Incredible dance, seductive acrobatics, delightfully salacious and abundantly mirthful comedic performances… Insights to the lives of the Johns, Lady-of-the-Night-Janes; those Joe’s and Josephine’s whom Johnny Dollar dutifully delivers dinero to on the DL; the necessary stoicism, irony and apt caprice at the social double-standard, which the noble and talented among sex workers must deal with. Dirty Panties is a performance of social progression and personal appreciation. Highly recommended.
– review of the show at the House of Yes (Brooklyn, New York).
House of Yes is a veritable powerhouse of cultural innovation and value. Consistently pushing the boundaries (with consent- of course), House of Yes not only creates environments, which go further than you may expect, but provokes the open and curious to explore past their own boundaries. Dirty Panties, a play “written & produced by women with a history of sex work,” was a splendidly artistic and sensibly critical blend of musical and acrobatic performance (think if Lady Gaga had a smaller budget, was but one member of the Justice League, and was accompanied be equally glamorous & committed team-mate superheroines. Sexy, provocative superheroines with alter-egos as sex workers, but heroes of art and culture nonetheless.)
‘Bondage vs. Pizza,’ swiftly delved into the office environment one may find at a ‘massage parlor’ so typical of online brothel advertising language. Everyone gets hungry at work, and all who work with the public come across… particularly interesting challenges. Insight to the internal monologue of a famished ‘sub’ commissioned for a clumsy & ill-prepared ‘dom,’ solicited a great deal of laughter from the mixed audience. No single ethnicity, gender-identification, or sexuality typified the audience. One reason everyone should feel welcome at the House of Yes.
Musical performances took the crown, over the three act schedule of performances. ‘Full Service’ inspired the Lady Gaga comparison, and the incredible strength and skill of ‘aerial’ performers in ‘Steel vs. Cloth’ sincerely amazed. Both had me wish the Dirty Panties cast (indeed- the bones and muscle behind the life of House of Yes, saying nothing of the capable minds and hearts so passionately compelling) had far greater budgets. After the first intermission, I had overheard several groups remarking the same thing about Steel vs. Cloth: “when the chain came out of her vagina,” many genuinely awe-struck groups honored in recollection. I had never seen aerial work with chain-link, and it really was an amazing performance of power, poise and seduction.
The second act began with ‘Pigs vs Wolves.’ Focused the predatory roles and social injustice of how our civilization treats these humans among us, this was indeed the most serious of the performances, women wearing latex pig masks as they list dangers of their professions, difficulty finding housing, assumptions that sex-workers don’t seek love, families and children the way ‘only’ thought proper for people in other lines of work. While entertainment, this performance is designed to be a social justice effort: proceeds from performances are donated to the non-profit SWOP, the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SwopUSA.org).
While certainly not ‘high art,’ the eleven performances over three acts proved to be wonderful art for attentive and high audiences alike, as intermissions ran long enough to permit convivial to be replenished. While the third and final act seemed to recycle some of the tropes and costumes from earlier, the very fit and attractive cast devolved into a sketch amounting to little more than fat-shaming and ridiculing the social isolation & internet addictions, and ran some comedy skits past their point of greatest laughs. As a singular critique, the sheer athleticism of performers on ropes, chain and pole were incredible. The men, whether donning cross-dressing regalia or in full masculinity, artfully worked in unison for some pole-work that seemed right at home in Cirque de Sole.
While Monty Python could hone the comedy performances a twiddle, music, dancing and acrobatics were top-shelf. Dirty Panties was largely a night of fun and delight with serious efforts to help disenfranchised and highly stigmatized groups (including sex-workers); it’s a major prerogative for House of Yes. Lysistrata, a care-collective and the Brooklyn-based Red Umbrella Project, both for and by sex-workers in NYC, are partners with the House of Yes. All of the programs I’ve been to here continue to be unique and worthy experiences, offering much which wider culture sorely lacks. If you can, catch a repeat performance of Dirty Panties. If you miss your chance, catch anything you can at the House of Yes for a wonderful time unlike anything else in NYC.
Bondage Vs. Pizza
Real Slave Fake Talk Show
Steel Vs. Cloth
3 Little Pigs
Trixie in Love
Big Spender Extended
Balls + Rope + Pizza + Everything