Ensler's one-woman show was sure to provoke some backlash. Based on more than 100 interviews with women (gay, straight, white, black, young, and old) who talked about their sexuality, their sexual experiences, and, yes, their vaginas, The Vagina Monologues has been criticized by some as a form of antimale, staged penis envy. Dr. Dauw, an ex-Catholic priest and sex therapist, has erected a counterplay. The Penis' Responses to the Vagina Monologues makes its world debut in South Florida, at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art Auditorium from June 1 to July 1, with other engagements slated for New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
After first seeing The Vagina Monologues more than a year ago at the Apollo Theater in his hometown of Chicago, Dauw knew he had a bone to pick. "I walked out of the theater thinking, "I can do better than this,'" he says. Collaborating with Jane Doe, a journalist and performance artist he has known for more than 15 years, Dauw wrote his counterpoint. The play stars -- you guessed it -- Dauw and Doe. Dauw plays the role of Dr. Love, sex therapist; both he and Doe assume a variety of characters. There are also a few walk-on parts. While The Penis' Responses is clearly a theatrical rebuttal to Ensler's work, the producers of the show intend for it to be a self-contained piece that can be enjoyed by those who haven't seen that other play. "Our play is much funnier, and it shows a male and female point of view," Dauw adds. As opposed to The Vagina Monologues' primarily minimalist set, Dauw's play incorporates lights, set design, props, and music.
Whereas Ensler's play has made her somewhat of an authority on the fairer sex, Dr. Dauw may be uniquely qualified to speak about the firmer one. In 1959 he entered the Roman Catholic priesthood, where he heard endless accounts of sexual misery and frustration. Unable to bear it any longer, he left behind his life as a man of the cloth in 1965 and went on to found the first sex therapy clinic in Chicago 36 years ago. He has since published 16 books on self-esteem and sexual therapy, including two on sexual-surrogate therapy.
Rebuttal or response, The Penis' Responses to the Vagina Monologues provides another outlook on a topic no one tires of discussing: sex.