For the first time in 15 years, I’m working on a live, staged theatrical production. It’s an autobiographical solo play called “More Tales from Inside a Child-Eating Vagina.” The show contains 3 monologues. This is the first of the three. I’ll be performing this monologue in Seattle the weekend of February 23rd. I plan to stage the entire production at the 2019 National Communication Association conference in Baltimore, assuming the performance is accepted and invited.
Tales from Inside a Child-Eating Vagina
My father used to characterize me as “one of God’s delicate children.” “Delicate” is southern code for gay. He’d say, “You get that from your mom’s side of the family.”
My parents divorced when I was an infant and Dad raised me. We lived in the six-bedroom home he purchased right after my two brothers went to college. Dad’s master bedroom was downstairs. I slept alone upstairs. We moved into a $200K mansion in a brand new suburban development the same year Poltergeist hit theatres.
Each night in bed, I waited for my closet to turn into a demonic, child-eating vagina. You might think it’s odd for a kid to imagine his closet’s a haunted twat. My sex obsession makes more sense if you know my history. I don’t want to brag, but I am a survivor of child sex abuse. I was a sexy kid!
One of the ways I coped with my abuse to transpose genitalia on everything: penile door handles, anal shower drains, and vaginal closets.
Dad didn’t help the situation. He never made much of an effort to hide his porno tapes. By the time I was in the fourth grade, I loved an adult film called Inside Seka. Seka is not a country.
By the time sixth grade rolled around, I was sex-obsessed. My middle school yearbook is riddled with my sex-brained handiwork:
(Slides of the described yearbook images are projected.)
boy-on-boy rape fantasies, interracial anal daydreams, girls using the school payphone to call 976-DICK, more hardcore guy-on-guy action, steamy lesbian dance parties, and scorned gay lovers. I had more iss-ues than National Geographic.
In fairness, I was a gay, Jewish sex-abuse survivor growing up in an uber-conservative area of Texas: not an easy setup for the first generation of latchkey kids.
Teachers convinced us that we’d be kidnapped because our parents didn’t have time to take care of us. Administrators called us into the auditorium every year and warned us about talking to strangers. A portly, balding neighborhood constable addressed our pink faces, claiming that, “Statistics say that one person in this room WILL be kidnapped. Which one of you will it be?” Oh, let it be me! Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find. Catch me a catch. They gave a week for the message to settle in our little brains. Every stranger became a potential child predator, every white van prepared to drag us to hell.
The following week, we were summoned back to the cafeteria, where a new guest speaker shoved fundraising packets into our hands and urged us to go door to door selling wrapping paper to the same strangers who, just a week ago, might kidnap and kill us. But if I sell $100 in summer sausages, I get a clock radio, so…
The irony is that both men who molested me did so in the shards of suburban stucco I called home. No white vans. No scary strangers with one-eyed stares.
One of my abusers is my mother’s other son Rusty.
The year is 1982. I’m 6, Rusty 15. Dad just dropped me off at Mom’s house for my tear-filled monthly visit. That makes staying with my mom sound like I’m getting my period. I’m not! I didn’t get my period until I was 13. Then, boom, pregnant by 14. Another teenage statistic.
Hope he’s proud of what he’s done.
Grease 2 flickers on the tube television in Rusty’s room. Midway through the movie, my brother digs in his closet and locates an oblong object that vibrates after he plugs it into the wall. As instructed, I clumsily unbutton my Osh Kosh jeans and pull them to my knees. He places the vibrator against my tiny penis and then commands me to return the favor. The next part of my lesson includes a demonstration of oral sex.
“Yours isn’t big enough. Put mine in your mouth,” he barks.
Hush, my darling
Don’t you cry
Forget their lies
Months later, I’m miles away from Rusty and back at home. My brother Jeff invites some of his high school buddies to our house. The young men smoke weed, drink beer, and shoot pool in our game room. I creep as close as I can to eavesdrop on their conversation. Jeff’s friend Lonny catches me as he breaks from the group and looks for a bathroom.
Lonny’s 17 and has thick, wavy blonde hair that reminds me of Christopher Atkins from Blue Lagoon and The Pirate Movie.
(Static interrupts a clip from “The Pirate Movie” just as it starts to play.)
I can’t remember all the details, just the big moments.
(As Ragan closes his eyes to remember, “Girls Like Me” from “Valley Girl” plays, static)
Not the entire movie, just key scenes.
(Carol Anne gets sucked into the closet, static.)
Bits that stain and linger, like a bruise left in a punch’s wake.
Lonny takes me to the downstairs den and asks me to touch his penis. “Use both hands.” Valley Girl flashes on the TV like lightning ZX .
Moving forward using all my breath
Making love to you was never second best.
I’m bent over the couch. Lonny tucks his penis between my legs and thrusts, not penetrating me—but using my thigh-gap as a sex toy.
I’ll stop the world and melt with you
I’ve seen some changes and it’s getting better all the time/
There’s nothing you and I won’t do/
I’ll stop the world and melt with you.
Awkward! Let’s do a word problem. Who doesn’t love a words problem. 36 years after the promiscuous age of 6, I’m 42 and haven’t had sex in 5 years. Word. That’s a problem.
I am plugged into a smartphone collective consciousness. Grindr, a gay dating app, is mother brain. Grindrrrrrrrrrrrr-rrrrrrrrrrrr! A way to connect. Nobody ask any question, everyone jump into the meat grinder:
My name is Alex Ryan: A-L-Y-Q-S R-Y-U-N: No fats. No fems. No Asians. No trolls. No blacks. Nobody over the age of 25. And absolutely, positively no condoms for this cow-B-O-I. Let’s parTy.
App dating is a demoralizing experience.
I call men on Grindr “grindrs” because they slowly grind away at my love optimism. Before even saying “hello,” grinders ask about my “sexy shit pussy,” and have offered to be my human toilet. As a sex abuse survivor, I have low standards when it comes to meeting a man: first, don’t kill me; second, don’t mention “licking my shitoris”; and finally, never assume I’m looking for a human toilet. I’m not. And neither is Seka!
I sometimes feel disconnected from my sexual side, like abuse killed that part of me. I like the idea of sex. Rough sex. Leather. Poppers! I want to hook up with a guy so huge I’ll look up at him and say, “I’m gonna’ need an epidural for that.” I love the fantasy but am paralyzed by the reality of sex.
The wreckage of child molestation never goes away. No matter how far you sail its debris has a way of floating back to you.
Just last year, I received a Facebook message from a gay guy in his early 40s. Here’s what he wrote:
I live in Houston and 3 months ago I met a man named Rusty on Grindr. I have observed some behavior that has me concerned that he may be a pedophile. I’m terrified that what I thought was intense role-play is him recalling past experiences or acting out future assaults on underage victims. [Signed,] Concerned in Houston.
Fuck. I haven’t seen my brother in 20 years. But this email brings me back. Back to the agony, the grief of the 6-year-old inside me,
(Slide of 6-year-old Ragan.)
…the bullied and abused boy I want so badly to protect.
But you know what? I may have to let go of him to get a hold of myself, to plant feet in the fertile soil of middle age and grow past the past; because I’m not a kid anymore. I am proud of the man I’ve become. And you know what? I think the 6-year-old would be, too.