Keith Cole insists he never stole porn from artist Andrew Harwood. The infamous performer attended a party at Harwood’s house years ago, and the next day Harwood called him up and accused him of loading his purse with wank flicks before departing.
“If I stole his porn I would have admitted it,” Cole says. “I can’t remember the specific titles he thought I took. Skull Fuck: Parts One and Two, I think? I honestly don’t know how he noticed there was porn missing. He must have had thousands of tapes.”
“I thought Keith might have done it,” Harwood says from Winnipeg, where he now lives. “But he would have returned it as part of an elaborate joke, like selling it at a yard sale and making sure I was there to buy it back. He is, despite anything you may have heard, very honest.”
We’ve come upon the topic of stolen pornography in our discussion of Cole’s new choreographic work, Dodged Bullets/Missed Opportunities, created in collaboration with dancer Darryl Tracy. The piece, which explores the theme of accusations — true, false, real and imagined, plays as part of the program Inherencies and Other Disorders at the Winchester Street Theatre next week.
The bill also features a new duet choreographed by Lesandra Dodson and a trio of new works choreographed by Tracy, including two erotic male duets.
At first glance, Tracy and Cole might seem an unlikely pair of collaborators. Tracy has made a name for himself as a serious dance artist in Toronto over the last two decades, while Cole is best known for his unique brand of dick-out drag and foul-mouthed stage antics. But the partnership was a natural fit for the two artists, who first met 15 years ago while taking a modern dance class on the Danforth.
“We have so much in common,” says Cole. “We’re both small-town boys who moved to the city. Both tall and good looking, and rich, of course.”
This is also not the first time they’ve worked together. Cole has programmed Tracy’s works numerous times at his annual Pride event, Cheap Queers, and the two also collaborated on a duet for the launch of Sky Gilbert’s book Ejaculations from the Charm Factory. But this project has allowed the artists to work together in a new and more concentrated way.
“I wanted someone to build a solo on me, and I immediately thought of Keith,” Tracy says. “I wanted to have the chance to work on something together over a longer period of time.”
“I also wanted to try something outside of my comfort zone,” he adds. “Because I know Keith, I thought he might challenge how I deal with a process. I suspected the piece was going to be more of a performance art thing, but it’s turned out to be more of a dance piece than I’d imagined.”
“Darryl’s been great to work with,” adds Cole. “His penmanship is nice. There are no body-odour issues. The only problem I have with him is his girlie last name. Either lose the chest hair or butch up your last name!”
The pair has been working on the piece off and on for the last 18 months. The topic of false accusations quickly surfaced in their process and became a focal point for the work. They also found inspiration in the world of the 1970s, both in glam-rock fashion and the divas of the day, including Joan Collins, Tippi Hedren, Jane Fonda and Kate Jackson, of Charlie’s Angels fame.
“We used the divas as a reference point, but I don’t think the audience will see them in the piece in a literal way,” says Tracy. “We also looked at lots of old B movies and stage musicals as sources of inspiration. There’s a lot packed into the piece.”
Despite all the female reference points, the show doesn’t feature any drag. “We had this wig that I brought in one day to work with, but we didn’t use it because it smelled so bad,” Cole says. “Sky Gilbert gave it to me a while ago, and it just reeks like poppers and cigarettes. It smells like it was used to mop the floor of a bathhouse.”
It’s impossible to have a conversation about false accusations with Cole at this point without discussing his run for mayor of Toronto. Is he at all concerned about any accusations, true or false, that might fly at him on the campaign trail?
“I don’t think things need to be hidden,” he says. “In fact, I wish a few more things would come up so I can remember events from my past. At the ripe old age of 45, I’ve forgotten about a lot of things I’ve done, and I need people to remind me about my past indiscretions.”