Sex scandals may be implicitly ridiculous, but Anthony Weiner’s fall from grace had more than a touch of the absurd. Perfect fodder, in other words, for comedy. In the new satirical play, “Tail! Spin!” by political commentator Mario Correa, Weiner and three other politicians (Mark Sanford, Larry Craig and Mark Foley) felled by sexual improprieties (or the perception thereof) are back in the spotlight. Drawn entirely from the e-mails, texts and tweets of the disgraced politicians themselves, the play will be produced for 10 weeks Off Broadway featuring “Saturday Night Live” comedian Rachel Dratch.
Directed by Dan Knechtges, “Tail! Spin!” begins with all four politicians being sworn in together on a stage filled with American flags and bunting. Dratch plays all the wives, mistresses and other women who are the objects of the politicians’ lust. The focus on Weiner, played by Nate Smith, comes in the wake of other pop culture treatments of the former congressman, including Beki Brindle-Scala’s 2013 parody song, “You Give Jews a Bad Name” and the Hunter College student production, “The Weiner Monologues,” which was restaged Off Broadway last fall.
Correa, who was born into a Catholic family in Chile, immigrated to America at the age of 7, majored at Georgetown in political science and economics and then worked for many years on Capitol Hill. He was an aide to Republican Rep. Connie Morella of Maryland when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. He has contributed to NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and been a staff writer for two seasons on the TV series “Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca.”
In an interview, Correa told The Jewish Week that in writing “Tail! Spin!” he was struck by the “incredible risks that these figures took with their public lives.” In Weiner’s case in particular, Correa speculated, there were “pent up pressures,” such as the repressed grief over his brother’s death in a hit and run accident in 2000, that got “released in odd ways and that seemed to give him a need to humiliate people” — even as he fought to help middle-income minority voters in the outer boroughs gain greater political influence.
Correa views the Lewinsky scandal as a major turning point in the treatment of sex scandals in the media. As it played out in the media, the American public was exposed to the explicit tapes, deposition transcripts, and other evidence. “It was right before the Internet blew up,” Correa said. “We were assaulted with the minutiae of their sex lives. We became a more prurient public.”
“Tail! Spin!” begins previews on Thursday, Sept. 18 for an Oct. 1 opening at the Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker St. Performances are Tuesday through Friday evenings at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. For tickets, $25-$75, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.TailSpinShow.com.