May 16, 2019 at 11:07 am PDT | by John Paul King
‘Shooting Star’ is a revealing gay porn musical

Bettis Richardson, Ryan Kanfer, Garret Marshall, Davey Miller and Nathan Mohebbi appear in ‘Shooting Star.’ (Photo by Ed Olen)

Odds are good you’ve never given much thought to the idea of a musical set in the world of gay porn, but Florian Klein is betting you’ll be open to it.

That’s because he’s written one. “Shooting Star – A Revealing Musical,” which opens its world premiere run next weekend at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, banks on the notion that a show about an industry that is currently raking in $97 billion dollars a year — more than the music business — is something that will have a built-in audience.

Klein may not be familiar to you under his real name, but some readers will likely recognize his “professional” moniker, Hans Berlin. That’s the name under which he built a successful career as a gay porn actor since 2012. 

Unsurprisingly, that’s not what he originally set out to do when he moved to the U.S. from his native Germany, in pursuit of a “legit” acting career, but he says that making the decision to go into the adult film industry was “one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”

“When I stepped into the porn world I was so fascinated,” he explains, “because I thought everybody was a drug addict and everybody had sex with each other and it would just be a terrible world. But then I got into it and I realized it’s not that different from Hollywood — it’s like ‘Hollywood’s dirty little sister,’ that’s a line I use in the show. These people that I met, they had ‘real’ jobs. They were architects, they were writing music, they were in real estate and at some point they decided to do porn. Of course, you also had those young kids in there who wanted to become famous, and porn was their vehicle to do that, but it was definitely a different world than I expected. I felt the need to write about it.”

Seven years later, “Shooting Star” is the culmination of that impulse, a musical love story that is, according to Klein, only semi-autobiographical.

“A lot of it is based on my own experiences, but my lead character is 20 years younger, because I wanted to make this a coming of age story, as well. He comes to Hollywood because he wants to be a movie star, but because he gets into the porn industry — by accident, almost — he becomes a star in a different universe,” Klein says.

But why a musical?

“I’m gay, I love musical theatre,” he says. “When they are blasting out into song — I mean, what’s nicer than that? It felt like the perfect way of showing this world and not making it into ‘Boogie Nights.’ That’s an amazing movie, but I felt by adding music to it I could make it more on the lighter side — I didn’t want it to be as heavy as that.’”

“I always wanted to act, I never wanted to write a musical,” he continues. “The idea was born when I first got into the industry, and one of my first scene partners was a singer.  He used his porn money to have his songs produced. I sang a little, so one of the producers said, ‘Oh, we could do a whole porn scene with you guys singing.’ We didn’t do that, but the idea to write a musical was born at that moment.”

Does he think it’s risky to tackle a subject matter like porn in a musical — a genre that’s typically seen as wholesome, family-friendly entertainment?

“Musical theater has not always been just Disney,” he says. “My costume designer, she’s a friend of mine, I’ve known her for many years, she was the original costume designer of ‘Rent,’ and she said when she started working on it they called it the show about drugs, AIDS and homeless people. Which doesn’t sound much like musical material. But look what happened with that show.”

“I think America is not ready for a show where the lead couple is gay,” he continues. “And not just gay but gay in the porn world —we’re not ready for that yet. But it took ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ 20 years to get to Broadway, and it was actually super successful there.”

Besides, he says, the secret of the show is that it may take place in the world of porn, but it’s really about more than that.

“The show is about people,” he explains. “For me, it’s a human story. Sex is part of being human, and in our world full of Grindr, Scruff, maybe Bumble for the straight population, sex is now just so easily available. That’s what the porn world stands for, and my lead character wants more, he wants the human connection, he wants to find love. Everyone can relate to that — they want to find themselves, they want to find a family of friends, they want to find a purpose in life, they want to find love.”

Is promoting a sex-positive attitude part of his mission with the show?

“It definitely has a sex-positive vibe to it,” he says. “That comes because we’re not demonizing sex. Yes, the performers we portray are getting paid to have sex, and in our society, it doesn’t matter in which country you live, being a sex worker is frowned upon. But they are still wholesome human beings, even though they exchange sex for money.”

“I feel like there’s kind of an educational factor in the show,” he adds. “Just because people are doing porn it doesn’t mean they are bad people. You get a glimpse of that world and you see that porn is just a vehicle to tell a human story.”

As for the presentation itself, Klein couldn’t be more excited.

“We’re definitely going to be the biggest little show in Los Angeles,” he gushes. “We can’t compete in size, or budget, with someplace like the Ahmanson or the Pantages, but we’re bringing you a Broadway-style show. We have a five-piece live band; we have ten actors; we have amazing costumes and a great set. And the music [music by Thomas Zaufke, lyrics by Erik Ransom] is amazing.”

Of course, what most audiences will want to know going into a porn musical is just how graphic it will be.

“We have a little bit of nudity in the show,” says Klein, “but it’s part of being on the porn set.  It’s just to show the everyday life of a porn performer. If you want to watch porn, you’re not going to see it in my show. You’ll have to walk a few blocks more and go to the Studs Theatre.”

“Shooting Star – A Revealing Musical” runs May 25 – June 30th at Hudson Mainstage Theatre (6539 Santa Monica Blvd.). Tickets are available at Onstage411.com/Star.

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