by Jess Segal -ofrSAFE:HIGHS's fourth annual Sex and A Capella, a fun-filled evening of discourse on intercourse and oral stimulation to the ears. Together the six campus a capella groups and SAFE:HIGHS (Sexuality Awareness for Everyone: Helping individuals Grow HIV Safe) educated students without boring them. Entertaining without losing focus on the serious subjects of AIDS and AIDS prevention.
The show began with Binghamton University's newest addition to the a capella world, Kaskeset. The only word to describe this group's performance is WOW. Their intonation was amazing, and their energy was contagious. When Alan Zeitlin sang "Abram," the words and the accompaniment provided by the group sent chills down my spine. As group director, David Ross, so eloquently put it, "It's beautiful music and that's what a capella is all about."
Kaskeset also performed a skit co-written by Ross and Zeitlin, which promoted safe sex. With humor and seriousness they conveyed that abstinence is the safest method of all, but that protected sex is the next best thing. Both the skit and musical presentations by Kaskeset were fantastic.
When the next group, The Vibrations, was announced, a groan came from the packed audience in Casadesus. The group lived up to the audience's low expectations; there's still only one member (Elishe Rothenberg, also of Kaskeset) that can carry a tune. She managed to wake up the audience with her performance of "This Thing Called Love." When Rothenberg wasn't a soloist, the audience actually talked over The Vibrations, probably in hopes of tuning them out but off-key singing and boring song choices were still audible. The which was something that the next group, The Binghamtonics, appeared to have mastered both sex and a capella.
"I don't like to sleep with just one man," sang soloist Rennica Johnson of the Tonics during, "Threesome," their version of George Michael's "Freedom." This followed a late entrance with group members half dressed. They pardoned themselves with the excuse that they were working on the sex part of "sex and a capella." Soloist Joy Sarsale sang from the heart in both "Galileo" and "Light," and delivered a performance so passionate that everyone in the audience was fully captivated. The rest of the group performed equally well.
They were followed by the always impressive Rhythm Method.
The Rhythm Method, sang Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Lead by soloist Dan Donahue, a quartet leapt in front of the rest of the group to substitute new lines about sex to the amusement of the audience. And of course the group added that the Rhythm Method does not endorse the use of the rhythm method as a primary form of birth control.
Finally, it was time for the all-female and all-male a capella groups, the Harpur Harpeggios and The Crosbys, to close the night. The Pegs were delightful and each woman wore a wrapped condom in her hair and on her clothing to promote safe sex. Although they skipped crowd pleasers such as the Indigo Girls' "Least Complicated," they did perform favorites like the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" and Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing."
The Crosbys came out ready for bed, in flannel pajamas, skirts and nightgowns. The group is always amusing to watch and it was nice to see some of their lesser performed songs like "Heavenly" and "I Need You." Their choreography was great, and it really looked like the Crosbys were having fun performing for a good cause. The Crosbys finished the night with a lively performance of "I'm a Man."
In between all of the music, SAFE:HIGHS managed to incorporate important messages to the audience. Members asked for audience participation and talked about the relationship between alcohol and AIDS, and mentioned places in Binghamton where HIV tests are given. They gave away a jar filled with 152 condoms to the person who guessed the number.
SAFE:HIGHS's Sex and A Capella (with the exception of the Vibrations) fell nothing short of an orgasmic experience.