Home Performing Arts On Second Thought, we’ll take the vibrator. Conversations with Paul Hutcheson.

On Second Thought, we’ll take the vibrator. Conversations with Paul Hutcheson.

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We sent out Kat Hepburn this past weekend to the Frigid Theater festival. What follows is a diatribe on drunken sex, why we secretly love tranny porn, the concept of beauty, monogamy, identity, and the choices we make and so often don’t make in life…- Scallywag.

On second thought, take pride in yourself. Not exclusively in one aspect of your life, like your sexuality or your occupation. Rather, take pride in the unique compilation of moments you have lived. This history, your individual story, is who you are.

This is the message of Paul Hutcheson’s one-man play, On Second Thought, performed at the NYC Frigid 2009 independent theater festival. As Paul performed an interpretive dance, lip sinking to a girl singing about being a woman, wearing a blue t-shirt and an alligator puppet thong over his penis, few in the audience doubted Paul’s comfort in his own skin. This comfort comes from his acceptance and ownership of all of the decisions and moments in his life that have brought him to where he is today.

Many of the moments Paul shares with us are funny. He often makes the audience laugh by making us uncomfortable and going there. There is a place where it is okay to discuss what stuffed animal he rubbed up against during puberty; where it is okay to talk about being gay, but respecting women and their vaginas, because, after all, it is where everyone originated.

Underneath of this sense of humor, however, is a person who has suffered through insecurity and prejudice. Growing up in Catholic school (even if it was liberal), Paul was ridiculed and misunderstood for sleeping next to all of the beautiful girls, but never with any of them. He grew up, as most of us do, in a strictly heterosexual environment. And as a homosexual, he did not have anyone to look up to in his immediate community nor his larger Canadian society to help him become a confident, self-respecting adult gay male. So, as his performance informs us, he followed an often painful, awkward and alienating path through life and sexuality.

His performance starts out recounting moments from childhood like when he got covered in dog shit while playing soccer in elementary school. Or when he was in his early twenties waking up, half-drunk, next to a strange man covered in chocolate in his bed. Or when he decided to find his own way home in the dark in Australia rather than endure the belittling comments of the tour-guide who referred to him as a “lady.”

He spends an hour publicly reflecting on the decisions and experiences in his life that he has doubted the most. And from these humiliations, Paul emerges a man confident in his sexuality and confident that he is more than just a homosexual being. His honesty, though bold and often smeared with exaggeration, is triumphant because it encourages us to relax and be more honest with ourselves. And if you have a shit story or a stuffed animal that you particularly loved at age fifteen, don’t blush. Instead, smile and own it.

The small theater was crowded at the end of the show and I was a little nervous about approaching the star for an interview. But, I decided to take Paul’s advice and not let my inhibitions, my second thoughts, keep me from taking a risk. So Paul found me, waiting outside of the dressing room with my nifty recorder prepped for a stairwell interview.

Paul Hutcheson: You want to do the interview here?

Kat Hepburn: I thought it would be easiest for you. But whatever you want.

PH: I want a beer.

KH: All right. Let’s do it.

After wading through an admiring crowed gathered outside of the Red Room theater on the lower east side, Paul and I found a spot to drink and talk about Australian bathhouses, the bisexual in us all and his need to tell stories at the bar across the street.

KH: You were just about to say something really interesting…

PH: I was talking about discovering how to have good sex and not accept anything less. Part of my show is about the opposite of that- nights of sloppy, unfinished, drunken terrible sex in my early twenties.

KH: What drove you to get drunk and have bad sex?

PH: I was queer in a heterosexual world so throughout my adolescence, I took a back seat and watched sexuality. When I reached my twenties, I was not used to getting attention from anyone I was attracted to. So when I started going to gay bars, I was happy to get any form of attention and ended up drinking before I went because I was nervous and scared. I settled for anyone because I didn’t know what I wanted or what to do.

KH: What do you think going home with practically anybody does to your identity?

PH: I think it can be very harmful. It’s part of the reason the queer community struggles with Crystal Meth, which makes you totally uninhibited and able to have sex for hours. People move to the big city to forget about everything in their past and create an identity as only “gay.” But I don’t think that’s healthy. When you only go to queer bars or queer restaurants or have queer friends, your life becomes vacuous. And I’m for diversity.

KH: How did you work your way out of the drunken one-night stands?

PH: I was in Melbourne, Australia and went to a bathhouse for the first time. A bathhouse is a place for men to go and have open sex. I won’t say gay men only because there are a lot of men there who would never admit to being gay if you interviewed them afterwards!

KH: And open sex helped you how?

