Those familiar with talk shows know what to expect. Bright lights, a small stage, a comfy couch, a few guests, and a charming host. The audience applauds when instructed, and the production formula is almost always the same. But Super Tasty isn’t your typical talk-show rodeo. In place of current events, famous guests, and network-friendly games, it’s got anatomical lessons, queer voices, and salacious advice. That’s right, it’s all about sex, baby.
Karen Yates made her daydream a reality when she brainstormed the cabaret talk show Super Tasty, which she began producing last October. Fornication is the central theme for these evenings featuring guests and presenters discussing LGBTQ voices, kinks, taboos, and disabled communities in a welcoming, nurturing, and erotic atmosphere. After four successful sold-out shows last year at Stage 773, Super Tasty moved to a bigger venue, Constellation, in March. On October 10, the evening of “infotainment” (think: educational, but really fun) is celebrating its one-year anniversary at its new venue.
Yates worked for 20 years as an actor, director, producer, writer, and creator of original movement theater pieces. In 2016, she decided to take some time off. “I’ve had a lifelong interest in sexuality, so I got certified as a tantra educator, and am now finishing certification as a somatic sex educator, which is about understanding how the body takes in pleasure and sensation and what can impact that,” she says. “Basically, my fascination with the physical body and its expression began in the live arts, then moved to the study of sexuality, to now a blend of the two arenas.” After Yates found that many people are misinformed due to lack of or incorrect sex education, she decided to include lessons in each show, which this season will be conducted each month by Ren Grabert, a nonbinary health care researcher and sex educator. At the anniversary show, Shawn Coleman of TouchPoints: Cuddles and Community will discuss platonic touch and the importance of connection through cuddling (with a specific focus on people of color and the LGBTQ community).
Super Tasty includes interviews and panel discussions about sex and relationships. Quizzes, demos, audience participation, and erotic storytelling are all part of the evening. Segments are five to 15 minutes long, creating an environment where everyone can find something interesting and useful to their specific erotic needs.
And the show doesn’t end there. The Afterglow is a postshow event on the stage for audience members to hang out, chat, and buy items from local vendors. “We focus on Chicago vendors who may not have the big reach of larger companies,” explains Yates, who has featured T-Time Toys (dildos and plugs), Mischievous Creations (floggers and body jewelry), and Early to Bed (sex toys) during Afterglow events.
Yates explains that she wants the community to have a friendly experience, to get to know one another after the stage lights cut out. “It’s for folks who want to learn more about sex or sensation, drop any shame around talking about sex in a public setting, get comfortable with more culturally challenging ideas, meet like-minded people, and have fun,” she says. She coined the term “sex friendliness” to describe the experience, a “funny, thought-provoking, and informative” way to talk about sex. “It’s not an assaultive show, you know?”
Season three began September 14, but the October 10 event marks Super Tasty‘s birthday, which, of course, means there will be cake. Audience members can expect a panel that spans the full spectrum of sexual orientations, gender identities, and body types discussing adult play. This season’s theme is “Know Your Bits”; burlesque, storytelling, prizes, and anatomy lessons will all be highlighted. The season prior was “Every Body Welcome,” which focused on visible and invisible disabilities and sex and included topics related to HIV advocacy, chronic illness, gender-noncomforming clothes, and movement disability issues.
Yates, her guests, and the audience are all involved in creating a space that normalizes talking about sex because, after all, it is something most of us do. The roomful of people, led by Yates and her crew, is able to explore topics and learn about areas of sexuality that may have been taboo or unbeknownst to them prior to their Super Tasty experience. This crazy, sexy, cool talk show gives us the sex lessons we didn’t know we needed. v