"Every woman is a riot," is roughly painted on the wall behind the stage area of this hidden-away New Town bar’s seldom used attic space. What we’re actually shown on a large TV screen is a group of women on a march who, after being stopped by the police, decide instead to do some impromptu sunbathing on Edinburgh's High Street setts. What’s the point? Well, all the women on this particular street march are topless.
The USP of Samantha Pressede isn’t that she tells jokes with her top off; that she’s some envelope-ripping, boundary breaking Sextremist.
The inspiration behind the march, stand-up Samantha Pressede, is firmly of the opinion that women's breasts and nipples are nothing sexual – or at least no more inherently sexual than, say, hands. Women, she believes, should have as much right to go topless in public as men do; that it’s only the Patriarchy that sexualised women in such a way to keep their tops covered. To make this clear, after she arrives on stage like a gothic cheerleader, she performs a brief burlesque strip tease, and then carries on for much of her set topless – apart from those earlier minutes when she opts to cover her own nipples with life-size photographs of a man's. Oh, and just to make the point, written on her naked torso is written a simple, clear message: “Still not asking for it”.
Samantha’s proudly from the Black Country, and so spends a few minutes explaining about where she comes from, as well as offering some translating services when it comes to local expressions. But soon the subject turns back to her own political journey to “here”: explaining how this particular anarcho-feminist isn’t against men per se, but is all for fighting the Patriarchy and the attitudes to the female body it perpetuates. Indeed, she clearly likes men; she feels sorry that cultural stereotypes mean that they're not allowed to show their emotions.
During her 20s, Samantha's appreciation of men focused specifically on members of a succession of rock bands – few of which would appear to have bothered the national charts. But she wasn’t just another groupie, willing to do anything for a brief suggestion of approval. She genuinely likes sex, which perhaps is why she later opted for some therapy about her sex and love addiction.
It may be because I'm a gay man, but the USP of Samantha Pressede isn’t that she tells jokes with her top off; that she’s some envelope-ripping, boundary breaking Sextremist. Actually, it’s that, regardless of the the bare flesh, she’s an “endearing” stage presence, happy to share her realisation that she can make and live by her own rules rather than anyone else’s. If that means she can actually get away with some material which a man never could – well, she’s not going to complain.