Another successful outing as an “erotic creative”. Could it be that a new career beckons? Have I been hiding my light under a bushel all these years? Is this the latest re-invention? Jane Fae, stage performer?
Er, no. Probably not. Though as I do more of this sort of thing, I find myself intrigued, yet again, by the peculiar interplay this suggests between gender, personality and public performance – in the widest sense possible.
I’ve always been a writer. And while I also do math (the very first book I wrote was a stunning – as in, put you to sleep with one blow – text book on statistical techniques for business folks), the writing thing has been a part of me since I won a school literature prize (and book token) at the tender age of 8 or 9, for a rather twee piece about my cat.
Frustrated scripter and comic?
Fast forward a decade or so, and you’d find me sloshing about in student journalism – and a little after that, a temporary staffer on, of all things, Liberal News. And somewhere in there was a strong sense that I’d like to “do comedy”. I wrote the stuff. I even performed it a bit.
Though back then, the openings were few and far between (the cult of the celeb comic had yet to burst upon the scene) and the best I could rustle up was joining the melee on Radio 4’s “Week Ending” – which was pretty much open doors for anyone who wanted to try their hand at scripting, and was early stomping ground for the likes of Lissa Evans and Gruffydd Rees-Jones – and, er, writing the occasional one-liners for Noel Edmonds (don’t ask!).
Respectability, in the form of a job as a copywriter (and later a career in consultancy) forced itself upon me. For the next twenty years or so, while I still wrote, it was what I did betwixt and between. I’ve lost count of the number of novels started, stage routines crafted and…to be honest, none of them really worked.
So, f’rinstance, I did do the occasional piece of erotic writing. Rote stuff. (and yes, pedants, I DO mean “rote”). I knew how to craft a sex scene: knew how to hit all the right notes when it got to the literary money shot; but my heart wasn’t in it.
Any more than it was in the comedy I attempted.
The former was hollow: the latter, angry self-hating. Which maybe means I had a chance, since personally, I regard much current comedy as motivated by anger, turned outward or in.
Now roll forward Friday’s performance. It worked. It really worked. The text was erotic, but gently so. Nothing, I would suggest, overly smutty – though there was definitely sex in it. My own performance: confident, at home, playing out a role on stage that fit like a glove.
As Annie, who produced the event, suggested after: they’d like more. More performed readings. And they need to find better ways to stage me, because whatever else changes, I remain quietly spoken and a challenge to the most sensitive of mikes.
So what has changed? Sex, for one. As some recent posts maybe hint: I never quite “got” sex before. Oh. The physical side, yes. I’d never deny that there was physical pleasure. But the psychology? Nah. Depending on partner, that left me often somewhere between cool and screaming inside.
Now, I get it. Oh boy do I get it! And it is probably as well for the world that I am doing my best to live up to my social place as respectable middle-aged woman, and therefore keeping my cougarish tendencies in firm check.
And the stage thing. In case you hadn’t noticed, reading posts across the last years: I like me, now. So the angry self-abusive humour isn’t appropriate, isn’t needed any more. I can be gentle. I can be self-deprecating. I can enjoy taking an audience along with me and feeling their involvement.
That’s wonderful. Magical. It also faces me with another puzzle. For I have long said that being on stage before an appreciative audience is probably the best thing in the world, bar none. Including sex.
Well, the stage thing just got loads better. But so did the erotic. Which means, suddenly, for the first time in my life, I am left wondering which is better. Not that it worries me all that much.