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Shakespeare Butts Review

Burlesque, Events, Performance, Reviews

August 15, 2017

If you haven’t heard already, Geekenders and Instant Theatre are partnering up to put on a Fringe show, “Slumber Here”, a real life RPG retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To raise funds for the much hyped mini donkey and portal to the fairy world, Geekenders presented to us A Bawdy Night of Bardlesque Revelry, a variety of burlesque acts based on the Bard’s sizeable body of work. Whether a Shakespeare nerd or someone who appreciates the art of burlesque, this marriage of the two is sure to be an entertaining ride.

The night began with the audience filing into the Rio Theatre with Shakespeare memes on the screen and Ren Faire-esque music from the speakers. As the band for “Slumber Here” led by Ian Montgomery takes the stage, the theatre came to a hush and otherworldly music filled the air. After a couple of songs, William Shakespeare himself (Instant Theatre’s own Nikolai Witschl) sauntered up to the stage to deliver many puns before introducing the first act with even more puns.

First act of the night was Hairy von Heels with his reinterpretation of King Lear. New to burlesque, Hairy von Heels brought life and humor to the tragic tale of familial love and succession. His costume changes and dance routine ended with a crown on his head and not much else.

Next in line was a routine based on The Merchant of Venice with Effie Alexandra as Portia and Stephen Blakley as Bassanio. Effie Alexandra’s mesmerizing routine had heavy hip hop overtones and incorporated selected audience members as the princes of Morocco and Arragon. As the number unfolded, each chose a box of gold and silver, leaving the box of Pb for Bassanio, thus winning her hand in a passionate embrace.

Afterwards, it was Antony and Cleopatra with Catfish as the titular queen of Egypt. Catfish’s Elizabeth Taylor-esque Cleopatra captured the audience with silliness and exaggerated expressions while prancing around on stage to The Bangle’s “Dance like an Egyptian”. An actual trouser (stuffed) snake put the routine to an end as Cleopatra slipped into eternal slumber.

What Midsummer Night’s fundraiser would be complete without its very own number? Next, we have Cruella De Vine in a transformational number as Nick Bottom. It began with the writer puzzling over his script only to have a fairy blow fairy dust (or glitter, as it is known in the mortal realm) blown in her face. This spelled her metamorphosis from human to Eeyore, off to find her Titania.

The only historical number of the night was Bella de Colletage as Queen Margaret from Henry VI. This kickass number saw Queen Margaret strutting on stage as Hairy von Heels’ Duke of York cowered in a corner in awe and fear.

Another of the Bard’s famous work, Taming of the Shrew, we had Jayne Fondue as Bianca, and Graeme Thompson, Greg Delmage, and Stephen Blakley as her three suitors. This hilarious number began with the three attractive – if pompous – suitors vying for Bianca’s affections and almost winning it. After much competition and chest pounding, each suitor then brought a gift as the final offering, one of which was a cheese pizza. To the audience’s surprise and delight, Jayne Fondue’s Bianca ran off with the pizza and left her suitors behind, awkwardly consoling each other.

Before intermission, the stage took a dark and delicious turn with Titus Andronicus, in which Kitty Glitter’s Titus committed a fun, brutal murder. Hairy von Heels and Seamus Fit-It-In appeared briefly as Chiron and Demetrius, Titus’ guilty victims who were made into pie. Kitty Glitter then smeared said pie all over herself and fed the audience whipped cream, once again proving that revenge is a dish best served sexy.

After intermission, the Slumber Here band once again captivated the audience with a couple of lively tunes before Will Shakespeare welcomed them back and introduced them to Romeo and Juliet. Trixie Hobbitses and Stephen Blakley serenaded the crowd with a parody of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music – “Thirteen Going on Fourteen”. The altered lyrics brought to light how amusingly creepy and ridiculous the premise of the story was, all the while in ironic contrast to Trixie and Stephen’s adorable displays of affection.

Next, we have a gender transcending number with Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutts as Twelfth Night’s Viola/Cesario. Ziggy sashayed on stage to a jaunty tune in a full suit, top hat, and a sparkly mustache. As the dance number progressed, she tap danced her way into a flowy dress and presented herself to be Viola, before shedding even that to reveal “Olivia” scrawled on her stomach with an arrow pointing downward, and “Orsino” above her rear.

No Shakespeare night is complete without Lion King Hamlet. Draco Muff-Boi and Ginger Femmecat took to the stage as the titular character and his lover. Ginger brought vividly to life the ethereal and delicate Ophelia, while Draco’s Hamlet appropriately brooded and sulked around the stage. With Ginger drowning in a mist from a squirt bottle and Draco expiring from poison, the routine came to an end with a proper Hamlet ending.

The second supernatural act of the night saw Jaspurr Moans as The Tempest’s Ariel. No, not the mermaid. This Ariel was more bird-like and danced sensually to enchantingly stormy music, ensnaring the audience with her routine.

Another spellbinding routine, the second last act was Lithium Little, Taylor Mayde, and Leeloo Oleander as the Wyrd Sisters from the cursed Scottish play. This bewitching display had the three sisters gyrating against fittingly ominous music with fireplay a consistent motif throughout the spellbindingly eerie number. The unearthly performance ended with the foretelling of Macbeth’s rise and fall, with a flash of fire through the crown.

Last but not least is Adam Stargasm’s debut as Julius Caesar, alongside Effie Alexandra, Kitty Glitter, Hairy von Heels, Princess Iwannaleia, Seamus Fit-It-In, and Stephen Blakley. This entertaining yet increasingly chaotic number captured perfectly the tumultuous nature of politics. And in true Shakespearean tragedy fashion, everybody died.

