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REVIEW: Coin-Operated Girl @ Fringe

Words by: Tahlia Sanders

I dragged my boyfriend and two of our friends to Miranda Kane’s Coin-Operated Girl at Fringe, unsure of what to expect and nervous about what I might be inadvertently exposing them to. Overwhelmed by the myriad of shows on offer in the Fringe catalogue, I had impulsively chosen the show that most stood out. Coin-Operated Girl promised to be a tell-all performance about Kane’s seven years worth of experience as a three-hundred pound escort charging four-thousand Australian dollars a night to clients desiring the services of a BBW (Big Beautiful Woman).

Thankfully for my delicate sensibilities, the show kicked off to a slow start. Kane began by discussing her banal childhood in a small town in the UK (“the kind of worrying place where the entire population only has five different last names”) as the daughter of a stamp-collecting father. She details her pursuit of a career as a London entertainer at the age of 18, and the period of uninhibited sexual exploration that ensued when her initial dreams were not realised. She recalls feeling cheated when she discovered the niche online realm of BBW sex workers, exclaiming “these women were making money for something I was already doing for free!”

Kane was dipping her toe into the water of Australian humour, it was her opening night and she seemed a little unsure of her audience. Whilst there were a few references that went right over our heads, Kane carried on like a pro and the performance flowed easily. She bantered cheekily with the audience, flirting with one good-humoured man in the front row throughout the night, and laughing salaciously at her own stories.

What I enjoyed most about the show was not the comedy but the food for thought that Kane peppered throughout her performance. She took a moment in the middle of the show to educate the audience on the politics surrounding the stigmatic view of sex work and the injustice of the debate over its decriminalisation. She was also very explicit in informing us of her positive relationship with her dad, dissuading any talk of ‘daddy issues’. She worked hard to humanise and empower sex workers and it proved extremely eye opening for the majority of the crowd.

Kane had promised to shed light on what men really enjoy and towards the end of the show she delivered, with a countdown of her Top 10 most popular services during her time as a sex worker. I don’t want to give too much away but I was surprised to find out that wrestling, among other things, was in such high erotic demand.

Kane delivered an engaging and witty performance but the real value of the show for me was in her intelligent, experienced perspective rather than her comedy. I left the Casa Mondo tent feeling emboldened by the conversation that Kane had provoked in each of her audience members and with a shocking new arsenal of euphemisms for the female genitalia in tow.