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WITH her teapot handled onto thrust hip, Sophie Cameron (pictured) is a dribblesome vessel indeed. Big baby blues and blonde barnet lure in the posh boys and raise a twitch in their pink cords. She then delights as a torrent of class hatred and expletives lady jizz all over their proprieties.
She likes a dirty joke. I have little time for those that don’t. She’s well aware that the difference between vulgarity and sexism is that one is something we all share, the other is about power. She’s easily the filthiest performer going. Better yet, not because of her ribaldry — that’d be too easy — but because of the imagery she rams home.
“I grew up with humour,” she tells me over a dirty martini. “Most working-class people use humour to get through difficult times. A lot of people don’t take me seriously, they focus on the swearing and don’t actually listen. Many mighty women like Sofie Hagen are passed by not only because of what they say but how they say it.”
As well as pushing her own poetry, she pushes the kind of feminism that gets its hands dirty up to the elbow. Celebrating this coming International Women’s Day (March 8, comrades) she is hosting one of her regular Red Raw nights on March 11 (Mothering Sunday, comrades) and it features some unusual turns with interesting things to say.
Why is this rawer than what Polly Toynbee’s saying at the Grauniad? Sophie declares forcefully: “I don’t identify with the mainstream feminist narrative as it’s sold. I didn’t see myself in it or the people I know. I went to several high profile events last year and they were all too serious, so po-faced. They had plenty to say to the middle-class ‘feminism as ripped tights’ contingent but not the whole spread of women out there.
“With Red Raw, I’ve deliberately put on raucous, challenging shows, nights that are entertaining, as well as having something to say. It’s not just me saying it. Working-class voices have the best accents, but we’re just not heard. I’m really happy to be working with so many Chinese turns in this show, as the Yellowface furore recently showed — and the gig discusses — they’re walked over too.”
The night centres round an installation by Chinese feminist Li Maizi. She is one of China’s “feminist five,” arrested and detained for 37 days after campaigning against sexual harassment on International Women’s Day in China in 2015, and she will also be doing a live interview. And VaChina will be performing subtitled excerpts from a Vagina Monologues-style play, in which they share their views on gender politics in China.
The night is called Leftover Women (“sheng nu” in Chinese) which is a derogatory term prominently used in China to describe unmarried women over 27 years old. Why 27? Because after that, women’s eggs deteriorate and they’re deemed unattractive... apprently.
The Chinese government pushed the term sheng nu in a campaign to get women married. Roseann Lake, author of Leftover in China, will be discussing this more. Always a delight is poet Joelle Taylor, who’ll be treading the broads and reading from her recent collection Songs My Enemy Taught Me.
The whole shebang is at the Cockpit Theatre in London, where there will also be a cabaret of diverse, angry and wild women. “It’s not all straight and narrow,” Sophie jokes, “there’s a bloke in drag. It’s #notallmen,” she laughs.
“Also I’ve turned 30 myself,” she adds. “I am a bit left out.”
Buy a ticket from thecockpit.org.uk and show her she’s not.
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