Newly single and HIV positive Pete listens to the consolations of his best friend Vanessa on his voicemail. “Call me!” she almost begs. He flicks on to Grindr. - Ping - “What you into?” - Ping - “BB and chems” - Ping - “Sounds fun. Want to come over – there’s two of us here?” - Ping - “What’s the address?”
Writing like this will always be of huge worth as it prises open even the most screwed-up of eyes
So begins Dexter Bailey’s postcard from the edge, a graphic ‘wish he wasn’t there’ of online gay hook-ups, sex parties, and "slamming" (intravenous drug use) all set in the rapidly evolving era of "PrEP" (pre-exposure prophylaxis), an HIV medicine taken daily to lower the chances of getting infected.
It sounds a pretty bleak tale, faithfully tracking Pete’s almost smooth descent as he adds notches to the bedpost marked "high". The ritual and immediacy of injecting are soon irresistible and even sooner, unstoppable. Vanessa’s calls become more desperate and then fade. Even his hard-nosed dealer is concerned. His protection slips, begging the question: “Are only days and weeks being lost here?”
Bleak indeed – and although the cast are terrific in their committed and honest performances, the plot gives few surprises, despite the novelty of the context. The writing is always lucid, often funny and occasionally needle sharp, a great testament to Dexter’s ability to capture his audience with first-hand authority. The rather flat plot-line however, is much leavened by two excellently produced and directed movies, Evan Wilkinson and Kate Collier-Woods, starring a Fanny Craddock-esque Alfie Ordinary and a terrifying Lydia L’Scabies.
All in all, Edit Profile is more than carried by its winning frankness and its deep marbling of black humour. Writing like this will always be of huge worth as it prises open even the most screwed-up of eyes.