Hot damn, that was one fine Queer Slam!

Hot damn, that was one fine Queer Slam! I had the great honour – and pleasure – of being on the judging panel at last night’s Queer Slam at Supermarket. Hosted by hot damn slam poet Cathy Petch, with assistance from Brock Hessel, last night’s festivities included performances by Petch and Hessel, and fellow judges David Bateman and Duncan Armstrong, and a feature set from Regie Cabico – with sponsors Canadian Cancer Society, who reminded us to Get Screened, and LGBTOUT, who lead us in an acknowledgment of World AIDS Day, which was marked earlier this week on December 1. The fabulous Lizzie Violet and a trio of guys dubbed “The Cutie Patooties” rounded out the judging panel.

Sharply attired in a fedora and mustache, Petch (who also performs with Bateman and Cabico in The Dildettes) is an awesome fun host, cheeky and frank, and making sure everyone was included and appreciated. She read a piece from David Wojnarowicz’s Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration (Part 1) and Brock shared AID/I/SAPPEARANCE by Joan Retallack.

David Bateman gave a sardonically edgy, darkly comic scathing social commentary in his performance of “What’s it Like?” – a piece about the experience of living with HIV, and dealing with the insensitivity and dumbassery of the curious.

Duncan Armstrong – who really does have the best t-shirts in the business – performed three of his pieces: a rhythmic and comic piece about getting it on; “Last Will and Testament,” a moving and pointed piece inspired by his experiences as a palliative caregiver of HIV/AIDS patients; and a sharply funny commentary on the art world with “Art Abstracted.”

To kick off the slam portion of the evening, Petch played the queer national anthem on the saw: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” then introduced a sacrificial slam performer (to give the judges a baseline score to work with for the competition). Shouts to Barbara Erochina, who gave us a raw, real and humourous confession of youthful desire set in a religious camp.

Three performers came forward to compete in last night’s two-round slam – the winner moves on to the finals in the spring, for the ultimate battle for the prize spot in Capturing Fire, Regie Cabico’s queer summit and slam in Washington, D.C.:

Tanya Neumeyer is a mercurial, rhythmic performer, playing with the ideas of experiencing the body – one’s own and that of others – and the dichotomy of desiring closeness and space in her first piece; and a socio-political, historical, philosophical queer anthem in the second round.

Mind the Gap has a quirky, fun nerd girl vibe – riffing on falling in love with straight girls and unrequited feelings in round one, and a quick futuristic, playful narrative in round two.

Jed Mimnagh-Kennific is an adorable baby slam performer, serving up a sweet, funny and lyrical love remembrance for her first piece. She brought a more complex narrative arc in her second piece, opening with the first flutterings of attraction, Catholic school sex ed, Bible readings and the message that the body is a temple, then shifting into a heart-wrenching account of childhood abuse – taking the audience along on this emotional journey.

Feature performer Regie Cabico is where stand-up meets spoken word in slammin’ fabulousness. Combining the divine and profane, he gave us a sensual and sexual observational piece featuring the sense of smell, an ode to an older lover from his younger days (which included a Fosse dance pose break) and an irreverent fun tale of Lucifer doing stand-up (inspired by an early morning stand-up gig after a very late night of debauched fun). And he does a wicked Tina Turner. Several of us were trying to convince him to move to Toronto; he lives in Washington, D.C., loves T.O. and visits regularly.

Results from the slam: Mind the Gap took third place, as well as the Queirdo prize for the weirdest poem; Neumeyer placed second and Mimnagh-Kennific took first place. With shouts to our score keeper Michelle Darby.

Big fun times was had by all. Look out for the next Queer Slam event next month – at Glad Day Bookshop. In the meantime, you can check out some pix I took at last night’s event:

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Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir launch @ Q Space – fun, sexy & smart

Writer/poet/horror aficionado/editor Lizzie Violet launched her brand new monthly cabaret – Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir – at Q Space last night. And what a fun, sexy and thought-provoking night it was.

