Sodomy and Pedicures
Monologues about single women in New York may be overdone, but Jessica Hedrick redeems the genre with Sodomy and Pedicures, the story of a sex-starved communist's daughter that's self-aware, smart, fresh, and far from cliché
Reviewed by Patricia Hadad, Fri., Aug. 25, 2006
Sodomy and Pedicures
play! Theatre, through Aug. 27
Spare me another production about a single woman in New York City unmoored by romantic attachment. Deliver me from monologues about vaginas, dating, fashion, or unemployment. Grant me, rather, the heterosexual daughter of a communist, a sex-starved "submissive slut" who knew the evils of lipstick before she knew how to pucker. Give me Jessica Hedrick, as herself.
Despite her New York residence, Hedrick is still a friendly Austinite, greeting the audience at the door and starting the show without a pause to think. Her monologue, Sodomy and Pedicures, is a tall drink among friends while she tells you the whacked-out story of being slathered in olive oil on her first date with an Italian sodomite and why secret desires rooted in her ascetic upbringing had her looking forward to a second. Immediately, you wish she was your bar girlfriend, flirting with men and doing nasal imitations of her conservative parents, her ex-boyfriends, and her therapist.
The material is fresh and far from cliché. It's a rapacious delight to hear about the time she got caught teaching her little sister a bath-towel dance she learned from her neighbor's TV, and her mother, a model of Eleanor Rooseveltian propriety, called it "vulgar" with the weight of years of suffrage in her voice. Or how, as a little girl, she wished for a pair of pink slippers with rhinestones and feathers, only to have her commie daddy knock it down with a typical response: "Pooch," he said, "that's capitalist bait." Hedrick has said that her parents are strictly forbidden to watch the show. You can see why, since the topic of genitalia is unavoidable, as is sodomy, of course, and Brazilian waxes and a peacock feather used for her pleasure. (Another reason why she might not allow her parents to see the show is her impersonations, accelerated to the point of lampoonery, of them, along with her best friend, the chain-smoking Giselle, an avatar of the Hindu goddess of sex and love, Kali.)
Hedrick starts out fighting off Tony the Italian sodomite and recalling how tenets of feminism seem to have faded as she's gone from beau to beau. Bouncing between red logic and red lipstick, she longs for anal sex and the city. A self-proclaimed feminazi (but lacking the bitchiness) in the throes of a post-post-feminist culture (post-post for its disdain toward high-maintenance women and the mores of the shoe-obsessed), Hedrick confesses her struggles with her image, with the inequities between men and women in relationships, with fair representations in Cosmo, and for an equal opportunity to be a wanton. She can't stand the guy-dependent Cosmo readership and doesn't want to "be treated right by her man." After anxiously waiting weeks for Tony to call back, she visits her therapist, who advises her to get a pedicure.
Hedrick is hysterical (in the non-Freudian sense) from start to finish. The woman knows how to have fun. She is smart and agonizingly self-aware of her neuroses and her urges for a happily coupled ending. Maybe to her, feminism is having the backbone to admit that women can be fucked up without being labeled misogynistic.