Zaftig zanies

With tongue planted firmly in cheek

Rubenesque cancan dancers, a barebreasted opera diva and an argute drag queen stormed the stage in October in a vaudevillian free-for-all reminiscent of The Kids In The Hall and Codco comedy troupes.

It was the first in a series of monthly performances of Sketchy Reality’s Cabaret Vulgare, appropriately staged in Tallulah’s Cabaret amidst subdued bohemian candlelight, small grouped tables and a tinkling upright piano.

Vulgare is the brainchild of actor/director Troy Yorke, who’s also an accomplished concert pianist and an engagingly odd drag queen. Yorke has gathered a core group of performers who will appear each month alongside a rotating guest list of actors, musicians and comedians.

It’s an attractive idea that makes the most of its talented, energetic cast. Yorke keeps things fast paced and each skit to a manageable length. The results are quick, clever vignettes of dialogue, song or dance that never overstay their welcome; the few moments that don’t work are quickly forgotten.

There are many delightful numbers: The cancanners gamely attempt the exhausting dance number with endearing ingenuousness, Jen Radomsky gives an inspired monologue about angst over her third nipple (“Will she ever shed a single milky tear?”) and a frustrated wife (Aurora Browne) serenades her hirsute transvestite lover (David Ivkovic) while seated on the toilet, complete with panties knotted inelegantly mid-calf. (Yorke, Ivkovic and Radomsky are all regulars, along with Steve Johnston and Jillian Thomas.)

Yorke is suitably boozy as Majenta Butterfly: caustic and quick-witted, despite a few improvisational gaffes. While borrowing liberally from Cabaret’s Joel Grey, Yorke’s character also evokes classic images of Gloria Swanson and Cruella Deville. His version of “Is That All There Is” is note perfect in its wonderfully bitter delivery, while the transgender parody of “My Man” brings down the house (“It cost me a lot, but there’s one thing that I’ve got it’s my snatch”).

Assorted dance numbers by Skintight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque are fun and bouncy, with proficient nipple-tassling and lots of ripe, voluptuous skin. It’s refreshing to see large jiggling breasts and round sumptuous bottoms bouncing unashamedly across the stage in true burlesque fashion, and the mixed audience was united in its thunderous appreciation of all things big and beautiful.

Coloratura soprano Hélène Ducharme soars through her scenes; she’s the picture of regal dignity in her opening song from Carmen, and continues to unleash impossibly high notes with perfect precision as she gradually strips down to full dyke-dominatrix gear for the evening’s finale. Her rendition of the Queen Of The Night aria is particularly riveting – not only for its stunning singing but also flashes of prodigious, ample bosom encased in a leather bullet-bra under her stately velvet cloak.

It’s all done with a good mixture of feigned earnestness and guile, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The performers are obviously having a great time, and this helps in keeping the audience enthusiastic and engaged. It will be interesting to see how the monthly outings develop as the troupe settles into a more comfortable rhythm. If this first show is any indication, there may be a whole new set of Kids in our village hall.


* This month’s XXX-mas Cabaret Vulgare features guests Jason Rouse, The Wet Spots, Hélène Ducharme, James McLennan, Penny Whistleton and Lilith Pyrate.


$8 adv; $10 door. 8pm.

Sun, Dec 19.

Tallulah’s Cabaret.

12 Alexander St.

(416) 975-8555.

Read More About:
Power, Identity, Culture, Toronto, Arts, Drag

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