By Grace Oborne
The most sold-out show for Minden Pride week returns this year for a night of dancing, sing-a-longs, and more.
Viva Burlesque is one of the most successful shows in Haliburton County. The sold-out Burlesque Ball will take place on the last weekend of Pride week at the Pinestone Resort in Haliburton on Friday Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Minden Pride is a volunteer-driven and non-profit organization in Haliburton County. Every August, Minden Pride hosts their annual week-long festival with many different events to celebrate the diversity of Haliburton County’s community. The first time Viva Burlesque was held for Pride Week in Minden was in 2019 and it had an overwhelming success.
“The last time it was done was in 2019, and it was a huge success then. It sold out quite quickly and people just really, really, really had a lot of fun and enjoyed the quality of performances, which were incredible. We wanted to do it again and we’re really hoping that we could replicate that the last time. That’s what we’re going to do,” chair of the Minden Pride Committee, Allan Guinan said.
The co-owner of Russell Red Records in Haliburton and organizer of Viva Burlesque, Collin Burke, says that the whole experience was an enjoyable surprise, encouraging the show to come back for another time.
“That last time we did it … it was just like, on a wing and a prayer. Nobody knew what we were doing, and everything went incredibly well. So, this year fingers crossed, everything goes as great as last time.”
Drag shows are typically staged in nightclubs or Gay Pride festivals. Drag queens, who are men dressed in women’s clothes and makeup, perform before an audience often with upbeat dancing and music.
Tickets for Burlesque are available exclusively from Russell Red Records, at $45 per person. One can purchase their ticket either in person at 173A Highland Street in Haliburton, or online.
The popular show will be hosted by Carlotta Carlisle, with performances from famous Toronto drag stars including, Katrinka Kature, Perla, Vitality Black, and local star, the beloved Plum Vicious.
About 14 years ago, Plum Vicious was the first to perform a drag show in Minden to start breaking down barriers.
“I was the first person to drag up here, moons ago. It’s kind of been a thing of breaking down barriers in the neighborhood here. Performing is fun, but it’s more just making people aware that not everybody necessarily maybe seems how they look. There is always a surprise in the closet,” Plum Vicious said.
A local hairdresser and entrepreneur by day, Plum Vicious has been performing not only in Haliburton County, but across Canada for more than 25 years. She grew up in Minden, moved to Toronto, then eventually found herself back in Minden. She also has story times where she reads to children at libraries in the local area. There, she is known as Auntie Plum.
Plum Vicious was inspired to enter the world of drag from her love of theatre and her daytime jobs of hairstyling and costuming.
“I’ve been doing drag for years and years, so for me, I got into it just as a creative outlet. You know, it is basically theatre really. It’s just theatre with a twist. I was also doing hair and costuming and that sort of thing, so I was doing a lot of Queens stuff, but just wasn’t really doing it myself, until I was.”
During a week like Minden Pride, the Viva Burlesque event plays a crucial part in the meaning of it all. Drag, though fun, is a form of expression Guinan said.
“From my perspective, drag is just about a free expression. It’s just allowing people to express themselves in a creative and interesting manner. We want that for everyone, [and not just people who] want to perform and drag, but for people who want to be able to dress how they want to dress, live how they want to live, and love who they want to love. Drag demonstrates that idea just in a bigger, flashier form,” said Guinan.
For Plum Vicious, performing is exciting and fun. Her favourite part of drag is its uniqueness.
“I would say my favourite part is just expressing differently than how I would express in the shop or express just walking down the street. It just gives me a different avenue. Drag can sometimes be that ultimate way to find a bit of escapism into the ability to express yourself in a way that you wouldn’t typically be able to. You know, for me, it’s just about having fun too.”
To purchase tickets online, visit www.russellredrecords.ca/shop/view-single-item/VIVA-BURLESQUE