Fuck You Pay Me is a show made for strippers, by strippers with the aim of challenging our perception of their work. It brings to light the challenges strippers face, and forces us to empathise with their job. The play calls for more recognition of their employment rights as any other worker. In particular, strippers are misclassified as self – employed even though they must obey house rules, and even have to pay high fees to perform. In this respect, they deserve the same security, dignity, and respect as anyone else, because, ‘THERE IS NO SHAME,’ in stripping: ‘SEX WORK IS REAL WORK.’
The play tells the story of Holly, a stripper getting ready for a night at a strip club. It is a comical combination of pink, fur walls, palm trees, and a DJ deck. The set creates a safe, and fun environment as opposed to one that could have been dark, and seedy. Holly discusses the frustration she feels with difficult clients, and the shame she feels in hiding her work from her family. Her mobile adds tension to the drama, every time it rings, it reminds her of the outside world – that she will never be free from judgment, will always be on the fringes of society.
Despite the lows of stripping, Holly is drawn to its flexible nature, and the possibility of earning a decent salary. The audience learns how her work actually requires much more than just taking her clothes off – it involves marketing, PR, acting, and dancing. She uses these skills to attract customers in order to earn a good tip. This requires networking, and a lot of flirting, and hustling. When the audience is made aware of what is actually involved in the work of a stripper, it then seems wrong that they have fewer working rights, and are in turn, not protected by the law. The play blends art, and activism to make us rethink about the treatment of strippers, and gives us a deeper understanding of their line of work that deserves more respect since, ‘STIGMA KILLS’, and their body is their business.