By Dana Zhang
Writer and actor Alexandra LaPlante says that many people come away from seeing “Unconventionally Intimate” thinking that she is either a liberated woman or a whore. To me, her performance meant more than either of those takeaways. Both impressions are trite; the first dictates what women should be or want to be, strong and liberated, while the second demonizes sex and diminishes women for liking sex.
Ms. LaPlante’s journey is altogether uncommon. At times her sexual encounters border wildly on dangerous; she meets strangers alone, and invites them to her home. But she engages in all these sexual escapades, which she describes in excruciating detail, to discover how she functions in love. Through a simple graphic on the wall, we learn that she has had sixty‑five lovers, and her story is about how those lovers changed her and helped her discover what she wants from relationships.
There’s Jochem and Michael, two Dutch men she met at a sex party in Berlin, with whom she had a first taste of her previously hidden kinky, dominant side. With Thomas, who lived in a boat in the middle of the Hudson River, she experienced having sex with a stranger before exchanging any words. Thomas eventually became an oasis for her; she spent hours watching him paint in his boat, even though she knew they would never be partners. It was with Daniel that she learned that she is restless, and feels best in non‑monogamous relationships with people who respect that part of her without losing the intimacy she craves.
Her best friend, confidant, lover, and friend‑with‑benefits Matt, who has been with her through many of her ups and downs, showed her how to share her sexual fantasies with her partner, which they could try out together. She and Matt cuddled and told each other all about their sexual partners, without any tension between them. Ms. LaPlante says that she and Matt would never date, but their relationship means much more than any label she could assign to it.
And so, Ms. LaPlante continues online dating, searching for someone with whom she could be open and intimate, who understands her need for freedom in a relationship, and gives her space to find what she needs and wants. She may have found that with #51 out of 65, Don, with whom she clicked on their first date, which she set up because he was near another date she had that night. From the start, they were honest with each other, and they are still seeing each other and building their relationship together.
“Unconventionally Intimate” is unique in its unabashed discussion of sexual exploration. This show opens its audience to a world of possibilities in which love is not a one‑size‑fits‑all concept. Ms. LaPlante is refreshingly open and revolutionary as she teaches her audience to look for love freely, and not to submit to convention.
Written and Performed by Alexandra LaPlante
Directed by Brooke M. Haney
December 15, 2018 at 8pm
New York, NY
DANA ZHANG is a multimedia journalist versed in editorial, photography, and video editing. She writes about pop culture, the performing arts industry, and the human experience. Zhang graduated from New York University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned at Newsweek Media for a year while in university. Zhang is also an avid gamer and dancer.