By LINDA HERRICK ARTS EDITOR
Advertisements for the play The Vagina Monologues have run into trouble with a magazine publisher and raised the decibels on talkback radio.
The Australasian edition of Time magazine has refused to run an advertisement featuring the play's poster image - a photo of a vertical pair of female lips - saying it was unsuitable for publication.
The ruling astounded Monologues director Oliver Driver, "given that they print photos all the time of people getting their heads blown off".
"The image might suggest a vagina but it's a mouth, a pair of lips," he said. "Nobody should have a problem with it."
Last week, Newstalk ZB talkback host Leighton Smith launched an on-air attack on American Eve Ensler's play because of radio advertisements featuring actor Lucy Lawless giving venue details, as background synonyms for the word "vagina" were read by Madeleine Sami.
When Driver rang Smith to discuss his complaints, the pair had a heated argument which ended after 10 minutes when Smith hung up.
"He said he was trying to get the radio ad banned or rewritten but we got a call from the station saying, 'No way, we're keeping it as it is'," says Driver.
"He was saying the play was appalling so I phoned him and asked him if he'd read it. He hadn't."
Credo Society secretary Barbara Faithfull, another Monologues opponent, wrote a letter to the Herald this month describing the play as "explicit lesbian pornography".
She has not read the script either but said she based her views on the opinion of "brilliant intellectual" Henry Makow, a Canadian writer who opined that the play "partly exemplifies why radical Islam has declared war on America".
On seeing a fax of the poster, she said: "You'd have to say it is distasteful, it's offensive and suggestive. They have manipulated the illustration to outrage the public."
Driver is making a peace offering to Smith and Faithfull, who he said were "the only two people yelling about the play".
"I'm going to invite them both to our subscription night on Monday, which is where we give the cast and crew the opportunity to talk to the audience afterwards.
"We'll give them the opportunity to put their point of view - but they have to be prepared to back it up."
But Ms Faithfull said she would not go to see The Vagina Monologues "because that would imply I'd be in agreement with it".
Calls to Smith were not returned.