Licentious: Mya Tension Interview - Fringe World Perth 2024

Step behind the velvet curtain into the tantalizing world of ‘Licentious,’ where Perth’s burlesque and kink scenes collide in a spectacular celebration of the erotic. 

I’m thrilled to welcome Mya Tension, the creative powerhouse behind Fringe World Perth’s most audacious show, ‘Licentious: An Exploration of the Erotic.’ In this exclusive interview, Mya unfurls the feathers and leather to reveal the show’s journey from intimate kink club performances to sold-out Fringe stages. 

Prepare to unshackle your perceptions as we delve into the passions and principles that make ‘Licentious’ a ground-breaking hit in Perth’s vibrant cultural tapestry.

Could you tell us a bit about the journey that led you to create ‘Licentious: An Exploration of the Erotic’?

Yes, so my husband and I met through kink, we are a FetLife success story, which is very rare. So kink is what brought us together and through a lovely beautiful relationship we ended up having a baby, at this point I had a 6 month old at home and it was our first date night out together and we went out to dinner and then happened to frequent a local kink club. 

This led to conversations [with the owner] that I’ve been doing burlesque since 2021, but I’ve danced my whole life. So dancing and moving and creating is part of who I am, which also went on the backburner when you have a baby. 

So we were at this club and the owner was like “Well we’ve got this show coming up do you want to do a performance?” and I said “Well sure” and he said “Great, you can start teaching burlesque here” and I said “kinky burlesque, sure! Why don’t we do kink themed burlesque instead of just show-girl stuff” so that kicked off the first classes. 

It was a 6 week term with 2 performances in this teeny tiny little venue that sold out and there was a lot of interest in those. Someone came to the show and said we should put this in Fringe! 

This was all [before] last year and the applications were still open, so did all that. [We] got a venue 24 hours before the deadline and made it happen. There were 5 shows last year and we sold out 3 of the 4 shows in Perth and did the best out of the shows in Mandurah, so took that as a win. 

There was a super positive response to the show and people were super keen to learn about what we’re doing, so yeah, we’re doing it again!

Your show seems to be a creative rebellion against misconceptions surrounding kink. What inspired you to blend the worlds of burlesque and kink in ‘Licentious,’ and how does the show challenge stereotypes?

I think burlesque in Perth is really beautiful for me as Perth has such a beautiful burlesque scene that is really accepting and empowering. There are so many different ages and body types up on that stage that are celebration and I look at the kink scene and I see the same thing. 

There are so many good pockets of the community, I see people creating space for other people to come in and be exactly who they are and be free and these two worlds, in my opinion overlap with the principles and that celebration of empowerment and owning who you are and I just love that so this show was a way to promote having more of these things in my life.

Can you explain the RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) Principles to our audience and how they are incorporated in your performances?

RACK is talking about consent. So consent is, in the kink scene, the very first thing that you talk about and discuss before anything exciting or naughty happens and it’s the same thing with our shows so we address consent initially from even before walking through the doors. We’ve got people sort of explaining what our consensual participation seats are about.

But in my first little introduction we talk about RACK which is Risk Aware Consensual Kink and the way we kind of describe that or make a bit of a joke about it is I invite somebody up on stage and then I say “well you have no idea what you’re about to get yourself into and we should never ever agree to anything where we don’t know exactly what it is that we’re getting ourselves involved in.”

So it’s about explaining that you need to be very risk aware, not just knowing what the thing is, but what could go wrong, and ways that we can keep ourselves safe in doing that. And also making sure that we’re in a fit state to give that consent.

The term ‘educational’ doesn’t usually go hand-in-hand with ‘erotic’. How do you balance this educational aspect without compromising on the show’s tantalising experience?

Well I do dress head to toe in red leather if that helps? Usually does the job. 

Our cast are incredibly sexy humans. They all bring their own unique personality. And I think what’s good is that they are all telling their own story. They’re all living a part of it. 

