Wednesday, April 4, 2018

MythOff London: Women Who Gave No F*cks

***Adult content***

It all started on Twitter. Clare Murphy shared some article about medieval women who Gave No Fucks, and we started talking about how fun a title that would be for an all-female MythOff event. We (Clare and I) had MythOffs in London, Hungary, and the USA before, but never on the same stage. It was high time to fix that.
Other storytellers immediately jumped on the idea; it didn't take long to assemble our little team of six scandalous women who were willing to give zero fucks in public. Since two of them also happened to be the hosts of Story Jam, we even found a venue at the Canada Water Theatre. Twitter dream became reality.
Since I was in the neighborhood (performing in Dublin for World Storytelling Day), I went out of my way to join in the fun.
Here is what went down.

Our evening was hosted by the marvelous Judith Faultless with great energy and enthusiasm. She did not only introduce us, but also came up with the prizes, and made sure the audience was all fired up and ready for the stories. She even brought a plastic lightsaber so that an audience member could act as a clap-o-meter: Each round was won by the story that received the loudest applause. The six tellers were split into two teams: the Burning Bushes (Clare, Debs, and Lucy), and the Mighty Muffs (Alys, Rachel, and me). Best two out of three won the evening.

Round one: Wrecking ball 

The first round featured two formidable goddesses pitted against each other. First, Clare Murphy invoked the Ugaritian goddess Anat, lover of Baal, who, once her lover had been devoured by the god of death, took it up on herself to kill, dismember, chop up, grind down, burn, and scatter Death. The story ended with the resurrection of Baal, and a very stormy sex scene. Clare carried the whole myth with such power that I did not even dare to use my camera...

From our side Rachel Rose Reid rose to the challenge. She brought the legend of Lilith from the Hebrew tradition. Lilith was Adam's first wife, created from earth like him, who invented pleasure and sex. When Adam wanted to treat her as submissive, she left him for an angel - so the whole creation had to be rebooted, and Adam got a new wife, Eve. At the end of the legend, Lilith managed to give some friendly advice to Eve as well. Rachel's telling was funny, lively, and spicy; she made fun with abandon about Adam's feeling of superiority (and the missionary position).
The prize: A plastic rabbit with a broken ear (symbol of fertility and also wrecked things)
The winner: Lilith

Round two: It's not what you have, it's how you use it

We did not plan it this way (we all picked our own myths), but the stories in round two fit together perfectly. First, Alys Torrance brought us a shift in the mood. She told us the heart-wrenching story of Demeter seeking Persephone, about grief and pain and the indifference and cruelty of the male gods, until Demeter gave up her will to go on. At this point, Baubo enters the scene. She is the strange little goddess of sexuality and dirt, with eyes for nipples and her vulva for a mouth, and she tells enough dirty jokes that Demeter finally laughs out loud. Alys' graceful and lovely telling brought us from a heavy heart all the way to storm-like laughter. There is deep wisdom in humor (and flashing people).

From the other team we had Lucy Lill, energetic and lovable, and very pregnant, telling the myth of Amaterasu, the Japanese sun-goddess. In this story, the goddess is offended by her little brother, and hides her light from the world. Ame-no-Uzume, goddess of mirth, amuses the gods by dancing a very saucy dance, showing off her boobs and butt and finally dancing around naked with a rooster in her hands, until Amaterasu peeks out to see what all the laughter is about. Lucy's telling of the story was appropriately lively, funny, and endearing, with some very groovy dance moves.
The prize: A plastic owl (because wisdom?... or maybe eyes large in surprise)
The winner: Ame-no-Uzume

Round three: When women become myth

The third and last round of the evening was the tiebreaker. First, Debs Newbold told the true story of Grace O'Malley, fearsome Irish pirate queen of the 16th century, from her wild childhood all the way to the point where, just after the birth of her son, she went on deck of her own ship, blood dripping down her leg, to help her men fight the English. The highlight of the story was the legendary meeting between Elizabeth I and Grace. Debs is a wild woman with wild hair and a wild voice, and she put all the power into the story that it required. She was fierce!

I told the last story of the evening. I spent a lot of time thinking what legend or myth I could bring from my part of the world that fit the criteria of women giving no fucks. Finally, I landed on the legend of Puskás Klári, a Transylvanian Székely woman from the 17th century. According to legend, when the Tatars attacked her village she defended the bridge across the mill stream alone, and used various household instruments to kill seven Tatar warriors (the chief among them) - before going home and giving birth to triplets. Because she did all the killing while heavily pregnant. It was great fun describing all the fight scenes with the various improvised weapons, and the banter between Klári and her opponents. Definitely a no-fucks-given story, and the audience loved it!
The prize: A Little Mix calendar (someone explained to me who they are)
The winner: Grace O'Malley

Since the Burning Bushes won two rounds out of three, they also received the team prize for the evening: A beautiful shiny red feather that promptly covered everything in glitter. But more importantly, by my count we had more than a hundred people in the audience! And a very lively, interactive, enthusiastic audience too. I'd like to thank all of them for making our evening epic.

We came, we saw, we won, we gave ZERO FUCKS. Until next time, ladies!


  1. This is a very nice write up keep it up.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all! Wish I'd been there.

  3. It sounds very interesting, and fun at the same time. I only knew the story of Lilith/Eve.

  4. Oh how I wish I had been in the audience for this fabulousity!