Kathleen Turner on Meth Addiction, Gays, and ‘High’ on Broadway

Kevin Sessums speaks to Kathleen Turner about her role as  Sister Jamison Connelly, a recovering alcoholic, in Matthew Lombardo's High, on Broadway. Sessums describes Jamison's role as "a substance abuse counselor at a Catholic charity where a priest insists she increase her case load by one extra patient for whom he has a personal interest: a gay meth-slamming teenage hustler, portrayed with a haunting verisimilitude by Evan Jonigkeit."

High_turner In the interview, Sessums and Turner touch on the destructive world of meth addiction:

SESSUMS: I think the producers of this play should take out ads for High on the gay Internet sex sites where meth use can so easily be found. The combo of meth and sex, however, is referred to as "party and play" on those sites as a kind of online lingua franca, as if reducing drug use to something that is childlike—something akin to ring-around-the-rosy—will make it more innocent. I won't be a hypocrite. I have participated at times in such "play" and it is as far from innocence as I have ever wandered.

TURNER: We had what they call "talk-backs" after some of the performances before we got to Broadway and we plan to do some of that here also. Hundreds would stay when we had them before. Ed Stern, who is the Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Playhouse, finally said he couldn't handle it anymore. It was too much like being in a confessional. All these stories of addiction were told as lives completely destroyed. I came to the conclusion that I have been really naive. This methamphetamine is the most urgent thing I've ever heard of. And I am told it is the needle that is the death knell if one is not careful. I will figure out how to pass on carefully the suggestion you've made of advertising on these sex sites.

Also touched on in the interview — Turner's past stage and movie roles, being a sex symbol, alcoholism, and life as a diva.

Kathleen Turner's New Broadway High [the daily beast]


  1. qjersey says

    The owners of the gay hook up sites could care less if their members are wacked out on drugs or barebacking. It’s all about the bottom line. Literally.

  2. allan says

    I’ve seen “High” and it’s atrocious. Not worth coverage — or an interview with Kathleen Turner.

  3. new-new says

    @ QJERSEY:

    I completely agree. It’s quite sad. I wish there was a larger sense of group solidarity within oppressed minority groups.

    PNP is purely the result of internalization of external homophobia.

  4. says

    “PNP is purely the result of internalization of external homophobia.”

    I think it’s probably much more complex and variable than that.

  5. FunMe says

    I have heard the WORST stories with people who do crystal meth. It is the DEVIL in disguise as it destroys lives, brings job loss, disease, and so much destruction in people lives.

  6. Jon Mitchell says

    I saw the play and thought that the young guy (Evan Jonigkeit) gave a particularly moving performance of tragic substance addiction. But for Mr. Sessums to suggest that young gay men who are looking for PNP online are going to have the money to see this play, let alone the interest, is wishful thinking. But it is a serious issue and High does raise awareness, which is a small step in the right direction.

  7. Paul R says

    Meth isn’t the only harmful drug, obviously. I’ve seen way too many people reduced to nothing by heroin, coke, ecstasy, and K. Oh, and booze. Addiction is addiction.

  8. Jonathan says

    Addiction to ecstasy is extremely rare and the drug falls somewhere between marijuana and coffee on the harm scale (heroin, meth, and alcohol are at the top of the scale). I’m all for getting rid of the scourge of meth or even alcohol, but the minute you start with propaganda you lose all credibility.

  9. Paul R says

    I love ecstasy more than any other drug, but it has proven harmful, long-term effects on one’s seratonin—much like meth. Do too much for too many years and you screw up your capacity to experience pleasure. That’s not propaganda, it’s fact.

    I would love to say that all drugs are great, but it’s not true in excess. I was told by my doctor that it was impossible to be addicted to K, but lived with someone who did it around the clock for 7 years. Our understanding of addiction is weak.

  10. Paul R says

    Oh, and for the record I hate caffeine (haven’t had it in 15 years) and don’t care much for pot. Everyone responds differently to different things.

  11. Nanny McBone says

    @NEW-NEW: Actually I would say that it’s more the result of hatred of the self for all kinds of things. In many cases the sexuality aspect is coincidental.

  12. Chaq says

    Jon Mitchell raised the point that young men who are engaging in PNP are unlikely to be able to afford to see “High”, or will be totally uninterested in seeing it, if they’ve even heard of it at all.
    Maybe if the play is a real success, it could form the basis for a TV show or film? That seems to be the most effective media for younger people.
    I’d like to see “High”, but I doubt it’ll show here in Australia. If anyone hears of an internet telecast, let me know, yeah? That’d be awesome :)