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Comedian Desiree Burch on working as a dominatrix

WHAT do you do when you’re a sexually inexperienced woman in your early 20s who has grown up around a narrow version of what attractiveness means — and it doesn’t match what you see in the mirror? In fact, your body feels so far removed from those Californian ideals that it genuinely feels as if society has desexualised you?

Desiree Burch took rather extreme action, and started working as a dominatrix.

‘I was trying to figure out how I could become more sexualised,’ she explains. ‘I found men frightening. I thought if I could do this, I could figure out more about men and their desires.

‘I was an overachieving kid and if I ever wanted to learn about something I’d read a book until I felt comfortable enough doing it, so this was my equivalent of reading a book — about how to be sexual.

‘I was a 23-year-old in a fat woman’s body so it was a confluence of low self-esteem and cluelessness. Also I came from a born-again Christian background, so I was gonna pop off at some time,’ she laughs.

Her experiences in this unusual job form part of her show, Unf*ckable, which she jokingly describes as being suitable for anyone ‘unless they’re afraid of hearing pure filth’. ‘It’s about sex and work and sex work and how not to have sex turn into work,’ she explains. ‘A lot of my comedy is very sex-based, because it’s one of those things people have in common so it’s fun to talk about it. It’s also about being fat, black and female and how I’m going to have a different perspective on things.’

Even if you haven’t seen Desiree’s stand-up, you’ll recognise her from panel shows, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, and her blistering stints on The Mash Report. She’s smart, incredibly funny and immensely likeable.

The enthusiasm with which the UK has embraced Desiree is symbolic of a thirst for voices other than what she says is ‘another cis white male talking about garlic bread or whatever’.

‘People are hungry for authenticity,’ she says. ‘They are hungry for live art that really touches them, and voices like mine benefit from that. One of the amazing things about being a comedian is that you have a platform and people want to come out and pay attention.

‘It’s exciting to be in a time when, for a lot of women and artists of colour and intersectional artists of other sorts, people are more hungry to hear their stories because we’re hearing so much more from a plurality of the population.’

Tonight, Basement, Edinburgh Rose Theatre, gildedballoon.co.uk, then May 7-12, Soho Theatre, London sohotheatre.com, and then touring