Ava Bogle is Fighting Shame to Save Humanity

Can the clitoris save humanity?

Ava Bogle’s The Pleasure Project connects the dots between female empowerment and sexuality in a bold and entertaining comedic performance piece centered around that question.

The 45 minute-long one-woman show centers around five aliens preparing to leave Earth in light of an impending nuclear war—all of whom, in a series of monologues, urge the audience to embrace the beauty and power of the clitoris. Funny, engaging, informative and empowering, The Pleasure Project is a performance you will leave feeling inspired, fulfilled and ready to change the world. Bogle tackles controversial issues such as sex, feminism, religion, spirituality and politics with revolutionary candor and style.


Ms. spoke with Ms. Bogle about her her journey as an artist, the importance of eradicating shame and the power of embracing feminism.

What would you like this piece and your future work to be known for in terms of pushing the conversation forward about the connection between feminism, sexuality and self-expression?

I’d like to be known for helping to defeat the pervasive shame in our culture and the shaming of female sexuality. I hope people take away that this is important and that women realize the power that they have and embracing that and celebrating it. I’d like to be known for helping to dispel the shame and celebrate pleasure and getting out from our Puritan influences. Because it’s time, it’s 2017.

For me, my feminism is intrinsically connected to my sexuality. To me, these things go hand in hand. I’d like to spread that, to bring sexual empowerment into the feminist conversation in a bigger way. It’s often a missing piece. To me, it’s the key to gender equality, it’s a key to empowering women. Because the shame holds us back, and its this burden that women carry.

Yeah, often the things that embarrass us the most about ourselves is the key to our gold. You find that the things you were teased for as a child end up being the things that make you who you are as an adult and that you end up standing behind and saying, “this is who I am.” But we don’t do that with sexuality. But I think we should. That embarrassment, there’s a lot of power there, in that vulnerability too. Just owning that and standing behind it and saying “yeah, this is who I am,” and “I love this about myself,” and bringing it out of the closet instead of shoving it away.

Does this show feel like the first production that’s completely yours, and a big step in your journey as an artist?

I do, this is probably the most creatively satisfying thing I’ve ever done, just because it’s 100% my voice and my vision. Every single element was curated by me, and that’s very satisfying. I’ve written things before, I’ve performed before, but I’ve never done a one-person show before. I’ve never done all of the writing and performing and been able to bring together all of the elements of the things that I’m interested in to one project that’s 100% what I wanted to create. And of course I had great collaborators who brought a lot; my director Rachel Avery brought a lot to it as well, but was so great about her as a director was that she was so supportive of my vision. She saw what I wanted to do, supported that, and enhanced it. But this was a uniquely beautiful artistic experience that I hope to keep emulating forevermore in my career.

How would you characterize your journey as an artist? Have there been times when you’ve thought about changing careers?

I definitely gave up on acting three years ago and decided to be a producer. I produced for a while, and then I found that I can’t just be a producer because I am an artist. It’s been kind of a twisty journey. I think I’m now finally stepping into where I’m meant to be, which is really doing all of it. With the show, I used all of those skills. I used my skills as a writer, I used my skills as an actor, and my producing. I like doing all of those things. I think the journey for me has been letting go of this need to define myself as one thing. I’m an artist and I can do all of these things! And I want to do all of these things, and that’s okay. Even now if I’m asked if I’m an actor I say, ‘no I’m not an actor,’ and of course, it’s part of what I do but it’s not all of who I am. I feel for the first time, maybe in my entire career, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And that feels really good.

Bogle will be taking The Pleasure Project to the Adelaide Fringe Festival (Australia) in February and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August of 2018. You can help fund the Pleasure Project world tour on Kickstarter.


Micaela Brinsley recently graduated from the Performance Studies department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she is a feminist theatre artist, activist and writer with a background in performance art and labor rights. Passionate about social justice, she is an avid conversationalist committed to making the world a more just place. She has been writing for Ms. since the summer of 2017. You can contact her at mbrinsley [at] msmagazine.com.