Steven Fales has performed his Confessions of a Mormon Boy one-man show all over the world since its debut off-Broadway more than 13 years ago—but the show may never have happened without the support of the Desert Hot Springs woman Fales calls his “Mormon Auntie Mame.”
“She loved me unconditionally,” Fales said about Linda Parkin, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014. “She never had kids, but she always called me her ‘first born.’”
After successful shows at Rancho Mirage’s Desert Rose Playhouse earlier this year, Confessions of a Mormon Boy is being performed each Tuesday in May at Oscar’s Café and Bar in downtown Palm Springs.
The show tells the story of Fales’ upbringing as part of a prominent Mormon family in Utah, and focuses on the realization that he’s gay; his attempts at “reparative therapy”; his excommunication from the church; his fall into drug use and prostitution; and his eventual self-acceptance. While the show contains neither full nudity nor profanity, it should be considered R-rated due to its subject matter.
Fales said the show has always been hugely popular with gay members and former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (disclosure: I fall into the “gay former member” category), but some other audience-goers found some of the show’s content uncomfortable—particularly the portion dealing with Fales’ time as a prostitute.
“We weren’t ready to talk about all of this before marriage equality,” he said. “For the gay Mormons, they were so hungry to be shown onstage. They’d fly in from all over the country to see the show. To my knowledge, I was the first gay Mormon to tell his own story in any mainstream way.”
Fales said that the Confessions of a Mormon Boy script has been updated and refreshed over the years. In addition to other shows, including a cabaret act, Fales has been developing a trilogy—two plays to pair with Confessions of a Mormon Boy, meant to be performed on three consecutive nights. Missionary Position is a prequel, focusing on his younger years, while Prodigal Dad focuses on his battle during the Great Recession to keep his parental rights in not-so-gay-friendly Utah. However, he’s put the other two shows on the shelf for now to focus on bringing Confessions of a Mormon Boy to both audiences old and new.
After the show’s at Oscar’s this month, Fales is going on the road, taking the show to Norway and South Africa, and he has plans to later take the show to Asia and back to New York City. In between, however, he hopes to return to perform in Palm Springs—a place he fell in love with in large part due to his loving and accepting Mormon aunt—in the fall.
“The desert is becoming home,” Fales said.
Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 8 p.m., Tuesdays, through Tuesday, May 28, at Oscar’s Café and Bar, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $44.95, and include a free special cocktail; premium seating and dinner packages are also available. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyoffbroadway.com.