Tag - sex

Mona Marshall Talks America’s Pre-Sexual Revolution Era

Mona Marshall plays Shelia Broflovski, Kyle’s mother, on Comedy Central’s South Park. She is currently working on her new web comic The Adventures of Puss N’ Dick: A Survivor’s Guide to Relationships. With this new web comic, Mona speaks about life before the American Sexual Revolution.

ATM: The Greek Mythology characters were more expressive with their sexuality. Some took on more opposite traits of what was expected of their gender. They seemed more comfortable with their body and sexuality. They were very close to nature.

MM: We do not live close to nature anymore. I am not trying to suggest anything is right or wrong. I am trying to say the more we can understand each other, then the more harmony there is and the better off we are. We are all experiencing this human condition whether you are living here or in India or China. This is why art and music are important because you can enjoy art and music. You do not need to know the language. You do not need to know the background of this, all you have to do is be present and experience it. Not to say it is ritually that we know the background because it is. You can experience the piece of artwork and just enjoy the artwork at this moment. You experience the music at this moment and just allow your heart and soul to be filled by the music.

ATM: Gender studies started during the 80s leading into the 90s, so how did people during your time of the 60 and 70s perceive gender and sexuality?

MM: I was lucky in this. Once the pill happened things changed. When I was a little girl someone had written “Fuck you” on the wall somewhere. I had no idea what this was at nine or ten. Kids today know what this word means. I went home to ask my mother and she said “Oh, honey come here. I want to explain something to you.” She explained to me the truth about sexual intercourse. I thought back during these days as an eight or nine-year-old “Oh, my gosh. Who would want to do this? This was awful.” She said something to me that was extremely wise.

“When two people love one another, it is a beautiful thing to do.” I have only known two men in my life. I married both, but not at the same time. My sexuality and expressing it has always been safe. It has always been surrounded by love. Not to say this is the only way to get this experience. I will say when you have feelings behind your sexuality it becomes even greater. It is a wonderful gift we have been given. Sometimes we spend it in a way that is detrimental to our health. When people use it as manipulation or as a weapon to gain favor. So much of our actions have to do with our emotions. We are highly sensitive about how women are talked to by men. My husband is one of those men if he sees someone who has a great smile either male or female, he will compliment them.

Today with everyone being a little paranoid about how you talk to people this could be very taboo. Sexuality is one of the greatest gifts we have. With this gift I want to use it wisely. I do not want to use it frivolously. I want it to be a part of something that is meaningful. This was the good part of these more innocent things. They are both valid. Some of my women friends’ love screwing around and have a lot of fun. However, there are some who got damaged. Once again it is what is it that you want. Most women because we are wired differently, I am talking about straight men and women. Most women want to be loved.

Men are wired differently. They need to “get off” sort of speak. The greatest combination is when men have sensitivity. This is why it is a great idea when a girl is drunk and a real guy in my opinion who is a gentleman is not going to take advantage of this situation. This is just an idea that I have and this to me is about being civil. Women have a responsibility not to tease and tease a guy. “Yeah, he wants it.” She manipulates him by saying no. This will be an episode we will deal with. We are given gifts. It is in our best interest not to squander them. These gifts could be intellect and friendship. If your motivation is to be a good friend, then this sometimes means letting people find their way.

ATM: There is a sense of art when a person uses their sexuality to the fullest.

MM: What does this mean? To the fullest to me means it is a relationship of the mind, body, and spirit. It is connected to deep spirituality. I have been blessed. These are the words my mother told me. I did not have her for very long. She was a working mom. She worked from the time she was 13 ½ years old until the day she died. This was a great gift she gave me. No one knew the sexual revolution was going to happen a couple of years later. Because of this, I have not had any sexual hang-ups. When you grow up a heavy child, an obese child, and have dealt with your weight and body issues your whole life, having the feeling that this is a safe place being with this man and he loves you is an incredible gift. I feel like I have been blessed twice.

ATM: How did losing weight influence the ways you connected with love?  

MM: In a way, it was the universe protecting me. We all have challenges in our life. I never used to know this, but pretty people have challenges too. A lot of very attractive people are never called upon to using anything but their attractiveness. I found this out from a model a long time ago. She was approaching 30 and she was gorgeous. She was concerned about her looks. We all age even if we do not take care of ourselves. It was said that her value was based on her looks. A lot of times people think very attractive people do not have any problems and why do they have to know this. The bottom line is the gifts we must develop.

