I’ve seen Glam Gam shows before. They’re always fun and clever. They always push the envelope while making a point about sexuality and cultural norms. There is always plenty of nudity.

All of that was again the case at their latest Fringe show Peter Pansexual, but there was something more. A few things more, in fact.

So Very Montreal

Peter Pansexual is as much a story about Montreal as it was a critical parody of Disney’s Peter Pan. The Darlings, in this show, are from London….wait for it….Ontario and the Neverland that Peter (Adrian Mal Au Nez) and Twinkerbell (Meander) transport them to is Montreal’s underground art and late night party scene.

The operatic song You’ll Get By beautifully performed live by Stella Von Stein was not only a fun way to accompany the Darlings’ trip to their new home, but an excellent introduction to a world that many of us, myself included, know or knew all too well, though one that has never, to my recollection, been represented through drama (or comedy) before.

There’s the precarious job market for unilingual transplants, the guestlist as payment economy, the abundance of less-than-legal party favours and, of course, the pansexual orgy that is just around the corner, “second loft to the right” with a light on all night.

Neverland feels real. Sure, an over-the-top fantasy version of reality, but at its core, this is a world many Montrealers are familiar with.

This is definitely the type of show that’s good enough to tour with, though, if Glam Gam decided to take it anywhere beyond Laval, they would have to re-work some major portions of it for each city it played in, because a good chunk of the references are hyper-Montreal specific.

A Unified Story

One of the hardest thing to do with burlesque-inspired theatre is incorporate many divergent elements and different performers into a unifying throughline. Glam Gam and director Sam Sullivan pull it off wonderfully.

The pacing is solid, the transitions make sense and even the most random of all elements, guest performers (they had a different one each night of the Fringe run, Honey Lustre wowed the audience night I attended) fit into the story by way of being an act the characters are watching on stage at an underground party following an attempted Michael Jackson impersonation by Rachel Dolezal (Glam Gam veteran Booze Crotch who also played Dad Darling and blueman Periwinkle) that intentionally got the crowd riled up.

It’s like the play within a play from Hamlet if people were getting naked (note to Glam Gam: naked Shakespeare, just think about it for the future). It’s also close to how David Lynch incorporates his musical guests into the new Twin Peaks without leaving the story (no, that’s not a spoiler for Twin Peaks).

Yes, it was a play, with a beginning, middle and an end. But it was also, at the same time, a burlesque show, with the audience cheering as the performers removed clothing and got raunchy with each other.

Character-Driven

Amidst all the nudity, Montreal references and clever puns, there are the characters who move the story along. Obviously modeled on the characters in Disney’s Peter Pan.

We’ve got Peter who, while the instigator of the story and cool at first, turns out to be kind of a di…um, no, wait, don’t use a body part we got to see, he’s kind of an as…nope, same problem, got it, he turns out to be self absorbed and not a very nice person, but someone anyone who has been on the party scene has met.

Twinkerbell (or Twink) is that contact you have for the party favours that never disappoints but rarely sticks around. He helps Peter seem cool, like a wingman with actual wings.

The pair work really well together as Peter’s too-cool-for-school bravado juxtaposed with Twink’s very practical approach to everything made them quite the team for comedy. Like a pair of entertaining though always horny tour guides.

You could see the young Darlings as stereotypes. However, since they’re representative of people in the audience or people those people know, I’d go with archetypes instead.

There’s Wendy (Glam Gam veteran Super Sherri), a funny though quite sympathetic take on the Social Justice Warrior. John is the bro homophobe closet case (played by troupe co-founder Michael J. McCarthy, so if you’re familiar at all with Glam Gam, that’s some serious acting, folks). And then there’s Michael (Lolipop Bob) who is, well, an exhibitionist.

The most in-your-face character is clearly Captain Hooker (Tessa Brown). For me, that was literally true. I was seated in the section of Cafe Cleopatre where she made her first appearance on top of a bar. Up close she was intense to say the least and that intensity stayed with her wherever she went in the room, a real comedic tour de force performance with some of the funniest reactions in the show.

