Playwright and feminist activist Eve Ensler is the creator of The Vagina Monologues, a series of vignettes about women's relationships with their hoohas.
Ensler had a difficult upbringing and was subjected to violence and sexual abuse at the hands of her father, which contributed to bouts of alcoholism and, ultimately, her dedication to women's causes. She was in her mid-40s when she first achieved major success with The Vagina Monologues, which opened in 1996 and was an instant word-of-mouth sensation. It's since been performed on hundreds of college campuses and in dozens of countries from Turkey to China. Alas, Ensler's more recent plays haven't fared nearly as well: 2004's The Good Body-about what the perennially black bobbed, red lipsticked playwright views as women's dysfunctional obsession with their looks-earned middling reviews; 2006's The Treatment was critically panned with the Times' Charles Isherwood declaring it an "overwrought amalgam of psychodrama and political sermonizing." Ensler runs a writing group at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, which got the documentary treatment in What I Want My Words To Do To You. Also in 2006 Ensler published a memoir, Insecure at Last: Losing it in a Security Obsessed World.
Ensler continues to be best known for The Vagina Monologues, and "V" day—February 14th—a day she reclaimed as Vagina Day. Jane Fonda, Glen Close, Teri Hatcher, Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Calista Flockhart, and Oprah Winfrey have all taken part in V-Day, a performance of The Vagina Monologues every Valentine's Day which raises money to battle crimes against women, and boosts participants' political cred in the process. Ensler continues her campaign to end violence against women, concentrating on areas like Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and post-Katrina New Orleans where hundreds of thousands of women are brutally raped and mistreated.
At the age of 26, Ensler married bartender Richard McDermott and adopted his teenage son, future primetime hunk Dylan McDermott. The couple divorced in 1989 and Ensler began seeing Ariel Orr Jordan, a psychotherapist. In 2005, the couple split; their break-up made headlines when they wrangled over ownership of their West Village residence, as well as over profits derived from The Vagina Monologues, which Jordan claims was based on his therapy workshop "If your vagina could talk, what would it say?"
In 2010 Ensler was diagnosed with aggressive uterine cancer and underwent a series of chemotherapy sessions and invasive surgery complicated by infection. As of 2012 she is in remission and cancer free.
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