This means our brains, bodies, our ability to be passionate, and care about other people. We all have stuff. I have friends that grew up with a lot of abuse. They have worked through this and have done things despite this. This is adding a resonation to people that we can be uplifting. “I do not want to say I was a bad kid, so I missed a lot of opportunities.” Even with the obesity, I still was a part of the school drama, worked behind the scenes, and in the choir. Sometimes the things that look like they are negative force us to be positive. We make the most of what we have. I would not have found what I have in life if I did not go through some of the trials in life.

ATM: While you were going through the trials you did not know it would be used in the future. You needed this knowledge to get through what you had to go through in the future.

MM: Exactly. You do not know this as a kid. I had some good mentors as teachers. I have been blessed even though my first husband had a lot of troubles. I think I married my father not realizing this until well into the marriage. I learned a lot in this marriage. All joking aside, I felt loved in this relationship.  There came a point where I got tired of taking care of him. It became enabling. He was not willing to change, and I wanted to change. I had to let go of the marriage. I knew enough about being a good and loving wife because of this I was in the position to meet the man I am married to now. You never know fate. The episode that I am using for the pitch has a lot to do with fate.

As humankind, this is what it is, honey. It is a big classroom and we are learning every time if we are willing. Our lives get bigger and have more joy in them when our hearts open. As long as we are prejudice against things, we do not know our lives get very small. I am not talking about the ability to travel in the world. I am talking about the ability to travel the emotional world. Look around and you see it all the time

ATM: Why did you decide not to take care of your previous husband?

MM: When I said take care, I did not mean anything about cooking. I love to cook. Two people need to take care of each other. I was not tired of being a wife, but tired of the fact I was working two jobs struggling and taking care of stuff at home. He was still after 10 years of marriage trying to find himself. When I said I thought I married my father, I am pretty sure I married someone who was undiagnosed with bipolar. It is interesting in our family that my father was bipolar. My mother was very artistic. I got the artistic gene. My sister, her children, and her grandchildren got the bipolar gene. Back in my day and even when I was first married to my husband Dennis, you could never diagnose someone as bipolar.

They never thought about it. You would just have these terrible depressions and then become manic. After a while if someone refuses to get help, you have a decision accepting it is never going to change and you have to move on. He had found someone else and was living with her in months’ time.

Mona Marshall Talks Sex, Erotic Art, and New Web Comic

ATM: You annotated readings while an English major in college.

MM: Yes. I was greatly influenced by Existentialism. I was one of those naïve midwestern kids. I grew up without the benefit of a mother from the time I was 14, which is when she died. I felt different which is the artist kind of thing. I never got along with my older sister. My dad died when I was 21. I was alienated from the family. My sister and father dealt with bipolar issues, but no one back then knew what this was. I went to college thinking here was Enlightenment, especially studying literature. I was extremely disappointed. As most 18 years old’s who are serious, I felt very helpless. I have always been into history and liked reading about the French Resistance.

This was the heart of Existentialism in a way. Here you had a group of people fighting against an overwhelming obnoxious force trying to take their lives and their country. These people never gave up. At this time, I read a book by Albert Camus called the Plague. All the truth has been written, how to deal with each other, how to be caring. Yet we continue to make these horrific mistakes. As a very young and naïve person, I felt helpless. I read the Plague and in it, he talks about once you are aware of the absurdity of the world you have four choices. The first one is to commit suicide.

Some of us do this directly with drugs or alcohol. The second is to extrapolate yourself from the absurdity. You become a hermit, isolate, and begin to live off the grid. The third is to click off your awareness and become a part of the absurdity. The fourth is to find meaning in what you do, being responsible for yourself, and in doing so you make changes the world. This idea appealed to me and this was my salvation. I still thought I was going to be an English professor at this time. I realized how political it was and I stopped lying to myself about wanting to be an entertainer. A part of this decision I owe to my first husband. I said, “I should go out for a play this year.” He said, “Why don’t you get up off your ass and do it?” So, I thank him for this and my last name. I am a very creative and reflective person. I’ve loved performing from the time I was small. They said I could hum before I could talk, and I believed them.

I wrote and made up songs as a kid. I was a heavy set, wore glasses and never felt a part of anything except when I would sing, dance and write. Fast forward to coming out to LA wanting to be a serious actress. This was kind of a joke. I should have gone to New York. I was teaching at a private professional school for young actors. One of my 5th graders was taking a voiceover workshop with the late Daws Butler (voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Cap’n Crunch. His mom kept nagging me to take his class. said “You should do this. You would be really good at it.” I did not know what voiceover was. I took her advice, walked into Daws Butler’s workshop, and was blown away! I thought “I can be anything doing this. I am not limited by age, sex, or ethnicity.” Woah this is heaven for an actor.

