Nikki Levy has a way about her, a way of clinging to her visions until they materialize and sizzle. By day, Miss Levy is a Fox Animation movie producer, collaborating with global superstars like Beyonce and Amanda Seyfried. By night, she is the reigning queen of the project closest to her heart, Don't Tell My Mother!, a sidesplitting, live storytelling show where actors, comics, writers and an array of show biz types take the stage to share true and uproarious stories they'd never want their mothers to know. "All my life I've been told that I am 'too much,' that I need to 'reign it in' and 'simmer down,'" Levy says. "I'm just not a buttoned-up person, and I wanted to create a place where it was appropriate to be inappropriate, where performers could be funny, but also be poignant and real and vulnerable. I wanted to have a night where we all just get to relish in our collective dysfunction."
Part stand-up comedy, part spoken word, Don't Tell My Mother! is a night of balls-out, shocking and wickedly funny storytelling that occupies a warm and special place in entertainment circles. It's become one of the hippest shows and coolest vibes in Los Angeles and New York, and just might be the most fun you'll ever have while cringing. Don't Tell My Mother! is not exactly family entertainment, but it's also not an Andrew "Dice" Clay show. While the material -- whether it's an awkward losing-my-virginity tale or an unfortunate and embarrassing drug experience -- may be raunchy, the laughs are chiefly derived from raw and relatable slices of the human condition and have the important effect of drawing the audience closer together. Amid the laughter, there is a collective feeling of, as Levy puts it, "You, too? Me, too!"
Don't Tell My Mother! guest storytellers comprise a who's who of the Hollywood creative scene, including Mary Lynn Rajskub (24), Laraine Newman (Saturday Night Live), Jen Kirkman (Chelsea Lately), writer/producer Cindy Chupack (Sex & The City, Modern Family) and, most recently, actor/musician/pop culture icon Traci Lords. "I've shared so much about my life," Lords says. "I don't have a lot of skeletons in my closet. It's all out there. But the premise of this show is sharing the one story that you didn't tell. My Don't Tell My Mother! piece definitely has some heart to it. There are parts that are rude and touching and funny and outrageous, and a little heartbreaking. It's a little bit embarrassing, too. For me, telling a story like this in front of a live audience is a terrifying experience, and I think that's part of the appeal. I think it's good to be afraid, because there is very little that scares me these days."
"I just want everyone to enjoy the stories and to smile," Lords continues, "and to see that the show is like going to a really outrageous party and having a couple of people stand up and tell fabulous stories. It's a really intimate, fabulous party."
So, does Traci Lords really still have a story she doesn't want her mother to hear?
"My mom actually does not know this story, and she's not invited to the show," Lords says with a laugh. "I didn't give her a ticket. I'm not ready. I'm ready to tell the world, but I can't tell my mother yet!"
For further information, visit donttellmymother.com
For Traci Lords updates, visit tracilords.com