Arts & Entertainment
3 min

Can’t-miss gay hits at Luminato 2016

Music, theatre and shows await

Rufus Wainright performing Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall in 2006. Credit: Gus Powell

Now in its 10th year, Toronto’s star-studded offering to the international festival circuit can sometimes feel like a kind of benign Trojan horse — imposing in stature but hollow on the inside. For his last year at the helm, artistic director Jörn Weisbrodt has assembled a more restrained program, devoid of superstar names and 1,000-person performances.

The decision to rein things may be connected to the festival’s $2.5 million investment in converting the derelict Hearn Power Station on the waterfront into an arts and culture centre that will hopefully become its permanent home.

Though not a specifically queer event, the festival offers audiences no shortage of gay content. Daily Xtra has scoured the festival to find the can’t miss homo hits. In case your calendar wasn’t already unmanageable this month, there’s plenty here to mess with your Pride plans.

The Coating Project
The Dietrich Group
Runs until June 26, 2016

(Javier Castellanos and Kathrina Limo)

Choreographer DA Hoskins has never shied from shocking audiences. His dance-theatre pieces nearly always feature a healthy dose of nudity and, in the case of 2015’s This is a Costume Drama, he asked a dancer to offer audiences a very good look at his anal sphincter. With The Coating Project, Hoskins continues his interest in bodies au natural, through a series of video portraits of some of Toronto’s leading movers and shakers.

Featuring Daily Xtra faves William Ellis, Tyler Gledhill, Robert Kingsbury, and others, bopping around in the buff against the backdrop of a decommissioned industrial space, the piece succeeds in the unlikely task of making a statement on sexuality while celebrating Hogtown’s industrial heritage. Hopefully the dancers got tetanus boosters before exposing their privates parts to all those rusty nails.

Post Apopcalypse Dance Party and YTB Gallery Exhibition
Younger Than Beyoncé (YTB) Gallery
Party on June 18, 2016
Exhibition until June 26, 2016

When levels of professional accomplishment are judged in relation to age, our Lord and Savior’s demise at 33 is often used as a barometer. New York’s New Museum went so far as to chose Younger Than Jesus as the moniker for its 2009 triennial. While the metric applied to rising stars of the art world was greeted as a welcome breath of youthful fresh air by some, others saw it as an attempt to define the next generation by their habits of consumption rather than their ability to create.

Five years later, a Toronto upstart collective cheekily flipped this formula, replacing God’s only son with the eldest daughter of the Knowles family. Offering opportunities to artists under 33 (though perhaps that will shift upward in line with Queen B’s age?), the nomadic exhibition platform is already a force to be reckoned with. What they lack in permanent space, they make up for in ambition, presenting not one but two events for their first kick at the Luminato can. Curated by Geniève Wallen and featuring artists Franco Arcieri, Tsēma Tamara Skubovius, Marina Fathalla and Nicole Clouston, the show explores survival tactics in a dystopian world. If the gloomy subject matter gets you down, you can hit their Post Apopcolypse Dance and shake off your blues with DJ Marilyn Mansion. And if you find yourself stumped on what to wear, keep it simple with a classic stigmata and a pair of booty shorts.

Rufus Does Judy
June 23-24, 2016

(Gus Powell)

If you somehow missed hearing about Mr Wainwright’s recreation of Judy Garland’s celebrated 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, you’ve likely been living under a rock for the last decade. When the famously flamboyant Canuck took the stage in the same venue where the boozy triple threat tried to reignite her career after several years of uppers and downers, every New York City homo was fighting for a place in the audience.

Since touring the show to London, Paris, and LA, the King of Whine brings his schtick to Toronto so Hogtown Homos can bask in its ego-steeped goodness. But while Wainwright’s ability to self-aggrandize may slightly exceed his actual abilities, the evening will no doubt put a jubilant bounce in the steps of Torontonians, as well as providing a rare chance to hear a live rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” outside of karaoke.

Doggie Show
Bath Salts and House of Filth
June 24, 2016

At first glance, Doggie Show doesn’t seem the most obvious fit for a festival often associated with uptight socialites imbibing high culture like it’s over-priced chardonnay.

But as any curator worth their salt will tell you, no event is complete without one addition intended to leave the public scratching their heads. The collaborative brainchild of Bath Salts (aka JAL) and dirty drag collective House of Filth, festival glitterati may well give Doggie Show a wide berth, which is all the more reason to don your kookiest canine creation and hit the runway.

Do you have what it takes to strut among the city’s top runway bitches? Can you survive the shade thrown from all angles by judgmental judges and cruel commentators? Even if you don’t take home the trophy, you can still hit what will no doubt be the city’s sleaziest dance floor, drowning your sorrows in sweat. And who knows? You may just find Margaret Atwood droppin’ it like it’s hot.