Last summer, women flocked in droves to see members of a bridal party dramatically desecrate a flashy wedding gown, take out their crazy on a chocolate fountain and fart joke their way to the top of the box office. This summer’s runaway film hit with female audiences goes for a complete different type of girl bonding experience that involves watching buff, bare-chested heartthrobs perform a series of coordinated pelvic thrusts before brazenly ripping off their tear-away pants. Welcome to the seedy underbelly of the Florida stripping scene, filtered through the lens of Stephen Soderburgh.

You can practically smell the ball sweat coming off the screen as Channing Tatum, one of Hollywood’s rising stars, reprises a role that he played in real life. He sure has come a long way since flaunting his fancy footwork in Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” video and the “Step Up” franchise. As the titular character, Tatum takes the fresh-faced youngster Alex Pettyfer, affectionately referred to as “The Kid”, under his wing and thrusts him into the spotlight, pun intended. The plot proceeds exactly as you’re predicting it might – before strip club owner (and scene-stealer) Matthew McConaughey can eke out another Wooderson-inspired “alright alright alright”, the Kid gets corrupted and Magic Mike’s whole world goes up in smoke.

While the screening of “Magic Mike” that I attended wasn’t exactly packed with rowdy, ravenous ladies, there were many moments that elicited hoots and hollers from the crowd. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a lot more chuckles at the dance sequences than ooohs and ahhhhs. The film confirmed one of my suspicions about male stripping – it’s clearly a lot more ridiculous than it is sexy.

It’s difficult to pin down exactly what about male stripping is so silly. All the elements for arousal are there on paper – subjectively attractive bodies, glistening skin, simulated sex… ok, there’s no way I can even write this without it venturing into Harlequin romance territory.  And while there are some women out there whose panties get a little wet at the aforementioned scenario – approximately one third, if you believe in anthropologist Carole S. Vance’s “One-Third Rule”, which supposes that when an erotic image is presented to a group of women, one-third of them will find it disgusting, one-third will find it ridiculous, and one-third will find it hot – but I regrettably am not one of them.

Another reason why audiences might turn to laughter at the trying-to-be sexy moments is that engaging this seemingly naughty act with a group of friends instills an elementary school level of giddiness attained when skipping school together for the first time. Male strip clubs provide a relatively safe environment for women to play the role of the desirer, whether that makes them uncomfortable or not.

In her interesting review of the film, Tracy Clark-Flory of pondered whether male strippers were a bit too in need of being desired, rather than doing the desiring that supposedly turns straight women on. “Men objectifying themselves is feminizing,” she notes, quoting journalist Susannah Breslin, especially when they choose to do so in a traditionally female-dominated industry.


For my last day at the 2012 Fringe festival, I had the pleasure of heading back to the Cabaret du Mile End to catch a performance of TOUGH! a one woman play/musical by Kirsten Rasmussen. Rasmussen was one of the co-hosts at this years 13th hour and has become quite the buzz worthy lady around town. I first saw Rasmussen take part in a improv show with Uncalled For! and also caught some of her stand up at the Edge of the City live podcast this year. Since then, I’ve seen Rasmussen pop up in articles in The Gazette, Nightlife, and the (sadly now defunct, RIP) Montreal Mirror’s Noisemakers list this year.  So needless to say when I saw she had her own solo show I was immediately interested.

Rasmussen is simply put, a force of nature. When she’s in full out performance mode its impossible not to want to hear what she has to say. I get cranky when my festival schedule goes past my regular bedtime. This lady meanwhile was not only performing hosting duties at 1 am every night, but also doing multiple performances of a show that sometimes exhausting just to watch! Continually shifting back and forth between different characters, TOUGH is the story of two very different women: an alcoholic lounge singer with a famous father, and a tough lady boxer training for her first big match. With completely different lives, these women come together at the end of the show in a satisfying and unexpected way. (I won’t spoil it for you in case Rasmussen puts on the show past the Fringe.)

In this show Rasmussen was required her to pull of comedy, drama and even sing a few songs all the same time. Like I’ve said I’ve seen her do improv and stand up comedy and after watching TOUGH I do think her greatest strength lies as a comedienne. I think she has the potential to be a just as strong dramatic actress but she’s quite there yet, and honestly my only real criticism of the show is that she should stick to acting as oppose to singing. I know that singing is crucial to this show and with the clever lyrics and Rasmussen’s engaging personality she manages to keep the show rolling, but when Rasmussen told the audience after the show that she’d be selling a CD from the show I quietly left. But I will be back for the next time she does stand up in a heartbeat.

* Photo by Chris Zacchia

Sam Mullins’ “Tinfoil Dinosaur” did not disappoint. Delightful and sincere, Mullins captivates the audience on a storytelling, improv journey about grave uncertainty, epic failure, and brutal humiliation after brutal humiliation. And of course, of his humble redemption.

In sharing his tale of struggle through the great unknown that is your twenties, Mullins offers the audience a beautifully mastered story full of brutal honesty and irresistible charm.