All in all, Bardlesque was much like many other Geekenders ventures, clever and entertaining. Even accumulating a pile of bodies on stage had the audience in stitches. To catch more of Geekenders ventures, coming up on August 18th is Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night at the Rio Theatre. Or if you want to see more Shakespearean ventures, click here to get tickets to Slumber Here.

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Review: The 24 Carrot Show! Fou Fou Ha! Featuring FOU YORK!

Burlesque, Comedy, Culture, Events, Performance, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

July 29, 2017

Last night… I gave a lap dance to a clown on stage while 100 people at The Rio cheered me on… because, in this show, audience participation is its own reward!

Let me explain how I got there.

Earlier this week we did an interview with Maya Lane, creator of Fou Fou Ha! It was great! She is great! Then, last night I went to the show. I went with Miss Dee Twenty because we like to go to things like this with each other.  We also sat near other local burlesque performers. The performers went around the audience and would ask weird questions like, “What agenda items would like to add?” and also, they would catch popcorn with their mouths if you threw it at them.

When the show began there was a lot of prepping for the fact that this show relied on our participation. This is usually not the case with most stage shows in Vancouver… and of course, it isn’t like most shows in Vancouver, because this show is unabashedly San Fransico!

After some banter from the host Jamie Dewolf and lovely tightly choreographed dancing from “The Fou’s” the first contest was announced… they didn’t say, hey who wants to give a clown a lap dance… all you got was beautiful clowns coming into the audience and saying hey you there… get on stage! So, there I was, standing next to Miss Dee Twenty, on the stage of The Rio, when the host assigned us numbers and then said, ok, you will go in order and when we tell you to start… give our “sluttiest” clown Fluffer Fou, a lap dance. In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I had to take off my shoes and limber the fuck up.

I was second in line, the first contestant tried really hard but you could tell that he was extra uncomfortable, but the audience whooped and hollered and went OWW! OWW! OWW! Then, my turn.

I gave a clown a lap dance. I apparently gave him a really good lap dance because he was really liking it and people in the audience were even louder than they were for contestant 1. I actually don’t remember what I did in my lap dance… I do remember that someone told me afterwards that they liked my tramp stamp…

Then, Miss Dee Twenty (professional burlesque performer), gave a clown a lap dance… and well she did the splits.

Then contestant 4 gave a clown a lap dance… unlike the rest of us… this dude gave us some full on Magic Mike style male stripper action.

In the end… the whooping and cheering and applause chose the winner… And surprise surprise our local professional burlesque performer Miss Dee Twenty won!

Even their DJ is Fou-lisicous

After that more beautiful dancing and then… something completely different. The members of the troupe would come on stage remove as much of their clowning attire as possible and give monologues about how clowning and burlesque saved them. How performing, how encouraging others to let their freak flag fly, to let the shadows come out, into the light, was transformative. There were performers who were suicidal until they found clowning, performers who didn’t know where they belonged and felt trapped in a world where they had to hide until they found clowning, and even the creator of the show, a therapist, said that clowning is her therapy.

After more crazy contests including telling embarrassing sex stories that were then reinterpreted in the art of dance! and pretending to make love to a carrot the show ended with everyone being asked on stage to take pictures with “The Fous” and have a big dance party and hug fest.

And this is the type of show The 24 Carrot Show! is.

It is so much more than pretty people taking off clothes and encouraging audience members to give a clown a lap dance, the theme of the night is own your celebrate your mistakes and your weirdness.

They will be in town for one more night! So! Please! Go! To! The! Show! and support them. 

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Preview: The 24 Carrot Show! Fou Fou Ha! Featuring FOU YORK!

Burlesque, Comedy, Culture, Events, Interviews, Performance, Showcase

July 24, 2017

Fou Fou Ha! is an ensemble of animated character performers who thrill audiences with over the top shows filled with Circus antics, jaw-dropping dance numbers to high-energy music and audience interactive playfulness. The Fous are a family of enticing, colourful, sexy performers, each owning a unique character that celebrates individuality and unabashed human expression.

Loved by many wherever they go, FFH inspires audiences to celebrate, dance, let out their inner Fool and be comfortable with their shadow. Divine trixters, sexy activators, captivating performers, out of the ordinary show. This is theater at it’s best, and the Fous make sure you have a good time watching and engaging with us.

We had a chance to talk to Maya Lane creator of Fou Fou Ha about the troupe and their upcoming shows on July 28th and 29th at The Rio in Vancouver:

LM: Can you give us a brief but fascinating history of how Fou Fou Ha! came to be.

ML: It began when I was studying dance in Holland and the Cirque culture in Europe became very inspiring and influenced me a lot. When I came back to The States I had the chance to go to Burning Man and those two experiences combined with my love of the club kid aesthetics from the ‘90’s led me to create Fou Fou Ha. The clowning aspect grew organically from there.

LM: How did you get involved with The Rio?

ML: We were introduced to Corrine of the Rio by Jasper Patterson and  Jamie Dewolf who is a well known performer in San Francisco who happens to do the annual Game of Thrones Live show, Corinne from the Rio came to see our show last year in SF and invited us to bring it to the Rio. This meeting made it so that we could do a yearly show at The Rio.

LM: Do you feel yourself to be a burlesque troupe that happens to clown… or a clown group that happens to also do burlesque?

ML: We didn’t start as either. We are a dance company who likes theatrics. But eventually, the aesthetic went to clowning and satire. Burlesque performance was also added later on as well. So, as a pure tracing of the genealogy of the show, we are clown troupe first.

LM: How many are in the troupe that is performing in the Vancouver show?

ML: 10 from San Fran and 4 from New York

And now.. not so serious questions we used to get to know people…What are your top 4 road trip songs?

LM: What are your top 4 road trip songs?

ML: My road trip songs are

  1. Alaska Thunderfuck – This Is My Hair
  2. Balkan Beat Box – Habibi Min Zaman
  3. Edith Piaf  – Padam Padam
  4. Tricky – We Don’t Die

LM: Victor/Victoria or Cabaret? Cabaret

ML: Cabaret… gotta love Fosse!

