BY: RONNA WHITE
Today’s society claims that we are more accepting and less judgmental than previous generations, but this can easily be argued. Producer Paula Richer and Ronnie Larsen created “The Vagina Talk Show,” quickly followed by “The Penis Talk Show,” in hopes to create a more sex-positive community.
“We feel that we are doing our part to raise awareness about a human condition - sexuality, that most of us up until now, have felt a lot of shame or guilt around discussing it,” said Richer. Both producers are devoted to Richer’s idea of “edu-tainment.”
Both shows are composed of three women for the vagina portion and three males for the penis portion. Each individual volunteers to display their private body parts while concealing their identity with a sparkling red piece of fabric draped from the top of the stage, just hanging below their collar bones.
The audience is encouraged to ask the “vaginas” and “penises” anything they have ever been curious about or want to know specifically about the performers. The questions range from peering questions of the performer’s sex life, their fantasies, as well as complicated anatomical questions. Larsen said that before the show started he had no idea that women had a completely separate hole strictly for urinating.
Richer wanted to develop a show about human sexuality that was not only interactive and educational but was also lighthearted and potentially humorous. This idea had been germinating for most of her life. She grew up in a traditional, religious family where there was a lot of shame and guilt surrounding sexuality, especially female sexuality. Frankly, she did not agree with the oppression of sexuality.
In the 90’s Richer watched a series on HBO called “Real Sex” that was vignettes of people expressing their sexuality in many different ways. One episode called “Vagina Gazing” showed a woman exposing herself as she allowed people to take a close look at her vulva and ask her questions. Richer thought this idea was brilliant and groundbreaking.
Richer met her co-producer Larsen last year and they immediately started talking about a lively way they could present their ideas of bringing light and acceptance to human sexuality in a unique way.
Their idea turned into a reality when she and Larsen decided to do a peep show. Immediately, they noticed that people were talking to the woman in the box and she was responding back. Larsen asked the audience, “Did you just talk to the vagina? Did it talk back?” The audience started laughing and they realized they were onto something.
“The Vagina Talk Show” began soon after their first two successful peep shows on July 2014, and ran for 12 weeks in Van Nuys, Calif. The show opened in Long Beach on January 10. Both shows are non discriminatory, except audience members must be 18 or older to attend. Other than that, they are completely accepting and welcoming to all genders, sexual orientations, and religions.
The performers are also a very diverse group of individuals who are straight, gay, bi-sexual, polyamorous, pansexual, and more. Richer plans to look for transgender and transsexual performers.
Jason Major, a 39-year-old comedian and host of “Jason Major’s Sex Party” show, performed as one of the “penises” in a previous show.
“My goal is to talk about sex because...sex has become more taboo than it used to be to talk about,” said Major. “While our culture simultaneously embraces certain aspects of sexuality we also don't talk about it and I don't like that. We’re at this tipping point culturally where we have all of this acceptance but we don't want to talk about what that means.”
Laurie Bennett-Cook, a 46-year-old clinical sexologist and former prostitute, was a friend of Richer before she got involved with the show. She could not wait to become a “vagina” in the show because it was an amazing opportunity to educate while normalizing a lot of sexual curiosities, mysteries, and questions.
“It’s not very often that we can have a candid conversation about sexuality,” said Bennett-Cook, “and that people can ask questions and get real answers from another and be rid of the shame and stigma that come around those things.”
The shows are performed at The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, which is a gay and lesbian organization that caters to people of all varying sexual orientations.