Kinseyologist: Larry Bortniker

Photo: Carol Rosegg/Courtesy of David Gersten

Larry Bortniker and Sally Deering’s musical comedy Dr. Sex has simmered for five years, winning awards in Chicago in 2004. After rumors of a straight-to-Broadway trajectory and a last-minute director swap, Dr. Sex opens instead at the Peter Norton Space. Bortniker spoke to Boris Kachka.

How’d you choose this subject?
In 2000, I was working on a musical revue based on sexual aberrations; I had read Marjorie Garber’s book Vested Interests. And just as I was in the middle of writing, a very serious book about Kinsey came out. I read a review and I couldn’t stop laughing. By the time I finished reading, I had seventeen ideas for songs. Honestly, I didn’t read the book itself because it was far too serious for my intentions.

It does seem like a light treatment.
There’s elements of parody. My last big musical, Dora: Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, was more on the serious side.

So who is your Kinsey?
I would like to think he is the Kinsey the real Kinsey would have liked to be, had he not been quite so complicated: the libertine as scientist in his black glasses, like Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby. On a certain level, I think reality is not always the best friend of musical comedy.

What do the Kinsey people make of all this?
While we were in Chicago, they schlepped in from Indiana to see it, and I must say a rather sexy group of people they were!

Is that sarcasm?
Not at all! They gave us the unofficial Institute thumbs-up. And I met Hugh Hefner’s daughter; her dad wrote his college thesis on Kinsey.

Think he’ll come see it?
I hope so. It would be right up his alley.

Co-Author, Dr. Sex
Peter Norton Space
Opens September 21

Kinseyologist: Larry Bortniker