“After attending the New York City premiere at the historic HERE Theater, it is exceedingly evident that The Sex Myth production reflects how sex is being redefined and re-envisioned not only for theatre, but for an entire generation.”
Read more about how The Sex Myth: A Devised Play is challenging sexual stigma in this brilliant article by journalist Kristen Sollee at Bustle.
Wow! What a week.
Four sold-out shows (and the fifth at 82 percent capacity), eight powerful performers, buzzing audiences who enthused over the show on social media and brought in their friends the next night, and press in Playbill, TimeOut New York, the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and Elle.
It was a week so intense, exhausting, and magnificent that we’re still recovering from it.
Exhaustion aside, we’re already hard at work on next steps. Last week we applied for a grant that would support our grassroots efforts in 2018, and in couple of weeks (post-recovery) our creative team will be coming together to plot our next moves developing the show in the US. We’re also looking at ways to develop productions in Australia and the UK, so if you have any leads there, please be in touch.
Those of you who purchased video of the NYC production should expect to receive it in your inbox within the next two weeks. And if you purchased books, t-shirts, or stickers through our SSG campaign and have NOT received them yet, please let us know.
In the meantime, here are a few words from our cast and crew, sharing what your support has meant to them.
Rachel and The Sex Myth team
Words From the Team
In my 16 years of acting experience, this play has meant the most to me. Thank you. —Darius A. Journigan
photo by Jordyn Nicole
Dear Crowdfunding Backers:
THANK YOU so much for making The Sex Myth possible!
This has been an extraordinary experience for all of us involved, professionally and personally. But most of all, the piece of work that we sent out into the world is beautiful and important and deserves a space in our society. You made this happen and you are a hero for it!
Much love & respect,
To the backers:
Thank you for making this project possible. Every night after our performance, sex was all anyone could talk about – and it was awesome! I had conversations with my friends that we’ve never had before, learned new pieces of their stories, and felt a stronger and more authentic bond. Being part of this show was one giant step toward my goal of being fearless. As someone who rarely shares her writing and mostly gets cast in comedic roles, this was revolutionary. I had the opportunity to write, choreograph, and act out pieces of my life that I felt ashamed of in the past, and to meet and bond with artists I respect. I am eternally grateful for your support.
(Pictured above: Sherill-Marie with talkback host Zahira Kelly)
To our funders, fenders, backers, & supporters: Thank you for directing your time and dollars toward this provocative, peripheral venture. Political art is usually neither lucrative nor popular, especially when it is rooted in the unglamorous soil of “real people”. Without your help, none of us would have been granted the extraordinary journey we had this summer – from vulnerable, exfoliating discussion circles in rehearsal studios throughout New York to electrifying hours before audiences in SoHo, rapt, upright, hushed, invested. I am not an actor by vocation or musculature – but then again, this was hardly an acting job. It was the gift of space and time toward rigorous meditation upon subjects as furtively fertile today as ever. The final product placed sex and sexuality within contexts of body and brain, city and civilization, life and death, pertinence and, surely, impertinence. It ushered into animation the themes and theses of Rachel’s The Sex Myth less because of us and more because of their own perspicacious pliability – their openness to the very malleability and discursion at the heart of sexuality’s indistinct margins. I very much hope that this opportunity, both in the expressive and spectatorial senses, continues onward. Thank you all again.
—Sach Dev, cast member
Photo by Jody Christopherson
Dear backers and supporters,
It was just five months ago that I was astonished by your generosity in contributing $30,000 toward The Sex Myth: A Devised Play, and back then, we didn’t have this incredible cast, or a written show. To look back on our notes from the fall of 2016 and the early months of this year is to be in utter disbelief. Because of you, we were able to create something moving, powerful, and unique. Working on this project has changed us all for the better. For that opportunity, and for your endless support, retweets, kind words, and enthusiasm, I thank you.
