4 min

Flexibility counts

Ben Newcomb's all he can eat

PSYCHO-BURLESQUE, PERFORMANCE ART/COMEDY DANCE TROUPE: All You Can Eat gave Ben Newcomb the space to grow as an artist and a person. Credit: Kevin Teneycke

Ben Newcomb has been shaking things up with his infamous dance troupe, All You Can Eat. They bring their own style of anti-establishment dance performances to hot shows and parties. Ben is Peter-Pan-meets-Prince-meets-Michael-J- Fox-meets-the-dancer/stunt double-for-Jennifer- Beals-in-Flashdance.

Michael Venus: So gimme the scoop on what’s been going on in your life? Ben Newcomb: With All You Can Eat, we have been doing tons recently as well as going through a lot of changes and sort of reformatting everything. We’re trying to get everything together, like our video reel and a website up, as well as setting up photo shoots. Heather, Nikki and I are collaborating a lot more-which is great because I have way more of a creative role now. When I started in the group I was only 17 and I knew nothing back then (almost six years ago).

MV: Legitimizing? Bringing it to the next level?

B: Yea, exactly. We’ve been around for that long and we’re putting all our resources together, which is going to be a whole hell of a lot of work.

MV: Describe All You Can Eat for the poor unfortunate souls who haven’t experienced the almighty power with their own eyes yet.

B: A psycho-burlesque, performance art/comedy dance troupe. We took a bit of everything and that’s the best part of it all because it allows us to play with many different genres. We have different acts that can cater to more of a straight crowd or a gay crowd. Undoubtedly the gay crowds are the best.

MV: Why are they better?

B: They’re more enthusiastic, I guess and they have more of a taste for partying. They have more of a desire to see something, to have something live, lovely and sparkling on stage for them.

MV: What else can you say about All You Can Eat?

B: It’s been one of the most life changing things I have ever done; it has completely transformed me as a person since I started six years ago.

MV: Really? Why and how?

B: It’s interesting because the group of us (I don’t want to say ‘outcasts’) are in our element. I was kind of the odd-man-out growing up, especially in dance. Then I was thrown into this mix with four other people I could completely identify with. We all liked the same music and all liked the same kind of shock value but also still had the same integrity with our work. So, for me being able to work with these four people make me explode as a person. Heather, Nikki and Chris were all hugely part of what formed me to who I am today.

MV: So you’ve always been in dance?

B: Yeah, since I was six years old. My parents knew I was going to be a dancer since the first time they put on music. My sisters and I would erect ladders with long lengths of fabric and re-enact Disney movies when we were kids.

MV: Kinda always had the music in ya, eh?

B: Totally! Always had the music in me.

MV: Being one of the children of the new generation, what is queer life all about and how did you grow up with those issues around you?

B: I appreciate the whole history of gay pride, but from my position the parade doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. The history and what it means and how it has liberated gay people I love, but at this point it has become this whole huge marketing thing. I’m coming from a different position-I mean I took my boyfriend to my graduation. So obviously I’ve grown up in a different, easier place. It’s almost gone back to being more of a personal thing; it’s one other part to my being. I’ve been doing the club thing since I was very young, so I got an early vantage point on that scene. I mean, I’m only 22 and I see these 19- and 20-year-olds and how they deal with entering the whole gay scene and it’s different from mine .

MV: Being in the Vancouver nightlife scene since you were but a baby, what are the ups and downs the highs and lows, babe?

B: The big plus for us is there is no competition, although if we had some it would make us work even harder and keep us on our toes. We’re just trying to keep ahead of ourselves for our own peace of mind. People in general find it so easy to bitch about what there isn’t to do and how many bylaws there are and all that. We are the perfect example of if you want something to happen then just do it! You can go to Montreal or New York or Los Angeles, and sure it’s all established there and there are millions more people there, older cities, it may be easier. You can take the easy route or, as I’m encouraging a lot of my friends who are designers, make it happen here. The way Vancouver is growing, and the global awareness the city has been getting, means that being based here will pay off, especially within the next decade.

MV: Okay tell me about your job.

B: I work at Simply Salon on South Granville. I’m obviously very biased that it is a beautiful salon in a spectacular space. I work for one of the most impressive hairdressers and probably coolest people I have ever met-Gregory. He has taught me so much-not just about hairdressing but about life in general and appreciating the people you work with and your clients and friends. Huge things are happening there for us all now; it’s very exciting. We are the exclusive distributors of a new product line called Icon, which is based in Spain and also in LA, so we will hopefully be travelling between the two.

MV: Glamorous. Okay, let’s end this with some sexual questions. You seem very flexible. Have any of those limber talents paid off in the bedroom?

B: Oh yeah, flexibility counts.

MV: How so?

B: Position. Also endurance; 13 years of ballet helps. Standing on one leg for five minutes you definitely get some major endurance from ballet. Good muscle tone, but still slim, I love.

MV: I heard you had a big dinky?

B: Who said that?

MV: I’ve seen it. Is it not true?

B: Yes, it’s true, that’s all I have to say. I like to use it on guys I really like with whom I can have a decent conversation first. And I like to be experimental. I like to top a top. Oh my God, you are going to put that in the magazine.