The stage is set in a little theatre in south London. Enter the master of ceremony who invites us to guess which of the cast in The Sex Workers' Opera are currently working in the sex industry.
The cast is made up both of sex workers and their friends – although we are never told who is who, we are very much invited to guess, making us question the stereotypes that may – or may not – form our thought-process.
The message of the show is clear: sex workers want ‘rights not rescue’ and for people to listen to them rather than speak for them. The villain: legislators who make sex work illegal, and therefore very dangerous. The show explores lots of real-life stories from sex workers all around the world, and also pays tribute to the women "rescued" in the 2013 Soho raids and the inhumane way that they were treated by the police.
“If sex work was led by men, instead of women, the laws would be very different. The laws against sex work are racist, transphobic, sexist, queerphobic. In Britain, sex for money is only legal when it’s one on one, but brothels run by sex workers would make me feel safer...” This is a quote from our interview with one of the sex workers from the show, you'll be able to read the full story in issue 40, out 14 December.
The Sex Workers' Opera is currently being performed at Ovalhouse, London, until Saturday 2nd December, head to ovalhouse.com for ticket information
Photos by Julio Etchart