—Katie Eelman, Associate Producer
Hello Backers! I can’t thank you enough for making The Sex Myth: A Play a reality. The 9 weeks of the process/show have been the most inspiring and fulfilling weeks of my life. I learned so much about myself and further reinforced to me the importance of storytelling. It has also been an honor to get to work with the incredible team of The Sex Myth. None of our stories could have been shared without every single one of you! I hope you will contine to support the arts and other storytellers beyond this as well 🙂
Photo by Jennie Runk
Hello friends of The Sex Myth! Thank you so very much for being a part of this process and supporting the creation of this important work. Now more than ever, the voices of underrepresented demographics need to be heard. As a member of the cast, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this incredible experience. Several audience members shared that by witnessing us sharing our stories, they were inspired to share their own. You helped us make this possible, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
—Claire Beaudreault, cast member
Moments from The Sex Myth: A Devised Play at HERE Arts Center
We will not be silenced.
There are people who want to drown out our voices with their vociferant malevolence and we are here to say, “Hey! I’m still here. We’re still here.”
The Sex Myth: A Devised Play is, as you’ve likely seen or read, a series of raw personal stories told by a drop-dead gorgeous cast of eight assorted flavors. This play has certainly changed my life. We aren’t just talking about sex, we are talking about raw dogging the sugar-honey-iced-tea out of the usual narrative. Be it sex, sexuality, aging, gender, religion, abuse, femininity/masculinity, or self-worth…you will hear our voices.
We are now more than halfway through our run and every performance feels like the first. We, the cast, have spent two whole months getting to know, love, and trust one another so that we can feel comfortable enough to share these stories. By the end of the rehearsal process, there were very few surprises. But now we have you: the audience. We don’t know you. And we (or at least I) feel so naked… so vulnerable and exposed on that stage before you. But you laugh, you cry, you listen. We thank you.
I am not very used to being heard. In my monologue, I talk a bit about silence. I had a hard time finding my voice in the world. This is something that I struggle with constantly. Working with these incredible and talented individuals, however, has changed that. I feel safe enough to explore the depths of my identity, and so I do. The Sex Myth has given us a platform upon which to be heard. It is always terrifying. But I somehow manage to walk away a little bit taller after each show. The self love is real, y’all!
We sing, we dance, we yell, we cry, we play, we chant, we march, we tear down, we build up, and we orgasm simultaneously. But most importantly, we change the narrative.
The Sex Myth is real. There is a bar…a holy grail that we are expected to aspire to. But what happens when you gather eight people from different walks of life who think that the bar should be burned? A movement. Rachel has started a movement here, to change the way we think and talk about sex and toxic norms. The cast, crew, and production team are now a part of that movement. And when you come see this thought-provoking piece of theatre, and then go back out into the world and talk about the way you talk about sex, you will be a part of it too. Are you ready?
You’ve read our reflections on devising the show and considering the important issues discussed by its cast, you’ve seen our rehearsal photos, and watched our flash mob and Instagram takeovers. We hope you’ve also purchased your tickets, because The Sex Myth: A Devised Play debuts this week! Join us Wednesday, August 16 through Sunday, August 20 at HERE Arts Center for the inaugural production of The Sex Myth!
In the meantime, pregame by catching up on some of the buzz:
The Boston Globe
“The ‘mythical’ part of the play’s message is the cognitive dissonance between assumptions about sexual activity and reality.” Director Hanne Larsen and Associate Producer Katie Eelman are interviewed by The Boston Globe about the show, its roots in Boston, and its upcoming NYC production.
“The show is a mix of personal monologues—performed by real people, not actors—that challenge our perceptions of what is ‘normal’ when it comes to sex.” Playbill names The Sex Myth as one of 13 off-Broadway shows not to miss this month.
