The Ex Files

"It's hard for men to date me," admits Tori King. "I just can't let go and trust someone. Which, in turn, is hard on me, because I have a huge libido."

King also has a huge success -- with The More Men Weigh, the one-woman show that depicts the breakup of her marriage to Beat Angels bassist Scott Moore, who was involved in a near-fatal traffic accident last fall. King's play, which opens this week at PlayWright's Theatre, isn't about Moore's mishap.

"It's really about my whole life," says King, who grew up in Chandler but was born in rural Indiana -- "in a town so small, there was nothing to do but drink, smoke pot and get pregnant." Her mother excelled at the latter, giving birth to King when she was only 16. King's teenaged mom instilled in her a deep mistrust of people. Especially men.

"My stepdad would be out of town on business, and she'd be calling his hotel room, trying to catch him at something," King recalls. "My mother is a fun character to play onstage, but no one really believes that that's my real life up there; that's my real mom, tracking down her husband, while my sister and I sit and watch."

Mom's suspicious nature inspired the play's title, King says. "My stepdad's a Mormon, and she always thought he was cheating on her. My sister was saying, 'Mom, they're all big fat liars, that's just the Mormon way.' My mother thought she said 'the more men weigh,' and she went, 'That's it! The bigger the man, the more he lies!' God bless my mom."

King also bestows blessings on ASU's playwriting program, where she studied under luminaries like Marshall Mason and Guillermo Reyes.

The More Men Weigh, her first piece of post-college playwriting, has received raves, including a "Best of the Fringe" nod from the 19th Edmonton Fringe Festival.

"I was surprised at how well the show did, since solo performance has such a stigma," King says. "Everyone thinks they're going to see some woman smearing chocolate all over her body like Karen Finley."

King eschewed sticky sweetness for what she knew best: the ways in which men suck. When she suspected that her husband was screwing groupies, King grabbed a pen and started writing. "I had joined this performance group and was writing a piece about dating called Those Aren't Going in My Vagina," she explains. "One night I was telling the group about how my marriage broke up, and they all said, 'Forget the dating piece, you have to write that story.'"

That story became The More Men Weigh, which includes a scene where King taps her own telephone in a bid to bust her husband chatting up his girlfriend. "Yeah, it was really sick," she admits today. "I couldn't afford to hire someone to tap the phone, so I went to Spy Headquarters in Tempe, and got the stuff to do it myself. I hid under the desk in the spare bedroom, and I just waited for this girl to call."

For a long time after, King was too embarrassed to talk about her sneaky sleuthing. "Then I moved to L.A., and everyone here owns a pair of binoculars. I went over to my friend's house the other night and he was watching some girl give a blowjob in the back of a car. Everyone I know is just in their window with their binoculars. I think it's the effect of all that weird reality-based TV we watch."

Despite its depiction of her allegedly philandering hubby, King's own reality-based story isn't about man bashing. "I'm not an angry feminist who thinks all men stink," she says. "This is a story about me and my ex-husband. I do a dead-on impersonation of him; he has this funny little lisp, and it gets a lot of laughs. But it's not the point of the piece to make fun of him, either."

King is especially reluctant to trash Moore since the October hit-and-run that nearly took his life. "He was hit by a drunk driver," she says, her voice shaking. "He was in a coma for seven weeks, and he's really messed up. His rehab will be long and painful. It was in all the papers, and I agonized over whether to even bring the show to Phoenix." King finally changed Moore's name in the show, though she's not sure that's enough.

"I don't want to offend anyone, but even his best friends are saying, 'Do it! Scott would love it!'"

Lately, there's hardly time to figure out how to get a get-well wish to her ex-husband, whose mother moved him to a facility in Tennessee. "The show is eating up my whole life," she says. Notices have been consistently socko, and King has begun hearing from couples who broke up after seeing her show.

"In both cases, the guys tried to blame me," she groans. "They both said, 'God, Tori, it was so hard to watch your show, because I cheated on my girlfriend, and I had to go home and break up with her after I saw what you went through.' And I said to both of them, 'Oh, too bad. It was hard for you to watch, huh? Poor baby.' Give me a break. These guys ought to try living it. I mean, the story is theatricalized, but it's still my life."

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela

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