If sex work is work, it should come with a salary. Despite what evangelists for the gig economy may say, workers are (or at least should be) entitled to decent wages, security, and above all, respect. As this wonderful play asks, or rather demands, why should it be any different for stripping?
Fuck You Pay Me is one of the best plays I’ve seen this year. If that fantastically no-bullshit title didn’t get your attention, the show certainly will, arriving with a lacquered slap to the face and stiletto through the neck. The show tells the story of Bea, a Brazilian stripper in London, and her everyday struggles with work, customers, and keeping the job a secret from her family. It’s funny, rude, moving, and above all, refreshing – an education, a celebration, and a warning.
Joana Nastari is incredible as Bea. As writer and performer, she has created a character of great wit, pathos, and charm. Her gift of storytelling brings you into the world of a strip club with both grotty realism and supernatural magic. I was also impressed with her co-star Charlotte Bickley, a DJ-cum-Greek Chorus, whose commentary provided humorous exchange as well as a more serious reflection on Bea’s internal struggles and mental stresses.
From a production standpoint, the show is a marvel of anarchic energy and high camp design. Masterfully directed by Bethany Pitts and beautifully designed by Naomi Kuyck-Cohen, the show combines poetry, direct address, audience participation, and set-pieces – both surreal and enchanting – to truly immersive effect. All against a delightful backdrop of gaudy furs and spooky candles.
Fuck You Pay Me is, as Joana says, a show made by strippers for strippers. While that may be true, I would argue it’s much more than that. Most (if not all) of us will engage with sex workers at some point in our lives, whether on a personal or transactional level and yes, that includes pornography.
So, while the show may be an uncomfortable one to take your parents to, its message of loving solidarity and true allegiance with sex workers is one that deserves to be heard by anyone and everyone. In short – fuck you, pay them.
Author: Joana Nastari
Director: Bethany Pitts
Box Office: 0207 234 0486
Booking Link: https://www.bunkertheatre.com/whats-on/fck-you-pay-me/book-now
Booking Until: 19 May 2019