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Dialogue with a Vagina Monologue (Chapter II)

By Nick Fracaro at 5:40 pm on Thursday, January 25, 2007

mangina suitThe dramaturgs have, for the most part, remained stumped in their search for an appropriate male companion piece for The Vagina Monologues. One ‘turg did recall the title of a student’s performance piece “Mangina Monologue,” but as yet no actual script or excerpt from a play has been procured. However, the whole search for an appropriate companion piece might be a moot pursuit. The application process for the V-Day 2007 Worldwide Campaign demands that organizers consent to the following mandate:

Men are invited to participate in Worldwide Campaign productions but not as actors. Men should be invited to get involved behind the scenes as well as to facilitate men’s discussion groups and other activities.

So no male spear carriers on stage for V-Day. But even with this restriction, I see some wiggle room for potential companion pieces. Although the application for V-Day does not have a third gender option, the form does allow a third choice: male, female, and prefer-not-to-answer. Perhaps there is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy at work here.

A Modest Proposal to Boy Playwrights

beautiful boy germaine greerThe Worldwide Campaign of the Vulva Choir has a somewhat parallel historical situation where in the Church women were once forbidden to sing. My proposal to boy playwrights willing to adapt to exploit the vacant niche envisions a theatre revitalizing itself in a manner similar to what happened in 17th and 18th century opera. At that time, women’s place was taken by castrati and this practice, known as castratism, remained popular until the 18th century and was known into the 19th century.

Although there is no precedent on how these alterations might affect the development of the voice of young playwrights, the possibilities are limitless. In opera, the castrato is a male soprano, mezzo-soprano, or alto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity. Therefore, his voice never deepens. Castration before puberty prevents the boy’s larynx from being fully transformed by the normal physiological effects of puberty. As a result, the vocal range of prepubescence (shared by boys and girls) is largely retained, and the voice develops into adulthood in a unique way. As the castrato’s body grows (especially in lung capacity and muscular strength), and as his musical training and maturity increase, his voice develops a range, power and flexibility quite different from the singing voice of the adult female, but also markedly different from the higher vocal ranges of the uncastrated adult male.dutch book cover for the female eunuch

Pope Sixtus V formally approved the recruitment of castrati in 1589 for the choir of St. Peter, and the practice reached its peak soon after. In Naples, several barbershops had a sign that castration was performed there. The male heroic lead would often be written for a castrato singer (in the operas of Handel for example). When such operas are performed today, a woman (possibly cross-dressing as a man in a so-called trouser role) or a countertenor takes these roles. However, some Baroque operas with parts for castrati are so complex and difficult that they cannot be performed today.

Unfortunately for my modest proposal to boy playwrights hoping to adapt, genital alterations are classified under V-Day’s glossary of violence. Although only female genital mutilation is defined, and nothing is mentioned about male alterations, the assumption is that such a transformation if discovered might actually disqualify as opposed to qualify you to be on stage with the Vulva Choir.

The King is also The Queen

Even though the term ‘transgender’ most often refers to those who change their gender, it is increasingly being used to signify a gendered subjectivity that is neither male nor female. I have noticed that over the last four years of my engaged study of Butoh, combined with my many years of Elvis impersonation, I have achieved a certain desired transformation in my subjectivity.

My day job is Squeegee Elvis. I work the rush hour traffic at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge in the morning and the Holland Tunnel traffic on Varick Street in the afternoon.sacred marriage alchemy

Hopefully, my DNA becomes like pulp and I evolve within and toward the fictive reality of my performance.

