When described as “prolific,” affable local playwright and producer Ronnie Larsen recoiled just a bit: “What else am I going to do?” he retorted. “This is my job … who I am.”
Before the pandemic, he would frequently have two and three different productions running simultaneously. After COVID shuttered arts venues, Larsen quickly pivoted last summer, offering a series of small one- and two-man shows, as well as readings and other socially distanced programming at his intimate Foundry space at Wilton Theater Factory.
He continues to write, using the time to finally complete a series of plays and collaborate with composer Dennis Manning on another musical. And Larsen devoted what little free time he had left to learn video editing, turning recordings of his plays into slick broadcast-quality programs.
On Friday, May 7, he will launch RonnieLarsenTV.com, premiering new content every Friday using a pay-per-view model. His first new program will be “Bare Naked Chefs,” but it’s really not a surprise that the creator of “The Penis Talk Show,” “Making Porn” and “The Totally Naked Comedy Tour” would introduce a naked cooking program.
“They’re nudists and they like to cook,” Larsen said of stars Patrick Clayton and Marc Howard, “so I said, let’s do a show.”
He was also quick to point out that there may already be “naked” chefs on the internet, but they’re never really naked, “They wear an apron or hide behind a mixing bowl. We put it all out there.”
While producing a cooking show or even videos of his plays might be simple enough, not all of Larsen’s signature programs translated easily to the screen. Over the winter, he and his producing partner Chris Caputo attempted several times to stream “The Penis Talk Show” to a live audience.
The premise of that show is straightforward enough: three or four anonymous naked men are questioned by Larsen and a live audience. Regardless of the penises, the less inhibited – and more inebriated – the audience, the better the show. Larsen quickly realized that it was difficult to capture that spontaneity inside the theater for an audience watching from home. He and Caputo added multiple cameras and upped the production values, which helped, and also tweaked the format.
“It’s never as simple as just setting up a camera and putting it on the Internet,” Larsen admitted. “In fact, it’s very challenging because the experiences are so different and we had to take that into account … but we finally got it right.”
While the large local gay population can support several theaters providing live LGBT entertainment, Larsen sees this venture as a way to reach national and international audiences without the expense of mounting productions in other cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles or Chicago. He still has his eye on New York, where his hit “Making Porn” thrived Off-Broadway for years, but he’s confident RonnieLarsenTV.com will be successful until that time.
“I create and I’ve never had so many ways to get my stuff out there,” he concluded.
“Bare Naked Chefs” premieres on Friday, May 7 at 9 p.m. at RonnieLarsenTV.com.