An even gayer circus

The wackiness of any Ringling Bros. show seems queer enough already but the sight of sequin-laden, heavily makeup-ed and muscled acrobats twisting their bodies into highly irregular poses as they flip through rings in the air is enough to make anyone’s gay pheremones flair. And this weekend I got to experience queer circus extravaganza under the big blue and yellow tent on the Willamette, watching Cirque du Soleil’s traveling show Varekai.

The Cirque never fails to amaze as you crane you neck to try to figure out where, exactly, that body part is coming from. And Varekai did not disappoint as it sparkled with its mystical story, lavish costuming and live music. And plenty of homoeroticism accompanied the vaguely heterosexual main plot. Namely, with an act performed by two bulging gentleman who tumbled around each other’s bodies as they flew through the air supported only by a single strap and each others strength. My housemate kept saying, “Oh that one was so powerful…It was my favorite.” And I can scarcely blame her.

And yet, while I cannot deny the magic of Varekai, I would also recommend making a weekend trip to Vegas in order to experience a range of Cirque choices, including underwater, Egyptian themed, and a special risqu version. Only the last of which, called Zumanity, have I seen. And while some might snicker at what they see as a low-brow, naughty version of Cirque du Soleil, I have to say I might have liked it a touch better than Varekai, in part, perhaps, because it lacks pretension. And it may be even gayer still than the rest of the shows…if that is possible. Besides the drag queen emcee there are two scenes that are explicitly for us. The first is a watery dance between two women sharing the pool of an over-sized goblet. The second begins as a lady tries in vain to get the attention of several men watching football on television. After her failure and subsequent departure the men proceed to battle in a Thunderdome-like cage that descends from the ceiling until the culminating action, which is not a TKO, but instead a passionate embrace…No, Zumanity is brash and blatant, and for that I appreciate it.

Still, if you can’t get to Vegas, Varekai is certainly work braving the crowds for, even if the outdoor bathrooms are 2 urinals to every 3 unisex facilities. (There’s just no excuse for that). The show will be here in Portland through April 23rd before it moves on to Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

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