The cabaret premiere included feature performers Mullet the Clown, David Bateman and Kat Leonard, as well as a very talented line-up of open mic folks. Music, comedy, spoken word, poetry, a zombie clown telling stories and performing card tricks – it was a mix of the ridiculous and the sublime, visceral and cerebral, personal and political, as these talented artists took the stage. Q Space is a casual, intimate, welcoming storefront place, with a cool, eclectic and creative group of folks – and it’s the perfect home for the cabaret as friends, fellow artists and neighbourhood peeps gather to support some incredible local talent.

Lizzie Violet’s Cabaret Noir will be a monthly event, the second Sunday of the month, and will feature music, vaudeville, comedy, burlesque, poetry and open mic performances. The next cabaret is set for Sunday, April 14 (7 – 10 p.m) – with feature artists author/poet Brandon Pitts, music by Cry Wolf (Jess McAvoy and Nelson Sobral from Melting Pot), and burlesque performer Bella Fox. Come on by, get yourself a beer or a latte – and enjoy.

Because this is Cabaret Noir, I decided to do this batch of pics in black and white.

Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 006
Tash Jolly (aka Super Tash) performs some spoken word
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 003
Duncan Armstrong
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 008
Brenda Clews
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 011
Vanessa McGowan performs “On other Chunks” from her book Divine Cockeyed Genius
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 019
Feature performer Mullet the Clown tells us a story
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 024
Host Lizzie Violet reads “Chlamydia is not a Flower!”
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 035
Feature performer Kat Leonard performed 3 new songs, as well as some Depper Love favourites
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 025
Feature performer David Bateman reads some short creative non-fiction
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 039
Philip Cairns
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 041
Norman Allen
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 044
Brandon Pitts
Cabaret Noir launch Mar 10 045
Feature performers (left – right) Mullet the Clown, David Bateman, Kat Leonard & host Lizzie Violet

Incredible feature performers & open mic artists on a night of words & music @ The Beautiful & the Damned

Another night of incredible poetry, spoken word and music at the September edition of The Beautiful and the Damned on Thursday night, in its new home upstairs at Glad Day Bookshop.

Host DM Moore got our brains cooking on trivia questions (for prizes!) on this month’ s dead celeb, Gore Vidal, during three amazing sets of artistry, while event co-founder Duncan Armstrong worked the beverage service/merch table. As usual, so I can get everyone included in the post, I like to free associate on this event…

Marcie Rogers told a devilishly fun, sexy and visceral fairytale of a demon in disguise, on the prowl for an angel.

Felicia Guy Lynch served up some rap rhythm words and got the audience in on it – “You Should Know.”

Jeff Cottril made me laugh so much, I almost forgot to take his picture. Hysterical, ironic and real poem “Apology” – and I think I’m dubbing him as the stand-up poet.

Feature artist, poet Jacob Scheier, read some beautifully crafted pieces from his collection More To Keep Us Warm – at times intense, grotesque, grim, angst-ridden and funny, as well as reminiscences of his NYC Jewish family roots, a three-part Occupy Wall Street piece, and images of Constantine and The Seagull. This spring, ECW press is launching his next volume, Letter from Broadway. http://www.jacobscheier.com/

Alec Butler read a selection from his novella, sharing struggles of coming out as queer and trans, family abuse, recalling the vandalism of the Pieta, navigating queer politics as a trans person – “I’m still confusing people – and people don’t like to be confused.” Candid, brave and good-humoured.

Brandon Pitts performed a piece from his collection The Pressure to Sing – biblical, political, raw and rhythmic.

Duncan Armstrong read his poem “You and Whose Army?” – hilarious, political, one-upsmanshipping, making fun of homophobes and slut shamers, biting, irreverent and sexy.

Feature performer David Bateman gave us a haiku about a beautiful but vacuous man, the laugh-out-loud funny “Crocodile Cock” (an ode to hemipenes), cats names changed from Tabby and Puss to Caspian and Euphrates in a darkly funny break-up poem, a remembrance of mother’s china cabinet, a shout out to Marshall McLuhan – with a decidedly unusual and sexy alternate use for a vacuum cleaner “You are screwing a vacuum cleaner. You have no conscience.” – and an ode to Canadian Tire.

