At the Basement Theatre until Saturday
What do you do when you are a successful stripper: you love your job, you are making decent money... and you turn 35? Most dancers I know, exotic and otherwise, add other strings to their bow – go on to teaching perhaps, but Glitta Supernova, aka Tralala, aka Ooh-la-la, is not ready to bow out just yet.
With the words of school teachers advising girls that their looks will fade one day ringing in my ears, I watch a middle-aged woman strip, and tell her story. At first a bit uncomfortable, I get used to it. The stories are entertaining, from dealing with her parents’ nudism, to rejoicing in her own – ‘I saw an advert for dancers, over 18, but under 19, I was very nearly 18 – of course I got the job!’
Here is a woman who appears utterly confident in herself and her sexuality. At least for the period of the show. Though, one notes, even as she reveals one side of herself so completely, another, her face is so heavily made up to be unrecognisable. Mirroring Twelfth Night outside, I seem to be watching a woman, pretend to be a man, pretending to be a woman.
On one level, middle-aged people twerking in a G-string, The Full Monty, notwithstanding, is not generally appealing, but there is something so honest and likeable about Glitta – and she was clearly very hot in her prime – that you go with it. And it makes a point. Of course young girls are hotter than older ones, of course people want to have sex with them. That the girls just do it for the money because they suffer a power balance is possible, but Glitta present a different view. She challenges the idea that woman could never find being a sex object satisfying – we are encouraged to spend a fortune on clothes, hair and make up to (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, hair toss) make us so. There is an expectation that women should put some resistance. Glitta is having none of it. Like the highly sexual Alan Cumming, she rejects shame, even as her anonymity protects herself from it.
And yet, and yet, you start to think of all the female newsreaders let go as they reach a certain age, all the jobs where youth (‘you’re all hot at that age, aren’t you?’ says Glitta of eighteen-year-olds. ‘Even if you’re ugly!’) is an advantage. The list goes on and on, from waitressing, to reception, to sales, never mind acting, dancing and modelling, and the extent of untapped potential amongst older women in many fields, has long been a cause of concern. Where the hell is the 50-something female trader on Billions, I ask you.
‘I don’t want to disappear,’ says Glitta, and I recall my mother (a smart Victoria University graduate who spent far too much of her career typing in the back office) saying the very same thing.