The production, onstage at Z Space in a limited run, is the product of three very diverse artists. Primary composer Michael John Burkett is better known as Fat Mike, the head-banging front man bassist of the punk group NOFX. His musical collaborator is Jeff Marx, the Tony-winning co-creator of “Avenue Q.” Rounding out the creative team is Goddess Soma – Snakeoil to some – who is a professional dominatrix, fetish film star, writer and activist.
If you’re thinking this is an odd team to be writing for musical theater, they would agree. “I’ve never worked so hard on anything in my life,” says Burkett. A fan of “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and a certain puppet song-fest, Burkett cites them as examples of shows with great scores. “They’re all great songs and I wanted to write a show like that. Something with no bad ‘filler’ songs.”
“Home Street Home” focuses on the San Francisco street life experience with explorations of sex work, drug use and the power exchange inherent in BDSM (bondage-discipline-sado-masochistic) relationships. These are, however, only a container for a more vital treatise on humanity and the meaning of chosen family.
“Many of these stories are my stories,” says Soma. “It was important to me to show that people living these lives can have dignity and even happiness. Scientists have studied happiness and the happiest people in the world are those with a very involved community. Unlike the families they left, the characters here are together because they want to be.”
The content learning curve was admittedly steep for Marx, who has also served as something of a theater mentor for the production. “I was wanting to work on something really ‘out there’ and collaborate with someone from a field I didn’t really know anything about.”
He got his wish thanks to a determined Burkett who lobbied for an introduction through mutual friends. Demo songs were offered. My first reaction,” says Marx, “was ‘Oh, great! Another terrible musical!’ Instead, I was so struck and in a way that’s never happens with new material. It hit me hard and made me cry.”
His reaction dovetails with Soma’s belief in transformative theater. “Our people are happy. My hope is that the people sitting in the audience will view sex workers, runaways, or people living BDSM or polyamorous lifestyles more positively because of seeing this show.”
IF YOU GO
Home Street Home
Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays, 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays; closes March 7
Tickets: $50; $75 includes CD
Contact: (866) 811-4111, www.HomeStreetHomeOnStage.com