Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Warming up winter

The Sexual Overtones heat up Ottawa with Winternude

Overtones members Powder (left) and Dirk Bag brave winter's chill. Credit: Bradley Turcotte
While many Canadians are digging out their warm winter clothes, the members of the Sexual Overtones are stripping them off.
 
The Sexual Overtones, featuring Puff Sisters Cream and Powder, were formed in 2008. Powder says that while the troupe aims to be inclusive and sex-positive, it is not a burlesque collective.
 
“We’re vaudeville and sexual satire,” Powder says. “It’s goofy and fun.”
 
“Our tagline is it’s more than ‘brrr-lesque,’” Cream says with a laugh. “There’s been such a huge upswing of burlesque troupes in town, and we want people to know that’s not what this is. It’s very different. We’re not-for-profit and entirely volunteer-run.”
 
Powder and Cream work for the federal government by day; they say being members of the Sexual Overtones allows them to let loose and have fun by night. Although neither has any professional dance or performance experience, Cream says they “grew up jumping around, lip-synching and making asses of ourselves everywhere we could.”
Cream acquired a taste for performing while living in Halifax in 2006. After masquerading as a drag king, she joined the Halifax Burlesque Society. When Powder visited her sister on the East Coast, she too became smitten with burlesque. Additionally, the sisters have performed at events for the AIDS Committee of Ottawa.
 
Winternude is the Overtones’ first show since 2010. Cream took time off when she became pregnant and says the hiatus meant many original troupe members have moved on. However, their exodus has left room for several guest performers. Winternude will feature performances from members of Norwegian group Queer Tango, the Ottawa Wolves and the Vintage Vixens, a group of vivacious older women.
 
“The Sexual Overtones pride ourselves on trying to be as inclusive as possible and promote diversity,” Cream says. “Now we have a bit of age diversity, and that’s exciting.”
 
Other Sexual Overtones members, including Dirk Bag and Excedera, will join the guest performers.
 
For each show, the Sexual Overtones board, known as the SOB, chooses a theme and allows participants to interpret it however they like. This year’s theme is winter, and the show promises a blizzard of camp and wit.
 
The evening of musical sketch comedy will also include several side attractions, including a kissing wheel, baked goods by Auntie Loo’s Treats and a photo booth sponsored by Manitoba Mukluks. All proceeds from Winternude will benefit Families of Sisters in Spirit, the Venus Envy Bursary Fund, PTS and Harmony House.
 
A dance party featuring Ottawa favourites Hobo and Sweetcheeks will follow the performance. Cream says Sexual Overtones dance parties are legendary.
 
“A lot of audience members who feel like they could be participating in the show themselves will remove articles of clothing during the dance party,” Cream laughs. “Things end up pretty wild.”
 
Whether you’re craving a mild or wild evening, Powder reminds Ottawans that Winternude is an event where everyone can feel comfortable.
 
“We’re giving back to the community by donating all the proceeds to charity and also creating a space where people can enjoy their sexuality and indulge in their oddities and feel comfortable with that,” she says.