Deus Ex Mangina
If Eve Ensler has taught us anything, and I think I can safely say that she has taught us very little except that violence against women would stop for ever if we would all just close our eyes and wish hard enough and that the black dominatrix chin-length bob is SO over, it is that different women have different relationships with their vaginas.
Some, like the 70% of American women that Sue Johanson, the Canadian Sex Grandma on the Oxygen network asserts, are only able to refer to their genitalia with a vague down there, could probably benefit from a few minutes with a hand mirror or a Peaches album. Others, who freely ask several of their friends to pitch in to buy an obscenely expensive vibrator for their birthday, are far too comfortable with their parts most delicate. My own relationship with my quivering femaleness (in the words of that renowned feminist, Rosamund Pilcher) has been one of general indifference, (except in moments of extreme pleasure) that is strongly mixed with fearfear that it might suddenly break out in spots or emit something terrifying, whether a cottage-cheese like discharge or a screaming infant. But this is not about my vagina. My intention is not to write my very own Enslerian-treatise on my pussy, and should I ever do such a thing, I should like my computer confiscated until I have completed mandatory gender-reassignment surgery. This is about the artist and glittering New York personality Patrick Bucklews vagina, or rather, his Mangina. His celebrated, world-famous, boldface on Page Six Mangina.
There is very little Manginal philosophy I can cover that has not already been explored, and far more eloquently, by Jonathan Ames. But experiencing the Mangina is something deeply personal, and reactions are disparate and intense enough to surely spawn a brand new off-Broadway phenomenon. The Mangina Monologues; I think itll be a big hit. I see names. Huge names. All the names that have ever wished for a vagina of their own. Im not actually going to name these names, but I think you can all have some fun making up your own list. Id love to hear what those two girls wearing newsboy caps and clutching tremulous Cosmopolitans in the corner at Manginas most recent show at the New Gershwin Hotel (which is to the old Gershwin Hotel what the New East Village is to the Old East Village) have to say. Actually, I heard what they had to sayI was sitting right behind them. But Id love to hear them say it again.
It occurs to me there may be a few people out there, perhaps among our out-of-state readers, who have no idea what I am talking about. Allow me to explain. The Mangina is a vagina-shaped prosthesis made of Friendly Plastic, a pliable and formerly innocent substance I once used to make the earring and bracelet sets I sold at the annual synagogue craft sale. It is attached to a nearly invisible g-string, and fits comfortably over the penis. What sets the Mangina apart from other prosthetic vaginas, easily procurable at sex-stores worldwide, is the ingenious initiative of threading the scrotum through a hole in the front to form lifelike, if puffy, labia. This is called the lotum, a euphonious blend of the labia and the scrotum. The Mangina is generally naked while sporting his creation, although he is occasionally clad in a pair of red leggings with the crotch strategically removed, depending on occasion and temperature. For a more detailed and infinitely better description, please refer to Whats Not To Love; the Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer, by the fabulous Jonathan Ames (for whom I once turned down a date with a really cute boy to watch on Letterman.)
I went to Manginas show on a date of sorts, which already seems like something to tell the grandkids. It was not, however my first time. The first time, I fingered the Mangina, which he often invites you to do. The lotum feels soft and warm, surprisingly erotic, and took care any lesbian curiosities I might have had for several months at least. It also gives the dual satisfaction of knowing your mother would be horrified at what you were doing, which is why so many of us moved to New York City in the first place. The second time I encountered the Mangina in person was at the wonderful P.S. 122 benefit party for Mark Russell that anyone reading this should have been at (I normally hate journalistic essays that talk about super-fun and cool parties the writer went to, and how much cooler they are than you for being there, but this time its me, so Im making an exception.) He was wearing a Friendly Plastic hat that looked like a medieval jesters made out of little pee-pees that squirted lotion on passer-bys in a highly suggestive fashion. I was embarrassingly drunk and asked him to squirt on my boobs. I have very dry skin. He did. It was awesome. And my breasts were beautifully moisturized!
