Puttana is Oskar Hartman’s one-man show about his life and experiences as a promiscuous gay man, and specifically a bottom, drawing parallels between the judgement of gay bottoms with that of straight women when it comes to enjoying sex. The double standard of being judged dirty because you enjoy “being fucked”.
In this self-confessional monologue he shares his experiences from Berlin sex parties, via waiting for the results of an HIV test in Finland, to trying to make it as a model in Milan. There is a fair amount of shame too. Shame about the things that were done to him, and shame at the things he himself has done to others. Interestingly in the stories of his own bad behaviour, those times he hurt others, he becomes Frankie, rather than Oskar, as if trying to distance himself from what he did by wearing his nickname as a mask.
Against a sparse set of a blow up bed and a chair, Oskar invites us into his life, and the challenges he faces as a gay man with a big appetite for sex. There is a particularly resonant vulnerability when he shares his own fears about aging within a community that embraces the young and the fresh. He dreads the time to come when hot men won’t want him anymore. How long can anyone be 26?
The whole piece is haunted by the believe that he is not being beautiful enough, which is never more apparent than when he shares his own experience with eating disorders. His family and friends are the shadows in the background, trying to pull him back to himself and stop him losing his way.
Written and performed in English, the piece is peppered with flourishes of Italian and Finnish, effectively establishing the place and feel of each scene.
Wherever he is, his addiction to Grindr (and many other similar apps) comes with him, enabling him to have hook-ups wherever he goes. However there is a pervading sense of emptiness in the stream of short-lived conquests. Is this show Oskar’s way of shedding this particular skin, as finds that he is no longer obsessed with bedding the hottest guy in the room?
Puttana does not shy away from telling intimate details of Oskar Hartman’s life so far without ever being gratuitous. This is not a life presented in a tidy and convenient bundle, it is too honest for that. Lives are not tidy things, no matter how much we try to shape them into stories, and this feels very much like a sharing of a life in progress, where anything could happen next.
The final show runs today (25th August) at the Hen and Chickens at 4.30pm