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‘How real life gay killers inspired me to write a new play about sexual violence’

Alexis Gregory's new show 'Sex/Crime' is at The Glory in East London until 28 April.

By Will Stroude

I’m a playwright and performer. My new play Sex/Crime opens at East End queer hotspot The Glory on 9 April. I act in the play alongside alternative drag legend Jonny Woo.

It is a play that explores the commodification of sex, violence, power, fear, queerness and language and how they’re used as tools to manipulate and exploit others.

The play is a sociopolitical dark, comic (I do like a good one-liner) queer, sexually-charged thriller. I use the comedy to pull the audience in; they’re laughing one moment and then stunned into silence the next. I also like being able to ‘queer’ the thriller genre.

Sex/Crime tells the story of two men who meet to recreate the killings of a gay serial killer for their own pleasure – and the right price. The basis of the play was the two recent real life gay killers who killed other gay men: Stephen Port (‘The Grindr Killer’) and Stefano Brizzi, who murdered an on-duty police officer, Gordon Semple.

Sex/Crime explores the fetishisation and normalisation of sexual crime in two characters lives and how it is used as a ‘bargaining’ device. There are scenes of extreme drug-taking which address the vulnerable and challenging positions we, as gay men, sometimes find ourselves in.

Stephen Morris, lead for Chemsex Related Sexual Crime with HM’s Prison & Probation Service, spoke to me and was very helpful in explaining the complex nature of gay men committing sex crimes whilst under the influence. These cases include assault, issues around consent and more.

We discussed the devastating effect these have on the victims and their families. We also looked at some of the difficult issues that may lead men to commit such crimes; powerlessness, poor self-esteem, identity issues, unaddressed trauma, guilt, shame and loneliness.

I also had some big questions for Stephen, for example ‘are we justifying criminal behaviour by linking it to drug use?’, ‘what makes a person act in that way – when they are high or otherwise?’ and ‘are the drugs a gateway to unlocking behaviour or actions merely previously sat dormant?’.

Stephen explained that many men who commit these crimes are shocked and disturbed by their own actions and that their life has lead them to this point. To write the play, and do the themes justice, I really had to understand the reasons as to why people may behave as they do.

I had to, as a writer, enter the heads of characters; far away from myself. In the play, I look at an extreme version of a society with no moral code, where ‘anything goes’ and where something as disturbing as recreating such crimes is seen as a ‘better alternative’ to the reality of daily life.

Stephen Morris joins us for a post show chat on the 10 April and there are lots of other guests joining us throughout the run to discuss the plays themes and wider topics such as current queer repression on stage and screen.

My longtime collaborator Robert Chevara directs, fresh from directing Phillip Ridley’s ‘Vincent River’ at the The Park Theatre. He is fearlessly pushing the play to the next level.

I wrote Sex/Crime to make people think, be challenged and to laugh. Not necessarily in that order, but maybe at the same time.

Sex/Crime runs at The Glory, London from 9-28 April. Book at