Stories of hedonism and partying form the flexible backbone of Jess Love’s Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl. Combining circus, comedy and spoken word, Love aims to exorcise past demons, and have fun while she does it.
Sometimes our most embarrassing stories are best shared with a room full of strangers than with those closest to us. Jess Love says her own took on new gravity when she performed them on stage for the first time in front of her mother.
“My parents came to see my show, much to my disgust,” Love begins. “They know I’ve struggled at certain points in my life, but they don’t know the details—they don’t know that at a party one night I took so much cocaine that I couldn’t feel my legs. It’s not quite the thing you want to tell your parents anyway, but particularly not while on stage in front of strangers!”
Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl is a tale of Love’s life—her struggles, regrets and triumphs are documented through a unique blend of circus and comedy. There are hoola hoops and there is spoken word. Love weaves these disparate acts to chronicle her struggles with addiction and her disconnect from a religious upbringing. “I distinctly remember looking at my mum at one point in the show while repeating a line she once said to me,” Love recalls. “The audience were groaning—like ‘ooh, she shouldn’t have said that.’ In my head, all I was thinking was: ‘I’m so sorry mum!’ But at the same time, she was the one who said it to me, so who should be apologizing to who, really?”
Love was introduced to performance at a very young age—as a child, she would hold court at the family dinner table. “I learnt from quite early on what it was like to have everybody’s attention and how good that felt!” she laughs. Her parents encouraged her theatrical pursuits, enrolling her in drama, poetry and gymnastics. “I was 10 the first time I did an amateur theatre production at my local church. It was called ‘We Love Lambs’ and it was the story of Jesus Christ performed by lambs. I was the youngest lamb and I didn’t understand anything that was going on, and I had a speech impediment, but I loved it.”
After completing a Bachelor of Circus Arts from NICA, Love performed in a string of well-known circus companies, eventually crafting her first solo performance in 2009. Currently living and performing in London, she is returning to Australian shores with this new one-woman show.
The toughest part of performing solo?
“All the infrastructure that I don’t have around me—performing is the easy bit, but the lead up to production and organising a tour is so stressful. I have to find a publicist, come up with the money to pay everybody, take on the risk all by myself. I have some people who help me out, but I’m predominantly doing it on my own. I’m not a fan of admin. Nobody claps at the end of an email.”
Love is overwhelmed by the positive response to Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl. The Sydney Morning Herald gave the performance a formidable five stars, praising the “boldness, charm and dark hilarity” Love had brought to stage. “When you create new work, you never know what the response will be,” Love says. “You put it out there and hope for the best. But the response has been so positive—from friends, critics, and the general public alike. A lot of people were touched by it and there’s been quite a lot of tears at certain points. I’m so happy and proud that I was able to touch a nerve with people.”
Notorious Strumpet & Dangerous Girl
The Factory, Garden of Unearthly Delights
February 27, 28 & March 1