Bill Hicks' inspiration Penny Arcade gives Deptford an early, very sexy, Christmas treat

4:06pm Wednesday 12th December 2012

By Nikki Jarvis

Sexual freedom, burlesque dancing and brothels don’t usually go hand in hand with Christmas – apart from when the legendary Penny Arcade comes to town.

Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! is the hilariously risqué, witty show which has been thrilling audiences around the world for 20 years.

And its sensational creator and star is treating people to an unconventional early Christmas present when she brings her outrageous production to The Albany in Deptford this month.

Penny, who climbed out of her window at 13-years-old to join the fabulously disenfranchised world of homosexuals, junkies, whores, stars and geniuses, calls upon her real life experiences as a receptionist in a New York brothel to bring her show to life.

She told Vibe: “The show is really about freedom and what it takes to be an individual.

“There’s very little support in the world for being an individual.

“I did 38 shows in London last summer, with 38 standing ovations.

“English people don’t give standing ovations for nothing, you have to earn it.

“You are too discerning.

“English people are the perfect audience for me.”

Penny’s fantastical show features an exuberant interval when everyone is welcome to dance like crazy.

Amid razor sharp satire and surprising monologues performed by Penny, male and female go-go dancers give the production an erotic twist.

“I want people to have fun.” Penny added.

“It’s hard to explain on paper, you have to experience it.

“I wrote this show 20 years ago and I’ve added four sentences to it and everyone thinks it was written this year.

“Human nature doesn’t change and social change happens at a glacial pace.

“I say the things people are thinking but never speak of.

“People say it’s one of the most uplifting experiences they’ve ever had in the theatre.

“It’s in a very fun environment - burlesque is super popular right now.”

Penny, 62, became a darling of Andy Warhol’s Factory by the age of 20.

She has inspired countless performers, including one very special comedian.

“Bill Hicks was a huge fan of mine.” She continued.

“He wanted to be like me when he grew up.

“I met him when he was 18 and I was 35 – it’s a great compliment.

“We both had a lot of anger and love.

“A lot of things make me angry and I talk about them because I give a s***.”

During Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! Penny recreates real life phone calls she took whilst working in a brothel.

She said: “Someone called once to ask if it was clean in the brothel.

“Excuse me, we’re on the phone, what do you want me to say – it could be cleaner?

“I said ‘do I sound like I’m sitting in filth, surrounded by venereal disease?’

“I never pick on the audience, and hardly ever curse – I just have so much material I don’t need to.”

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Although Penny was born in Italy and grew up in America, she has a special place in her heart for the UK.

“England is better than most places – especially America – at being aware of the class system and aware that some working class people are really smart.” She added.

“If you are funny and smart here, people don’t care where it’s coming from.

“I’m self-deprecating and I’m eccentric and Londoners love eccentric people.

“If you have something funny and smart to say, you can’t go wrong here.”

Performances run from December 15 to December 23, excluding December 17.

For bookings visit


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