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Babylove_poster Masturbating with a baby in earshot. Postpartum sex. The "eroticism of breastfeeding." What happens when your infant son becomes the other man?

All of these taboo topics, and more, are explored in writer-performer Christen Clifford's solo show BabyLove, which is currently in an extended run at 45 Bleecker in NYC.

At first, it might seem like the only audience for Clifford's one-woman show about sex during motherhood would be pregnant ladies and new moms. True, those women might relate most directly with the subject matter, but Clifford manages to turn a deeply personal exploration of her own sexuality and motherhood into a universal story about the challenges of love and intimacy, in both a sincere and educational way. Sometimes sexually explicit, often shocking, and frequently hilarious, BabyLove is a brave and endearing way for Clifford to say, "See? You're not that weird if breastfeeding turns you on. You're not alone."

BabyLove was originally published in a different form as an essay on Nerve.com, and Clifford adapted it for the stage at the Mesto Zensk/City of Women Festival of Contemporary Art in Slovenia in 2005. Winner of the Best of Fringe Award at the 2006 San Francisco Fringe Festival and the Audience Award at the 2007 NYC Frigid Festival, BabyLove  is at 45 Bleecker until July 27, with performances Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.

The U.S. premiere of BabyLove was presented at the terraNOVA Theatre Collective's soloNOVA Arts Festival in 2006. Clifford will debut her new one-woman show (What I Know About) My Parents' Sex Life this week at the 2008 soloNOVA festival at PS 122.

"Sex isn't all about black lace panties and Sex and the City," Clifford says. "It's about love and intimacy. And how do you do that at different stages of your life?"
Whereas BabyLove is an autobiographical story, (What I Know About) My Parents' Sex Life is about just that -- what Clifford has discovered about her late parents' sex life.

"I don't do character stuff," she says. "I'm me. I'm who I am. My interest in elderly sexuality started with my parents specifically. My parents are both deceased, and when my father died, I looked at his medical records and found that he had requested a prescription for Viagra not long after my mother had passed away. And I was a little shocked by this!"

Clifford says that until that moment, she had thought of her aging parents like most people probably think of senior citizens -- sexless. But she says that because people 57 and older are the most  rapidly-growing segment of the population, elderly sexuality is an important issue.

Clifford was shocked to discover that "it's easier to get a conjugal visit in prison than it is in a nursing home... We live in this very sexually permissive society, and yet at the same time we have such Puritanism that we don't discuss the realities, and the emotional aspects, of sex throughout a normal human range of experience. That's a lot of material to mine."

Clifford will perform (What I Know About) My Parents' Sex Life at soloNOVA June 19, 21 & 25 at 9 p.m. and June 22 at 4 p.m. "I'm busy. I have a four-year old, and I'm pregnant" -- Clifford's second child is due in November -- "and I'm doing two shows," she laughs.

My_parents_sex_life_poster_3"This show might be the end of a trilogy," Clifford says of My Parent's Sex Life. "First about sexual coming of age [in 17 Guys I F***ed], then about maternal sexuality, and now I'm kind of projecting into the future with elderly sexuality. So there is some sense of a trilogy in that."

Read more about (What I Know About) My Parents' Sex Life, and the rest of the fifth annual soloNOVA Arts Festival, here.

-- Daniel Lehman

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