Whether it’s a fantasy that they’ve had or perhaps created around specific [common] fantasies. One of the opening acts is about the story of consent and the way we approach that and the way we approach that is thinking about times we’ve been super excited about meeting somebody and that anticipation around meeting someone new. 

Every person is bringing something personal to the stage. When you see the passion in their eyes and they’re up there giving it their all and sharing their truest self, that’s sexy. That’s captivating and hot. 

Plus it’s burlesque, so you’d better believe the clothes are coming off!

Highlighting the diversity of performers is a strong suit of ‘Licentious’. Could you tell us about the casting process and what makes a performer stand out for a show like this?

So typically when you get your bigger shows especially burlesque and Fringe shows, its very competitive for performers to get in. My ethos is about celebrating real people. So it’s not people that have been training for 15 years, it’s not people who make this their entire life. These are people who really want to get up and show their truest selves and are really committed to being up there and telling their story.

What was the question?

Casting process.

The beauty of this show is that I use a lot of students. So I taught another 8 week term recently and a lot of our performers were in that course, so what we do in that course is cover a lot of kink education, but also work through the techniques of burlesque that are in these acts. 

But don’t for a send think that being students means a sub-par show! Boasting one of the biggest casts in Perth Fringe ’24, we’re bringing variety, inclusivity, diversity, queerness and oh, so much talent!

I know these performers have put in the time and effort, and they really care about the message that we’re sending. They also care about representing the kink community in a positive light, as there are so many negative stereotypes that exist.

With such a variety of acts and skills on display, is there one act that you find particularly impactful or that resonates most with your audience?

There is one student performer I’m particularly proud of. Her name is Bette Noir, and she’s Licentious through and through. 

Bette is an incredible human being. She came to these classes, quiet and shy,  hiding in the back corner, and over the last two years, I’ve watched her grow so much. The confidence you see in this woman now is incredible. 

She’s so creative with a deliciously naughty imagination, and this Fringe debuts a completely original act –  imagined, designed, choreographed, costumed, with even the set designed and built all by Bette. She’s amazing! 

In the act, Bette partners with another amazing performer, Sylva Predilection – who happens to be my mum, (Yes, my mum is in my naughty kink show!) who’s incredibly talented and utterly captivating on stage. 

Together, they are Temptus Two, and while I don’t want to give too much away, the act is a love story, an exploration of forbidden desires in an incredibly spicy fantasy role play. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but this act is a total show-stopper and is frequently described as the Hottest New Performer Act of the Year!

The Consensual Audience Participation Seats are quite innovative. Can you describe how this feature enhances the viewer’s experience and the feedback you’ve received regarding it?

The idea came from more than one person close to me in my life that really really hates being picked on by an MC. So it’s not just the whole “oh haha I really don’t want to get up there” it’s full blown panic attack, sitting in the chair, dying in your seat, cold sweats, nearly in tears at the prospect of being dragged up onto the stage by the MC. 

That to me is a horrific way to experience a show and I believe that every person should be empowered to be engaged with the show as much or as little as they choose to, and also to be able to make that decision ongoing as well just like you would in a kink environment, consent is always removable

And it’s not just the front row. Some people like to sit in the front row, and still not like being picked on. It’s like being at a comedy show where you kinda sign up for it. It’s really giving people the best, the front row seat, without that feeling of dread that somethings gonna happen.

So we have these lanyards, you flip them green to red that are only on specific seats and all the cast and crew are on board with it. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve heard other people use stickers and other ways to indicate it, but I found lanyards are the best for us.

How do you craft a show that is both immersive and safe, particularly when dealing with themes that resonate deeply and personally with your audience?

I think that’s a good question in that kink can be quite dangerous for people and you might not know that you might be presenting to an audience member that has had a negative experience with kink. What we try to do is set up an environment that is safe from the beginning by going through consent in detail and continuing that theme throughout the show so we don’t forget about it. We also have trigger warnings for any acts that is particularly crossing lines, but we’re signing up for a kink show. 

