There’s a ‘First Time’ for everything

By Trevor Ballanger

Whether it happened in a candle-lit hotel room with Marvin Gaye playing on the radio or in the backseat of a Mustang after the Homecoming dance, most people have memorable stories about losing their virginity.

In the play “My First Time” by Los Angeles playwright Ken Davenport, four actors retell true stories of sexual initiation submitted to, a website created by film director Peter Foldy. The play ran off-Broadway in New York for almost three years before closing in 2010. Local director Ben Brownson took on the project at Chicago’s Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

Brownson said talking about losing one’s virginity is still taboo in today’s culture but is nevertheless an important milestone that should be discussed. He said most first times are awkward and don’t go as planned, which is something people can identify with.

“It’s something we don’t really talk about, and there hasn’t really been a show like this that explores the universality of that,” Brownson said. “There are so few experiences you can say that about. I thought that was really appealing.”

Davenport said he wanted to demystify the cultural conversation about sex and show the stories from all angles, from humorous to provocative. He said the play is “theater 2.0,” because of its user-generated material, a unique quality of the medium. began in 1997 when Foldy and his partner were seeking real-life sex stories as material for a low-budget sex comedy. The website’s visitors posted stories of their first time, which he only recently started editing because some material was too vulgar.

“So many of the letters are socially significant,” Foldy said. “It is a great look at a cross-section of the world and how [people] lose their virginity. The play [is] the best thing to come out of the whole experience. [It’s] been the most creative thing that’s happened with

the website.”

Foldy said one letter in the play tells the story of a 17-year-old girl and her teenage brother who was dying of leukemia. They would ride with their parents every week when they drove him to his treatment. Foldy said according to the letter, her brother’s dream was to lose his virginity before he died, so she had sex with him in the backseat of their parents’ van.

Another letter was from a high school student who claimed he had an affair with his teacher, who was later caught and arrested. Foldy said he investigated the boy’s story and found a news article about it.

Brownson said his goal is to tell the stories as authentically as possible. The play involves no nudity, and he said it should not provoke arousal because actors performed the letters as monologues, which he said also enhances the humanity of the stories.

According to Davenport, it is important for audience members to learn something about themselves and make the play their own. The audience participates by filling out questionnaires about their personal experiences that are randomly chosen and performed. Brownson said he was interested in audience participation because it strengthens the point of the play, which is to respect others.

“The purpose of art is to stimulate conversation and draw attention to things that may not be getting attention,” Davenport said. “Communication is the key to solving all issues and all problems. If people learn how to communicate better, relationships can be better.”

The last performance is Oct. 27 at 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $30 at or by calling (773) 404-7336.