Monologues in a dark cocktail bar

17:59, Feb 17 2013
UNEXPECTED WORK: American performer Tommy Truss will perform a range of sketches at S&Ms cocktail bar.

It's somewhat fitting The Penis Monologues be told in a dark room where cocktails are served and disco music beats overhead.

"What more could you want for your penis?" asks American Tommy Truss, the compiler and performer of the one-man show at Wellington's Fringe Festival.

Most have heard of The Vagina Monologues - a controversial take on a woman's relationship with her vagina both applauded and slammed by various forms of the feminist movement.

Truss hasn't seen it or read the books and once he decided to do his version he made a point of staying clear of it - at least until the show is done.

He expected hundreds of responses, like The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler, but it never happened.

"I think it's partly around the vagina and maybe there's more layers or it's more complex," he said.


Or perhaps it's to do with men supposably being more dominant.

"I feel like whenever I talk about that I'm going to crash through ice any moment and angry lesbians are going to jump out and knife me."

The show opened on Saturday night at the S&M's Cocktail Lounge and Bar on Cuba St.

The 52-year-old gay American, who with his partner has made Wellington his home, says The Penis Monologues is a complete smorgasbord of delights.

"If you don't like the potato salad then don't worry because you'll like the macaroni."

About 18 sketches make up the show with a medley of stories from all ages, gay and straight and even a transsexual with a strap-on.

"One particular song about all the names for a penis is kind of a Sesame Street meets Gilbert and Sullivan."

Fun, moving and unexpected is how Truss describes his work.

Controversial is what Truss is - it's reflected in his choices, what he does and how he does it.

"One thing I've never understood is why we call it our private parts.

"A funny example is when I go swimming at the pool I take my clothes off and then get changed but Kiwis don't do that. They always keep a towel around them to get changed. Is that a British influence? Maybe it's a Maori influence, I don't know."

Understanding people's complexities with the male anatomy was as challenging as the search for a venue for The Penis Monologues.

"I wanted something non-traditional so I approached men's clothing stores and strip clubs - places that cater exclusively for men.

Having a hint of anonymity in the shadows of a cocktail bar suits Truss to a tee. "Even though I'm constantly saying the word penis these days even I can't help but giggle to myself when I say it."

The Dominion Post