“The crowd was a combination of freaks, artists, celebrities and intellectuals mixing with the top-40 crowd who came to interact with the Club Kids,” Alistair Newton muses on the scene that’s inspired an evening of Lady Gaga decadence: The Monstrous Ball. “I'm trying to capture the spirit of club nights like Taboo, Nag Nag Nag and Disco 2000, which combined art, fashion, performance, sex and music.” Newton’s theatrical company, Ecce Homo, infamous for such sexy, docudrama work as Loving the Stranger
and The Ecstasy of Mother Teresa
will be channelling the spirit of Mother Monster into Buddies during Pride.
Newton was first converted to the bizarre, contradictory, beautiful world of Gaga leading up to Ecce Homo’s production Of a Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical
in the 2011 Rhubarb Festival. He found an artist he once deigned frivolous to be a rich intellectual playground. “The conversation that surrounds Lady Gaga always seems to focus on questions of authenticity and originality,” he explains. “People are either asking, ‘Who is the real Stefanie Germanotta?’ or they are criticizing her for ‘stealing’ from other artists. I think Gaga is an appropriation artist -- for better or for worse -- and I was curious to see what would happen if the artists Gaga has appropriated turned around and reappropriated her. With that in mind I've curated an evening of all the things that have created Gaga: art, music and fashion . . . and of course, a healthy dose of queer sexuality.”
An example of reappropriation is Cut Piece
, first created and staged by Yoko Ono, which allows audience members to pare down her dress until she is naked on stage, which will be recreated by Tyson James. Nina Arsenault will also be presenting her own installation of Marina Abramović's The Artist Is Present
-- a work that invites one audience member at a time to sit across a table from her. “Nina will be inviting the audience into herself through her eyes, and that is a rare and special opportunity,” says Newton. “She is totally dedicated to representing Abramović’s fierceness and merging it with her own.” Though a Pride club setting in Toronto may seem a strange place to inject performance-art aesthetic, Newton believes this will flavour the party with something dark and dangerous. “I think the installation art and the club atmosphere will inform and recontexualize each other. Nina will be performing throughout the entire evening, and I can't wait to sit with her.”
Be warned: performance art is by no means the sole focus of The Monstrous Ball
. Further inspired by the anarchistic essence of the Club Kid scene, there will be a Club Kid runway show by creative collective Barbara Shears & The Sure Things. Drag sensation Cassandra Moore will perform; Of a Monstrous Child
’s Kimberly Persona will sing as Lady Gaga, with a live band; and the whole evening will be hosted by the indelible ladybear extraordinaire Fay Slift. “I hope the evening offers something to intrigue everyone, much like Gaga at her best,” says Newton. “Gaga can be a gateway drug to the history of queer performance. She also continues to provide fodder for intellectual debate . . . and she makes for a sweaty dancefloor, too.”
Last, and certainly not least, comes the fashion. Newton explains, “Dressing up is half the fun. During the days of Blitz, the UK club that launched the New Romantics and where Boy George worked the coat check, it was all about competing to see who could pull off the most fabulous look, and I'm game if you are. . . ” Challenge accepted.
— Michael Lyons doesn’t speak German, but he can if you like.
The Monstrous Ball, Thurs, June 28, 10:30pm. Buddies, 12 Alexander St. $10. buddiesinbadtimes.com