Lisa-Skye's show 'By the Time You Read This, Lisa-Skye Will Have a Girlfriend*' is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 8.
By
Stephen A. Russell

29 Mar 2018 - 11:58 AM  UPDATED 29 Mar 2018 - 11:58 AM

A proud member of Melbourne’s polyamorous community, comedian Lisa-Skye is queer, kinky, and gender non-conforming, and she has a minor problem. She has a loving husband, a boyfriend, and a submissive man, plus a few extra blokes as lovers, but she’s currently short of a woman in her life. “I’m kind of like choking on the masc energy,” she laughs.

This gender imbalance flavours her latest punch-upwards-only stand-up show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF), By the Time You Read This, Lisa-Skye Will Have a Girlfriend*, which also explores how the internet has (or hasn’t) changed dating since the good old fashioned days of telephone sex lines.

She has pretty good insights on the latter, given that she funded her writing degree by working as a moderator on one. “Back before the internet and the world fuck pond, there would be these ads on TV, like bang on 12 o’clock at night,” she says, assuming a smoky, sultry voice, “Meet sexy singles now, call this number".

Applying to work on the sex line, she was instead offered a gatekeeping role. That required her to suss out and get shot of underage callers – if their parents challenged a huge bill, charged at $5.50 per minute, they’d have to refund the lot – abusive types and religious zealots. Occasionally, when the ratio of men to genuine women callers was so far outta whack in favour of the former, Lisa-Skye would be subbed in for the sultry stuff after all.   

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“This is where it gets really shady, because I had to keep them on the system,” she acknowledges. “I was ideologically okay with this for two reasons. One, because back in my 20s I was a horrible person, and two because I had a few rules in my head. So anytime a guy was genuinely looking for love, I wouldn’t respond, I felt like that was too mean-spirited. If they couldn’t afford to be on the system but they were desperate, like if they mentioned a pension, I’d also disengage.”

Working at the dating phone line for four and a half years, taking thousands of calls, she recalls having to hang up on callers, “because all of them were these horrible misogynist guys who were just there to cheat on their wives, glorifying their bad behaviour by looking for a naughty affair. I’d get guys saying, ‘looking for a woman, don’t care what size it is, pleasure’s pleasure’ and I’d think, ‘oh, you mean her, not an it, right?’ The sheer volume of guys who felt entitled to a warm soft cube of flesh to push themselves into.”

Lisa-Skye says her girl crushes started young. “I never really had to come out to my parents. There are only so many picture of Drew Barrymore, Madonna, and Courtney Love with a lonely single picture of Richard Grieco you can have plastered across your bedroom without raising some questions.”

There’s been no joy on that front of late, though. “I’ve been on Ok Cupid and Tinder and all the dating sites for years, but I’ve just had such horrible luck with women, and I use ‘men’ and ‘women’ as shorthand for people who live life as women and as men,” she says. “I do a lot of queer rights activism and I currently feel like such a fraud simply because I don’t have a relationship with someone who identifies as female right now, which is ridiculous.”

More susceptible to crushes on femmes rather than masculine-presenting people, Lisa-Skye says she came to her own hyper-exaggerated femininity in a non-normative way, joking that she identifies with rock band Motorhead’s sixth studio album Everything Louder than Everyone Else. “I don’t want to look pretty and delicate, I want to look like a fucking peacock. It’s a display of plumage, a very masc way of feminisation, if that makes sense?”

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She says this outlook probably comes from school. “I was always the little fat kid, told I wasn’t allowed to be femme, and people kind of attributed funniness as being quite a masculine trait, and fatness as being quite masculine too. I didn’t get boobs until I was about 18. I’ve always felt neither trans nor cis. I’m kind of hovering in the middle. It’s a weird thing I’m still working out about myself. How much of me is really a woman and how much of me is not?”

Above all else, Lisa-Skye strives to ensure her shows offer a safe space, so even if you are a smoking hot femme, you’ll be right. It’s why she founded the Safety House Guide, which offers comedy-goers advice on which venues have wheelchair-accessible toilets and gender-neutral bathrooms, and highlights shows unlikely to trigger, something that’s also guaranteed in her joint gig with Daisy Berry, The Safety House Showcase.

“Some of my fans have expressed concern about going to the comedy fest because you can be loving a show and then 23 minutes in they do a joke about dead sex workers or fat bodies or something and it’s just such a bummer, so I put together a guide of 63 acts where it’s a given they are not going to kick down, just some really good comedy that you won’t be the punch line of and it’s not going to make you feel like shit.”

By the Time You Read This, Lisa-Skye Will Have a Girlfriend* is at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival March 27-April 8. Book tickets here