The Penny Arcade Sex and Censorship Show

In 1990 during the Senator Helms – National Endowment For The Arts Censorship Crisis, performance artist Penny Arcade submitted her “Sex and Censorship Show, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!” as her NEA Fellowship audit.

“B!D!F!W!” was not awarded a fellowship but it went on to play for an unprecedented year off Broadway in New York as an underground hit and then hit the road as a commercial mainstream hit play in 30 cities around the world, picking up a loyal fan base including comedienne Joan Rivers, U2 guitarist The Edge and film director John Waters.

Blending Arcade’s outrageous humour, an exuberant audience dance break with male and female erotic go-go dancing, “BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE!” is a multi-media spectacle that re-creates the atmosphere of a club in a theatre setting. “B!D!F!W!” anticipated the international neo- burlesque performance movement and went on to establish erotic dance as a feminist art form.

Her infamous monologues feature the daily life of a receptionist in a brothel, the upbringing and rearing of a “faghag”, the evolution of the New York gay scene, and the heartbreak of HIV and AIDS. The comedic cultural criticism broke down the separation and isolation between people of diverse racial, ethnic, sexual and economic groups.

When first produced in New York “BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE!” was a runaway success, propelling the anarchic into the mainstream and wowing critics along the way.  In New York the show featured guest performers including Quentin Crisp and Marianne Faithfull

Originally created as an ingenious retort to censorship in the arts, “BITCH! DYKE! FAGHAG! WHORE!” retains much of its satirical impetus and political clout, never more so than in a climate where debates over government funding cuts, gay marriage, sexual freedom and reproductive rights rage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Penny Arcade hires local erotic dancers in every city she presents “B!D!F!W!” redeeming these dancers and their art form in the eyes of their own communities.

Penny Arcade climbed out of her bedroom window at the age of thirteen to join the fabulously disenfranchised worlds of queers, junkies, whores, stars and geniuses. By the age of 20 she had become a darling of Andy Warhol’s Factory and is now, still, a consummate entertainer and one of a handful of artists who created and continue to define performance art. “An Englishman in New York” Quentin Crisp chose Penny Arcade as the woman he most identified with, and she was portrayed on screen by Cynthia Nixon (of “Sex and the City” fame), alongside screen and theatre legend John Hurt.