If you end up following a group called Sex Lab Inc. from the Texas Theatre this weekend, they will stop you and ask you to sign a liability waiver. Then, when they've shuttled you to an undisclosed second location, you might witness something unsavory.
The name “Sex Lab Inc.” belongs to a theatrical arts collective that’s determined to create unique, immersive experiences, and whose members include a filmmaker, a theater director, a performance artist, an actress, an investigator and a scientist.
They’ll be in town this weekend as guests of the Oak Cliff Film Festival, and anyone feeling frisky can RSVP to join their interactive social experiment, BEWARE, DALLAS!, which includes a U.S. premiere of the short film Check Surroundings for Safety.
In an interview about the fest's 2016 lineup, Oak Cliff Film Festival’s co-founder Adam Donaghey touched lightly on a performance/film/art collective who’d be sharing work via engaging, conceptual encounters. He’d run into them at the Cucalorus film festival in Wilmington, North Carolina, and got swept up in their mischief.
His recollection of events sounded cinematic: beginning with some light kidnapping and ending with him locked in a room with porn.
The “porn,” it turns out, was called Dream Throat, an experimental short film with a giggle-inducing name, made by the collective’s filmmaker Michael Arcos. The more transportative/performance-based elements were drawn loosely from a scene in Blue Velvet, as a sort-of tribute to Wilmington, where David Lynch shot his psychological thriller 30 years ago.
Other things happened, too, but they're secret.
What is important to understand is this: Sex Lab, Inc. likes to play with environment to trigger a response. It wants to cultivate experiences that vibe off the energy of those involved. And it isn’t content simply breaking the fourth wall; it would prefer to demolish the floor and ceiling as well.
“I think a lot of the work we do deals with ambiguity and deception,” says Arcos, from his New Orleans home. "A lot of it is based on sexuality and sexual liberation as well.”
Joining us on the party line is co-collaborator and actress Betsy Holt. She enthusiastically agrees. “We want to titillate people; get them riled up, and get them turned on. But psychologically and intellectually as well. Not just physically.”
So … what does that mean?
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Well, Sex Lab, Inc. would rather the details of BEWARE, DALLAS! stay vague. Partially because there’s not enough mystery left in the world, but also because when viewers aren't sure what’s approaching, they're forced to live in the moment and build a dialogue with those immediately around them.
“Sex is not a solitary activity,” Holt notes. “And I think we do mean to encourage an intimacy for the audience, for us, and also with each other. Create a scene that afterwards people want to discuss with one another.”
And in environments like film festivals, where folks shuffle from screen to screen, Sex Lab Inc. sees a void of in-the-flesh contact. By letting folks give in to a temporary new reality and collectively wade through it, they’re giving the ultimate gift: seduction of the imagination. And everyone knows an activated mind is the ultimate turn-on.
BEWARE, DALLAS! is completely free, so email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-500-7633 to RSVP and reserve your seat. Availability is limited. Performances run Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19, in an undisclosed location, with information and pick-up at the Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson Blvd.) between 8:30 and 11 p.m. BEWARE, DALLAS! includes the world premiere of the short film Check Surroundings for Safety.