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Joana Nastari in Fuck You Pay Me, The Bunker © David Monteith Hodge

Fuck You Pay Me at the Bunker, Southwark

10 May 2019 | Billie Manning

For people wondering what exactly Fuck You Pay Me is, it is a call to action and allyship to sex workers; a good time; poetry; dance and a lot more.

We follow Bea (Joana Nastari) through a night at work at a strip club, as she chats with her friends and colleagues, is frustrated by inappropriate and ungenerous clients and tries to deal with the worry of being followed by the stigma of sex work.
 
Joana Nastari’s Bea is fleshed-out and funny – Bea chose the name ‘Holly’ for an alias because it reminded her of a Fortnum and Masons’ Christmas hamper (and ‘all the good ones were taken’.) Poetic techniques like rhyme and repetition infuse the writing. ‘Hi, I’m Holly,’ Nastari repeats over and over, bringing to life the exhaustion of constantly building relationships and entertaining clients - finishing with ‘Hi, I’m Holly and I babysit grown men’.
 
The use of sound designer Charlotte Bickley as the on-stage persona of Bea’s phone is a genius addition which provides the tension of repeated missed calls from Bea’s mother, and is the perfect, 21st century way to represent the voice of the conscience. (Plus, it’s really funny – ‘But you love it when I notify you of things!’ complains Bickley when Bea tells her to shut up).
 
The show is made up of many parts: as well as Bea's story, there is a very poetic interlude invoking metaphor, magic and myth which, while atmospheric, is difficult to follow; the show almost finishes on a particularly touching recording of a conversation between Nastari and her mother; and finally Nastari ends the performance with a dance – how could she not? She holds up placards reading ‘stigma kills’, ‘my body my business’ and finally, the message of the whole show: ‘no shame’. It is a very powerful moment.
 
Two special guests perform before the show each night, making each performance unique; we enjoyed a warm and casual talk from Esme Cifuentes, which was simultaneously touching and funny, as well as a high-octane performance from drag king Chiyo Gomes. Nastari is putting her money where her mouth is here, making others’ voices heard and supporting other artists, so hats off to her - this is a show with loud, proud principles.
 
Fuck You Pay Me is at the Bunker, Southwark until 19 May 2019 
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