ATM: When you annotate you go through the piece of work to highlight what is important. This is usually done with a highlighter or pen. Do you agree that your show South Park highlighting the hypocrisy in America is like annotating a piece of literature?

MM: South Park says, “If you are not walking the way you talk, then you are a part of hypocrisy.” We can all be hypocrites partly because of ignorance and partly because we can be a stubborn jackass. Stop pointing the finger at someone else.” Annotation for me, I’m referring to an annotated edition of a Sherlock Holmes book I read many years ago. I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan. (There is a Robin William story that goes with this) is: let’s say you’re reading a line and you are not sure what it really means in context. An annotation gives you an historical and event time frame: this came at this time and this is when such and such happened. It is a reference to so and so. If you read a lot of early literature, especially the Romantics, the Greeks, Homer, etc., they used mythology so much. You might annotate which myth or character they are referencing and then get a better idea of how it relates to the reading. I guess you could say South Park annotates current events and society. Things happening today which will become history tomorrow.

ATM: It analyzes the world and society. The controversial things that happen.

MM: What they really do is point out hypocrisy, which we need. If we are going to be sitting there talking about how awful we are, then we better be looking at our part in it. We are only looking at it, instead of trying to make this better. We are a part of the problem and not the solution. In Adventures with Puss and Dick, I am trying to point out the problem and look at the possibilities of solutions. “If we cannot see someone else’s point of view, then we are missing the chance to relate and communicate.”

ATM: We all should see everyone’s point of view. Some of your characters change into each other’s bodies. They changed gender positions, which allowed them to see various systemic differences. We need this because sometimes if someone taps into reversal psychology or when something is done from a different perspective, then they see it differently.

MM: Absolutely. It does not necessarily mean you have to agree. If you understand a point of view, then you can begin to make a compromise. If you look around at the people on social media, then you see they can be very vitriolic. Most people are not interested in making a connection; we are more interested in getting across our point of view. This is not communication, this is soapboxing. Looking back at my years on South Park I realize that the show has been quite an influence in how I think. Going back to the story about finding comfort in Existentialism – the thing is our lives have meaning on a daily basis.

How we treat each other every day has meaning and repercussion of great consequence, and we may never know exactly how. It’s like throwing a pebble into the water: you see those ripples and the go on and on spreading outward. That one action reaches out in so many ways. Every time we treat someone poorly, this reflects on society as a whole. Every time we treat someone with kindness, or we are caring, this reflect on society too, and it makes a difference. They both have impact on the world around us.

I have been thinking about this and how our actions impact others, because that has so much to do with my animation project. The episode we’re using in the pitch is the last episode on the web comic: Stop! Enough!! Time’s Up!!! It’s timely given what’s come down in the last couple of years.  About two weeks before we were ready to record voices, I was working on the script. I suddenly realized that I needed to create a real antagonist. Then, like a bolt of lightning it hit me.

Inside every one of us, there is that fearful and nasty voice that gets to us sometimes when we are the most vulnerable and susceptible to listen and then there’s a real danger of doing what it wants! This is how the character Dreck (which means “shit” in Yiddish) was born. It is an amorphous character that comes out of whomever is in conflict and in a hoarse whisper tries to bring out our worst “Oh, go ahead you know you want to do this; it’ll make you feel so good! They deserve this because they’re in your way and you’re so much better!” This is a voice of fear and dread that we all have with in us.

ATM: This character sounds like the starting effects of depression.

MM: That’s exactly what Dreck can turn into despair and depression. If you listen only to that voice, then you are drawing only on your input. This tends to make our worlds smaller and smaller and it sets up a barrier to anything that is different. Dreck brings out the egotist and the bully. It wants us to believe we are the end all and be all. It tells us we are a king as we transform into a tyrant. This is our fear and insecurity at its worst. Playing this character was so intriguing. Acting as a villain was fun! Being a villain. . . not so much.

The voice of VenMar, is Dreck’s counterpoint and as such gives us a better reality check and acts as the voice of enlightening inspiration. While we all have access to the Dreck that is inside us, we also have access to that energy that gives us inspiration (VenMar). The challenge is that we sometimes have to ask for direction, shut up for two minutes, listen, for the guidance and then take action, even when fear tries to stand in our way.

