Sholem Krishtalka

Penises & Vaginas

I could have titled this piece something a little subtler, but that would be a disservice to my subject.

AKTSpeaksIntL, “Alexyss Tylor: Vagina Power” (2008) * Sexually explicit *

How can I follow that up? What else can I say that hasn’t already been said, in the most grotesque and colourful vocabulary?

Alexyss K. Tylor was first introduced to me by an artist friend, and so I assumed, at first, that she was a performance artist of some kind (let the record show that the first thought that entered my freshly blown mind after having sat through “Two Faced Dick” was, “well, if this woman is a performance artist, she’s just ended performance art.”)

In fact, Miz Tylor is the host of her show on black women’s sexuality, “Vagina Power.” It used to be aired on Atlanta public access television until a “very vocal constituent of ‘Black Women’” (note the scare quotes) forced the cancellation of the show. But Tylor lives on—she apparently published a book in 2006 (although I can’t find a trace of it)—and still speaks her truth (thank God) on YouTube.

AKTSpeaksIntL, “Vagina Power: Halloween Show” (2008) * Sexually explicit *

And what the hell kind of truth is she speaking? Tylor is possibly the best monologuist I’ve ever seen. No pauses, hiccups, or ums and ers; none of the inadvertent repetition, awkward nervousness or lack of preparation that’s usually the hallmark of amateur TV.

Consider that her lengthy diatribes—which wade through the deepest muck of sexual abjection, enumerating with a kind of De Sade-esque glee all the possible linguistic permutations of licentiousness, veering into unheard of metaphors and similes (government cheese?)—are entirely off-the-cuff.

Unlike, say, a professional comedian or motivational speaker, she has no written material to fall back on; once she’s on a riff, it’s just her and her alone, and Tylor dishes dick and pussy with the verve of a Baptist preacher. She gets in her groove and she’s a woman possessed (by what, I couldn’t begin to imagine), and she just lets fly a constant passionate onslaught, the burning gospel of Vagina Power. Just listen to her; listen to her iterate the words “penis” and “vagina,” stretching her mouth around the intricacies of their pronunciation—“peuyy-nuss” and “vaj-EYEEEE-nuh”—as if she’s exorcising some sick (I accidentally typed “dick” just then) demon.

AKTSpeaksIntL, “Alexyss Tylor: Make You Slap Somebody” (2007) * Sexually explicit *

Tylor claims kinship with Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey and Sojourner Truth. I only wish that her platform were as large and as public as Angelou’s and Winfrey’s. Tylor could redress the profound schizophrenia of American public sexual discourse.

In re-watching these clips for posting here, I couldn’t help but think of my recent exposure to the Twilight phenomenon (I just watched the first movie a few weeks ago, out of curiosity and the desire to see cute boys shirtless). This book and movie franchise, all sprung from the prudish imagination of a Utah Mormon, seems to want to teach kids that good girls shouldn’t want sex, and even if they do, even if they beg, good boys won’t touch them.

As a private romantic fantasy that’s perfectly fine, but “Twilight” is now a multimedia empire, and so its sexual metaphors and messages assume the scale of mass media propaganda. And given the general context of the furor over sex-ed (abstinence-only education has to be the most ludicrous oxymoron I’ve ever heard), Meyer’s priggishness-for-teens is nothing short of damaging.

If someone were going to sermonize to people about sex, I would take the balls-out-down-and-dirty realness of Reverend Tylor than the genteel, anti-feminist falsehoods of prissy Stephenie [sic] Meyer any old time. Tylor is even queer-positive! Speak truth to power, woman!

AKTSpeaksIntL, “Alexyss Tylor: Wash Yo Damn Nuts” (2009) * Sexually explicit *

Can I get an amen?

– Sholem Krishtalka

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Sholem Krishtalka is an artist currently living in Berlin. His work has been shown in Canada, the US and Europe. Exhibitions include “Them” (Perrotin Gallery, New York) and “Sex Life” (SAW Gallery, Ottawa). His writing has appeared in Canadian Art Magazine, Bookforum Online, C Magazine, CBC Arts Online (among others) and in various artist's catalogues. For more Sholem Krishtalka, click here.