It feels like forever since I’ve viewed the world through rose-coloured glasses. Idiot leaders, global financial crises, wars, environmental disasters, more idiot leaders…it’s hard not to worry that the planet is about to implode. But last night a troupe of feathery, sequinned boys took me on a tour of their world, and the future didn’t seem so bad.
Brisbane’s beloved all-male revue Briefs returned home last night with a manifesto of sorts. Captained by emcee Shivannah (Fez Fa’anana), Briefs: Close Encounters arrives like a UFO from the future to assure us that regardless of how shit life feels now, our time ahead is full of love, respect and laughter. And pelvic thrusting.
It’s been 10 years since Briefs Factory emerged from West End’s underground queer club scene, and in that time they’ve glitter-bombed the globe with their blend of burlesque, circus, comedy and dance. If Grace Jones threw a bondage party in the Rocky Horror Picture Show house and invited a bunch of acrobatic drag queens along, it’d be a bit like a Briefs show. And audiences bloody love it.
From the minute the lights dim the crowd is on board, clapping and hollering their appreciation. Briefs are immensely popular in Brisbane, where many in the audience are long-time friends and family. Despite their success they haven’t lost that homegrown connection, nor the warmth and sincerity that underpins even their most outrageous acts. Fa’anana appeared a little emotional at one point, as he gently teased his siblings in the stalls. Understandable, for a company founded by Fa’anana, his brother Natano, and his long term partner Mark Winmill (a brilliant aerialist with splendidly-tattooed bum cheeks, he was the 2011 Burlesque Hall of Fame’s King of Burlesque). It’s hard not to have heart with that much familial love in the room.
But friends and family don’t alone account for Briefs’s popularity. These are seriously talented performers, who use fierce intelligence and creativity to not only move their audiences, but implore us to think about our place in the world and humankind’s knack for stupidity. Between the dazzling acts and perfect drag is commentary that bites, delivered with a wink and a nudge. Set to a killer soundtrack, Briefs: Close Encounters is political without being confrontational, satirical without being nasty, and fiercely proud of its roots.
Sure, the circus acts can be seen elsewhere, but rarely performed by men in two foot wigs and sparkly heels. Because at it’s core, Briefs is a celebration of the rare birds – the queers, the freaks, the pansies, the homos and the outsiders – and makes you proud to be one of them.
Briefs: Close Encounters
Brisbane Powerhouse, until Saturday 2 June 2018
Tickets available here