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Sex workers tell their own stories in 'Dirty Panties: The Musical'

The production hits House of Yes on Friday night.

The first thing to know about “Dirty Panties: The Musical” is that it’s not a musical.

“[The title] is kind of tongue-in-cheek,” explains director and House of Yes co-founder Anya Sapozhnikova. “It makes the show sound light, and it is actually everything but that.”

She describes the production, which opens Friday at House of Yes, as a “collection of abstract and emotional vignettes” that represent the experience of being a sex worker. The dozen or so acts will each be performed by cast members who have worked in the industry (or for those who wish to remain anonymous, by actors standing in for them).

The Bushwick hub of sex positivity and creative expression is known for staging genre-defying, psychedelic productions. (Last year’s “Ketamine: The Musical”— also, not strictly a musical — included actors costumed as dancing tongues and bulging eyeballs to simulate the user experience of the drug.)

Related: House of Love is the progressive sex party that only Brooklyn could host

“Dirty Panties” follows the same sort of dream logic. In one vignette, masked actors dressed as the “Three Little Pigs” will retell the children’s story as sex workers who kill the big bad wolf — a strip club patron who destroyed their place of business.

Absurdity reigns. One musical number, an operatic cover of Nine Inch Nails' “I Want to F—k You Like an Animal“ will be performed by experimental classical vocalist Daisy Press. Sapozhnikova describes it as “angelic.”

Another scene merges humor with the abstract. A female sex worker powers through a trying submissive session by fantasizing about eating pizza — and soon enough, actors in pizza costumes emerge onto the stage.

“That’s about how you can have the craziest stuff happening to you [as a sex worker] and you’re so jaded and over it and bored,” explains Sapozhnikova, a former sex worker herself. “We’ve all had that experience: they’re doing really weird stuff and you’re thinking about this thing you read on Facebook.”

The production aims to destigmatize sex work and humanize sex workers by giving a voice to those in the industry.

“[Sex work] is very dangerous, because it’s criminalized and unregulated,” she says. “It would be a lot safer if people weren’t afraid to ask for help from the police. If it were legal, you could get support from your friends and family, feel comfortable talking to your therapist about it.”

“The time is right to do a show like this, as we’re seeing our human rights being trampled on,” she adds. “Sex workers deserve respect and to be treated like people with jobs, not dirty whores.”

For the production, House of Yes is partnering with the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP USA) a social justice advocacy group that helps protect the rights of those in the industry. Representatives will set up tables to provide information pre-show and during intermission, with proceeds from all four nights going to the organization.

You, or at least your unmentionables, can be a part of the show, too. Through Friday afternoon, you can donate your own pair of dirty panties (really) which will be used to create a giant wedding gown that will serve as a backdrop for a video during the show, according to Bushwick Daily. Drop off is at Queen of Falafel.

If you go:

Dirty Panties: The Musical
7 p.m. Fri. March 10, Sat. March 11, Thurs. March 16, Fri. March 17
House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Ave.
$25-$40, 21+
Houseofyes.org

 

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