LM: If you were early to get to your plane and you had 20$ what would you spend it on?

ML: A dry martini and an Italian Vogue

For a peek of what Fou Fou Ha! Is about please feast your eyes on the video below! Tickets and show information is here!

 

 

 

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Review: Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret

Books & Writing, Burlesque, Comedy, Culture, Events, Music, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

July 20, 2017

Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret was the tonic the bi/pan/polysexual community of Vancouver needed. In a city where the LGBTQIA+ community is fractured and siloed this magical night showed us that there are in fact a lot of very artistic and interesting bi/pan/polysexual performers in the community.

I was there as a guest of Producer and Host Katie Sly, who was a gem. Such a funny, real, charming vision on stage. I went with a local bisexual burlesque performer and activist Miss Dee Twenty (full disclosure, she is one of my besties) and we spent most of the night in mouth open awe of what we were witnessing.

Joining us from LA, international multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and LGBT activist Honeybird gave the night such a wonderful call and response experience where the crowd was encouraged to be part of the music. Her songs are rhythmic and reminded me so much of being 13 and listening to Ani DiFranco that I had to look at my ID to remind myself that I can legally drink alcohol. It was bliss. Honeybird will be the featured musical guest for the August Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

Bad ass deaf Asian warrior Jessica Leung showed what it is like to be deaf with a cochlear implant.

Doctor Ray showing us his super brain swipe skills Photo Credit By Raven John

The incomparable poet whose work now looks at the intersection of art and technology, Doctor Ray gave us a look inside of his mind while he wore a brain wave reading machine as he swiped on Tindr.

Manda Stroyer of Virago Nation – a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization. Photo Credit by Raven John

 

RainbowGlitz, Manda Stroyer, and Shane Sable of Virago Nation, a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization gave us a series of burlesque performances that were out of this world! Each of them a raw and strong example of what it means to be empowered in a world that wants to disenfranchise.

Shane Sable of Virago Nation, a collective of burlesque performers on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization Photo Credit By Raven John

Keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse, pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa played a series of etudes that were based on emotions.

Dominique Wakeland, Alexa Fraser, and Matt Winter of Devil’s Threesome, a devised theatre performance ensemble emerging out of Simon Fraser University gave us possibly the most strangely erotic and entertaining piece of the night in which they blew up inflatable pool toys/furniture and then undulated while they deflated them later on in the piece.

Alexa Fraser, Dominique Wakeland, and Matt Winter of Devil’s Threesome, a devised theatre performance ensemble emerging out of Simon Fraser University Photo Credit By Raven John

Queer and trans solo multi-instrumentalist Rory Jade Grey wowed us with beautifully powerful blues guitar and spoken word pieces about their life struggles and how society treats what they are scared of.

There was a beautiful art piece during intermission where mixed-media artist Caitlynn Fairbarns had taken bisexual characters from movies and television and removed the background to show just that character in a moment of themselves being them.

The night was magical. I bonded with one of my nearest and dearest over this moment of solidarity and being witnessed. I made great friends. I felt love.

If you want to read more about Too Queer: A Bi Visibility Cabaret you can click here for the interview we did with show creator Katie Sly. Katie will also be featured in the August episode of the Living Myth Magazine Podcast.

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Review: Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night at the Rio! by Kitty Glitter and Geekenders

Burlesque, Culture, Events, Interviews, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

June 15, 2017

 This was a great show! Full of a love of the mythology and respect for the fandom,”Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night” gave the audience an epic quest and an epic burly-boner. Filled with the type of things a good show should have jokes, jiggles and just plain fun.
Our host(ess) for the night was Lady Galadriel played by Seamus Fit-It-In who was transcendent and regal. Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Poutina Turner and Kitty Glitter playing Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Jacob Woike and Jayne Fondue as Legolas and Gimli Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Sasja Smolders as Gandalf giving us some hot bearded wizard seduction. Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

“THE HAVE FIRE” Was gleefully screamed as we saw Lola Loops as Lord Sauron spin fire hoops the crowd was immediately turned up to 11 with excitement.  Photo Credit Zemekiss Photography

Vixen Von Flex as Balrog Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Andrew Lynch as Pippin and Neville Powerbottom as Merry Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Draco Muff-Boi as Gollum Photo Credit Photography

Kitty Glitter as Sam’s Taters Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Trixie Hobbitses as Treebeard the Ent doing the longest tease ever Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Ginger Femmecat as Arwen Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Twerk Du Soleil as Shelob spraying silk over the audience Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

Orcs! Photo Credit By Zemekiss Photography

We also had the chance to talk to the producer of the show Kitty Glitter 
LMM: How long have you been working with Geekenders?
KG: I have been working with Geekenders ever since Jurassic Parody: The Musical (in October 2015). I saw the auditions listed online and knew I HAD to be in the show… It’s one of my favourite movies!
LMM: How do you pick the shows you produce?
KG: Most of the shows are picked about a year in advance. I have been involved with the company for a while now, and Fairlith Harvey (Owner/ Artistic Director of Geekenders)  trusts that I can put on a good show, so I am able to write my own shows (Mischief Managed, Lord of the Schwings), with help from my fiance, Seamus Fit-It-In.
LMM: Why Lord of The Rings?
KG: Why LOTR? Lord of the Rings has always been one of my favourite trilogies. It’s something that my entire generation has grown up with and loves unconditionally. The characters are so well known, and diverse. I knew we would be able to sell it out because pretty much everyone you talk to knows Lord of the Rings and loves it. Also, who doesn’t want to see Legolas strip?
LMM: Do you have any FAR OUR WEIRD ideas that you want to do but you are unsure if they would work?
KG: I have this idea of a men’s only burlesque show… but I feel like it might be hard to sell out. Seamus Fit-It-In and I are actually putting together a Tenacious D Burlesque Tribute show, which will be September 1st at the Rio Theatre. It’s also a bit of a “niche” crowd, but we hope that the fans are willing to come out to the show! We will have the “Hot & Heavy Band” playing all the songs live, and some heavy duty performers, so we know it’s going to be incredible.
LMM: What advice do you have for those who want to go into burlesque?
KG: My advice for people wanting to get into burlesque is first… GO SEE ALL THE SHOWS! You will learn so much. Also, take classes! Even if you think you are amazing, there is always something to learn. There are lots of classes around town… such as Burgundy Brixx’s “School of Tease” (http://www.burgundybrixx.com/classes.html)
LMM: If you had 20$ to spend at an airport what would you spend it on?
KG: $20 at an airport? Easy. Mini Eggs
LMM: Are their shows you want to promote either your own or others?
KG: Shows to Promote:

