Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Ménage à trois: French kisses from a rebranded Franco Pride

Even if you don’t speak French, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a ménage à trois. But in the case of this year’s Franco Pride, the suggestive moniker refers not to an unconventional sexual escapade, but a trio of unique performances.

“We were thinking of French expressions anglophones would know, and it seemed like the obvious choice since there are three of us,” says performer and event organizer Nathalie Nadon. “We liked the sexual connotation, too. I think it’s generally accepted that French people are more open about sex, and we thought it would be a fun thing to play on.”

The all-French program will include Montreal drag legend Michel Dorion, rising chanteur Louis-Philippe Deslauriers and Nadon’s vocal trio, Les Chiclettes. Comprising Nadon and co-performers Geneviève Cholette and Julie Kim, Les Chiclettes captures the spirit of ’40s-era girl groups like the Andrews Sisters, blending original music, standards and chansons françaises with dance and a healthy dose of comedy. But even if you dropped French after Grade 9, Nadon says you’ll have nothing to worry about.

“We do some bits in English, so you’ll still understand,” she says. “Plus, it’s well known around the world that French women are very hot, so you’ll have plenty to look at, even if you don’t know all the words.”

Following Les Chiclettes will be a solo set from Deslauriers. The hunky Montrealer with a delightfully hairy chest only recently started perfecting his vocal chops, though he’s no stranger to the stage, having spent most of his early career as a competitive ballroom dancer.

Finally, Montreal drag icon Michel Dorion will make a rare Toronto appearance. Well known for his spot-on Céline Dion (as Laura Landauer), Dorion has made a healthy living travelling across the continent impersonating the Québécoise diva.

“Let’s just say if Céline is sick one day, they could fly Michel down to Las Vegas to perform in her place and no one would know the difference,” Nadon laughs. “He’s in a different category than other drag queens. It’s not necessarily about comedy as much as creating the illusion of a real person. I think it takes a francophone to be able to accurately impersonate her and capture all her mannerisms.”

Franco Pride is the first edition of what will, hopefully, become an annual event in Toronto. Presented by Francoqueer, the city’s long-running French lesbian, gay, bi, trans social group, the event spans a whole day and includes other musicians and drag queens, as well as a special section of kid-friendly programming. If all goes well, the organization will expand the program to three days next year and eventually turn it into a weeklong francophile extravaganza by the time WorldPride lands in Toronto in 2014.

Though Nadon is straight, she turned to Francoqueer when establishing a foothold in Toronto, after arriving from Quebec 10 years ago, and credits the group with launching her career here.

“They welcomed me with open arms and invited me to perform at an event where someone from Radio Canada saw me and eventually offered me a job,” she says. “As a non-gay, I’ve found this community so welcoming. I think francophones are also more accepting of gays because we were the underdogs in our own country for so long.”

It’s no coincidence that when Nadon decided to settle in Toronto and buy a condo with her husband, they chose the Church-Wellesley Village as their home.

“This neighbourhood really suits our lifestyle,” she says. “I’d much rather live down here than in East York or something. It’s so friendly, and it has just about everything we need. The only thing that’s missing is a really good French pâtisserie.”