At least there was no Cher Lip-Synching
The other night I was invited to a “Goth Drag” event. Now, despite my professed love of Edward Gorey, I am no Goth. Nor do I perform drag, not withstanding the odd Dorothy Gale Halloween costume. But sometimes you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, which in my case meant dragging my prematurely middle-aged ass down to the Beaver on Queen West for a midnight performance by Mikiki Mikiki.
The performer naturally arrived late, so my new friend Randal and I had plenty of time at the candle-lit bar to people-watch (the attendants were an interesting venn diagram of Goths and Drags and Goth-Drags) and glance at a soundless projection of erotic-horror movie ‘The Lair of the White Worm’ with a pre-stardom Hugh Grant. I kid thee not. This is real.
Mikiki Mikiki, who I learned prefers the non-gendered pronoun ‘they’ to ‘he’ or ‘she’, eventually waltzed in like a late Maria Callas and was introduced by a MC who claimed that they had been kicked out of venues all over town. Very soon, we discovered why.
Without saying a word, Mikiki Mikiki, who was wearing a long, Vivienne Westwood-esque Victorian gown and white shirt, unbuttoned their top, exposing their chest. They then dabbed their pectorals with a disinfecting wipe. They took out some safety pins and, without flinching, pierced their nipple not once, not twice, but thrice, forming a little star across the areola. I was near the front and had stood up from our table to get a better look, and, although I once hid my face on Randal’s shoulder, I tried to stay cool.
I worried that someone would faint, but rather the audience was pretty blase about the whole thing. Some gasped and cheerfully tittered (accidental pun, I swear), but others kept talking amongst themselves, as though Mikiki Mikiki wasn’t a live performer that demanded attention. I guess it takes more than turning a breast into a pin cushion to break some people of their self-important bubbles.
My favourite part was that they kept the safety-pins in and when they came back out to chat with the crowd, blood was streaming down their chest.
What was the point? Like any artist, I’m sure Mikiki Mikiki is too smart to define what it was all about. As this Xtra interview from four years ago says, their performance aesthetic can be “hard to pin down.” Indeed.
Seeing shows like this wouldn’t be something I would do every Saturday night. But it sure beats staying home and watching little-people-who-are-hoarders-and-make-cupcakes reality TV shows. A city as big and diverse as Toronto always has something going on. You may witness something you’ll never forget. It just takes a little research, a little initiative and, as the Cowardly Lion would say, a little courage.