Seven years ago, actor and TV presenter Ethan Mechare wanted to ditch the “hustle and grind” of Hollywood. After a decade in L.A.—where, among other things, he played an event handler on Entourage and guest-hosted a TBS series called Movie and a Makeover—he moved to London to get a clean slate…literally.
He became a professional naked house cleaner. For £50 an hour (about $66), Mechare—under his code name, Ernest—vacuumed, dusted, and mopped Brits’ homes au natural.
We recently chewed the rag with Mechare about his unconventional cleaning experiences and the site-specific interactive play they inspired, Coming Clean: Life as a Naked House Cleaner, which he’ll perform in three different Portland living rooms July 26–28.
Why did you become a naked house cleaner?
I just wanted to take a break from acting and wondered, "What could I do to make money that would put all of the things that I love together?" I love Oprah, and my friend used to ship O Magazine to my house in London, so I started flipping through and I decided I was going to create a vision/mood/dream board. I noticed on my board that there were a lot of beautiful homes, cleaning products, and scantily clad people, and I thought to myself, “OK, there is definitely something in this.”
What did you do next?
I began putting ads online with my little code name Ernest that I used for fun. To my surprise, I started getting jobs and became an entrepreneur cleaning peoples’ houses naked.
Tell me about your clients.
They really ran the gamut. I’d go to big, rich houses and then I’d be in tiny, dinky apartments. But they were all men, mostly all gay or bisexual, and some were straight. I like to say that I was part therapist, part cleaner, and part entertainer because they would tell me about their lives and talk to me about their problems. It’s cliché, but as Oprah would say, people just want to have a connection. The only difference between my job and Oprah’s was that I was doing it naked.
What were some of the challenges of being a naked house cleaner?
Well, first off, you don’t want to get any chemicals near any private areas. I tried to use all organic products, but sometimes I used other people’s cleaning supplies. But the real challenge for me was to try to figure out who these people were, what they wanted, and what their intention was for hiring me. I think a lot of the time people didn’t even really know.
Why did you create your show Coming Clean?
I really wanted to do a solo show for a long time but I didn’t know what to write about. I didn’t want the show to just be about my stories as a naked cleaner, so I did a lot of reading, research, and interviews about how other cultures look at sex and sexual fantasy. I wanted to see how are we different and how are we the same about this one very taboo subject. The show is really about creating a dialogue and a discussion about these topics that we still in 2018 find so difficult to talk about, which surprises me so much because, I mean, come on, everybody’s having sex, and if you’re not having sex, there’s a reason why.
So how would you describe the show?
The play is probably unlike anything you’ve ever done before. It’s immersive and intimate, but in a way that’s not scary. It’s like going to your best friend’s housewarming party. You bring a bottle of wine (or whatever libation you like), we greet you at the door, get you a seat, and talk beforehand. It’s super casual and not like a typical theater experience where you are sitting in rows in the dark. All of the lights are on and there are moments of interaction where I chit-chat with the audience, but only if people want to say something.
Things about sexual fantasies, like how one time their partner asked them to dress up like a hobbit, a Russian oligarch, or even like Prince. The complexities of people's sexual fantasies are absolutely incredible.
What do you hope audience members take away?
I want people to leave the show and to keep the conversation going about sexual fantasy. I mean, why not? We live in such a secretive society around what turns us on and how we want to have sex. I really want to break down those boundaries. I hope that people say, “Wow, this guy is coming clean, so I’m going to try to do that by opening up a dialogue too.”
7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, July 26–28, locations vary, $23