Harry Potter’s Burlesque Birthday Party – July 31 at the Rio Theatre
Lord of the Schwings REMOUNT – August 18 at the Rio TheatreTenacious D Burlesque Tribute with the Hot & Heavy Band – September 1st at the Rio Theatre

 

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Multiple Views: Geekenders’ Star Wars – The Empire Strips Back

Burlesque, Events, Showcase

May 22, 2017

Geekenders recently returned to the Rio Theater with an entirely rewritten script from the second of their Star Wars parodies for a remount. Three members of the Living Myth offices were invited to come in and take a look: CEO and founder, Aaron Golden, COO and head of everything, Anne Honeycutt, and newcomer Meghan Duffy. All three loved what they saw, though they came at their enjoyment from very different places.

 

Aaron Golden says: 

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back shouldn’t work.

Narratively, it looks like nothing happens: Luke leaves his friends and goes to a swamp, then goes to Cloud City and walks into a trap. Han and Leia and the rest leave Hoth, run from the Empire, run from the empire some more, and then get caught by the Empire. That’s it. That’s the movie.

And yet people seem to think it’s the strongest of the Star Wars films.

With only a bare scrap of plot, Empire has managed to carve a place for itself in the cultural consciousness, digging deeper than Episode IV did and only facing arguable competition for “Best of the Star Wars” movies by Rogue One.

The reason for this?

Character development.

Empire is nothing but character development. There’s enough nuance and subtext in that movie to make the first movie stronger and set the stage for Return of the Jedi and everything to follow. We learn how powerful the Empire is and that a single military loss isn’t going to slow them down. Luke learns about himself, his family, and the Force. Han and Leia develop an actual relationship that looks to end in heartbreak. Lando…

Lando is introduced and becomes one of the most subtle characters in the whole series. A con man forced into an untenable position, he tries to drive Han off through insults while not putting his city in danger. When the Empire betrays him he’s got plans and backup plans ready. He’s a perfect shade of gray, a character in the heart of Han Solo, and he adds complexity to an already complex series of relationships.

The problem with parodying Empire, then, lies in its threadbare story. This lack has haunted previous attempts to lampoon this movie, but Geekenders does the tale right by not only acknowledging the weak plot but outright attacking it while focusing on the main characters and giving them even more depth. This is a new, punnier script, and once the curtains go up and the text crawls up you know you’re in for some insanely funny sensuality.

Luke’s farm boy idiocy, his “I’m playing a barbarian and maxed out my charisma stat,” is in full effect here as Draco Muff-boi returns to the role with their usual charm and makes Luke irritably likable. Stephen Blakley adds a note of desperation to his relationship with Jayne Fondue’s regal Leia, creating balance in their relationship and making his world-weary sense of genre-savvy impossibly more wry.

R2DoubleD and David Ten-Inch add surprising pathos to the droids and Androsia Wilde plays Lando with all of the aforementioned complexity that the character deserves. Veronica Vamp slays as Darth Vader, Kitty Glitter is riotous as Chewie, and Lithium Little adds a touch of spiritual sexuality as Yoda, but it’s the comedic turn of Seamus Fit-It-In as Boba Fett that hit the audience out of nowhere, pushing the crowd into a fit if hysterical giggling.

This was perfect. The Empire Strips Back takes everything great about the source material and celebrates it while adding a unique spin to each character and giving everyone a moment to shine. Even the Storm Troopers have personality here, and every moment Susan the Storm Trooper is stepping out of line is an utter delight.

Geekenders returns to the Rio Theater with two performances of the Empire Strips Back on May 26th and 27th, with doors opening at seven and the show starting promptly at eight. The showing we saw was completely sold out, so you’ll definitely want to order tickets in advance, which you can do by clicking here. Tickets are $20 from the interwebs or $25 day of the box office.

Anne Honeycutt says:

I have said this before but I don’t think I will ever get tired of saying it, this is the best season Geekenders’ has ever had. It is not an easy feat to sell out The Rio theatre, and it is certainly not easy with doing a remount but the Geekenders Star Wars shows are an institution.

With a newly punched up script, revamped choreography and dazzling costumes the show has been transformed into a delightful geeklesque masterpiece. You can tell that they worked so hard on this and it has paid off. They have been tireless in their goals to make burlesque a safe welcoming experience for all involved. Risque but respectful humour; permission to explore and enjoy the human form in all shapes, sizes, creeds and ability; and above all else celebrating the spirit of rebellion from oppression one shimmy-shake at a time.

Meghan Duffy says:

You won’t find their number written in a bathroom stall, but if you are looking for a good time I would highly recommend Geekenders’ Star Wars Burlesque: The Empire Strips Back.

Somewhere over the roaring of the crowd, amidst the whistles and woos, the sound of my proverbial burlesque cherry being popped could be heard as I squealed with delight. It was a scream, a blast, a show I hoped would never end. Squishy feelings aside, I want to talk about the performers. This is a production where you can really feel the amount of dedication and hard work poured into it.

