Portsmouth Herald — January 12, 2006
By Andrea Bulfinch
There are a lot of ways of keeping oneself sane. People run, write, take up golf. Some people paint. All excellent interests.
Cindy Pierce of Etna has her own way of staying anchored in her hectic life as inn-keeper, mother of three, and wife.
The University of New Hampshire alumna has taken to standing on-stage in front of hundreds of people and sharing comedic tales — about her vagina. And she’s doing quite well.
Though Pierce’s life lacks opportunity for a dull moment, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think I’m just really energetic. And when I stop, I fall asleep,” the self-described “attentionally challenged” comedian said during a recent interview in Portsmouth.
So what’s the show about?
“Basically, the way I have been describing the show is that it’s my coming-of-age story which is riddled with experiences that are comical,” she said.
And she finds nothing that doesn’t lend itself to humor.
Figuring out how the female condom works? Funny. Discovering the thrill of climbing rope in fourth-grade gym class? Also funny. Experiments with prophy-lactics? You guessed it. Funny. These stories reach a comic climax when Pierce takes the stage, putting them into her own words accompanied by her less-than-subtle hand gestures.
“It’s 40 years of owning a vagina and everything that happens as a result of it,” she said.
Things like simply “being a woman in the world, in the work-place, being a mom, and how to come out on top.” As a mom, she’s walking the line between playing with Legos (which she loves), and judging just how much her kids need to know about her show. While she doesn’t yet want to have an in-depth discussion about the stories she tells, she is happy about one thing they have learned.
“They’re already picking up on the humor of laughing at yourself,” she said.
And her husband?
“He is so proud,” Pierce said. So proud of his wife he even gets up on-stage, Kotex pads under his arms, to introduce her at shows.
The production may sound reminiscent of another performance that takes exploring female sexuality and its perplexing existence to a whole new (and very public) level. Pierce can remember sitting in the audience of that very show, “The Vagina Monologues,” and thinking, “Whoa! Vaginas are going public!”
Her stage was set.
But don’t be fooled by mutual subject matter. With Pierce’s show being laced purely with comedy, the two shows are far from being one and the same. These stories are born out of her the-glass-is-always-half-full, and nothing-is-sacred attitude.
A steadfast optimist, Pierce finds the silver lining stitched to any situation, the same way she finds the humor.
“Missed opportunities, jobs you don’t get, injuries you have in sports seasons; all of those things feel like a set-back, but they’re leading you somewhere else,” she said and added a lot of positive has come out of adopting that attitude.
She’s also adopted a self-assured sense of purpose in doing the show, a confidence illuminating the space her words and movements fill. Leaking into the audience, her own confidence renders a connection to those in the crowd.
“People pick up that vibe and they let you do it. I’m doing a show about my vagina! That should be illegal. But, no. I’m doing it and it’s got a strong message.”
The “doorbell,” and its discovery, is a metaphor for both discovering the ever-elusive g-spot and “figuratively finding the way through the door to comfort with oneself.”
But she doesn’t shy away from talking about the physical component.
“I was late in the game,” she said of “finding the doorbell” herself.
“I barely knew I had a vagina until I was 14 or 15, I didn’t get in touch with it, until I was 22!”
One may wonder what drives a New Hampshire woman to stand in front of hundreds of strangers and share such personal stories. Well, for starters, she’s not easily embarrassed. She also finds humor in just about anything that would turn the cheeks of most to a deep crimson.
“It’s almost immediate. When something should be embarrassing, I’m chalking it up to humor,” she said.
But in between suggestive movements, animated facial expressions, and the inevitable laughter springing from the audience, the show also reveals key messages for women to understand.
“My message is, how liberating it is to be a woman, living in my body. Meaning, living in the power of my body,” she said.
Pierce credits certain factors in her life as helping her to develop a positive self-image — parents who never pressured her, strong bonds with siblings, healthy sexual and social relationships, and the freedom to be who she wanted to be.
Though she knows not everyone has similar positives in their lives, she hopes to communicate to her audience that achieving a love for oneself is possible.
“I guess I want to inspire other women to not spend so much time focusing on how they look and how they appear.”
Kristin Brown, a friend of Pierce and part of her team of helpers in making it all happen, said the show delivers a good message and is so funny, you don’t even realize you’re taking one in.
“I think it’s an amazing show. It’s a great message to get out there in a humorous way,” she said.
The idea to take this private comedy public was hatched while Pierce, a former ski instructor, was on a ski trip with about 30 other women in Colorado. After a day of skiing, the women shared stories together. Pierce shared her own story of “finding the doorbell.” And it resonated with the group.
With familial support and urging from friends, Pierce decided to host a night at the inn where she told her humor-ridden stories.
After sending out a candid warning — “Here are the stories I’m going to tell. If you’re going to be horrified, don’t come” — she entertained the roughly 70 people who showed up at the inn.
And so her comedy circuit began.
Next, she performed at the Lebanon Opera House in front of a sold-out crowd that included, among friends and strangers, her mother, father, and their pals. “My mom’s bridge buddies were there, my father’s fraternity brothers were there,” she said. She urged them to reconsider attending. After all, the material isn’t exactly what you’d willingly share with mom and dad. But they assured her a few swears didn’t frighten them.
Again, she gave warning.
“This isn’t about swears! … This is about my vagina!”
Ever-supportive of their daughter, they attended.
And there’s no stopping in sight. After performing this weekend at The Music Hall, she’ll take her grass-roots-fueled show to Colorado next month. In March, she’ll perform in Camden, Maine.
“It’ll go where it’s supposed to go,” she said.
Brown had similar thoughts.
“I just think she’s going to go big,” she said.