“There’s a joke about giving an Indigenous person a microphone, and you can’t get them to stop talking,” laughs Sparkle Plenty, a burlesque performer in Virago Nation. “That’s very true, in my case—I really like that mic.” Plenty has been sharing her sexy, funny, and radical acts on stage for eleven years, and moving into an emcee role was a natural fit for her. She’ll be hosting and performing in Virago Nation’s all-Indigenous burlesque performance, called Too Spirited, in the upcoming Queer Arts Festival. Like all our local faves, the show goes on, online—and for burlesque, that’s actually a really cool thing.
“Dancing in front of your laptop or phone gives you more options in terms of your creativity, and how you engage with the camera,” says Plenty. Recently, she designed a livestreamed act that took place in her kitchen and focused on the very important topic of wanting a snack. “I was able to use my sink, and tease with my fridge door,” she says. “There’s a really interesting dynamic that you wouldn’t be able to do on stage.” Personal environments also mean personal rules: “You can make a big ol’ mess. Because who’s cleaning it up? You are.”
Other performers include Rainbow Glitz, Shane Sable, Scarlet Delirium, Monday Blues and Lynx Chase. They’ve been investing in smart bulbs and light strips to upgrade their home lighting (“It’s like a club in here, why didn’t I do this before?” jokes Plenty) in preparation for the show. After all, every seat is front row in a virtual performance. The Too Spirited audience can expect a vibrant, rainbow-themed spectacle centred around Virago Nation’s classic celebration of multifaceted Indigenous sexuality.
“We want people to enjoy themselves,” says Plenty. “This isn’t a Ted Talk—we are so used to talking about trauma, which is very much a part of being Indigenous, but we also want to celebrate our resilience and our joy and our art.” While there’s some very important and serious points brought up throughout the show (for example, how feeling secure enough to perform at all is a privilege) it’s overall uplifting, informing, and most importantly, fun. “Indigenous sexuality is sacred but also silly; it can be raunchy, it can be dirty,” says Plenty. She explains that Indigenous identity and queer identity are equally multifaceted. “And this is a pandemic—we’re all trying to get through this in the ways that we know how.”
The Queer Arts Festival runs online from July 16-26, 2020. Too Spirited, Virago Nation’s Burlesque show, is on July 17 at 7:00p.m.