Theatrical Review: 'Debbie Does My Dad'

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Friday night saw the debut of the final version of Bobby Gordon's one-man play, "Debbie Does My Dad"—and frankly, we can't help but feel sorry for the lad. After all, it can't be easy talking about your first erection to a full house at the Highways Performance Space when your dad (former porn star Richard Pacheco), your mom, at least one sister and at least one brother-in-law are all sitting in the front row.

But the younger Gordon soldiers on.

"1978, Bambi Woods starred in the porno Debbie Does Dallas," he begins, looking incredibly professorial in his tan corduroy sports jacket and tie. "The movie depicts Debbie's mission to raise enough money to try out for the Texas Cowgirls cheerleadering squad. The film was highly successful, is regarded as one of the most important releases during the so-called Golden Age of Porn and remains one of the best known pornographic films. All this I know from Wikipedia because I've never seen it."

Then, after musing that the amply endowed Ms. Woods just might have, at some point, "done his dad" by giving him a blowjob, he admits, "Just to be on the safe side, I've avoided Debbie, and just about anyone who was naked at any point between 1978 and 1984."

Indeed, it's almost surprising to hear how little contact Gordon has had with porn, and as the evening progresses, he does an excellent job of explaining how that is, in a sense, his private form of rebellion; much better, he later comments, than a couple of other options he's considered: Becoming a priest ... or a Republican.

"All right; to put your minds at ease, there aren't fake-breasted blondes fucking in every corner of my house," Gordon assures. "I don't have to dodge directors or boom mikes over naked twins. I'm not woken up in the morning by shouts in the next room from some girl in my house that she's never seen a dick that big and 'Do me now.' We're normal Americans, all of us. In the house that my dad made with my mom, you can talk about sex. I can ask questions and get real answers."

One thing is sure: Gordon has certainly inherited his dad's acting talent, as he re-creates for the crowd (which this evening includes Georgina Spelvin) his own 8-year-old psyche, feeling afraid to go to sleep and having his dad provide a strange "solution": "Grab your dick." The audience is also treated to Bobby's first lovemaking, his first deep kiss (with a woman named Rachel Pacheco!), his reaction to answering interminable questions from his classmates about his dad, his parents' marriage, his dad's cock and, of course, even his own.

"So your dad was a porn star, huh? I guess that means you're pretty big," is a comment Gordon's heard more times than he can count, and the exasperation he's felt over the years at hearing the assumption is made crystal clear for his audience.

At one point during the evening, Gordon even takes on the person of his own mother, musing about the "free love" culture of the '70s and '80s in San Francisco, and the fact that while his father was enjoying the life of a top porn star, traveling all over the country and having sex with many beautiful women, his mother also took lovers, in part for revenge, in part from ennui, and in part because it was "the thing to do."

One particularly touching moment, however, is Gordon's recounting of a bedroom conversation between his mom and dad that spelled the end of Richard Pacheco.

"We were lying there naked," Gordon says, channeling his mom, "and I asked if we should stop? He seemed confused, so I asked, 'Do you think we should?' He seemed more confused. You see, Bobby, it was San Francisco in the '80s and AIDS was just there. No one knew for sure what was safe and what to fear but it seemed abundantly clear that working as an adult film star and having many sexual partners, it meant a risk. Your dad was peaking, making top dollar, working with the hottest starlets and the best directors. He did not want to stop. 'Stop now? Are you crazy?' So I just stared at him: 'Don't you think it would be wise for one of us to stay alive to raise the children?'"

"And that was the end of my dad's porn career," he concludes.

There's plenty more to relish during the roughly one-hour show. For instance, there's Gordon's discovery of his parents' stash of Playboy magazines, followed shortly by his mother walking in on him while masturbating ... followed shortly by his coming home from school to discover a stack of Playboys on his bed, and his dad installing a lock on his bedroom door. And then there's his plaintive attempt to reconcile what he knows about his dad's career in porn with what he hears about the "profession" at school and from other mainstream sources. And let's not forget "Super-Dick"!

All in all, it was a night to remember—and one that anyone who's ever been in porn, or ever wanted to be in porn, shouldn't miss. Sadly, there don't appear to be any future performances yet scheduled, but bookmarking this link should assure that when there are, AVN readers will be among the first to know.