Review: The Offensive Nipple Show
The Offensive Nipple Show riffs off the nauseating culture of misogyny with a show that is unapologetically nude and outrageously hilarious.
It feels apt that on International Women’s Day - the same day that the Internet lost its collective mind over Kim Kardashian’s semi-naked selfie - that in Auckland, Aotearoa two women would open a show called The Offensive Nipple Show.
In New Zealand, International Women’s Day was a clusterfuck. A day that reminded women all over the world of what a bun fight it is to attempt to discuss or even simply be a woman in this world. Nowhere is this more emphasised than when it comes to our bodies. Literally the fabric of our physical presence on earth is anything from taboo, to innate sex object, to downright offensive.
Over 60 minutes performers Sarah Tuck and Jess Holly Bates unravel the simultaneous combination of pride, trauma and confusion that comes with being the owner of two mammary glands. In loose black tee’s and matching undies they slip in and out of various levels of dress in a mish-mash of skits, confessions, pubersations and a bosom bullet toss. The Offensive Nipple Show leaves no man or woman behind. As an audience member, your gaze is the snake in the garden - Tuck and Bates are quite happy to prance and jiggle in the nuddy - until they remember that we are sitting there watching them.
The fourth wall broken, Bates embraces an exotic imagining of the female form until that too is ruined - ‘I’m a feminist, I can’t be racist!’ This feminist no-no triggers a series of confessions that the audience is wholly participant in.
When it boils down to it, The Offensive Nipple Show is a conversation about body sovereignty - a topic overwrought with the battle that is unlearning centuries of culturally-ingrained misogyny. It places this battle right on the skin from which it is born. These women are naked and yet they’re not trying to be sexy or have sex with men. They’re talking - they’re laughing! They’re even talking about having sex with other women.
Unlearning institutionalised misogyny is like trying to eradicate possums. Just when you think your native bush is thriving, a possum starts nibbling away your soul. It whispers in your ear, ‘You know men won’t like it’ and well, ‘It's kind of gross you know’ and before you know it you’re sitting in a towel staring at a naked plot. These thoughts are far from empowering but they are insidious, persistent. As Tuck and Bates discuss, sometimes it is easier to succumb - to shave your legs and feel more confident in public. Despite this, the failure is not important - the conversation is.
In sprouting serious feminist conversation from pubes with eyes and spilt milk, The Offensive Nipple Show puts a spotlight on how ludicrous it is for women to be shamed for their bodies. They allow us to laugh at all the fucked up shit, as well as our own role in it.
Grim? Perhaps. But both Tuck and Bates seem to realise that a post-misogynistic feminist wonderland will take time and there’ll be plenty of fuck-ups along the way. In the meantime, they're working on it, we’re working on it and we’re all learning and laughing together.
The name of this process? Catharsis.