Betty Grumble: Love and Anger (or Sex Clown Saves the World Again!)
- Arusa Qureshi
- 16 August 2017
This article is from 2017
Powerful takedown of the patriarchy by talented performance artist
It's not every day that you see someone lip-syncing to Minnie Riperton with gusto, using only their vagina. But then again, it's not every day that you encounter a performer so surreal, satirically erotic and unconventional that you feel confused and delighted in equal measure.
Betty Grumble combines her outlandish sex clown persona with subversive cabaret and intelligent political commentary to deliver what becomes on the one hand a formidable piece of performance art, and on the other, an act of resistance against male dominance and patriarchy. With Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto in hand, she sets out to show and indeed, prove that the female body is a powerful and radical space for the exploration of complex ideas of gender, pleasure and freedom.
Love and Anger may not be entirely coherent in its dissection of its primary themes but there's an unrelenting pull towards Grumble's absurdity that is amplified by her imaginative use of dance, props, costume and make-up. Whether she's singing The Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' with baking soda and vinegar swirling around in her mouth or printing works of art using her painted vulva, there's a parodic element to her acts.
The pace is a little up and down, but what comes through in abundance is her defiant take on female sexuality and her willingness to confront systems of oppression with humour and overt femininity.
Heroes @ Monkey Barrel, until 27 Aug, 8pm; Heroes @ Hive, 21 Aug, 4.45pm, £5 or Pay What You Want.