Combining sex and performance to heal sexual trauma | this is Evie Fehilly

By Ena Hajdari // Photography Amy Gibson

The 26-year-old Londoner perfectly blends performance and sex education in one beautiful and colorful practice. A practice that makes people strip down prejudices and fears of what is one of the most natural parts of being human: sex.

Evie’s background is clowning, which has given her the ability to perform as vibrant and energetically as possible. Her years as a performer have gifted Evie with an insight into the feeling’s performance can evoke in a person, and how those feelings can make an impact on someone’s life. “I want to make people think about the realities of sex and sexual violence with nuance and compassion. That is why I do what I do,” Evie explains. “I am a queer chubby ginger femme who wants to share, care, teach, and help.”

Photo: Malvestida, edits: Ena Hajdari
 

Evie started her journey with sex education after realizing how traumatizing her own sexual experiences had been. By realizing how deep the scars of her past were, she decided to take a stand. Many of Evie’s first sexual encounters were traumatic, which resulted in her getting into destructive and violent relationships, leaving her “absolutely terrified” of sex. In an attempt to leave the past behind and establish a new life, Evie decided it was time to use her past as the stepping stone she needed to become whole again. “I desperately needed a job, and I am a zero to 60 kind of person, so I decided to grab sex by the horns and get a job at a sex shop (SH!),” she says. Evie Teaches weekly fun and informative workshops at the hub of sexual empowerment, ‘Sh!’, in Old Street London. She teaches workshops on all kinds of sexual pleasure and acceptance. She also organizes events like the ‘Let’s Talk about… Sex’, which included:

  • a 6-foot penis that could pump out phallic facts,
  • a giant vulva you could put your face into, explore, and take photos with,
  • a myriad of educators and organizations,
  • speakers that focus on sex positivity,
  • and amazing cabaret acts that.

All of which created an entertaining and exciting party atmosphere where people felt comfortable to open up and talk about sex to random strangers. From that point on, Evie saw the power in creating magical spaces: ‘We hold so much of our anxiety and pain around sex and our sexual histories”, she comments. “It can be so incredibly relieving to be in a space where you can open up and be honest about sex.”

WHEN EVIE PERFORMS, PEOPLE CONNECT

Evie combines her practice as a performer and works prolifically on the cabaret scene. Her work focuses on sex, sexual misconduct, and the ‘Me Too’ movement. She recently won the world’s biggest king drag competition, ‘Man Up,’ with a satirical act parodying the disgraced comedian, Louis C.K. Magic happens in a space where people are free to share what is considered to be a private topic. The ripple effect of relief when people realize that having problems with sex is shared by many is “joyful,” she explains. “It is such an amazing experience to meet other people who have had or still have similar problems with sex,” she comments. “I love the feeling of hearing people say; “OH MY GOD, I KNOW THAT FEELING,” or “YES, I HAVE THAT TOO! It is nice to know that you’re not some freak – we are more alike than we think.” The themes stretch wide from orgasms to spanking to speaking about masturbation and supporting people who have been through sexually traumatic experiences.

 

Evie Fehilly by Jan Klos

Psychologist and biologist, Peter Levine, explains the physical and mental mechanisms of trauma in his theory of – and methodology for – trauma healing.

By observing animal behavior, Levine found that when an animal is in a situation of emergency, it has three possible reactions; fight, flight, or freeze. In all cases, a lot of energy – and aggression – is accumulated in the body. This energy is released in the action that follows. The energy is then used for the attack. Biologists observed that animals do this by ‘shaking it off’ (a sort of ‘spasms’) when the danger is over. Animals round off a scene of acute danger on an energetic level. A threat occurs, energy accumulates, an action follows which releases the energy. The reason, contrary to animals in nature, humans can get traumatized, is that we can get into situations in which we are unable to shake off energy after we were frozen. The body then, more or less, remains in an ‘immobility’ state after the situation of emergency is over. This can lead to the development of all kinds of physical and mental problems that limit our wellbeing. Think off: isolation, a closed body posture, over-sensitivity, shallow breathing, perfectionism, depression, tensed muscles, dissociation, addictions, codependency, fear of authority figures, repeating dysfunctional relationships, workaholism, problems with digestion, paranoia, phobias, etc.

 

Sexual trauma has an impact on its victims which for many can be hard to overcome. Even though sexual trauma isn’t always linked to sexual abuse, it is still remarkable how the numbers of sexual offences continue to rise. Sexual violence is, unfortunately, far from an isolated issue. Recent worldwide figures show that one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner. (The majority of this abuse is intimate partner violence—i.e., the perpetrators are not strangers.) Last year The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data on crime in England and Wales. The figures confirm that sexual offences reported to the police are still on the increase, continuing a trend that has lasted over four years. The statistics reveal reported rapes increased by 16% over the year, and sexual assaults by 13%. This amounts to an overall 14% increase in police-recorded sexual offences.

Many women do not seek out the support they need right after an assault. Some try to make sense of what happened on their own. Unfortunately, most women do not press charges in the case of known perpetrator sexual violence because they do not want to have to share their story in a court or face the perpetrator. As a result, countless women suffer in silence. Therapists and counselors skilled in helping victims of sexual violence regularly encounter clients whose abuse took place years, even decades, earlier.

 

The LGBTQ community also faces higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which put us at greater risk for sexual assault. The ways in which society both hypersexualizes LGBTQ people and stigmatizes their relationships can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame. The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found for LGB people:

  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35% of heterosexual women.
  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29% of heterosexual men.
  • 46% of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17% of heterosexual women and 13% of lesbians.
  • 22% of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9% of heterosexual women.
  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21% of heterosexual men.

Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Among both of these populations, sexual violence begins early, often during childhood. With the rise of sexual assault comes a big number of victims in need of healing. And this is how Evie found herself in the middle of 4 workshops a week – helping others shake off their traumas through self-expression and a whole lot of fun.

Her when-life-gives-you-lemons story makes her a true OurLūmen WAW woman, as she was able to turn rejection into an excuse to make bold and crazy decisions. “I was fed up with being lonely, but I was still terrified of having sex. So, I used what I know best to transform my outlook and say goodbye to my fears once and for all,” she explains. “But to be honest, I am still terrified of sex. I am still working on it; it is an entirely ongoing process.” She continues. “People who attend the workshop sometimes open up so much, that afterward, they fall into your arms with tears flowing down their faces. You become more than just an educator – you become a friend and healer as well,” she says, puts her hands on her cheeks with a mild smile on her lips and continues:

“Performing helps me heal because it empowers me and allows me to reclaim my body, my sexuality, and my power. I make decisions on stage that makes me feel funny or powerful, strong or emotional. But most important I make those decisions, I decide what my body is doing in those moments. Performing helps me control my own narrative. No one else is dictating to me. Also, performing involves a lot of bowing and applause, that is also very healing.”

Evie will be launching her, ‘Sex Clown Cabarets.’ Exciting, titillating cabarets with a focus on sex education

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