Stuart Davis On 'Sex, God, Rock 'n Roll'

Is Stuart Davis is a musician who makes jokes — or a comedian who makes music? Or, is he a religious man who also appreciates the life of the flesh, and rock and roll? He says his three favorite things in life are sex, God, and rock and roll — so his new show is about just that. Host Scott Simon talks to Stuart Davis, who writes, directs, and stars in the show.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

"Sex, God, Rock 'N Roll" is a new show on the TV channel HDNet and it's about sex, God and rock and roll. It's a mix of comedy sketches, monologues and music.

(Soundbite of song, "Deity Freak")

Mr. STUART DAVIS (Writer-Director-Actor): (Singing) Somebody buy me a drink, (unintelligible) deity freak (unintelligible). I'm too clumsy to stand, too ecstatic to care, if I'm losing my mind, because it went everywhere.

SIMON: That's a song called "Deity Freak." The man behind it is Stuart Davis, the director, writer, actor and songwriter. Stuart Davis joins us now from member station KCSD in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Mr. Davis, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. DAVIS: Thank you so much for having me.

SIMON: Tell us about the song "Deity Freak."

Mr. DAVIS: "Deity Freak" is a celebration of all of those passionate spiritual seekers who don't find themselves fitting easily into the popular categories that are afforded us in a lot of spirituality and religion today. So it's an anthem to celebrate and get freaky with the intrinsic deity within each of us.

(Soundbite of song, "Deity Freak")

Mr. DAVIS: (Singing) Party like a pop star, make a lot of love, (unintelligible) make a deity, keep it feeling freaky. Party like a pop star, make a lot of love, (unintelligible) a deity, keep it feeling freaky…

SIMON: Do you approach this from the music or the comedy side at first?

Mr. DAVIS: Well, I've been joking around my entire life but I was much more hesitant to go into the performance realm at that part of my life. So I've been doing music full time for 15 years. I would say that rock and roll has been my day job and probably will continue to be. But in the last year or two I started writing books and the television show, something new as well, so comedy is new in that sense.

SIMON: I want to play a clip from the show if we could. This is a commercial, we should explain, for a product that doesn't actually exist, at least so far for an iPhone app that can perform exorcisms.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Sex, God, Rock 'N Roll")

Mr. DAVIS: For centuries, exorcisms were crude and unreliable. But exorcism has evolved. Now there's iXorcist, a new application for your iPhone that puts spiritual freedom at your fingertips. Download iXorcist from iTunes, touch the iXorcist icon to open the application. Pass the iPhone over any demonically possessed person and iXorcist captures and secures the demons safely in your eight-gig hard drive. iXorcist works on demons, poltergeists, incubus, succubus, specters and rock stars.

SIMON: Well, if the app doesn't exist, it should.

Mr. DAVIS: It does, actually. You can - I do literally have this app on my iPhone and you can go to, I believe it's iXorcist.com - we made a Web site. It's up to you to test it and see if it works.

SIMON: I must say parenthetically there are few funnier words than succubus.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DAVIS: I would agree with you there. It's very pleasant to speak. It's why I feel magnetically pulled toward that word. It's physically pleasing to utter.

SIMON: And is it succubuses or succubi?

Mr. DAVIS: I believe it's succubi.

SIMON: Is it really? Okay.

Mr. DAVIS: Yeah. Now we're conjugating. You're the expert.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Anybody who does a show that tries to ring laughs out of religion - and by the way, I don't forget that some noticeably religious people have been doing that for years - but you must know that you invite some skepticism.

Mr. DAVIS: Definitely. I welcome skepticism; I celebrate skepticism. I think, you know, as a Buddhist practitioner, it's central to my own spiritual life to be fundamentally skeptical about everything in the cosmos. But I do want to clarify, you know, that my intention in making the show is to celebrate the spiritual paths in the Western world and to celebrate religion and hopefully unpack some of the nuances and variety and gradation.

