March 5, 2001


by Lisa Ross

Shh--the v___and D____words

One of the few joys of turning fifty is that I don't have to pretend that Eminem's homophobic and misogynistic rantings are art, or that Elton John's decision to perform with this trash-mouthed rapper at the Grammy Awards ceremonies held any social significance beyond that of an open cash drawer.

I can also admit that I really do not understand the lyrics in Mr. Tambourine Man, and for that matter, that I have only read the last three pages of James Joyce's Ulysses.

One other advantage of middle age is the ability to touch a few political third rails, issues that a mere touch on either side will likely cause a stake burning, and survive the hate mail—like discussing off-leash dogs or the hit play, The V____ Monologues.

For my fellow cultural Philistines, the V_____ Monologues is an unabashed and retro feminist theater experience about (you know what) that is attracting huge audiences around the country. And, if my observations of the LA audience last Saturday night holds true everywhere else, in proportions of 10 women to every man.

My new managing editor here at the Del Mar Times has most certainly fallen off his chair—I promised him a perky but inoffensive column befitting a community newspaper. The last thing he expects is the D and the V word in the same column. Pull up the drawbridges.

As the owner of two off-leash pit bulls explained to me when I suggested she might put her dogs on a leash after they decided to "play" with me during an early morning run, she had rights, too. It was a week of pushing the rights envelope.

While I'm certain that the First Amendment allows the producers of the V____ Monologues to sell caps and T-shirts so that people can experi

ence the this performance art piece whether they want to or not, I'm not quite as convinced that the founding fathers weighed in on the dog leash matter.

The former are on a crusade to get everyone saying the V word with the same attitude that the latter want us to regard their "dogs"—with ease, fondness and reverence. I promise all involved with the play that if saying v_____ as easily as saying "dog" will get women the same pay as men, it's a done deal. Living with either off-leash is another matter.

The foot-stomping applause after septuagenarian Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan performed a monologue that made Meg Ryan's orgasmic fake-out in When Harry Met Sally seem like a scene from the Brady Bunch, was surpassed only after her announcement that the subject in question has 8,000 nerve endings, twice as many as the P word. I forgot to ask why this was important to know.

As it turns out, Ms. McClanahan is also the honorary chair of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), a spurious relationship to off-leash dogs that only a columnist would find interesting or amusing. But, I do wonder if even she would support the pit bull owner's right to expose everyone else to her dogs playful yearnings whether they want them or not.

The Vagina (there, I've said it) Monologues, which does happen to be pretty good fun, is best seen in mixed company which heightens the fore- and post-play conversations with theater mates. For example, one man in our group said he was pleased that he understood more about female physiology than women apparently do.

As for me, there are some things that don't get easier, or better, with over exposure.