Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Cock

A new play points to the fact that queerness isn’t always about which genitals are meeting

The cast of Cock, from left: Andrew Kushnir, Ian D Clark, Jeff Miller and Jessica Greenberg. Credit: Cylla Von Tiedemann

When gay men burst forth from the closet, they often first come out as bisexual. As comfort with their sexuality increases, they gradually admit pussy holds no allure and cock is where it’s at, embracing their identity as full-on ’mo. This might be why a chunk of the gay community believes bisexuality is a myth. Bi guys are seen either as gay (and unable to fully admit it) or straight (and pretending to suck dick to seem more interesting).

For John, the protagonist in British playwright Mike Bartlett’s Cock, people’s inability to accept his attraction to both sexes forms the crux of his struggle.

“I don’t think John would even consider himself bisexual,” says Andrew Kushnir, who plays the role in Studio 180’s current production. “He’s let all of that go to consider what he really wants, independent of a fixed identity. But there’s a degree of intolerance around him for that kind of chaos, and that’s why the shit really hits the fan.”

John’s voyage of sexual discovery plays out somewhat in reverse. Coming out in his early 20s, he lands in a long-term relationship with a man 10 years his senior. The seven-year itch hits and things fall apart. But instead of going into full man-slut mode, Grindr-ing his life away, John shocks everyone by hooking up with a woman.

Cock points to the fact that queerness isn’t always about which genitals are meeting. Though John’s first relationship is gay, the dynamic couldn’t be more heteronormative. Neither open-minded nor open, the couple has been sexually vanilla and staunchly monogamous from the get-go. John gradually realizes his identity is more complicated and he needs to explore different things, but his boyfriend can’t accept that.

“He wants some time to live in the mess of his own sexual desires and find something new that doesn’t already exist for him,” Kushnir says. “What we see in the play is that exploring this relationship with a woman is a much more queer gesture than the gay relationship he originally finds himself in.”