Sex Surrogate was the first Las Vegas stage play to feature full frontal nudity. Given Las Vegas's reputation it would seem that such a play, even in 1979, would be welcomed in the town but Surrogate saw push back from government officials who wanted to ban it. In the show, written by Mel Goldberg, Marilyn played the titular sex surrogate who operated from her apartment and dealt with the sexual hangups of several male patients. A one-woman show Marilyn played the male characters as well. At the end of the show she answered questions the audience had anonymously written about their sexual problems. The show eventually closed in Vegas due to the pressure from the city's commissioner and moved to London.
Marilyn told Club magazine in the February 1980 issue: "It was hypocrisy at its worst, considering Vegas is labeled America's City of Sin. The powers that be acknowledged that my show had certain socially-redeeming qualities, but they suggested that in one scene, when I go through a pretty hot sexual simulation, I should wear a G-string. I felt that it would take all credibility from the play and I am thankful that London is a less naive town. The English really seem to enjoy my act and we are playing to packed houses."
In 2004, Marilyn told Mr. Skin: "I had done this stage show called Sex Surrogate in Las Vegas -- a one-woman show that didn't go over too well because it was too intellectual. I played all the roles. It was a huge challenge for me as an actress. I heard Jane Fonda turned it down. When you looked at the script, you'd think there was no way I could do that. When we went to London, we had to change the title to Sex Confessions. About two years later we videotaped it in the States over one day and night. It was this amazing eighteen-hour shoot. That's one of my best acting experiences."
The videotaped version was available for a brief time on home video in the 1980s, but has been out of print for many years and has never been available on DVD. It's a shame, too, because one view and it's easy to see why Sex Surrogate was a personal favorite of Marilyn's. Not only does she look sensational but it's a demanding part that she handles with ease. She effortlessly moves between characters and makes Kim, the titular sex surrogate, a likeable, complicated, endearing character. Even though the subject is sex, and there's full-frontal nudity and simulated sex, the script gave Marilyn a chance to act without the advantage (or disadvantage) of hardcore sex.
Did you see Sex Surrogate in Vegas or Sex Confessions in London? Contact me.
Sex Surrogate/Sex Confessions (1979)
Marilyn prepares in her dressing room for a performance of Sex Surrogate at the Jolly Trolley Casino in Las Vegas, 1979.
Club magazine promoted Sex Surrogate and Sex Confessions
through a one-page photo feature which serves as the only visual
record for how the show would have appeared on stage.
Left: Marilyn arrives in London's Soho district for the premiere of Sex Confessions at the Raymond Revuebar, 1979.
Flyer for the Vegas showing of Sex Surrogate at the Jolly Trolley Casino, 1979.