Making art, and sport, out of Taylor Swift’s love life is far from original; the popular singer-songwriter has done so herself many times; it’s easy to argue that her career is largely built on songs about her brief relationships (and breakups) with mostly famous men. But “Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift,” one of the productions at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival, sounded promising: Each of the seven monologues is written by a different female playwright, all portrayed by the same actor, Thaddeus Shafer, usually conversing with an unseen Taylor Swift.
Joe Jonas (written by Caitlin Bower) engages in an interior monologue (a recorded voiceover) as he sits next to Taylor Swift in a movie theater, and contemplates giving up his virginity, and his purity ring, for her and getting married.
Jonas is depicted as a naïve and prudish mama’s boy.
In real life, Swift’s relationship with Jonas is said to have inspired at least three of her songs. (Since Swift rarely names the specific individuals who inspired her songs, the connections below are mostly guesses, albeit widely published ones.):
Forever and Always
Taylor Lautner (written by Nadia Vazquez), who is depicted as muscle-bound and intellectually limited, readies for his first date with Taylor by talking on the phone with his manager; he will take her out so that the press can write about their “canoodling. Like, what does that even mean? It sounds like ‘canoe’ and ‘noodles’ and neither of those things make sense together.” When she arrives, Lautner writes in his gratitude journal how grateful he is to be going out on a date. “We could just be two Taylor’s against the world, writing our name on the sky forever. I could tour with you. We could get matching workout gear.”
Her relationship with Taylor Lautner is said to have inspired Taylor Swift’s “apology” song “Back to December”
John Mayer (written by Joanna Horowitz) plots with the bartender at The Rusty Pig in Washburn, Arkansas to woo her into bed after her concert in nearby Little Rock, by getting her to sing a duet with her. “As soon as our voices stitch up together, it’s in the bag.” What does he think of her? “She’s so sweet. Like, type two diabetes sweet.”
This relationship reportedly inspired several songs, most obviously “Dear John”
Corey Monteith (written by Lily Blau) has escaped with Taylor from the paparazzi to his hotel room, where she spots a dime bag he’s stashed in the minibar, and he explains, vaguely, why he needs drugs.
Several publications have claimed “Mine” to be inspired by Monteith
It’s Halloween when Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor text back and forth (written by Joanna Bateman), Jake trying to convince Taylor to come over and make love. But Taylor wants it to be special. So Jake convinces her that it will be because he has an amber-scented candle, which he bought “when I was low and alone in Paris.”
Some see Gyllenhaal in Taylor’s “The Last Time”
Conor Kennedy (written by Kit Steinkellner) writes Taylor a letter with a quill pen claiming they have a lot alike: “I am the whitest, richest, handsomest male in the whitest, richest, handsomest family in this country. But the most American thing in the world is not me. It’s you…. We are not ordinary mortals, and it can be lonely at the top.” He promises to be her prince, although he won’t sweep her away in a white horse but in his Lamborghini or Ferrari
Taylor Swift has said that “Starlight” was inspired by Ethel and Robert Kennedy, Conor’s grandparents.
Harry Styles from One Direction (written by Kari Lee) addresses the audience rather than Taylor, offering his reasons for wanting to hitch up with Taylor. Members of boy bands have a short career. The exception was Justin Timberlake “And we all know how he did it. He rode Britney Spears like a rocket to a solo career.” So Harry determined to do the same with Taylor, but it wasn’t easy hooking up. “I friended her, Fanned her, Followed her, Instagrammed her, Pinned her, Poked her, Winked and Tumblr’d. I emailed my agent to email her agent…all to no avail.” The only way was to disguise himself as a “Swifty” at one of her concerts.
Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” is said to have grown out of her relationship with Harry Styles.
How does the Fringe show and Taylor Swift’s songs compare?
Swift’s various hairstyles are much more interesting to look at than the nearly indistinguishable mop-top wigs that Thad Shafer dons for the characters; his impersonations are as sloppy and unvaried as the wigs. Taylor’s songs are, of course, from her point of view. The skits in Seven Seductions are from the point of view of women playwrights who save their mockery and their venom for her exes; Swift herself is spared their direct ridicule. (The only man not skewered is the late Cory Monteith.)
Swift has entertained millions, and earned hundreds of millions. Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift will be seen by hundreds, dozens of whom will find parts of it amusing or intriguing, and not be baffled by its point nor disappointed by its execution.
“Seven Seductions of Taylor Swift” will be presented at The Players Theater (115 MacDougal Street) through August 23. Check the Fringe website for specific times.