What’s Vaudeville of the Vulva all about?
To answer that question check out this article – Reclaiming the Magick of the Vulva and Mandy Nolan’s interview with Laura-Doe in the Echo newspaper.
Mandy Nolan interviewed Laura-Doe in The Echo newspaper
Tell me what the inspiration was for Vaudeville of the Vulva?
It all started with my mum, who wrote to me when I was pregnant to tell me to exercise my pelvic floor. She wanted to help me avoid being the 1 out of every 3 women that suffer from stress incontinence after childbirth. This was before Poise had seen the dollar potential of ‘LBL’ and Whoopi had told everyone that it was ‘normal’. I needed to find a way to remember to exercise so I wrote a catchy little squeeze-along song called Do the Kegel. The Voices of Gaia performed it and women really loved it. Then a Californian woman called Dorrie Lane asked me to sell her Wondrous Puppets on my website. I found myself living with the largest collection of silk and velvet vulvae in the southern hemisphere, and before long they started to talk to me!
Puppetry of the penis gets away with a lot of what it does because it’s not sexual – the show is actually pretty clean. Have you followed the same themes for Vaudeville of the Vulva?
Ok – to set your mind at rest as regards themes– there’s no stretching, squishing or other ingenious manipulation of my vulva in the show. In fact there is no nudity at all. Vaudeville of the Vulva is family entertainment for the sexually mature, or those who’d like to be!
Why do you think Vaginas should be centre stage?
They are pretty central to the propagation of the species, yet many people are terrified of even acknowledging their existence. I think this is a problem. A lot of women’s issues can be traced to a lack of comfort, a feeling of ‘not rightness’ and sometimes, complete disassociation from the central core of their femininity. And on a lighter note, I think vaginas should be centre stage because boys really like them – and so do some girls. And personally I think that those who think they don’t just haven’t had enough exposure.
What has happened to women’s vaginas?
I think we’ve lost touch as it were.
Do you think the Brazilian thing is necessarily negative?
Each to her own I reckon. Personally I find Brazilians hot – but then I’ve always been a sucker for samba! I think it’s disturbing that neatness is so highly valued – whether it’s lawns or pubes – and that people have such a thing about hair, and see removing it as preferable to what is actually natural.
What about labioplasty etc? Why do you think women are at war with their twats?
The whole designer vagina thing is a real worry. It’s already pretty sad that we’re bombarded with unattainable images of feminine “beauty” but at least when it comes to bodies and faces we also see the full range of unmanufactured versions around us on a daily basis. It’s a different story when it comes to vulvae. Most women have no idea what a fabulous range of shapes and sizes a ‘normal’ vulva could come in. They think their’s is “wrong” because it doesn’t match up to the classic porn pussy. And to compound the problem – this is also what a lot of guys look for because it is the only imagery that was available for their adolescent sexual fantasizing. Statistically only a small minority of women actually look like that! In my show I was just using one style of vulva puppet until I realized I that I needed to represent the diversity that I am talking about much more clearly. And as far as wars go, I think a war has been waged for a millennium or three against the enormous capacity that women have for pleasure. In the ‘west’ the war has been well and truly won – to the extent that the commonly accepted myth is that men have a higher libido than women. In many countries in Africa and the Middle East, however, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation is widespread. This is where the genitals of young women are partially or completely removed in order to spare her (and her community) from her naturally ‘excessive’ sexual feelings. In my view this is a (war) crime and I am organizing a raffle and committing a portion of the proceeds from Vaudeville of the to help stop the practice of FGM.
What is the perfect vagina?
One that understands her own unique beauty
Are vaginas funny? I mean, should we be laughing at the business downstairs?
I think we should be laughing at our reluctance to laugh at them or even to discuss them. Laughter helps in breaking down taboos.
Is talking about your vagina shameful?
Sadly for many people it is. According to one research study only 7% of respondents considered the vagina a body part that is freely mentionable. Another reported that 53% of women “felt some discomfort using the word vagina”. For me as a young woman it was certainly acutely embarrassing. I’d never had any practice nor heard anyone else doing it!
What should women do to familiarise themselves with their vaginas and break the mystique?
If you feel a bit estranged from your yummy bits it is a great idea to take some time to get to know one another. Set an intention that is supportive and empowering. Choose a space and time when you won’t be disturbed. Create a mood: candles, bath, oil – things that make you feel relaxed and feminine – and adopt an attitude of wonder and innocence. Forget everything you’ve heard or been told. Explore. Breathe. Find out what she likes. Don’t worry about the mirror unless that’s your thing – use touch and tenderness. If thoughts or ideas come into your head that don’t support your intention, notice what they are but tell them that you will attend to them afterwards. If you like you can take a moment to write them down so you can investigate later any beliefs that may be blocking you. And return your focus to the sensations in your body and enjoy. The other fantastic thing to do is start exercising your pelvic floor on a daily basis. Some experts say that pelvic floor fitness ‘is the most important factor in a woman’s lifelong physical, sexual and emotional health’. I don’t know about that but I certainly believe ‘It’s good for you, it’s fun and it’s a breeze’ (see my other sites dothekegel.com & yonilates.com)
What sort of show should we expect? Is it funny, sad, moving…?
