Sunday, April 13, 2008

New Orleans (and the vagina disappointments)

this is my "aunt" Luciana

my grandfather remarried -

she's 34 so we're more like cousins Bourbon street, not quite what I expected
it's like a frat party on a street

but with adults & tourists

I was alllllll about the good food
this dish was lightly blackened redfish
topped with crawfish (already peeled)

this was at an old cemetary, wow very cool

Well, I did it, the ballsy gutsy DO IT thing that I did. I saw Jane Fonda & Eve Ensler on tv and heard that some stars (most notably Oprah) were going to be performing the 10th anniversary performance in New Orleans. Given that Jane Fonda and Oprah are two of my biggest heroes, I was totally inspired and immediately bought a ticket. I emailed all my friends and said hey come with me. No one was able to, and strangely enough I found out after the fact that my aunt Luciana lives there and I was able to stay with her. She and her fiance Chuck were amazing hosts and tour guides... showing me around the French Quarter, giving me the history of Hurricane Katrina / tour of the 9th ward, a spin around one of the coolest cemetaries I've ever been to (!) and then up St. Charles (old homes) and then dropped me off for the big event.

A couple things about all this.

I thought for certain that this was going to be a life changing event. I am not really big on flying across the country by myself to go to plays nor am I one of those "I just love to travel anywhere" sorts. But this was special because I was going to meet some heroes! To be inspired about what's up with women in the world! To listen and hear about women empowering women! And what can I do to forward that and STOP violence against women??

So the event started and I admit I had chills! The opening video was hilarious - saying what's up with the word vagina?? It's not in any way a sexy purrr kitten word we actually use in the bedroom. And they had bunches of funny clips about out of movies and with newscasters (like Barbara Walters) painfully tripping over it as they introduces performance from "that play". It was also clear that they chose New Orleans precisely to reclaim and put energy behind the women of this part of the world... in fact Eve said that New Orleans and Vaginas are one and the same... the "wetlands". It was a hilarious monolgue, with all those warm and swampy comparisons.

The performances began and it was so great to see the different actresses up there, in their prime.

Here's the ad from their website:

On Saturday evening, April 12, 2008, V-Day will stage a once in a lifetime event - V TO THE TENTH - featuring international performances of The Vagina Monologues, musical guests, V-Day activists from across the globe including Kenya, Afghanistan, Iraq, The Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eastern Europe , men standing up for women and much more.

Performances by: Salma Hayek, Oprah Winfrey, Faith Hill, Jane Fonda, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close, Julia Stiles, Sally Field, Ali Larter, Calpernia Addams, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Beals, Didi Conn, Christine Lahti, Doris Roberts, Liz Mikel, and Charmaine Neville.

Why did I include the ad, you ask?

Because with about 15 minutes left in the show, as I was breathless and READY for Oprah and Eve to get up together and perform their piece... Eve is up on the stage calling up folks to thank, yadda yadda and says:

"As some of you may have noticed tonight, Oprah is not going to make it."

Um, can you say that again? Did you really just say that OPRAH THE ONE THAT I REALLY WAS COMING TO SEE, THE HEADLINE ACT, THE ONE THE ONLY OPRAH was not coming? There was something else about her being really really sick. Wait, no, I was the one who was sick. You should have seen how many women just stood up and left right then. Luckily the last piece was Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson and this glorious performer Charmaine Neville singing one song about faith and then R*E*S*P*E*C*T.

I'm still in shock. But what am I going to do? Call them up and demand my money back? It was a fundraiser that I believe in. And, okay, so Oprah was sick. But why couldn't she have written a little note and have had Eve read it? It seemed so nonchalant. Bizarre. Would I have gone if Oprah wasn't the big name on the ticket. Absolutely NOT! I spent a freaking lot of money on the ticket and on the plane ticket. It's just lucky that my weekend was so much fun with Luciana and Chuck otherwise I would have been raging pissed.

Oh, and another thing. Let me just point out some of the other names that were on the website (later I saw the asterick that said *pending availability) that were no shows:

Salma Hayek, Sally Field, Glenn Close, Julia Stiles and Jessica Alba.

Probably the best part / flip side of the weekend was huge, though. Through the Partnership course they kept saying we are all just ordinary people choosing to do extraordinary things... listening to and following our "calling". I've heard my calling and I know it - I am here to empower women. It's just that simple. So I saw Eve up on stage, and I thought, wow, this is Eve's calling. It's just that simple. It's her passion, her project, her life. It's not mine. I am not Oprah, I am not Oprah's passion or Oprah's story. I am my own. I'm Helen. Right now that doesn't really say it to me... like how is saying "I'm Helen" sound as big of a world as Oprah (at least to me)? What inspires me about her is that she used her voice, her power, her presence, through visual media and speaking abilities to cause something, to do good in the world. And that is what I'm here for. That is what I'm going to be for the world, that I am for the world. As I discover my own power and beauty, I offer it up... I give it away... I inspire you and I bow to your gloriousness.

And I will always be your special dorky fruitcake, too, and I remember that, with pride.


  1. I was wondering why you took the trip. You don't need to hear this, because you already know it; "You are up there with oprah". You have the heart and the power. great pics, talk soon.

  2. consuleo3:59 PM

    OMG, I am sooooo jealous! Looks like you guys had a great time. SO wish I could have brought my crew down there too, would have been a blast!

    The pictures are awesome! Thank you for posting them :)

    P.S. Marathon's less than two weeks away and I can't wait!!!