Spoiler – it’s a lot.

I really felt the passion, the love, and the joy from everyone who was on stage, regardless of how much time they spent up there. It was the epitome of heart and soul.

Vader’s performance is one that stands out to me. Played by Veronica Vamp, Vader’s act was one that will be hard to dominate. There is something to be said about seeing Darth Vader played by a drag queen strutting and bouncing across the stage to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”. Whatever that thing was, it seems to have escaped me as I was – and still am – totally lost in amazement.

Though I have to say my heart could not remain faithful this evening – among the fabulously sexy Stormtroopers, the smoldering Han Solo, the raunchy Chewbacca, there was R2D2 (Played by R2DoubleD). Bouncy, bodacious, beautiful R2D2. Gliding around the stage like some sort of sexy droid angel, equipped with roller skates for the entire performance – an impressive feat. The skates definitely added a special flavor to dance numbers and general background tomfoolery.

There is a scene where the song “Somewhere Out There” (as many of us know from An American Tail/Fievel Goes West, and part of me wishes they had used those versions) comes on, and it’s something special. As seriously as you can take a blue haired woman on roller skates whipping around with a gold-clad man in tow, this really tugged at my heartstrings.

Judging by the audience, it tugged them too. There were a few people around me singing along to the music, and I won’t lie, I did as well. There were quite a few songs to sing along to. Each number inspired a silent – and sometimes not so silent – cheer from me, the nostalgia is strong with this one. There was a perfect level of audience interaction that I found delightful, just enough to make it fun but the performance didn’t depend on it.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but make sure you get your throwing arms ready. The only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me was one small joke where C3P0 was compared to Sheldon Cooper, but then again I was never a fan of Big Bang Theory.

Overall this was a fantastic performance. A wild ride, much like a mechanical bull bucking ‘twixt your legs on a steamy Friday night.

All photos credit Pierre Chum

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Robin Hood: Prince of Tease

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 30, 2017

It’s a cool night in late April, dark skies threatening rain, but we’re braving the weather to go to Granville Island and check out the latest offering from Toofly Productions, Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease. It’s a punny name being produced by a punny company and promises to be a punny burlesque take on the classic tale of a thief that robs from the rich and gives to the poor.

There’s something about this story that makes it persist – the idea of the rich stealing from everyone and giving to themselves has plagued western society since before the dawn of scarcity economics, and the tale of a man stealing from those wealthy thieves to give back, of fighting a corrupt system that steals everything and leaves no voice to the most helpless, is just as relevant these days as it has ever been.

So, we’re excited. Toofly is a recent invention, the dream of Alan Pronger. He wanted to create a means of producing the weirdest ideas he could find, of taking concepts too strange for other companies and making them reality. They’re a non-profit for emerging artists that specializes in exploring the absurdity of modern life.

This makes the Performance Works Theater a perfect venue for them – a place located on the tail-end of Granville Island, it was a machine shop that opened almost a hundred years ago and changed into a rehearsal and performance venue a little under thirty years ago. You might say the building’s purpose was stolen, it’s meaning gone for practical to absurd, and you would be right.

Robin Hood: Prince of Tease lives up the expectations set by both

The story takes quite a lot from the old Keven Costner movie with gender-flipped characters: Prince Joan has taken control of unspecified European country after hearing the news that King Richard and Robin of Loxley are dead. She kills Robin’s father, blinds his man-servant Winkin, taxes people into near death and spends all the money on himself. The opening set-up borrows as much from Game of Thrones as from its source material and is self-aware enough to call themselves out in, self-awareness being one of the best parts of Burlesque performances.

We then follow Robin as she escapes from BDSM land with the help of a Benny Hill sequence, meets Oddman Out, and the two of them travel together to get back to unspecified European country. They discover what’s happened in Robin’s absence, Robin recruits her people, and they start robbing from the rich and giving to the poor – but the conceit here is that everyone fights through dance, a thing that Robin excels at and Oddman Out doesn’t quite get. It makes for some cute sequences and story progressions and leads us up to the climax, where Oddman Out gets the final show-stopping number.

There’s some strong performances: anyone familiar with the Vancouver scene has seen Andrew Lynch perform, and his Sheriff lives up to the high standards his presence demands. Emily Pangburn’s Robin is graceful and cocky and her facial expressions are as perfect as the choice to cast her as the lead. Isabella Halladay’s Will Scarlet demands attention and earns it, and she’s got presence enough to make her every moment on stage count.

Of note is Katherine Alpen’s Winkin – this is her first burlesque and she carries herself with a refined dignity in almost every scene, acting as the narrator and liberally ignoring the fourth wall. She’s great. Joseph Spitale’s Mann Marian is an utter delight from start to finish, a clueless dude-in-distress caught between political machinations he has little understanding of. Finally, the dry delivery of Jennifer Doan’s Oddman Out makes her the conscience of the show and the person who grows the most, a quiet presence that shadows the rest of the story until she’s ready to take center stage in the final number.

All of the male performers took some serious risks here: Jared Arthur, Joseph Spitale, Kenneth Tynan, Matthew Fedorowicz, Andrew Lynch, and Rafael Ruiz did some amazing things with the material they were given and the routines they worked out, and fans of boylesque are going to love the things they do.

The script has some very clever one-liners about its source material, the limitations of the set, and the limitations of the stage. It criticizes itself – how do you have a Robin Hood show without bows and arrows?!? – and a strong opening sequence that sets the stage for what’s to come.

A handful of minor technical choices can be excused – with the amount of glitter being used, one wonders why we don’t just replace blood with the stuff? It would have made for a much more dramatic (in every sense of the word) performance. There’s also a beautiful silks performance that, while gorgeous, comes out of nowhere and adds nothing to the story as a whole.

