After moving from Los Angeles to London in 2011, presenter and actor Ethan Mechare began a new career as a naked house cleaner. He tells Giverny Masso how he went on to make a show about the experience…
What was the inspiration for your show Coming Clean: Life as a Naked House Cleaner?
It started when I moved to the UK from LA and I became a naked house cleaner – a job I invented. I’d worked as a presenter and actor in LA and I moved to London wanting a new start and to do something different. I made a dream board and there were a lot of cleaning products and scantily clad people and I thought – my new, true calling is naked house cleaning. I did the job for two years. I put ads on a website saying I was a naked house cleaner. People would respond and ask a ton of questions. I had some hard and fast rules – 100% naked cleaning and no touching. They could watch and talk to me and follow me around their house.
What themes does the show explore?
It was much more complex than I thought it would be. When you introduce the idea of getting naked, you’re introducing so many things – sexuality, body image and cultural differences. It becomes this great learning experience. People think it’s going to be a load of funny stories, but actually, this is a psychological evaluation of how we look at sexual fantasies, how we don’t talk about our own.
Have you done anything like this before?
It’s my first one-man show and I find it exhilarating. It wasn’t a joke and I could easily have just made it into something funny, and it is, but equally you’re getting into the territory of: is this crossing the line into prostitution? Or are you basically a stripper?
Where do you usually perform the show?
It was typically performed in living rooms, then we expanded to the back of shops. I wanted people to feel like I did when I went into strangers’ homes – it’s exhilarating and you know you’ve become a voyeur in a way. My stage manager Cath Royle and I greet people and make them feel comfortable in the space. At Vault Festival in Waterloo, where the show run later this month, we are above a pub and it’s the first time we are in a more traditional space.
What other work have you done in the past?
When I moved to LA I started off doing theatre and commercials – that’s how you start off, then I had some guest parts and co-star parts on TV in dramas and sitcoms. I love presenting and interviewing people and did some red-carpet stuff. I was also a spokesperson for a hair product.
What else have you got coming up?
I’m working on two more projects. One is a show about bisexuality, which feels like a bit of an antiquated term that we’re moving away from. The other project is more like performance art and it’s called Friend Box for now. It will take place in a mobile box where people come and we can talk. It’s about getting away from social media and explores how social media creates more loneliness.
Training: Howard Vine Acting Studio, LA (2005-09); Groundlings Improvisation School, LA (2003-08)
First professional role: Independent film by rapper Master P called Don’t Be Scared (2006)
Coming Clean: Life as a Naked House Cleaner is at London’s Vault Festival from February 27-March 3