By Richard Burnett (Reprinted from Three Dollar Bill by permission)
Few know more than Steve Galluccio how incredible a launching pad the Fringe Festival is. The openly-gay Galluccio launched his career at the Fringe two decades ago with She's The Queen in 1991, and has since gone on to fame and glory. His 2003 play Mambo Italiano – a poignant comedy about two closeted gay Italian lovers – was translated into French by none other than Michel Tremblay, has been performed on stages around the world, been adapted into a successful movie co-starring Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino, and will soon become a Broadway musical.
But it all started at the Montreal Fringe. So Galluccio agreed to be their festival spokesperson this year.
“I was a part of the first four Fringes,” Galluccio notes in this year’s festival program. “I could tell you how the festival launched my career, but that would be boring. As I was thinking of all those years ago, one magical memory came to mind: it was the third year I think, and the beer tent was somewhere in a parking lot on St. Laurent, south of Prince-Arthur. It was a brutally/beautiful hot night, and the power went out in the tent. As we were sitting there in the dark, I asked one of the actresses in my play (Yayou) to belt out the song "Respect". She did, and before you knew it everyone was singing along and harmonizing and clapping their hands. The song ended, the lights came back on, and there you had it: the spirit of the Fringe Festival. There is nothing quite like it.”
Galluccio’s work was always fabulously gay, and here are my choice gay (and gay-friendly) picks for this year’s festival:
|How to Become Jayee|
How to Become Jayee Plateau Theatre’s press release reads, “The one and only original director of the FBI is back, in drag, and in charge. But will he be able to strong-arm the masses this time, or will his past haunt his uncertain future? Journey over to the set of a Hollywood blockbuster with 20th century America’s most flamboyant cop, a supermodel starlet and, of course, the ubiquitous equestrian mediatrix.” Doesn’t get much gayer than this, folks. Stars Zack Amzallag, Caroline Gautier, Jennifer May Walker. At Venue 8 (Club D’Espagnol, 4388 St Laurent). $10 admission. June 10-11-13-15-18-19.
Body Slam If you love looking at hot male and female bodies in motion, do not miss Gregory ‘Krypto’ Selinger directing Montreal artists seen on the stages of Cirque Eloize, SYTYCD Canada, KalmUnity and The Jazz Festival in unique, structured improvisations, fusing breakdance, circus, contemporary dance, music, and slam poetry.
At La Tangente (840 Cherrier). $10 admission. June 10-11-12-15-17-18.
The Sods This may not be uber-gay, but damn their press release sounds good: “After decades of moral outrage, legal disputes and controversy, porn emporiums have become a relic of our naughty past. Big cities always had a nondescript doorway or two where trenchcoat-clad men would enter to view peep shows, porn film loops, or classic strip tease acts. Montreal Fringe audiences will hear from denizens of the last porn emporium on earth, in The Sods.” This one-man show is Written and performed by Jason Thompson. At Venue 4 (Centre des arts contemporain, 4247 St-Dominique). Admission $12. June 10-11-12-16-17-18.
Crossroads An original translation of a traditional oriental theatre style known as Beijing Opera. This comedy of errors revolves around a great general who has been disgraced and exiled from the Song dynasty. He is almost killed pre-emptivelyMance). $10 admission. June 10-11-13-15-17-19.
Hedwig and The Angry Inch Few haven’t heard about New Yorker John Cameron Mitchell’s cult-classic punk glam rock musical. This version stars
Antonio Bavaro (a.k.a Montreal drag queen Connie Lingua) as the iconic Hedwig and Peggy Hogan as sidekick Yitzahk alongside a live four-piece band. Adding to the vibe and authenticity, Hedwig is being performed OFF-FRINGE at Montreal’s indie punk venue Katacombes (1635 St-Laurent). $12 admission. June 9-12-13-14-15-16-19.
Smut Slam Montreal’s first-ever Smut slam will be a fast-paced night of storytelling based on real life, real lust, real sex, on June 8 at Café Souffle (100 Marie-Anne West). Smut Slammers sign up to tell a 5-minute piece of smut/sex/erotica based on their real lives and somehow relating to the Fringe. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. One night only. $7 admission.
Mado La Motte’s Drag Races! The most popular event in Fringe history is back for its eleventh fabulous year with ringleader Mado la Motte – Montreal’s iconic and famed drag queen who celebrates 25 years in showbiz in 2012 – pitting Montreal’s best-known professional drag queens against a bevy of fringe beautifies in a aseries of skill-testing obstacles! And this bitch – i.e. me! – will be one of this year’s judges! June 19 at 4 p.m at the Fringe Park. Free admission (pay what you can).
For much, much more about this year's Fringe, check out CharPo's Fringe Aggregator
Surf to the Fringe web site for showtimes.