Which segues nicely into one of the problems with Robin Hood: Prince of Tease – the writer promotes comedy over character and loses out on the chance for more comedy because of it. The pacing is a bit weird, and without strong enough character motivation we’re left cheering for people because of the source material rather than the characters as they stand here. Traits come out of nowhere and pay-offs come without build up, making them feel hollow.

Even worse is the queer-coded villains; Mann Marian being forced to marry the fabulous Sheriff and being in horror of it and then being rescued by the female Robin is played for laughs, sure, and there’s an attempted rescue of the concept with a gay marriage between Little John and Marian’s manservant, but it feels like a last ditch effort to cover a mistake. Marian’s efforts with Robin are stymied by sexual fluidity, which comes off as a bit of bi-erasure.

Neither issue is large enough to mar the performances or the show as a whole. We’d recommend seeing it – it’s funny and a good time and the few flaws are evidence of inexperience more than maliciousness. Toofly Productions is still maturing as a studio and will continue to do so – and if this is what they’re early efforts look like, well, we can’t wait to see where they end up.

A word of warning: if you are going to see this (and if you like musicals, burlesque, or Robin Hood, then you should), reserve a table. The Performance Works Theater has limited seating and looking for a place to sit can be difficult. We’d recommend trying to get a seat in the center aisle – there’s a shower sequence that happens towards the back at the end of the second act that you’re going to want an unobstructed view of.

You can learn more about Toofly by clicking here, more about Robin Hood: the Prince of Tease by clicking here or buy tickets by clicking here, and learn more about the Performance Works Theater by clicking here. The show runs from now until May 13, 2017, with each show starting at 8pm.

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Geekenders’ Nintendance at the Odyssey

Burlesque, Culture, Events

April 18, 2017

It’s a warm Vancouver night, clear and expectant, and I’m walking towards one of the most storied venues in the city. The Odyssey was opened in 1987 and continues to operate as one of the city’s most prominent gay bars and that makes it the perfect spot for Geekenders to expand into.

A line had already begun to form at seven o’clock, the curious and familiar of both venue and troupe coming to see what the official mingling of both would result in. The answer was a smashing success, with a good crowd that was hot and ready for everything the Geekenders had to offer and a Geekenders crew fully prepared to take advantage of everything that their hosts had on hand.

People got settled, got drinks, got comfortable, greeted old friends and made new ones before the show began. The Odyssey provided a host of Nintendo-themed drinks and entertainment, including several iterations of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., letting the bar fill with classic remix video game tracks that set the stage for what was to come.

And what came? Veronica Vamp and the incomparable Stephen Blakley took the stage as Jesse and James of Team Rocket fame, accompanied by stage kitty Chantini. The two set an immediate rapport, riffing off the game and the cartoon and one another as they set the tone for the acts to follow with typical Geekenders flair.

Dee Luscious set things off as Bowser, King of the Koopas, prancing out to Amy Kurcharik and Friends’ Like a Boss and showing everyone that she had come up with an ironclad plan to finally conquer the Mushroom Kingdom: kidnap Princess Peach and put her in a castle. Dee made the stage her castle and every last audience member was captivated by her performance. It was a strong showing, equal parts funny and sensual, and it set things at ease and relaxed the crowd for whatever was to come.

With Princess Peach out of the picture, Jayne Fondue stepped up as Princess Daisy and let us know why she should be the new ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom and not just Luigi’s heart. Rocking out to How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds, her facial expressions let everyone know that they were watching royalty – and when she came into the audience to thrum along with her loyal subjects, we were surprised to find her take someone on stage with her. This lucky player two was fed the freshest sort of block-fare, turned from another face in the crowd into the most famous plumber this side of Mario. The two of them stepped off, triumphant, and everyone’s heart went with them.

Artemis Lark had a difficult act to follow, but she managed. Coming out as the Kaepora Gaebora- the Great Owl from the Legend of Zelda games – she took a wild breath and claimed the space around the stage, flapping her wings and moving her head like an owl to Who Are You? by the Who, an inspired choice that Artemis turned into the ultimate audio/visual pun. Her facial expressions were, once again, perfect, and she became the show’s twilight princess as attention focused from performer to crowd.

The fine folks behind the upcoming Robin Hood: Prince of Tease were given a chance to strut their stuff while hosting the Geekenders costume contest. They’re performing an entirely gender-bent take on the classic fable and will be at the Performance Works on Granville Island from April 28th to May 13th. You can find out more by clicking here.

We were treated to two separate contests, a Nintendo-themed and a non-Nintendo themed follow up. A man wearing a full on Pikachu costume claimed the former, while the birthday-celebrating Draco Muffboi and companion Ginger Femmecat shared victory Hogwarts-bound Sailors Uranus and Pluto. Their victory was greeted with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday sung at Draco, and a Happiest Birthday to you.

With that island of calm behind us, we returned to the world of burlesque with Kitty Glitter proving that everyone loves a dinosaur. Appearing as Yoshi, she gobbled down every last morsel of attention with a fun and energetic showing that had the Odyssey in good spirits and ready for more.

The crowd was rocking and rollicking and feeling the passion of that performance, and so we were treated to an intense tournament of that most skill based of challenges: rock paper scissors. Contestants were culled from the crowd, their glory to be claimed or lost on stage for all the Odyssey to see. The battle was fierce and the prizes for victory mighty, with the final winner taking home the Master Sword.

You could take that prize home, maybe. You should come to one of these shows.

Donna Jazz flounced on stage to bring us back to the show as Kirby. She started things innocent, with some light instrumental that led to a nice rendition of Don’t Put in Your Mouth, the songs following the action as Kirby, of course, ate something… and we all know that Kirby takes on the power of those that are eaten. The music was swallowed and so was Donna, allowing her to transform into a very different kind of dreamland resident, Beyoncé’s Partition marking this as the perfect song to sum up the stunning performance as a whole.

