Invited back for the closing weekend of Vault Festival 2023, High Steaks was one of the sold-out hits of week 1.
Eloina is the performer, creator, and producer of this body positive show. She is a queer, multidisciplinary artist who makes work that dismantles taboos around the female body.
What does this mean in practice? It means we talk about labia, about how our bodies make us feel from the moment of puberty, and how discussing and looking at our intimate areas isn’t ‘weird’.
Strips of raw steak hang on clothespegs around the space, and initially from Eloina, too. A ‘beefsteak curtain’ from au naturel.
Performing nude, Eloina ensures her show is not sexualised or pornographic, rather celebrating the diverse nature of the human body and specifically genitalia.
Recorded voices range from a trans man discussing the effect of testosterone to a woman who considered self-mutilation to make her labia look ‘normal’.
Labiaplasty is discussed: 37% of surgeries are done for purely aesthetic or cosmetic reasons. The damaging effect of porn norms and lack of openness about ‘down there’ is noted.
While High Steaks has a serious purpose, Eloina is also fond of clowning and making the audience feel comfortable. She is a charismatic and funny performer, totally at home with her body.
When an audience member is invited up to draw the exposed labia, there’s some chit-chat about holidays. If the show feels momentarily weird to anyone, that feeling soon goes.
The show even includes Annie Haines, Eloina’s real mum, who clearly has a strong bond and openness with her daughter. Their relationship is touching to see.
Director Louise Orwin brings a sensitivity and safety to the piece, which deserves the Show of the Week (1) award presented to Eloina at the show end.
If you like your body positivity served up with herbs on a hot plate and your natural bits to be discussed without any reticence, this is the show for you.
And just the kind of show that underlines what Vault Festival is and should be.
High Steaks has finished its run at Vault, but for more on Eloina go to her Instagram.