Steven T. Seagle writes in many colors. He's done comics, ranging from mainstream superheroes such as Superman and Batman to "Mature Readers" books such as his current series, DC/Vertigo's American Virgin. As part of the collective Man of Action, he helped develop the hit Cartoon Network animated series Ben 10, which has spawned a wave of merchandise and DVDs. And on stage ... well, he's partially responsible for a show with a name that's hard to say out loud.
N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk: The Race Show, which Seagle co-wrote and co-directs, combines poetry, stand-up, monologues and other storytelling techniques to tell the tales of three friends who happen to be black, Latino and Asian, as they discuss racism, stereotypes, and identity.
Seagle says that the title is the most controversial thing about the show. "It certainly gets people going!" Seagle says with a laugh, citing New York City's recent efforts to ban the N-word as a reason for the show's relevance. "The guys I co-wrote the show with, these are words they've lived with their whole lives, and they have a right to talk about those words in that context."
The discomfort created by the show's title (N*W*C is its more P.C. abbreviation) is part of the point of the show, which seeks to "depower" those words.
"A lot of people wonder why we have to say those words," says Seagle. "But the simple fact is that if people are still that worked up over the words, then we're still not through with them."