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Byron Shire
September 20, 2021

Interview with Vanessa ‘Larry’ Mitchell

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Vanessa Mitchell shedding a tear or two at the Byron Theatre

Teardrops on Mitchell’s Sex Toys and Other Stuff

After being in the online dating scene for a few years, Vanessa ‘Larry’ Mitchell decided to write a book called 50 first dates, which she had planned to be a bit of a reflection on the dating process. Mitchell says it certainly wasn’t going to be a sex book (unless there was sex to document), but more about the process of dating, the nerves, the expectations and the miscommunications that happen with online communication. 

Mitchell only got up to chapter seven and ended up getting cat-fished by a dude with a beard. ‘I have no problem with beards, but this guy’s profile pic was of a smooth well maintained baby face. A solid 8/10 face. We had arranged to meet for a beer and 10 minutes before we met, he messaged me and warned me about the beard. If you have to warn someone about your beard, then even you know how bad said beard must be!’

‘The whole date was awkward. I think I give people the benefit of the doubt on dates… Like at one stage my head was thinking “wow, this guy is really funny”, but then I realised we were just laughing at me.’

Mitchell ended up giving up on the book, and on dating too for a while after that. ‘Not just because of his beard, but dating can get tiring. I was telling my mate about the continual let downs I was starting to feel and he suggested I change the name of the book to Teardrops on My Dildo. The title made the show easy to write, as I knew exactly which stories needed to go in.’

Mitchell says the teardrops themselves aren’t funny, but human tragedy kind of is. ‘If we are not able to look back and laugh at our darkest moments when we’re sitting on the kitchen floor, in a pile of tears, wondering how we made such a shit show of it all, then we might be in trouble. Relationships can rock people so hard.’

‘I remember when my marriage ended, feeling like I was going to die from a broken heart. Looking back, I was probably just dying from a broken ego. Life didn’t just “go on”. It got better. I feel like I’ve lived about six lives already. It’s a bit of a cycle isn’t it? I’m not looking forward to hitting tragedy again, but I’ll be ready for it – with a pen and paper ready to capture every juicy tragic moment.’

Some of Mitchell’s reviews would suggest she a good time girl with a funny story. ‘I’ve certainly done my fair share of partying, but I don’t think I’m much more wild than a lot of women out there. Well, maybe a little, but when I am on stage, most women can relate to my stories. I just say the bits that most women have pushed down into that internal “do not ever tell anyone about this, vault”. That vault is unnecessary. Save that space for the really dark stuff. There are still so many things that, as women, we are not supposed to say or talk about. It feels like there are some things we aren’t even supposed to acknowledge to ourselves, which is so bonkers.

‘At the gym, you can see women’s body language change as they see star jumps coming up as the next exercise, and afterwards one-by-one they’ll discretely duck to the bathroom, but never dare mention that they just pissed themselves. We all do it. Just literally pissing ourselves everyday at the gym. We need to laugh more about that.’

There won’t be actual dildos in the show: ‘I would have to charge a lot more for that. Can you imagine, rolling into a theatre and some chick starts jamming herself on stage? Could we even do that?!  I went to a cabaret show in Lismore once where the main act did a hand stand in a wedding dress on stage and her co-performer shoved a candle in her vagina and lit it up. It was one of the strangest things I have ever seen on stage, but a part of me was sitting there thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?”.’

Women love talking about dildo’s. Mitchell says ‘dildo’ is one of those words that only ever got whispered when she was hitting her adult years. ‘Before the internet was in full swing, we had to go into the dark and dingy Club X to buy them. Even now some of those places creep me out. I had to buy a vibrator when I was in Melbourne on a work trip and had a sexual emergency.’ 

‘I’m not sure if you know St Kilda, but where they put the Club X in St Kilda is literally on the biggest crossroads in the whole entire city. There couldn’t possibly be any more people, cars and trams getting a visual of you walking into that place. It took me a lot of convincing myself to go in, and when I did, I was so glad. 

‘There was a little old lady working in there that looked like someone’s nana. She tried to sell me a vibrator that makes you orgasm in 12 seconds. 12 seconds?!! I’m a busy woman, but even I could make time for that. I imagine it’s the same women that are buying their veggies pre-cut from Woolies that are buying those ones. Make time people!’

Mitchell says she is always interested in watching audiences reactions in comedy shows, not just in hers.

‘I get at least 90 per cent female audiences to my shows. I never really intended for that to happen, but I guess the marketing appeals to women. Men love the show too though. I will often get a message from blokes who’ve attended. Not a slimy one – genuine feedback. Although one guy after my last show in Armidale sent me a photo that said something like “here is my dick pic”. It was a picture of Dick Smith. Bit of a lame joke, but I appreciated his effort. 

‘It’s definitely not a show about dick pics or a slag off about men, but there are some common things that men (some men) do that are just revolting and they should stop. Mind you, I’ve had a woman send me a pic of her vag too once. I didn’t even know that was a thing women did.’

‘There is a thing that women do when they go to a comedy show, where the comedian might say a joke that is a bit edgy, and women will look at their man, almost seeking permission to laugh. Women don’t mean to do it, but there is something ingrained into our DNA or something that makes people feel like they need approval to be able to laugh. When I see women come in to the room in droves, in my head, I know “I’ve got this in the bag”. Women on their own are so ready to let their guard down. They’ve had enough of playing the sweetheart. Underneath the surface of even the sweetest of women there is that little voice that just wants her to let it all go.

‘I had two women at a show recently who looked so straight and boring. They looked like they had come straight from their jobs at a church library, complete with cable knit cardigans. I had an “uh oh” moment, wondering if I was going to be too filthy for them. I was genuinely worried they might not handle it. But as the show went on, I could see their shoulders bouncing up and down and their hands covering their laughing mouths, as though the laughter was about to explode out of them. That’s the best feeling as a performer – just watching people let go.’

Vanessa ‘Larry’ Mitchell Thursday 26 August, Byron Theatre. Public health restrictions permitting.

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