BRIEFS are a queer burlesque performance group out of Ipswich, west of Brisbane. Their new show, Close Encounters, played to sold-out crowds at the Powerhouse on the weekend. I was lucky enough to snag tickets to their opening night Friday.
I first saw Briefs performing their original show a few years ago. I took a straight friend who enjoyed it immensely, as did I. I missed The Second Coming, but I was keen to catch the boys in their new show.
The sci-fi theme of Close Encounters is infused into most of the performances. The show opened with the familiar five notes from the film (which I admittedly hadn’t seen, but absorbed via cultural osmosis, mostly via The Simpsons). Watching high-energy and gravity-defying stripping from spacesuits and lab gear is a bit different, and I was into it.
I don’t remember how politically charged the original Briefs was, but it’s definitely a big part of Close Encounters. The show was prefaced by a very sincere and not at all by-the-numbers acknowledgement of country. One of the first performances involved a contemporary-dance striptease that involved removing seven layers of tank tops, each printed with a different (mostly political) message.
Politics aside, the show was fantastic to watch. The guys are all incredibly strong and will make you feel terrible about your own neglected core strength as they flip across the stage and hang upside down from above it. Watching most of them get down to black glitter g-strings is pretty all right as well.
The running jokes about the show’s budget and origins are still going strong. The customary shout-out to Ipswich (“We’re not all red-haired dickheads”) got a few chuckles.
The show uses a diverse range of music in the performances, from techno to disco to pop. I noticed a good proportion of the music was by female artists, including Björk, Kate Bush and Die Antwoord.
Impressed as I was, I’m always disappointed to hear audiences addressed as “ladies and gentlemen”. That goes for any audience, but especially an LGBTI crowd—some of your audience will be trans, some of those trans folks will be non-binary, and “ladies and gentlemen” is lazy, alienating language. But what I’m even more disappointed to hear is the T-bomb being dropped. Alas, listen to enough drag queen banter and it’s almost inevitably said.
My small gripes notwithstanding, it was a hell of a night. The sheer number of high-speed costume changes going on was impressive. And I never get sick of the genderfuck trope of bearded drag queens.
There was, as always, a raffle, with proceeds announced to be going towards the well-known charity The Briefs Boys Vodka Fund. The lucky winner was a flustered blonde woman who was ushered onstage for the prize of being involved in a saucy performance.
I caught up with the guys after the show for a couple of drinks and photos. One of the high points of the night was comparing The Simpsons tattoos.
If you didn’t catch them this weekend, you’ve missed out on Close Encounters in Brisbane. But the Briefs boys will be performing in Adelaide from June 9–11. It’s a high-energy, sexy, fun show that you should definitely get along to if you can.