Sam Kay offered up a lyrical, romantic folk ballad, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar – song from his dad “Rachael’s Song.”

Lucille Barker read a poem about the life of the 99% as seen through the eyes of a six-year-old witnessing day-to-day family hardship, bright young eyes still able to see past the negative.

Kenn Chaplin, author of the blog My Journey with AIDS, gave us images of crisp, cool colours, a snapshot of a cottage on Lake Simcoe, then recalling the final moments of a dear friend’s life – the everyday becoming a surreal montage as those who survive continue their lives. http://myjourneywithaids.wordpress.com/

Alanna Cook – sweet and saucy haikus and a short poem, smart and sexy.

Final feature of the night, singer/songwriter Jessica Speziale, dubbed a “pop rock poet” by a Bracebridge newspaper, gave us a sweet, soulful, at times driving, acoustic guitar/vocal set – selections from her EP Dear Reverie, including my personal fave, the award-winning “Turn Me On.” A delight to watch, as well as inspiring – she recently recorded “How To Be A Man” for We Are One, a compilation of artists supporting Nellie’s and Amnesty Canada. http://www.jessicaspeziale.com/

Marcie Rogers
Felicia Guy Lynch
Jeff Cottrill
Jacob Scheier
Alec Butler
Brandon Pitts
Duncan Armstrong
David Bateman
Sam Kay
Lucille Barker
Kenn Chaplin
Alanna Cook
Jessica Speziale

Upcoming music, poetry & spoken word

I have to say, I’ve really been diggin’ all the poetry/spoken word events I’ve attended over the past year – thanks to my good friend Lizzie Violet. There is so much talent in this city – and you can see and experience so much for little to no $.

Coming up this week: The Beautiful and the Damned music and poetry cabaret at Glad Day Bookshop (598A Yonge St., Toronto) on Thurs, Sept 13 from  7 – 10 p.m., hosted by DM Moore. This month’s hounoured dead celeb is Gore Vidal, and the featured line-up includes David Bateman, Jacob Scheier and Jessica Speziale. There are open mic slots available too – get there early to sign up.

Kirk DeMatas (who read at Smash Words at The Press Club last month) will be launching his collection of poems Conversations with Skeletons at Glad Day on Sat, Sept 15 from 6-8 p.m.

For more info on Glad Day and their upcoming events, visit their website: http://www.gladdaybookshop.com/events.html

Save the date: Saturday, September 29 7 p.m. till Sunday, September 30 7 a.m. for this year’s Nuit Blanche. Lizzie Violet will be reading selections of her horror poetry at the Theatre Local at their space at Artscape Wychwood Barns at 3:30 a.m. As part of their fundraising drive for this event, they’re selling button portraits of the participating artists! For details, check out Lizzie’s blog post here: http://lizzieviolet.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/a-new-lizzie-violet-feature-and-raising-funds-for-theatre-local-for-nuit-blanche/

Words, music & dance collide @ Smash Words

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Smash Words at the Press Club (http://www.thepressclub.ca/) for an evening of queer poetry and cabaret, with a great group of friends. The evening included poetry, spoken word, music and dance, featuring readings and performances by David Bateman, Philip Cairns (who was also our hostess with the mostess), Kirk DeMatas, Brock Hessel, Frank Hull, Kat Leonard, DM Moore and Lizzie Violet. An incredible evening of friends and art. Here are some impressions and photos from the evening, in alphabetical order.

David Bateman – travels and travails with mother, beautiful imagery, with extremely funny and moving moments.

Philip Cairns – a connoisseur of beautiful young men, we’re invited along on his flights of fancy and moments of joy, as well as the darker corners of life as a gay artist/performer.

Kirk DeMatas – poetry of a young man of colour’s struggle, anger and navigating a narrow-minded, racist society – with pride and voice emerging. 

