Review: Boylexe

If there’s a theme running through Boylexe’s show, it’s that of performance itself. Boylexe makes the act of performance – performing burlesque on stage, as they are; performing gender and masculinity in particular – stand apparent and revealed. “Look at me!” commands Randolph Hott in one act, inviting us to not just stare at his sculpted male body, but also attend to the nature of his performance, his role-playing.

Examples of this theme fill the entire roster of acts. Mr Mistress presents a hilarious reverse striptease in which she saunters up on stage in the kind of long dressing gown that is typically teasingly drawn off, only to hurl it to the ground and stand immediately buck naked, everything on display. She spends the rest of the act donning the costume and gear of the drag performer: tucking penis away, tacking on fake hips & ass, stuffing bra with toilet paper, before standing revealed to us at the climax, fully clothed and femme. The setting up of the illusion is the show. This is followed a couple of acts later by Phillip Anthony in full geek mode, dancing and swaying for a lover on the other end of a Skype call: a performance within a performance. On camera he gyrates and sways, while away from the webcam we see him stuffing his pants, trying to present as more macho, even as he jumps about to not-exactly-butch Europop. Every character is creating their identity on stage as we watch them.

‘Boylexe’ performer Miss Cairo Mascara.
Photography by Magnus Beuys.

Boylexe’s skits feature a parade of male identities, all revealed as different kinds of acts and roles one puts on, and ones that can be taken off again, along with the associated outfits. There’s Robbie Williams-inspired cheeky lads, played with shaggy charm by Teddy Boylesque; sharp-suited, smarmy city boys by Anthony and cocky body worshippers by Hott; high femme from Miss Cairo and high queerness from Mister Mistress; and even the unmistakably feminine (and powerfully-voiced) Kele le Roc does a turn as a heavily-accented Jamaican transsexual, in which her character proclaims of her expensively remodelled body, “I am a work of art!”

Indeed, art and its creation and construction is another major theme of Boylexe’s show, with many of the skits revolving around characters who are themselves burlesque artists (go with what you know…) allowing the audience to see the ‘backstage’ performed right in front of them. Boylexe gives you a peek behind the curtain of your typical burlesque show and under the skin of your typical man, whatever one of those is. In a fourth-wall-breaking monologue on the nature of boylesque, Mr Mistress stakes a claim for both her body and her process, proudly crying, “I’m creating art with my willy! Not even Damien Hirst can say that.”

Boylexe returns to Shadow Lounge on the 28th of November. Do catch them if you’re not offended by hot cocks attached to clever heads.

Boylexe is about the lives of men in cabaret and ‘boylesque’, mixing male striptease with theatrical performance. The final show of this run takes place at Shadow Lounge (5 Brewer Street Soho, London W1F 0RF) on Weds 28th November 2012. Tickets are £15.

This post was written by a RWL Guest BloggerMichael Darling is a writer, cheeky burlesque performer and Barelesque regular. He kindly agreed to go along to Boylexe (the new show from the producer of Burlexe) to review it for Rarely Wears Lipstick. Here’s what he thought of the theatrical show that combines cabaret and cocktails.