If you’ve got a slightly perverted sense of humour and don’t mind spending the night with a gorgeous gymnast’s crotch-glitter in your eye, get your lipstick and heels on (ladies AND gents!) and book a ticket for Australian boylesque show Briefs which is back for a second year at London’s Wonderground.
Hosted by statuesque “immigrant tranny with a beard” Shivannah, alter ego of performer and choreographer Fez Fa’anana, Briefs is a delicious rollercoaster of dance, acrobatics, striptease and politically incorrect humour that had Friday opening night audience raising eyebrows, fanning flustered faces and clutching our sides laughing.
With Shivannah opening up about her gusset issues and encouraging us to frequent the bar at regular intervals (“the more you drink, the more like a woman I look, and two bottles of vodka are cheaper than a sex change”) the atmosphere inside Wonderground’s 1920s spiegeltent was sweaty, loud and up for anything.
Kicking-off the circus-cabaret-burlesque-drag-strip-show hybrid was tiny but perfectly formed superstar-in-the-making Thomas Worrell, an accomplished dancer and aerial hoop and silks specialist who performed two stunning acts above our heads. Back-lit in blue, accompanied by pumping electronic music, he’s a graceful contrast to some of the evening’s other more outrageous acts.
Not everyone will enjoy getting straddled by a half-man/half-monkey in a sparkly thong while he roughly violates your mouth with a banana, but with Briefs it’s just a risk you’re going to have to take.
The Evil Hate Monkey is an award-winning (Burlesque Hall of Fame King of Boylesque 2010) and utterly weird act who divides critics and audiences. I thought he was brilliant.
I wasn’t quite as keen on the skit involving the lads on leashes and a pile of fake poo. Believe me, you don’t want details.
Jay Squires Carter’s creation Dallas Dellaforce (Pete Burns meets Marilyn Monroe meets Lady Gaga) is a nod to classic drag with lip-syncing to club classics.
She offers a change of style and pace but I wasn’t quite as taken as I was with cast’s bendy, ballsy gymnastic displays or Shivannah’s hysterical self-referential comedy magic act and edgy one-liners.
Louis Biggs’ naughty stripping schoolboy (told you it was perverted!) was a definite crowd-pleaser, even if he did knock a young lady’s overpriced champagne flying with a piece of fruit and nearly had my eye out with his yo-yo.
That’s not a euphemism, by the way. I’m not sure if it’s the striptease or the fact that he can complete a Rubik’s Cube in an impressive ten seconds that’s the most arousing.
Teaming up with bare-bummed butler, Lachy Shelley, Biggs later lay back and had one lucky audience member licking salt, lime and tequila from his hairless torso. Briefs is a lot of things – classy isn’t one of them.
Having spotted the plastic sheeting under our seats and been warned by the chaps behind that we might get a little moist (!) we came to the highlight of the night, Mark ‘Captain Kidd’ Winmill’s highly erotic take on Dita Von Teese et al’s stripper-in-a-martini glass.
Writhing and swinging on an aerial loop hanging low over a giant bowl of water, the muscular, tattooed, performer drenched the front-rows with a welcome cold shower.
Closing the racy, 90 minute show, with one big “F**k you” to Australia’s ultra-conservative PM Tony Abbott, Shivannah and her crew – wearing sequinned Aussie flag outfits in various levels of skimpy – launched into one final disco number to rapturous applause from a whooping audience, wet through, and begging for more.
It’s not a show with high production values, but it’s absurd, hot, hilarious and a huge amount of fun.
Briefs runs at London Wonderground, Southbank, until September 27. It’s best experienced from the front row.. if you dare.
- Briefs: The Second Coming
Be prepared to be shaken and stirred by a heady cocktail of risque circus skills, outrageous comedy and thrilling cabaret, accompanied by the threat of assault by banana and crotch glitter. Yes, the truly unique Briefs is back at London’s Wonderground.