Archer Asks: Queenie Bon Bon, comedian, sex worker, and star of Melbourne Fringe show, Power Up
By: Vincent Silk
Queenie Bon Bon is a professional stripper, pleasure provider and fantasy maker on an exploratory journey through the textured realities of her joyful life-work as a mystic ho. Her latest show, Power Up, is showing at the Melbourne Fringe Festival from September 16-27.
A: You just got back from an international tour – Tell us more about that.
QB: In the last year, my first show toured in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, and then I went overseas and did shows in London, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. All these events were peer-organised. I felt that these events were very much a community proceeding that were allowing outsiders to hear a small part of a narrative that is rarely given exposure by those who are living it.
I was in the States at the same time as Amnesty International were pushing for decriminalisation and that was getting a lot of attention in the media. It felt very grounding among all the debate about whether sex work should or should not exist, to talk about the actuality of its existence, and my place within that.
Travelling a lot shaped my new show; it was a very immersive experience to be in such constant movement for a year. I was writing and working a lot while touring, which at times felt very meta. Having the landscape change so much, in a very literal and social way enabled me to experience these fragmented moments which made the new show feel very episodic and continuous.
A: This is your second comedy show about sex work. Is it similar to the first?
QB: The first show was very much about my relationship with clients, and how I felt being at work. The first story was almost quite singular in that respect; the other workers I worked with didn’t really play a part.
The new show is much more about how I encounter the world. And the realities of my life, which are very intersectional. There were things in the first show that I didn’t really focus on – like drugs and mental health, which are much more prominent in the second show. I take a lot more ownership of my relationship to these themes – they’re pretty commonly used against sex workers, but I feel the transparence in using these themes re-affirms the commonalities for a lot of people.
Power Up is focused on a much shorter space of time too. The first show was moments over five years, and was almost like the highlights of that time. Even though the stories were connected to share geographical spaces, they were not always linear. This show is much more of an intensive documentation of a six month period my life, it feels a lot more immediate.
I think the thing that both shows share is that they are both about how people navigate working in unstandardized working conditions, or ‘underground’ business models. Both shows also have a really heavy focus on how we connect with the people around us, the social architectures that we exist within, and how we all operate in multiple realities that are in constant flux.
A: What would you say the message of your show is? Does it have a social message?
QB: It’s definitely an intimate work, and not in any way the universal story of what being a sex worker is like, nor is how I represent work, or clients, and so on, meant to be an understanding about how all workers navigate the industry. But I feel I do try and unpack a lot of the stigma and mysticism that surrounds sex work through presenting my work, and the realities and normalities that I see in it, in a really comprehensible way.
The show talks a lot about both the physical and emotional labour that is connected to my job, as well as a lot of the mundane activities that occur when you spend a lot of time in a brothel. For me, the show’s message is a lot about looking at our relationships to connections, and part of that is how people feel when this involves a physical exchange for a fee.
There are definitely commentaries throughout the show, which are more centred on my material relationship to labour, sexism, and misogyny, and how these circumstances are navigated in my life. These things are experienced by lots of people, though for me it’s just that this might be happening while trapped in a suburban strip club that only plays 90s rock, or while in a makeshift airbnb brothel.
There is an equal amount of absurdity and banality in this show, which I feel is really just true for a lot of how we connect with other people. I feel that a lot representation of sex workers often becomes a very theoretical notion of mine and others’ experiences, rather than the actuality of our lives. I’m trying to change that with this show.
Sponsored content: Power Up is a proud supporter of Archer Magazine. For more information about the show, and to buy tickets, click here.
Vincent Silk is a Melbourne-based artist and writer whose work has appeared in Seizure, Voiceworks, Mix NYC, .dpi, and Slit magazine.
Archer Asks presents Q&As with the world’s most interesting voices on gender and sexuality. If you know someone with a fresh, diverse perspective, or someone doing cool stuff in the worlds of sex and gender, drop us a line.