04 July 2013

Review: My Life in the Nude

My Life in The Nude
La Mama
3 July 2013
La Mama Theatre
to 21 July

Maude Davey's My Life in the Nude is beautiful, moving and affirming and I'm thrilled to see her cunt any time.

And I love that she says cunt and uses "cunt" as a positive, gorgeous and sexy word, not the worst thing you can call anyone.

Maude's 50 this year and has spent the last 25 years performing naked, among many other wonderful things. It started when she won a Ms Wicked (lesbian BDSM) competition in the the late 80s and continued creating subversive and exciting acts that eventually moved from the queer clubs (I remember wearing tights in the 90s to hide the fact that I DID shave my legs) to travelling the world with Finucane & Smith's The Burlesque Hour.

How I'd love to see the face of 25-year-old Maude being told that she'd still be pulling a strawberry out of her cunt in her 40s to tables full of very nice middle-class people from Toorak, who paid a nice chunk of cash to see her and toast her with posh fizz. I took a friend to The Burlesque Hour one year and she hated it for that exact reason. She said she'd seen the Ms Wicked shows and to see the same act in a nice theatre being politely applauded by the same people who it was created to diss was too wrong.

I didn't see Ms Wicked (I was in Perth in the early 90s), so The Burlesque Hour has been the closest I can get – and I've loved every naked moment.

This show is all about Maude's naked moments, most of which have nothing to do with being nude.

In the intimacy of La Mama, on a vagina-inspired stage, she performs her favourite and best-known pieces, and talks about what it's been like to appear naked on stage.  The "You're so brave" comments used to be greeted with the inner response of "Am I that hideous?" and some of her stories (and those from other people who perform naked) are as sad as they are positive. No matter how much we intellectualise and believe that "Every one is beautiful and worthy of our gaze", the "Am I that hideous?" negative voice is very strong.

Maude's retiring her naked pieces and this show is the last chance to see them again, or for the first time. If you haven't seen them: this is Melbourne theatre, queer and burlesque history, so you really have to see her cunt. And it's a chance to cheer everything positive and exciting that subversive burlesque has given us, everything that's beautiful about naked bodies (especially those of middle-aged women; we don't look like we did at 20, but we're so much more interesting and fun now), the joy of looking at naked people and to give a well-deserved ovation to every exciting and positive cunt.

And each night is a special guest. Last night, it was the super-delightful and hooptastic Anna Lumb.

The show's directed by Maude's sister Anni, and for the best nude double you may ever see, she's also directing Yana Alana's Between the Cracks at 45downstairs until Sunday. Book here.

And one more thing I love about Maude.

A few years ago, I took a 20-something writer to see The Burlesque Hour. This young woman was, and always is, very happy to see naked women and has enjoyed the naked company of many women. During one of Maude's pieces, she tapped me on the arm and whispered, "bush". It took me a couple more "bushes" to get it. This is someone who has seen and adored many vaginas, but was genuinely shocked at Maude's pubic hair. I knew that there were plenty of women removing their down-there hair, but until that moment had no idea that people in their 20s are disgusted by pubes – even the radical leftie feminist lesbians!

So, on behalf of all of us who refuse to submit and prefer a bit of softness and mystery, thank you for your bush.