Ellyn Daniels needs to get it out there. The stand-up comic, writer, actor and model has a lot to say about her experiences in the biz. Trained as a ballet dancer as a youth, she was scouted by a Parisian modeling agent at the age of seventeen. The innocent, often bewildered teen had modeling gigs in Europe and Asia, and was even sent on a junket to the sweltering, sub-Saharan African country of Togo. She was taken advantage of and abused emotionally and physically by those in positions of power—agents, teachers, and lovers. She fell into bulimia and alcoholism as she tried to please those around her while striving to succeed in a business well known for its cruelty. Her triumph is the cunning way she has turned the events of her life into blistering, ribald, hugely entertaining comedy.
In Emotional Terrorism, Ms. Daniels acts out the drama and comedy of her life, with her sexual adventures first and foremost. She performs with stunning, detailed openness. Her candor is utterly extraordinary as she exposes her encounters with the dark side of careers that people think of as glamorous. In the hour-long show, she presents a myriad of distinct individuals, seamlessly shifting between characters in the blink of an eye. There is her family, a gruffly affectionate father and a somewhat distant mother; her first lover, a German man twenty years older who gives her the unwanted, unanticipated gift of a social disease; a Japanese ad executive, and his obsequious female toady who tells her she is fat; her big, affectionate Togoese body guard who makes her feel safe; an arrogant acting teacher who drives her into bad choices, and many more.
On a bare stage with only a single folding metal chair, Ms. Daniels performs with astounding energy and utter candor. She owns the stage. She is both deeply affecting and utterly hilarious. The raw representation of her sexual encounters is physically and verbally explicit; one could say, nasty. She holds nothing back. It is as brave a performance as one could wish for.
Written by the performer and directed by Desmond Devenish, who also designed the sound and music that enhances the experience, Emotional Terrorism is booked for the Edinburgh Festival. See it here and now while you can. There are three more performances—Thursday, June 15 at 7pm; Sunday, June 18 at 2:30pm; and Saturday, June 24 at 8:30pm—at The Actors Company (Let Live Theater), 916 North Formosa Avenue, in West Hollywood.