Marginal Cost of the 26th Naked Actor

An English newspaper reports that an opera producer has had to cut back the number of naked male actors from 88 to 25 for fear that, given the size of the stage, some of the naked actors would fall into the orchestra pit.  The stage is fixed capital; the marginal product of the 26th naked actor is negative — the production would be severely disrupted if an actor fell off the stage.  Since the opera is about the “sex-crazed Duchess of Argyll,” presumably the marginal product of the first actor is positive — given the Duchess’s proclivities, having zero naked actors would make no sense; marginal products decrease but are still positive up through 25, then become negative thereafter. This is, of course, in the short run; perhaps if there were more time to produce the play, the capital stock could be increased — a larger stage could be built — and the marginal product of the 26th actor would be positive. (HT: CB)

Seminymous Coward

This is a high-quality example that seems relevant to my daily life.


While I don't really care for the actual content in Hamermesh's posts, I sure do love the comments like this one!

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I like reading Hamermesh's posts. They're quirky and fun.


Silly Hamermesh. You can't assume that an opera producer is a member of homo economicus and thinks rationally at the margin. Can you actually imagine him saying "I need a naked actor. I need another naked actor. I need another naked actor"?

Geraint Johnes

Since it's a fall down a lift shaft that appears to have increased her appetites, maybe having actors fall down the orchestra pit could affect productivity in unforeseen ways...


I would like to see evidence that numbers 24 on down have a positive marginal product.

Only about $10 million of $42 million annual income is from "performances and co-presenter income." In other words, ticket sales ain't payin' the rent.


I wouldn't bet he wrote that with a straight face.

Eric M. Jones

FYI: The 88 men were introduced by the Duke to the divorce court as men who had enjoyed his wife's favours. So you can't arbitrarily reduce the number to 25, though perhaps cardboard cuttouts would suffice.

Also of note: The Duchess-on-her-knees "headless man" Polaroid photograph was believed to be either Duncan-Sandys or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. receiving you-know-what...then some wise person pointed out that SOMEBODY had to be holding the damned camera. So both of them were in her boudoir.


And no mention of the savings on costumes and wardrobe staff?

Philo Pharynx

After a certain point, all the audience sees is a crowd. While adding more would be historically accurate (at least accurate to the claim of the divorce proceeding), it wouldn't always add to the drama of the performance.


I would expect the marginal cost of naked women to be much higher than the marginal cost of naked men. Not that I have ever inquired about that, of course.