Five Questions for Deez Nuts: “It’s About All the Things That Affect These Nuts”
Deez Nuts, the local theater production being billed as the "all male spin to the Vagina Monologues," debuts this weekend at Dance Place. John Johnson, the 29-year-old Anacostia resident who created the show, says that Deez Nuts will touch on all issues relevant to D.C.'s male population—from HIV to skinny jeans to Marion Barry to "no homo" to abortion. Today, Johnson spoke to the Sexist about the origins of the show's title, various "things that affect these nuts," and the prospects for an all-female "Deez Ovaries."
City Paper: Deez Nuts. What does the title of the piece mean?
John Johnson: "Deez Nuts" is just like, D.C. . . . I’m sure everywhere people say "Deez Nuts," but when I was in high school, it was like a refrain. "Guess what? Deeeeez nuuuuuts!" It was more of a chant or a cadence. People are familiar with it, you know what I mean? And it refers to a dude’s testicles. So it's a witty title for a show that talks about men’s experiences.
CP: Was Deez Nuts inspired by the Vagina Monologues?
JJ: The show was inspired by talking to men in the community, but the Vagina Monologues is a good reference point for the audience. . . . The world is familiar with the Vagina Monologues, so we used the name to make people understand what it is. This is an all-male spin on that concept, with a real local D.C. flavor. It's a perspective on everything from love to war to having children, being fathers. But unlike the Vagina Monologues, where the women talk a lot about their parts—you know, about hair on the vagina and having periods—Deez Nuts doesn't focus on the male parts so much. It definitely talks about sex and relationships, but it's more about all the things that affect these nuts, instead of the actual nuts.
CP: How have women responded to the show?
JJ: All of the women want to see how men think. That’s been the positive feedback from the show. But on the flip-side, they want to see the female version. They don’t want to see the Vagina Monologues. They want to see the female version of Deez Nuts. . . . The difference would be that it would focus on local, D.C. women. Some women have been brainstorming a name for it. Some suggested "The Honey Pot." It's got to be something clever that refers to women and whatever their nuts would be. Like "Deez Ovaries."
CP: What men did you interview in creating the monologues?
All of them are my artist friends, and they run the gambit from musicians to poets to actors. The majority were men in the arts community, so they can convey a message. They've been practicing that for years. Putting all of their stories under the umbrella of Deez Nuts wasn’t a difficult task to do.
CP: The Vagina Monologues is considered a feminist project, because it discussed issues affecting women that hadn't been addressed so publicly before . . . . Do you think Deez Nuts does a similar service for issues affecting men?
JJ: Ultimately, men and women are compliments complements. So if there’s any type of inequality on either side, it affects both of us. If women are oppressed, so are men, because we’re not enjoying the full potential of our compliment. So it's not against feminism at all . . . This show has all African-American men in it, which is a unique angle. The Vagina Monologues came from a very different vantage point. Deez Nuts is about Chocolate City. All the performers happen to be black men—not that it was initially constructed that way—but their stories definitely reflect that part of D.C.
Responses have been condensed.