An Act of Radical Virginity


Being over twenty and a virgin in NYC is enough of a radical act that a woman turned it into a one-woman show and built an entire comedy routine on it.

Alexis Lambright was a confirmed virgin in NYC for 10 years. Determined to hold on to her innocence, the Catholic schoolgirl was committed to a life of celibacy — until marriage. But when she realized that dating in the most superficial city in the world wasn’t virgin-friendly, the 28-year-old funnywoman living in Sunnyside, Queens, turned to comedy as therapy: She created the one-woman show “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity,” which is running at the New York International Fringe Festival on select dates from Saturday to Aug. 24.

It used to be perfectly normal to be a virgin till marriage, at least for women. In fact, in most societies it was the expected thing.  The pivotal turning point in Jane Austen’s Pride and  Prejudice comes when one daughter, Lydia, elopes and lives with a man who has no intention of marrying her.

Even during my own upbringing, which, granted, took place in Portugal where things were twenty years behind the times, while virginity before marriage was no longer universal, girls at least still pretended to be holding out.

But I’d heard from Scandinavian friends that in their lands it was considered strange and indicative of something wrong with you if you were a virgin much past puberty – and that culture seems now to be here too.

To be sure, we always knew it was coming, since movies like Splendor in the Grass made it sound like not having sex could send an otherwise sane woman clean off her rocker. In a way it is a logical consequence of safe and reliable contraception.  Whether you believe that women are naturally as sex-crazed as men, or that women would have as much consequence-free sex as men given the chance, the fact remains that all of us, men and women, are in fact social animals.

When the society we live in decides that “normal” people are all rutting like deer in fall, and that if you don’t do it there’s something wrong with you, those who don’t fit the model will at least try to pretend they do.

Under those circumstances, holding on to your chastity becomes an act of radical defiance.