The Water Company presents:
SEXY GENDER BABY!

Performed by: Struan Leslie
Text by: Antony Psaila
Studio Theatre, Leeds Metropolitan University, 25 March 1998

Sexy Gender Baby! is a journey of movement and text through the process of gender identification. The piece opens with a large 1000-Watt light bulb suspended in the centre of the performance area. In one corner some children's toys, a teddy bear, male and female dolls and a beach ball, provide colour in this otherwise monochrome but not stark environment. The line of the flex divides the space into left and right, while the bulb illuminates both the audience and the performer, setting the scene for the shifting of direction and crossing of boundaries throughout the performance.

The division of the stage is devised in terms of boy/girl gender identification as Leslie enacts a progression from the womb to adulthood. Caressing the glowing bulb he takes us through the 'speaking' of gender, the baby is "Daddy' little girl", then "Daddy's little soldier". Throughout, the light bulb receives the different gendered treatments offered to a developing child and in its own way transgresses these boundaries. It is both a boy in a swing pushed higher and higher and a girl restrained in hers, and yet pendulums across both sides of the divide.

The performer moves from being a foetus in the womb, through a progression of rolling, crawling and walking. He explores the toys and dresses in jeans and vest (which is later revealed as a dress). There is a self-conscious and humorous recognition of the influence of the external emblems of clothes, pose and positioning in this piece as it is mapped out in front of the audience. To a soundtrack of The Waltons overlapping with disco music, the bulb becomes a TV and repository for teenage attraction and desire. The movement shifts from assertive to ethereal across the stage. 'Male' and 'female' self-imaging behaviour is displayed on both sides an invisible dividing mirror.

Then the possibility of uncertainty is acknowledged; the light bulb circles the performer, as he recites declarations of difference in sex and gender terms. "A strong masculine woman" and "a soft feminine man" are statements that, like the warm, encompassing light bulb, tell us that there's more than one way to swing.

Miranda Mason 26 March 1998