Erik Leisinger (Radical Raven and pianist), Misty Portugal (Pearl), Seth Scheuner (Smee), Tristan Ginger (Door Bitch), Mish Chartier (Turqoise) and Alex Brault (Flaming Fox) round out the ensemble cast with choreographers Debbie Friedmann and KungfuPaul de Tourreil and stage manager and tech Fiona Clark helping behind the scenes.

This show was all about the ensemble. They worked together to do so much more than guide us from point A to point B, they made the journey fun provocative.

As the show wrapped up with the same song that was near the beginning, I’ll do the same and say that with Peter Pansexual, as with Montreal, you’ll do more than get by, you’ll find something truly unique.

November’s Candyass Cabaret was special one, for sure. Glad I made it. If you missed it, you missed a great show, but you can still catch the next one (more on that later).

It was the Montreal burlesque show’s 50th edition. With a new show, a new lineup and rotating hosts the third Friday of every month, the Candyass crew has been quite busy.

Emcee Ryan G. Hinds
Emcee Ryan G. Hinds

Their anniversary show at Cafe Cleopatre (where else) featured performers who have been part of it since the beginning such as show founder Velma Candyass, Roxy Hardon, Diane Labelle and Nat King Pole. They were joined by performers who became part of the Candyass Club along the way like Jacy Lafontaine, Damiana Dolce, Lili Lolipop and Pyrometheus. There were also visiting guests from Buffalo, New York’s Stripteasers Burlesque: Cat Sinclair (aka FTB columnist Cat McCarthy), Juicy Lucy and Fifi Laflea.

The Buffalo trio, wearing Pussy Riot masks and carrying protest signs, reminded everyone that burlesque performance and the very act of removing (most of) your clothing on stage for the sake of art is much more than sexy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite hot, especially when done by these performers, but it’s also a political act.

This, of course, was the first Candyass Cabaret since the Trump victory south of the border. Emcee Ryan G. Hinds also briefly mentioned the political climate the show was being performed in, but kept the evening squarely focused on the theme of the night, which was musical theatre.

He even sang a few tunes himself: Coming Up Roses from Gypsy and You’ll Be Back from Hamilton. All part of his main job, keeping the audience entertained and happy during acts like a good emcee should.

velma-and-roxy-candyass-cabaret
(l-r) Velma Candyass and Roxy Hardon (photo Argaive)

On a personal note, Hinds was quite generous with the questions when he called audience members up to the stage to answer musical theatre trivia. I placed third (having placed first in the audience dance contest at the previous Candyass Cabaret). Full disclosure: The Music Man is NOT my favourite musical, I was in it in high school and it’s the first one that popped into my head when asked. I’m actually partial to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Wicked.

Speaking of singing (as we were before that little diversion), the vocal highlight of the evening has got to be Roxy Hardon’s rendition of Nowadays from Chicago. Deceptively soft at first, then revealing the true power of the tune.

Of course, this led to her being joined on stage by Velma Candyass, who had already performed earlier, for a raucous final…wait, Roxy and Velma? Chicago? Oh now I get it, only took me 50 shows.

It only took Pyrometheus a few moments to get down and dirty with his chimney sweeping brush to the tune of Chim Chim Cheree. Yes, the song from Mary Poppins. Instead of the film version, though, he opted for a lesser known but quite interesting Duke Ellington rendition. Bonus points for not using the Dick Van Dyke version and setting up so many obvious puns.

jacy-lafontaine-candyass-cabaret
Jacy Lafontaine

Then there was Jacy Lafontaine dancing to a song from Sweeny Todd. Making a musical about a murderous barber sexy is not an easy feat, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Lili Lolipop had everyone Singing in the Rain. No need to bring your umbrella, she brought her own! And Sondheim wasn’t left out as Diane Labelle danced to Tintinnabula from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers isn’t from a musical per se, but, as Hinds pointed out in his introduction, the moment Barbara Streisand is involved, it counts. Nat King Pole in the role of Neil Diamond and Damiana Dolce as Streisand offered a very funny and even sweet modern take this classic love duet.

There was also cake!

Sounds like a great show, right? Sad you missed it? You should be…but fret not, dear reader. FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets to the next one!

To participate, just sign up for the FTB E-mail Newsletter list right here. We’ll send you a digest of some of our best content each week and also, on Monday, December 12th, we’ll send our subscribers info on how to enter for the draw (so you should sign up by then).

