Transcript – Sarah Jones speaks on One Woman, Five Characters, and a Sex Lesson From The Future at TED
Sarah Jones – Polymorphic playwright
This is a play called Sell/Buy/Date. It’s my first since Bridge and Tunnel, which I did on Broadway, and this one, I — thank you — I’ve excerpted it just for you, so here we go.
Right. Class, let’s be absolutely certain all electronic devices are switched off before we begin. So class, hopefully you’ll recognize what you just heard me say as the — ? Very good, the cellular phone announcement. Right? This was also known as a mobile phone. So you’ll remember, people of that era would have had an external electronic device, right, something like this, and they all would have carried one of these around with them, and amongst their biggest fears was the sheer mortification that one of these might ring at some inopportune moment. Right? So a bit of trivia about that era for you.
So the format of today’s class is I will be presenting multiple BERT modules today from that period in history, right, so starting circa 2016. And remember, this was the very first year of the BERT program. So we’ve got quite a few of these to get through. Bear in mind, I will be living into various different bodies, different ages, also what were then called races, or ethnic groups, as you’ll remember from Unit 1.
And along the gender continuum, I will be living into males as well. It was quite binary at that time. Also, don’t forget, we are reading the book module for next week’s focus on gender. Now, I know some of you have requested the book in pill form. I know people still believe ingesting it is better for retention, but since we are trying to experience what our forebears did, right, let’s please just consider doing the actual ocular reading, okay?
And also, how many people have your emotional shunts engaged? Right. Please toggle them off. Okay? I know it’s challenging, but I want you to be able to feel the entire natural emo range, all right? It is essential to this part of the syllabus. Yes, Macy? All right. I understand. If you’re unwilling to — All right, well, we can discuss that after class. All right, we will discuss your concerns. Just relax. Nobody’s died and gone to composting. Okay. After class. Okay? After class.
All right. Let’s just get started, okay. This first subject identified as a middle-class homemaker. Remember, these early modules in these people’s full identities were protected, and this allowed them to speak more freely on our topic, which for many of them was taboo.
Okay honey, now, I’m ready when you are. No, sweetheart, I said, I’m ready when you are. I’m freezing. It’s like a meat locker in here in this recording studio. I should have brought a shmata. All this fancy technology but they can’t afford heat. What is he saying? I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you through the glass, honey! There you are in my ear. Oh, you can hear me? The whole time. Oh, yes, I am a little chilly. Yes, oh the cold is for the machines, the new technology.
Okay. Yes, now remind me again, you’re recording not only my voice but my feelings and my memories? Right. Yes, BERT, yes, I read about it. Bio-Empathetic Resonance Technology. Right, right, so people will be able to feel my experience and my memory? Okay. No, right, I’m ready. I just thought you were going to give me a test to see how my memory’s doing. I was going to tell you you’re too late, it’s already bad news. No, no, go ahead, honey.
Oh, that’s the first question? What do I think of prostitution? Are you soliciting me, young man? I’ve heard of May-December romances, but what are you, about 20 years old? Eighteen? Eighteen years. I think I have candies in my purse older than 18 years old. I’m teasing you, sweetheart. No, I’m comfortable with any question. Sure. So about the prostitution — oh, sex worker, sex worker. No, just in my day, they called it prostitution, not sex work. Oh, because it includes pornography also?
Okay. No, well, I guess when I was a girl, we didn’t really have a name for that either. We would have said dirty magazines, I suppose, or dirty movies. Well, it’s not like what you have with the Internet. No, well, I don’t mind sharing. My late husband and I, we were a very romantic couple. Lots of tenderness, you understand. Well, as you get older, you know, at one point I thought my husband might be helped by using some of the pills men can take, but he wasn’t interested in those, so I thought, what about maybe watching an adult movie on the Internet? Just for inspiration, you understand.
Well, at the time, neither of us were very good on the computer, so usually, if we needed help with the Internet, we would just call our children or our grandchildren, but obviously, in this case, that wasn’t an option, so I thought, I’ll have a look myself, just to see. How difficult could it be? You search for certain key words and you look — Oh wow is right, young man. You can’t imagine what I saw.
Well, first of all, I was just trying to find, you know, couples, normal couples making love, but this, so many people together at one time. You couldn’t tell which part belonged to which body. How they even got the cameras to capture some of this, I couldn’t tell you. But the one thing they didn’t capture was making love. There was lots of making of something, but they took the love part right out of it, you know, the fun. It was all very extreme, you know? Like you would say, with the extreme sports. Lots of endurance, but never tenderness. So anyway, needless to say, that was $19.95 I’ll never get back again, but it only showed up on the credit card as “entertainment services,” so my husband was never the wiser, and after all of that, well, you could say it turned out he didn’t need the extra inspiration after all.
Right, so next subject is a young woman — Next subject, class, is a young woman called Bella, a university student interviewed in 2016 during what was called an Intro to Feminist Porn class as part of her major in sex work at a college in the Bay Area.
Yeah, I just want to, like, get a recording of, like, you guys recording me, like a meta recording, or whatever. It’s just like this whole experience is just, like, really amazing, and I’d like to capture that for, like, Instagram and my Tumblr. So, like, hi guys, it’s me, Bella, and I am, like, being interviewed right now for this, like, really amazing Bio-Empathetic Resonance Technology, which is, like, basically where they are, like, recording, as you can see from these, whatever, like, electrodes, the formation of, like, neuropeptides in my hippocampus, or whatever. They will later be able to reconstitute these as, like, my own actual memory, like actual experiences, so other people can, like, actually feel what I’m feeling right now. Okay. Okay.
So, like, hello, BERT person of the future who is experiencing me. This is what it feels like to be, like, a college freshman, and also the, like, headache that you are experiencing through me is the, like, residual effect of the Jell-O shots which I had last night at the bi-weekly feminist pole dancing party which I cohost on Wednesdays. It’s called Don’t Get All Pole-emical — and it’s in Beekman Hall, and, what else, like, non-Jell-O shots are also available for vegans, and, oh, okay, yeah, totally, yeah, we should also focus on your questions also.
So for your record, I am, like, a sex work studies major but minoring in social media with a concentration on notable YouTube memes. Yes, well, of course, like, I consider myself to be, like, obviously, like, a feminist. I was named for Bella Abzug, who was, like, a famous, like, feminist from history, and, like, also I feel that it is, like, important to, like, represent women who are, like, sex-positive feminists.
What is sex-negative? Well, like, I guess I would ask, like, what do you think sex-negative is? Yeah, because, like, the terms that we use are, like, so important, because, like, we call it sex work because it helps people understand that, like, it’s work, and, like, you know, just like there are, like, healthcare providers and, like, insurance providers, like, we think of these workers as, like, sex care providers. Yeah, but like, I don’t think of myself like, providing direct sex care services per se as, like, being a requirement for me to be, like, an advocate. Like, I support other women’s right to choose it voluntarily, like, if they enjoy it. Yeah, but, like, I see myself going forward as more likely, like, protecting sex workers’, like, legal freedoms and rights. Yeah, so, like, basically, I’m planning on becoming a lawyer.