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Saturday 11 April 2015

Review: XOX Pride at The Box

Posted in: Performance
By Jay Bennie - 12th February 2015

Opening Night of XOX Pride
The Box bar and Cafe
Nightly until February 28

The XOX Pride performance evenings kicked off last night at The Box cafe and bar on the forecourt of the Aotea Centre, with some truly great drag performances preceded by a short show that amounted to drag abuse.

The venue is being shared by the Auckland Fringe Festival and the Auckland Pride Festival and when someone's desire to cross-promote
the upcoming Thriller Michael Jackson spectacular in last night's opening show collided with XOX Pride the result was a car-wreck. A cheesy MC roped in Buckwheat, Anita Wigl'it and Tess Tickle for a "lets see you show the folks some Michael Jackson moves" schtick. Drag divas par excellence they might be but Jackson imitators they are not.

It was embarrassing to watch the ordeal and clearly the girls were uncomfortable, looking alternately pained and grinning gamely through gritted dentals. A little bird whispered later that a planned run-through beforehand had apparently not happened and the divas had just had to gamely go thru with it. Memo to everyone who signed off on this tacky stunt: Drag divas are goddesses, not stooges.

Heaven knows what the crowd of Fringe Festival-goers thought of it. Almost immediately afterwards most of them (ie, the straights) left and a predominantly, though smaller, glbti audience was treated half an hour later to three superbly immaculate drag routines.

Tess Tickle's latin-inspired scat (no, not that scat) number was full of Brazillian energy and oomph. How those outsize sequins remained on her gown is a secret known only to Tess and her dressmaker.

A manic Anita Wigl'it took to the stage with a trumpet and heaps of 'don't mess with me' attitude. She was inventive, outrageous, and just a bit lewd. Alright, she was a lot lewd.

Buckwheat teamed up with Shirley Bassey to do a number on Diamonds are Forever and Goldfinger, this was class, class, class. And, yes, a little bit lewd.

These three drag divas would have been worth the price of admission if an admission had been charged. They performed again later in the evening and each evening from now on there will be a mixed bag of Pride-related shows nightly until Feb 28th at XOX.

The pop up venue itself is colourful and on a calm, slightly sultry night like last night, it's a great place to meet up with friends or relax after a Pride Festival event.

- Jay Bennie

Jay Bennie - 12th February 2015

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