The show is on Friday, December 16th at Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor, Doors 9pm, Show 10pm. This one has a holiday theme and features Diane Labelle, Nat King Pole, Damiana Dolce, Roxie Hardon, Mary Sisuei & Golem de Lave, Lili Lolipop & more! Plus Classy Claire is back with a tasty selection of rumballs.

Even if you don’t win the tickets, trust me, it’s worth your while to check it out. Only $10 at the door!

* All photos by Denis-André Desjardins except where otherwise noted

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its early November edition. The chill has definitely returned to Montreal, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock ourselves indoors yet! Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Bareoke presented by Glam Gam

No stranger to performing in local strip clubs with the burlesque troupe Glam Gam, Lipster’s organizers realized this type of venue would surely allow them to transform their karaoke show into Stripster!

Now you can find them the first Saturday of every month at the historic Café Cléopâtre, which comes equipped with a large stage, a smoke machine and crazy lighting which allows people to take their performances to the next level.

Glam Gam’s organizers have made an important step in making the space open for everyone, according to their Facebook event page : “We are thrilled to have performers of all different backgrounds, ages, body types, gender identities and sexualities. Some people will take off just a sock, others will get down to their skivvies and a lot of brave souls prance around in their birthday suits! The best part is that everyone respects and encourages each other’s boundaries with little to no policing on our part.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Bareoke @ Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent, Saturday, November 5, 10PM, $5

FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!
FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!

Fishbowl Collective Presents: An Anti-War Art Pop-up

The Fishbowl Collective will be occupying a studio space in Griffintown and filling it with art of all kinds against war/militarism of any kind!

At 8:30, the space will be taken over by anti-war Pierrots in an hour-long version of Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War!

From 9:30-11 the space will act as a showcase for local artists to show their work!

Local anti-war organizations will be tabling in the space.

Oh What A Lovely War's Theatrical Poster
Oh What A Lovely War’s Theatrical Poster

Using songs and documents of the period, Oh What a Lovely War! is an epic theatrical chronicle of the horrors of WWI as presented by a seaside pierrot troupe. It was collectively created by Theatre Workshop in 1963 under Joan Littlewood, and over 50 years later remains unique in its innovative satiric way of looking at the difficult subject of war and its futility. Its dismissal of sentimentality and its distinct anti-war-agit-prop flavour highlights the oppression of the working stiff turned common soldier and points to the absurdity involved in war.

141 Rue Ste Ann, Pay What You Can (All Proceeds go to Actions Réfugiés Montréal)

Pride Screening presented by Socialist Fightback!

Socialist Fightback is screening Pride (2014) at McGill University’s Shatner Building in Room 202 this Wednesday. Entrance is FREE, and a spirited discussion is sure to follow. Curious about what “Solidarity” means to the LGBT community? Check this movie out.

Pride offers an excellent example of solidarity along class lines. Between 1981-1984, the British government under Margaret Thatcher had closed around 20 mining pits and coal mining employment continued to fall. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.

Also victims of Thatcher’s bigotry and conservative policies, gays and lesbians came together to collect funds and sustain the miner’s strike. Although reluctant at first, the miners accepted the support from the LGSM.

Pride is a great demonstration of how class unity is the best and most effective way of fighting against all types of oppression.

Pride is screening in the Shatner Building Room 202 @ McGill University, November 9, 7pm, FREE

 

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

I remember the first time I ever saw Hairspray- it literally changed my life. I was young and had already seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Toxic Avenger, so I was familiar with Transvestites and Drag Queens, Mutants and Creatures of the Night, but this was a whole new level.

I was always a big girl, and the way Tracy Turnblad just killed it in that roach dress and got the hottie was just inspiring. The higher the hair the closer to god! Perfection.

At that point Ricki Lake was a talk show host, it was awesome to see her in that role John Waters has a way of capturing the completely insane in such a viceral and glamorously realistic creepy way. I love it.

My art and fashion has been transformed because of these films. Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, Female Trouble, Multiple Maniacs, Cry Baby, Pecker, A Dirty Shame and MORE! are showcasing the fucked up ghetto strangeness of Baltimore. It’s beautiful and in Technicolor.

