Sophie Duker: 'Strangers give you unsolicited advice and you cry in public'
- Deborah Chu
- 16 July 2019
This article is from 2019
Sophie Duker chats about 'birthing' her first solo show, Venus, where she faces down the Western world's complicated history with bodies of colour
What first drew you to the story of the Hottentot Venus?
The Hottentot Venus story is wild. Even the bullet points of Saartjie's life are mind-boggling: she was orphaned after a commando raid! She was trafficked to England and baptised in Manchester!! People paid money to stare at her arse!!!
Venus touches upon how the West both despises and fetishises bodies we deem 'exotic'. What do you think needs to happen in order for us to dismantle this toxic lens?
A lot of mainstream beauty and fashion brands are trying to superficially capitalise on how 'woke' we've all become in the last few years, by sticking some non-white models in their latest campaign or whatever. But in order for certain bodies to be normalised in the West, we all need to support, amplify and encourage fresh initiatives, businesses and creators whose commitment to authenticity and representation is fundamental. As ya girl Audre Lorde said, 'the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house'.
You're coming into this Fringe with a lot of experience in comedy already, but this will be your first solo hour. How have you been finding the experience?
I've had a whale of a time writing my first hour. There's about nine months' gestation during which you try to prep yourself for the essentially unpreppable. You experience mood swings and back pain (my show has a projector). Strangers give you unsolicited advice and you cry in public. And then, as your due date looms, you have to accept you're giving birth to something inescapably yours so you might as well love it anyway. Yes, the pregnancy metaphor abruptly falls short when you realise you can bin a show after a few months and start all over again. Something you should – emphatically – not do with a child.
Sophie Duker: Venus, Pleasance Courtyard, 3–25 Aug (not 14), 7pm, £7–£9 (£6.50–£8). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.