While strippers exist in some realm of fantasy, Mason shows us how real she really is. She will be the first to tell you that she is tall, gangly and small-breasted. When she dances, she is divine, beautiful; a writhing work of art. - ‘burgh vivant
sex werque is an auto-biographical solo show about working as a stripper in Pittsburgh. Moriah Ella Mason explores how we perform eroticism and consume intimacy, both in the club and at home. Through theater and dance, they unpack the world of sex work: the emotional and economic forces, the movement vocabulary, the masks, and the moments of authentic connection.
Choreography, text, and performance by Moriah Ella Mason
Video by Liz Barentine
Music by J.F. Winkles and Eric Weidenhof
Lighting by Antonio Colaruotolo
Set by Adrienne Fischer
with thanks to 4 sex workers interviewed in the show, who asked to remain anonymous
sex werque premiered at Carnegie Stage in Carnegie PA in June 2017 to a sold out run. It was presented for a second run at Carnegie Stage in January of 2018. sex werque was developed with support from Off the Wall Productions.
In January 2018 a physical and digital book was released including the script, extended interview transcripts with local sex workers, production photos, and original artwork by cartoonist Utku Sönmez.
A 30-minute excerpt was presented at Bronx Academy of Art and Dance (BAAD!) in March 2018.
A 15-minute excerpt was presented at WOW Cafe Theater in October 2019
sex werque is available for bookings. The full show runs at 80 minutes. 60, 30, and 15 minute excerpts can also be booked. To discuss bringing sex werque to your venue please contact me.
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There’s never a moment without movement in this show. It encapsulates all the embodiments of a body’s mood: frenetic pacing, shaking, dancing, and even stillness worked up to create dramatic, stunning silences. This is a study of the body, as Mason is never not on display steadily building up the crowd with her performative moves meant to arouse. But they exist with a certain distance not allowing them to be tantalizing, but rather investigated: the ‘sexy’ becomes ‘what is seen as sexy?’. She gives numbers to the routine, building up to a point where she’s gyrating each of her butt’s cheeks counting off their position in the routine: “13…14…13…14…13, 13, 13…14. - Pittsburgh in the Round
Mason [. . .] weaved an utterly engaging and compelling tale mixing dialogue, video interviews with other strippers, and dance that touched on stripping’s allure for her and others — its rewards, sacrifices, compromises in dignity, and its effects on her personal safety and emotional stability. - City Paper