PH: It’s where I learned to have good sex, appreciate my body and realized that everybody is attractive. The most beautiful man can be the worst lover. You can have a six-pack, but if you’re a terrible lover, you’re a terrible lover.

KH: What makes a good lover and what makes a person attractive if not a six-pack?

PH: Confidence is the key to good sex and being attractive. I’ve been with people who others would not consider sexy but they were attractive to me because they were confident. And they wanted to experience good sex.

KH: You spend an hour on stage recounting moments in your life where you have had second thoughts. Yet, this culminates with you dancing in nothing but a shirt and an alligator puppet thong covering your penis. Tell me Paul, no “second thought” about that?

PH: No! I want to! I find that underneath of everything we do in life is a stream of second thoughts. For me, this show is about looking back on those moments, taking stock of them and realizing that they are what have brought me to where I am.

KH: Why is it important to look back on our lives?

PH: Because we tend to forget how much of a life we’ve lived. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. At the end of the show, I tell myself not to have a second thought. I’ve jumped out of a plane; I’ve almost been killed and mauled by a pack of wild and savage kangaroos, flattened by a giant, up-turned lawn mower. I have seen a crack addict naked on the floor of a porn room video rental store! It’s like, “wake up Paul! Don’t dismiss yourself because you’re queer; don’t let other people dismiss you. You’ve done all of this shit that a lot of other people have not done. Take credit for it. You are not who you sleep with. And if people don’t like it, fuck em.”

KH: Your performance expresses an enthusiasm for life that is rare, especially in these troubling economic times. Where does this enthusiasm come from?

PH: I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to have children, so I think I deserve a life that is interesting, unique and well traveled. Not that you can’t have an interesting life if you have kids. But you have to be stable if you have kids; you have to be able to feed them! Me, I want to have as many stories as I can. I don’t want to have a life of two cars, kids, a picket fence…

KH: Do you think a lot of people choose to live the life of houses and cars or are they following the least resistant path?

PH: Well, I don’t like to lump people together. There are a lot of people who do what I do and are unhappy and a lot who have cars and kids who are happy. What disturbs me is when I meet people who are so impressed by what I do and when I ask them what they do, they dismiss it. But then they have no plan to change it. They’re resigned to their life perhaps because they’re scared to let go of the house and the cars. And I’m like, no, no, no! If you’re not happy, no matter what you do, change. Too many people I talk to are not excited about anything. They live for the weekend or that one-week a year all-inclusive. Or TV.

KH: And how, besides the millions you make performing (ha!), do you make an income?

PH: I teach a few days a week. And I work in a video store.

KH: You mention this video store in your performance. What kind of videos do you rent and sell there?

PH: It’s one of those video shops where they rent a lot of porn in order to stay in business and keep their independent film collection alive.

KH: I’ve always wanted to know, what kind of customers do you get renting porn, what kind of movies are they renting? In other words, what trends do you see emerging?

PH: Ass fucking is just huge. I guess not a lot of women are into that sometimes. Trany porn, too. This seems to be a thing that men crave. They want the woman, but they also want that domination or the penis. I’ve never been with a transsexual, but it’s one of those things that I would do because I just think it’s beautiful! Trans is the new gay. I really do believe that men have so much more woman in us than we are willing to admit. I mean, we came out of a vagina, for god’s sake. So, stop not admitting your femininity! It’s the people that live in the dichotomies of 100%, the guys that are like “everything’s male” and the women who are so “oh, ah” are the ones that cause the problems. It drives me crazy.

KH: Do you have any sexual suggestions?

PH: Women, you need to learn how to give good head. I mean deep throat it and swallow. Because there are a legion of gay men out there who are more than willing. I’ve heard men say that their girlfriend gives it on his birthday. Come on! But, men, you’ve got to please her, too. Find the clit. But how can he find it if she doesn’t even know where it’s at?

KH: Ah. You think we should know ourselves more sexually. Is part of your show about making us more comfortable with ourselves sexually?

PH: Yes. Definitely. I mean, no one teaches us these things. And it takes time and trust and exploration. I have respect for people who are willing to go to a prostitute and want to learn about these things that society condemns. I remember reading a book about learning to accept the smell of sex and diving in. We are perhaps at our ugliest when we have sex and yet the media focuses so much on romance and there’s all of those scenes in movies that cause us to have unrealistic expectations. The result of this is that it becomes difficult to appreciate what sex really is.

KH: Do you think most people are bisexual?

PH: Oh yes. It’s so sad we live in a world where it’s frowned upon. Or it’s okay to do, but you cannot talk about it. Monogamy is weird, too. I don’t think we were meant to be monogamous. All of these things, I think society imposes on us.

KH: And yet, somehow, you have managed to escape the impositions.

PH: Yes, somehow I have.

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