In the Elvis suit I get girl-in-the-street compliments I never get normally. “Hey, Elvis, nice package.” I do wear a rolled up sock as codpiece, so the sweet talk is somewhat warranted. (I sport the codpiece not for enhancement purposes but for modesty’s sake. The white jumpsuit is that cheap Halloween costume of thin polyester.) But it’s the other admiring comment I frequently receive that puzzles me. “Hey, Elvis, nice ass.” No comprendo chicas looking at a guy’s ass, even Rico Suave’s ass. What’s up with that? My thought is that we are all evolving into the Third Sex. For 2000 years, everyone imitated the asexual Christ but for the next 2000 years everyone will be imitating Elvis. If the Vula Choir really wants to become the Worldwide Campaign it purports to be, then V-Day needs to invite the Elvi crooners into its Church.

female last supper

Elvis was always more lady’s man than man’s man, but I think Elvis in the white Aztec jumpsuit is something even more. The Third Sex god. The gyrating hips of a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.

lion eatin sunTom Waits’ new Orphan album has a weird insect lecture in the “Army Ants” track where he instructs, “The female praying mantis devours the male while they are mating. The male sometimes continues copulating even after the female has bitten off his head – and part of his upper torso.“

Hunka hunka burning love.

…to be continued.

Chapter III: most famous feminist theatre production meets most famous feminist meets most famous theatre misogynist

“There has come into existence, chiefly in America, a breed of men who claim to be feminists. They imagine that they have understood “what women want” and that they are capable of giving it to them. They help with the dishes at home and make their own coffee in the office, basking the while in the refulgent consciousness of virtue. . . . Such men are apt to think of the true male feminists as utterly chauvinistic.” from Eternal War: Strindberg’s View of Sex –Germaine Greer

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Dialogue with a Vagina Monologue (Chapter I)

By Nick Fracaro at 1:46 pm on Saturday, January 20, 2007

warbondstamp Over the past year, the members of the LMDA List Serv have compiled on average almost one play list per week. Although most lists are never actually listed on the official Play Lists reference page, the dramaturgs and other theatre people on the list obviously relish this particular task. There have been some seemingly obscure lists such as “Plays about Rural Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered People” and highly opinionative lists “Most important (best?) contemporary American and British plays since 1990 (hey! what about Canadian plays?)” but I have never seen the ‘turgs stumped or shy away from their playlist compiling duties until recently. Last week, someone asked for suggestions for male companion pieces for a V-Day performance. No one responded.

So I began speculating if any of the blogosphere boys have written or know of any “lovely, warm and fuzzy solo pieces performed by boys that are terribly supportive of women in general and their genitals in particular” or monologues to excerpt from full-length plays “about boys loving and respecting the ladyparts” that would pass muster of the V-Day-Trippers.

pouchMy guess is this might be what is known in marketing parlance as a vacant niche, an area that is wide open to exploitation to the adventuresome boy playwright willing to adapt. (read The Eunuch with the Biting Tongue) But of course, as companion piece to the Vagina Monologues, one would need to be extremely wary of the many pitfalls. (Smiley face. I tease the Vulva Choir here with politically incorrect double-entendres.)

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Obviously related in name to VE Day and VJ Day which celebrated the Allies victory in the last “good war,” according to the website, the ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. I’d like to have been the fly on the wall at the meeting where that odd trinity of words was decided upon.

Even though the V-sign (and its phrase “V for Victory”) is cliche now, it has a relatively short history, originating around 1940 as a Belgian piece of grafitti in defiance of the German occupation.libertybond Somewhat ironically, the V-sign was used as a propagandistic image by both Germany and the Allied forces during WWII. But for the Allies, the V-sign became immortalized as Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill was repeatedly filmed using the sign as a victory salute paralleling the V for victoire in French and V for vrijheid in Dutch that was being painted on walls in the dark as a symbol of freedom from occupying forces. The V was also used in its Morse code sound, the dot-dot-dot-dash (di-di-di-dah). Fortuitously, this sounded much like the opening bars of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. These bars as well as the Morse code signal were broadcast by the BBC constantly during the war and indelibly underlined what Beethoven himself had said about the initial motif of his symphony: “Thus Fate knocks at the door!” So both in sign and sound, the V became a most amazing piece of propaganda, countering most effectively the Sieg Heil (literally meaning “Hail [to] Victory” in German) right-arm victory salute of the enemy.peacesign

