Porn Star Tells Story in New Show at Andrews Living Arts

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Porn star Chris Harder stars in “Big Bright Star,” a one-man show about his career, opening July 20 at Andrews Living Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Credit: David Ayllon.

Porn star and male burlesque performer Chris Harder’s road to stardom was paved with Barbie dolls.

“The Barbie is a whimsical twist on my life as a (gay) boy in North Dakota, something I idolized,” said Harder, who tells his story in a one-man show, “Big Bright Star,” opening on July 20 at Andrews Living Arts in Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village arts district.

“That’s a big part of the show, growing up in the Midwest as a queer boy. I always wanted to be on stage and be a performer of some kind. I didn’t think I’d be in porn,” he said. His show is “funny and, sometimes weird, but still sexy, because it’s about porn.”

When Harder arrived in New York City, he began taking auditions, but soon found himself paying the rent by dancing as a go-go boy in gay nightclubs.

“I was walking a fine line between dancing and sex work,” Harder recalled, noting that New York’s lively gay scene was initially overwhelming.

At one point about five years ago, when finances became tight, he began to explore work in the porn industry. Harder noted that several porn actors, including Francois Sagat, leveraged their notoriety as sex workers to branch out into mainstream performing careers.

“(Sagat) fascinated me because he was someone who could use sex and his body to move into other areas,” explained Harder. “Also, I enjoy sex. Even if you’re the type of porn actor who only does it for the money, there’s still an exhibitionist appeal…being exposed in that way and showing off could work into my career as a burlesque performer.”

He is the first to admit that work in the porn industry is a real job, with the actual sex acts comprising only a small portion of the day on the set. And he refuses to accept the notion that he was a victim of an industry that often exploits young people.

“It’s not nearly as glamorous as people think,” he said adamantly.

Last summer, Harder set out to turn his experiences into a one-man show.

"I've wanted to write a show about the adult industry that a took a step away from the usual 'I got into porn and it ruined my life' narrative," Harder said. "I also wanted to create a show for myself that allowed me to get back into writing and acting and combine those loves with my burlesque career."

Three months ago, Harder began collaborating with playwright and actor David Drake, whose own autobiographical show, “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me,” earned him a 1993 Obie Award for excellence in Off-Broadway Theater.

“David is an incredible director, writer and performer. He helped me edit the show down, refine it and provide more structure,” said Harder.

The show recently received its premiere in New York City and Harder hopes to take it back for an Off-Broadway run soon.

“When I moved to New York, I wanted nothing more than to be an actor on Broadway. My life took a different path—not that I regret it—but now the different paths are starting to conjoin again. My work may never be on Broadway, but I’m still finding an audience and creating work that is provocative and interesting to me,” he concluded.

Chris Harder performs his autobiographical show, “Big Bright Star,” July 20 – Aug. 20 at Andrews Living Arts, 23 NW 5th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $35 - $45 at RonnieLarsen.com


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