KATIE SLY: performer, playwright, visual artist, producer of Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret
I feel like I push myself to certain lengths with my body and exposure. I've been abused quite a lot, so I feel that extreme exhibitionism of my body, or exhibitionism in terms of talking publicly about my physical experience, is an act of reclamation.
I did an autobiographical solo show called Charisma Furs at SummerWorks 2015. I performed that show 13 times in the span of 10 days, so 13 times over I got naked in front of strangers. I think it showed me that there's always the possibility for intimacy to be new and to surprise you and to teach you things.
Showing up nude or taking off my clothes as part of a performance really necessitates that I'm there. There's nothing rote about it. I'm not spitting out lines like a robot. It requires presence. It also has taught me a lot about how to hold space, particularly as a woman, as someone who's queer, as someone who's genderqueer, as someone who's very, very physically small and has been picked on often.
It's interesting how being comfortable with my nakedness in front of an audience intimidates people and how it's a way to... not bully, but take up space and hold space. Nudity is not a point of vulnerability for me; it's very much a point of strength.
I was part of the Write From The Hip unit at Nightwood Theatre, where I wrote a play called Serenity Wild, which I'm working on producing in 2017. It's largely about BDSM and issues of consent. Although now BDSM is a huge part of my life in a very positive way, my entry point was with a person who was adamant about telling me that they knew what I needed - or I would spell out things I didn't want, and they did them anyway.
My body has been possessed and owned by people without my permission on so many occasions - and fuck it, I'm taking my body back. You can do what you can do to me, but I will still be here, and in this body, and totally unashamed.