From this origin of the Victory sign in war, V has accumulated additional connotations of “Defiance”and “Peace,” especially in American culture. The two-finger salute of V was totally appropriated by the anti-war protesters in the ’60’s as a peace gesture, even as the traditional established V salute of victory became one of President Richard Nixon’s best-known trademarks. He used it most famously at his departure from public office following his resignation in 1974 — a year by which most hippies had also resigned from the scene. With war now ended, the counterculture had reconciled its most volatile and political difference with the mainstream.


Less appropriator and more inheritor, V-Day, with its Vagina muscling its way into this ambiguous V-sign territory of war/peace, feels completely apt, suggesting that the electorate of the most powerful military nation in the world could also be poised and psychologically prepared to elect its first female Commander in Chief. (“I’m in. And I’m in to win.” says Hilary.)

warhol araphat
Ed Janzen – Araphat

But V-Day’s attempt to usurp Valentine’s Day away from “the couple” and claim ownership of the holy-day hits the wrong chord, because even though Jane is mad at Dick, she doesn’t really want a divorce. Dick may often be assigned to the doghouse with Spot but he eventually will always be beckoned back into the house to play. In fact, the above request for boys to perform at V-Day ceromonies, suggests that the Vula Choir, now almost a decade into their campaign, has perhaps tired of singing and signing to themselves, and are truly missing their old playmate Dick.

…to be continued.
Chapter II: “Out, damn’d Spot! out, I say!”

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PostPube at YouTube

By Nick Fracaro at 6:19 pm on Wednesday, January 3, 2007

In the ’90s the narratives of the teenagers’ adventures were broken up by short breaks in which Beavis and Butt-Head watched music videos and made fun of them. Today, post-pubescents are at YouTube watching the bootleg video of Saddam’s hanging. This is the first real snuff film Beavis and Butt-Head have been “authorized” to view so we shouldn’t expect much from their critique.

beavis bush butthead cheney

Butt-Head: “Whoa! Those dudes with black hoods are cool!”

Beavis: “Yeah, eh heh heh, they’re those Ku Klux Klan guys.”

Butt-Head: “The Klan guys wear white hoods, dumbass. That’s the Arab government.”

Beavis: “The Arab government is cool.…heh, heh. Kill him. Hang him… heh, heh, heh.”

The cell phone video of Saddam’s hanging has spread across the Internet through YouTube and other file-sharing sites. It is also being broadcast on satellite channels and sold hand-to-hand in Baghdad. With its broadcast the execution has lost even the pretense of being the lawful action of a legitimate government and is now viewed simply as an act of Shiite-on-Sunni revenge accomplished with the aid of the occupying American army.

The audio of the footage clearly reveals the bitter final verbal exchange between Saddam and his tormenting hooded executioners.

As the Sunni leader drops through the metal trapdoor his final prayer, the “Shahadah” or the testimony of faith, is caught short: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. There is no god but Allah and Muhammad…” —IslamOnline

Hamlet was afraid that if he killed Claudius in prayer, his uncle might escape the punishment of hell and go to heaven. Similarly Saddam killed in mid-prayer achieves martyrdom and paradise in the minds of the faithful, Sunni and Shiite alike.

Back in America, Beavis and Butt-Head will watch and review the new snuff film with the same mind-set they have when watching music videos. Soon the infectious nature of their Evil Innocence will have the whole of the democratic free world laughing again.

Who can forget the iconic image of Lynndie England, the ugly she-man, grinning and pointing at an Iraqi prisoner-of-war’s cock?

Lynddie England

The image has shocked, sickened and outraged people. But more importantly, it has captured the imagination of young men and women all around the world who don’t give much of a shit about anything. The result is a new craze called “doing a Lynndie”. If you aren’t “doing a Lynndie” now, you soon will be.

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