Betty Grumble’s Love and Anger – Sydeny Fringe (performance review)
Betty Grumble’s Love & Anger (Or sex clown saves the world again!)
This show has completed its run at the Sydney Fringe.
Please note: These images are not taken from the fringe show, they are lifted from Betty Grumbles website and gallery. Go take a peek here.
“Life” in this “society” being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of “society” being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex.” — Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto
My copy of Valerie Solanas’ S.C.U.M. Manifesto sits proudly on my shelf with my Mary Daly’s, Andrea Dworkins and Kathy Ackers, and above the Marquis de Sade’s, Henry Millers and George Bataille’s. It’s my own way, after years of soul searching, to accommodate my inconsistencies and the contradictions that make me (semi)human. My little white girl’s indulgences, if you like. Rebellion is always (and not always) a bourgeoise pastime, and no one does it better than us overprivileged, bored white people. But it would be remiss to leave unconfessed the thrill I still feel when I pour through the truly frightening words of Valerie Solanas, and let her truth fill me from core to brim. Like the first sentence quoted above, the bulk of the book can’t be read in polite company, but Betty Grumble (bless her) has no interest in polite company, and uses the book precisely as the intellectual weapon and source of psychic condolence it was always meant to be.
Seeing Betty Grumble was, without any doubt, my personal highlight of the Sydney Fringe Festival in 2017. This is a truly thrilling show, that comfortably and easily takes on a multiplicity of feminist theories, psychological battles, and philosophical tristesse focused on – a surprise and not a surprise – the battlefield that is the female body. How can a naked woman be perverse and shocking in this day and age, and yet here she is, darkly revealing and frighteningly subversive, tapping into that deep fear of the abyss we call woman. From her ironic drag to her unashamed nudity, Betty Grumble is living evidence we are not mature enough to handle the truly feminist female, and she remains, in every way, the greatest symbol of that which we refuse through politesse.
This is a show devoted to Valerie Solanas, and serves as another reminder of the shocking and fierce intensity of that woman’s intellect and our inability to grasp the full nature of her art and that of which she spoke. Even Betty Grumbles marvellous celebration can’t deny the power of the censorship that rises when tapped by the written word of Valerie Solanas. But what a joy to be able to sit in a room filled with thinking bodies and dip just our toes at the edge of this pool, feeling the weight of all we’ve been refused? For that is what Betty Grumble truly represents, the refusal of rebellion, of true counter conversation and the adoration of the male push for prudish safety and violent conservatism.
A peek at that conservative historical record, Wikipedia shows us Valerie Solanas is still misunderstood and feared, only the solace of a Foucauldian clinic can rescue us from the statements released from her Pandora’s Box.
If you are ever in a position to see one of Betty Grumbles shows, run don’t walk to throw your money at her and grab a ticket, because it is one of the few acts of true rebellion you will be able to wield in an increasingly conservative world.