It’s been just over a year since the men of the Boxers are Brief Boylesque troupe unleashed themselves on Victoria with their debut in Rosie Bitts’ Fresh From the Sexy Factory show.
It sold out, as did their inaugural Less is Mo fundraiser for Movember last year, and every Boxers are Brief show since. They are humongous (in terms of popularity) and are once again ready for, well, some more mo, with the second annual Less is Mo, Saturday night at the Victoria Events Centre.
“I don’t know exactly what it is about it that makes it successful except that we have so much fun with it. I think it’s just the amount of fun we’re having on stage,” says Johnny Bottoms worth, who started the local boy meets burlesque movement.
In Movember spirit, Bottomsworth is flaunting a hairy upper lip but not all members will be carrying face furniture. Part proceeds will go to Movember (last year’s event donated $2,000) to benefit the research and awareness around men’s health areas of prostrate and testicular cancers, and mental health.
Bottomsworth has learned a lot in the last year, mostly that he was right when he told Monday that many guys are inspired to do boylesque but didn’t have the courage to get up on stage and make it happen. And now Bottomsworth, and crew, have done that.
“We really believe in male self-acceptance and equality,” Bottomsworth said. “Gay, straight, whatever, we’re just a very relaxed bunch of dudes, acting and goofing, and the audience can see that.”
Since it started the troupe has grown in size, swelling from six members to the current rotation of 10 to 20.
There are 10 on the bill for Saturday, including fellow founding performers BadMan Throbbins and Clam Chowda.
For those new to the boylesque game here’s the brief. Each performance boasts two to eight members with a solo act, or two, thrown in over the course of an evening’s 60 to 90 minute program, though Saturday will be longer. Disrobing is a constant theme, and some, but not all the men, are chiseled from the rock face of Mount Finlayson (Bottomsworth doubles as a competitive bodybuilder). Rather, the men range from straight, short and stalky, to gay, hairy and lean — and everything in between.
Whatever they choose to do, they do it right, not because of what, but because of how they do it.
Shows sell out and Bottomsworth estimates the number of women in the audience is only about 65 per cent. Of course, that says nothing about the sexual orientation of the audience, which is as mixed as the cast itself.
Rave reviews aren’t just common. Bottomsworth is consistently asked by men, after the show, how they can join.
It’s our biggest form of recruitment, having men come to us. I’ve talked to boylesque groups around North America and they all ask, how do you recruit so well?”
Of course it’s no surprise the show is met with mixed reviews, some borderline violent. Usually it’s disillusioned audience members who expected something different, Bottomsworth says.
“It happens. One guy slammed his beer bottle down and left,” he says laughing. “But I just read a study that said the more homophobic you are, the closer you are to being homosexual. We’re totally secure with ourselves. Rehearsal has become a positive place for us where we can be ourselves. The only rule is if you want to be on the team you have to come to rehearsal.”
Doors at 7, show at 7:30 p.m., Saturday (Nov. 23) at the Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad St. Tickets are $20, available at Lyle’s Records or online at boxersarebrief.ca.