“Millie Dollar sashays onto the stage in a green, feathered dress to conclude the evening’s entertainment with a sultry burlesque routine. The capacity audience at the ornate Epstein Theatre in Liverpool is enraptured by her sensual beauty.
“Burlesque, she says in an interview, gives her a way of communicating through costume, routine and dance – which she does with panache. What the audience can’t see though is the hearing condition that means she must work hard to follow the beat during her glamorous routine.
“A number of disabled performers have taken to the stage to entertain mainstream audiences in recent years, although in her routines Dollar (unlike some) does not refer to either her hearing impairment or her depression, which she writes about with candour and insight.
“The internationally famed multi-disciplinary performer Mat Fraser has long explored the relationship between disability, entertainment and sexuality. He is currently appearing in the popular US TV series American Horror Story. He said in a recent interview: ‘When you are disabled the two things people think you can’t do are fight and have sex…so I’ve got a black belt and I’m really good at shagging. The physical pleasures in life are really important to me.’
“Research has shown that disabled people are less likely to have a long-term partner or marry than non-disabled people, although this is very dependent on impairment type. When a 2014 newspaper poll asked Britons if they had ever had sex with someone who had a physical disability, 44 per cent said ‘No, and I don’t think I would’.”