Brock Hessel – funny and insightful stand-up bits, and spoken word – raw and real observations on life as a young gay man. Pride impressions duet read with DM Moore.

Frank Hull – beautifully choreographed dance performed by a man who just happens to be dancing in a wheel chair. Expressive, imaginative and moving.

Kat Leonard (aka Kat and the MP3) – hilarious and heartfelt tunes from her one-woman show A Depper Kind of Love, as well as her personal anthem (till somebody writes her a song) “Asshole” – ‘cuz nobody likes a cake waster.

DM Moore – dark vignettes of how assisting dear friend dying of AIDS helped her come to the realization that she was dying, slowly, from alcoholism. Fond, painful and hilarious memories, personal redemption and tribute to a friend’s spirit.

Lizzie Violet – poetry inspired by mom, friends, love of zombie lore, indefinable relationships and erotic moments. Naughty haiku included.

David Bateman
Philip Cairns
Kirk DeMatas
Brock Hessel
Frank Hull
Kat Leonard
DM Moore
Lizzie Violet

Friends, words & music @ Toronto Pride 2012

Some very big fun times at Pride this year, chickens. And as I enjoy a day off to recover – so to speak, since I’m hanging with a friend this aft. – thought I’d take a moment to reflect and share some fun moments from the past weekend.

Friday night was Chic Productions Carnival women’s Pride dance at the Palais Royale. Always love going to that space and the Pride dance always sells out there – so the place is full of women (with us single gals tagged with glow-in-the-dark bracelets before they let us loose in the wild – optional). I met up with my friend Ty, her gf Liz and their friend Cathy, and bumped into a bunch of folks throughout the evening – some of whom I hadn’t seen in ages and some I usually bump into at the Pride dance.

With entertainment by Zero Gravity Circus, a lovely woman on stilts greeted folks at the entrance and performers dazzled at various points in the evening: ribbon gymnastic dancers, silk acrobats and fire jugglers – all while the music was playing and women were dancing their butts off. The patio is especially lovely, with a gorgeous cool breeze wafting and the lake so close by and beautifully calm.

Saturday, I met up with my good pal Lizzie Violet to go see the Dyke March. It was frickin’ hot out there, but we managed to catch some shade on the west side of Yonge, a bit south of Wellesley and had a comfortable viewing spot for the festivities. We met up with Kat Leonard and Leah Walker at Lizzie’s place early evening for a fabulous picnic dinner – Lizzie’s birthday present to me – with tons of tasty vegan salads (yes, I said tasty – good food is good food!), wine and her amazing birthday cupcakes. And we watched about half a dozen episodes of Sex and the City, three of which featured Samantha’s brief relationship with a woman (played by the stunningly beautiful Sonia Braga). Another great evening with friends – and an amazing finish to my month of birthday.

Sunday – and I’ll be brief ‘cuz I have a bunch of photos I want to share – I met up with Lizzie, Kat and Leah again, along with pals Janis, Brandon, Laurie and Adrienne, to see Lizzie perform in the Beautiful and the Damned (B&D) readings at the Paul Kane Parkette (the Clean, Sober and Proud Stage). Poets/spoken word artists included: Duncan Armstrong, David Bateman, Philip Cairns, DM Moore and Lizzie Violet. Since Zelda’s is now closed after sustaining a fire, the next B&D event will be at Glad Day bookstore on July 19. After taking a break indoors at Spirits pub for an early dinner and a pint, we returned to that stage for an evening of music with Iman Wain, Rex Baunsit, Arlene Paculan and Meghan Morrison. Amazingly talented folks sharing their art. So. Much. Fun.

Dyke March – dykes on bikes
Dyke March – rainbow flag
Readings – Duncan Armstrong
Readings – Philip Cairns
Readings – David Bateman
Readings – DM Moore
Readings – Lizzie Violet
Iman Wain
Rex Baunsit
Arlene Paculan
Meghan Morrison

Best. Pride. Ever. Here are some pix.