“We just wanted have these performance nights that are all about disabled people with the aim of showing that we’re people with full lives, including sexuality and sexual desires.”
By
Michaela Morgan

21 Nov 2017 - 2:36 PM  UPDATED 29 Nov 2017 - 10:21 AM

When Melbourne’s Quippings performance group first formed in 2010—at Fitzroy’s Hares and Hyenas bookshop—co-founder Kath Duncan thought it would just be a one-off show.

“It was kind of a crazy idea: queer and queer-friendly disabled people wanting to do this sex stuff,” she tells SBS. “It seems pretty marginal but the audiences just kept falling in.”        

“We just wanted have these performance nights that are all about disabled people with the aim of showing that we’re people with full lives, including sexuality and sexual desires.”

The group’s latest piece—Risky Business—is celebrating International Day of People with Disability with a cabaret game show complete with tattoos, menstrual blood and tango dancing.    

“This time it’s a little bit different, we’re going to have a bizarre, risky game show,” says Duncan of the new format.

“People will interrupt the show through ad breaks to do their individual pieces. Every performer has a different idea about what ‘risky business’ means for them," she says. 

“We really liked this idea because living with disability, you’re kind of risky in every way possible! Even in terms of just getting a job."

RECOMMENDED
Coming out as gay with a disability
How do you navigate having a disability and finding love as an LGBTQI young person? Insight meets one man creating a safe space for sexuality and disability.

Duncan is a double transverse amputee and will be performing a piece all about sexual desire.

“My left arm kind of ends kind of like a small elbow,” she says. “Without freaking you out too much, let’s just say some people have really enjoyed that arm as a sexual object.” 

“We just wanted have these performance nights that are all about disabled people with the aim of showing that we’re people with full lives, including sexuality and sexual desires.”

The Risky Business show will also include queer and queer-friendly performers Rachel High, Gem Mahadeo, Julie McNamara, Sonia Marcon, Kochava Lilit, Anthony Julian, Imogen Newhouse, Jess Kapuscinski-Evans and Creatrix Tiara.

“My piece explores pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is a disorder that affects people who experience a menstrual cycle,” Tiara tells SBS.

“What happens is that, at certain points in your menstrual cycle, there is a severe mood crash, and some physical symptoms, but the mood swings are the main part of it.”

RECOMMENDED
Comedy in a queer bookshop is the safe haven I didn't know I needed
"It’s a trait of the deeply lucky, and the deeply unlucky, to learn at a young age that laughing at misfortune is key to surviving it."

Tiara’s background is in burlesque and performance art and she thought the theme of ‘risky business’, a show exploring disability and sexuality, was a great opportunity to present an “interesting interpretation of an often-misunderstood condition.” 

“We have assumptions made about our sexuality and there’s not of room for us to state what our sexuality is on our own terms."

She adds that she hopes people who come to the show will leave with a more nuanced understanding of people who are disabled. 

“A lot of narratives around disability are that you’re either downtrodden and everything sucks for you, or you’re the inspiration because, despite your disability, you can do everything!

“There’s not a lot of space for all kinds of complicated representations of disability. Definitely not a lot of room for people who live with a disability to talk about themselves beyond ‘oh, this is my disability and therefore I’m defined by it."

Tiara adds that “a lot of people living with disability get desexualised."

“We have assumptions made about our sexuality and there’s not of room for us to state what our sexuality is on our own terms.

“This will be a very intriguing way to see how those two worlds combine.”

Risky Business will be performed on Friday December 1 at 7pm, Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood with an AUSLAN interpreter. 

You can find more details and purchase tickets here

RECOMMENDED
Love, sex and disability: the queer performers changing the conversation
The Emerging Writers’ Festival runs from June 14-23. Catch Quippings presents: LOVE SHOW at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre on June 15.
The queer, disabled filmmaker exploring his story on the big screen
A queer, disabled take on the body-swap films we all know and love, 'Pulse' will screen at the Sydney Film Festival this June.