, where has been your favourite place and which place has given you the best reception?
SM – That’s a really tough question because we have had such a wonderful run. Hamburg, NYC and the West End were amazing for us.
TGUK – Have you ever come across any adverse reaction to your show, either from an individual audience member or a community?
SM – We get them all the time, but it just leads to us selling more tickets.
TGUK – So, you are about to undertake a tour of the UK. What can audiences expect from the new shows? What is new this time around, and will any old favourites be making an appearance?
SM – There are a few new tricks, and lots of favourites. The technology we use to present the show is quite advanced which gives it a new feel and the music has also been updated.
The Puppetry of the Penis Tour commences on the 18th October 2013 in Brighton before heading around the country on a 16 date tour. Details of the tour, more information about the Puppeteers and enough photographs to make your eyes water can be found on the Puppetry of the Penis website at