By Nadia Persaud
Benjamin Paley didn’t wear his best underwear the day he went on stage, but when he finished performing Toronto’s burlesque scene would never be the same.
Four years ago Paley was at a burlesque show when he was called from the audience to do an amateur burlesque performance on stage. Paley who had never performed before admitted “it probably wasn’t anything to behold, and I had really bad underwear on.”
After the show Paley a.k.a. James and the Giant Pasty said he was inspired to create his own burlesque troupe- a male troupe. Thus Canada’s first all-male burlesque troupe, Boylesque was born.
He placed ads on the Internet looking for more members and received many applications. A lot came from people who themselves attended shows and were inspired to join. Greg Wong, a.k.a. Wrong Note Rusty, a member for over two years, was one of them.
“I remember sitting in the front row thinking, ‘This act can’t possibly top the next act.’ The next one would be funnier and sexier and really entertaining,” Wong says.
It’s a common theme Boylesque emphasizes in their acts-entertainment.
“I think the most interesting burlesque acts have a story to them. You have to create narrative and character. You can have these burlesque acts that amaze you on pure skill and sexiness but if you’re just doing sexy it’s going to fail. Just giving the come-hither look is going to fail,” Paley says. “What people find sexy are character and personality and talent. If you can make that stuff come alive that’s how you’re going to really entertain the audience.”
Matthew Smith a previous audience member saw the last Boylesque show, O Manada! True Patriot Lust, a Canadian themed show that featured Canadian icons like lumberjacks, Tim Horton’s, and Pierre Trudeau. “I’ve seen burlesque performed before, but it would just be someone on stage with little clothing, dancing, and their clothes off. What I liked about O Manada! was the writing. It was humorous and all the acts had a plot. It was different” says Smith.
“Part of my goals I started this troupe is to play on all sorts of female traditions. Traditionally burlesque has been a female dominated art form for many years. You want to build from it how do you make pasties male? Or use things like fans and glitter that women use? My first thought was to make a male pasty you can imagine how that went with a glittery cock sock with a tassel on the other part,” Paley says.
They also play with the tradition of stage names. Wong a trombone player, created a band geek persona for his audition and since then he says he tends to play “the guy that hits the wrong note all the time.”
Paley based his stage name on a book he loved, James and the Giant Peach. “A story about a boy that lives in this world and all of a sudden magical things start to happen to him and he meets this cast of characters that take him on these wild adventures and starting this burlesque troupe is what it’s been like for me,” Paley says.
Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque & Boylesque T.O present
BE MEIN VALENTINE!
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12th, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13th and
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14th
Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7 pm and 10 pm
Sunday, Feb. 13 at 8 pm
Monday, Feb. 14 at 8 pm
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime
At The Gladstone Hotel Ballroom – 1214 Queen St. W. Toronto
Tickets Available at http://bemeinvalentine.eventbrite.com