When comedian Chase Paradise left school, she did what most creatives do, headed to uni to do a BFA. But her career choice following graduation was a little unorthodox — although not actually that uncommon — she became a stripper. After working in clubs Australia and the US, Chase has returned home with witty anecdotes and her first solo comedy show. Her new show, Ho Life or No Life, is changing how people think about sex work and putting some well-deserved light on an industry that for too long has been forced into the shadows. We had a chat to her about getting into comedy, eradicating stripper stereotypes and, of course, her new show Ho Life or No Life.
So, tell me a little bit about Ho Life or No Life what themes and ideas are explored in your show?
Ho Life Or No Life is a bright, colorful, fun and silly way for me to make light of the sexist bullshit strippers, sex workers and, just women in general, have to deal with but in a way men can understand. You know, with my tits out.
Who did you write your show for? People working in the industry, people outside the industry or both? And how do you balance these audiences?
To be honest, I wrote it for myself. I wrote the show that I’d want to see. I wanted to represent the sex worker community in a funny and intelligent way without alienating people who have just come to have a laugh. Just because I’m interested in dismantling the capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchy doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy fart jokes. I think that’s something we can all relate to, right?
When and how did you first get into comedy?
My first time on stage was the Raw Comedy Competition in 2014 at the Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy. I didn’t invite anyone in case it went horribly, but then I unexpectedly got through to the next round. So I obviously think I’m the next Amy Schumer and go round telling all my mates to come the following week then totally bombed in front of virtually everyone I know. It was “character building”.
What was more daunting hosting Baby Got Back at Fringe World or giving your first lap dance and why?
Baby Got Back, hands down. Baring your body is easy, it’s baring your soul that’s hard. I spewed, I cried and had panic attacks before hosting BGB, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. The only thing that was difficult about my first lap dance was that the guy was so fat he didn’t have a lap to dance on.
Having a public stripping presence is obviously something you embrace. Was it always like this for you or did you ever keep your job a secret? If so, when and how did you come “out” as a stripper?
No way! I wasn’t out publicly for the first 5 years. I only started @strippercomic in March 2016 when I moved to the States. I was in a new country and felt like I could be a new person, free from judgment but I also didn’t have any friends so my online persona became an outlet for me to connect with other women. As far as my family, I talk about how my parents found out in the show.
In your opinion, what are common misconceptions about stripping?
That stripping or sex work isn’t a legitimate form of income like any other. Some do sex work because they want to, some do sex work as a means of survival and some are forced into it. All three need different support and more than one of those scenarios can apply to a person at different times. We need to be viewed as people and treated with respect, not a vehicle for you to project your issues onto. Also, if you’ve ever wondered “Who is keeping Nickleback going?” - it’s strippers. That shit is on 5-8 times a night in every strip club the world over.
Strip culture is arguably becoming more acceptable to mainstream society. Do you think comedy can help people outside the industry be more accepting of it? If so how?
I agree that strip club culture is becoming more mainstream in certain ways, however, I’d like to progress past the ‘desperate stripper’ or ‘rolling in money’ paradox. I feel any medium - comedy or not - that delves deeper than those overused tropes would help make for a richer society in general. We’re finally starting to see a shift in the stories that are being told across the board; women, people of colour and queer voices are scratching the surface. The more people are exposed to these cultures - including sex work - the more we see a reduction in the fear and violence surrounding them. It’s important to remember that sex workers are people with a myriad of interests, backgrounds, and reasons why they are in their line of work.
What did you want to achieve when you were writing Ho Life or No Life?
I wanted to express myself as authentically as possible in the hope that it might inspire more woman to do the same. We need more women in comedy. We need more voices from the sex worker community to be heard. We need to crush this narrative that you can’t be both sexy and funny. I hope that other people living alternative lifestyles will see my show and want to make one of their own.
What’s next for you?
I’m in Channel Nine’s Underbelly Files: Chopper on Feb 11th & 12th. I play Stripper #3 so it’s a really emotive and relatable part. I’m currently filming for my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYJTZKe7Tbg&t=479s and recording a sex-positive podcast due for release later in the year. Stay tuned!
HO LIFE OR NO LIFE DATES:
Perth: Feb 8-11th, 7:45PM & 9:15PM @ Laneway Palace https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/ho-life-or-no-life-fw2018
Melbourne: Apr 14-22nd, 10pm @ The Butterfly Club https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/ho-life-or-no-life
“Penthouse Club’s 3rd Birthday” Feb 7th https://www.penthouseclubperth.com/events/penthouse-club-perth-3rd-birthday-celebration/
“Is This What You Humans Call Variety?” Feb 9th, 11:15pm @ The Lucky Cat, Town Hall https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/is-this-what-you-humans-call-variety-fw2018
“A Comedy Cocktail” Feb 22nd, 7pm @ The Butterfly Club https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/a-comedy-cocktail