Vaudeville of the Vulva is funny, bordering on hilarious. It’s a comic cabaret featuring the unusually vocal velvet vulvae of the Vulva Underground with music by The Chaps, otherwise known as Andrew Cox on piano and Anando Bharti on bass. People who watched the sneak preview said they left feeling elated, uplifted and inspired. There are plenty of opportunities for a good singalong!
Didn’t they say it all in the Vagina Monologues?
The Vagina Monologues was groundbreaking but I don’t think you’d suggest that people stop painting sunflowers just because Van Gogh did it so beautifully. Respectful, empowering artistic works that depict or talk about feminine genitalia are pretty few and far between. I’m just adding my 10 cents here.
Reclaiming the Magic of the Vulva
This article was first published in the magazine Spellcraft the ‘definitive guide to Magick in the Southern Hemisphere’…. but serves pretty well as a ‘womanifesto’ for my work in creating Vaudeville of the Vulva.
I am a collector (and a purveyor) of Vulvic Art. My home is adorned with sumptuous silk and velvet vulva pillows, fluffy vulva purses, vulva pens, vulva jewellery and more. Some people are shocked when they see my collection, some are delighted but most ask “Why?”. I tell them that I believe the vulva is a wonderous and magical place, worthy of the utmost respect and the most beautiful artistic representations. Anyone who has witnessed the natural entry of a child into this world would find it hard to deny the incredible qualities of the vulva. From a purely physical perspective her ability to stretch to accommodate the head of the newborn is nothing short of awe inspiring. Alas few of us have had the privilege to attend such a moving and fundamental event. This was not always the case. Respect for the as the portal between the worlds was widespread in ancient times. And so was Vulvic Art.
Sheila na Gigs (or Sheelah-na-Gigs) are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are found on churches, castles and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Britain. In the prestigious “Encyclopedia of Religion,” (Eliade, Mircea. (Editor),1987) there are references to Sheila na Gigs “The obvious life-giving and growth-promoting powers of the vulva and its secretions have given rise to a widespread use of representations of the female genitalia as apotropaic (intended to “ward off evil”) devices. …. An apotropaic function seems to have prompted the placing of squatting female figures prominently exposing their open vulvas on the key of arches at church entrances in Ireland, Great Britain, and German Switzerland…. Most such figures were removed from churches in the nineteenth century.” And a little farther down in the same article: “A remarkable parallel to the Celtic Sheelagh-na-gig is found in the Palauan archipelago. The wooden figure of a nude woman, prominently exposing her vulva by sitting with legs wide apart and extended to either side of the body, is placed on the eastern gable of each village’s chiefly meeting house. Such figures are called dilugai…These female figures protect the villagers’ health and ward off all evil spirits as well. They are constructed by ritual specialists according to strict rules, which if broken would result in the specialist’s as well as the chiefs death. It is not coincidental that each example of signs representing the female genitalia used as apotropaic devices are found on gates. The vulva is the primordial gate, the mysterious divide between nonlife and life” (Encyclopedia of Religion, article YONI, Vol.15, p.534). I believe that much healing can be achieved through reclaiming the magic of the vulva in our modern world. However, to do so we need first to inspect our current cultural attitudes to this most glorious and sacred part of the body. Not only do we have no respectful representations of the vulva, many of us are uncomfortable even talking about her. Last year the Weekend Australian ran an article about three US students who were suspended from high school for disobeying teachers and uttering the word “vagina” during a reading from the Eve Ensler’s ‘Vagina Monologues’.
I suggest that it is of the utmost importance to investigate and work towards healing any disempowering attitudes we have had foisted onto us about our most glorious and sacred feminine parts. By doing so women will feel better about themselves, boost their self-esteem, reduce depression and increase respect for the feminine in our society. There are three simple steps we can take to start to reclaim the magic of the vulva.
- We can use vulvic imagery as a powerful talisman. This need not be overt. The mandorla and even the V, or the cleft V are time honoured symbols for the vulva and can easily be incorporated into jewellery, art or even scribbles on a post-it note!
- We can practice using her name. It may take time to become comfortable but it is unlikely to happen unless we start.
- And thirdly, if we were lucky enough to be born in a woman’s body, we can kegel. Anywhere, any time! And while that enigmatic Mona Lisa smile creeps over our faces we can affirm the wonder and the power of feminine nature.