Musings and mementos from participants in next week's autobiographical (and certainly embarrassing) Mortified show. (Photo by Juana Arias / For the Washington Post)
Musings and mementos from participants in next week's autobiographical (and certainly embarrassing) Mortified show. (Photo by Juana Arias / For the Washington Post)

Oh, the Shame!

By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2007

This is about a kid who simply wanted to _______.

Fill in the blank. Try to parse your adolescence into a couple of words.

Kiss a girl.

Be valedictorian.

Win the 100-meter dash at the all-county track meet.

For the past few months, several D.C. area residents have been trying to extract meaning from things they wrote when they were kids. Sappy stuff. Boy-crazy stuff. Dark and depressed harangues against society. Stuff that was for their eyes only.

Until now. Seven adults will publicly recite material that never was meant to be read by anyone -- let alone performed for an audience -- next week at HR-57, the Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues. They not only must read it aloud, but also hope they've packaged it together in a style that lets audience members laugh or squirm or nod their heads knowingly. It has the potential to be a twofold humiliation.

* * *

Caryn Sykes has the shoe box.

She sits on a stool as a panel of five people regards her with interest. She opens the shoe box and produces a photo of herself from freshman year of high school. The 15-year-old Caryn sports a horrendous Reagan-era hairstyle, the kind of backward-mullet swoop mainstreamed by Mike Score of the '80s synth-pop group A Flock of Seagulls.

The five people in front of Sykes gasp, then buckle with laughter. They are the producers of Mortified, a comic excavation of adolescent writing, art and media shared by the authors in front of strangers.

Mortified has established itself in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, and now a group of Washington residents is preparing its capital debut Nov. 6 and 7 (details, see http://www.getmortified.com).


CONTINUED     1              >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company