Andronists delight! If the girls can do it, why can’t the boys? Just as burlesque has the ladies teasing their way down to their panties, boylesque has the gents getting down to their last bits of fabric as well. While there’s a sense of accomplishment at the end of each act (near nudity), burlesque and little brother boylesque are far more about the process of getting there through dance, postures, personality, and plenty of cheek.
Boylesque is not entirely new and has taken off (pun intended) in New York, Toronto, London, Edinburgh, and even Vienna. Boylesque performers appear as part of burlesque shows, usually as a special act and have long since been a comonent of shows for Montreal’s Glam Gam collective. However, Montreal is finally getting round to offering a monthly all-boylesque show at the Wiggle Room.
The “first” Signature Boylesque night drew a crowd of men and women of all orientations who came to cheer on the men. Italian stallion Tony Bravo was a host and a half with his bigger-than-momma’s-meatballs personality. His one-line commentary as some of the artists did their acts kept things light and he made sure that the audience was comfortable no matter what their sexual preferences.
The acts assembled were a good range from more conventional (or, um, conventional-ish) strip tease to Vaudevillian lampoonery. Some performers opted to perform as transvestites, wearing women’s clothes and underthings. Others went with traditional men’s garments, like good ol’ tighty-whiteys (I was glad to see them amidst the sequins, thongs, and glamour). Many of the acts were identical to what is traditionally done in female burlesque — feather dance, glove pulling, stockings — and this created a taboo-kink factor and in some cases, a level of comedy. But I was also pleased that the use of props associated with female burlesque wasn’t always played for laughs. Let’s just say there was both gender blender and gender bender.
None of the burlesque acts had skits involving other characters or situations. Instead, there was an emphasis on the ooh, ahh, and aha moments of each act. This made me think of the generalization that men and women engage their sexuality differently — visually vs. narratively. I don’t mean to say that the acts lacked coherence. Each hinged on an obvious theme and certainly had its build-up in a series of smaller peaks to its final climax and denouement. Rather, this line-up favoured the visual parts of the tease. Everyone made great use of music in their sets — notably Tristan Ginger’s sympahtetic-cringe-evoking act done to Annie Lennox’s Walking on Broken Glass (jumping on broken glass? lying on broken glass?). An excellent comedic set was a good change of pace.
For all the side scrotum mishaps (or perhaps because of it), boylesque has a future in Montreal. The performers are luscious, talented, and creative, illustrating the range that titillation can take. A hen party probably wouldn’t cross the thresh-hold for the same reason a gay birthday party would (or maybe they would…), but both groups should have fun. Boylesque’s appeal might vary based on one’s gender and sexual orientation, but ultimately, everyone loves being entertained.
The First Signature Boylesque took place at the Wiggle Room (3874 Blvd. St. Laurent) on March 7th.