Get your mind out of the gutter; the NBA Penis Monologues isn't a joke. Unlike what the name suggests, it's about more than genitalia. It's about celebrity life, relationship troubles, friendship, and the journey of manhood.
The NBA Penis Monologues, written by Joe Brown, first appeared on Broadway. Now, the play is making its way to Miami later this week. The play originated from a discussion Brown had with a girlfriend after taking in a showing of The Vagina Monologues.
"...After the play, we went to dinner on Broadway, and she asked me what I thought about the play. I told her it was interesting and informative, and she continued to prod a little bit and I said the same answer," said Brown. "She got a little agitated and said, 'Well, if it was the Penis Monologues, you'd be more interested.' My response was, 'Maybe.' I told her that I felt that penises were aesthetically more interesting. They were external, they curve left, they curve right, [they're] fat, skinny...and I've never heard of a man take a look at a vagina and decide, 'No, I don't want that.' But women look at the male genitalia and they think assumptions...So she said, 'why don't you write a play about it?' So, I said, 'I will.'"
The stars of NBA Penis Monologues--former NBA stars, Chris Gatling, Anthony Mason, J.R. Rider and Kenny Anderson--are very close to Brown. Not only does he consider them friends, but he has also worked with them on a professional level as an NBA agent.
"I've had a lifelong friendship with a lot of these guys, negotiating contracts for NBA players," he said. "Prior to that, I actually knew Chris and Kenny and Anthony Mason before they ever played in the NBA...They've been like brothers."
While the play began as a response from an argument, the real basis for NBA Penis Monologues took off after Brown, Gatling and Anderson viewed Basketball Wives.
"We were watching the women...depict themselves in a certain way and we just thought we would promote ourselves and tell our own story in a positive fashion...the guys thought it would be a real therapeutic scenario," said Brown. "We always have had discussions for decades about communication with the opposite sex, how we could better ourselves. It wasn't a conversation that was prevalent anywhere, and I didn't see any group of males and females sitting and really communicating with each other. We're like two ships at night passing each other...and we don't clearly respond and communicate. I thought this would be a way to be therapeutic for the guys and be informative, but at the same time, educate and entertain."
(Also as a counterbalance to Basketball Wives is Brown's reality show pilot, Basketball Lives, which features more stories from the experiences of legendary players.)
NBA Penis Monologues aims to provide a way for men to express truths that they haven't been given a platform to discuss until now.
"...[Brown] thought this would be appealing because we were hearing so many of...the wrongs and rights and ups and downs of the athletes--our stories and [the stories of] other athletes that we've been in contact with," said Gatling. "...We just got upset because a lot of it was not true...you only hear one side of the story. We felt in our hearts and Joe felt in his heart that this needed to be done, that us athletes needed to tell our side of the story. A lot of people think it's just us venting...it's more therapy for us...It's crazy, but the good thing about it is that we're telling our stories."
The improv nature of the play allows for a myriad of topics to be discussed, such as relationships, personal issues, fears, bullying (which does happen in the NBA, according to the play) and how to understand the opposite sex. The topics are humorous, serious and some take the audience and cast members by surprise, such as when Anderson revealed during the Broadway premiere that he was sexually molested as a child.
"I was shocked. He cried, I was choked up, the audience cried... I never saw a more courageous act than when Kenny sat on stage and told everybody there that he was sexually raped. That was amazing to me. I had never seen that type of courage in that manner," said Brown. "I'm accustomed to someone pulling out a gun. I'm accustomed to somebody fighting...and the foolishness that we're privy to from the urban jungle. But to watch this dude say that in that manner on the stage with this thing being taped--that was unbelievable to me. I was taken aback...That was a major shock to all of us, and I've known him for 30 years."
Gatling was also disturbed by Anderson's revelation. "I've [known] Kenny since I was 17 years old...I've known him through his whole course. We've had the same agent, we worked with Joe as an agent," said Gatling. "...When [Kenny] said that, I was floored. I was shocked because I never knew. When it came out, it just spread like wildfire...I was crushed because I was like, 'Wow, that's my brother.' I was hurt. I was sad."
Brown went on to say that right after the premiere, Anderson went into therapy. Now, he says, Anderson has a better relationship with his family, especially his children, thanks to his revelation. Anderson also told his story of abuse in a three-minute video produced at the same theater the premiere took place. "I don't know too many plays that could have the true Hollywood story right before their eyes," said Brown.
With the theme of the Miami premiere of NBA Penis Monologues being "better communication, better relationships, better marriages," even more hot button issues will be discussed. There will also be a female element to the show with former Top 15 WNBA player and four-time all-star Ticha Penicheiro, Sex in South Beach: Let's Talk About Sex author Dr. Sonjia Kenya, and one of Miami's prominent marriage and family counselors, Dr. Silvina Belmonte. Penicheiro will discuss fame as a female basketball star while Kenya and Belmonte will provide real world tips on how to keep marriage fun, the differences between the sexes, and more.
"From the time we're little boys we're told to suck it up, don't cry, handle it. For the most part, we want to show strength and [not] be a crybaby, so we tend to hold it in," said Brown. "Now, in the new age and in a new enlightenment, we're realizing that it's okay to show emotion. It's okay to for us to discuss certain things, and that's truly the only way you grow. There's no show like The View, where men get to talk, let alone athletes, who are the ultimate alpha males. They're gladiators and that's how they promote the athletes. So [athletes] tend not to say the things that happened, which is why it's so unique that this play came about...We're releasing demons and shedding pounds of weight that [the players] have on themselves."
Or, as Gatling put it, "We're actually getting to express ourselves and get rid of all these demons. It's like the uncut truth. It's from the heart."
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NBA Penis Monologues premieres at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd. Miami Beach) Sunday, Dec. 8. The premiere will be filmed live by HBO for an upcoming episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Tickets range from $102.65 to $164.10. Visit the Colony Theater or penismologues.com, Ticketmaster or Gilt. Tickets are also available from Juana M Brickell.
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