Despite the optimism that emerged in Alabama’s LGBT community and its allies following in the wake of a federal judge’s decision to strike down Alabama’s gay marriage ban on Jan. 23, it’s since become clear that the state of gay rights in Alabama remain in their usual perilous position.
There are reasons to be cheerful, though. On a micro-level, that includes a local spin on The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game that prioritizes equality, accepting applications from straight and gay contestants and couples alike. Romantically Challenged, hosted by emceeing and equality aficionado Max Rykov, will take place at the Bottletree on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
As with those old shows, the games’ format will feature Rykov in the Jim Lange/Bob Eubanks role, facilitating a mildly risqué Q&A between a contestant and his or her would-be dates, then getting to see just how well local couples know each other.
“It’s straightforward,” Rykov said of the games, “but what’s cool about it is that it’s both gay and straight. Everyone’s welcome. There’s 36 states that have gay marriage now – and it’s crazy that that’s a thing that could be illegal at all – and thinking that we’ll either be last or second-to-last [among states to ratify gay marriage]…it’s cool to see that there is some support for that community in Birmingham, to see that Alabamians aren’t across-the-board homophobic lunatics.”
Rykov also sees Romantically Challenged as an opportunity to present a fun alternative to the sometimes dehumanizing tedium of online dating. “With the advent of the internet, I think interpersonal skills have declined when it comes to dating,” Rykov said. “What really makes a potential relationship work isn’t sending messages back and forth; it’s being able to come up with witty answers to arbitrary questions in front of the viewing public.
“There’s really no better way to find true love than to be onstage and play a silly game in the manner of a 1960s and ‘70s-style television show,” Rykov added. “It’s proven to work.”
Doors will open for Romantically Challenged at 8 p.m., with the show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15.