I just think that we're a lot more interesting spiritually and a lot more varied than is often depicted in popular media. So for me the show is a way to have fun, go to the circus of love and hopefully experience some new dimensions of our spirituality that don't often get airtime.

SIMON: And (unintelligible) a bit you perform where you - finding God again when a college friend attempts to light - how do I put this nicely - putting a match to his - yeah.

Mr. DAVIS: Right. There's a monologue that I do about all of the different ways that I've encountered God in my life. And there is a bit in there about my scientific friend who uses the empirical method to demonstrate for me. And he does that by lighting a fart and repeating his experiment, perfectly duplicating his results. And that to me demonstrates the importance of the empirical and the spiritual.

It's a lot funnier in the monologue…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DAVIS: …than it is the way that I just described it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: It's always harder to retell it, isn't it?

Mr. DAVIS: Yes. But it's in there and it's, you know, that's actually one of the more PG kinds of monologues that we do in there. But that's, you know, that bit, groping for God, that monologue is a very sincere relating of the development of my spirituality in my life and how it has changed. It's never diminished, but one of the things I wanted to explore is the way that as we develop as human beings, the way that our world view evolves as well.

So when I was a child and I was five years old, I was very much enmeshed and engaging in spiritual issues. They look different to me now than they did then, and I hope they continue to evolve and deepen and include more. So that's part of the comedic intention of the show.

SIMON: How did you find Buddhism?

Mr. DAVIS: I found Buddhism when my drummer in my band, about - I think this was 15 years ago or so, related to me one time in the studio that he was a Zen priest, and I became fascinated instantly. I had the kind of Western romantic notions about what Zen might be. And he sent me to a zendo - and this part of the romance is true - when I walked into a zendo the first time, I did know that I was home and I just felt a kinship and an immediate recognition that went to a very deep place in me.

And so I've stayed with that path ever since then and that is truly home. But I feel very strongly about the familial link of all the traditions. So although I'm a Buddhist practitioner, I interact and feel the indispensable link to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, you name it. I believe all the paths are one family.

SIMON: A family that winds up with Parker Posey?

Mr. DAVIS: Parker Posey is part of the family too, absolutely. See, now, the thing about this…

SIMON: Trying to get to your song, but go ahead, yeah.

Mr. DAVIS: Please do, 'cause the good thing about this show is that you never get too much spirituality. It's also about showbiz, it's also about rock and roll, it's also about sexuality. So I just picked my three favorite subjects in life - sex, God, rock and roll - and made them the pillars of the show. So, Parker Posey figures prominently. She is one of the minor deities in my realm -she's the Hindi goddess, as we all know - so she deserves the sonic temple, and that's what that song is.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. DAVIS: (Singing) Parker Posey, this is your movie. I know how believable you'll be. That's why you let it bleed. It's "Pretty Woman" meets "Clockwork orange," (unintelligible) could you carry the picture (unintelligible), your delicate features (unintelligible) she misses her mother…

(Speaking) That song came from this dreamscape that I had one day where I was a director pitching Parker Posey how I was going to mainstream her. So I just saw this miniature movie where this director was trying to, in a kind of backhanded way, take a really, really great actress and make her do something a little bit beneath her skill level, beneath her gift, so that she could become this huge star.

And I hope, I still hope, Parker, if you're out there, I hope we get to make this music video some day. Come on, it'll be fun.

SIMON: She's out there.

Mr. DAVIS: Okay.

SIMON: We'll catch up with her. Mr. Davis, thanks so much.

Mr. DAVIS: Thank you so much for having me on.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. DAVIS: (Singing) I know I can make you a Minnie Driver. Move over, Winona Ryder. Come on, turn up the moxie for me. Go on, go get an Oscar for me. You little goddess with your disorder (unintelligible) she misses her mother. Parker Posey, this is your movie…

SIMON: And Parker Posey, this is your radio show. That was Stuart Davis, musician, star of the new show "Sex, God, Rock 'N Roll." It airs Sundays on HDNet.

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