Huffington Post Latin Voices
“Sexual liberation could be celibacy for an individual. To make a blanket statement on what sexual liberation looks like is to not take into account the variety of experiences people have from any spectrum that exists. Sexual liberation is relative. Having a narrow minded view on such a complex subject only serves masters in self-righteousness.” Co-star Sergio Castillo writes about The Sex Myth for Huffington Post Latin Voices.
Corinne Falotico writes about The Sex Myth as an “updated, more inclusive ‘ Vagina Monologues’ for Feminist Feline.
Sex Gets Real
Executive Producer and author of The Sex Myth Rachel Hills and co-star of our NYC production Jennie Runk join Dawn Serra on Sex Gets Real for a discussion on sexuality, beauty, and expectations around both.
Huffington Post Sex Heroes
“Working this summer on The Sex Myth, a devised feminist production that aims to dismantle the harmful ideas we sub-consciously and explicitly learn about sex, has connected me with people who share my dream of an inclusive and safe world. We’re moving toward that dream together using an oft-forgotten superpower: listening.” Co-star Sherill-Marie Henriquez writes about identity affirmation, pansexuality, and The Sex Myth for Huffington Post.
All We Cannot Say
Author and Executive Producer Rachel Hills discusses shame, stigma, sexuality, and more on All We Cannot Say.
Psych Up Live
Director Hanne Larsen and co-stars Jennie Runk, Jari Jones, and Non Kuramoto discuss the creation of The Sex Myth and their roles in the production on Voice America / Psych Up Live.
“I’m bi: -sexual*, -racial, -polar, kinda -lingual, aspiring -coastal, and a fucking Gemini, to boot. I reject a binary, but my whole identity is one of duality and dichotomy. My identity crisis IS my identity crisis.”
These are some of the words that didn’t make the cut for the final draft of my monologue, but they should give you an idea of where I’m coming from. I’m between a lot of worlds. I’ve been thinking about/analyzing/naval-gazing my bi-everything-ness since childhood. I went into the process of creating this work with the assumption that I’d be talking about my myriad identities. I was totally wrong.
The thing is, I’m sick of my story. I’ve told it so many times that it’s been boiled down into sound bites, and telling it feels automated. Our fearless leader, director Hanne Larsen, encouraged us to draw from what’s current in our lives while creating our pieces. I’ve been reflecting on age and aging lately, especially as a woman in the entertainment industry. I knew it was the right subject for my piece when I read an early draft aloud and teared up at a certain line. This far into the rehearsal process, I can still barely manage to get the line out without my voice breaking. I did NOT expect this to be the theme of my piece, but here we are.
I’m the oldest person in the cast, crew, and production team (by a hair.) Still, I’m learning so much every day from this talented, diverse group of people. (And yes, I know I’m not THAT old. Come see the play and I’ll tell you more.)
On my birthday this year, I shared my thoughts on aging in a Facebook post. Friends, family, colleagues, classmates, and people I’ve met once or only online of all ages commented to share their identification. The resulting discourse was so fascinating, I knew I had to take it further. My contribution to the The Sex Myth: A Devised Play is just the beginning of my response.
PS: What #hashtag should I use on social media to talk about age positivity and acceptance??? Does one exist? (Think “#effyourbeautystandards.”) I’d love to hear your suggestions!
(*I’m not personally fond of using the word “pansexual” to describe my orientation, but I’m attracted to people who don’t fall on the binary as well as women and men.)
The Sex Myth is a show that’s all about sparking conversation. Which is why we’re hosting an audience Q&A following the performance each night, featuring some of our favorite movers and shakers in the fields of gender and sexuality. Our talkback guests will talk with The Sex Myth team about their work and how it intersects with the play, followed by an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and questions with our cast and crew.
Find out more about our talkback guests below, and head to HERE to pick up tickets for the performance featuring the person you most want to hear from!
