My Gay Toronto, Bellini’s 8 1/2, Hamlet at the Tubs Shakespearean Baths And Thus Spake Baloneyous, August 20, 2014
Pretty in Port Hope: On the road with four Toronto drag legends Chris Dupuis, Saturday May 31, 2014
Many a drag queen has longed to grace the stages of New York, Las Vegas or Key West. But Port Hope, Ontario? Hellz no, gurl!
Despite the burg’s unglamorous rep, last September four Toronto queens packed their stilettos and hit the 401 to play a gig at the town’s 400-seat Capitol Theatre.
The original point of the excursion wasn’t to make a documentary. The queens had been invited by local residents to do a fundraiser. But when organizer Stephanie Stephens ran into filmmaker Raymond Helkio in the Village, she invited him along to document the whole thing.
Stephens figured the show would be recorded just for posterity, but Helkio had other ideas. His previous short, Death of a Bathhouse, had screened at Inside Out last year, and he was longing to make a follow-up. Not content to simply film the girls and fork over the footage, he decided to turn the experience into his first feature, and An Evening with the Impostors was born.
Stephens, along with Rachael, Ala Mode and Teran Blake, make up the country-bound quartet. In keeping with the DIY aesthetic of his last piece, Helkio shot with handheld video cameras and iPhones. Capturing the gritty hilarity of a group of queens on a road trip, the film prioritizes rehearsal blunders and backstage banter over show-stopping numbers.
“At one point, Ala Mode steps on the mic and it smacks him in the face,” Helkio says, laughing. “But he just kept on going like nothing happened. Now that’s fierce.”
The Impostors takes its name from a piece of Toronto drag history. The original Impostors were a team who played Yonge Street club La Cage through the 1980s. Owned by the Mirvishes and located where the Hard Rock Café now stands, it was open seven days a week and catered to a mainly straight crowd. Along with Stephens, the original lineup included famed queens Georgie Girl, Michelle DuBarry, Rusty Ryan and Christopher Peterson.
“My first La Cage show freaked the shit out of me,” Helkio recalls. “In the final number, one of the queens started slowly taking off his drag in front of the audience. They used to end their shows that way to convey to the audience they were watching actors playing a part. At the same time, they were also challenging the nature of being queer in a way that’s missing from today’s shows.”
New film about the closing of Toronto’s St. Marc’s Spa, May 29, 2013
The year before its demise, former Fab columnist Rolyn Chambers (who also served as Director of Operations for its last two years) invited ten local artists (including Sky Gilbert, Brad Fraser, Drasko Bogdanovic, and Donnarama) to create installations in some of the private rooms. Co-created by Chambers and producer Raymond Helkio, Death of a Bathhouse combines footage of the club’s final days and interviews with the artists who created there. Read the full article.
Gay Bathhouse News, April 15, 2013
Two and a half years ago St. Marc’s bathhouse went bust, as written here at that time. (Another Toronto Bathhouse Bites The Dust – St Marc’s Spa). Though management said the closing was only temporary, St Marc’s never re-opened. So this bathhouse maybe gone, but it hasn’t been forgotten. Grasp Erotic Bar, St. Marc’s Spa, Toronto, Bathhouse, Brad Fraser, Keith Cole, Sky Gilbert Death Of A Bathhouse. A new documentary film is being released. Consisting of footage from the waning days of St. Marc’s and interviews with several Toronto artists. Such as Sky Gilbert, Keith Cole and Brad Fraser.
Homo Magazine, March 05, 2013
AIDS ACTION NOW, October 30, 2012
Our AAN! posts about the recent Supreme Court of Canada HIV non-dislcosure decisions have been wordy–as we try to think through, unpack, and “reason with” the (il)logic of the decisions. Forms of creation other than the written word can often serve to illuminate flawed logic and injustice, and do so in a powerful way. The history of AIDS activism is replete with funny, angry, heart-breaking, unsettling, beautiful and moving images and performance.