Bushwick locals may be familiar with most of the movies that play at Syndicated, the bar and movie theater that sits near the Morgan Avenue L train. They may be less familiar with a brand new series that privately screened there last week.
Sophia Conger, 25, and Rebecca Dearden, 26, had taken over the small single-screen theater to play the first three episodes of a comedy show they have been developing over the last couple of years called “Sugar Baby.” In it, a Brooklyn actor named Keely Bochicchio-Sipos plays Lee, a young woman who turns to the profession to pay her bills in an ever-increasingly expensive New York.
The first three episodes of the series appeared well-received by Conger and Dearden’s friends, although the show has yet to be picked up by any distributors.
One episode shows a montage of Lee on a string of dates on which she vets potential sugar daddies. One of her dates asks for her star sign to which she replies, “aquarius.” He then belts out a rendition of the ’60s hit song “the Age of Aquarius.” These jokes were met with raucous laughter and even some cheering from the audience.
In another scene, an older roommate that Lee found on Craigslist is painting a portrait of her daughter. She says that Lee reminds her of the daughter and shows Lee a bathroom selfie of an emo teenager with neon hair extensions and black eyeliner.
“Very few people have seen it until this point and I was most nervous about sitting and watching it while a big group of people also watched it,” Dearden told me, “Were people gonna react?”
“It was so funny!” said Hannah Heiden, one of Conger’s childhood friends who used to live with her in Bushwick. She was sitting with Ava Hatiras, another former roommate. “It was crazy to see people you know in their apartment with our stuff in like, a show,” said Hatiras, who concluded: “I need to be a sugar baby and make more money.”
Elsewhere, there were some friends of the show’s composer – Evan Dibbs – who also said they were impressed with the quality of their friend’s work. “This might be biased,” said Kyosuke Nonoyama, a 25-year old audio engineer, “but the music was fucking amazing.” There’s also a captivating and hilarious dance sequence inside the “Sloppy Joe Skate” where Lee and her best friend work, but was actually filmed at All Night Skate in Brownsville.
“I can’t watch this anymore, I’m picking myself apart,” series star Bochicchio-Sipos remarked, though she later added that after the screening she felt “complete and celebratory.” The lead actress collaborated on the soundtrack as well.
Conger and Dearden say they hope to get “Sugar Baby” picked up by a popular streaming platform. They also say they plan on putting some of the proceeds to a local chapter of a group called the Sex Workers Outreach Project. That organization was founded in 2019 and provides emergency aid to local sex worker communities, according to their website.
“We are actively learning and trying to engage in this community,” said Conger, “people who do [sex work] are professional.”
Top image is a still from “Sugar Baby.”
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