“Boylesque” (as a term to refer to an act where a boy does burlesque strip-tease, often with gender-bending connotations) is a wonderful neologism with which I had been familiar for quite a while. But it was not until two or three years ago that I saw the word applied to me. I think it was on Time Out. I cannot remember the exact context now but I do remember I was described as a “boylesque poet”, which I quite liked. But my “boylesque credentials” do not end there. Just a few weeks ago I proudly participated in a competition called “Boylesque Idol” at Madam Jojos, where I was the first runner-up (not to mention similar runner-up postitions at “Hip Hip” and “The male Tournament of Tease”, both at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, in the early days of the burlesque revival in the UK – or how about winning the Erotic Award for Poet of the Year 2010?).
But enough about me. I’m here to write about Boylexe, the male younger sibling of “Burlexe” in Soho. When I found out that Boylexe mixed male burlesque, strip tease, theatrical elements and storytelling, I knew it was a show I could not miss as it seemed to contain elements very close to my own “poetry tease” (or “boylesque poetry”), with its combination of spoken word and clothes removal. So I was very happy I had the chance to attend on 28 Nov 2012 the second, and last, night of the second running of the show.
I’ve often found entering the Shadow Lounge a rather intimidating experience as one soon finds oneself surrounded by beautiful people: well-dressed punters and very attractive bar staff, both of whom can make one feel somehow self-conscious. This impression was magnified on Boylexe night, as, just before the show was to begin, one was faced with the very attractive performers mingling sexily among the good looking audience (a balanced mix of smartly dressed ladies and dapper gay boys).
There’s a lot to commend Boylexe but the highlights for me were the playful gender-bending transgression in Mr Mistress’ accomplished reverse strip-tease and the intense sensuality that handsome Randolph Hott managed to elicit with the hint of the drop of a towel. Magical moments.
Also worth mentioning is the powerful singing voice of Kele le Roc, who gave us a few energetic musical numbers as well as delivering one of the most meaningful – and beautifully performed – monologues of the night. Let’s not forget either Phil Dzwonkiewicz’s sexily menacing turns and Miss Cairo Mascara’s naughty sassiness, as well as Teddy Boylesque’s vigorous dancing and “innocent” eroticism.
A minor quibble for me was that the theatrical elements involving spoken word were a little bit “hit and miss”: not all stories – and deliveries – were as strong and engaging as one would have expected. But, as I say, this is very minor and subjective.
The many strong points of Boylexe more than compensated for any quibbles. The boys were pretty and enthusiastic; the girls, glamorous as can be; and the show was overall full of energy and flair.
Although “full on” and explicit at points, with a good deal of flesh exposure, the show never came across as sleazy or seedy. It was also nice that, when male genitalia were on display, pubic hair was not always trimmed – and definitely not shaved. I like the natural look.
Boylexe worked as a wonderfully sexy and wholesome way to spend a midweek evening in the West End, all aided by the glamorous surroundings of the Shadow Lounge. Just a shame events like this are not staged more often in London.