A few years ago, at a restaurant, dinner conversation turned to vaginas. Shannon schooled her longtime friend and collaborator Keith on his lack of vag knowledge. After Keith spouted some dumbass theory about what a vagina was and wasn't, Shannon pushed aside the bread basket and said, "If you know so much about vaginas, why don't you draw one." So he did. It sucked. Then his boyfriend drew one, and it was way prettier but way more inaccurate. Everyone at the table became fascinated with these drawings.
We were onto something.
A few months later, we set up a "Vagina Collection Booth" in the gayer locales of San Francisco. We wanted to collect as many interpretations of the term vagina as we could from anyone who identified as a gay man. With a big pink "Draw Vaginas Here" sign hoisted high on a PVC pipe, we attracted a range of reactions. Yes, there were the expected negative sneers, like "Eww girl, I'm scared of those nasty things," but there were more gay guys who loved what we were doing and were pretty enthusiastic about diving into our box of crayons and markers.
We think the resulting drawings form a continuum—from misogynist on one end to celebratory on the other—with a mix of bizarre, beautiful, and puzzling vaginas in between. We want more vaginas. We're trying to get Dan Savage to draw one. Maybe Neil Patrick Harris, Perez Hilton, John Waters, or George Takei would be interested.
Scroll down for the ones with artists' statements. Click through above for lots more.
I drew my vagina with women of color in mind, specifically Janet Jackson. As a gay man, she was my idol growing up, and I was listening to her earlier in the day. So I guess you could say I had Janet's vagina on the brain. While I was in a bit of a rush when I drew this picture, I wanted the vagina to exude creativity, hence the musical notes, and I also added purple on the lips to give it some edge and to make it stand out from your garden-variety pink labia. Obviously the vagina itself is a bit enlarged, a veritable showboat even, but given the motif of the book, it's only fitting that the vagina steal the show.
My vagina (titled "Keep Out, Please") is what I consider a realistic and heartfelt depiction of the full-grown and evolved beast. I managed to capture the anger, depth, texture, color, and—most importantly—the hairiness of this truly spectacular creature. I believe with this drawing, I have elevated the female vagina to a higher level that allows gay men to connect with it, appreciate it, and, most importantly, comprehend that they should explore it with caution because it is indeed a frightening specimen that still so little is known about within the gay male community.
My vaginal muse is Hillary Clinton. Clearly this is a vagina that gets shit done. She's in a power skirt suit, purple with gold buttons. At her core is her love of the US, but the vagina itself isn't dominated by the flag. In fact it's almost as if the vagina could swallow the flag—and by extension the US—at any minute. Make of that what you will. I'd say that despite the power suit and the patriotism, things are more complex than they might seem. The light emanating behind her was inspired by portraits of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I don't think Hillary is such a compassionate folk hero, but she's definitely iconic.
A friendly, smiling vagina is much more welcoming then the snarling hairy beast I imagine. But just because the devil disguises himself with a smile that doesn't means I'll go through that door.
A rainy Thanksgiving night, a covered balcony, a suburban gay bar, a dance remix of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" amidst conversation with strangers. The topic of piercings mixed with the much-needed release from cabin (family holiday) fever arose, like the skirt of an overzealous lipstick lesbian who needed to share where her piercing was—under her tableclothlike dress. I heard the word "vagina." What I saw was a wattle. A pair of small fleshy caruncles hanging between her legs. Those red bits under a turkey's neck were like the skin of a vagina.
Peter Max Lawrence
I read articles and looked at diagrams of the clitoris for historical context. Then I consulted a few of my queer/trans friends with concern for their feelings about the vagina, clitoral and penile similarities and differences. I made about 30 illustrations exploring the idea and settled on this version. I found it fascinating and worth processing through my actual desire.
Being a cat lover, I started drawing a cat between two hills and remembered what I was asked to do. I then turned to my phone for a quick peek. I saw everything! I observed that cats and vaginas could both be fluffy, and they are both pussies, so it works.
Life to me is like a flower: sweet, fragile, and nurturing. My drawing represents the womb of the world to me, fertile, young, and ready to spread love through life. That is what a vagina is in my mind.
My inspiration for my vagina was Shirley MacLaine in All That Jazz. I must have really been feeling that song that day in Dolores Park when I did my drawing. I pictured her welcoming visitors with her jazz-hand vaginal lips. Her hair being the pubes, pointy nose-tip the clitoris, and her red-lipstick-covered lips the vaginal opening. Who wouldn't want a jazz-singing vagina?
Gent Lee Ryder
My drawing is brightly colored because I wanted it to be different from the mostly taupe-toned creations I saw. I finished it and thought to myself, Hmm, that looks a lot like the Virgin of Guadalupe. So I decided she needed company. As vaginas are usually worshiped, I figured good ol' Jesus could handle the attention.