Updated: Monday, 9th December 2019 @ 3:45pm

Interview: MM discuss dominatrix life and Burning Man-style shows with Women in Comedy star Desiree Burch

Interview: MM discuss dominatrix life and Burning Man-style shows with Women in Comedy star Desiree Burch

| By James Crump

Desiree Burch is busy attempting to make her lunch for the week when I call to chat about her new show “Desiree is Coming”.

Despite the occasional clang of silverware Desiree is insightful, funny and damning of the structures put in place for women in comedy.

The Los Angeles born stand-up performed Desiree is Coming at the Edinburgh Fringe in August and when I bring this up, she tells me “has it really been that long?”

Despite the hectic nature of the festival, Desiree made sure she found time to “see other people’s shows” instead of just getting stuck in the exhaustion of it all.

“Sometimes you're the worst person to describe your own show,” she says, still managing to distill it down somewhat.

“It's one long day at Burning Man that goes wonderfully awry in a very sort of like Hunter S. Thompson hallucinogenic infused Spirit Quest journey through the desert kind of way.

“Thematically the show sort of talks about the nature of story and personal narratives and how we shape ourselves.”

Like a lot of Desiree’s work, the show is heavily political, despite the surface idea looking on the outside like a surreal, sprawling affair.

“It kind of deals a lot with racial privilege because those are intersections of my life particularly in a space like Burning Man which requires money and tends to be a predominantly white .

“You know, to be in it it's just a bit of a different experience.”

LIFE AS A DOMINATRIX

Having lived in LA, New York and now settled in London, Desiree has had a wealth of experiences. Whilst living in New York in her 20s Desiree worked as a dominatrix, becoming the focus of her 2017 show Unf*ckable which was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe, so much so she is developing it for British TV.

The delay from performing the show in 2017 to now is due to Unf*ckable being such a success that Desiree has been busy with touring, her TV work, including the Netflix show Flinch and developing Desiree is Coming which she is performing at the festival this Sunday.

Her busy schedule has kept her away from the development process, but she’s also concerned that putting this story onto a bigger platform will be “overexposing herself”, especially as her parents are not aware of her life as a dominatrix.

Desiree concedes that her computer programming Dad could easily Google her work but that, “parents have that amazing ignorance of seeing the person they want to see.”

It’s a dilemma for a comedian as honest as Desiree to show the world her authentic self whilst juggling the pressures of familial relationships.

“I don't know how to not just be really honest about it.”

A lot of the attention around Unf*ckable focused on the salacious aspects of the story, but for Desiree it was just an aspect of her life. She speaks about being a dominatrix in a matter-of-fact, even banal way and when it comes to the topic of sex workers, she has plenty to say.

“I think more should be done to lessen the stigma of sex work. But I think we'd have to start with lessening the stigma and the shame around sex itself, and the taboo around it.

"We only sort of talk about it through the lens of capitalism in commercial ways.

"And so when you're a woman and you're like ‘Oh I can get paid to do this’.

"I'm like ‘Oh yeah I'm going to see some guy beat off at the end but he hasn't seen that already too many unwanted times’. There is a thing of 'I don't feel ashamed about this and I'm also getting paid for it'. So tell me why this is wrong again?

"Obviously it's not only women who do sex work but predominantly it's women who profit from it the most. They should be fucking appreciated for taking one for the team.”

WOMEN'S COMEDY - 'SEE, APPRECIATE, KNOW'

The conversation turned to sexual impropriety in comedy and the people who defended Louis CK after accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women in 2017.

“When your friend gets done for something you've never seen that version of that person you know and you're like 'He's always been great to me'.

“But the problem is the minute that you leave the room and suddenly he's got snake eyes and he treats somebody completely differently, what we have to admit is that there's no way that we ever fully really know a person.”

She understands the reasons why people defend their friends, but ultimately believes we need to, “believe the fact that this person most likely, having experienced that I would not make this up and would not go out on a limb to say this just to be making shit up about a person unless they were mentally unstable, which you know is far rarer than the person actually finally coming forward about something that happened to them - and it takes a while to get the sort of courage and perspective to do that.”

Desiree takes no prisoners on the topic of women in comedy by blasting misogynists.

“It's always interesting to me when people are like ‘You're not funny’ or whatever to someone and it's like 'Well, not to you, but clearly if they weren't funny they wouldn't still be doing this as a job'.”

Her favourite moments when performing are “when you see a guy there with his female friend or his girlfriend or whatever and him watching her laugh like he's never seen her laugh before and you know it's something that she's responding to and identifying with in my work.”

With Desiree performing at the Manchester Women in Comedy Festival on Sunday, she believes a women's comedy festival at this juncture, in our development, is important for more people to see, appreciate, know.”

And she doesn’t think it is the role of women to educate men on great female comedians.

“Ultimately audiences have to meet them halfway and want to evolve and know more and if they want to remain ignorant then they'll just ignorantly say those things.”

Desiree Burch will be at The Bread Shed, Manchester on October 6 with her show Desiree’s Coming Early! Tickets from livenation.co.uk.