Comedian and sex worker Lucy Roche uses comedy to break down stereotypes.
Wellington-based Roche was voted New Zealand's best new talent in the Raw Comedy Quest last year.
Roche told Kathryn Ryan that she decided to go into the sex industry because it suited her lifestyle, was flexible and could fit around her comedy work.
She started comedy in high school and went on to study creative writing at university, but says she dropped out because it wasn’t for her.
Her shows discuss feminism, sexuality and TV as well as stories about her work.
“I see it as like when you are feeding kids vegetables but you mix it in with the spaghetti sauce so they don’t notice.
“I like to do really dirty jokes, but use a feminist subtext, which I hope people pick up on - and that’s like the veggies.”
Roche says people who have never met a sex worker – or believe they haven’t – are comfortable hearing her talk about it.
“I obviously get a good response, people laugh, so I think that is quite inclusive and they obviously don’t feel alienated or weirded out. Although to be fair a lot of people don’t believe me when I say that I am a prostitute.”
Roche says people often believe her sex worker stories are part of a character.
“I’m like no, I’m not making fun of sex workers, I am one.”
People don’t think she fits the stereotype of a prostitute, Roche says.
“When I go on stage, for example, I dress really cutesy which is in direct contrast to my material, maybe it’s a bit disarming for people, I don’t know.”
She feels talking about her work helps her claim power and removes the risk of anyone ‘outing’ her.
She draws attention to a range of matters in her shows, her concerns about porn among them.
“I am concerned about porn, which sounds hypocritical, but you know, I see it as very different, like an 11-year-old can’t walk into a brothel but they can easily access porn.”
Casual sex is another topic Roche discusses.
She says working as a prostitute has made her more confident about asking more from the men she sleeps with for free.
“I think there’s this pressure on girls to be totally chill and not clingy, but it’s like, you know, we had sex like the least you can do is add me on Facebook.”
Lucy Roche is performing at the NZ International Comedy Festival in Auckland and Wellington.