Archive for Creating A/Broad

The unique trial of potty-mouthed play titles


most shop windows will not put this up. #thingsidontneedtoverify

This article came up last year, in the middle of my UK tour. I remembered it this week because it’s still timely and relevant and… WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF. I I keep putting vulgar language in my play titles!

Okay, the last two plays have had inoffensive titles, but this season I’m back with nerdfucker, which is not just vulgar, but actually an obscenity by most public speech laws, so naturally I have been pondering the wisdom of my titling practices. I have had time to consider possible reactions of Fringe festivals, and the challenges of getting the poster up on bulletin boards, and I will never ever be able to go on the air anywhere, holy fuck, what the fuck have I been thinking?

That sort of face-palm mentality only comes to me in flashes. Mostly, I’m resigned. Publicity goes out to mass media, which is conservative by nature. Marketing goes out there in the public eye, and while I would assert that Fringe festivals are inherently risky places to trot your children through, I understand people’s point. This stuff is out there for passersby to see. (I’m still going to put it up there, but I understand the point.) Yes, I’ll have a little dispenser of narrow white tape to slap over the U and make it at least a little more tolerable for coffeehouse standards, but I will have to make peace with the pushback.

I’m more concerned about talking with people. I’ve been saying the title more lately—time to get used to saying it straight-faced, make no blink, give no quarter—and I’ve been getting That Grin in response. It’s a grin I know well, from promoting Phone Whore and slut (r)evolution, a kind of semi-knowing smile that nudges me sideways in the ribs and winks and says “ahhhh, and I bet THAT'S a saucy bit of stage fol-de-rol, innit!”

Nope. Not saucy, not sexy. nerdfucker is not sexy, way less even than Phone Whore was sexy. (People are constantly surprised by how not sexy Phone Whore is.) My next show, HearthCore, will not be sexy. Even Smut Slam, though it entirely features stories about sex, is rarely sexy. My shows aren’t necessarily or even primarily sexy. They just sound like they should be, because that’s the energy I bring to them, because they do touch on sex, because sex is part of our lives. Sex affects the decisions we make; it underpins so much of what most people do. I take it seriously.

But when I tell people the names of my shows, they think I’m being cheeky or something, which… not really. They think it’s going to be sexy; again, not so much. They think I can’t possibly mean anything serious with it, because it sounds sexy or at least saucy. This is the stuff I end up pushing back against all the time out on tour, and I … yeah, I get a little tired of it.

Well, you might say, if you're getting tired of it, name your shows something different. But that lets the listener right off the hook for their own gut response. It lets society off the hook for being so weird about language and sex and skin. And I can’t seem to name my shows differently. They find their titles, or the titles find them, and the titles and the shows fit together like a hand in a beautiful velvet word-glove. If the made-up word nerdfucker says exactly what I think people need to know going in, or at least part of what people need to know, then that’s what the title should damn well be.

So. Fuck the media and hey there, fringe people. nerdfucker is neither saucy nor sexy. It’s just me.


What happens when a foul-mouthed, thoughtful wordsmith meets the world? That's pretty much what I do. Get on board and become a patron of mine over on Patreon. There's going to be a collision—many of them—and it's gonna keep being good.

TERRIBLE SEX TIPS: 5 Badminton-Inspired Sex Positions That’ll Have You Making a Racket!

Some Terrible Sex Tips cry out for methodical de(con)struction. Others beg for a manifesto in reponse, about the shitty politics or the egregious trend-seeking. And then there are those sex tip articles that deserve the silliest parody I can whip up. This here is one of those articles, and what follows is one of those parodies. Strap on your terry-cloth wristbands and enjoy!

Leap high, land hard, fuck fast. Is that a good motto? Maybe that is not such a good motto.

Leap high, land hard, fuck fast. Is that a good motto? Maybe that is not such a good motto.

5 Badminton-Inspired Sex Positions That’ll Have You Making a Racket!

There’s something decidedly sexy about badminton! Maybe it’s the name of the object being batted about. Shuttlecock. That’s hot. Sounds like go-go-gadget high-tech dildonics, right? And it’s gonna be badminton time of year soon, isn’t it, with spring and the Summer Olympics and family reunions and all. You’ll be able to just run out and pick up some cheap-jack packaged versions of the game sold at Target, because you’ve forgotten what happens with badminton at family gatherings, that thing when the two-year-old has chewed up and swallowed half of the shuttlecock, and one of the kids starts hitting all the other kids with their racquet, and no one does anything until the racquet connects with some grownup person’s drink. Not sexy! But here we provide you ways to make it sexy again while you watch the Olympic competitors, driving the hell out of all of that sexy sweaty energy happening in your living room. (Might be less sweaty if you turned on the AC, but hey, it’s your living room!)

The Underhand Lift

Cling to the door jamb and have him penetrate you from behind, lifting you up by your ass-cheeks and then dropping you down again. Your grip on the door will give him some extra lift, ‘cuz you don’t want to hurt his feelings about not being strong enough. That kind of core strength is one in a thousand, anyway. Just pull up on the upstroke and let him have his dream.