As Kirby ended, the King returned: one can’t keep a bad Koopa down, and one does not turn away from a second showing from their King. The debuting Johnny Wildcard eschewed the stage entirely, showing as incredible athleticism as he swung along and pole-danced to Ain’t no rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant. Johnny hit every beat perfectly, ruling the land and the world and making the Odyssey his kingdom, and by the time his performance ended and we had managed to pick our jaws up off the floor we were certain we had seen the show-stopping number.

We were wrong.

Saffron St. James flew out from Ottawa to take part in this show, donning the yellow cap and crooked mustache of Wario. She stepped on stage and, like Wario, was greedy for our attention – but unlike Wario, she knew how to hold it once she had it. Setting herself to Crown by Angel Haze, she brought the house down, a perfect presence that proved that majesty comes from so much more than a crown.

Jesse and James saw us off and kicked off a massive dance party mingled with video games and good times, as the crowd that was there stayed and new faces showed up. A good time was had by all, and Stephen Blakley gave us some magic as he took the stage to reprise the Han Solo routine from the Star Wars burlesque. What else was he going to do? Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger was playing. The Geekenders crowd knew what was up, and the new faces from the Odyssey clued in quickly.

Geekenders continues to break new ground and expand their venues and fanbase. This was an awesome show with a great turnout for a Sunday night, and there’s sure to be more to follow both at the Odyssey and elsewhere. We know for certain that the Geekenders are returning to the Rio this May the Fourth (and the Fifth~!) with Star Wars: The Empire Strips Back. For our new friends that saw tonight and want more, click here and grab some tickets.

You won’t be disappointed.

All photos provided for by Zemekiss Photography, who you can learn more about by clicking here. You should do so; Zemekiss Exanto is awesome people and will capture your event with class and skill.  

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I was “murdered” by burlesque troupe and I would happily do it again, Geekenders “We All Float Down Here”...

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 1, 2017

If you haven’t been attending the Geekenders 2016/2017 Season you are missing out on events that are innovative and life-changing. I was floored when I saw their stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, I could not get over how amazing Batlesque was, and I wouldn’t have thought that something could beat them but We All Float Down Here proved my happily wrong.

Our horrifying hosts for the evening were Gidget Gravedigger and Alistair Crane and they were adorable, creepy and chocked full of Sleepwalkers trivia. Their story of the evening was the unfortunate but understandable murder of Alistair by Gidget and, in a typical King plot twist, having the body buried in the Pet Cemetary, only to have him come back to life and then turn into the Night Flier, was so silly and creepy. A+.

They were helped by their stage kitties in the first half of the show, Anita Johnson and Flash LeFox. The two crept and delighted the audience as The Grady Twins from The Shining. I would also like to make special note that I really appreciated that there was recognition that Stephen King writes about disturbing things and therefore an appropriate warning was said before people got in too deep. It shows that Geekenders cares about their audiences and stays true to their mandate of being a progressive troupe of performers.

The first performance revved the engines of the audience as Trixie Hobbitses as Christine danced and murdered her way around Kitty Glitter and Seamus Fit-It-In to the perfect song, The Beatles Baby You Can Drive My Car. She delighted. She KILLED. Her use of the classic balloon pop routine was a great treat and her use of headlights was top notch.

Next up was Androsia Wilde and Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutt in a sexy homoerotic tango inspired by King’s epic The Dark Tower series. The routine turned into a violent pas de deux of fisticuffs and undressing while Short Change Hero by The Heavy.

Our first boylesque number of the night was Tylr Bourbon performing The Mist which was visceral and mesmerized the audience with the lush and disturbing images.

Fanny Oakley then gave us a sanguine belly dance sensation in her interpretation of Salem’s Lot complete with drinking blood on stage and bearing all as Take Me To Church by Hozier played.

Our first international act of the night came from a good friend of the Geekenders community who had performed in the Weird Al Burlesque: Violet DeVille, fresh from a performance date in Texas, possessed perfect comic timing in a The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill number. She made SPACE GOO even more awesome than it already was. A nice touch was using Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como and the Thunderstruck cover by Steve n’ Seagulls.

Secret Window, Secret Garden is one of my favorite King works and Ginger Femmecat and Draco-Muff-Boi’s take on it was perfection. The Nine Inch Nails song The Line Begins to Blur was the right choice for this performance and story. The visuals of Draco and Ginger transforming into each other was executed with precision and disturbing beauty.

The best part of The Shining is seeing a family descend into madness and the horror of knowing that the place that the world you live in is out to get you. Riannaconda showed us a trifecta of narratives transitioning from Wendy Torrance to Jack Torrance to the Overlook itself (complete with the iconic carpet). Also, two words… Glitter Axe.

Full disclosure: I am a Miss Dee Twenty fangirl. My opinion of her work is possibly slightly biased, but I checked with everyone else I could talk to and we were all in agreement, she is a rockstar. Her Needful Things act was a classic Miss Dee performance. Great music selection, Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Artie Shaw’s Nightmare along with her trademark narrative opener tells us a story of how when you make a deal with the devil you will be exposed. The Half and Half is a classic burlesque routine and Dee does it in full.

I enjoy a good period blood joke. Most beings with uteruses know the body horror of menstruation and Carrie was a formative and terrifying story of how women are shamed for their natural body functions. Fanny Oakley’s second number of the night explored that by using a montage of images from the movie and her own dancing which beautifully crescendoed into the crowning blood red glitter bath glory.