Having Dreck as the antagonist, allows my main characters Puss and Dick, in their various characterizations and situations, to make mistakes when they are influenced by Dreck, but it’s Dreck who we love to hate. It was a good device, definitely an inspiration. I was smart enough to ask for guidance and wise enough to listen and take action when it came.

ATM: Because you are a certain gender you do not have to move through society with what is told to you about this gender. The social norms for genders are created at birth. You do not have to live by them.

MM: We all have male and female aspects. I have a marriage counselor on board. I want to make sure our storyline includes transgender and same sex couples, and that our stories are well informed about various types of relationships. Because the relationships will be inclusive to any and all types, the story lines are endless. We were talking about the project with two of our friends who are lesbians, gal pals, but not a couple. and they came up with a good story line. Two women living together having their period at the same time; the perfect setting for hilarious havoc. 

One of these women had read something in a magazine about a male who had breast cancer. After they had been treating him with estrogen, he found himself becoming more sensitive. His body awareness and reactions were suddenly much more dominated by his female aspect than his male. Before his treatments it was “Eh, I gained a few pounds.” After his treatment, he gets paranoid about weight gain and is hyper-aware of his body.

Because there are all kinds of interesting stories out there, expanding the scope of the project was a good idea. There are so many possibilities and more people can relate. This expansion came partly from a conversation I had with someone who is transgender. Looking at all kinds of relationships and how they impact all of us open our minds and hearts.  The time is right.

ATM: It is time to see projects like this in our society. They are a mirror of how society is and give a new kind of way of thinking.

MM: Exactly. It is time we start being inclusive, instead of exclusive. What is normal? Normal is whatever you are.

ATM: It is subjective.

MM: Absolutely. The more society can understand this the more harmony we will have. There is no normal. Hopefully there is acceptance and love.  That requires better communication, which is also the goal of my project.  The more we can understand each other, the better we all can live together.

ATM: We live in a society where you can always tell someone something, but until you experience it or see the reversal of it, this is when you get it or understand it. We get this new frame way of thinking.

MM. The conversation I had with the person who is transgender really made a difference in how I think. I’m grateful I was open-minded enough to listen (Dreck and VenMar-VenMar won and so did I) I had sent this person an audition for the voice of VenMar. After reading the audition lines, they basically said that they hoped I would not take this the wrong way, that some of the dialogue was insulting.  They were referring two one of VenMar’s lines where he is talking about the differences and inherent conflicts between men and women: “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Women have a vagina and men have a penis.” They said, “I am transgender, and this is offensive to me.” At first, I thought, “What?” This is actually from a song I wrote. At first, I felt defensive and then I thought If I add the word “Most” – “Most women have a vagina and most men have a penis”. This one little word opens a whole world of possibilities. I thanked them their input and hope to use them as a consultant once the show is on the air.

ATM: What are some traits that can be perceived or stereotyped as masculine tendencies?

MM: The qualities of aggression and competition seem to be more male. Women tend to be kinder and gentler. That doesn’t mean woman can be strong and men cannot be kind.  But women tend to nurture more; we have the bodies that produce babies within them.  Doesn’t mean men cannot bond with and be loving to their children.  If you want to get ahead in this world, then you also need to have that kind of strength that men seen to have naturally. My husband is a great example of having both strength and tenderness. He is definitely a guy, a straight guy. He also has a gentleness about him that is seen as a female aspect. He genuinely likes women. I do not mean just because he finds them physically attractive. He likes and respects them. He likes that women are not afraid to talk about things. I fell in love with him because partly because he was still friends with the two women he was in relationships with before me. There is a difference between liking women in a sexual way and liking them because you respect them and what they have to say. He doesn’t objectify them. This was one of the things I found attractive about him. A lot of men do not allow themselves to entertain that feminine aspect because to them it does not feel masculine enough, or they’re just afraid if it.

I think this is why a lot of straight guys get homophobic. Just because a guy is gay does not mean you have to fear him vice versa with women. Women are a little bit more open. We can display affection much more readily to other women than a guy can to a guy. This is not to say guys need to become more feminine.  Allowing that gentle side to come out means your confident enough to be comfortable with all of yourself.

ATM: What if we mixed the two? The softer and the aggressive side.

MM: It’s all about balance. Knowing when to be strong and when to be gentle; life-long lessons in living. Part of it is not fearing and acknowledging both aspects. From the time I was a little girl, I hated dresses. I like wearing pants because they are more comfortable for me. There are a lot of guys out there that find much more freedom walking around in a robe. I mean look at men from the middle east. Does this make them any less manly? No, this is what makes them more comfortable. I think each of us needs to spend more time finding balance within ourselves rather than trying to dictate what others should or should not do. I was and still am a bit of a tomboy.  As a kid my favorite toy was a dump truck.  I loved filling it up with dirt and dumping it out like I was building something.

