“Butt sex should never be a surprise.”
So begins the very catchy tune that opens Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque. Alternating skits and burlesque numbers with vox pop video segements, this show aims to “educate through laughter”, and to some degree it succeeds.
The safe sex aspects of the show are largely limited to condom use, making it a useful refresher for anyone who sleeps with men and hasn’t had any sex ed since high school. (It’s worth pointing out here that the artists are based in the United States, so while it seems like basic information to a Canadian audience, it’s still not being taught in many school districts south of the border.)
The video segments are by far the highlight of the show. Consisting mainly of talking head interviews with the artists’ friends and family, the subjects discuss their sexual histories, their definitions of sex, and so on. These segments are consistently hilarious, while also calling attention to the awkwardness that often surrounds sex talk.
The monologue dealing with consent and rape culture, however, misses the mark. The humour crosses the line into glibness (“It’s 8:15 in the morning. Can I get a cup of coffee before having to think about rape culture in America?”), making the toast with jelly rape metaphor used in the skit even more reductive than it already is.
Despite these flaws, the show as a whole is still entertaining, if less educational than the title would have you believe, and it’s definitely refreshing to see burlesque numbers that don’t rely on g-strings and sequins. The number set to “If I Could Turn Back Time” is one costume change away from being a complete history of ladies’ lingerie from 1855-1955, and is worth seeing in and of itself.
Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque runs until June 22 at Petit Campus. Buy your tickets here.