The VP (Vagina-Penis) Dialogues show is proving to be an existential roller-coaster ride before I even set foot into Warehouse 21 for the It’s on; it’s canceled; it’s back on again multimedia extravaganza. Apparently, the venue—“a hub for youth directed development”—got all freaked out and flighty when an anonymous group of “concerned community members” collectively opined that sex education should be taught in the home. Logistical chaos ensued—or, at least, it tried to.
Sure, maybe sex education should be taught in the home, along with how to grow food, how to balance a checkbook, how to communicate nonviolently and how not to be small-minded bigots, but these shoulds aren’t really translating into realities or even functional, happy adults in the making. And even if they were, why can’t teens also have the option of voluntarily learning how to have safe, healthy, awesome, mutually pleasing sex, and how to talk about it, and how to deal with it, and how to not die, sicken or accidentally procreate while doing it, outside the home—like, by way of an endearing and heartfelt multimedia production at their local youth center (which they can choose to pay to see, or skip)?
The Warehouse 21 overlords see fit to allow the show to go on with the added caveat that no one under 18 is allowed to see it without parental accompaniment—an extraordinarily douchey requirement given the content (sex positive education), and the venue (a youth center).
And so it is that I join about 30 other grown adults at the city's favorite teen hangout to brush up on my birds 'n' bees.
Having passed a cigarette-sucking child just outside the front door (because, while sex positive education is discouraged at Warehouse 21, it seems that nefarious addiction cultivation is A-OK), I'm greeted by an underage-looking ticket-taker who asks for my ID mere seconds after handing me a press pass with my name on it.
"Are you kidding?" I ask.
“For liability reasons,” she stammers when I ask for a logical why.
Do you know what liability means? I almost ask, but don’t because what’s the point? That’s the trouble with giving minions nonsensical orders steeped in lame-osity: There’s nothing for them to hold onto when pressed for honesty and reason (see also: TSA). I guess telling the truth, which was that Warehouse 21 caved to a bunch of repressed, loud-mouthed puritans, would have been “inappropriate.”
The most awesome (read: most terrifying) part about banning teens from the show is that New Mexico is right now rocking the crowning glory of the second-highest teen birth rate in the country and the very, very absolute highest among girls ages 15-17. Now, I'm no statistician, but it seems to me that the numbers suggest we could use MORE sex education in the state, not less, because our gross lack of mettle in showing up to teach our children how to consciously engage the very act that brought them onto this planet in the first place, and that EVERYONE on it does—despite how much it embarrasses them—clearly isn't doing squat to curb their urges to explore, and to explore irresponsibly, at that.
"Where are all the young people?" a woman in the front row asks the Unitarian minister introducing the show.
Probably at home watching porn, I conclude. Learning to shave their pubes, part their lips just so and come on their girlfriends’ faces when they’re done. Yay for sex education in the home.
The lights dim and an invisible chorus begins to chant: "Darkness…secrecy…ignorance…guilt…" as an LED-flashing vagina takes center stage amid a thick haze of meta-irony.
Lights back on, the feather-stuffed vag with the giant velvet clitoris atop her head explains the impetus for the show (ex-vice principal turned rogue from so many years of senseless silencing) and then steps aside to make room for her masculine counterpart—a 7-foot-tall penis, struggling to stand firm and engorged, who clearly hails from Latin America, as evidenced by his thick accent and the even thicker gold lamé foreskin that enshrouds his pink member for half of the show, until it's violently hacked off with a giant meat cleaver during the genital mutilation sequence.
But I'm getting ahead of myself…
The jocular genitals are soon joined by a (mostly) geriatric chorus of pubes, costumed in black with tall, curly wires balanced atop their gray-haired heads by way of chin straps and chutzpah. As the evening unfolds with slideshows, spoken word segments and a handful of choreographed song and dance numbers, we are presented with all the fixings for a healthy dialogue about our various sexual proclivities, with the actors onstage posing real-deal, audience-generated questions about the hows, whats and whys our cultural sex-stupid stance naturally inspires.
It's not prescriptive; neither the feathered vag nor the velvet cock nor even the feisty pubes presume or profess any concrete answers. What they do, however, is reflect back to us our ignorance, confusion and embarrassment, demonstrating that, when it comes to sex, there are no stupid questions, nor any hard and fast (or soft and slow) rules or shoulds or guarantees. And so all we can really do is communicate, while loving and respecting one another.
I know, scandalous.