In the cold of January Montreal’s premier English-speaking theatre heats things up with their Wildside Festival, a program of risqué and out-there theatre productions culled from the best of the festivals that have graced the city’s theatres over the past year. My personal favourite of these is Neon Nightz, a tour-de-force cabaret show that both titillated and moved me when I saw it at the Edgy Women Festival last summer.
Written by Sasha Van Bon Bon, Montreal’s most admired and beloved sex columnist for almost two decades [read her column in the alt-weekly Mirror], it’s an account of her years as a riot-grrl stripper in Montreal clubs in the early ‘90s, when the laws were laxer and the music was all Afghan Whigs and Nirvana.
Told in a series of dance numbers like you’d see in a real dance club, Sasha combines some truly athletic pole-dancing moves by her alter ego, Kitty Neptune (a well-known fixture on the Toronto burlesque scene) with erudite monologues about the experiences she had and the people she met while she was a dancer.
These range form the sublime (a piece about a couple who were her regulars and were rediscovering sex in their late middle age) and the awesomely ridiculous (prosthetic cleavage! Bud bikinis! Towering heels!), Sasha leads us by the hand towards the show’s stunning conclusion, a piece about the meaning of sex, the uses of anonymity, and the chorus of shame and pleasure, saints and sinners, we all become in the dark. Montrealers will welcome a chance to get to know Sasha better, in the flesh as it were. But for visitors, Sasha’s passionate, sentient work is also an opportunity to get to know the city’s history and pathos better: Where were you during the great ice storm of 1997? For a full programme of the Centaur’s Wildside Festival, see the schedule here. Other recommended shows include the burlesque murder mystery Miss Sugarpuss Must Die! and Uncalled For, Montreal’s most out-there comedy troupe.
Guest blogger: Melora Koepke