But never had I seen the Mangina in a show all of his own. All I can do is describe it as best I can, and his actions will speak for themselves. Like in The Iliad.
He was surrounded by paintings, lovely paintings of the female form, long and slim, reminiscent of Egon Schiele. He entered, wearing the Mangina, which, honestly, if you havent seen it, is like the best opening line of the best novel youve ever read. I would liken it to the beginning of Pride and Prejudice–“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.
The Mangina sang a song, a quiet song of joyful lamentation, accompanying himself on the accordion, wearing a mangina and his jester penis hat. It was difficult to hear him, so timid and touching was his voice and so robust was his accordion playing, that the audience had to lean forward and listen carefully to catch the words. I cant tell you what they were now, being to preoccupied with hearing (I am partially deaf) to jot them down, but they were sad and beautiful. Then he called for a female volunteer from the audience to have her breast molded in Friendly Plastic, which he had preheated in a sort of oversized crock-pot on the stage. The lucky lady was Pelagia, who I spoke to after the show. She untied her cute floral halter top and Mangina lovingly sculpted the flexibly, sensuous material around her breast, his touch at once tender and firm. I was desperately jealous, especially when he teased her nipple erect and immortalized it in sculpture. (I got my chance. He did mine later. The general consensus was the finished project would be ideal for eating your morning cereal from.) Mangie then announced that he was debuting tonight a brand new thing he called Sculptural Intercourse. He would produce a model, mold her body in Friendly Plastic, and proceed to mount her with his Friendly Plastic erection for all to see. Friendly Plastic; it sounds so unthreatening. I used to live in Amsterdam, so I wasnt that shocked, but still, that seemed like pornography to me. Not that theres anything wrong with that, but usually you are warned in advance and you have to pay a lot more than ten bucks to get in. Mangina disappeared for a moment and returned with his regular model Nicole, a tall brunette with enviable muscle tone, her hair scraped back in a severe ponytail, and her pubic mound closely shaved. She lay on the ground, passive and lovely. Mangina dipped his hands into the crock-pot of molten plastic and with long, confident strokes, began to spread the stuff, in its natural form a weathered greenish color, like the Statue of Liberty, over her entire body. The audience was silent, frantically switching positions for a better view. He lingered over her vagina, rubbing the plastic there over and over again. I felt strangesexy and terrified. (Thats the part when the newsboy cap girls walked out.) Sexy and repulsed at the same time. Im not the first one to say this, obviously, but I think at the heart of all sexual attraction is resentment; repulsion. You naturally hate someone because you are attracted to them. Its how you can go so fast from loving someone so much you could die from it to wishing they would die the most painful death imaginable. Maybe thats how we all felt.
Finally, at the moment of truth, when Mangina was about to insert his Friendly Plastic penis into Nicoles plasticized pussy, she refused. I cant blame her. We understood, and so did Mangina. So he stuck his dildo UP HIS OWN ASS! THEN HE PULLED IT OUT AND PASSED IT AROUND! AND THEN HE SANG A SONG ABOUT IT ON HIS ACCORDION! And in that moment, he encapsulated perfectly the sexual humiliation, frustration, the melancholy and shame that all of us have felt, what sex is, when you clear away the Hollywood stardust and (in the words of R. Kelly) the whipped cream, the strawberries, the candles and oils.
The Mangina has a lot of shock value for sure. But what he really does is what the best art should dohe opens your mind to possibility, and he allows you to reflect and revisit where youve been. I want to see more Mangina adventure. I want to see a mangina have a period, a yeast infection. I want to see Mangina deliver a Friendly Plastic baby through his dilated Manginal canal. I want to see a mangina though the various stages of syphilis, so we can all be attuned to the warning signs. And I love that the Mangina inspires that same feeling of titillation and horror that your mother sitting you down with the Where Did I Come From book inspires, when you look at the Joy of Sex-like watercolor illustrations and squeal in horror You were naked? With Daddy? But then you go in your room and feel turned on, even though youre seven, and all of a sudden realize what all the jokes on The Golden Girls are about. And, if only for a fraction of a moment, it all makes sense.