NEW YORK—Renowned all-girl XXX performer and Penthouse Pet Justine Joli is going from lesbian to thespian in a new Off-Broadway production titled Caligula Maximus, slated to run March 12-April 3 at New York's Ellen Stewart Theatre.
Co-produced and co-written by Randy Weiner and Alfred Preisser, with Preisser directing, Maximus has Joli playing Caesonia, Caligula's wife, and portrays the debaucherous last night of the inglorious Roman emperor's life, culminating in his assassination at the hands of his own personal "senate" of showgirls and circus performers.
"It's pretty huge," Joli told AVN. "I thought that I was going to a place that no porn star had ever gone before, and it turns out that actually I am not blazing a trail. As far as I understand, Savanna Samson has done four plays. But here I'm thinking, 'Yeah ... first porn star to be in a fucking Off-Broadway show,' and as it turns out, not so much."
Nevertheless, as the wife of the titular character, Joli said she is "pretty much always on stage. I'm always doing something." And to answer the most glaring question, "Yes, there is nudity in the show. In fact, I open the show with nudity."
Joli landed the role by way of having worked as a burlesque dancer at New York performance venue The Box, in which Weiner has a managing partnership. "Randy Weiner really enjoyed my style of dancing and my energy, and so he definitely wanted to make sure that I was around for the audition process," Joli explained.
Going into the first audition, "I was shaking so bad, I almost fell off the chair," she said. The producers called her back a week later, however, and had her read for the part of Drusilla, Caligula's sister, one she held high hopes of scoring "because in the end he actually rips the baby out of her womb."
Ultimately, of course, she was chosen to be Caesonia, which caters to her self-professed most natural performance strength: "I think I feel more comfortable naked than I do in clothes, and so I guess for the stage with me, once I get naked, I think I will feel completely comfortable. But not until then."
She was careful to delineate the artistic merit of the nudity in Maximus, while distancing it as much as possible from the notorious 1979 Bob Guccione-produced film Caligula.
"Our director wants nothing to do with the movie at all," Joli said. "It's so funny, too, because he's trying to walk this very fine line of artistic nudity, but still it's nudity. He wants to show the rise and fall of what humanity actually can be, which is, we all have a little bit of Caligula in us, which is hubris and decadence and the absolute id of the human mind, and while humans enjoy bedlam, there has to be a point where we all realize that hey, this is great and it's awesome, but fuck you, we can't do this all the time, this is pandemonium. So we then kill him."