Naked truths

Ribald, and sobering, tales of first encounters
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  August 26, 2010

theater_MyFirstTime_main
BARING ALL The cast of My First Time.
Although this review of My First Time, a show about virginity loss, appears in our Student Survival Guide issue, several of the play's characters are well into their 30s and still — deliberately or not — waiting. They are part of a range of voices who tell diverse virginity tales in a show whose writing credit goes (after playwright Ken Davenport) to "People Just Like You": Inspired by the Web site MyFirstTime.com, My First Time is potpourri of real-life virginity stories culled from those posted anonymously online. Directed by Janet Ross for the Old Port Playhouse, this ensemble play is feel-good, consciousness-building, and even somewhat interactive.

The average audience member of last Thursday's performance lost his or her innocence at the age of 16. That's just one of the fun facts you'll learn about your neighbors in the theater, courtesy of an audience survey distributed during the pre-show (a PowerPoint show that includes, among other things, entertaining definitions from UrbanDictionary.com; the story of a college student's virginity auctioned off on eBay; and quotes uttered by a range of luminaries, including Voltaire and Jessica Simpson).

As the show goes on, you'll also hear names and locations of the audience's first encounters ("behind Wal-Mart" and "Planet Hollywood" were two memorable answers of last Thursday), though (tactfully) none of the intimate details forthcoming from the stage personas. Those characters number in the dozens, and are channeled by the show's four ensemble members, Bill Cook, Joe McLeod, Ashley A. Christy, and Karen Stathoplos. Each actor's slew of voices tends to consist of similar types — Cook often does the exuberant guy's guys, and McLeod the more sensitive men; Christy often gives voice to sassy chicks, Stathoplos to smart and sensual but sheltered young women. That said, they all range widely in tone, conveying, with equal grace, celebration, sorrow, bitterness, and sweetness.

The theatrical motivations for sharing these details thus also vary widely. On the one hand, there's pure joy: The gleeful Playboy Forum fist-pumping of some of Cook's guys, unabashedly relishing the housewife who gave a hired kid a special thank you, or the allure of black lingerie ("beyond nakedness!" he exudes). On the other hand there are more tender awakenings, like Stathoplos's tale of sleep-over revelations with a girlfriend, or McLeod's slow courtship of a cousin's friend.

There are also the expected darker, cautionary tales of date-rape and coercion, including Christy's excruciating story of a 15-year-old girl who, on a double date, is held down by the other couple for her date to have his way with, then forcibly douched with Coca-Cola (a practice said, in the '60s, to prevent pregnancy). And some stories are refreshingly surprising, less easily categorized: A rather breathtaking narrative told by a Stathoplos character relates a girl's encounter with her brother, who is dying of leukemia a virgin.

But perhaps most frequent are anecdotes steeped in affectionate comedy: A McLeod character marvels at a naked girl's myriad tan-line stripes, from multiple bathing suits, like "a bowl of mixed ice cream!" And of a Stathoplos character's exclaims, astounded, of her first partner, "But he didn't take off his socks!"

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