People are expecting to see some things. We go through those things, I introduce each act and explain what’s going to happen, we invite the audience if they are feeling uncomfortable at any point in time there’s a designated area out the front and we will have a cast member there to have a bit of a check in to see if everything is ok.

You’re also nearly 7 months pregnant, a beautiful and profound life event. Has this intimate journey influenced the direction or emotion of the show?

Well it nearly didn’t happen because of it! I think that changing bodies can be very difficult to process in a society that places so much emphasis on physical appearance. And I think that one of the things I love about this show is that we are really celebrating bodies of all types, and I had to really sit myself down and tell myself that that includes bodies that are 7 months pregnant.

How did you get a red leather jumpsuit to fit?

My mum is an incredible seamstress and she helps a lot. I’ve also got another costume on the way just in case mine is pushing it a little bit.

Your show is a staunch supporter of the local kink and burlesque scene. Why do you believe it’s important to have community representation and inclusiveness in performances like ‘Licentious’?

Because in the kink community terrible movies, that will remain nameless, perpetuate really harmful stereotypes. And I think that it’s about education, so in the Journal of Sex Research, which I love and quote in my show all the time, they did a study and 84% of people wished they had more kink in their lives. Which tells me that people are more kinky than they’re not and we need to talk about safe ways to do it. 

The sex education lets us down and we don’t ever get to talk about this sort of stuff and what I love doing is creating a space that people can talk about this, and people can ask the questions that they want to ask and be safe and be intentional about the things that they want to try because there is no kink that hasn’t been thought of before.

Beyond the performance, how do you envision ‘Licentious’ impacting the Perth kink and burlesque community?

The number one thing is that we’ve already brought people together that wouldn’t have met otherwise, so building that community has already started. We are planning workshops and ongoing things but I can’t really talk too much about that because nothing is set in stone yet. But yes we have ideas about classes, introductions, and broader educations to kink that present the information in a very safe and accessible way.

Let’s talk about the phrase “We want to send you home with a whole list of things to Google!” How does the show equip audience members with knowledge and curiosity in a way that promotes safe exploration?

By repeating it often and loudly.

For someone on the fence about attending ‘Licentious’, what would you say to them to not just entice them, but also to convey the importance of the show’s message?

You know you’ve thought about it. Come and see it. I open the show with this speech that I’m really proud of. I stand there and I’m like; 

“I see you, I know you, I am you. We are licentious. We are real people with real fantasies, real desires. None of this, fake suits and really expensive collars and cuffs, we are people who have real jobs and real lives. We’re not freaks and weirdos – well, I mean you know – yeah we are. But weird is relative.”

Lastly, what’s next for Mya Tension after ‘Licentious’? Are there any future projects or dreams you would love to share with us?

I will be taking time off to have a baby, but considering my last show started when I was on parental leave, I will not be sitting still for very long. We have ideas about taking the show a little bit on tour, and taking it around Australia. I would love to meet kinky people from all over WA and Australia. 

I have big dreams for the show and the message it could share to a bigger audience. And as well as that the kinky education is the most important thing to me so if you can couple shows and initiating that awareness with then a follow up with some quality information on how to get involved in kink safely that would be the dream. 

As the applause fades and the stage lights dim on our interview, it’s clear that ‘Licentious’ is more than a show; it’s a movement igniting a powerful dialogue across Perth. Mya Tension has not only created an experience that encapsulates the essence of the kink and burlesque worlds but also offers an inclusive, electrifying space that educates and empowers. Whether you’re a seasoned kink enthusiast or a curious onlooker, ‘Licentious’ invites you to challenge the norm, embrace your desires, and perhaps even don a touch of red leather. Don’t miss the chance to witness the revolutionary fusion of education and the erotic at Fringe World Perth 2024.

Unlock an evening of intrigue and education by securing tickets to an experience that promises to awaken your senses and unlock a new level of self-expression. Join us, and let your journey into the playful realm of ‘Licentious’ begin.