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Empowering Monologues


Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues is everywhere. New York. Los Angeles. Charlotte. Yes, anywhere there are vaginas, there are the Vagina Monologues. Which is a good thing. Oh, I went with a bit of trepidation, to be sure. Pulling up to the Neighborhood Theatre on Wednesday, I noticed so many women of every race, shape, and age that I thought Oprah Winfrey must have descended from the Holy Land of Chicago to bestow "you go, girls!" to the hungry masses. Indeed, I was one of about 10-15 guys present in the nearly sold out auditorium. I was immediately put at ease by the performers -- Glynis Bell, Rhonda Ross, and a show-stealing Gina Stewart -- who announced that the men in attendance were truly the cream of the crop as far as Charlotte fellas go. I felt bad that this fella was also wondering if the show would end in time for me to catch the second half of the Lakers game, but put it out of my mind. If you've seen the VM before, you know the idea. Interviews are recorded from women across the world, all talking about their, um, vaginas. Said recordings are then turned into a monologue delivered by one of three actresses, always with an introduction. Bell gave a touching read to the horrific story of a raped Bosnian. Ross gave a peppy performance of a woman going to a sexual empowerment workshop. Stewart gave a nicely nuanced performance as a cranky grandmother that had the other established stage actors watching in wonder. The crowd hung on every word, no doubt helped by the empowering and engaging stories. Then again, the wine probably didn't hurt either. I'm guessing more wine was sold on Wednesday at the Neighborhood Theatre than on the whole of Freedom Drive. I ordered a glass too, following the whole When In Rome dictum. For the most part, I attempted to stifle my laughter unless most of those around me were chuckling, as to not laugh at the wrong time and be stripped of my creme-de-la-creme status (I wish they would have given us guys badges or something, so we could purvey this knighting around town for our own selfish gain). Of course, there was typical teetering in the crowd when one of the ladies onstage made reference to men, especially if it concerned them having piledriver sex and then falling asleep. Evidently, lots of area bankers have merger mania, but don't like to cuddle afterwards. The show did provide a few awkward moments, however. At one point, Ross asked those in attendance to demystify a certain slang word for the vagina that rhymes with runt. Out loud. Over and over. Loudly. What to do? Join in the fight to free such a word from its negative connotations? Or do I sit quietly -- as I would if the N-word were being chanted -- because, by virtue of being male, I don't have the right? After long thought, I decided to just chant "Kobe" instead, hoping the voodoo would throw the Lakers guard off his game until I could commandeer a television.

Speaking of basketball and other televised sports, what better place to watch them than a bar (OK, so there are a few better places)? However, when you want the complete sports atmosphere (looking at women, drinking yourself into oblivion), nothing beats the local restaurant or pub. Sports fans had lots of choices over the past week, including the World Cup, the NBA Finals, the NHL's push for the Stanley Cup, and the Tyson/Lewis bout. I was able to catch parts of these various sporting events at places around town, and have come to a few conclusions. For instance, take something like closed-captioning. Invented for the hearing impaired, obviously, but also loads of fun when you're loaded. "What a move by Shaquille!" hits the screen three seconds later as "water mooed bike shield!" Which is infinitely funnier, you understand. The World Cup is infinitely more fun to watch at a place with lots of Europeans. One chap beside me at Rock Bottom Brewery -- a waiter there -- pulled a chair up to the bar to watch his beloved Mother England before a manager spied him and asked him why he didn't go ahead and order a beer too. To my chagrin, I skipped the Tyson/Lewis bout, as the only place I could find to watch the event on short notice was The Men's Club, where you're at least guaranteed a few knockouts, one supposes. However, it'll cost you way more than $49.95. *

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