Interview: Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy

The stars of Broadway's kinkiest show discuss onstage sex and BDSM clubs.

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  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda

  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Hugh Dancy

  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Nina Arianda

  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda

  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda

  • Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

    Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda

Photograph: Alexander Wagner. Photographer's Assistant: John Burke

Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda

This part also won you many fans. Did you get any stalkers?
Arianda:
No, but I met a lot of the fans. The play attracts people from different walks of life. I really loved it when S&M couples would come up to me afterward and talk about [the show]. To have somebody from that—I don't want to say subculture....

Scene?
Arianda:
Yes! It was so amazing that they got so much out of it. And I loved [listening to] the arguments after the show. Some people would get violently angry at one another, and I had other couples tell me that they were going to go home and make some babies. People always argued over what exactly happened in the play.

You mentioned S&M "subculture," so am I to assume that you've never been to an S&M club?
Arianda:
I have not!

There are some good ones.
Arianda:
Let me write them down!

Paddles.
Dancy:
[Sings] Where everybody knows your name...

Actually, the whole point is nobody knows your name.
Dancy:
Yes, well, that's a better song. I go to Irish pubs all the time where nobody knows my name, but that's different.

Do either of you engage in any of New York's subcultures?
Arianda:
Bowling.
Dancy: I've played boules in New York, like French ptanque. That is a kind of subculture I would guess, but it's not sexy.

But isn't everything about the French sexy? Maybe I shouldn't be asking an Englishman that.
Arianda:
Oh, it's a joy waking up in France sometimes.
Dancy:
By the way, I don't think anybody's ever done any kind of play and not been approached by somebody odd afterward. You could do the most straight play in the world...

So weirdos approached you when you were in the World War I drama Journey's End on Broadway?
Dancy:
Are you kidding me? Of course! There are people who are obsessive about theater, any kind of theater, and God love them. They'll come five, ten times if the play is successful, and then will address what even to you, who has done the play a hundred times, seems like the most obscure, astonishingly irrelevant point, and want to hammer it out in the street.

It sounds like, overall, the audiences for Venus in Fur have been cool and not creepy.
Arianda:
We had a weird [Q&A] once. This guy asked, "So at that moment on the divan, last time I saw it, you arched your back in a very specific way as he was taking off your boot. And this time you didn't. Can you tell us why you didn't arch your back?"
Dancy: Wow. It's like he'd been cheated. He paid to see that back arch!
Arianda: I just said, "Well, it all depends on how he takes my boot off." And the audience laughed and we moved on.

A theater fetish.
Arianda:
I dig anybody who's that interested in the show I'm in.

As long as they're kept about 30 feet away from you with a restraining order?
Arianda:
Some can be 20.

Venus in Fur opens at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Nov 8.

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