Last Dance With Mary Jane's Bush
The Vagina Monologues and Marijuanalogues almost turned us into hetero stoners
By now, most of the Western world is familiar with Eve Ensler's groundbreaking 1996 play, The Vagina Monologues. At least the name is familiar—every year since 1998, someone somewhere in the U.S. has staged the vagi-tales to promote awareness of violence against women, always doing it around Valentine's Day in a perfect juxtaposition to lovey-dovey lameness. And the monologues are an important play—in theory. Women (and men) should learn that the vagina isn't laden with teeth (mostly), and all-female productions in general are still in short supply. The problem is that while Ensler occasionally adds a new vulvian discord (such as "Under the Burqa," in which she considers the plight of women in the Taliban), many of these 'logues have fallen into cliché, and some just never worked to begin with.
The cast of the Hunger Artists pretty much nails the material, bringing to in-your-face life vaginas getting their periods, getting raped, getting stimulated, and getting a set of vocal cords and actually speaking. Since there are no other plays in which women talk about their vages, we can't begrudge director Glendele Way-Agle too much for staging the thing. We do begrudge Ensler for not being more on the ball—in the past 12 years, a lot has happened to vaginas that seems essential to include, like those new wonder drugs that actually make your period disappear. Scary. And what about all those insecure, bimbo vaginas who get Mohawks or lip reductions because some guy told them they're ugly? Some black American and emigrated Hispanic and Asian vaginas—and the effects of those particular cultures on female genitalia (not just foreign mutilation from Third World countries)—would also be enlightening.
Other stories already in the show just need to go: No one really goes to a class and looks at her vagina in a mirror—and we wonder if anyone ever did and why we're supposed to care. It's also really not okay to include a story about a 16-year-old girl who gets seduced by a 24-year-old woman. Umm . . . that's statutory rape, sisters, no matter how badly a teenage lesbian might want it (and we did when we were that age, but in hindsight? Ewww. . .). We also wonder if removing the word "bulldyke" might be a good idea, since no one's really ever used it in a nice way, and we certainly don't want to "reclaim" it. In short, the Monologues in this modern day seem to work more toward fulfilling negative female stereotypes than shattering them—just ask the quarter of the audience who left at intermission. Rewrite the play yourself, you say? Well, we just might! We certainly won't be seeing this version again. Ever.
In refreshing contrast to this aging uterine saga, the Hunger Artists also offer an almost-midnight show of the vagina parody, Marijuanalogues. This time, four male stoners educate us on the etiquette, pitfalls and pleasures of sparking up. Segments such as "Pot vs. Vagina" prove that the two certainly go together. The men teach us joint-rolling skills, that we should never claim to have chronic when we do not, and that bad bong water gives one Old Man's Ass Mouth. We don't even smoke out—which apparently makes us a pitiful NPS ("non-pot smoker")—and we still thought the show was pretty much a riot. We were certainly glad someone finally demanded that the 'gina -logues lighten up. Now all we have to do is find a dealer, practice rolling a J, and get to work on our new vaginal exposé, A Tale of Two Twats. Or something like that.
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The Vagina Monologues at the Hunger Artists Theatre, 699-A S. State College Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6803; www.hungerartists.com. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through March 22; The Marijuanalogues. Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m. Through March 15. $15-$18; both shows, $25.