Wednesday, August 16 – Rachel Hills
Rachel is the Executive Director of Break The Sex Myth and the author of the The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality, which unpacks the invisible norms and unspoken assumptions that shape the way we think about sex. An outspoken feminist and international journalist, Rachel’s work has been published in more than thirty of the world’s leading political and lifestyle publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, TIME, NYMag.com, the New Republic, the New Inquiry, Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Vogue, and many others. As a speaker, she has engaged audiences in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia in lectures, workshops, two TEDx talks.
Thursday, August 17 – Jennifer Pozner
Journalist Jennifer L. Pozner is a media critic, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, and founding director of Women In Media & News. Her next book will focus on media complicity in Donald Trump’s rise to power — and how journalism can resist authoritarianism. Bring her to your school, non-profit, or business for a media literacy talk or workshop, or ask her your media-related questions on Twitter.
Friday, August 18 – Emma Sulkowicz
Saturday, August 19 – Zahira Kelly
Zahira Kelly is a writer, artist, award-winning sociocultural critic, and speaker. She writes an advice column at TheNewInquiry.com and is creator and author of Bad-Dominicana, an AfroLatina feminist blog and twitter with a large, constantly growing following comprised of everyone from editors of major publications and scholars to teenage girls. She has been featured in a number of publications such as The New York Times, Latina, Complex, Vibe, Cosmopolitan, Time, BBC, and many more for her sociocultural analysis. In her writing, dynamic use of social media, and at speaking events, she employ Indigenous style storytelling, no holds barred analysis of abuse culture, colonialism, social power dynamics and critique of media and pop culture. She aims to pick apart white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy from an anticolonial AfroLatina perspective.
Sunday, August 20 – Bryony Cole
Bryony is the creator of Future of Sex, a podcast and event series exploring the evolving worlds of sex and tech. She regularly speaks at tech conferences as well as academic institutions about how technology is impacting our sexuality and has become a leading voice in the modern sex-positive feminist movement. Recent engagements include Tech Open Air, Parsons School of Design and Pen World Voices Festival. She will be co-leading the Sex Summit at Techfestival in Copenhagen this Fall. Future of Sex podcast has been dubbed “the podcast helping women to build the future of sextech.”
“So, who are you playing? Tell me about your character!”
Is something I hear over and over again when I tell people that I am in a play.
Lucky for us, this play gives us the opportunity to play not only one character, but to explore various voices and concepts that society shoves in our face every day. We get to play disgruntled models, rude subway riders, old couples in a morning park — every day occurrences that also inadvertently affect our relationship with The Sex Myth and intimacy whether we realize or not.
In this show we also get to play one of the, albeit ironically, most difficult roles to “perform”: ourselves.
As a stand-up comedian one of the things I find fascinating is the number of people who tell me how brave I am for doing it. Even some members of the cast have admitted to me that they have flirted with the idea of stand-up comedy but have been terrified of actually going for it. The common reason for this fear that people tell me is because stand-up means putting yourself, your thoughts, and your sense of humor out there for everybody to pick apart immediately.
Well friends, I am here to tell you that I, personally, have never felt brave about doing comedy where I could focus on finding the funny above all else.
No joke I have written or told on stage has scared me as much as the first time I read my monologue out loud to the cast. Funny wasn’t the end-goal, and I couldn’t analyze the outside world for humor. I had to pay full attention to my paranoid and emotional inner monologue that I usually put a plug on.
The Sex Myth rehearsal process has required me and my fellow castmates to reflect on ourselves and our relationship with sex in ways that we had never thought of or avoided throughout our lives. Many of our monologues include anecdotes that we had never shared with others before or fears and uncomfortable thoughts that we didn’t even know we had until we were in the incredible safe space that the team has created for each other. If anything, I think my castmates’ honesty as well as their willingness to listen to everyone else’s stories and to let the stories affect them deeply, is brave. And their bravery is what gives me the strength to face one of my least favorite things to think too deeply about: myself.