His style is tasteful and pleasantly modest and his delivery is articulate and captivating.

Overall, Mullins delivered on an entirely satisfying hour of laughs, brutal honesty, shameless sincerity and heartwarming humility. If you have the chance to catch the remaining shows, I highly recommend you do.


Friday, June 22 – 22:45

Saturday, June 23 – 18:00

Sunday, June 24 – 19:15

Sasha Manoli has done it again. She’s created a hilarious concept and brought it to life with Friday night’s Crayon Party! show. I last saw Sasha at Le Belmont where another one of her creative gems, the Liar Liar Show, was being held. This time around, the crowd was snugly huddled around small round tables in the cozy interior of Theatre St-Catherine; a more intimate space where you can get to know your table-neighbours by stealing glances over your shoulder at their magnificent crayon drawings and realizing your own artistic ambitions stand no chance. What I really mean is that my red and purple flowers had no hope of survival next to my table-neighbour’s dead-on portrait of one of the evening’s comics, Chris Betts. No free beer for me.

So now that you’re scratching your head with the puzzle pieces I just threw at you—Chris Betts? Crayons? Drawing with crayons?—I’ll piece the evening together. The theme of the show was “the future,” and each comic was given crayons and paper beforehand to draw how they saw the future. Then they each took the stage for seven minutes, where their drawing was projected on a giant screen so they could explain what their wavy squiggles* meant.

* (Although crayon drawings, Faisal Butt’s in particular, were pretty damn good.)

Every table had two cups filled with classic Crayola crayon colors (remember blue-green??) and a dozen sheets of paper. This is because we got to draw crayon pictures too, which would later be judged in an audience-wide drawing contest. Waiting for the show to get started, Chris Zacchia and I decided to put these art supplies to good use and make ourselves some costumes. Why not? Crayons and costumes go together like peanut butter and jam, which all evoke images of preschoolers, but whatever. A few minutes later, Zacchia, who came in a cowboy hat and his trademark cowboy boots, had a paper sheriff’s star pinned to his shirt, and I had paper cat ears and eyeliner whiskers to go with my cheetah print top. Go team ForgetTheBox!

All eyes were on Asaf Gerchak, the Crayon Party!’s host, as he captured the audience’s attention with his exuberant presence. Asaf has this way of commanding attention in the most humble way possible; he makes you feel at ease, even as he’s yelling at you to keep drawing your crayon pictures, demanding only the highest quality of Crayola artwork.

Between Robby Hoffman, Rodney Ramsey, Chris Betts, Bianca Yates, Morgan O’Shea and the aforementioned crayon master, Faisal Butt, I’ve gotta say—the future looks terrifying. Rodney foresaw Google Brain, which may or may not be disturbingly accurate. “What exactly is Google Brain?” you may ask. Well, it’s obviously a microchip that’s inserted into your brain to instantly answer all your questions—no dealing with slow shitty internet connection with Google Brain! And what does Google Brain look like? Like an antenna sticking out of your futuristic robot head. Duh.

Rodney’s a comedian I’ll be on the lookout for in the near [Google Brain-less] future. He got totally into his hilarious routine and looked like he was having just as much fun as I was watching him. And, I mean, Google Brain? The guy’s obviously a genius who knows what’s up: “Google’s like God, but with answers.” Amazing.

A tri-boob robo-wife is in Chris Betts’ future, all dressed up in a waxy yellow dress. With total conviction, Chris made this seem like a normal concept, and hey, who’s to say it won’t be? I snorted a little when he proclaimed “don’t be weirded out—everyone’s robo-sexual in the future!” When I last saw Chris on stage he was hosting the Liar Liar Show, and although he does stand-up fairly regularly around the city, this was my first time seeing him perform. Chris is another comic that makes me feel like I can relax in my chair and drink my beer without fear of some misogynist or totally off-colour remark making me cringe. There’s nothing worse than watching a comic whose nervous energy creates blatant discomfort throughout the audience, and Chris Betts ain’t that type.

Bianca Yates’s crayon drawing was probably my favourite—because I could totally relate to her colourful squiggles that kind of resembled objects. A hot air balloon (of sorts) took up most of the page, with a stoned looking grannie hanging onto the strings. Bianca summed up her future with these seven beautiful words: “senility mixed with alcoholism hasn’t failed anyone.” Fact. I’m down!

Half-way through the show someone collected all of our crayon drawings, and each comic chose their favourite. No, I did not win a free beer. Neither did Zacchia, although his droopy nipple drawing did elicit a response from Faisal Butt. We’re pure class over here at ForgetTheBox.

Even though my loopy crayon flowers didn’t achieve critical acclaim, I still got to dress like a cat and sit in the front row of a cozy theatre watching some fucking hilarious comedy. The Crayon Party! was everything I hoped it would be, and I truly can’t wait to see what Sasha Manoli comes up with next!