The Mid-Court Jump Smash

Get yourself two of those plastic milk crates and stand on them naked, bent over and bracing yourself against the wall. His goal is to jump up and land his dick inside you. It’s kind of a one-shot sensation, but wow, so powerful! Of course, bolder couples can aim for the Rear-Court Smash. He’ll love the adventure, and you’ll both be sweating in no time.

Sidehand Spin

This is a nice twist on the standard advice for hand jobs. Definitely use lube, but with the Sidehand Spin, you don’t want to keep your hand on his shaft. Instead, pull your dominant hand away from the action and then bring it back sharply, angling the edge of your palm downward for the landing, like a karate chop. Guys with foreskins will especially appreciate the sudden breathtaking tug.

Shuttlecock Shimmy

This saucy move needs a little bit of costuming prep, but don’t worry: you can get what you need at your local dollar store. Buy three or four feather dusters and wedge the handles up under the front of a nice snug garter belt. Straddle him as he’s sitting on the couch and ride him nice and slow, with a swivel action through the hips, giving the feathers lots of play across his belly. Tickle tickle tickle!

Mixed Doubles

Go to a swingers’ club together and find someone nice to play with. (Don’t shout points at each other across the play space. This is poor sportsmanship, and confusing for bystanders. Or byfuckers. Whatever you want to call them.)

Coming Soon: Seven Kinky Moves Inspired by Track & Field Events!


Someone needs to keep me off the streets and between nice flannel sheets. It takes a village, ya know! Become a patron of mine over on Patreon and join my village!

FUCK THAT FOURTH WALL: operating notes for my personal theatre manifesto

The view from my Phone Whore chair at the Brixton kitchen show. There is simply NO ROOM for the fourth wall. Hell, there's barely room for the two actual walls and the refrigerator!

The view from my Phone Whore chair at the Brixton kitchen show. There is simply NO ROOM for the fourth wall. Hell, there's barely room for the two actual walls and the refrigerator!

Anyone who comes to one of my bar shows—Smut Slam and now BEDx—may have seen me flitting around in the half-hour before the show, chatting with box office and volunteers and most especially the early-arriving audience members. You might write that off as hostess jitters, and you would not be entirely wrong. But there’s more to it than that. I am trying to bring everyone into the show, wandering the boundaries of the room and gently nudging people in.

It’s part of my practice of breaking down the fourth wall, which I knew was a thing for me, but I hadn’t realized how much until five days ago, when I produced my first BEDx event in Montreal. BEDx is a simple concept: four presenters on sex/sexuality topics, 10 minutes each of geeking out plus Q&A, in the back room of a bar. One of the presenters had to drop out, so I rode into the gap on one of my favorite hobby horses, the intersection of performance space and sexual content. “Fuck That Fourth Wall,” I called my presentation; it was all about how I try to lower or eliminate perceived barriers for comprehension or empathy for audiences at my usually sexually explicit shows. Even before I got up on stage that night, I found myself doing the thing I was so keen on to talk about. It’s part of what I have to do, to make these shows work.

See, the fourth wall must be fucked with, for any public presentation about sex. Even the most starched-up, government-sponsored lecture series will have a Q&A. And for the more radical, intense, graphic, and/or personal moments that pepper my shows, I need to pull down the wall by whatever means necessary, using whatever little tricks I’ve found, accidental or deliberate, that can bring people in past that damned fourth wall.

This wall is the accepted convention that, in that theatrical environment, delineates the world of the actors from the "real world" that the audience is in. "Breaking the fourth wall" involves acknowledging the observer/audience as observer, and/or acknowledging the container for the work of art. For me, it is about bringing the audience in to inhabit the same space as I do.

For example, I am acutely aware of stage height. Especially for the plays in which I am talking to the audience for all or part of it—Phone Whore, for | play, The Pretty One, soon nerdfucker—performing on a noticeably elevated stage means that I will be literally talking down to them. Elevation also heightens (hah!) the sense that “this is a presentation or performance,” adding to the metaphorical distance that just gets in my way. For Smut Slams, I seek out venues where the mic stand can be at floor level. Why? I have a hard enough time coaxing people up. I don’t want to freak out non-performer tellers by making them go up and down steps—someone inevitably will bite it, owing to nerves—and then stand there in a brightly lit stage.

I like to start the show in the room, or make my entrance through it, where possible. I saw the effectiveness of this in 2013, at the Edinburgh Fringe. I was performing Phone Whore in the basement of a bar, which had no wings and only 15 minutes between shows. I was forced to see the audience as I was setting up, but rather than get stressed out about it, I decided to use that time to socialize while setting out my props. Now I do that with Phone Whore everywhere, even if I could do the conventional entrance from the side of the stage, even if there is enough space backstage to hold two productions of The Nutcracker side by side, including the growing Christmas trees. I will climb up into the raked seats to talk with people. It makes my dash for the phone more authentic at the beginning of the play, and gives me another five to 15 minutes of time to build rapport. And it makes the point that the entire room is where the show is set.

