Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
Hilarious, playful stand up and sketch comedy about sex work
Are some little girls destined to grow up to be sex workers? Bella Green Is Charging For It is a stand-up comedy show that opens with that somewhat confronting question projected onto a screen. It's a question that you don't necessarily know how to approach, as you take your seat and wait for the performance to begin. It's a question that will gnaw at your mind and reveal its significance to you over the course of the show and for days after.
The show begins with a projection of photographs from Bella Green's childhood, along with a voiceover commentary from Green. She takes you on a fun little journey of yearly snapshots from what sounds like a pretty normal teenage life, describing themes and events that are relatable to anyone who has been (or has known) an adventurous teenage girl in high school. Before Green has even stepped onto the stage, this audio-visual tour has already won her audience over. And it only gets better from there.
Over the next 50 minutes, Green switches it up between storytelling and stand up, sketch and physical comedy, and more audio-visual comedy gold (including the 21st century's favourite comedy currency, screenshots - with all identifiable details removed, of course). She talks about her career progression, her experiences working at peep shows, brothels, and sex dungeons. And of course, the most degrading job she ever had - working in a call centre at a big four bank. Green's disarming personality, playful comedic style, and straightforward admissions make her show seem like a repository of relatable content and make it easy to empathize with even her most unique stories.
Bella Green performing a section of sketch comedy. Photo credit: Katie Dutton.
Green's performance exudes confidence, quality, and variety. She delivers - with help from two supporting actors in some of the sketch scenes - a show that is authentic, hilarious, and uplifting. She smashes stereotypes about sex work and sex workers without ever breaking character or dropping pace. She makes effective statements about how sex work is just like any other job. First, when she contrasts sex work with her work in call centres for financial institutions (commenting on industry ethics) and again, when she contrasts sex work with medical work (commenting on work relating to the human body and contact with other people's private parts). She also touches upon the question of empowerment and reminds the audience that empowerment in sex work often comes from the same source as empowerment in other work - from things like not having to think twice before buying blueberries in offseason.
Bella Green performing to a full house at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo credit: Katie Dutton.
Bella Green Is Charging For It is a genuinely clever, charming, and polished show. It's a show that gives you a sense about some of the different sorts of things that make up the sex industry and celebrates the professionals that work in it. It's a gutsy, refreshing show that earns its laughs by elevation and not by depreciation, especially not self-deprecation. It's the sort of show you can feel genuinely happy for when you hear that it sells out every night (which this show deservedly does). Bella Green is charging for it, and if you can get a seat, go pay - because this show is worth every cent.