Just Whores

by Anita Sullivan
Just Whores Edinburgh cast


'Just Whores' is about the sauna sex industry, and was researched with the help of the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project and Brighton Street Outreach Service. It tells the story of Irma, a student who funds herself through college by working as a prostitute one summer. Although the content is gritty and 'issue based', the strong personalities of the women workers (and Janine, the streetwise inner-voice of Irma) give the play life, warmth and comedy.

'Just Whores' has had six successful productions. It was first staged as part of Edinburgh's FebFest in 1994 by E.U.T.C. and from there selected to perform at the Traverse Theatre. It was produced on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1994 by Radge Theatre Company to sell out houses.

Updated with new research it was performed in Brighton, summer 1999 and for the Brighton Festival 2001, and in Summer 2003 at the New Venture Theatre directed by Martin Nichols (also to sellout houses).

The research is old now and there have been changes in legislation regarding the sex industry both locally and nationally. There have been changes to the nature of the work and the people who do it (and the prices). But the heart of the play is about human relationships within the oldest profession and that story is as fresh today as a decade ago.

Runner-up for The Questor's Theatre new play competition 1995

Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes.


FIONA -It's twenty-five for a straight, thirty strip massage, thirty-five for a hand-job, forty reverse-massage, forty-five oral, fifty for full service, fifty-five for anal and after that it's your own shout… You charge again every time they cum. We've got some costumes and bondage stuff, but we don’t get a lot of specials here. Half of what you earn always goes back to the desk. You'll be with a client about twenty minutes, half-hour max. After that I bang on the door. Right?

IRMA -I… er… fine…

FIONA -We've four rooms. Three downstairs: two cabins and the VIP, and another cabin on this floor for wheelchairs. There's oil, talc and towels in the cupboard under the stairs. But go easy on the oil in the VIP as it’s a bugger to get off the mirrors… They can book VIP for an hour, but they don't often stay the distance, if you know what I mean…

IRMA -Fiona…

FIONA -Oh and, House Rules: no drink or drugs on the premises, and if you miss two shifts in a row you're out. Right?

IRMA -Fiona…

FIONA -Call me Fi.

IRMA -Fi. I haven't done this before…

FIONA -I know. But it's not a big deal. Once you've done your first you'll wonder what the fuss was about. Trust me. This is a good place, the houses are always safest… Here. Do you want a gin? I keep a bit for… special occasions…


Scottish Prostitutes Education Project: www.scot-pep.org.uk

Brighton Street Outreach Service: www.swish.org.uk/?q=node/234

Paying the Price: Home Office Consultation Paper on Prostitution: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs3/paying_the_price.html


'A down to earth up front look at the day to day lives of the girls who work hard for a living and the endless stream of punters who pass through their well-oiled hands. Two years of research with local prostitutes has produced a drama that paints a graphic and sometimes hilarious view of what goes on behind frosted glass shop fronts. A cracking wee show'. The List. 15/8/94

'This finely crafted play exposes without judging- its disturbing, uncomfortable and funny by turn'. Evening News 14/8/94 Gillian Haig.

'…real and moving…shot through with humour…An important piece of new drama' The Argus 12/8/99 Roger Love

'Anita Sullivan's upbeat drama is perhaps the most accurate presentation of the sauna sex industry some audience members will ever see. Commendably, the production avoids standardised media portrayals of prostitutes as sex objects of victims... Just Whores is neither for nor against prostitution but states the reality and steps back, leaving audience members to ruminate over their own reactions. A long overdue look at an alternative side to Festival City.' The Big Issue Scotland 21/08/94


Just Whores cast of the Edinburgh production

Edinburgh Festival cast. BACK ROW: Suzanne Dance, Emma Walker, Lucy Thatcher. FRONT ROW: Gail Merriman, Penelope Lee.

Just Whores cast of first Brighton production

Brighton Festival Cast (left to right): Paula Leikovitz, Frank Swift, Jerry Lyne, Alexis Hills, Clare Sparrow, Antonia Butler, Tessa Pointing.

Just Whores cast of second Brighton production

Brighton 2003 cast (left to right) Alexis Hills, Leila Leam, Katie Scarfe, Alex Childs, Louise Gregory. Photo Tim Seelig

Just Whores cast of second Brighton Production

Just Whores show poster

Just Whores show poster

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