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Surreal love-fest

The Scandelles present their annual Valentine’s show . . . with extraordinary twists

Cabaret Valtaire’s Joe Dahhhling, Stephen Lawson, Kitty Neptune, Fay Slift and Judy Virago.  Credit: R Kelly Clipperton

Sasha Van Bon Bon is a hard-ass, but when it comes to Valentine’s Day, she’s just an ol’ softy. This is evidenced by the effort her burlesque troupe, The Scandelles, puts into its annual Valentine’s show.

“I want that day — which was created for horrible reasons and makes a lot of people miserable — to be special,” she says. “You don’t realize this if you’re a crabby, bitchy person, but some things you do make a difference in people’s lives, and this show is one of those things. It’s such a warm, welcoming party, and I can’t think of anything more romantic than spending Valentine’s with my artistic gay friends.”

Maybe those aren’t quite the words of a softy, but her heart’s in the right place. Van Bon Bon, who says she never again wants to see something as generic as a “fucking girl in a boa flipping her tassels over and over again,” decided to make this year’s show extraordinary.

“The show is typical in structure — a series of acts with a break in the middle — but very, very gay in content, and the acts are influenced by Weimar-era Berlin, Surrealism and the Dada movement,” she says. “And there’s a dance party afterward, where some people will probably feel the need to strip.”

Dada challenges bourgeois habits, so one act, called The Ladies Who Lunch, pokes fun at what some affluent people do to their bodies. “It’s a group of women who’ve had excessive plastic surgery and can’t move,” Van Bon Bon says. “It’s a movement piece based on immobility.”

Stephen Lawson is one of the many special guests performing with The Scandelles this year. “One year at Nuit Blanche, he dressed as a bizarre bird character and came in on this procession of garbage. As this vulnerable little figure he emerged and lip-synched Maria Callas,” Van Bon Bon says. “He’s reenacting that, minus the garbage.”