David Schmader

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David Schmader is an American writer known for his solo plays, his writing for the Seattle newsweekly The Stranger, and his annotated screenings of Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls. He is the author of the 2016 book Weed: The User's Guide.

Theater Work[edit]

Schmader, a solo performer, has created works under the direction of Dan Savage, Chay Yew, and Matthew Richter, with productions at Seattle's Hugo House literary center[1] and Bumbershoot Arts Festival,[2] San Francisco's Theatre Rhinoceros,[3] New York CIty's Dixon Place, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Outside of full solo productions, Schmader has performed at Seattle's On the Boards[4] and as a guest of the feminist art-and-performance collective Sister Spit.[5]

Key Works[edit]

Letter to Axl[edit]

In 1993, Schmader authored the play Letter to Axl, in which he "uses his autobiographical stories and his obsession with the notoriously homophobic, misogynistic, chemically dependent rock star Axl Rose as a way of examining homophobia, masculinity, and the scary power of the mass media to inspire unrequited love in millions of people."[6]


In his 1999 solo play Straight, Schmader "takes an undercover excursion into the world of sexual reprogramming...that utilizes Christian fundamentalist ideas in attempt to curb homosexual desires."[7] In 2002, Straight was turned into a performance film which screened at film festivals in Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C.[8]

A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem[edit]

Schmader wrote his third solo play in 2011. A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem, which Schmader also performed, is "a comedy about unfunny things: children who die, adults who get sick, and the intricate damage religion can inflict on young people."[9]

Published Work[edit]

The Stranger[edit]

From 1998 through 2014, Schmader served as a writer and editor at the Seattle alternative newsweekly The Stranger, writing the column "Last Days: The Week in Review."[10] Schmader also wrote investigative essays on the Michael Jackson 2005 criminal trial and the AVN Awards in Las Vegas.[11][12] With cartoonist Ellen Forney, Schmader created the five-part series "What the Drugs Taught Me," which was reprinted in Forney's 2007 collection I Love Led Zeppelin.[13] Between 2002 and 2004, Schmader curated and hosted Pizzazz!, a citywide talent show produced by The Stranger and presented on opening night of the Bumbershoot Arts Festival.[14] Schmader writes a cannabis column for The Stranger as of August 2016.[15]

Showgirls Annotation[edit]

In 1999, Schmader began hosting screenings of Paul Verhoeven's film Showgirls, touring his annotated screenings to film festivals and supplying the commentary track for the special-edition Showgirls DVD[16]

Weed: The Users Guide[edit]

Following the decriminalization of recreational marijuana in Washington State, Schmader wrote Weed: The User's Guide, a handbook for the sane enjoyment of marijuana.[17] Weed was published in 2016 by Sasquatch Books. Schmader uses his knowledge of marijuana news and policy in his role as a columnist on Leafly and a podcast host for the Roll-up.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Schmader's plays have received positive reviews from mostly local outlets, including The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, and Seattlest.[19][20] Seattle Weekly called 1999's Straight "brilliant" and "a compassionate, funny, but ardently intelligent exploration of the basic concepts of gender identity."[21] Reviewing 2011's A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem, The Stranger wrote "[Schmader's] protean wit, his willingness to stare without blinking into howlingly painful emotional cyclones, and his unfailingly calibrated ethical compass are three virtues every writer should strive to emulate."[22]

Some of Schmader's works have gained recognition nationally, most notably his Showgirls annotation.[23][24][25][26] In its review of Schmader's annotation, The Onion's A.V. Club stated, "Schmader provides a running commentary on and a deep understanding of these movies' multiple failures—giving them a second, legitimately entertaining life."[27]

Personal life[edit]

Schmader was born in El Paso, Texas. He has BFA in Theater from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2015, he became creative director of the nonprofit writing center The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas.[28]


  1. ^ "Classy Talk with David Schmader - Hugo House". Hugo House. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  2. ^ "Enthusiastic crowds find much to like at Bumbershoot '04". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  3. ^ "'Straight' Talk on Conversion Therapy / David Schmader's solo show skewers ex-gay movement". SFGate. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  4. ^ "2014 Festival Artists: David Schmader | On the Boards". www.ontheboards.org. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  5. ^ "Sister Spit | The Capitol Hill Times". www.capitolhilltimes.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  6. ^ Helbig, Jack. "Solopalooza". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  7. ^ "Straight-A-Conversion-Comedy - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - NYTimes.com". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  8. ^ "2002 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival". www.threedollarbillcinema.org. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  9. ^ "A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem at Hugo House in Seattle, WA on Sat., Sept. 19, 8 p.m. 2015 - Seattle Theater & Dance Events Calendar - The Stranger". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  10. ^ "The Last Days Crisis Is Over (for Me)". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  11. ^ Schmader, David. "Among the Faithful". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  12. ^ Schmader, David. "PORN'S BIG NIGHT". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  13. ^ "Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney embraces our oddities". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  14. ^ "Enthusiastic crowds find much to like at Bumbershoot '04". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  15. ^ "Midweek reading", Seattlish, August 10, 2016, retrieved 2017-04-19 
  16. ^ "'Showgirls' Bares All in Self-Mocking DVD | Fox News". Fox News. 2004-07-27. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  17. ^ "Weed: The User's Guide | Sasquatch Books". Sasquatch Books. Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  18. ^ "The Roll-Up #1: Thank You For Sharing That With America | Leafly". Leafly. 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2018-07-09. 
  19. ^ "'A Short-Term Solution to a Long-Term Problem'". The Stranger. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  20. ^ "9/11, Showgirls, and Beyonce Clown: David Schmader's Short Term Solution: Seattlest". seattlest.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  21. ^ "Straight shooting". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  22. ^ https://www.thestranger.com/events/22737138/a-short-term-solution-to-a-long-term-problem
  23. ^ "Coming of Age". www.austinchronicle.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  24. ^ "David Schmader's One-Man Demolition of Showgirls, Thursday at Belcourt". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  25. ^ "'Showgirls' commentary makes DVD worthwhile". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  26. ^ "'Showgirls' Bares All in Self-Mocking DVD | Fox News". Fox News. 2004-07-27. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  27. ^ "David Schmader". www.avclub.com. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  28. ^ "Our Staff & Leadership | The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas | A nonprofit writing and communications center". fearlessideas.org. Retrieved 2016-03-02.