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Going down

GOING DOWN
© 2018 Michele Lee

Characters
Natalie Yang, early 30s, second-generation Hmong, grew up in Canberra, moved to
Melbourne in her 20s, edits publications for the Council for Seniors’ Rights and is a first-time
memoirist
Tilda Gamble, early 30s, half-Ethiopian, half-white, grew up in Glen Waverly, is the head of
an NGO that specialises in reproductive health for African communities
Matt Delander, early 30s, Tilda’s ex, he’s white, also works at the Council for Seniors’
Rights in admin
Lu Lu Jayadi, 23, Indonesian Chinese and Muslim. Moved to Melbourne as a little girl, she’s
a successful memoirist and author
(Natalie, Tilda and Matt are left-leaning, inner-city hipsters; interpret this how you want)

There are also a range of minor characters:


Kevin, 50s, from the Nagambie library, a friendly Aussie man
Three old people in Nagambie, 70s, they like coming along to book talks
Bartender, any age, works in Racoon
Coke can, 30s, a guy from Tinder
Barista, young, incredibly cool and hip and androgynous
Person on the street in Richmond, 60s, older Vietnamese man
Homeless woman, 60s, gruff
Readings staff, any age, they’re into books
Lucas, 30s, a little bit ironic and actually just a mean hipster
Esme and Jesse, 17, the run a lemonade stand, self-assured and precocious
Marimekko staff #1, #2, any age, they’re high-fashion and Finnish
Travel agent #1 and #2, any age, ebullient, quasi-spiritual
Security guard, 30s, used to be Natalie’s crazy fuck buddy, former corporate coke-head
Natalie’s Mum, 60s
And random passers-by: Bartender in Racoon, Bike Rider in Richmond, Scooter Guy, Dog
Walker in Edinburgh Gardens and Roller Blader

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Cast size and doubling


For 5 people, the doubling could look like this:
Natalie = no doubling
Tilda = Old person #1, Esme
Matt = Old person #2, Jesse
Lu Lu = Old person #3, Bartender, Person on the street in Richmond, Homeless woman,
Marimekko staff #1, Travel agent #1, Natalie’s mum
And the fifth actor primarily plays Natalie’s love interests as well as other characters: Kevin
Stephens, Coke can, Barista, Readings staff, Lucas, Marimekko staff #2, Travel agent #2,
Security guard
The ensemble can double as the random passers-by

Notes
/ = the next person should now start speaking their line
– = the next person cuts in quickly with their line
… = the person speaking trails in or out of their line

Setting
The play is set all over Melbourne.

Time
Now.

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ACT ONE

ONE

And we’re actually not in Melbourne right now. We’re in country Victoria, in Nagambie.
NATALIE is here. She has a sharp black bob and she is wearing her best Gorman. She is
textbook Melbourne. She’s amped up. She’s ready. She clutches her memoir, Banana Girl.

NATALIE: I’m in Nagambie. It’s Thursday morning and I’m two hours north of Melbourne.
Nagambie is a classic Aussie country town. One hardware shop. One bakery with award-
winning vanilla slice, if the sandwich board is anything to go by. An IGA. A Chinese
restaurant – bamboo font.
Nine months ago I had my book published, Banana Girl. It’s a memoir. The cover: a black
‘n’ white image of a slim, topless Asian woman her arms crossed over her boobs, her jeans
slung low and the button undone. The back cover: Banana Girl is the explosive and
poignant memoir of Natalie Yang’s rites of passage. Sexy, irreverent and nuanced, Yang
isn’t afraid to lay herself and her relationships bare. Intimacy in an online world, sexual
adventures and Gen Y yearnings as an Asian-Australian woman in inner city Melbourne.
The publicity blitz was short but intense: community radio, podcasts, a double spread in
street press, and I did socsh – you know, Facey, Insta, Tweetsta. I hosted Celebrity Heads
for the Greens fundraiser; the Darebin branch. And there was the actual launch itself, at
Brunswick Bound bookstore. Held on a Monday night – quiet night for a launch, sure, but
good for all the book nerds. And Brunswick Bound did a corner display next to the
Moleskines stand.
Then the reviews came. Some average – can’t please ‘em all! The rest pretty fucking great.
In niche publications but still pretty damn glowing. First few hundred copies of Banana
Girl flew off the shelf. 500 copies sold. 750. I was number 8 out of 10 on Best Summer
Reads in the Moreland Leader. Then 1000 copies sold. Fifteen hundred. One thousand
eight hundred and thirty seven!
Not too bad for a first book. Then silence – the natural lull... Except it went for months.
But now this. A book talk. In Nagambie, yes, but a book talk.
Actual people. Real readers. Real people outside the pretentious Melbourne soy-chai-
Aesop-lentil bubble I spend way too much time in.
Here in Nagambie, next to the Chinese restaurant, is the public library. And there’s me.
Well, a flyer about my book talk. Kevin from the library knocked it up himself: ‘Natalie
Yang, author of Banana Girl, new Asian Australian memoir, 11am’.