I also look at the size of the venue. From a strictly business point of view, we often hear, “Don’t hire a venue that you can’t fill up,” which is solid advice; you’re just paying for those empty seats. Or from a taking-care-of-the-performer’s-ego point of view: “It feels better to have 30 people in a 40-seat venue than in an 80-seat venue.” This is also true. My real interest in small venues is the build-in intimacy. Don’t get me wrong: occasionally selling out a 100-seat venue feels great! But honestly, one of the best Phone Whores I ever did was in a kitchen in Brixton, UK. It was a very large, open-plan kitchen/dining room combo, but believe me, 30 people was a tight fit, and it was amazing!

In addition to basic structural considerations in the venue, I really do find that circulating with audience draws people into the space and action of the show as well. You can't get away with hiding back there. I've already greeted you; I know you're there. This is obviously true for such hopefully participatory events as Smut Slam and BEDx, but I do it for my plays, too.

The thing is, theatre doesn’t always get to be choosy around where it is staged. There are challenges that strengthen the fourth wall, which I almost always want to break down. My sexual content thrives when I bust through that wall; it needs air to breathe and room to flow between my audiences and me. But at least I have this toolbox to do the work, and I have found that the tools can be as simple as just stopping by a table and saying hi.


Together with you, I get to keep outfitting that toolbox! Become a patron of mine over on Patreon and help me dismantle EVERYTHING that needs to go.


Sexism on the Fringe: gathering some thoughts

A female Fringer who does everything to advance in her career...

A female Fringer who does everything to advance in her career is probably fucked any way you slice it.

I’m working on a survey. Well, it’s more like puttering. I'm puttering on a survey. I snagged some interview questions from a survey of college students, about their experiences of sexism and racism on campus, and I’m just going to swap in “at Fringe” for “on campus”. That’s a start, anyway, to putting some numbers and markers on these vague feelings of unease or disappointment that have been simmering in my belly for some time.

Honestly, I probably could let them simmer longer. I’ve worked through or around them for over five years now. And anyway, I’ve got shit to do, a new play, keeping the old ones fresh, the normal sprawling North American tour this year, a trans-Atlantic move in 2017. I’m getting older and more ambitious; I’ve got my own Shit to DO, and for now, Fringe is still the place where I’m doing it.

This is the seductive part of Fringing for me: the idea that we can Do Our Shit there. For some of us, it feels like the only place, or certainly the best place, for Our Shit. On top of that, the Canadian Fringe feels like the frontier of theatre; it’s got that bootstrapping, indie-artist vibe, where our presence at the party, and our success in it, depends entirely and only on us. Fringe is a level playing field, so goes the myth, and we can all get around just fine, if we bring good work and pound the pavement and have the right attitude. Even if there aren’t many women (cis- or trans-) or queers or people of color out there, that doesn’t mean anything. We’re special. We’ll be the ones to make it, to break through the barriers. Which there aren’t any, because it’s Fringe, but if there were barriers, we’d be breaking through!

I had my big moment of disillusionment three years ago, when I realized that all of the deities in the Fringe pantheon that I aspired to, they were all men. But mostly, you know, I managed to set that aside. But awareness can’t really be set aside, and you can’t unlearn what you already know, and last week I got a chance to talk with a friend, about my plans for the 2016 tour, what cities, what shows. She said, “I thought of you all the time when I was touring this past year.” Why, I said. “It was tough,” she said. “For the women.”

I asked her for details, but I didn’t really have to. After touring not just around North America but also the UK, and talking with other female fringers, I have heard plenty about stalkers and harassment and assault. Fuck, I don’t even need those second- and third-person accounts, I’ve got my own experiences. Of being clung to by a couple of volunteers, and everyone knew who they were, even the Fringe staff knew, but there was nothing to be done. Of having my slut (r)evolution posters slashed in Winnipeg, while other show posters nearby were untouched. I remember that time when a drunk patron leaned over on a bar patio and untied my dress—also in Winnipeg, damn, that is not an entirely awesome Fringe town after all, is it? These are the OBVIOUS things. These are the INCIDENTS.

I’m not even talking about the “soft” stuff, but that's there, too: the miasma of sexism, the pervasive reviewer bias, the sense among female solo artists that our work is sometimes considered the fringe equivalent of "chick lit," dismissed or not taken seriously, while work by our male counterparts sells out. I’m not talking about that one sketch at a late-night cabaret, with the premise about tall, skinny men taking over the fringe, and everyone laughed, and I sat there staring up at the stage and trying to figure out what was funny.

I’m not talking about that. I can’t talk about it. In six months I’m going to be in the middle of it again, and no one likes a crybaby. Suck it up. Just make good art (the implication being that the art we are making is not good enough). I am going back to work in that environment this spring, and I have to get along.

But I’m still going to put this survey out. Please drop me a line if you'd like to get involved, and I'll keep you posted. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the results, although I think—I hope!—that Fringes will be interested. Mostly, I want to get these experiences out of my head, let other people do the same, and get some perspective. Because I don’t know about you, but I have been soaking in Fringe for so long that I don’t know what’s just part of the rough-and-tumble, and what is utter bullshit.


Help keep feminist, sex-positive writing and theatre alive: become a patron of mine over on Patreon!





1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9