People who still believe sisterhood is powerful haven’t met Tapestry Against Polygamy founders Vicky Prunty and Rowenna Erickson. What happens, they say, with a sister-wife or wives in the culture they escaped “is that you are sharing one penis. That’s what it all revolves around.” You are also sharing dire poverty, domestic violence and even your own children.
Helping these women and their multiple children escape the bondage of polygamous communities is what Tapestry is all about. Their activities require money as well as good intentions and six Utah nonprofit groups (who usually raise money for their own causes) have joined together to throw the first-ever fund-raising bash for Tapestry Against Polygamy.
Plans for the evening are surprisingly comical. As Erickson says, “Polygamy is no laughing matter, but laughter helps us heal.” A loose schedule of events at Cactus & Tropicals:
6:30 p.m. Polygamist buffet with Jell-O and casserole competition. Area restaurants are providing the eats, attendees vote for the winning entry. Polygamy Porter beer (what else?) will be available at the cash bar.
7:30 p.m. Groove to The Sister-Wives Band: Not your everyday polygamist band! A silent auction during the evening includes items donated by Metropolitan Restaurant, The Red Iguana, Eccles Performing Arts Center and many more supporters.
8:30 p.m. World-premiere reading of the one-act play The Brother-Husbands, written by Kim Burgess (who just discovered she is distantly related to the Allred polygamist clan) and starring Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley as Burke, the Head Husband; Sen. Scott McCoy, Utah’s first gay state senator, as a Reporter; and rare book dealer Ken Sanders as God.
Before you accuse Burgess of typecasting, be aware that her play is about a fictional world where women: have several husbands who are strictly obedient to them; assign each man a day of the week for sex; and determine who works outside the home and who stays home and cleans.
Bagley told City Weekly that he got involved in the fund-raising effort because he makes fun of polygamy. “Mark Twain did a snarky number on Mormon polygamy 130 years ago, and the subject hasn’t lost any of its comedic possibilities over the decades,” he said.
Beyond his famous statement on the practice—“No man can serve two masters”—Twain described, in Roughing It, how Utah “was a fairy-land to us … a land of enchantment, and goblins, and awful mystery. We felt a curiosity to ask every child how many mothers it had, and if it could tell them apart; and we experienced a thrill every time a dwelling-house door opened and shut as we passed, disclosing a glimpse of human heads and backs and shoulders—for we so longed to have a good satisfying look at a Mormon family in all its comprehensive ampleness, disposed in the customary concentric rings of its home circle.” Snarky would be the word.
Bagley said he had contemplated doing a “Polygamous Bride’s Guide” that would begin: “So! Your wedding day is almost here, and it seems like it was just yesterday you were a little girl playing with dolls. In fact, it was just yesterday …”
Bagley explained, “Relationships between consenting adults? Fine. But polygamy seems to always, always, always transmogrify into something involving middle-aged men and 14-year-old girls.”
Ken Sanders, of course, could not turn down the role of God. “My employees would tell you that most days I act like one anyway,” he said. “For practice, I’ve been trying to remember to curse and to bless in the first person. I’m still in a quandary about what God shall wear.”
In a recent e-mail, the bookman wrote that the other players do the heavy lifting. “Being omnipotent and all, I can pretty much do as I please. After all, I’m the one that does the smiting. If the author and play producers try and give me any trouble … smite smite smite and they’re gone just like that. Same goes for the audience … if a flood of biblical proportions or a fiery hell is required to control the hecklers, I just call my special effects dept. and just like that they’re either washed away or burning up. You’ve been forewarned. No autographs please, God.”
Thanks to nonprofits CodePink, Utah NOW, JEDI Women, UpNet, the Rape Recovery Center and Prisoner Information Network, the evening promises to be a success. Susan Vogel—publisher of Andrea Moore-Emmett’s God’s Brothel, a graphic and disturbing book about polygamy—said that local businesses have nearly lined up to offer help and donations for the evening. “Not one business we approached has turned us down.”
That’s very nice, but what inquiring minds really want to know is: “Will there be funeral potatoes?”
TAPESTRY AGAIST POLYGAMY FUNDRAISER Cactus & Tropicals, 2735 S. 2000 East Saturday, April 2, 6:30-10:30 p.m. 532-2651. Tickets: $40 Seniors, low-income, students (over 21) $15