Left – Lisa-Skye
Superheroes and queerness go together well. Whether it’s the colourful costumes, or the secret identities, or perhaps the courage they have to stand up for their values and make the world a brighter place, superheroes often seem a fitting analogy for the queer community. So it is quite natural they should come together in a show called Superqueer.
A spoken word event, organised and hosted by comedian Lisa-Skye, Superqueer assembled an eclectic team of eight queer writers to present works in response to the theme of superheroes.
Despite the somewhat jolly sound of the topic, it actually elicited deeply personal and emotive responses. A common theme was that of super powers, especially the concept of invulnerability, or rather its human manifestation in the illusion of invulnerability used to mask pain.
Author Quinn Eades read from his book all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, choosing a powerful passage on how tattoos may hide scars and other secrets of the skin, and how a person’s external appearance might alternately reveal or conceal their past. Tim Baxter spoke on a personal experience of grief, and the dissonance between what we feel and what we express. The issue of body shaming was addressed by erotic writer Aimee Nichols, drawing parallels between the way people are shamed for how their body looks and how they are shamed for what they do with their body sexually.
One of the most memorable and crowd-pleasing acts of the night came from disability activist Jax Jacki Brown. Speaking about the power attached to representations of genitals, she delivered a pacey and incisive monologue while wearing a headdress in the shape of a giant vagina.
There were poems on love and gender fluidity from Roxanne / Bobby J and enthusiastically weird parodies of heroic language from Eddy Burger. John Stevens performed a raw piece about the self abuse involved in putting on the mask of conformity, whereas Eleanor Jackson, Editor of Asian Australian arts journal Peril, spoke eloquently about personal heroes. Her paean to a heroic figure in her own life was both touching and deftly set up a statement on the pain of losing loved ones when you come out.
While many of the pieces were heavy emotionally, Lisa-Skye as host provided plenty of humour to balance it out. Lisa-Skye’s spoken word events have become something of a Midsumma staple and it’s easy to see why. With a stage presence that was alternately larger than life and then comfortably intimate, she was the perfect foil for the varied and fascinating range of speakers. Not even the intrusion of a posturing heckler seeking to disrupt the show was able to phase her. The problem dealt with, which she did with aplomb, she was able to re-establish the room as a safe and welcoming space and get things on track for an engaging night of readings.
Although Superqueer was a one-off, Hares and Hyenas is hosting a series of spoken word events, collectively entitled Word Is Out, throughout Midsumma. There will be other anthology nights, such as the disability focused Quippings or Rapid Fire, a night of short monologues, as well as solo acts and panel shows. From Kaye Sera’s fantasy biopic inspired by Melbourne’s drag scene, to a show by female writers of male-on-male homoerotic fiction, it promises to be a program stacked with the diversity that makes Midsumma such a wonderful festival.
Venue: Hare Hole | 63 Johnston Street Fitzroy
Date: 20 January 2016
Tickets: $15 – 10
Part of Word is Out for the 2016 Midsumma Festival