The Scandelles have gone from traditional burlesque, to neo-burlesque, to conceptual cabaret in just over five years. Owing to their unique approach to performance, they are the only group in Canada to have been offered a two week theatrical run of their show Under the Mink for the 2005/2006 season at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre‚a show that sold out for its entire run. For their year end review, Xtra Magazine ranked the Scandelles shows in the top club/theatre events of 2004 stating, “The revamped production of Neon Nightz and the new production Under the Mink mark a queer and exciting development.” Because so many of the Scandelles have backgrounds in musical theatre, creative writing, and fine arts, they very naturally broke away from the traditional burlesque model to explore their own personal interests as artists, pushing beyond the parameters of burlesque and musical theatre to devise something entirely distinct. The result is a peerless blend of sexual and social commentary, pop culture in action, and experimental theatre, presented by a multi-gender, multi-orientation collective. Think Hedwig meets Showgirls meets the Dadaists—with a pinch of Carol Burnett.
Under the Mink is a multidisciplinary affair—a celebration of truculent women in cinema from Theda Bara to Norma Rae to lesbian porn director Maria Beatty. It tributes classic cinema as well as experimental film and pornography, with everyone from modern dancers to immerging filmmakers to sex workers to physical comedians to musicians commissioned to do pieces honouring the theme.
In Neon Nightz, Scandelles producer and co-creator Sasha Van Bon Bon explores her life as a stripper in Montreal in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It is presented by way of monologues, stylized striptease, and live musical accompaniment by all female band Rocket Tits, playing period relevant music like AC/DC and Def Leppard.
Last year they opened Pride 2005 with Les Demimondes, a show that explored how creative culture profits from the sex trade. The Scandelles were given full facility privileges of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and commissioned Toronto artists and fellow Scandelles Trixie and Beever to turn the antechamber into a bunny ranch parlor, featuring glitter portraits of famous whores in cinema like Jody Foster in Taxi Driver and Jane Fonda in Klute. The show was an unqualified success, was remounted in November of 2005, and will be reworked in May of 2007 when Sasha takes over as artistic co-coordinator of a cycle of the Buddies season called Art & Sex.
This year’s Pride at Buddies sees the Scandelles turning to the Dadaists for inspiration. Who’s your Dada, to be mounted June 16th and 17th, is a surrealist cabaret that looks at queer identity in current culture. A difficult show to articulate verbally, it must be seen to be believed! Watch out for tributes to Yoko Ono, Anne of Green Gables, Whit Stillman, Luis Bunuel, Marcel Duchamp and many other luminaries of queer and surrealist culture!
Of course, they are always happy to get back to their roots with their unorthodox variety show, a yearly Valentine’s event that attracts huge and adoring crowds, and which they also present for special bookings. Toronto’s top club DJ Denise Benson spins all Scandelles shows and afterparties, with her signature cross-genre style. To contact or book the Scandelles, please see contact page.