By Bj McNeill
BJ enters the stage, wrapped in a silky black robe, a sash swinging from his waist that reads “Narcissism,” in crimson calligraphy. The robe doesn’t stay on long. As we crowd together in the dimly-lit, basement space, so too begins the unwrapping of years of tribulations and growth experienced through the eyes of this fiery, Australian queer. Much of the piece is delivered in the form of spoken word, with dance breakdowns interspersed between stories of growing up a small coastal town, which, as the audience quickly understands, could often feel like the loneliest place in the world.
The music tracks are perfectly selected to support and highlight each moment on stage. Whether it is Peaches’ “Dick in the Air” accompanied by the thrusting of giant, stuffed cocks, hung at the hips of BJ and their dancers, or an angst-driven thrash to Marilyn Manson, the audience is right there with our protagonist. The confrontational nature of the performance allows us to feel every bit of that awkwardness, the anxiety, the sexuality of being a kid living in a heterosexual world. Indeed, BJ very acutely exposes the delicate and tender balancing act that is growing up queer with no role models, and often little to no support. We are invited to think of our own fathers, who we perhaps “love, but really don’t like”.
The narrative style of this piece is jarring, sudden. Sharp imagery is thrown at the audience in word fragments like “sunshine, beach, brick wall”. Much like the collected fragments that are the recollection of memories, we are given pieces of a life that is, for this writer, familiar, painful, and so real it makes me want to scream because someone understands. Maybe all those years spent dancing alone in the bedroom mirror to Britney, or Tori Amos, we weren’t as alone as we thought. With that in mind, this piece urges us to live in spite of our detractors, to kiss who we want in public, to not give a fuck about heteronormative values, and most of all to keep dancing.
This performance has now ended, but follow @beejmcneill for updates on future performances of this work.
©Sasha Kane 2018