I visited Baltimore once in my life, it wasn’t all that different from Buffalo. As soon as I arrived I got out of the car and the first man I spoke to was (in his southern gay hospitality voice) like “Darlin’ don’t be offended by this but you remind me of a John Waters character.”

I almost cried, hugged him immediately. I AM! I thought to myself. I feel like I just need to camp out at Atomic Books and wait for him to pick up his mail. I relate to his movies so much because they are SO offensively real.

Cat as Divine
Cat as Divine

I am far from perfect, I am downright gross sometimes, I have shit my pants, I have dry shitty skin, I get like a weird smegma under my flappy fupa, my stretch marks have stretchmarks, I have blead through a tampon, I have pissed on church steps, I have been covered in pudding, I have had people eat sushi off of me, I have pulled American flags out of my cock, I have fucked a wide array of human creatures in some very strange and unusual ways, I have seen drag queens pull shit tipped beer bottles out of their ass in NYC, and recently saw a girl fuck a cake at an BDSM Burlesque night in New Orleans.

My life, friends, crazy family, and all the other happenstance interactions I have with people feel like they are right out of a John Waters movie. My life is like a crazy queer acid trip, and I love to see Edith Massey and Divine on screen being the fucked up things I see in my mind. I would love to get inside the mind of John Waters.

On a whim I booked a trip to New Orleans to see the John Waters Christmas Special with a meet and greet. THIS WAS MY CHANCE! I was finally going to meet the man who inspires my insanity. I even brought him a painting. My best Kitty Porn.

I put on my worst Christmas drag, the original mullet wig (now dreading) and mustache (so stiff that when it was on the floor my friend thought it was a cat shit) of Cock Sinclair, a beautiful patch of chest hair, two ugly sweater vests, assess zubaz and a shit stained santa hat.

I was ready. I was in NOLA for the first time with a great friend, we arrived at the venue, and instantly my dream was crushed, the music in my little heart melted, I fucked up. By the time I had ordered the tickets I guess the meet and greet had already been sold out, but it didn’t tell me that, just let me choose the meet and greet option and then charged me for a general admission. I felt like a Make A Wish kid who got the wish taken back.

I literally wept on a street corner in New Orleans in drag smoking weed. I wished that John would have driven by in his Buick and had mercy on my wretched soul. I’ve only cried in drag twice before. Once was when Barack Obama was elected president, I walked up after doing a very politically charged show and watched the announcement in real time. It was incredible. The other time I was being a little butch bro bitch.

But anyways. The Christmas show was incredible, I loved being in the same room as him an listening to him go on about Christmas and other fucked up shit. My dad literally texted me during the show and asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I respond with CHA CHA HEELS. By far the best Christmas scene in history.

I had a magical adventure in New Orleans, at the end of the day it didn’t matter that I did not meet John then. I explored a new place and got the filth on my own hands, I lived it. I probably would have been disappointed when meeting him, like nobody can live up to that kind of pedestal.

Ok, I’m lying to myself to make me feel better. I just have to go back to Baltimore to meet him someday drunk randomly in a gay strip club. Until then I will get my fix from the Montreal troupe Glam Gam‘s homage to the Pope of Trash.

Their event reads: “Just when you thought Glam Gam couldn’t get any stinkier, they have saved their most rotten performances for the last hour of 2015. Put on your best polyester frock, douse your do with copious amounts of hairspray and join us as we pay homage to the beloved Pope of Trash, John Waters! We will eat shitty food, drink shitty champagne and basically put on the most Divine shit show you’ve seen all year!”

I was lucky enough to be able to interview a couple of the sexy hosts of this monstrosity, Julie Paquet and Michael J. McCarthy. They gave me a little insight to what inspired the show and are even offering FREE TICKETS to this event On December 31st 2015 at the historic Cafe Cleopatra (which I had the extreme pleasure of performing drag and burlesque at once with the fantastically subversive Candyass Caberet superstars). All you need to do is write your favourite John Waters movie in the comments and share this post.

You cheap dirtbags better get in on that before its too late. This show will sell out and can’t be missed. Unspeakable acts of violence and pure mind fuck awesomeness will ensue. And there is booze.It’s an incredible venue, the most magical hopeful glittery sequins drunk sex with strangers night of the year, and all of your favorite Dreamland cast alive and in your face with a variety of “talents.”