I get goosebumps during every rehearsal, as my heart swells with admiration for The Sex Myth Cast and their commitment to sharing their raw selves. I hope that you, the audience, will also be encouraged to explore your own “characters” with bravery, and not be afraid of what you find there.
“My first kiss with a girl was in a closet.”
Quién te Manda
If you asked nine-year-old me where she saw herself in fifteen years, she would have said on Broadway with Toni Braxton, or on tour with Christina Aguilera, or running her own hair salon/restaurant/party planning business. Yeah, I had a lot of dreams. And I still do.
For some reason, though, whenever I played “Barbies” with my cousins and sister, my Barbie’s life trajectory didn’t match what I I imagined for my own future. It always went the same: Barbie graduated from high school, went to college, got married, and woke up pregnant the day after her wedding. The next day, baby Kelsey was born.
This is the pattern I learned. I was told by my brown-skinned Dominican aunt that I was supposed to make sure I had a college degree, but also be sure to marry a doctor with blue eyes – male, of course – and make my mother a grandmother.
The Sex Myth is comprised of monologues from each of the eight cast members. The monologues tell our own, true stories. In my monologue, I tell the story of how when I was about five, I used to pretend to be a puppy with my friend. One day, I pecked her on the lips. When we told our older sisters, they just said “Girls don’t kiss each other like that.”
But they do. And we did.
Later, I came out to friends as bisexual. Word got around to a relative of mine, who simply said, “Bisexuality is a phase.”
When our stories don’t fit into the dominant narrative, they are often dismissed.
But they do exist. We do exist.
Through my community’s reactions, I learned what I was supposed to want in life. I learned more from my grandmother’s long, disapproving “Bueeeeeno,” than from any lecture I got about tolerance. When I went after the things I actually did want, I encountered shame.
There’s a huge yet subtle difference between shame and guilt.
Guilt: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
Shame: the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
Shame isn’t just, “I feel bad for what I did”; it’s “I feel bad for what I am.” I didn’t feel bad about kissing my friend. I don’t feel bad about not wanting children, or prioritizing my goals over romantic involvements, or being pansexual. But for a long time, I felt ashamed of what I wanted. When shame silences our desires, we sometimes succumb to the more popular narrative of straight-hetero-cis-married-
“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it- it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.” Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
In our first week of rehearsals for The Sex Myth, we each wrote our intentions for the show on an index card. I wrote “Sin verguenza – Shameless.” I’ve shared – maybe overshared – a lot of shame-filled thoughts with the cast in this rehearsal process. Luckily, Hanne, Isabel, and the cast have created a space where I did not feel judged or ignored, but rather affirmed and relatable. It turns out that when we share our stories, we open ourselves up to meeting people who have similar experiences and sometimes even similar feelings. We feel less alone, and the shame shrivels up into an ugly little ball.
I think nine-year-old me would be pretty proud.
Buy tickets to The Sex Myth: A Devised Play here.
Many supporters and fans of The Sex Myth will join the cast and crew of The Sex Myth for a celebratory afterparty on opening night, August 16. We have so much to thank you for: backing our show, spreading the word, and showing up to opening night to welcome our fantastic cast to the stage. We’re excited to announce the details of the evening.
Join us at The Folly NYC in Greenwich Village (just an eight minute walk from HERE) for the exclusive opening night afterparty, starting just after the show, at 10:30 pm. Did you forget to buy tickets during our crowdfunding campaign? Fear not, there are still a limited number of tickets available. They’ll go on sale through HERE soon, but reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot now. Attendance includes two drinks on us, fun and fearless feminist conversation, and a very special performance…
Font Drama (Miss Eaves + Clara Bizna$$) will perform a short set at Folly NYC after the debut performance of The Sex Myth. Miss Eaves, known for her viral summer sensation “Thunder Thighs” is the artist-in-residence and incredible swag designer at The Sex Myth. Clara Bizna$$ is a multi-talented member of our cast. We can’t wait to see these two perform! Pregame by checking out their songs.