Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Hit solo musical Sex Witch coming to NYC!

Sex Witch The Musical has announced an upcoming three-week run at the Soho Playhouse in NYC, kicking off on April 19 after wowing audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe fest and in several cities across the U.S.

This solo musical comedy from the mind and memory of Maggie Lalley tells the story of her demented and hilarious journey through a two-person teen witch sex cult. At the mercy of her then best friend “Bethany” and her manipulative charm, Maggie, after bingeing on Harry Potter and Charmed, was convinced that she and Bethany were teen witches — that is, until Bethany betrayed her. Using standup comedy, storytelling, and original music, Lalley manages to turn this honest tale of trauma into a hysterical solo show. 

Sex Witch The Musical has toured all over the United States and was critically acclaimed in the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has performed to sold out audiences in New York, Boston, Austin and LA, and was critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And now Lalley is gearing up for another NYC run at the Soho Playhouse.

Says Lalley: “This completely true story explores my relationship to cult mentality, mind control, folie a deux (a psychological term that means madness between two) sexual abuse, LGBTQ exploration, witchcraft, love, mid 2000s popular culture, millennial celebrity culture, and, wait for it… Harry Potter.”

We caught up with Lalley to get the scoop:

Please explain the overlap between being queer and being fascinated with witchy things.

Maggie Lalley: Bethany, the leader of my two-person magical teen witch sex cult (sounds insane, I know…) was obsessed with the witches and warlocks that dominated popular culture at the time (2005-2007). She loved Sabrina, The Craft, the ladies of Charmed, and the cast of Harry Potter. Because I thought of Bethany as an older, sexually experienced teenager (she was 14 and I was 13, cougar vibes), I followed her lead a lot, both sexually and socially.

We’d have a sleepover, light a candle, watch Charmed, make out, cast a spell, do a casual blood swap to confirm our witchery, make out again, watch Harry Potter, and go to sleep. I think her queerness at that time was rooted in a desire to be my first everything; first kiss, first full on sexual experience, first taste of ‘magic’. I don’t know how aware she was of her sexual orientation. I think she liked being a dominant, controlling figure in my life.

The most exciting part of this witchy cult was that Bethany was able to bring other witches/warlocks into her body so they could ‘hang out with me.’ All of these witches and warlocks just so happened to be A list celebrities. Convenient! You’ll have to come see the show to find out which celebs. My relationship with one of the stars of Harry Potter (through Bethany’s body of course), became romantic and even more sexual.

For years, I was very ashamed that I believed Bethany, but now I understand that my naïveté wasn’t my fault. Her particular brand of queerness was ultimately toxic and abusive. So yes, I was traumatized, but now I have a funny musical!

Photo: Sayaka Ueno

This is a musical. What kind of music? Can we have a sample song?

Maggie: There are 6 songs in the show that chronicle the two year period of my time as a teen witch. The opening number introduces the idea that Bethany was my fellow witch and sexual partner. It also lets the audience know that I’m a comedian and intend to put on a wacky show, no matter how dark the subject matter.

“I was a teen witch for years. 13 to 15 yeah let’s be clear.

You might wanna ask me why.

Oh because magic made me feel so alive.

To be honest I had lots of candles to light, and I would watch Charmed all day and night.

Yeah me and my friend would do that on repeat, oh being a witch was an easy feat.

Plus, I mostly just got eaten out.

That’s what being a witch is about.

I mostly just got eaten out.

That’s what being a witch is about.

There were some fingers too.

Sometimes she’d use one yeah sometimes two.

We’d make out and then we’d cry.

Oh god, magic makes you feel so alive!”

The songs are kooky and fun, and full of spoken inserts that tie the story together.

Are teen girls attracted to the occult because of its “otherness” or is this fascination caused by a lack of access to legitimate and interesting avenues of power and autonomy?

Maggie: It’s a combination of the two. Being a teenage girl on planet earth is a hugely difficult journey. You feel powerless over your life, and you crave self confidence. You’re starting to get seen as a sexual object and you have no idea how to manage that. The Otherness of the occult is, in itself, an avenue of power and autonomy.

Teenage girls desperately want to feel special, seen, talented, good, and unique. It’s not like society makes it easy for us to do that. I remember feeling relieved that Bethany was a witch and that “I was too.” It felt like a power move. I didn’t need to be conventionally popular or hot or cool or funny. I was a witch, so I had a sense of identity.

Teens can get led astray or are pushed into something like conversion therapy or “chat rooms” and online manifestos. What are the tools teens need to avoid these pitfalls? What can parents do? Many of our readers are queer moms with teenage kids.

Maggie: I hate hearing stories like this. Because I kept my queer witchiness a secret from my family and friends, I was never exposed to that kind of therapy.

My mom, who has seen Sex Witch The Musical over 10 times (she’s a big fan) felt guilty for ‘letting this happen to me.’ I say this in the show too, but it wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t my fault. I’m thinking it was… Bethany’s fault!

I was able to escape this friendship/cult because my mom found the journal I was keeping at the time and read the entire thing. I chronicled every last detail of my toxic witchcraft relationship, and my mom told me I wasn’t allowed to see Bethany anymore. I was mad at the time, but this gave me a chance to detox.

If you’re concerned that your child is in an abusive relationship, it’s important to step in. Tell your kids about red flags to look out for in friendships and relationships. If my mom hadn’t tried to put a stop to this, I’d probably still be in this cult!

Any messages or words of encouragement to queer teens, trans teens, and gender nonbinary young folks for how to cope with the ‘witch hunt’ now going on in this country.

Maggie: If you are queer, trans, or nonbinary, be sure to surround yourself with supportive friends/family who love and protect you. Kindness will help you get through any emotional battle. I know my story is quirky and potentially disturbing, but I’m glad I went through what I went through! If you’ve read this interview and are thinking…okay… I need to know more, come see Sex Witch the Musical at Soho Playhouse April 19-May 6! Follow @magslals on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok.

About Maggie Lalley

Maggie Lalley is a stand up comic, musical comedian and comedy writer, born, raised and living in New York City. She’s performed stand up in countless festivals including the She Makes Me Laugh Festival, She Devil Comedy Festival, and New York Comedy Festival and performs regularly in comedy clubs all over the United States. Maggie also performs True Crime: The Improvised Musical with her musical improv duo every month at the Players Theater in NYC. Her solo comedy show: Sex Witch the Musical has performed to sold out audiences in New York, Boston, Austin and LA, and was critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s currently running off Broadway at Soho Playhouse in New York City.

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