I have an art boner for this show. It is the only place I want to be at midnight. But who will I kiss? I hope they are truly filthy. Maybe it will be you. Enjoy this interview, trying answering the questions yourself if you are a fan. See you at Cleo next week! I’ll be the one in disgusting drag…. *laughs maniacally* My body is ready.

odorama

1) What was the first John Waters movie you ever saw? How did it make you feel? Life changing?

Julie: I saw Hairspray when I was about seven years old, I loved dressing up and dancing along with the characters. Later, when I was a teenager I saw Pink Flamingos and was severely traumatized…in the best way.

Michael: For me it was Desperate Living. After seeing Grizelda suffocate Bosely Gravel with her ass and later get crushed in a rickety old shack in Mortville, my life was never the same. I was hooked.

glam gam waters22) Who is your favorite Dreamland actor? Which is your favorite of their characters?

That’s a tough question. While every dreamland actor is iconic we both agree that Mink Stole takes the cake for outrageous delivery, style and comedic timing. You gotta love Edith Massey’s snaggle-toothed eccentricity; while she’s a terrible actress, her awful delivery is incredibly endearing and hilarious. And obviously when you think John Waters, you think Divine, without her contribution and killer aesthetic, Water’s films would not be the cult classics they are today.

3) How would you compare John Waters to someone like Andy Warhol or Lady Gaga?

First of all, we think John Waters is in a category of his own; there’s no one quite like him. While both Warhol and Waters parodied American culture, Warhol focused on Manhattan city glamour where Waters preferred Baltimore suburban grit. John Waters defined the aesthetic of trash in a way that was never seen before. As for Lady Gaga, sure she had a few catchy hits but there’s really no comparison. She has done nothing original; crtl c, ctrl v.

4) Who do you think is the current filthiest person alive? (mine is Donald Trump)

That’s a tough question especially since the Pope of Trash himself is still alive. However, people have left our shows shocked and horrified, demanded refunds and then sent us their dry cleaning bills.

5) John Waters revolutionized queer radical film – what inspires you most about his work?

He glorified poor, fat weirdos like us. He paved the way for queers, queens and social rejects. Waters films were revolutionary satirical masterpieces. His work was not only hilarious, it made social commentary on subjects that were taboo and untouched.

glam gam waters16) Tell me about the show. Is it just a tribute or more of your own interpretation?

A bit of both. There are classic John Water’s skits that are untouchable which we will pay homage to, but in classic Glam Gam style we will definitely put our own silly spin on things as well.

7) I’m excited that it’s Odorama, what kind of fucked scents should we expect?

Well we are creating our very own odorama cards with delicious fragrances such as shit, fish and grandma to represent each character. Unfortunately though, unlike Water’s original version, our cards are not edible so please save your appetites for our complementary trashy buffet.

8) Did you hate the newer John Travolta Hairspray as much as I did?

Yes. Hairspray was already one of Water’s most mainstream movies, it did not need to be made more mainstream. That’s like making a dance remix of an Aqua song…unnecessary. The original cast featured powerhouses like Debbie Harry, Ricki Lake, Mink Stole and Divine and the remake features John Travolta in a fat suit…please. There are plenty of fat queens out there who could have paid proper tribute to Divine; she would be rolling in her grave.

9) John Waters will not make a film for under a million dollars and talks about wanting to sell out – when he used to make classics for no money. How does that make you feel?

He’s done his time; artists deserve to get paid for their work. We keep on producing shows because we love what we do. We put our heart, soul, sweat and tears into each production yet we can barely afford to take the bus. After all Waters has accomplished and at his age, why get out of bed for less than a mill?.

10) What is your favorite John waters quote?

“The world of heterosexuals is a sick and boring life.”

Glam Gam Presents ✖✖✖ ODORAMA: A Baltimore Ball Drop ✖✖✖ starts New Year’s Eve at 9pm (doors 8pm) at Café Cléopatra, 1230 boul St-Laurent. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

Win a pair of tickets by telling us your favourite John Waters film in the comments and sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter and tagging @forgetthebox and @glamgamproductions (FB) or @glam_gam (Twitter). We’ll pick a winner and announce who it is next Tuesday!

