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Boylesque star: Mark Winmill

Boylesque_Sean-YouBurlesque has traditionally been the domain of women, but guys are having just as much fun with ‘boylesque’. Mark Winmill, a performer based in Brisbane, Australia, talks to Katrina Fox about his troupe’s latest show, Briefs.

13 December 2010

What is boylesque?

Boylesque is quite new for Australian audiences, but was born in the ’80s in New York. The genre took on comical and sexy performance in male strip revues. These days its content is more bent, political and comical.

The Grand Daddy and modern-day inspiration is New York-based “Tigger” whose work encompasses dance, satire, peeling and political comment.

My style of boylesque is infused with circus skills, dance, drag and comedy. I love to entertain the troops with a sexy blend of bent aesthetic.

What precipitated boylesque and why is it becoming more popular?

I think the male form needs to be seen more in a bent and comical light. Clichés need to be fucked with and true burlesque needs to be entertaining. I guess it’s refreshing to see the boys represent!

What is it that appeals to you about it?

Boylesque is fresh, and is busy re-inventing the burlesque aesthetic. I personally love the twisted and comical angle of my work. For me it’s gotta be entertaining with reference to the old school.

There are many ‘strands’ of burlesque – from revival of the traditional like Dita von Teese, through to really bent, queer, subversive.
Where do you and your troupe sit from a boylesque perspective and why?

All of the genres and styles that encompass burlesque have there place. Us boys love to entertain – whether it’s a dark aerial striptease, a tango between a man and his wheelbarrow or the infamous meat tray lap dance that the lucky raffle winner receives in Briefs!

What is the aim of your troupe?

Our overall aim is to entertain, but we also like to challenge audiences with our bent style.

This question was posed on a Burlesque blog but I’m interested in your thoughts: where does the creation of boylesque as a genre leave drag queens and trans(gendered) performers?

All these performance genres have their place – boylesque is just another style which can encompass drag/trans and gender-bending performance (whether a bearded drag terrorist or a muscly acrobat.) 

Who is/are the predominant audience for boylesque shows in Australia?

Our audience encompasses a huge mix, from cross-dressing nuns to my mum and dad.

What about other countries?

I guess it depends on the night or the event. I have played in straight cabarets, fetish parties, and gay and straight clubs.

Tell us about Briefs. What can audiences expect?

Briefs All Male Circus/Boylesque Cabaret encompasses circus, dance, comedy and good old-fashioned entertainment. We try to unbuckle the seatbelts of the theatre, and bring the RSL to the big top and the nighclub to the stage.

It’s an explosive show with six fellas and one lady (who is our ‘headmistress’/lovely assistant) Audiences will witness bogan strongmen, a hula hooping bearded lady, a spinning plate act like no other, aerial adornment, and the Chinese pole…all hosted by Shivana and her many costume changes.

Briefs runs 4-15 January at the Sydney Opera House. Visit the SOH website for more information and to book tickets.

Image: Courtesy of Sydney Opera House, photo by Sean-You.

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