- Jennifer Lemons, also known as the Checkout Girl, makes her stage debut this week at the Empire.
Jennifer Lemons classifies what she does as "writing stupid outrageous things that you really shouldn't share with others." That behavior has gained her online persona, the Checkout Girl, a legion of devoted readers who follow her exploits on her blog, Fuck Yeah, Motherhood; in her regular Off the Clock column at RVANews.com; and, most famously, on her Twitter feed, which boasts more than 6,200 followers.
This weekend Lemons branches out in a new direction with her one-night-only, one-woman show, "Loosely Based on a Real Girl." The show's hook is Lemons' recounting of her exploits as a phone-sex worker, an occupation she says she "fell backward" into even though she grew up a Catholic girl who never uttered a curse word. It's a show that defies easy classification: "It's too long for stand-up, but too jokey for storytelling," she says. The show includes a few tunes she'll pluck out on the ukulele. To the extent that it reflects her blunt, sassy and smart personality, it's sure to be entertaining.
While she has exposed huge swaths of her life online, Lemons didn't talk about her detour into adult entertainment for years. "It was a secret for a long time," she says. "But one day I thought, 'Those stories are hilarious; why I am I hiding them?'" Now she says that the entirety of her vocational sexcapades can't be covered in a single show; fans can expect sequels to "Loosely Based" that will take her story beyond the phone and onto the Internet.
Though seemingly on the verge of becoming Richmond's queen of all media, Lemons emerged on the local scene just four years ago. She had never written before, but after moving here from San Diego she started posting commentary about her life on Twitter. At the time, memoirs of regular working people were becoming bestsellers, most famously Anne Sam's "Tribulations of a Cashier," which spawned movie and musical adaptations. Lemons, who maintains her job at a grocery store, saw an opportunity. "[Sam] was writing about sitting around bored at her job and I thought, 'Oh, they have chairs!'" Lemons recalls.
She soon moved into the burgeoning world of online journaling and, only six weeks after she started her Checkout Girl blog, it was nominated and eventually won RVANews' best new blog of 2008. The recognition led to a series of columns entitled 100 Bad Dates that showcased her highly irreverent but sex-positive attitude.
An appearance in the Richmond Comedy Coalition's "Richmond Famous" improv show last year spurred consideration of a stage show. She found the development process difficult — "it's much easier to just Tweet a dick joke," she quips — but is looking forward to hitting the stage. "I really like hearing people laugh," she says.
Lemons recently celebrated her 40th birthday and says people are often surprised that someone her age can maintain her edginess. "It's just about telling a good story," she says. "And sex is something everyone can relate to." S
"Loosely Based on a Real Girl" premieres at the Empire Theater's Theatre Gym on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. Tickets and information are available at looselybased.eventbrite.com.