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KEVIN is there. They walk.

NATALIE: How do I look?


KEVIN: Mocha?
NATALIE: Thanks, Kev. I’m just loving being here in Nagambie –
KEVIN: Look, about your book talk today –
NATALIE: I’m very excited. You know, even though Banana Girl is about my life in ‘inner
city Melbourne’, it’s more universal, because being a woman is universal. And that never
came across in the articles, on social media –
KEVIN: [Hanging back.] Natalie, must admit, been busy with my fence. 233 acres. Only got
the chance to really, ah, read your book last night.
NATALIE: Oh.
KEVIN: Googled a bit more about you… This intersectional feminism hooha. Should’ve
mentioned it but most of the ladies who come along to these book talks are a little, well,
traditional.
NATALIE: Kev, relax, I haven’t written anything that your readers haven’t done themselves.
KEVIN: Natalie. Nagambie is… Banana Girl isn’t very… Asian.

They both pause.

KEVIN: I’m making a big fuss over nothing… You’ll be right. Look at ya!
NATALIE: …What? Too much Gorman?
KEVIN: No! You’re a bloody Aussie, aren’t ya!

KEVIN is gone. The 80s décor of Nagambie Public Library.

NATALIE: And Kevin’s off prepping the book-talk Liptons and the assorted creams. And
I’m in front of… near-empty seats in Nagambie Public Library.
Ok. Sure. Not a stadium-sized crowd.
But there are two very eager ladies. Traditional-looking, I guess. About my Mum’s age.
And a third lady who is… She actually… sort of looks like my Mum.
She is also possibly, maybe, definitely, asleep.
I step up to the mic.

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NATALIE opens Banana Girl.


NATALIE: Good morning.
[Reading.] It’s white. Not the usual baby pink hue interrupted by an odd mole. But
perfect, unblemished white. Like pristine snow. Albeit bulging. Veined. Alive and pumping
blood. It is definitely and literally the whitest cock that I’ve ever had stuffed between my
little Hmong lips. And I’m only getting distracted by the uniquely white colour of this
otherwise average shaft because the rest of Mr Mercedes is radioactive spray-tan orange.
Whereas I may be undemocratic when it comes to choosing friends, I am an open church
when it comes to sampling all of Melbourne’s millions of men. From the ones who came
from no money, like me, to the ones with shiny three-hundred dollar spray tans.
Mr Mercedes flips me over, buries himself deep into me. He comes. It’s operatic.
I say: “If we keep fucking, I’ll bring you home to Canberra to meet my parents. You know
in Hmong culture, fucking twice in one night means we’re engaged. Mum’s going to be
sooooo excited.”
And Mr Mercedes says: “I’ve got my fingers in your pussy and you’re talking to me about
your mother?”
And I say: “Why don’t you put that snow white / piece of – “
KEVIN: Ah! Natalie, love, think we might switch to some questions from the audience,
whaddya say?

OLD PERSON #1, #2 and #3 are there.

OLD PERSON #1: Dear… where are you from?


NATALIE: Ah. Canberra. Like I said…
OLD PERSON #2: But where are you really from, dear?
NATALIE: …Tuggeranong, Canberra.
O/P #2: But your people –
O/P # 1: Your family –
O/P #2: Where’s your family, your mother from?
NATALIE: Laos.
O/P #1: From Laos? Ooh! A Laotian!
NATALIE: No, Hmong –
O/P #2: Ooh a Mongolian!

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NATALIE: A Hmong. As in, silent ‘H’ then M-O-N-G. Like the Asian people in Gran
Torino? You know, that shit film with Clint Eastwood?

