Florian Klein Is Bringing Sexy Back With New Musical SHOOTING STAR

Grant Evan, Juan Danner, and Spencer Petro in Shooting Star | Photo: Koitz

Mark Peikert
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November 14, 2022 11:30 AM

When it comes to “write what you know,” Florian Klein only wrote a fraction of what he knows for the new musical Shooting Star.

Among other things, Klein knows what it’s like to move to Hollywood, struggle as an actor, work as a go-go boy, and parlay that into a career in adult entertainment—all of which his lead character, Taylor, does as well. Except Taylor moved from Indiana, while Klein emigrated from Bavaria. And Klein also struggled through stints as a cater waiter, while Taylor's rise to the top (no, that is not a gay porn pun) was much smoother.

Now Klein (also known as porn performer Hans Berlin) is pursuing a new dream with a revamped, immersive production of the musical at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn, three years after its L.A. premiere. But while the staging and the cast have changed, the core story—a romance between performers—remained the same.

“I started porn in 2012, and I had the idea in 2013,” Klein says over the phone shortly before a performance.” I remember being on my phone at Hustlaball in Berlin, waiting for the bus home, and I wrote the outline for the story. It was very campy, called Porn: The Musical. But the basic elements of the story have not changed.”

Directed by Dennis Corsi, Shooting Star traces a classic show-biz trajectory: Taylor (Coleman Cummings) moves to L.A. to pursue his dreams, realizes that success may be more attainable with a slight shift in his focus and ends up at Proud Studios, where he encounters Mr. Sue (Zuri Washington), a porn director who starts a day of filming with Madonna’s pre-show prayer from Truth Or Dare; love interest Jesse Apollo (Grant Latus); and a host of other colorful characters fans might recognize from real life.

That may be because, like Nora Ephron, everything is copy for Klein. “Because I was still doing porn, I was still researching,” he says of the script. “I came to a set, and I had to shoot with a guy, and he was finishing up a phone call with his girlfriend, and they have children. And I thought it was so funny, so that’s in the show now, a gay-for-pay actor talking to his wife before filming.” And if the structure of the show feels delightfully old-fashioned in its sturdiness, that may be because Klein turned to Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Little Mermaid as examples of how to tell a musical story.

As the details of the script and the score (the music is by Thomas Zaufke and the lyrics by Erik Ransom) have changed and deepened, the production itself has undergone a radical revision since its last iteration. In addition to the employment of an intimacy director to ensure the performers feel comfortable onstage and in the revealing costumes from Barbara Erin Delo, there is a wide range of body types on stage, just as the rise of fan platforms has democratized the adult industry as well.

“When I wrote Shooting Star and worked with Raging Stallion, with Titan, with Lucas, that was all a certain body type,” Klein says. “So when I wrote them, they all looked like the people I shot with. I have a younger team here in New York, and they opened my eyes to more diversity. We focused on bringing the show into the year 2022.”

One thing that still rings true in 2022 is that sex sells. And such a sexy premise should sell itself. But Klein is quick to point out that the world of gay porn is merely the setting for the story, not the story itself. “Pretty Woman was not a movie about prostitution—it was a love story,” he says, “And so is Shooting Star.”

Shooting Star is playing through December 18 at 3 Dollar Bill in Brooklyn. For more information and tickets, click here

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