Sex-themed open mic, Bedslam, highlighted local performers
(Left to Right) Alex MacKay, Hamish Ballantyne, Michael Cavuto and Julian Butterfield from Sex Panic! / Marsha McLeod
On Wednesday evening, spoken word poets, Sexual Education Centre (SEC) volunteers, musicians, and otherwise brave souls gathered for Bedslam, a sex and sexuality themed open-mic night organized by U of T’s SEC. In its second year, Bedslam garnered a full and very attentive audience in the Arbor Room at Hart House, who laughed along with the evening’s emcee and event organizer, Ola Monica Skudlarska’s quippy directions.
First to take to the cozy stage was Kate Sloane, a 21-year-old songwriter and ukelele aficionado, who embraced the sexuality theme with vigour. Sloane's final song of the evening was “Dating a Porn Star” by the Weepies. “I don’t know why he would mix up strippers and pornstars, they are completely different things” said Sloane with a smile, referring to the artist’s interchangeable use of the two terms. Sloane continued to dedicate the song to any sex workers in the room “in hopes that you never have a partner as unsupportive as this one.”
The evening’s most engaging performance was brought by Sex Panic!, an unconventional troupe of four U of T students, who performed a sound poetry piece entitled “Banana.” The four members, Michael Cavuto, Julian Butterfield, Hamish Ballantyne and Alex MacKay, perform a four-part harmony of sounds to emulate a certain action, song, or theme. “Banana” appeared to be an ode to the male orgasm, and the crowd was enraptured as the group hummed, grunted, sighed, and “nose popped” their way through the piece, which ended with the consumption of several bananas. “It’s a type of performance that people really can’t tune out of,” said Cavuto when speaking with the newspaper.
Unlike a piece of traditional music, Sex Panic!’s pieces go on for an indeterminate amount of time as their work is semi-improvisational, and based on interpretation and group intuition. When asked, why the name Sex Panic!, Butterfield replied, “it sounds like a kick ass punk band we would make a poster for … it sounds fun, thrilling—visceral, even.”
Interspersed between the more formal performers were individuals who told narratives ranging from best after-sex one liners (“can I get your sister’s number?”) to a passionate argument against calling men “creepers.”
As Cathy Petch of Toronto Slam Poetry (TSP) prepared to perform some of her spoken word poetry, Skudlarska said, “[Petch] is cool enough that we are paying her for being here tonight with a credit to a sex toy store.”
“It’s what I would use the money for anyway!” replied Petch.
A crowd favourite was Petch's “Chiquita Olay,” (named after the popular Banana distributor) in which Petch laments the years when she was simply putting condoms on bananas because “bananas never claim they have a latex allergy!” Petch also made a comment on certain male practices, saying that, “when you go down on a banana, the peel doesn’t wrap itself around your head and push it down.”
Petch then recited an intensely detailed, and body language-peppered poem about a man who used a hollowed out orange to masturbate, and then was almost caught in the act by a fellow employee at Whole Foods. Petch’s off-kilter mannerisms, naughty school-girl reminiscent outfit, and over the top rhymes captivated the supportive audience.
Supportive was the theme of the evening. SEC organizers and volunteers lead by example, by taking the stage to talk about personal narratives, encouraging the audience to enter the evening's sex toy raffle, and offering warm words of encouragement from the sidelines.
Sex Panic! will perform at Casa Nguyen-Smith on March 29, 7pm, 1055 Logan Ave.