Panelists Velma Candyass and Josh Davidson discuss over the top plans for Montreal’s 375th birthday, food at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) and Donald Trump. Plus another Sergakis Update and Predictions.

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau

Panelists

Velma Candyass: Producer of the Candyass Cabaret, burlesque performer

Josh DavidsonFTB food columnist

Catch Velma live this Friday!

FTB Podcast #15: Montreal’s 375th Anniversary, Food insecurity and the COP debate, and Donald Trump by Forget The Box on Mixcloud

FTB Podcast also available on iTunes

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

If you like your Canadian politics with an extra helping of camp, then Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is the Fringe show for you. Named after the wife of our Prime Minister (portrayed by Montreal drag queen Connie Lingua), this cabaret drag show explores what it’s like to be queer and Canadian under a conservative government.

The structure of the show is very loose. A sketch comedy number is followed by a lip synch performance followed by a testimonial. But throughout the production everyone’s favourite bad guy “Stephanie” Harper (a delightful cameo by Jordan Arsenault) makes sure to keep her evil eye over what’s going on.

The tone of the show skips back and forth between silly and serious. The silly numbers are mostly a portrayal of your standard Canadian clichés; RCMP officers, Celine Dion and Shania Twain all make appearances. Some of these numbers are hilarious; you’ll be laughing in spite of yourself at the Dion number for instance. Others numbers make the show start to drag a bit; the fake talk show number felt like a reject sketch from This Hour has 22 minutes.

But the real reason to see this show is the more serious aspect; the testimonials. In between all the silliness each member of the cast comes out and monologues what it like is to be Trans, queer, or an immigrant in Canada. The raw emotion and expressions of pain, fear, and hope is lovely stuff. It would be great if someone turned that aspect into a whole new show… maybe for Fringe 2016?

Laureen: Queen of the Tundra plays at Cafe Cleopatre until June 21st, for tickets or more info, please consult the Montreal Fringe website

This is not happening. Well, actually, it did happen and it was quite funny, that was just the name of the show. After a night of catching just some of what OFF-JFL had to offer, we settled in to Café Cleopatre for the final show of the evening, the aforementioned This is not happening hosted by Ari Shaffir.

Just like you might expect from a nightcap, it was time to hear some stories. In this case, stories of childhood.

This wasn’t your typical standup show. Shaffir gave his guest comics the task of telling real long form stories and turning them into a comedic routine. Each night had a theme every comic needed to follow and this time the theme was either childhood or family.

It was a very interesting experiment to witness. On one hand, standup is such a free flowing, on the spot art form and this involves sticking on topic, albeit a broad one. On the other hand, breaking the mould is something standup comics and anyone who is good at improvising do anyways and succeeding in this format surely involves breaking the standup mould.

Greg Proops This is not happening OFF JFL
Greg Proops

Overall, the comics this Tuesday evening at midnight adapted well to the format. The standouts were Shaffir, who set the tone with his tale of going from rich to poor as a kid and Greg Proops of Whose Line is it Anyways fame who spoke of hooking up with the wrong crowd thanks to his first job as a pizza delivery boy.

The highlight of the evening for the audience was clearly Al Madrigal, known for his work on The Daily Show and his own standup specials. His performance did meet the theme of a story about family and was quite funny, but it was also a part of his solo act which I had seen earlier the same evening (and Jerry Gabriel reviewed). There was also a brief return visit from Brody Stevens, whose show we had just left to come to this one on time.

This was a good end to the evening and an interesting concept that worked. There are no more presentations of this show in the festival, but expect a TV version of it in the fall.

* photos by Chris Zacchia

Well here we go again. The Société de développement Angus (SDA) just announced a $160 million, 12 floor development project for the corner of St-Laurent and St-Catherine, the heart of Montreal’s historic Red Light District and current Quartier de Spéctacles.

They’re calling it Carré Saint-Laurent. There’s supposed to be a market similar to Marché Atwater at street level, cultural organizations on the first floor and the rest of the floors split between residential and commercial space, the latter leased by the Quebec government for 25 years as office space for employees currently working in the Centre de commerce mondial.

