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briefs : the second coming @ the meriton festival village

They describe part of their act as “boylesque” but these are not boys. BRIEFS: THE SECOND COMING are men, seven beautiful men with a substantial variety of maleness on display. Briefs aside and cleverly skirting the edge of what is legal (yet enough to please a sold-out crowd last night at the Magic Mirrors Speigletent in the Meriton Festival Village) there is nudity abounding.

Self-described in the Festival program as the “love child of RuPaul’s Drag Race and an Aussie version of Cirque du Soleil”, the extravaganza, opens with a fan dance. Pump up the jam on steroids! Opulent, clever, slick and decidedly sexy, in true burlesque style the ensemble of seven eventually rip down to their briefs. To the considerable approval of the hooting, cheering audience.

Then hostess Shivannah (Fez Fa’anana), a bearded drag artiste with a witty, down to earth rapport with her audience explodes onto the stage complaining about the brief time for her costume change. She then spends some moments in front of the front row “sorting my fucking gusset out”. I can’t remember the last time I heard that word. Gusset not fucking.

Shivannah gives us a heads up. This show will be butch with a fuckload of camp on the side and she figures by now you know if you are I the right place. This “wildebeest in a feathery outfit” works the crowd and it becomes apparent that many of the patrons have seen the show before and pretty much everyone is there to have a good time.

And a good time it is. Each member of the troupe has a chance to display their special skills. Thomas Worrell, for example, is a man who knows his equipment. Aerial ring and silks for a sexy cerceau and tissu in a red jewelled black cowl. Louis Biggs looks like a sweet schoolboy until, with Rubik’s cube and yo yo and extendable ruler he manages to strip down to his penis warmer. But, in traditional porn style, keeps his socks on.

My favourite was the mullet haired, sweatband wearing skippers. Short and snappy with brilliant rope work, tumbling and a particularly clever Schuhplattler resonance. There are many times when we get just a taste of what this company can do. When a distorted Habanera from Carmen heralds a dog show like no other (my friend’s favourite) there wonderful elements of juggling, acrobatics, balances. Just enough to show the mastery behind the buffoonery and rudeness.

And it is definitely rude. At some stage everyone strips down to a dazzling array of posing pouches, sequined straps or the aforementioned penis warmers. You can buy them at the merch table after the show. Just a thought for the man in your life. The company also raises funds through a raffle they run during the show. My advice? Donate generously but try not to win… just sayin!

Audience humiliation is rampant and hilarious but gentle nevertheless. Evil Hate Monkey (Adam Krandle) does eye watering leaps en pointe then something quite bizarre with a banana and a poor guy in the 4th row whose wedding ring was glinting in the light as he flailed. On a side note, Krandle doesn’t seem to have a gag reflex. Oh and his Facebook page is a cracker with awesome shots of him doing handstands in exotic climes. But I digress.

Rounding out the ensemble is Dallas Dellaforce (who designed the costumes as well), Lachlan Shelley and Mark “Captain Kidd’ Winmill. The latter has the finale where his internationally famous birdbath act caps off a wonderful evening of high camp, medium brow fun.

There are a few bum notes. Sorry I just had to! A few slow moments but when I thought about it, those bits are part of our history and drag heritage. The kind of shtick which was a hit at those clubs in the Cross’ heyday, or the drag show at the Imperial a lifetime ago need to be brought to new audiences. The art of ‘The Tuck’ has to be seen at least once a lifetime and where else?

The music is fantastic and you get quite a workout nodding along and straining to see around the person in front of you who is head bopping at a different tempo. The costumes are sumptuous or scanty as required. And the boys are beautiful.

BRIEFS: THE SECOND COMING is playing at the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent within the Meriton Festival Village as part of the Sydney Festival until January 22nd.



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