Left – Elaine Crombie & Guy Simon. Cover – Elaine Crombie. Photos – Pia Johnson
Mash together one of the freshest comedies to hit Aussie TV in a long time, SBS’s Black Comedy, with one of the dodgiest cult films ever made, Showgirls, then chuck in a bit of South Park cartoonesque inanity for good measure, and you’ll get a fair picture of Blaque Showgirls.
Many have cried laughing over the boys in Black Comedy screeching “what’s this then slut?” or Brooke Satchwell as a white fella trying so outrageously hard to be a black fella. No one before them had captured the racial discrimination, cultural appropriation and white privilege so rife in modern Australia.
It’s wilder and camper when Black Comedy co-writer Nakkiah Lui turns her hand to the stage with Blaque Showgirls, especially placed within the framework of 90s sexploitation hit Showgirls – consistently voted the best worst film of all time.
Ginny Jones (Bessie Holland) is a big girl in a small town, but what she lacks in talent she makes up for in blind confidence. With her fair skin and blonde hair, her claims of being Aboriginal are met with taunts of ‘coconut’ and ‘white chocolate’ by rednecks and embarrassment by her “tribe”. When she finds a flyer for “Dreamtime Extravaganza” (from the makers of the Rainbow Serpent), she decides to get out of Chithole and head to Brizvegas to try and make it in the famous Aboriginal topless dance revue. She is laughed out of auditions by the Blaque Showgirls’ manager Kyle Mclachlan (Guy Simon) and star dancer Chandon Connors (Elaine Crombie), but finds solace in a new friend Molly (Emi Canavan) who gives her an Asian makeover and gets her a job at the shady strip club Kum Den. No politically incorrect stone is left unturned.
When Mclachlan brings Blaque Showgirls’ all-white board members to Kum Den he is entranced by Ginny’s dancing and gives her a job. Ginny’s nipples may be pink and not brown, but she can buy a certificate of Aboriginality from True Love Interest who’s doing yoga down the beach. When they fall in love and he teaches her the “Sacred Sacred Very Sacred” dance but makes her promise not to show anyone, the course for disaster is set.
There is a feast of subversive comedy gold crammed in here – the hilarious topless Peking Emu dance set to Yothu Yindi’s Treaty, True Love Interest’s Straight Out of Genocide singlet – setting a bedazzled, cheeky sheen over the raw, sordid truths of misogyny, racism and exploitation. Some elements are a tad heavy-handed and student revue-ish but perhaps it’s just early days. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more from this talented crew.
Malthouse Theatre presents
by Nakkiah Lui
Director Sarah Giles
Venue: Merlyn Theatre | The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt St, Southbank
Dates: 11 November – 4 December 2016
Tickets: $35 – $65