Our Edinburgh Fringe expert spoke with Kaisa Ling from Estonia’s feminist vaudeville blues band The Kaisa Ling Thing


This is part of a three-week nearly everyday series wherein polyamorous ex-nun nurse nonbinary queer comedian Kelli Dunham explores all the queermost edges of The Edinburgh Fringe, performs her own hilarious and hopefully hopeful show, annoys and confuses people with her gender, and drags you along for the ride. 

Nunbelievable Correspondence and Sultry Selling

Recent press about my fringe show mentioned a partner’s use of medical aid in dying in Oregon, prompting intriguing hate mail. I’m open to discussing controversial aspects of my presentation like safeguards in aid-in-dying laws or alternatives to capitalism, or why do I mention cats so much when there isn’t a single feline character integral to the plot?

But an email from Mr/Ms/Mx Haterperson read: If I had a nonbinary ex-nun partner (not real), I’d off myself, too. Gross.

I replied: “First, do you need support or resources? Second, unfortunately, the antecedent for that ‘that’ in ‘that’s not even real’ is unclear. Do you mean nonbinary people are not real?

Because if this is all merely a hologram, I won’t try quite so hard.”

“Or the nun business?  Nuns aren’t mythical creatures, my friend. Nunsense, Sister Act, The Flying Nun. Perhaps not documentaries, but the presence of nuns in pop culture certainly hints at their existence, even if you haven’t personally seen any.”

“Finally, did you type ‘gross’ each time or merely cut and paste? Laziness isn’t a virtue, especially in hate mail.”


Kelli – The hopefully real nonbinary ex-nun

Mr/Ms/Mx Haterperson’s response: “Quit emailing me!!!!!!!!!”

I was glad to oblige, but they did indeed start it. 

Speaking of making art as social commentary (we were, too!), I talked with Kaisa Ling from Estonia’s feminist vaudeville blues band The Kaisa Ling Thing about how Fringe was progressing. 

What are you doing at the Fringe, Kaisa?

Singing my heart out almost every day at my show The Feminist’s Handbook For Eastern Europe. Additionally, I hoped to come here and be all healthy-sporty and swim every morning. Thus far, I have zero trips to the pool, but I compensate by vigorously walking back and forth between Dalry Swimming Centre and New Town. Close enough?

Who loves your show?

People who enjoy the history of totalitarian regimes, soft comedy laced with hard feminist preaching, allegorical swing songs for elderly lesbians, great live piano, and blues singers dressed as freelance roadside prostitutes.

How is street publicity going? 

I only flyer in costume: see-through black lace, push-up bra, full face of makeup with red lips and humongous lashes, gaudy. The best gag I have is to stand seductively on a corner and ask the passers-by: “You interested?” And if they answer (usually laughing) – “In what exactly?” – I slap them with a flyer and go: “In some feminist blues from Eastern Europe!” If it lands, it’s gold.

What would you be doing in August if you weren’t here?

Celebrating my mother’s, my partner’s, and my best friend’s birthday, goddammit!

What do you bring to a potluck?  

Hummus, because it’s my favourite dish. As we say in Estonia: I brings it, I eats it.

Find Kaisa on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. You can see The Feminist’s Handbook For Eastern Europe at PBH’s Free Fringe: August 5th to 26th (not 13th or 20th) at 16:20 at Fingers Piano Bar (61A Frederick St)

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