Sex Smells

Sex Smells
Director: Paula Thielecke from Kollektiv Eins
Writer: Paula Thielecke
Cast: Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker, Tara Afsah
Seen on: 11.3.2020

Content Note: ableism, suicide

The Hot Flamingo Bar is a feminist porn cinema / brothel run by Muschi McMuschi (Marlene-Sophie Haagen), Captain Rodeo (Carolin Wiedenbröker) and Gloria Maria Wurst (Fabian Raabe). But the Bar and its staff are in trouble. Bills can’t be paid, gentrification lurks around the corner – and there is only a very limited amount of time left for them to stop it and keep their place.

Sex Smells has some interesting and some funny moments but overall, I was hoping for a little more from it.

Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker on stage

From the title and the description, I expected the play to be more about sex than it actually was. In the end, there was very little that came of the fact that the Hot Flamingo Bar is a place for sex work. And on the one hand, it was nice that they didn’t milk it – sex work is work, and you don’t need to treat it any differently than any other job. And they do make allusions to the special nature of sex work, especially the vulnerability of their marginalized position.

But nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a certain exploitativeness to it. Sex work treated as the colorful, exotic background for a story that was trying to make some good political points – but not all that much about sex work itself. That the points they are trying to make don’t go all that deep, and are also done by way of an ableist metaphor (the evil real estate guy, the police and the dude from the IRS all wear an eye patch as they are “blind on the right eye” aka they don’t see rightwing extremism). So, that wasn’t particularly great.

Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker, Tara Afsah on stage

There are good moments in the play for sure. There is a suicide scene (later the person who kills themselves rises from the dead without much comment) by way of pipe cleaner Mr Muscle and Mr Muscle has a short dialogue with the suicidal person that I found very funny (in a very dark way, of course). There generally were a couple of good jokes and they had a really excellent soundtrack in the play.

The play starts and ends with a video of snails and worms with a litany of philosophical thoughts. And while the videos and the animals were interesting enough, the combination didn’t work at all – I just completely ignored the voice. I mean, maybe that was the intended effect, but I thought it distracting. It would have been better in silence (and with a way shorter second video).

So, altogether, the play was okay for me, but I was really hoping for more than that.

Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker on stage

Summarizing: Some interesting things, but not enough.

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