ATM: Were you?

MM: Yes, a career creating little boy voices, like Izzy on Digimon.  Seriously, I just remembered being fascinated by making the truck move.  It held my attention much more than playing with dolls.  As an artist, I find the form of women beautiful.  Men, too. But there’s something about the earthiness of women that is intriguing. Most of my erotic drawings are about this balance of male and female and take the form of women within the penis. This concept of male and female enriching one another is the seed of creation that became the idea of Adventures Of Puss ‘N Dick-A Survivor’s Guide To Relationships.

I do narrations for ABC Mouse. There was a book we read a couple of sessions ago called Bear Bunny. It is a book about being okay with whoever you are on the inside even if you look different on the outside. It sounds a lot like being okay with being transgender, gay or just like doing things that people don’t expect, just because you look a certain way. It is so delightfully written. I bought the book. I read to kids at Descanso Gardens and this wonderful dinette called Base Camp every month. This has now become one of the books I read.

ATM: What is the artistic nature that flows through your erotic art?

MM: Something happened to me in 1991. I went to Cabo San Lucas and saw the solar eclipse. This was quite moving, but a couple of days afterward we went out on the rocks where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. I had a moment. It is hard to explain. It was a though I could feel the struggles of humanity. It was an epiphany, truly awesome and it left me inspired.  We human beings are struggling, trying to live a spiritual or meaningful life in a world that is very material. All people, throughout history have had to struggle to survive and it is that determination to be and become that makes the human experience so beautifully joyful and tragic. It is a celebration of the spirit. 

When I got home, I started doing a series of drawings called Women Emerging. I have them riding on dragons, in dragons and coming out of flowers, and rocks. This led me to drawing the erotica I mentioned.  It embodied the idea of yin yang was based also on my relationship with my husband.  A relationship based in love, friendship, mutual respect and sexual attraction. Once again, there’s this idea of balance and acceptance in relationships and how struggle can lead to resolution.

Most of my erotic art is of this nature. I will send you some photos of it. Shortly after this, I began drawing these wire dancers with a drafting pen called a rapidograph. The drawings started as squiggles and then became people and then became wire dancers. I was inspired while listening to some Latin music at a concert. Then I got hold of some actual wire and started rendering the dancers as wire sculptures. The essence of their movement represents the celebration of life. They can be either female or male and they are meant to be moved, by both artist and patron. If you go to my website into my store, then you can see I have done them as earrings and pendants.

I have also made them larger and as fairies, angels and as all kinds of animals and sold them.  Some people have bought them to put in their gardens.  I love thinking about the progression from the initial inspiring event to how they grew from drawings to sculptures and the essences of them being a celebration of life.  This is also the feeling I have about the relationship my husband and I have, where you work through the struggles and you each grow, both as individuals and as a couple. The original title for The Adventures of Puss and Dick-Survivor’s Guide to Relationship was Sal-Mo.

ATM: Sex is like a work of art. Your emotions are like a splash of paint that goes on a canvas. The two contenders are immersed in their art and if deep enough gets in the formation of origami. The deeper the splash the higher your chances are of making collages, portraits, and murals. Their expression is what makes them make different pieces of origami. So, everyone takes the form of Picasso, Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Frida Kahlo, and others. But the art does not have to always make it to the canvas, not everyone wants to be a painter. Sometimes people want to draw stick figures and not portraits or collages.

MM: Both sex and art have room for all. They both have universal appeal. That’s so important. I was going to name my characters Sal and Mona. But those names did not have a universal meaning. Then, once again, the light of inspiration clicked on and I realized the name Dick is both a nickname for Richard and a can be a nickname for a penis. Puss can be a term of endearment for a female and is also the nickname for a vagina.  So, Puss and Dick became the names of my leading characters; they represent, in a playful way, every male and female.  With slight changes they can represent all ages, ethnicities and even time frames. I based her on Betty Boop. You know the cartoon character from the 30s. They had to be attractive, appealing to everyone.  Everyone had either a penis or a vagina, whether you’re gay, straight, or transgender. If you have both . . . well, that would make a very interesting episode.  

New Trailer: ‘On the Basis of Sex’

The film tells an inspiring and spirited true story that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination. The feature will premiere in 2018 in line with Justice Ginsburg’s 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court.

In theaters this Christmas.