Confessions of a Mormon Boy
From religious devotion to male prostitution, Steven Fales has seen it all.
Steven Fales's one-man play, 'Confessions of a Mormon Boy', tells the incredible but true story of how he went from being the perfect Mormon, 'complete with a Donny Osmond smile, a wife and two kids in Utah' to becoming a high-priced gay prostitute in New York.
It's a personal journey that takes in excommunication, divorce and crystal meth addiction. Perhaps the most incredible part of all is that he not only lived to tell the tale, but turned it into piece of theatre which has travelled way beyond Utah.
The motivation was simple, he says: 'I wrote the play to help end the sort of spiritual abuse and religious violence I suffered - and many others continue to suffer - in churches, mosques and synagogues. Spiritual abuse happens when religion is used by priests, families or anyone else, to justify telling or showing someone that they are not worthy of God's full love and blessings.
'When I was excommunicated from the church of my birth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the “crime of homosexuality”, it was soul destroying. And it has been a long, hard journey to reclaim my spiritual life since then. What I did - and what many people do - is buy into this mind-fuck. As a result, where did I take all my spiritual gifts? To the streets of Manhattan, where I began literally sexing and drugging myself to death. I wanted a spiritual life, but I didn't think it was possible for me. I actually believed the lie church elders were telling me, that somehow I wasn't worthy. I was literally fucked!'
Amazingly, he managed to turn his life around, overcoming his addictions and channeling his energies into a piece of theatre that is both highly personal and has struck a chord with audiences.
'I've performed my show all over the USand internationally in Dublin, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and soon I'll be taking it to Cape Town, Sydney, Toronto and Sao Paolo', he says. 'I've discovered that Mormonism is highly exotic to audiences outside of Utah. I shake each audience member's hand as they leave the theatre and they often say, 'You told 99 per cent of my story! Did you steal my journals to write this?' They might be a Lutheran in Chicago or an Irish-Catholic in Dublin or an Evangelical from Miami, or a Baptist from Dallas or a Muslim from Brooklyn or a Jew in Los Angeles or a cult-survivor in San Francisco. And half the time they might be straight!'
According to Fales, it doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, whether you're interested in religion or you're an atheist. The play is about something many of us can relate to. '“Confessions of a Mormon Boy” is fundamentally about how I learned to stop being a victim,' he says. 'And when I discovered I didn't have to play the victim of any church (or anyone or anything), that's when my life (and career) started to take off. Taking personal responsibility for our own lives is something that any civilised human being can agree is a good thing.'
His belief now is 'that “God” is so much bigger than any church.' His message is that 'no one has the right to put their stamp on spirituality. It belongs to everyone. And you don't have to earn it. Spirituality (like sex) should be fun and for free! And with a global recession raging, all the free sex and religion in this show makes it a real bargain!'