Director Kolleen Park is sorry that her new musical "Mr. Show" for female audiences only is embroiled in controversy due to the sexually explicit content. "I never thought that men who haven’t even seen the show would denounce it as obscene," Park told the Chosun Ilbo.
"Mr. Show" is open only to adult women and features eight well-built actors stripping on the stage. Since it premiered on March 27, the show with the tagline "Women, awaken your desire" has been over 90 percent booked every night.
But it has come in for criticisms from men, who denounced it as cheap titillation.
Park initially declined to give interviews but decided to take this opportunity to candidly talk about her views.
Asked if she is aware that men call it reverse discrimination and argue that if this was exclusively for men, women would have protested like a swarm of killer bees, she said, "How is that even comparable? Has there ever been a single space for adult women in Korea where they could freely enjoy themselves until now? Men go to all these escort clubs that exist under various name tags such as 'room salons,' 'bikini bars,' and 'gentlemen's clubs,' pretending to have 'business meetings.' But 'Mr. Show' is a performance, a fun show on stage where there is a clear division between the actors and the audience."
Some criticize the show for commercializing sex, but Park is having none of it. "Most of the men who bash our show have a lot of experience of the escort club culture," she says. "We don't get any tips in the show, and the actors don't follow orders from the audience. There are only applause and cheers in the hall."
Since the show is not that explicit, was barring men just a marketing ploy? Parks says no. "How can it be a marketing ploy when we're effectively excluding half our potential audience? The reason we don't let men in isn't because it's inappropriate to watch but because we wanted to create a space for women to freely enjoy the show without worrying about the glares of men." She decided to let men in for one day on April 25 because of so many requests.
As "Mr. Show" is often compared to the Chippendales, does she think about exporting it? "The Chippendales aren't a musical but a strip act. The quality of our show is absolutely superior," she said. "The problem is whether women in the West will be captivated by the body of Asian men. I think it'll do well in Japan because Korean men are really popular in Asia."
"Mr. Show" is open only to women aged 19 or over, and it is first of its kind in Korea. The show has been met with bitterly divided reception, one side wholeheartedly welcoming it as allowing women audience to enjoy and appreciate sexuality, and the other criticizing it for turning men into sex objects.