A group of local men are changing the face of male eroticism by throwing Victoria’s first-ever, all-male burlesque Movember fundraiser.
The Boxers are Brief Boylesque troupe made its debut in September in Rosie Bitts’ Fresh From the Sexy Factory and Other Epiphanies. It sold out both shows.
In fact, the demand was so great that the boys decided to hold a private encore show in one of their homes. It, too, sold out.
With all new material and a cast of 11 dancers (six from Victoria, four from the Mainland and one from Nanaimo), The Boxers are Brief is getting ready to prove that less is, indeed, mo.
But these guys aren’t just creating awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health issues — they’re blowing the lid off society’s definition of male sexuality, too.
“We really believe in male self-acceptance and equality,” says Johnny Bottomsworth, the stage persona of The Boxers are Brief mastermind, Cameron Hacault.
“Men tend to be looked on as silly, or as objects when ‘trying’ to be sexy. We want to fall in-between these two realms. While we love, appreciate and worship women for their beauty and general selves, we strive for the same among men. We like to challenge the vision of what it means to be a man — It’s OK to wear makeup sometimes. It’s OK to show a feminine side. It’s OK to be vulnerable.”
Bottomsworth describes himself as: “a man that knows who he is and isn’t afraid to show it. Johnny completely accepts himself in every manner. He is hetero-flexible. He tends to have a classic style of dress. He can dance, fight and perform feats of strength. He doesn’t need to ‘out-do’ anyone because he is his own man. Secure in his own right and loving the gift of life.”
He started dancing boylesque — a male focused off-shoot of the neo-burlesque movement — in 2009 on an occasional basis with troupes from the region.
“It has always been very well received and so many people have been intrigued by it,” says Bottomsworth. “Many guys are inspired to do it, have told me about it, yet haven’t had the courage to get up on stage and actually make it happen. I wanted to create a venue to encourage men to do this … so I did.”
Bottomsworth soon began recruiting confident men from a wide range of backgrounds to be part of the cast.
The vision of the troupe, he says, is: “to provide a safe arena to inspire men to own their masculine and feminine selves while entertaining audiences with playfulness and sexual presence.” While the mission is, “to be the most sought after male burlesque troupe in North America.”
The competition is already pretty tough, but having its very own boylesque troupe puts Victoria on the map with other international cities like New York, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.
And while the boxers may be brief, the one thing the guys aren’t short on is confidence. All of these men share a desire to entertain, but they also have a desire to help men re-define their sexuality.
“Gender is a cultural construct. Men are told they need to be sexy in a certain kind of way,” says Duke Morningwood, the alter-ego of a local landscaping enterpreneur. “[Male exotic dancers] are pretty boring — typical muscly males with humongous dongs — all cookie cutter and not much life or creativity.”
Not the case with the Boxers are Brief. The men range from straight, short and stalky, to gay, hairy and lean — and everything in between. Sure, there are muscles (Hacault is also a professional natural bodybuilder). And while their bodies aren’t all sculpted, they are masterpieces.
“We don’t need to have chiseled bodies, or be hung like a horse,” says Bottomsworth. “We accept our whole selves and let the audience see this in our smiles while we’re on stage.”
And while the local ladies have so far responded well, The Boxers are Brief is also trying to get more guys in the audience, too.
“One thing we’re trying to do is make boylesque accessible to straight guys,” says Doktor Whorable. “And not just as a comedy act.”
“In most cases, they get dragged out by girls, then find themselves having a great time,” adds Bottomsworth. “We’ve even had male audience members ask to join our team.”
Feeling freshly empowered after returning from a spiritual retreat in Oregon, Badman Throbbins was searching for an outlet to express himself more freely.
After seeing a poster for the Fresh From the Sexy Factory gig, he called up Bottomsworth and asked if he could join.
With just three weeks before the performance, Throbbins put a solo together and made his debut with a reverse tease — starting in his underwear. Throbbins, who has experience as a clown and now works as a Naval Combat Information Operator in the Royal Canadian Navy, danced his clothes on during his routine.
A personal friend of Bottomsworth, Whorable put his hand up to join the group at the behest of his girlfriend, a former burlesque dancer.
“I said ‘now, all I have to do is make it my full-time job.’ And she said, ‘baby, if you can make money with this as your full-time job, you go right ahead’.”
Whorable, who made his solo debut with John Weldon’s “Log Driver’s Waltz” made famous in the National Film Board vignette, adds, “No one is blown away if you just get up there and drop trow. You get three and a half minutes to take most of your clothes off, while making it seem like it’s taking a long time.
“And you have to balance being campy and fun. The more parameters or restrictions, the more creative you have to be and I love that challenge. It’s about having fun.” M
If you’d like a taste of what’s in store, visit vimeo.com/50830404 and boxersarebrief.ca.
To donate to The Boxers are Brief’s Movember campaign, visit ca.movember.com/team/457389