The Wizard of Oz
Sun, Jan 13 @ Ballroom at The Sheridan
I haven’t seen a musical this giddily gay since the night I got wasted on magic Munchkins and sang show tunes at a country square dance. Farmer Brown wasn’t impressed. The opening night of The Wizard of Oz at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, however, is impressive. On a scale of one to woof, how fab is this remake? “Woof, woof,” answers Tilley, one of three identical terriers that play Toto. The Wicked Witch is bitchy, Glinda is campy, Dorothy wears green sequins, there’s guy-on-guy dancing and the cowardly lion — well the lion, with his huge drag-queen mane and transsexual hips, has finally come out. Later, invited guests, including Rex Harrington and partner Robert Hope, MTV’s Daryn Jones, police chief Bill Blair and actor Colin Mochrie join the cast in the Sheraton Hotel ballroom, decorated like the Emerald City, for a swellegant afterparty. “The female performers are more manly than all of us,” I hear one male dancer tell another. Well, at least they didn’t recast a poodle to play Toto.
Ax 12th anniversary
Fri, Jan 18 @ Fly
I haven’t seen fly this packed since the night I got sloshed on rice wine and thought the shadows on a wall were the stage show. I wasn’t impressed. AX’s 12th-anniversary party, however, is impressive. Props to the go-go dancers, whose tight bodies make me want to hike up their podiums and mount them like a sherpa in heat. Props to the full-out show by Sofonda, her dancers and her props. Props to her yellow glow-in-the-dark wig. Props to her glow-in-the-dark “floating” cubes of magic. Props to Jolin Starr and Déjà Vu, whose smooth choreography and silver-clad backup dancers give Sofonda a run for her duct tape. Props to DJ Alex, whose mix of North American and Asian pop keeps the party popping. And props to organizer JJ Wotta and the original AX mix-master, Sum Wong, for starting this event 12 years ago and allowing it to grow for almost as long as the club we’re partying in has been around. It’s fly, right? Right? Who wants more rice wine!?
Robert William Matheson’s opening party @ Neubacher-Shor Contemporary gallery
Wed, Jan 6 @ Neubacher-Shor Contemporary Gallery
I haven’t seen paint this thick since the night I got amped on powdered pigment and covered my face in drag queen war paint. I was impressed. But not as impressed as I am looking into the bold brush strokes and massive paint peaks of artist Robert William Matheson’s canvasses. His solo show at Neubacher-Shor Contemporary in Queen West speaks volumes. Matheson uses paint so thick that each painting becomes three-dimensional. Almost sculptural. So much so that I want to rub my face up on them. But I’m fear stops me due to the fact that the people depicted in almost every portrait have fangs. “Teeth are my playful signature,” he says as gallery guests mill about. “I guess they look like vampires or elves. It’s your teeth rotting out, you’re gonna die, nightmare kinda thing. It’s me having fun.” Fun in a warped way. “I like paintings to look and feel like paintings,” he continues. “The [thick paint] application came about because I got a paint sponsorship.” In other words he had lots of free paint to work with. “There’s a practical element, but there is also a sculptural element to it. It makes them more alive.” But who are they of? Take my favourite, a man with long black hair, in a bold red jacket. He could be a modern day Napoleon. “It’s a mash-up of a fashion designer and the body of Grace Slick, the singer from Jefferson Airplane,” he explains. “I do a lot of mash-ups with my source material. It’s like playing dress-up with my old Star Wars toys. Which I did. A lot. It’s all just dress-up. If you know you’re pop culture you’ll get the references to the names of the pieces.” I watch as guests including graphic designer Raymond Helkio, soon-to-be author James Chaarani, aspiring model Travis L’Haneff, TV fashion commentator Glenn Baxter, gallery owner Manny Neubacher and Artscene app creator Shawn Green try and figure them out. Mash-ups can be messed-up.
Bearcode Growlr launch party
Fri, Jan 18 @ Zippers
I haven’t been surrounded by this much fur since the night I got baked on hairspray and dived into a rack of blue foxes in Holt Renfrew. Holts wasn’t impressed. Tonight’s turn out to Toronto’s first ever Growlr party hosted by Bearcode at Zipperz though is very impressive. The front piano bar is filed with men singing along to show tune versions of current pop songs. Through the magic curtain we pass and onto the legendary steel dance floor where DJ Cory Activate initiates pulsing beats. It’s a pot pourrie men, each hairier than the next, and them men who want to pet them, including new age unicorn club kids Glammy Lee and Aeryn Pfaff. Growlr app creators Coley and Frank, who are not only business partners but also lovers, are here to promote the hairier version of Grindr. Tonight’s party is part of global hairy initiative that has seen them travel to London, Paris and cities all over the USA. “I’ve always been a programmer and I love bears so I’ve combined my two favourite things in the entire world; my love of being a geek and my love of being a bear,” Coley, who is based out of Columbus Ohio, explains. “The biggest shock was how big the international bear scene is.” With more than 2 million users worldwide it’s made a big impact in its first two years. From Australia, to the UK to the Middle East and even Thailand, bears and their admirers are connecting. “They are not the typical bears in Thailand. They are much smaller,” Coley explains. “But they love their big white American bears.” If you go down in the woods these days the bears might be gobbling sticky rice instead of porridge .