Saturday, 7 May 2011

Bryony Kimmings Sex Idiot, The Bluecoat

I'll be honest I don't understand sex, it's never really been part of my life, it has always seemed to exist in some kind of parallel universe. Like skydiving or visiting China something other people did. Maybe it exists in this way for most people an expected shared experience that is kept private, like going the toilet or masturbating.

Last night I was privy to have brief access to this strange and baffling parallel universe through Bryony Kimmings's Sex Idiot a grand burlesque, inspired by her contraction of a STI and in a disarmingly honest and sincere way details her sexual history, with some of the most glorious hats I've ever seen.

I have to honest (again) I missed the first half (I was working the door) but I walk in to see Bryony half dressed in a speculator Matador uniform staggering around the stage surrounded by faux romantic trappings, flowers, paper hearts and the like. She speaks of the dangers of lusting after the 'other' which goes in a mini performance where she puts lipstick on each of her hands and then proceeds to 'kiss' herself. After the kissing is over she quietly wipes the lipstick off and is left alone, she manages to convey the sense of loss and regret in pursuing the things you think you want and losing the things you had.

There are a number of these 'quiet' moments in one section of the performance she invites the audience to donate their pubic hair and they oblige, scissors are handed out along with Jack Daniels to 'provide' an excuse. After the snipping is done and the tools are handed back Kimmings informs the audience that the scissors have never been cleaned nor have the bottles, they have had unprotected contact with multiple partners and now you have exposed yourself to God knows what. It's a canny way of highlighting that given the right circumstances people would do the stupidest things, without thinking of the dangers. I believe that this echoes a common sexual misadventure one which I've missed out on.

It's within these moments, and throughout the show, Kimmings exposes not only her own vulnerability but everybody's vulnerability there's a scene towards where it's revealed that the source of Bryony's STI was her then boyfriend whom she genuinely cared for. It's a shocking and heartbreaking moment. This is such a loaded moment the whole reason for her to confront her past, came from some form of misplaced guilt. There's still a contradiction out there where women are expected to be having sex but are limited by some undisclosed number of people they can sleep with and if they are unfortunate to catch an STI, (or suspected to have one) the supposed onus often seem to be placed on the woman.

I can only speak from secondary sources (mainly drunken late night chats with actual real life females!) but clear that there concerns and experiences have been reflected in Kimmings performance. She also playfully mocks the way these experiences, and feminist theories, are earnestly expressed throughout performance, and all, art. As ridiculous as some of the acts performed by Kimmings are I've seen performances which pronouce their feminist credentials which come of much more ridiculious and less serious for it.

Have I learnt anything about the mysterious world of sex? Well it's a confusing mess which can in part define you and at the heart of it all there's a human attempting to control and understand at all.

For now my time in this parallel universe is over.

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