Edinburgh Fringe… Sex workers, naked men, a Twitter sensation and Alan Carr

One fan of Chris Dangerfield’s act has expert views on shows

Enterprising Edinburgh Fringe act Chris Dangerfield, whose show Sex Tourist is sponsored by a local escort agency, e-mailed me this morning:

“A sex worker with a blog likes my show,” he said. “How nice. She’s also asked me out for a coffee.”

Headed Hooker-tainment at Edinburgh Fringe, it is an interesting blog and no doubt hopes to ape the success of Belle de Jour.

But, as the lady’s fees start at £190 per hour or £1,000 for the night, I am not plugging the blog’s address except for hard cash.

Interestingly, though, she says this:

________

Assaulted with jokes about sex workers from the very first show I saw at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival, I’m trying to understand why we’re supposedly the edgiest, funniest material on everyone’s lips right now…

Now that racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are less acceptable in main-stream entertainment, it seems like sex workers are really the only ‘other’ people to pick on. Because that’s the real reason that this kind of comedy works; it used to be OK to laugh at people of colour or gays because it used to be OK to think they actually *were* different.

It’s OK to make jokes at sex workers because they in no way could be sitting next to you in the audience, oh no. Sex workers all walk around with red flashing lights over their heads, everyone knows that… Transphobia particularly is still fairly prevalent in entertainment, and anyone saying that the acceptance of drag or ladyboy shows is good for trans rights is fairly misguided…

The unspoken issue here is that, of course, many performers at Edinburgh must also themselves be sex workers or have had sex work experience. Supporting a creative career is very hard to do around a 9-5 job although, of course, other kinds of self-employed or freelance work are probably possible.

________

Now, from naked women to naked men…

Two thirds of the Greatest Show on Legs arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow. Famed for their Naked Balloon Dance, they are the reason why it was widely said the late Malcolm Hardee literally had “the biggest bollocks in showbusiness”.

They have not performed at the Edinburgh Fringe this century and, with Malcolm Hardee dead and Steve Bowditch banned by the Peter Buckley Hill Free Fringe from performing at the rival Alternative Fringe’s Hive venue on pain of excommunication, the line-up is original members (I use the term innocently) Martin Soan and Martin Clarke plus the shy performing wallflower that is Bob Slayer.

They are billed as performing their hour-long show – Aaaaaaaaaaaaarghh! It’s the Greatest Show on Legs – from this Wednesday to Sunday but are now adding what they call a public dress rehearsal (without dresses) tomorrow night at 9.15pm. Well, I’ll be there for sure.

Janey Godley’s viral sensation – on stage tonight in Edinburgh

And I will also be at the other big unbilled gig of the Fringe week tonight – Janey Godley’s one-performance-one-night-only play #timandfreya based on the extraordinary viral Twitter success of her live blow-by-blow tweets about an overheard argument in a train between the titular Tim and Freya.

The half-hour stage version was dramatised by Janey’s daughter Ashley Storrie, who also appears in it tonight.

“It was an amazing conversation between Tim and Freya,” Janey tells me, “Everybody loved it. But it’s no really a play because there’s gaps. I was Tweeting between Glasgow, Carlisle and Oxenhome. So Ashley had to adapt it and introduce new characters to drive the story forward.”

Ashley herself plays the new character Laura and Philip Larkin (no, not that one – he’s dead) is Alec.

“Do you know why they’re called Laura and Alec?” Janey asked me.

“No,” I said.

“Because they were the characters in Brief Encounter,” said Janey.

“And you’re in it?” I asked.

“I play the ticket collector,” Janey replied. “Rick Wilson, the lead singer from the Kaiser Chiefs, called me and wanted to play Tim because he was fascinated by the story when he read the original Tweets. And I got an e-mail from an actress in Los Angeles who wanted to come over and play Freya. This is true! I said, No. It’s for one night and there’s no money! I’m no letting people do that. That’s insanity.

“One really weird thing is that lots of people have been Tweeting me and e-mailing me saying they do a wee Tim & Freya sketch themselves in their office. They’ve been ‘acting’ the Tweets out loud to each other.

“Rick from the Kaiser Chiefs told me he and his girlfriend did that and everybody read it out and an actor Jack Klaff, who was in Star Wars – he played Red something (Red Four) – Ashley recognised his voice on the phone as a man who was in Star Wars… Jack Klaff called me and gave me ideas about what to do with the story, so everybody’s been calling me and wanting to be involved.”

“Rick Wilson really wanted to do it, didn’t he?” I said.

“Yes, he phoned to apologise when the band schedule eventually came through: I can’t do it. I’m really sorry.

“And the comedian Alan Carr,” I said.

“Yes,” said Janey, “Alan Carr was desperate but he has a Channel 4 pilot tonight. He wanted to push a trolley saying Teas! Coffees! Teas! Coffees! which would have been good.”

Whatever happens tonight, like the original train journey, it should be an interesting trip. And as the real Tim – the man on the train – contacted Janey after he read the Tweets, even he might be there in the audience…

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Filed under Comedy, Sex, Theatre

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