Confusion. No recognition from the OLD PEOPLE.

NATALIE: The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, but originally
from China more or less, but we have our own language, customs, spiritual beliefs. We
fled persecution from the Han Chinese a few centuries ago. Okay?
O/P #1: Ooh an ethnic minority!
O/P #2: Persecution!
O/P #1: And your mother, how did she end up in this neck of the woods?
NATALIE: The war.
O/P#1: The Vietnam War?
NATALIE: The Secret War.
O/P #2: A secret war!
O/P #1: Your mother was a refugee!
O/P #2: A boat person / then!
NATALIE: No Mum came by plane. I mean, yes, she swam across the Mekong River first –
O/P #2: So brave!
O/P #1: Tell us about the Mekong!
O/P #2: Tell us about your Mum!
O/P #1: You should write about your Mum!
O/P#2: You should tell her story!
O/P #1: Then you could have invited her along today!
O/P #2: Don’t suppose she’s read your book yet?
O/P #1: She’d have a bloody heart attack!
NATALIE: What? No! I haven’t – Mum hasn’t – Banana Girl’s only in English anyway.
O/P #1: Have you heard of Lu Lu Jayadi?
NATALIE: Of course I’ve heard of / Lu Lu Jayadi.
OP #1: Lu Lu Jayadi writes beautifully, about her mother. Her culture. Indonesia!
NATALIE: Look, I don’t want to talk about the Mekong. We’re all women here. Let’s talk
about the female gaze. On sex. That’s my life. That’s what I write about. That’s Banana
Girl.

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OLD PERSON #3 wakes up.

OP #3: Dear, are you ashamed of being Asian?

NATALIE is gobsmacked. Book reading fail.

TWO

Later. Racoon. A converted warehouse with boutique craft beer on tap. NATALIE with
TILDA and MATT. Phones and drinks in hand.

NATALIE: Fuck Nagambie! Fuck them for being so narrow-minded! Fuck me for trying to
justify myself! I’m trying to have a frank conversation about sex! No-one gets it! Right?
TILDA: Fuck Australia!
MATT: Fuck it up the poo-hole but in a consensual, non-homophobic culturally inclusive
way!
NATALIE: [To the audience.] It’s Thursday night. And I am back in Melbourne-town, in
Racoon, in Preston, ‘SOBO’ – that’s ‘South of Bell Street’. Hanging with my homies. The
crème of the inner North. Tilda. Matt. [To her friends.] I am never going north of Bell
Street EVER again!
MATT: [His phone bings, he reads.] – Lu Lu Jayadi’s second memoir Ten thousand lessons
that my father taught me … nominated for Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the
Miles Franklin. Woah. How old is this biyatch…? [Reading.] 23! DAYUMMM!
NATALIE: So now we’re giving out token nominations for the Miles Franklin? [Getting on
her phone.] Vomit.
TILDA: Australia is obsessed with pigeon-holing women like us. I run a fucking NGO but
last week when I was in DJs I got tailed by a security guard. And he was black! Just
another colonised brother with internalised racism! Meanwhile, Natalie writes a
contemporary memoir with sexual content and because she looks like she does, Banana
Girl is reduced to ‘smut’ –
NATALIE: [Swiping.] Je-sus. This guy’s cock is the size of a Coke can.
MATT: Yeah nah but like…What did she expect?
TILDA: What do you mean ‘Yeah nah what did she expect?’
MATT: Nagambie. The natural fan base for Natalie’s sex positive feminist literature?

