If you're looking for some cheeky entertainment during Midsumma, then you really cannot go past Baby Got Back, a celebration of everything ass. That's right, those glutes are getting a show of their own. The all-female homage to the derrière is a 'psychosexual adventure of demented dancehall, projection mashups & remixed soundscapes, burlesque shakedowns and stripper mayhem'.
After sold out season at the 2015 and 2016 Fringe World in Perth, the show is finally making its way to Melbourne and the cast could not be more thrilled. "Basically, we came up with the show because we are a bunch of perverts," Frankie Valentine, one of the performers of Baby Got Back laughs. "We are so excited to finally be bringing this show to Melbourne though! The concept of the show has definitely changed and morphed as we continue to do it. Initially it was simply about a celebration of women's bodies and a mutual appreciation of ass. As we continue with the show we use it as a platform to highlight numerous issues we face as women in our society."
"It’s really evolved to something far more politically relevant," adds Vesper White. "We started by surfing this booty-obsessed wave in popular culture and realised just how rich in material our show was for exploring themes of the female body in public space. Ironically we’ve really found our voice for this stuff through our asses."
"We have all dealt with issues of body positivity, slut shaming and
more. We have all had a lifetime of being judged by the ways we choose
to present ourselves and what we choose to do with our bodies," Frankie
tells me. "Queer women within our collective have faced homophobia and
queer invisibility. Sex workers have dealt with the stigma that
comes from choosing to work in that industry. We would like people to
walk away from the show thinking about these issues as well as with a
stitch from laughing so hard."
Joining Vesper and Frankie on stage are a number of female burlesque, dancers, vaudevillians and every other performance art you could possible think of. "We had already bonded with these women in backstage change-rooms behind burlesque stages, life drawing classes and fetish clubs, and we found common ground in our stories as women working in various sectors of adult entertainment," Vesper says. "It’s great when you find collaborators you really ground with. Jane Doe is an absolute integral piece to the Baby Got Back puzzle, Bella De Jac rejoins us for her second year running, and this year we welcome Sydney’s Queen of Crude Memphis Mae to round out the lady gang."
When you're dedicating a whole show to the talents and skills that an ass can produce, there is a limit to the types of acts you can produce, or so you would assume. "There are definitely some physical challenges. It is always surprising to sit down as a group and brainstorm ideas and see what things evolve into," Frankie explains. "You might have a small concept in mind and once everyone has contributed, it becomes something beyond what you had initially thought, which is just part of the fun."
While burlesque may have become popular with mainstream audiences, Frankie and Vesper see their show as moving past that of burlesque into something all-together quite different. "While we come from burlesque backgrounds, this show is definitely beyond most burly definitions. Baby Got Back defies the burlesque norm, and brings a refreshing, riot grrl approach to a sometimes sleepy scene," Vesper says. "The show definitely has a healthy element of absurdism. It’s liberating to have a show that welcomes experimentation, and I feel constantly surprised by our workshopping sessions. One of my favourite bizarro moments of this year’s show is the Donut Act. You honestly have to see it to understand it.
"Burlesque becoming mainstream has not really affected the fringe circuit at all. If anything, it's a good thing, as people who were not aware of it previously may seek out the smaller, independently-produced shows and this in turn supports our community," Frankie adds. "There is quite a big difference between what is seen as burlesque in the mainstream to what you will find at a show such as Baby Got Back. It also includes comedy, circus, puppetry and dance. We are constantly pushing ourselves to create new and interesting work to keep it fresh for ourselves and our audiences. This is both the joy and the challenge of the work."
Venue: The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood
Season: 2 - 4 February | 8.30pm
Tickets: $28 Full | $23 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival