“I think lots of gay men have prison fantasies,” explained playwright and producer Ronnie Larsen. “One of the biggest porn movies of all time was ‘Powertool,’ with Jeff Stryker playing a prisoner. It’s a thing.”
Larsen’s latest play, “The Prisoners,” is actually based on real life – the experiences of a friend who discovered a website that matches “pen pals” with prisoners.
“My friend has been living this for 13 years. There are these prison dating sites. You can click on [the prisoners’] profiles and see what they did. It started as a lark and it was a little bit sexual, but nothing really came of it. He actually went to the prison and met the guy, who was very hot but had a swastika tattooed on his chest, covered up by a big black square,” Larsen recalled.
In this story, Jeffrey Roach plays Tim, a man who finds himself enamored with prisoner Justin, played by Brandon Campbell.
“The play gets very intense quickly,” added Larsen. “It’s a dark erotic thriller.”
“The Prisoners” isn’t the playwright’s first foray into the world of the incarcerated.
Before the pandemic, he landed a Carbonell nomination for his performance in “An Evening with John Wayne Gacy, Jr.,” his drama about the Illinois serial killer who performed at children’s parties as a clown. And just last year, Larsen was set to produce “Slammer Girlz,” a riff on campy ‘60s and ‘70s women’s prison flicks.
Audiences may see “The Prisoners” as a return to the gay sex-themed shows that made Larsen popular with Wilton Manors audiences. Some of his biggest hits include “Making Porn,” “All-Male Peep Show,” “Truck Stop Sally’s Sex Party,” “Sauna” and “Happy Ending.”
More recently, he has co-created the musicals “One More Yesterday” and “Now & Then,” as well as the comedies “The Actors” and “Grindr Mom.”
“I’m in this crazy creative zone right now where I do what I want to do and follow the projects that interest me. I’m no longer worried about perception,” Larsen said. “One show is G-rated and the next has a prison rape on stage. I am free.”
Audiences have embraced the wide-ranging offerings at the Foundry, as well as Larsen’s creative journey.
“Something incredible is happening between the theater and the audience. They’re telling us to keep doing everything we’re doing,” he added. “Our audience isn’t just coming to see dick. They want to experience the stories we’re telling.”
Ronnie Larsen’s “The Prisoners” runs June 8 to July 16 at the Foundry, 2306 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors. Tickets start at $35 at RonnieLarsen.com.