Bea (Joana Nastari) parties too hard, drinks too much and needs to cut down her cocaine snorting habit. She’s pretty much like you and me – she has a job that at times she likes and at others she can’t stand; she spends her life telling men not to touch her and getting hit on in the club. She is also a stripper, known to her customers as Holly:

“The alias to flash the gash for cash”

Fuck You Pay Me is a performance without pause, without prejudice and without preconception. Stripper Bea reminds us that comments such as, “you’re too pretty” or “you’re too intelligent” to be a stripper are both disgusting and degrading. But it’s the idea that anyone would actively choose this as a career that is so insulting. Even Bea feels the pressure though – Fuck You Pay Me describes one particular evening in which Bea is mortified that her Brazilian Catholic mother and her two clean-living, judgemental sisters have found out about her true means of employment.

Vault Festival 2018 Fuck You Pay Me

Joana Nastari

Nastari portrays a stripper in the closet but performs with all the gusto of one fully out and proud. She struts down the aisle to the stage with confidence and purpose, sporting some light up heels and a glamorous fur coat, ready to “delight our earholes”. That she does – Fuck You Pay Me has banter, sass and a sensitive sub-current to its storytelling.

Except it’s all a bit over the top. That’s to be expected – Nastari aims to present the brutal truth of a profession that uses the body as a commodity. The tribe – sluts who love money; the customers – pigs who can’t stop themselves from copping a feel; the owners – the cruel masters who dock you £50 for moving or breathing in a manner that isn’t deemed sultry or seductive. No gum, no breaks and no phonecalls.

“I touch myself and dream of what I’m gonna eat later”

Nastari balances comedic sass with moments of doubt, insecurity and vulnerability. These are few and far between – more can be done to emphasise the humanity in the character – but they remind us that Bea has doubts about her life. We all do – the fact that she is a stripper doesn’t mean that she doesn’t question her choices or wish for something/ someone to take her away from the miserable drudge of the daily grind.

“Shoes made wearable by marinating in blisters”

It’s the laughs that have the most impact here – the strategy for dancing while on your period, or the toxic relationship that you have with your phone (a whiny, whimsical voiceover by Kitt Proudfoot). Nastari’s spoken word interlude is the required counter to the pleasantries – she introduces her truth with a searing gaze and a powerful presence. Bea is the unholy Trinity, the reality of what the punters are paying for.

Vault Festival 2018 Fuck You Pay Me

Joana Nastari

Fuck You Pay Me lacks variety and nuance at times, but it’s passionate and empowering. Nastari ends with a blunt admission, no frills or quips of verbal trickery. This is her performance – now cough up the cash and get out.

 

★★★☆☆

To read more about Fuck You Pay Me, which plays as part of the VAULT Festival 2018 until 28 January 2018, follow the show on Twitter (@FYPMShow) or visit the festival website.

Click here for a spotlight with writer and performer Joana Nastari.