Ex-Toronto comic shows boobs and raises more than $30K for Black Lives Matter

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Today, thanks to stand-up DeAnne Smith’s breasts, organizations that support Black Lives Matter have $30,000 more in donations.

“There are a lot of people who want to see boobs, but also want to do the right thing,” says Smith from her home in L.A. “I guess it’s pretty powerful when you put those things together.”

Prompted by a similar tweet from friend and fellow comic Sarah Mowrey, Smith went on social media Wednesday afternoon and, with a photo of herself wearing a bow-tie and shirt draped back to reveal her stomach and the bottom of her breasts, she tweeted out: “INSPIRED by @sarahmowrey, I’m putting my sweet rack in the fight. DM me receipts (today’s date!) for any donations over $25 to BLM or any of the links below and I’ll send you a picture of my ~surprisingly~ hot titties. They have made straight women WEEP.”

Smith included links to BLM and other organizations, including Black Trans Femmes in the Arts. 

Smith texted Mowrey to ask her if she could jump on the idea, and then sent out the photo. The donations came fast and furious, with Smith cutting things off at midnight PT and staying up all night replying. She sent out two breast pics (with no face – but it’s clearly her), along with a promised “bonus photo” which turned out to be her holding up her chihuahua Rudy’s stomach and nipples.

All the messages she received were totally respectful. Some people who didn’t even know her act replied, “Cool, I’ll have to check out your comedy now.”

What she realized during it all was how many people felt helpless at the current situation, and wanted to do something but didn’t know what causes to support. 

“They needed a push, many of them just wanted to know where to send donations. These organizations weren’t on their radar.”

Smith says she didn’t feel she was exploiting her body – “it’s my body, I’m making the choice myself.” If anything, she felt a little uneasy about sending out pictures of her dog. 

But she also says that as a nonbinary performer who doesn’t identify as a woman, she has a whole different association with her breasts than cisgender women. 

“It’s hard to articulate, but I’m kind of mentally removed from them in a way,” she says. “I feel disassociated from them. So it really doesn’t feel exploitative at all.”

Smith’s fans were likely pleasantly surprised with the revelation. Onstage, the comic traditionally wears button-up shirts, pants and a bow-tie. There’s one joke in her act – almost a throwaway line – in which she talks about women being self-conscious about their breasts being uneven. 

“I say, ‘They’re sisters, not twins, don’t worry about it!’ And then I say, ‘You don’t know this, but I have a pretty hot rack.'”

The line in the tweet about her breasts making straight women weep comes from a real incident.

“I was swimming in the ocean once with friends, and I took off my top and a friend literally had tears in her eyes and said ‘Oh my God.’ And I said back, ‘I know! And the worst part is, they mean nothing to me. I don’t care about them.'”

While Smith’s live comedy shows have obviously been cancelled the past two months – she was supposed to be travelling throughout March and April – she did present a live Zoom stand-up show last month, with audience members in a Zoom chat able to have their laughter carry through. 

And she’s doing another virtual show June 12 with Guelph’s Making Box

Smith’s almost getting used to the idea of performing alone in her house. For the earlier show, she had to convince herself to have a good time. 

“My approach to comedy has always been something that happens in a room with other people – it’s not about firing off jokes for their own sake. It’s about community, being in the moment. For that first show, I was thinking how awful it would be to feel like I’d bombed in my own home. The four walls around me would always be thinking, ‘We all remember that night.’ It would be brutal.” 

After the Zoom show, many people reached out and said how good it was to laugh, including some frontline workers who said they needed the break. And in a way, the 12-hour boob fundraiser made her feel useful.

“It was nice to be able to do something and connect with kindhearted people and not be stuck staring at all the news,” she says. “I wasn’t trying to prioritize my white voice but to remember that people want levity and humour. Or they will eventually.”

@glennsumi