SexyNurd : Rockstar Trapped in a “Nurd’s” Body
A one-man show. Written by auGi + Pema Teeter | Created, produced + performed by auGi
He’s 14 and trapped by everything: giant cornfields, junior high, Perry Como and a bus driver who resembles Jabba the Hutt. And in the midst of his teenage angst, he’s confronted with his mother’s life-altering diagnosis.
How will he find escape?
There’s only one problem: he’s a “nurd,” and nurds aren’t supposed to rock.
Or are they?
SexyNurd is the true story of a defiant boy’s journey through a burning ring of fire. Along the way he encounters butt rockers, Burt Reynolds, and a near miss with prison. And discovers – 30 years later – that living on a lighted stage could mean more than his teenage self ever imagined.
SexyNurd was originally developed for the stage in 2009. The premise was inspired by auGi’s teenage years, where he dreamed of becoming a rockstar to escape the small country town in Michigan where he grew up, while his mother became the victim of her own trap—Multiple Sclerosis.
“The inspiration came after being with my mom on the day she died,” said auGi, creator/co-writer/performer of SexyNurd. “I was scheduled to perform at Mortified two weeks later. Seeing her go was the most difficult moment of my life. On one hand, I was devastated, but after writing and subsequently reading her eulogy to 300 of her friends and relatives, I just knew she would want me to perform.”
Over the next six months, auGi worked with playwright Pema Teeter to develop what would become the foundation for the original workshop version of SexyNurd. “Working with a playwright really helped me dig in and see the story arc,” said auGi. “Pema was a great coach and a strong advocate for finding my own hero’s journey, my vulnerabilities, and the deeper heart of the narrative.”
The show originally debuted in workshop format as “13 Blocks to Rock” at the IFCC in Portland, Oregon in 2009. The show was renamed “SexyNurd: Rockstar Trapped in a ‘Nurd’s’ Body” and performed as a feature-length workshop for the Fertile Ground Theater Festival in 2010.
“Fertile Ground was a tough four nights,” auGi elaborated. “We were writing up to opening night, which meant I never had a single run-through. Typically, when doing any show, I rehearse for three-to-four weeks ahead of time. This time I was working from a script on stage, simultaneously clicking through a PowerPoint presentation, playing multiple instruments and praying that my light and sound cues would work. In the words of Dan Wieden (of Wieden+Kennedy), I ‘failed big.’”
When all was said and done, over 650 Fertile Ground audience members attended four sold-out shows, NBC-affiliate KGW was onsite for a live, opening night interview, and SexyNurd received a Willamette Week pick.
“The audiences and press were great…but at the end, I was exhausted and felt dissatisfied. I had worked so hard to do this huge production and, as deep as the story was, it was too difficult to perform. It was like a plane that takes off and soars really high, then goes into a dive bomb. Once you get that low, it’s hard to pull back up. In essence, the show had grown more dramatic than I was comfortable with. My original intention was to write a poignant comedy. There was some comedy, but it felt disjointed. So when Portland Story Theater (PST) reached out to participate in their annual Singlehandedly solo festival, I was thrilled.”
auGi worked closely with the co-founders of PST—Lynne Duddy, Lawrence Howard and Penny Walter—to restructure the story.
“It was an amazing collaborative experience,” according to auGi. “I found a whole new perspective. For Singlehandedly, I changed the script significantly; cut out entire sections, toned back the drama, killed all the light and sound cues, and found new ways to inject more heartfelt humor about my mom’s part of the storyline. I performed SexyNurd: Reboot for two standing-room-only nights during PST’s Singlehandedly festival, and was totally re-energized by the experience. SexyNurd was as, at last, something I loved doing.”
auGi adds, “The opening scene of SexyNurd talks about the song my mom wanted played at her funeral. Since there was no reason to think this would be anytime soon, my dad wrote it down and filed it away somewhere. Well, four weeks later, mom died. We couldn’t find the piece of paper he’d written it down on, so we’ll never know what that song was. Oddly enough, during one performance—where I “speak” to my mom on the CB radio—I swear I heard her voice (in my head) say the name of that song. So I played it for the audience. And that is now the song I close the show with.”
WORD: WHAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING ABOUT SEXYNURD
Thoughts on Superuckus ’11: Article by Andy Miller
-2010 Willamette Week Pick
“Part one-man-show, part stand-up, part rock concert and part visual experience. It went way outside of my expectations.”
-Tim May, XPLANE
“It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s a musical. It’s a home movie. You will love this show.”
-Lawrence Howard, Singlehandedly Solo Performance Festival
“I left SexyNurd feeling like I heard the story of a woman who lived a meaningful life and ready to live mine.”
