Political Poontang

Or: How a gay man in a spasm of helpless terror reacts to The Vagina Monologues

Listen: It's going to be extremely hard for me, as a happy gay man, to sensibly assess Sol Theatre's production of The Vagina Monologues. I'm aware that gay men become gay for different reasons — hormones in the womb, an exposure to community theater, or brie at some critical developmental stage — but me, I became gay at least in part due to a wild-eyed fear of vaginas. If women had penises, I'd be bisexual.

But I disavowed the vagina, the coochie snorcher, the pussy, the twat, the cunt, and the pussycat. I mention all of these names for that holiest of holies because the The Vagina Monologues do as well. Over and over again. And if reading them makes you uncomfortable, at The Vagina Monologues you will positively writhe.

I writhed. And I suspect The Vagina Monologues makes director Robert Hooker writhe a bit also, which is too bad, since this is Sol's second-to-last show, performed prop-less on the same sad, bare-bones set on which Sol produced Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll two months ago, and it could have used Hooker's guidance. For once, his work seems either under- or mis-directed, and his three actresses are obviously unsure of themselves. TVM, as I shall subsequently refer to them, are based upon interviews feminist Eve Ensler conducted with over 200 women about vaginas and their experience therewith, and they have both the artlessness and the immediacy of unedited reportage. Ensler may be good at cataloguing the human experience, but she's no playwright. To work as drama, her monologues need both visionary direction and vehement acting. These VM have neither. Julia Clearwood, usually one of South Florida's brightest actresses, delivers her monologues in a series of over-affected character voices and never quite knows what to do with her hands. (The notable exception comes in the final VM, when she ably demonstrates the great variety of orgasmic moans ululated by different kinds of women.) The two other actresses — Solsters from way back, who are reappearing on stage after a two-year sabbatical — don't do much better.

Hearing these three ladies talk coochie snorchers is enough to make a guy turn gay.
Steve Shires
Hearing these three ladies talk coochie snorchers is enough to make a guy turn gay.

Details

The Vagina Monologues Through April 26th at The Sol Theatre Project1140 N. Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-801-9207 or visit SolTheatre.com.

Yet I suspect the uninitiated should see this show anyway — except for gay males, who may take a well-earned exemption. Straight men should definitely see it. Because it will make them question everything they thought they knew about coochie snorchers.

For example: Women don't appreciate when you treat them like meat. Wrongo! On no less than three occasions, the actresses in TVM say something along the lines of "I am my vagina." On occasion, they claim to be their clitorises. That sounds kind of awesome. Maybe women do like getting treated like meat. In a certain context. As long as it's the kind of meat you worship.

Also for example: You shouldn't touch the vaginas of little girls. Nope: apparently that's fine, too. In the monologue "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could," actress Cheryl Kirsch tells a story that ringingly endorses pedophilia. Her character had a miserable childhood. There was shame. There was rape. And — in a revelation that made me want to waddle right the hell out of the theater with my knees pressed together — there was the impalement of a vagina on a bed post and a subsequent stitching-up. So this character's relationship with her coochie snorcher (pronounced by the character as kew-jee snaw-chuh, in a soft and appealingly demure Georgian accent) was ambivalent at best, until she was seduced, at the age of 13, by a 24-year-old lesbian from her neighborhood. They had a one-night-stand that ended with the character and her coochie snorcher finally making amends.

One more example of something I bet my straight male readers never realized about coochie snorchers: According to Ensler, the vast majority of women have never had an intentional orgasm. The few orgasms they do have occur accidentally, on bikes and horses and treadmills. (Treadmills?!) If this is true — which I have a hard time believing, but being coochie snorcherless I guess I have to assume that Ensler knows what she's talking about — then I wonder: What chance do men have? If you can't even get off with yourself, how is some groping Neanderthal straight dude supposed to get the job done? Impossible!

In other monologues, you will learn that lots of old women have never touched their "down theres" because they're a source of shame and anguish; that some women love to fuck; and that the only way some women can cope with our hideous patriarchal world is by giving up their lucrative law practices and becoming raunchy lesbian sex-workers.

Yes. See this show, straight men. You'll flinch. You'll moan. You'll cry. My guess is, you'll get gay in no time. And to you womenfolk: if you've got some unresolved issues with your coochie snorcher, you might want to see it, too. Maybe there will be a moment of revelation where you'll be all like, "I'm not alone!"

Gay men: Stay away. Far away. However you became gay, there are certain fringe benefits that to which you are naturally entitled by your gayness, one of which is the knowledge that you won't ever have vagina thrown in your face all night. You may not appreciate how wonderful that is. The moment you hear about that fucking bedpost, you will.

 
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