If this sound familiar, it’s because just a few years ago, Angus tried to expropriate and demolish almost the whole block and build the Quadrilatère St-Laurent, a giant office tower for Hydro Quebec with a few boutiques and restaurants at street level. They failed.

Café Cléopâtre, a business located in a historic building with a strip club downstairs and an independent burlesque, drag, theatre and fetish performance space upstairs, refused to leave. Artists, heritage experts and people defending the rights of sex workers fought the PR battle while Cleo’s owner Johnny Zoumboulakis challenged the expropriation in court and won.

While the similarities are obvious, there are a few key differences. First, look at the promoters.

Current state of the lower Main (photo by Donovan King/optative.net)
Current state of the lower Main (photo by Donovan King/optative.net)

Angus and its head Christian Yaccarini were front and centre last time around, joined by then-mayor Gerald Tremblay and his Union Montreal administration, who had given Angus a no-bid contract to complete the project. While Hydro Quebec had agreed to rent out the space, the Charest government largely stayed out of the debate.

This time out, Angus and Yaccarini are again prominent but Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is by his side and was part of the announcement. The city hasn’t said much, aside from new mayor Denis Coderre appearing in the photo op.

As for the opponents, last time everyone, be they history buffs, anti-gentrification activists or ordinary people who felt that the corner of St-Laurent and St-Catherine needed buildings that were at a more human scale, gravitated to the cause to save Cleo, making Zoumboulakis and the artists he housed their champions. This time, it’s not so simple.

Café Cléopâtre is not in the wrecking ball’s crosshairs, at least not yet. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Yaccarini’s plan is to drastically change the neighbourhood around Cleo so it will stand out like a sore thumb and want to move, that hasn’t happened yet and is not part of the official plan.

That means arguments that Quebec and the SDA want to evict a bunch of artists from an entertainment district can’t be made. Also, Zoumboulakis can’t wage any legal battles over who his neighbours will be.

If the fight to save Cleo the first time out was turned into a movie, it would be emotional and riveting. This would be the sequel where Brad Pitt (I guess Zoumboulakis) has to take a supporting role.

While many of the same artists seem to be on board for the fight (if the Save the Main Facebook page is any indication), it’s not going to be about them or the Cleo. The fight against this development has to focus on heritage and what role that will play in the future of the lower Main. Instead of focusing on what Yaccarini and Marois are proposing, it should focus on what they’re not proposing.

A market with small, independent vendors is a good idea and one that should occupy some of the space. But what about other nightlife to compliment Cleo? Maybe a live music venue or two? Another bar?

This area needs small businesses that are independently owned. Kind of like those that were there before the SDA decided to expropriate everyone.

I’m all for residential space, but not condos as they are proposing for the St-Catherine side. This isn’t an area for condos, it’s an area for nightlife and could be a great place for those who thrive in that nightlife (such as independent artists who may not be able to afford condos) to live.

Above all, this is not an area for government offices or tall buildings. There are other parts of town where such things fit, the lower Main isn’t one of them.

The lower Main was, is and should always be about Montreal. It’s not about the Quebec state or upscale establishments, just look at how the 2-22, Yaccarini’s other project across the street, is failing.

The lower Main needs to be redeveloped based on what the area is and has always been. That was happening on its own organically a few years ago, but then the SDA and the city put a stop to it.

I think the best way to proceed is for someone to expropriate all the properties that the SDA seized a few years ago from the SDA and sell them at affordable rates to a bunch of independent business people who get the street-level, independent nightlife vibe and who can actually get things moving the right way. Clearly Christian Yaccarini and Pauline Marois don’t know what this area needs.

It’s been three years since Glam Gam took to the stage on Halloween, a holiday that is perfectly suited to our special brand of ridiculous burlesque. It was in that show that I made my solo debut as Jizzika Unklean, birthing an alien baby to Ace of Base and devouring it onstage while painted green from head to toe. This year we’re reaching back into the freakiest parts of our twisted souls for Tales from the Crotch, a 24 Hour Halloween Cabaret that will put a smutty spin on the beloved Tales from the Crypt franchise.

