Every now and then a new word comes along that you’ve never heard. Not in all the years – decades even – in in this here life so far. I came across one such word – ecosexual – this week, during an interview with performance artist Betty Grumble for a radio show on alternative station RTRFM.
Read it again: Ecosexual.
Like me, you probably first think of the natural environment. And then the (at-first impression) absurd proposition of making love to it. I mean, if hippies can get off on hugging trees, perhaps there is something more that humans can do to connect with nature beyond that?
Anyway, performance artist Betty Grumble (real name: Emma May Gibson) clarified the term for me.
“If you’ve got the humour in you, you can pretty much identify with it,” she says. “For me, ecosexuality is about having a sustainable relationship with the earth, but it’s a sexual identity as well. There’s that idea of oneness and that we can return to the earth so as to sense a certain sensuality with it.”
Grumble takes her cue to sexing up the environment from the likes of Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens – North American comedians-come-political-activists who like to throw a few sexual references into their shows for good measure – namely in the name of sex education. And who doesn’t like a bit of sex ed?
Similarly, but still in a world that is oh-so her own, Grumble melds sex with politics, music with poetry, circus antics with dance, to deliver a one-woman power-packed production Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves The World.
While the props and backdrops aren’t exactly off the set of a Hollywood movie (that would defeat the purpose), the piles of trash, plastic, rubbish bins and tarmac-type muck represent the environmental mess we’re surrounded by, metaphorically and, yes, occasionally literally. with Grumble all the while stripping and dancing amongst it.
And while there is no strict scripting and some of the messages (be they coming from Betty’s lips or written on placards) are more esoteric than clear-cut, ultimately the eco-friendly, post-feminist message comes across well enough. Clearer than any of the shit that spills from Donald Trump’s gob, anyway.
Indeed, there appears to be a connection to Trump and his current draconian policies, especially when Betty moves to the sounds of Shirley Bassey crooning History Repeating, lip-syncing to it while pushing and pulling a papier mache ready-made planet Earth.
It’s unadulterated strip-tease, sex education and circus act all at once.
Even electronic music artist, Peaches, has raved about this show, calling it ‘transformative and wild”.
So if you want to get in touch with your wild side and ponder the beauty of the unlimited potential connection between humans and earth, check out this wicked, sometimes warped and, yes, somewhat enlightening show. But be told, there is also a kind of ‘lip-syncing’ going on down below later on in the show. Antonino Tati
‘Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves The World’ is on at Perth’s Fringe World, Circus Theatre, Northbridge, until February 3. Tickets through www.fringeworld.com.au.
Betty also performs at The Glory Republic party at Babushka, Leederville, on Saturday 4 February. Tickets also through www.fringeworld.com.au.