Brian Cassey. A look into the world of a male Burlesque dance group and their engagement with female audience members.
The #MeToo movement has exploded around the planet in the aftermath of many sexual assault accusations against many prominent men. In a contrasting current culture, young women are encouraging strangers of the opposite sex to perform acts on them – and pay for the privilege – and it all takes place on stage in front of an audience.
‘MenXclusive’ are a male ‘Burlesque’ dance group, based in Melbourne. Founder Sidney Saayman insists “I’m not a stripper – I’m a performer.” Nevertheless, essentially the largest part of their act is to strip and ‘interact’ with the mostly young and scantily clad female audience members who are willingly escorted onto the stage. Faux sex acts are vividly performed on stage to the apparent delight of the female paying participants. Girls are competitive and eager to get ‘on stage.’ The whole show brings another meaning to the phrase “Me Too”.
I covered the Cairns segment of the ‘MenXclusive’ northern tour for production company Swag Films as they filmed the documentary “Burlesque Blokes: Fighting for Recognition as a Male Erotic Performer in Australia” for Screen Australia and aired on Vice TV and Vice On-Line.
These images provide a fascinating insight into a culture from both sides – the men who are ‘doing a job’ and the young women who embrace the ‘performance’.
Brian Cassey has been covering news, features and sport for planet wide newspapers, wires and mags for decades. From a massive list of assignments his work has included – the tsunami in Sissano PNG (1998), the evacuation of Timorese refugees (1999), the Fiji coup and Melbourne World Economic Forum riots (2000), the Bali bomb blast victims in 2002, the 2004 Asian tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island in 2013, 2016, 2017 and the category 5 Cyclones Larry and Yasi (2006, 2011).
This is Brian’s fourth personal Head On exhibition. He has also curated Head On works and featured in many group shows.
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