Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Stacey Clare, AKA The Ethical Stripper, has spent 15 years in the business. She has a TED Talk, a previous Fringe show and an interview with Piers Morgan under her G-string (Sincere apologies, as I know it is a cheap and unworthy aside). She welcomes us at her new venue – she had to find a new one as the previous one fell victim to a COVID outbreak – offer sus some bubbles before she does a stripper entrance, strips and then asks for questions from her assembled audience. And they flow. Topics are wide and varied and therefore each and every night shall vary too. The finale, and perhaps never to be repeated, was to show us a fairly stunning move on the pole.
This all hangs upon the need for the audience to come with questions or think some up on the spot. Mind you, if you have turned up, aside from professional interest, the clue is in the name of the show – come prepared. The fact is that people do – come with questions, that is. Even if they don’t Stacey has a tremendous ability to yap. And yap she does. It could be claimed quite disconcertingly as all she is wearing throughout is a pair of heels, and leg warmers, but Stacey pulls it off, if you pardon the expression, with great guile.
And perhaps there could be a problem. Inuendo is likely to infuse your thinking. This is, after all, about sex. There is literally no escaping it. But it never entered my mind. I never once thought about the salaciousness of the circumstances in which I have found myself.
And Stacey is very serious. Mentioning the gender construct and hetero normative behaviour in the midst of a Fringe show opens up the realisation that we have a highly intelligent woman speaking directly to us with no artifice, no pretending and no clothes.
Except Stacey is not her real name and as for the accent…
Because this is a performance, just like stripping. Though we are here to ask questions she is there to inform and make sure we have not paid in vain. It is beautifully done. The questions which were asked, mainly by others – though I was not getting away with it and Stacey asked me for a question, using my name as she had met me at the door and asked me it – covered a wide range of topics which were keenly answered and explored. It was fascinating, which could have been a little disconcerting, but it isn’t.
Stacey has her security in the room with her who she introduces, and they have a bit of a double act as this woman with blue hair, looking vaguely gothic but with a strong Edinburgh accent, like, which trowel like, is like getting it ladled on, like.
Overall, there is plenty to love about this and to feel challenged. Having the power to ask, challenge and talk over some fairly sensitive topics is great. It is highly enticing and equally illuminating. This is not exploitative but very educational. I may not end up going into a strip club because of it but my respect for sex workers is heightened. As a recovering addict, I have known a few, and have always found them bright, intelligent, very able to tell you their thoughts and their opinions are usually based on highly developed thinking – often disconcertingly psychologically accurate. I got this here and being challenged by a naked woman to ask her a question was a pleasant end to my day – but not in the way I may have prejudicially have expected.