Toronto
2 min

Sex trade imbalance

Yapping Out Loud combines elements of theatre and performance art

TROUBLEMAKER. Yapping Out Loud, about the lives of sex trade workers, is Mirha-Soleil Ross' most ambitious performance piece. Credit: Aleesa Cohene

She’s alone now. One client has left and another will be here soon. We’re seeing her in crisis. As she speaks to us her voice becomes an instrument: delivering her lines in staccato rhythms, her voice rising and falling in repeated crescendos. She tells us how this last one said something that somehow makes her worry about who he might have been. She decides she must get rid of her files, her computer, anything that would provide a clue as to the work she does here. She must “de-whore” the place.



This is the first scene from Mirha-Soleil Ross’ Yapping Out Loud: Contagious Thoughts From An Unrepentant Whore which she’ll perform as part of the Mayworks Festival Of Working People And The Arts.



Yapping Out Loud combines elements of theatre and performance art. It consists of six monologues, three autobiographical. Ross’ characters include an anti-prostitution feminist, a residents’ group advocate and a serial killer – characters all-too-familiar to sex workers. The monologues will be accompanied by a video presentation, edited by Mark Karbusicky, and live music performed by Reena Katz.



“What I’m trying to do is show how these various anti-prostitution attitudes are all on a continuum,” Ross says. “They all create a context where prostitutes can be harassed, violated, criminalized, put in jail and murdered.”



As someone who began working as a prostitute in 1990, Ross has spent years thinking about and struggling with the issues she addresses in Yapping Out Loud. She wanted to do something political; she’s been a gutsy activist in both the transsexual and sex trade communities and was instrumental in developing the Meal-Trans program.



Now she says she can move on to other projects. She began writing Yapping Out Loud two years ago, but the efforts from the first year were scrapped because she found they were too giggly, not harsh enough.



She hopes that people watching the piece will have a better understanding of the work and lives of prostitutes, “so that next time they hear either feminists or social workers or journalists or the government or the police say things that I talk about in my show, they will know that this can be turned into something really bad for prostitutes and they might stand up and say something.”

Ross has had a lot to say as a video maker and performer. Her list of credits includes producing the videos Gendertroublemakers and Dysfunctional, but Yapping Out Loud presented new artistic opportunities to expand and push herself in her performance.



“It was a challenge because I’ve never put something this big together before,” she says. “I’ve done 15-minute, 20-minute performances and they were botched. I wrote them a few days before and performed them half-memorized. So one of my goals was to show that I can write an hour of material that’s well-integrated, and that I can collaborate with a team of people.”





Yapping Out Loud.

$10 sliding scale. 8pm.

Wed, May 1.

The 519 Community Centre.

519 Church St.

599-9096.