With the holidays just around the corner, we’re all stuck with the lingering question of what to get the person who has everything. Shannon O’Malley and Keith Wilson have an answer for you. The San Francisco team finally released their long-awaited coffee table book Gay Men Draw Vaginas. Xtra chatted with them about what they learned in the process and whose tree you should contemplate shoving it under
Xtra: How does it feel now that the book is finally out?
Shannon: For years we’ve been looking at these drawings in Keith’s studio. But a few weeks ago, we got our first advance copy and could see the artwork in the book. The book context was important because it helped me see the drawings with new eyes and within a sequence Keith created with his superb editing skills. It’s also awesome to meet people and start conversations with “Wanna see some vaginas?” then pull up our Instagram account. It’s helped me make lots of friends. Sometimes I feel like the overlord of vaginas.
What has the process taught you about gay men’s relationships with vaginas? Do you think it’s served to quell or amplify vag-phobia?
Keith: It’s interesting how some guys are totally, unabashedly vag-phobic and totally fine with that. They don’t expect any pushback and don’t see it as misogyny. And then there are some who are vag-phobic but have a sense their ideas aren’t PC, so they don’t voice them. Overall, we never intended to quell or amplify vag-phobia. We just wanted to see what happens when we got gay guys to draw vaginas.
Why would this be an appropriate gift for my boyfriend, lesbian best friend or recently retired mother?
Keith: Owning this book says, “Come, stay for a drink, look at my art vaginas.” Your suburban mother, in particular, will want this book to show off her artistic inclinations and her liberal attitudes.
Shannon: If you have this on your coffee table, your guests are guaranteed to stay at least 45 minutes. That’s how long it will take to get through all these vaginas. And, having the book forces you to talk about sex. You don’t need some dumb line to introduce the topic. Once your guest picks it up, they have licence to chat about gay things or art things or vagina things. It’s a sure-fire way to grease the skids.