LIFE

What Happens When You Sit Your Family Down To Talk About Sex

Just ask artist Mish Grigor.

04/11/2016 8:54 AM AEDT | Updated 29/11/2016 11:46 AM AEDT
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Ah, the book.

For most of us, 'Mum, tell us about your sex life,' isn't your typical, around-the-dinner-table conversation starter.

Sydney performance artist and writer Mish Grigor went there -- in an honest, awkward and thought-provoking way to which all of us can relate.

"It was one of those ideas that once I had in my head, I had to do it -- purely because it was one of the worst things that I thought I could possibly put myself through," Grigor told The Huffington Post Australia.

I don't know if we should talk about sex more ... that's kind of why I made the show.

The artist's real conversations with her family about their sex lives form the backbone of her internationally-acclaimed live performance show that premiered in Sydney on Wednesday night.

Simply, it is called 'The Talk'. (Now, take a few excruciating moments to cast your minds back.)

"The starting point for me for this project was when one of the members of my family received a medical diagnosis and became quite ill. It changed how we spoke as a family," Grigor said.

"All of a sudden we were sitting around the table talking about their body in a very different way."

The conversations -- or lack thereof -- were enlightening for Grigor.

I started thinking about this idea of what we do and don't talk about with our family -- and as a society. What are those taboo topics?

"You think that you are really close but then you realise that there are in fact a lot of things that you don't actually know about each other," Grigor said.

"I started thinking about this idea of what we do and don't talk about with our family -- and as a society. What are those taboo topics?"

Bringing up sex

"Sex is an interesting one because in one way, it is so normal and it's everywhere," Grigor said. "In another way, it is completely hidden and there are only certain circumstances where it is polite or where we feel comfortable talking about it.

"I thought about where that line was and wanted to cross it."

Growing up in a family where discussions around sex and sexuality were generally off the table, Grigor made the choice to probe each member about the intimate details of their sex lives.

"My family were pretty brave in taking it on. It was incredibly awkward," she said.

"They are all different people and how they all felt was reflective of that. Hearing about how my mum, now in her mid 60s, feels about her body and her sexuality was quite different to chatting with my 20-year-old bachelor of a brother..."

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The Talk

Grigor's show is a live re-enactment of these conversations.

"It essentially encapsulates my failures at total honesty," Grigor said.

Audience members are asked to take part by assuming the roles of her family members and reading out their verbatim responses.

When people see my big, messy family, I think they are often thinking about their own.

"There's no acting and I'm really clear from the start that you just have to read," Grigor said. "As long as people know what they have to do, they have been willing to follow me on my weird experiment.

"When people see my big, messy family, I think they are often thinking about their own."

Asking questions over challenging taboos

Grigor is not out to make a stand. She is not trying to change anything.

"The show is just about asking questions," she said. "Why is it that we can't talk about sex? What weirds us out? What makes us blush?"

And for this Sydney artist, humour is the best way to pose them. "I even find mundane, boring things funny myself. When you put them on stage, you don't need to do much.

"I don't know if we should talk about sex more ... that's kind of why I made the show."

'The Talk' is featuring as part of the Liveworks festival at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, Sydney, until November 6.

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