There’s a reason why the Vancouver International Fringe Festival is a fringe festival – it offers a plethora of acts and performances that are off the beaten path, and sometimes even right off the map. I consider myself more of a freak than a prude, so when I was given the opportunity to see Does This Turn You On? last Saturday, I signed up, taking the show title as both a direct personal question and a challenge. I made up my answer before even seeing the show – my answer was “yes, it probably does”.
This little half-hour show managed to cram in about a dozen mimed vignettes of all sorts of paraphilias. If you aren’t familiar with the word fragment “philia”, it is of Greek origin and it means “a positive feeling of liking”. While the term doesn’t necessarily imply a sexual reaction to the thing liked, it’s often used to describe the apparently innumerable things we wacky humans fetishize.
Take forniphilia, for example, defined by the not always reliable yet always entertaining Urban Dictionary as “a form of bondage and sexual objectification in which a person’s body is incorporated into a chair, table, cabinet or other piece of furniture”. Who knew? The two limber ladies performing on stage at Studio 1398 did. One used the other as a lamp, chair and finally a table who in the end simply wasn’t up to the task and crumbled. There just isn’t the same kind of craftsmanship in home furniture as there used to be…
Some fetishes weren’t all that weird, like agalmatophilia, which is sexual attraction to a statue, doll or mannequin. I just realized I’ve divulged a little too much about myself by admitting I don’t find this all that weird. Hm. Moving on… This was one of the best executed skits, as one performer strived to place her life-size doll (i.e. her co-performer) – who I must say had the remarkable ability of pulling off the human doll “look” – in a number of poses, only to have her flop over, time and time again, resulting in frustration for the kink-seeker.
Then there were the WTF fetishes, like nasophilia, which – you guessed it – means you have a thing for noses. The only penetration that happened during the show was the nail entering the performer’s nose during the skit, which she hammered in herself. Hot stuff, let me tell you. It makes me want to sneeze just thinking about it. Or how about ligyrophilia, which means your crank is turned by loud or shrill noises. This presentation included the most satisfying and, well… erotic reaction to the popping of a balloon I’ve ever witnessed (and probably ever will). I mean, I didn’t find it erotic, but the performer did. Oh, sure, I found her loud reaction to it… uh… engaging… but um… yyyeah. Moving on, once again…
While Does This Turn You On? doesn’t really offer any hot, steamy action (sorry, pervs) – unless live comedic performance is what floats your sexy boat – it is good for a laugh and it can definitely open some doors, if you let it. The last paraphilia displayed, really tied everything together, letting you in on the little secret that you’ve unknowingly played a role in realizing someone’s fetish for the last half hour.
I walked away from this show with a smirk at all the “weird”, different things I’d just witnessed, which prompted the thought, “What else turns people on?” Do some people get off on juggling hot coals while dressed in a tutu and hopping on one foot? How about eating barbecued avocado while watching Family Matters reruns dubbed in Spanish? Maybe your thing is tripping on your own shoelaces accidentally and yelling timber as you fall over! Who knows? If it can be conceived of, chances are somebody’s getting their jollies doing it.
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