-Andy Miller, Young & Fictitious
“I love the use of humor to make important points, to illustrate how love wins out, to show that one can overcome and survive what seems insurmountable……it can be healing.”
-Francine Martin, audience member
“SexyNurd is like those sweet and salty nuts—the unexpectedly delicious mix keeps you wanting more.”
-Nicole Lane, Artists Repertory Theater
“…a great story of following your dreams, reality, love, disappointment, persistence and family.”
“It’s like Napoleon Dynamite…but not stupid.”
-Power Talk Live
“Funny. Poignant. Real. The music, high energy. The experience, fantastic!”
-Lynne Duddy, Portland Story Theater
“What a show! Laugh-out-loud funny and then so bracingly poignant — quite a roller coaster ride.”
-Mead Hunter, Blogorrhea
“As a woman with MS and a passion for storytelling it was the perfect combo. Truth, beauty and humor-I saw these in you.”
-Ann Singer, audience member
“…an impressive fusion of comedy, theater and autobiography.”
-Trisha Mead, Portland Center Stage
“SexyNurd is must-see fringe theater: laughs, amazing music, and the pathos to qualify as art.”
-Rick Huddle, storyteller
“auGi resurrected a world of awkward and wonderful teenage moments that I thought were lost forever in my vanishing memory.”
-Gary Hirsch, On Your Feet
WHAT INSPIRED SEXYNURD?
My mom was a very sweet, caring woman who loved to laugh. One night around the dinner table, when I was about 17, I was doing a very bad impression of Woody Allen. The family was rolling. After catching her breath, Mom looked over at me and said, ”You’re so funny. You should be a comedian.”
I didn’t want to be a comedian. I wanted to be a rock star.
Mom was right.
Like any good mom, she supported and encouraged every artistic pursuit that I desired. But she encouraged me for another reason: mom was in a wheelchair by the time she was 45. She had Multiple Scleroris. She wanted her son to roam the world and do the things she couldn’t.
Mom battled with MS for 35 years. She outlived everyone in her support group — pretty amazing considering she couldn’t walk, had limited use of her hands, and her speech had became so affected you could barely understand her during the last 15 years of her life. Yet she was determined to participate in family gatherings, ride in Dad’s ancient Model-A Ford, and find happiness despite the cruel beast of MS that inhabited her body.
Humor helped Mom keep going and—even if just for an hour—forget about that beast. Even when bed-ridden, she stayed up late every night to watch David Letterman, hoping that her son would someday appear on that TV screen. And I did … well, sort of … on the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. I’d done so poorly in my audition that they featured me in their classic “Best of the Worst” segments and their commercial spots. For ten weeks straight. Maybe it wasn’t The Late Show, but her little nurdy son was on TV. And that made her cry (not because I bombed…they were tears of joy!).
I was with Mom when she died, surrounded by everyone she loved. In those last few minutes, she was calm, pain-free, with an expression of wonder on her face. My brother and I held her hands. Dad stroked her face and whispered things in her ear. She’d struggled for years to communicate and in her final days she hadn’t been able to say anything—there was a tube in her throat that prevented her from talking. Even when the nurse removed the tube, Mom tried so hard but no words came out.
I said, “I will think of you every day for the rest of my life.”
Right before she shut her eyes, Mom spoke. Without the tube to stop her, in a last second surge of defiance, she said “I love you.” To all of us. She said it more clearly than anything she’d said in 20 years. Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep. Forever. She was finally free.
Mom’s endless love, support and determination inspired me to write a one-man show called SexyNurd: Rockstar Trapped in a Nurd’s Body. It’s a sweet, funny, poignant account of the years I spent pursuing my dream and how Mom kept me walking towards it even when she no longer could.
I am her voice and her legs. And you need to hear our story.
Creator, co-writer and performer of SexyNurd
Executive Producer, Superuckus ’11
Created and performed by auGi
Written by auGi + Pema Teeter
Original music and lyrics by auGi
PowerPoint design by auGi (yes, I am a dork)
Additional story inspiration sparked by the collaborative juices of Lynne, Lawrence and Penny at Portland Story Theater. I’m ever grateful to your ideas, patience, and many nights of wine and pork-based treats!
And so she doesn’t get mad at me, a HUGE shoutout to Cindy who worked tirelessly with me over the course of several months giving feedback, re-write suggestions and an occasional kick to the crotch. You rock.
Mike “Husby” Husband
Mike “Mo” Otterbine
Kalon “Kay-Bo” Baughan
Gary & Eli Hirsch
B. Frayn Masters
Rachel Falk Selin
The Mortified PDX crew
All my collaborators at PST
Vintage Photos by
Mike “Husby” Husband
Mike “Mo” Otterbine
Shelli Diamond Riley
Original Artwork by
SexyNurd Logo by