Briefs: The world's premier all-boy burlesque troupe comes to HK

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Jan 26-Jan 30
 

The world's premier all-boy burlesque troupe, Briefs, is bringing its dazzling acrobatics, raunchy dance moves and phallic comedy to Hong Kong. Founder Shivannah tells Arthur Tam what to get excited about

If you’re squirming to hide your pocket rocket during Briefs’ risqué and tantalising performance at Udderbelly, you won’t be alone. “An eye-popping spectacle that is both fabulously sexy and seriously clever”, is how our erstwhile compatriots at Time Out London described it in their five star review. A raunchy and refined male troupe (not all the performers are gay, mind you), Briefs is now bringing its acclaimed and award winning show to Hong Kong and Asia for the first time. Think Dita Von Teese, but with copious amounts of comedy, shiny leotards, flashy acrobatics and lots of cock instead of breasts. 

If all that testosterone is a little off-putting to any readers of thissection, don’t worry, because Briefs is friendly and approachable for all audiences. “It’s not a gay show, it’s not a straight show and it’s not a drag show,” says founder, host and comedy queen Shivannah, aka Fez Fa’anana. “It’s a show that incorporates all those things. It’s a ridiculous and glorious mix of drag, theatre, circus and burlesque with a really good sense of humour. People are usually surprised at how funny and skillful the show can be. Let’s see what Hong Kong thinks! There are a couple of scenes in the show that are particularly controversial [chuckles].”

Shivannah stands at least a foot taller than us in her high-heels and she’s looking gorgeous and cheeky in a shimmery Grace Jones-inspired outfit during the interview. Back in 2008, Shivannah, who comes from a contemporary dance background, decided that the world needs a little more silliness, glitter and glamour. With that in mind, she established a club night at a warehouse in Brisbane’s West End where late night alternative variety acts could come together and perform. From there she went on to create the Brief Factory, a creative collective performance company that produces different types of provocative shows – the most popular being Briefs, which first came together some two-and-a-half years ago. In 2015, the six guys who comprise the group spent 40 weeks touring all over Europe and Australia. This year, Hong Kong is their first stop, marking their first-ever show in Asia. “We hope this is the beginning for us to do more in this beautiful part of the world,” enthuses Shivannah. “Since it’s our first time [in Asia], it’s important to bring our favourite party tricks and numbers. The high fashion dog show is one. We get all the hot straight boys dressed up as dogs and the drag queens co-ordinate with each dog and make them jump through hoops.”

It’s refreshing to see a show seemingly on the fringe of society – especially when it comes to a place like Hong Kong – being accepted and brought into the mainstream. “The Edinburgh Fringe Festival gave us a good platform to showcase our work and to see how people respond to the show,” Shivannah tells us. “We had a hugely successful run and that gave us the tick of approval. We’ve got Mark being a beautiful, classic exotic show boy, Dallas doing high fashion drag and me being a donkey idiot.”

As well as the Edinburgh Fringe, Briefs also enjoyed the honour of a headline slot at the Glastonbury Festival’s Circus Big Top in 2014, which was nothing short of fabulous. Then again, when you have such a strong act replete with self-aware, playfully salacious, energetic entertainment, it’s not hard to see why people would let their guard down and gravitate towards it. “Briefs is definitely about pushing the envelope, if not burning it,” states Shivannah. “It’s important to take a risk. Take a risk. Take a gamble on something that you might not want to see and you might be hooked on it.”

Briefs Jan 26-30, Central Harbourfront (Udderbelly festival), Central. Tickets: $355-$443; hkticketing.com

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