“She can’t be dead, MISERY CHASTAIN CANNOT BE DEAD!” is how I felt at the end Seamus-Fit-It-In and Kitty Glitter’s Misery number. The glitter axe made its second appearance as the couple showed how deep their love goes for wheelchairs, torture and Kathy Bates

I love it when performers take concepts from classic burlesque and turn it on their heads. Violet DeVille’s second number of the night was a reverse tease. Drawing inspiration from Silver Bullet, a story of a small town terrorized by a werewolf, Violet came out in her wolf form and danced in a barely-there nude costume with wolf mask and tail, then slowly added human elements of dress to a cover version of Bad Moon Rising by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis of July Talk. It was a well-crafted comment on how we hide the dark animal inside our selves by covering it up with what we see as civilized.

The antepenultimate act was a huge and wild ensemble piece. One of the best things about Geekenders’ shows is that you will never be disappointed in a floor show style group “everyone take off your clothes” piece, and this is no exception. Veronica Vamp led Fanny Oakley, Faye Havok, and Tylr Bourbon in the ritualistic torture of Trixie Hobbitses and Seamus Fit-It-In with Rear Admiral Siggy Starbutts reprising her roll of Death in an epic retelling of Children of the Corn. Set to Go Kindergarten by Lonely Island featuring Robin, it was spicy like the Gingers that menaced us on stage.

With the reboot of IT coming to theaters and the recent upswing of creepy clowns standing on the edges of towns with balloons, having a clown with a balloon stand in the lobby of The Rio who encourages you to take photos of them with your friends is inspired. Brandy Snifter is, in fact, one of the most inspired performers I saw that night. If you ever had a raging crush on Loonette from Big Comfy Couch, then Brandy Snifter performing to Killer Klowns by The Dickies and the Goldfinger cover of 99 Red Balloons is your dark grown-up fantasy. We were so blessed to have Brandy visit from LA, because she is an international burlesque gem.

In my family, we have a “no shower curtain when taking a bath” rule. The Shining and specifically room 237 is the horror movie incident that inspired this rule. Anita Johnson, who is a gosh darned genius, used my fear of shower curtains and bathtubs against me in her Room 237 number where she stripped off her rotting flesh to Splish Splash by Bobby Darin. Jeebus the whole thing gave me a queasy but happy feeling in my stomach.

We all Float Down Here was a freaky, creepy, scary, unnerving delight. Successfully selling out the Rio and showing the city that Horrorlesque is a viable and popular genre of burlesque. If Geekenders gets any more amazing it is going to be hard to get tickets and that means that they are going to have to get support from their fans to find larger venues to accommodate the needs of the community that adores them.

We All Float Down Here Setlist

Christine – Drive My Car by The Beatles

The Dark Tower Series – Short Change Hero by The Heavy

The Mist – Haydar by Gulcan Kaya

Salem’s Lot – Take Me To Church by Hozier

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Thunderstruck by Steve n’ Seagulls

Secret Window – The Line Begins To Blur by Nine Inch Nails

The Shining – How Deep Can I Go by Hairy Soul Man

Needful Things – Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Needful Things – Nightmare by Artie Shaw

Carrie – Red Dress by MAGIC!

Misery – Love On The Rocks With No Ice by The Darkness

Silver Bullet – Bad Moon Rising  by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis

Children of the Corn – Go Kindergarten by The Lonely Island Feat: Robyn

IT – Killer Klowns by The Dickies

IT – 99 Red Balloons by Goldfinger

Room 237/ The Shining – Diana by Paul Anka

Room 237/ The Shining – Splish Splash by Bobby Darin

Room 237/ The Shining – Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddie

Room 237/ The Shining – Charlie Big Potato by Skunk Anansie

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You’ll Take a Shining to Stephen King Burlesque at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre

Burlesque, Events

March 20, 2017

Geekenders, Vancouver’s ‘cult sensation’ (Vancity Buzz) burlesque

troupe celebrating fandom, pop culture and alternative beauty, has announced a new

burlesque spectacular celebrating the work of Stephen King.

In the past four years Geekenders shows have drawn over 40,000 audience members

to shows ranging from a musical comedy take on the Portal video games to a cabaret-
style show exploring the world of Doctor Who, as well as consistently appearing in ‘Best

Burlesque Troupe’ lists all over the city, and shut down pop culture conventions with

packed houses, and changed the face of Vancouver’s theatrical community, making

theatre and burlesque accessible to an entirely new demographic of people.

In that tradition, Geekenders’ brand new burlesque variety show, ‘We All Float Down

Here: A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ at the Rio Theatre on March 25th. ‘We All

Float Down Here’ is a burlesque, dance, and comedy show celebrating the oeuvre of

Stephen King through a vaudeville lens, creating a world where the horror writer’s films

collide in a Ziegfeld Follies-style explosion of glitter and showgirls.

Featuring FIFTEEN of Vancouver’s biggest nerdlesque names!

RIANNACONDA!
REBEL VALENTINE!
JAYNE FONDUE!
FANNY OAKLEY!
VERONICA VAMP!
TRIXIE HOBBITSES!
TYLR BOURBON!
SEAMUS FIT-IT-IN!
KITTY GLITTER!
ANDROSIA WILDE!
REAR ADMIRAL ZIGGY STARBUTTS!
GINGER FEMMECAT!
DRACO MUFF-BOI!
MISS DEE TWENTY!
ANITA JOHNSON!

“We pick the things we do to coax people out to see live theatre or burlesque, people

who might not have been previously interested,” says Geekenders artistic director

Fairlith Harvey. “There’s so much to see, from body-positivity and exclusively feminist

content, to gender blind casting, LGBT-friendly shows, goofy humour, and intricate

dance routines.”

Geekenders’ production of the Vegas-style nerdlesque revue ‘We All Float Down Here:

A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ runs Saturday, March 25th. Tickets are available in

advance at riotheatretickets.ca. For more information about Geekenders, visit

geekenders.ca or facebook.com/Geekenders

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