Saturday night was "Virgins Get in Free" night for Area Stage's production of My First Time, a play adapted from the true-life virginity-losing stories that have been submitted to myfirsttime.com since the '90s. Being the intrepid reporters that we are, we decided to test the veracity of this claim. We arrived early and shuffled through the line to a table where stage manager Melanie Bartley advised "Fill out this anonymous questionnaire about your own first time experience before picking up your tickets."
"Uh, well, we don't have a first time since we're obviously, you know, virgins," we uttered while shuffling our feet. Unfazed, she pointed us in the direction of an austere-looking psychologist standing off to one corner. So did New Times pass the liar test?
Dr. Sheena Eizmendiz, the director of hypnosis and psychotherapy center Unconscious Creations, was on-hand to investigate all the virginity claims. She began by rapidly firing off a series of questions like "What was it like the first time you had sex?" After revealing our true identity, she informed us that what gave us away were things like "eye-aversion, nervousness, and stalling." All in all, there were nine real virgins that scored the free seats.
If you're wondering how in the hell we even know that kind of personal information, it's because of the interactive nature of the show. The questionnaires asked questions such as "Where were you when you lost your virginity?" and "Do you still keep in touch with him/her?" Statistics about the audience, along with national statistics, were projected on screens behind the actors as they delivered their monologues. We learned that nearly 47% of the audience didn't use contraception when they had sex for the first time and only 15% felt pressured to have sex.
The show itself was fascinating -- something like a mix of Vagina Monologues and MTV's True Life series, equal parts serious and hilarious. Four actors took turns delivering monologues. Each one began with a place and the number of the entry on myfirsttime.com (there are over 40,000 submissions). The stories about first-time sexual experiences were diverse -- male, female, heterosexual, LGBT, disabled, and even self-based (the latter featuring the classic line, "I discovered that if I put two pillows in a plastic bag and put oil in between, I could fuck my pillow.")
Actor Shira Abergel positively stole the show, slipping in and out of characters effortlessly, taking on a New England accent so accurately we thought she might really suffer from multiple personalities.
Yet for all of the perfectly-delivered comedic undertones, it was the heavy stories that dealt with date rape and incest that were most captivating. The entire theater collectively held their breath as Paula Barros gave an account of a sister's decision to enter into a incestuous relationship with a brother dying from leukemia who didn't want to die a virgin.
And Joel Vasquez portrayed a bartender who gets a minor drunk and rapes, reflecting thorny realities about the way society views sex. Speaking in a Southern accent, he reported the episode in the personable manner you would expect from a witty friend recounting some funny-ass occurrence. It was uncomfortable to witness some of the audience laughing through most of the monologue, but isn't that entirely reflective of much of the way date rape justifications are dealt with in real life?
The personalized nature of each night's performance added to a sense of intimacy between the actors on stage, who sometimes broke character to read from the audience member questionnaires, and the fellow theater-goers whose personal anecdotes became a part of the play. The evening ended with a selective reading from some of the answers, such as responses to "If your sexual partner were here right now, what would you say to him/her?"
"I'm glad we decided to keep him. You'd be proud of him."
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"My mom still hates you."
"Sorry, I'm a lesbian now -- thanks for making me gay."
And others provided for some hilariously awkward moments. In response to "What was your partner's first name?" one cast member looked surprised as she read, "She's a cast member." All in all, our first time at My First Time was amazing. So amazing, we smoked a cigarette and fixed ourselves a sandwich immediately afterwards. We'll call you, Area Stage.