‘Thou shalt not slap, bite or tickle’ is not a rule an audience is usually informed of before a show, but Joana Nastari’s Fuck You Pay Me doesn’t shrink from confronting expectation. A sex-positive, first person narrative about stripping that lives up to its theme by stripping away all of the damaging baggage and misconceptions we have about sex work.
A rare diversion from tragedy-porn stories of exploitation, Bea is a ‘therapist in thigh-highs’, an unapologetic stripper, who doesn’t have any shame about winking her butthole at strangers. When it comes to her Brazilian Catholic family finding out what she does, though, Bea would do anything to avoid that conversation.
The show might not make any surprise revelations about the realities of the profession, but Joana’s writing is refreshingly funny, and she has impeccable comic timing with her disembodied mobile phone (voiced by Kitt Proudfoot from the mixing desk). This is a nifty staging device, that brings technology onto the stage with lightness, humour and personality.
In another rarity, Fuck You Pay Me has a creative team made up almost entirely of women – Joana founded and collaborates with feminist arts collective Sexy Lamp Society, and has also drawn on her work hosting sex worker community events, which really gives this show its authentic voice.
Despite this, the performance is let down by a slow-paced start, where Joana introduces the show out of character. Here, she seems less confident on stage and the timing of her joint delivery with Kitty could be sharpened up. These problems melt away with the beginning of the main section of the production.
Fuck You Pay Me proves that feminist theatre can be lighthearted and still pack punch. Stripper heels are raising women up, and if you don’t respect their choices, you deserve to be crushed underneath them. If you can get a ticket to this sold out show, just don’t forget to tip on your way out.
Fuck You Pay Me continues its run at Vault Festival 2018 until 28 January. It is suitable for ages 15+. Tickets can be purchased online here, but the show is currently SOLD OUT.
Bea – Joana Nastari
Phone – Kitt Proudfoot
Director – Beth Pitts
Dramaturg – India Crawford
Sound Design – Kitt Proudfoot
Design – Anna Reid & Ginger Siddal
Producer – Ellen Spence