In Conversation with Bella Green

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You may not have heard of Bella Green before, but we think you should get to know her. Bella is a brilliant up-and-coming comedian with rave reviews from Perth and Melbourne Fringe. She’s worked in brothels and strip clubs, peepshows and dungeons, massage parlours and adult shops, and even in a call centre for a big four bank. She’s here to create the kind of comedy that destigmatises sex work, doesn’t punch down and, most importantly, is funny as hell. We had a chat to Bella about her one-woman show ‘Bella Green is Charging For It’, getting started in comedy and the similarities between sex work and other customer service jobs.

Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and what are you passionate about?

I’m Bella and I’m a comedian and sex worker. I’m passionate about all-day breakfast, the back catalogue of PJ Harvey, and destigmatising sex work.

What drew you to comedy and how did you get started?

I’ve always wanted to write and perform but I didn’t realise I was funny until a few years ago when it became apparent that my Facebook statuses were all bangers. I wanted to try stand-up, but I was too nervous, so I got started performing improv with The Improv Conspiracy in Melbourne first.

Your show ‘Bella Green is Charging for It’ revolves around your experiences as a sex worker - why did you want to use comedy as a medium through which to tell those stories?

Sex work in and of itself is bloody hilarious. It’s the same minutiae from other customer service jobs that people would never consider - the dumb things guys say to you while negotiating the booking process, the hilarious things your coworkers do between bookings, the time the strip club DJ played ‘Roxanne’.

‘Bella Green is Charging for It’ premiered at Melbourne Fringe last year and now it is coming to Perth Fringe and MICF. How did you develop the show and has it changed since the first season?

The show just kind of poured out of me. I had no shortage of stuff to say. It was originally more of a stand-up/storytelling piece but then I started writing sketch comedy so I added a lot of that in too.

What did you do to find your audience and how can festivals and programmers work to support voices like yours? As in, voices from communities who aren’t often given a platform in mainstream comedy or performance.

We have really good sex worker networks and I think we’re all hungry for relatable content, so it’s been easy to get the community out to see the show. On a larger scale, I think both festivals and punters are keen for edgy material that doesn’t punch down - the festivals I’ve done have been nothing but supportive. I do think the festival scene can be financially inaccessible for a lot of people, though - the overheads to put on a show are massive, particularly interstate.

What kind of resources would you recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about sex work - either as an ally or as someone who may be interested in pursuing it?

Melissa Gira Grant’s book ‘Playing The Whore’ and Jacqueline Frances’s ‘Striptastic’ are both great reads. Peer-run organisations like Scarlet Alliance are terrific for people getting into the industry.

What do you want people to know about sex work? How can other people work to be better allies to people in the community?

That our jobs are so similar to your job in ways you’d never imagine. And if you want to be a better ally, just imagine there’s a sex worker in the room whenever you’re having a conversation (there probably is, we’re EVERYWHERE).

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And finally, we have some questions we ask everyone at her words -

Who are you heroes?

All the other comedian/sex workers who are smashing it - locally, Chase Paradise, Queenie Bon Bon and Lucy Sassafras. Internationally, comics like Sophie Willan and Fern Brady who’ve done sex work in the past and aren’t afraid to talk about it and normalise it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Let your freak flag fly high. Baby me spent a lot of time trying to squelch out her weirdness so people would like her. Adult me is only just starting to realise my weirdness is what people like about me.

What is one thing everyone can do to create greater equality in Australia and beyond? I think we could all be a little kinder and more empathetic as a starting point.

What are you looking forward to right now?

I’m currently 10 nights into a 12 night run at Perth Fringe, so I’m looking forward to going home and hugging my cats.

Thanks so much for chatting with us Bella!

‘Bella Green is Charging For It’ will be at Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 1 -11. You can find more info here, or you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Domini Marshall