Teen Andrea uses a male stripper to gain the respect and admiration of cool girl Daphne. Hot Seat, which is based on a true story, explores coming-of-age sexuality and the complexities of relationships between teen girls.
Director: Anna Kerrigan
Writer: Anna Kerrigan
Stars: Jess Gabor, Carmela Zumbado, Byron Quiros
Screenplay: Anna Kerrigan
Producers: Ashley Springer, Kati Rediger, Anna Kerrigan
Ask anyone you know about their first sexual experience and you’re bound to get a broad range of answers that, in different measure, include some confusion, awkwardness, and hilarity. Throw in high school insecurities and teenage friendships, and you get the tried-and-true recipe for countless Hollywood films. These coming-of-age stories are so ubiquitous that we can usually spot them from a mile away. Most often, they are about a young boy and a defining sexual experience that suddenly jolts him into manhood. And, let’s be real, they are most likely directed by men.
Which brings us to Anna Kerrigan’s “Hot Seat,” a refreshing and authentic take on burgeoning sexuality and female friendships, as it unfolds at an unusual 18th birthday party. Andrea, a shy wallflower, shows up at the party with a handmade friendship bracelet for Daphne, the cool birthday girl whose approval she is desperate to get. But the innocent party Andrea thought she was attending quickly escalates when the hired male stripper, Jonny Ca$h, shows up, pumping adrenaline into the room and testing the fragile teen ecosystem. Excited to push the boundaries of this new experience, the girls insist that Jonny Ca$h work overtime. But when his offer for a one-on-one performance on is met with reticence, it’s Andrea who seizes the moment to prove her friendship and sits on the “hot seat” with a captive audience.
Played by Jess Gabor in a breakout performance, Andrea is transformed into the queen of the party when a shocking event turns into a hilarious bonding experience. By placing a platonic relationship at the center of a sex-filled room, Kerrigan (creator of Staff Picked series The Impossibilities) draws from her own experiences and subverts expectations, allowing Andrea to feel empowered rather than victimized. “When you’re a teenager,” says Kerrigan, “you look to your peers to tell you how to feel about a moment.” Navigating these insecurities and knowing how to feel can be tricky for anyone, male or female, and “you don’t realize until later that the peers you idolized had no idea what they were doing either.” Based on her own true story, Kerrigan says she wanted to “capture the specific feeling of joyful, teen girl camaraderie and also to convey that it wasn’t really about the stripper’s relationship with us, it was about the relationships between us girls. He was really just a pawn.”