HO LIFE OR NO LIFE gets 5/10 No Ho Ho Ho

Ho Life or No Life @ Laneway Palace (Laneway Lounge for Fringe World)
Thursday, February 8, 2018

5/10

Heartbreakingly disappointing, Ho Life or No Life held so much promise as a concept – sex positive, body positive and sex worker positive feminist comedy, delivered by an actual sex worker/stripper. Unfortunately, Chase Paradise’s first solo show is ultimately underwhelming.

Opening night saw forced laughter and awkward moments from the audience as Paradise fumbled her way through an overly rehearsed, played-by-rote script. Between an opening voiceover making strippers sound like self-involved bimbos, to a poorly constructed joke about giving head to a catcaller, it is, ultimately, tone-deaf and self-defeating. The intentions are good, but the execution is lacking. Starting late is forgivable, but a 40 minute show when punters are paying for an hour is not.

Essentially, Ho Life or No Life consists of Paradise outlining her life as a stripper as she plays it out onstage, from the relatable “what’s your real name?” questions by punters to an actual lapdance demonstration. Peppered in there is a badly sung ditty, which is at least partly salvaged by a surprisingly glorious rap later in the show. All of this is performed in standard stripper fare of glistening top and g-string, then an extended costume change to reveal a confusing (and unexplained) morph suit, and finally dressed as Paradise herself, albeit on a Saturday night on the town.

The title is never  in the show and is never elucidated – where does the no life come into it? Why would you suffer without the ho life? What would happen if you were to suddenly change careers? What would you miss? What would we miss? It’s unfortunate that there isn’t more realness in the Gold Coast glitz sprinkled on the show. There’s so much material here to work with, and it’s a crying shame that it falls down in its execution. Paradise could be one to watch, once the premise of the show is fully realised.

The entire show feels overly-forced, and an awful lot like it began as a spot at an open mic night which was praised by friends then got out of hand. That’s not to say that it doesn’t hold promise. It’s important feminist commentary and a message is there that the world needs to hear, so here’s hoping that Paradise spends time with some honest coaches who can help her hone her voice and tweak her comedy delivery and the show itself. Her comedic timing is undeniable, her sass and charisma contagious, so here’s hoping that the show is reworked and refined and that, with time, she becomes more confident in her ability to entertain with that wonderful, witty intellect.

What’s really lacking is a message about why taking one’s clothes off for cash is a feminist act – which it really is. It’s empowering, but Paradise needs to do more than just proclaim herself a feminist using that word during a rap onstage, she needs to really delve in and explain why this is important to her, and so many others. She needs to sing that from the heavens, because it’s a message that tends to get filtered down to only a few, and it’s valid in modern feminist debate. Show us your ability to shout your message loudly and proudly, Chase Paradise, and we will love you forever.

NATALIE GILES

 

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