Australian cabaret collective Briefs Factory is bringing their saucy new show Dirty Laundry to North America for the first time, and their steamy tour is stopping in at the York Theatre.
Dirty Laundry, running June 9 to 25, promises to be about more than just butts. It’s an eclectic mix of burlesque, circus, drag, dance and comedy—oh, and a little bit of fire thrown in for good measure.
”It’s the old-school formula of a variety show,” a jetlagged Mark Winmill, co-founder of Briefs Factory, tells the Straight in a phone call, describing Dirty Laundry as “a big, brilliant mash-up of a bunch of idiots.”
The eight performers in Dirty Laundry come from different backgrounds, with specialties including circus and aerial stunts, ballet, and contemporary dance.
“It’s literally a mixed bag,” Winmill shares—a real jigsaw puzzle for their producer to figure out. “I do attempt to dance but I’m more of a drag clown sort of circus performer—it’s really interesting to watch on stage when we’re all together … We're very sort of influenced by queer circus from the old days.”
Briefs Factory began 15 years ago as a party night hosted by Winmill and his partner, Fez Faanana. “It sort of came about with a few violent incidents happening at nightclubs and just going out was becoming a pain in the butt. So we were like ‘oh, let’s just put on our own party,’” Winmill says. Their first party night was in a friend’s warehouse, and it led to another the next month, and then another in Brisbane.
From there, it evolved into an all-male burlesque cabaret performance night, called Briefs—going from local shows to halfway around the world at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013. “That sort of kicked off our addiction to getting our butts overseas,” Winmill says.
Through the festival, Briefs Factory made a name for themselves in the UK, returning regularly to perform. Winmill hopes the same will happen with their Canadian tour. He’s been to Vancouver before on a burlesque trip, and tells the Straight he’s excited to bring the rest of the troupe.
“We kicked off in Vernon, which was amazing—standing ovation,” Winmill says. “It’s not the ideal tour to not do all the capital cities, but one thing that we really love to do back home is a lot of regional centres … and I think it's super important to take our art to smaller places that don’t get to see that much, compared to the big cities.”
Although Winmill notes that audiences have been a bit hesitant to pre-book show tickets due to all the cancellations during the pandemic, people are coming back. Upon arrival to their sold-out Vernon show, he was heartened to see the venue’s foyer was decked out with flags and images everywhere. A great way to kick off their first North American expedition.
Next, they’re off to Medicine Hat, Alberta before heading to Vancouver for a couple weeks. Their two-month circuit will then come to an end at the Montréal Complètement Cirque festival.
While Winmill notes with a laugh that he loves going to private parties in Seychelles, what he appreciates most is the moments he gets to share with the audience.
“We make sure that we meet and greet them all after the show,” he says. “They don't have to pay any extra to come and get a signed thing … it's part of our ethos to engage with the community.”
One of Winmill’s favourite things is also the diversity in those that come to the shows. “From a pair of 80-year-old grannies to bloody … goth kids—I love that.”
Dirty Laundry will be at the York Theatre from June 9 to 25. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased at the Cultch’s Box Office.