Editor’s note: the performance reviewed this week contains adult themes and potentially offensive language. The author makes use of the same language in the context of the review.

When Debra Ehrhardt grew up on the island of Jamaica, the subject of sex was taboo.

“My very conservative Christian mother said absolutely no sex before marriage,” Ehrhardt told me in an interview. “The women in my family never talked about sex. Anything to do with the body was shameful. I didn’t even know what it was, I had to figure everything out myself. Men talk about sex all the time. And I wondered why can’t women? I wanted to break that legacy.”

Now that her mother is retired and living in Ecuador, Debra Ehrhardt is breaking the legacy with her latest one woman show, “Cock Tales: Shame on Me,” at Santa Monica Playhouse, opening this Saturday.

Ehrhardt is an attractive, vibrant, dark-haired writer/performer with a melodic and ever-so-slightly accented voice, through which she creates multiple characters. Her previous show “Jamaica, Farewell” told the story of her harrowing adventure getting to the U.S. 25 years ago.

In “Cock Tales” she shares true stories about encountering men and their private parts, beginning in childhood with her uncle, who was the same age as she and played a particular kind of peekaboo with her.

On Sundays, her pastor admonished his flock, “We must fight for victory over the flesh, over the world and the devil.”

The pastor should have practiced what he preached. Her mother tried to explain, “That thing in men’s pants makes them do bad things sometimes. That’s where the devil lives.”

With that background, it’s no surprise that Ehrhardt married at the age of 18.  “I married the first guy I met in Christian university, had two children immediately and then I was divorced within four years.” Their sex life took place with lights out, under the sheets, very quickly. She says she never really saw her husband naked.

“I didn’t want to spend my life reading the Bible morning, noon and night, so I broke away.  Where I grew up you waited till you got to Heaven to enjoy yourself, and I thought no, I’m going to get some Heaven down here on Earth.”

The show takes from her first encounter with the “one-eyed snake” at age 9 through her conversations with God, all the way to her now-happy current marriage. “I’m so glad I’m here in America, where I could go to school, learn, grow and enjoy every bit of my life before I’m dead.”

After her divorce, Ehrhardt’s mother helped raise her daughter and son and practiced her religiosity on them. “She told my son, ‘It’s a sin to masturbate, it depletes the body of zinc and you will go blind. Go get the Bible and pray.’ And my poor son sat there trembling. I tried to explain later that this wasn’t true, but it’s tough to hear such things when you’re young and hard to forget.”

She says her children, now nearly 30 years old, have turned out amazingly well and that her daughter is confident in her sexuality. “But after seeing a preview my daughter said, ‘Mom, you have no idea of the psychological damage you’ve done! Whose mother gets up on stage and talks about cock! Please don’t introduce me to anyone; I don’t want them to know I’m your daughter.’ ”

She may have only been partially kidding.

Ehrhardt chose her title deliberately. “I did not want to mislead people about the play’s content, and I don’t want to offend people and have them walk out. I just want to share some stories I think are meaningful.

“But it’s not lewd or pornographic, just true tales, some sad, some funny, some sexy, some about betrayal or molestation, always with humor, but it ends up here: I’m good, I’m fine, I’m living an amazing life and I’m not damaged goods, a phrase so often used in my childhood.

“Art is supposed to make you think, so when you come out of the theater, I hope it’s going to start a conversation between men and women about the need to share their stories and forget about shame.”

“Cock Tales: Shame on Me” runs Saturdays at 4 and Sundays at 6 p.m. through September 11 at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street. Reserve seats at www.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006.

‘PHIL’S CAMINO’

Thousands of spiritual seekers of all religious stripes have walked the ancient pilgrimage route called the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile journey through Spain that ends at the church where Spain’s patron saint, the Apostle James is said to be buried. Martin Sheen made a commercial film called “The Way” about it few years back.

Annie O’Neil walked those 500 miles with a metal plate in her hip, and along with five other pilgrims, was featured in and co-producer of “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a 2013 documentary film with numerous film festival awards to its credit.

Now O’Neil has produced and directed “Phil’s Camino.” Phil is free-spirited, a veteran, husband, father, outdoorsman and Catholic with Stage IV cancer, and the story of his dream to walk the Camino seems unattainable.

Instead he builds his own Camino in his backyard, fields and forest behind his house, and tracks his progress on a map of the Camino, getting healthier and stronger along the way. Will he make it to Spain?

“Phil’s Camino” has already won seven independent awards and its Oscar-qualifying run in the Documentary Short category begins Friday, July 29 through Aug. 4, at noon at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West L.A. There’ll be two panel discussions and a Q&A with Phil himself following the weekend screenings.

You’ll be inspired. Get tickets here: http://www.laemmle.com/index.php/films/41047#get-tickets.

Print Friendly