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[His phone bings, he reads.] Lu Lu Jayadi now translated into French… [Bing.] Lu Lu
Jayadi in demand as an educator. [Bing.] Lu Lu Jayadi proud of her Chinese Indonesian
heritage. [Bing.] Lu Lu Jayadi an Australian cultural treasure!
TILDA: Matt. Stop saying her name.
MATT: Just spitting out what the internet says.
TILDA: The internet is full of dickheads!
MATT: [Bing bing bing.] The internet says Lu Lu Jayadi is promoting her new memoir at
The Wheeler Centre … tomorrow night. Ooh. Let’s go!
NATALIE: …Seriously – what’s with all that binging?
MATT: Google Alert. On Lu Lu Jayadi. I set it up while you were swiping. [Grabbing her
phone.] Here, I’ll put it on your / phone too –
NATALIE: Don’t touch my phone!
MATT: – I’m helping you.
NATALIE: – I hate it when you install weird shit on it.
MATT: Know the enemy. Study her. [Handing her phone back.] She could teach you things.
NATALIE: The tragic migrant story? I can just see Lu Lu Jayadi there, at The Wheeler
Centre, regaling us with stories of her exotic heritage. And then that Wheeler Centre
audience eating it up. That so-called progressive middle class hanging onto her every
palatable word.
TILDA: Exactly. It’s the fucking audience. They love stereotypes. Those people are actually
worse than Lu Lu and Nagambie.
NATALIE: I know, right? The middle class, the intellectuals, like, like…they should know
better. Yet they get a hard-on for all this bland crap about Asian family values.
TILDA: And then they go to their farmers’ markets and DIY-kimchi classes and then go
home to sign online petitions.
MATT: That’s so us! Come on. Why are we pretending? Wouldn’t we all get a hard-on for
Ten thousand lessons that my father taught me?
But, no, Natalie’s being all mopey even though she’s a self-confessed banana.
Tilda’s being all Malcolm X except she’s only half black. Her white dad raised her and she
went to the best private schools in Melbourne.
And I’m, well, I’m being what I am. Son of a surgeon.
Let’s go to The Wheeler Centre.
NATALIE: I’m not mopey! I’m fucking angry! [On her phone.] Do you reckon Coke Can
will be into bushy pussy shots?

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BARTENDER: [Appearing to clear the bottles.] Pubes get the dudes, babe. [And then the
BARTENDER leaves.]
TILDA: [Her phone bings, she looks.] Matt! There’s a penis on here! You did this!
MATT: [Laughing.] It’s a Michael-Fassbender-penis Google Alert. You love Fassbender.
TILDA: Natalie, LOOK! This is a Coke can.
MATT: Technically, it’s a ‘fassdong’. [Checking.] Yep, that’s the website about his weiner,
mainly GIFs from Shame.
TILDA: See, if a man fucks around it’s an arthouse drama. [But looking at the site.]
Fassbender is… that’s quite the fassdong… He can Fassbend me over anytime.
MATT: [A bing – he reads.] In the end, what we can say is, Lu Lu Jayadi’s unique stories are
shaping the Australia of today, and the feminist voice of tomorrow.
NATALIE: Is that what feminism is? A 23-year-old virgin who writes about her mother and
father.
MATT: [A bing… from both their phones.] If I read this out, are you gonna jealous-cry?
NATALIE: Fuck off, Matt. I’ll give you feminism. It’s me –
MATT: Going down on half of Melbourne?
NATALIE: [To TILDA.] Can you tell your ex-boyfriend to fuck off?
TILDA: About that –
NATALIE: – I enjoy sex. It’s who I am. I love COCK! I make guys cum so hard I could open
up my own semen poutine shop. So you and Nagambie can sit there and try to slut-shame
me into submission but too bad –
TILDA: Go Natalie –
NATALIE: – I’m not going to sit here, moan about the status quo, bitch about The Wheeler
Centre. Deny who I am! No! I am… I – Yes! I am going to, yes, research and write a
second book that is 100% cock. Me loving cocks, devouring cocks, eating them for
breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then having leftovers of cock and packing cock in my lunch
box every day, taking it on the tram, putting it in the fridge at work, heating it up, cock
every day. Nothing else but cocks! 100 cocks in 100 nights.

They all cheers and keep on drinking.


And then TILDA and MATT are gone.
NATALIE is there with COKE CAN.

NATALIE: Coke Can. Cock number one?

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And NATALIE is getting fucked.

COKE CAN: Fuck, love your skin, babe.


NATALIE: …Because I’m Asian?
COKE CAN: Nah cuz you’re not a dude.
NATALIE: Would you at all…
COKE CAN: Want me to go harder?
NATALIE: Um, sure. But actually, ah, I was thinking… would you at all possibly read a
book.
…About a girl
…A girl exploring her sexual identity…
With 100 different guys…
In 100 nights?
COKE CAN: Yeah seen that movie, babe. Drew Barrymore?
NATALIE: Right. Let’s fuck.

NATALIE gets on top and starts fucking him. Hard.

END EXTRACT

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