“How would it feel, to sleep with a woman like you? / To fade that monkey till it's funky / Rollin’ all over your bed, stickin’ to you like glue / You can call me a real funk junkie.”
That’s DJ Quik, one of author and playwright Shelby Simpson’s favorite rappers from the 1990s. In hindsight, he and many rappers like him leaned heavy on not-so-family-friendly lyrics: drugs, murder, misogyny. Then again, music like his gave voice to a culture, opening up the perils of life in ghettos to middle America. As a product of a small town in Oklahoma, Simpson gets it. She wants to be a voice for the hidden, too.
Simpson likes sex. Lots of it. Good sex. Bad sex. Success sex. Fail sex. Sex to tell stories about. Sex to get on stage about.
After a successful release of her new book, “We’re All Bad In Bed,” comes an event adapted from its frothy prose. It’s called Bad In Bed LIVE — a blend of hilarious bedroom fails with ‘90s hip-hop cuts — and it’s on tour right now with a stop in Denver this weekend.
“It’s everyone’s life, it’s how we all got here!” exclaims Simpson, proudly admitting to something literally no one thinks about in depth. Moms and dads everywhere — “how we got here” — fucked too. Sex is all around, even when societies don’t want to admit to it. Everyone has had their fair share. Yet with the topic so pervasive the world over, few acknowledge it. And even fewer admit to the mistakes they’ve made while doin' it.
“I wrote this book because something hideous and hilarious happened to me at the tender age of 38,” says Simpson. After the debacle, she reached out to her inner circle, but found that getting people to talk about bedroom antics was hard. It wasn’t until the introduction of comedy came into the mix — “bedrooms fails” — that more and more opened up.
“From 80-year-old grandmothers to my friends’ parents to my peers to people in their 20s — the minute you add humor it was okay,” says Simpson. The tone of the event, she reassures, isn’t meant to be shocking, no sex should be. The energetic performance with dancers, rap numers and excerpts from her book is more meant to be funny, describing good sex gone wrong in ways almost everyone will experience at least once in their lives.
So we imagine your Sex Ed experience was much like ours, full of holes (pun intended) and simply lacking in overall ‘education’?
“It was like trial and error,” says Simpson. “I really do wish that someone would have told me a few more things before I got into it. Because I knew how not to get pregnant, I knew how not to get an STD, but I didn’t know what an orgasm was gonna feel like. The first time I had an orgasm I thought that something was going terribly wrong but feeling very good. [laughs]”
When did it all open up for you (pun intended again, totally), this idea that sex wasn’t scary or gross?
“In college, I showed up to this class on the first day and the professor walked on stage, introduced himself, told his assistant to hit the lights, the screen dropped down, and the craziest porn came on. All he did was introduce himself and turn on a giant porn. Big screen. It was one of those porns where cum was flying everywhere and women were screaming — students were peeling out, like angry left and right. Horrified. Some of us were grinning ear to ear. Some were cracking up. I’d say 20 percent of the class left, there was zero explanation to what was going on and they were so violently uncomfortable. It was about a 45-minute movie, and I wasn’t sure where this was going. After it was over, he moseyed back on the stage and says, ‘Welcome to Human Sexuality 300, that was a vetting process.’ [laughs] The whole class just broke open this sexuality dam.”
Where does the ‘90s hip-hop aspect of the show fit in?
“I’m a product of the ‘90s. My first album was E-40, I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and, for whatever fuckin’ reason, even to this day, it’s still a hip-hop city — it’s more like a cow town — and I don’t know why, but that’s all I listened to. Most people did. I loooooved hip-hop. Everything from Dre to Snoop to E-40, to Digital Underground … but not just ‘Humpty,’ like their deeper shit. A lot of west coast, some Jay Z, N.W.A., DJ Quik. Do you know DJ Quik? Dj Quik is one of my favorites.
Hip-hop and nastiness from the ‘90s they just go hand in hand. It was the soundtrack of my sexuality.”
Having a show like this come out of good ol’ conservative Oklahoma isn’t an irony that escapes Simpson, either. After all, she struggled to get any kind of attention even from her hometown about the show at first. It wasn’t until it started selling out, and selling out hard, that everyone was forced to notice.
It's a fun night out, not creepy, not preachy, not a 45-minute sloppy porno with no explanations. Bad in Bed LIVE is a stage production both critics and attendees love.
With it, Simpson leaves profound advice for a generation. See the show, open up, be entertained, and …
“Put down your phone and fuck.”