Let’s clear one thing up first: it’s not a play that’s 24 hours long. We do like singing, dancing and taking our clothes off, but even we need to sleep sometimes. Rather, it’s a production that is cast, rehearsed and staged, all in 24 short hours. In order to pull off such a feat, we’re seeking vampires, serial killers, demons, witches, mummies…. Oh wait, I mean actors, singers, dancers, theatre geeks, circus freaks, burlesque performers, musicians, artists, set builders, costume wizards – you name it. We want you! Come to Café Cleopatre at 9pm on Wednesday, October 30th to pick your role, get your script and start rehearsing.

Maybe you haven’t been on stage since appearing as Tony in a high school production of West Side Story the better part of a decade ago. Or perhaps you’d be popping your stage cherry, gracing the worn floorboards and facing a live audience for the first time. You’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist, now it’s time to explore. If the stage isn’t really your thing, you could always just lend a hand with props or costumes and watch the actors sweat down to their skivvies from the trap door.

We’ve broken the roles down to three categories: Luscious Lead (*may require full or partial nudity), Scantily Clad Chorus, or a Camel Toe Cameo. Our call is open to professionals and amateurs alike, all roles are up for grabs. Be forewarned though: you could have to sing, you might dare to dance, but above all else, you must be prepared to be ridiculous.

And as completely insane as it sounds, ready or not, the curtains will be drawn 24 hours later and a play will be performed. For more information or to fill out a registration form, visit Glamgam.com… actually you should probably check it out anyway because there are lots of sexy pictures of past shows.

Finally, please cum and check out the show on Halloween night, Thursday October 31st at Café Cleopatre (1230 St. Laurent). Doors open at 9 and the show starts at 10 sharp. It’ll cost you a mere $10 to witness the spectacle, or $15 if you dare to come uncostumed… but who goes out on Halloween without a costume? This show is a fundraiser for our 2014 Montreal Fringe play. Will we succeed in pulling off this seemingly insane undertaking? Or will we fall flat on our naked butts??   Either way, it’s entertainment!

You can find out more on the show’s Facebook page

I almost fell for it. When I sat down in Cafe Cleopatre before the start of the Zoofest version of Bad Ladies and the Detective there was a flier on the table with instructions to immediately log onto KENSAKU and tweet my location. Had this Montreal-based burlesque troupe found a new social media site? Not quite.

The show started and I found out that KENSAKU was actually a social spying tool that was part of the futuristic Orwellian dystopia that the show was set in. Yes, this burlesque show had a futuristic setting and a plot.

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Cherry Typhoon as Detective Stormy Typhoon

Giving a storyline to sexy dance numbers is always a nice touch. In this story, the only freedom from the tyranny of the state is burlesque. In particular, it comes from Lady Josephine and her Bad Ladies underground cabaret.

The ladies are being chased by Detective Stormy Typhoon (Cherry Typhoon) while sending manifesto-type event invites to the investigator’s sister Secretary Shimi Typhoon (Yanomi Shoshinz). I like the use of social media in a show set in a surveillance state, because Orwell’s future may be a little closer than we thought but I also loved the hilarious banter between the detective and secretary which also served as emcee introductions for the dancers.

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Libertine Rose

Cleverness aside, this is a burlesque show, so it’s all about the burlesque numbers. And we get some good ones.

Troupe founder Lady Josephine graced the crowd with a very classy yet downright sexy couple of numbers. Her highly theatrical facial expressions are priceless and her look is pure classic burlesque if I ever saw it.

By contrast, Libertine Rose is a much more modern rock n’ roll type of sexy. Clad in leather, she snuck onto the stage like a thief in the night and stole all of our hearts with her fun and raucous striptease.

As for Billy L’Amour, well, there’s plenty to love about this performance. I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say the upstairs of Cleo is known for more than burlesque and fetish.

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Lady Josephine

It’s rare that I get to name all the performers in a burlesque show, but Bad Lady had a cast of only five. I didn’t see the earlier version of this show at Theatre St-Catherine, but I hear the show was cut down to accommodate a tighter schedule at Zoofest.

After seeing this stripped down version, pun very much and very happily intended, I find myself wanting more. And isn’t that what burlesque is supposed to do?

* Photos by Chris Zacchia

* Bad Ladies and the Detective runs tonight and Friday at 10:30pm, Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent. For tickets, please visit goodladiesproductions.com

* For the rest of the Zoofest schedule, please visit zoofest.com