Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… Sonny Howes, bringing us ‘The Benefits of Disabled Sex’ at VAULT Festival

Under the Rug Theatre Company are aiming to bring stories that are usually swept under the proverbial rug, bringing them centre stage with “vigour and an untamed voice”. Hear to speak his mind about all things disabled sex is Sonny Howes, the Writer-Performer of The Benefits of Disabled Sex at VAULT Festival. The show is a conbination of stand-up comedy and theatre, performed by Sonny to crack open some talking points and taboos about how to get laid when you use a wheelchair. We sat down with Sonny to talk all things crotches and crutches.

You can catch The Benefits of Disabled Sex at VAULT Festival between February 10th and 12th. Tickets are available through the VAULT Festival Box Office.

Hi Sonny! Now this piece is all about youth, disability… and in your own words, “crotches and crutches”! What made you decide to create a piece about a disabled person losing their virginity?

“I think I’ve had this idea bubbling away for a while. When I was 12 years old I lost the use of my legs overnight and it took me 4 years to learn to walk again. Obviously, that’s such a massive point in people’s lives, puberty is just kicking in, everything is that little bit scarier and suddenly romantic relationships are constantly on the brain. It’s hilarious really, as a young boy you’re all about ‘no girls allowed’ in your bedroom and then suddenly you want them there and they couldn’t be less interested. I remember being really worried about all this when I was 12 and it was only when looking back I realise why. I had no idea what to do.”

“Disability awareness is still nothing like it should be and sex education in this county is (in my opinion) awful. You’re taught about pregnancy and anatomy but nothing really about sex for pleasure, LGBTQ+ relationships or disability. And disabled people have sex. Great sex. Wild, kinky sex – whatever sex there is people are having it and loving it – lucky sods!”

“So I wanted to write about it because I think people treat it as a taboo and it’s not. Its normal and brilliant and funny – just like all sex should be!”

The piece is a comedy, how have you found it writing jokes revolving around the theme of disability and how are you hoping the audience will respond?

“If I’m honest, I’ve loved it! I’ve always been someone who chooses humour to face struggles and even though those four years were tough at times they were also beautifully funny, so it was almost nostalgic to revisit those stories.”

“The best response I can get from an audience is a good, big laugh! It’s a show that melds theatre and stand up together so that’s always the best reaction. Or a gasp! In previous showings some jokes have had gasps and they’re always fun too – one joke about circumcision is usually followed by painful giggles and a few crossed legs!”

“It’s nice when the kind, heartfelt moments affect someone too. Between the penis jokes and silly voices, there’s a heart to this piece, exploring friendship and family, so if you leave wanting to give your mum a hug that’s amazing. And do hug her – mums are great.”

How has it been putting together a one man show about a topic that is deeply personal, do you have much anticipation ahead of the festival coming round the corner?

“It’s been really lovely. The whole team on this show are amazing and it’s a great, safe room to try out work and explore different ideas and jokes. We’ve done this show a few times before but for VAULT Festival we really wanted to bring something special and make the best version of the show, so it’s lovely to have that environment.”

“And I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say we’re just very excited. There’s such a buzz about VAULT Festival and getting to share that with such amazing creatives and audiences isn’t something that happens very often.”

Tell us a little bit about the process of creating the show and what you have been up to ahead of the show landing at VAULT Festival.

“The show was first created for Launch Festival at East 15 Drama School in 2022. I spent ages working on the script first. I’m a massive perfectionist when it comes to comedy and wanted to be sure every joke in the show was one I was proud of, as well as creating those emotional beats to catch audiences off guard!”

“It was an amazing way to end my three years of studying and helped knowing that I was leaving with a show I’m proud of alongside that dreaded student loan debt!”

“Since then we’ve performed this show twice, first at The Kings Head theatre in September followed by Camden People’s Theatre in December.”

“For VAULT Festival, we really wanted to explore what else we could bring. I’ve been working once again on the script, the wonderful Joseph Wood as been creating some beautiful music which I’m so excited to perform to and Frankie Golding (I’d compliment him too but he’d kill me) has some great ideas that I only wish I could come up with!”

Now that we’re gearing up for VAULT Festival 2023, what are you most excited for? 

“There is so much I’m excited for! Meeting new people, watching amazing shows, and just throwing myself into the madness of Vaults has to be the main ones. And they have nice beers in the bar… so that’s exciting too.”

Fitting with the themes of our magazine, if your show was an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage (think cocktails, mocktails, shots, beers, be creative!) what would it be?

“It’d be that first beer you had at fifteen. A little silly, great time with your mates and something you’ll probably not tell your mum about in the morning. “

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together novel-length reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them