Gunnar’s KINK HAUS of Xtravaganza

by Lewis J. Whittington for The Dance Journal

It wasn’t a surprise to see performer in leather spinning in a cube trapeze in the bar lobby of the Latvian Society, or even some discrete erotica peeking through corners of the back stairwell we were led into the performance space of Gunnar Montana’s KINK HAÜS. The surprise is how charged with playful energy the show is, lots of sensual dance vignettes, but minus the expected dungeon theatrics.

Montana and Amanda Jensen’s set designs transformed the Latvian into a diva dance club with graffiti catwalks a dj booth with the spotlight marquee that reads DANCE and circuit party lighting. Montana and his dance theatricals mixing it up as showgirls and boys escorting us into a glittery GLBTQueer revelry.

In Gunnar kicks things off swaggering in on the pulsing bass club mix, he’s in garage overalls until he shucks it off a dazzling beaded flapper dress and slips into silver sequin His troupe of five- Avi Borouchoff, Jessica Daley, Dylan Kepp, Frank Leone and Steph Lyneice- sashay through the industrial locker door on the to stomp the runway as the entre-acte to a cavalcade of drag couture – boleros, hip-high leather boots, fur shrugs, breakaway gowns, electric blue speedos, not mention Gunnar stalking around in green-pointe shoes like ballerina-rex.

In one scene Dylan Kepp ambles onstage with his backpack, looking like he just got out of chemistry class and is suddenly in a fun summer tunic as he listens to narration on how to “aid you on your journey to becoming a full-fledge homosexual…our first word is ‘fierce. ’ with tips on workouts, lingo and most important, when the f-word is slung at you, you simply turn it into ‘fabulous’ armor. He gets ready dancing to Sarah Vaughan’s tango version of Whatever Lola Wants, then lip-sync to a production number with the other dancers swarming around her with some witty and dodgy showdance this side of a Cher video.

Jessica Daley and Frank Leone are tumbling and cavorting over a ripped ottoman when suddenly a huge drug scale descends with a what seems to be a mountain of coke on it. Studio 54 eat your heart out. They play with it, taste it and throw it in the air with glee and get pre-tweeked goofy and dance through the cloud. They flee through the factory door but not before Daley hilariously barks out “Don’t touch any of my stuff.”

Kepp, Leone and Borouchoff are the gay gym rats in micro runner shorts astride a 70s multi-apparatus workout bench which Borouchoff mounts in a one arm handstand before he snakes over it in various contortions peppered with power splits, handstands and vaults.

In the one darker scene, Montana portrays who cruises Borouchoff then dances a duet with intimate lifts, sculpted bodyscapes and erotic positions. But the scene turns unexpectedly menacing and you wonder if this a mutual sex fantasy.

The statuesque Montana emerges in a red, white and blue form fitting flag gown that was last seen on Raquel Welsh in Myra Breckinridge commences lip-syncing to God Bless America into a substitute mic that isn’t a hairbrush. Speaking of equipment, a freestanding tub is dragged and Jessica Daley pops out of it for a breakneck dance peppered with vaults, dervish spins and flips and a welders’ gun she uses to bust the chain.

And speaking of leashes and collars, Steph Lyniece saunters on with Leone and Kepp (I think) on a leash at her feet in dog fetish masks and their dog tails wagging. They heel as Lyniece strips down to a G-string and slides around on an oiled skid-frame. If memory serves, a similar tableau was shut down at the Troc by Rizzo circa Troc when in 1955.

Later, Leone is stripped down to just his dancebelt for a scene in a gay bar with go-go boys perched high but is otherwise populated with blue male mannequins. He flies into a soulful solo around the mannequins in sinewy and elegant acrobatics to the ballad with the lyric “I’m not the guy your taking home” before he slams against the club wall.

Montana notes the choreographic collaboration with the cast, and liberated dance was just as much on the front burner in KINK HAUS as Montana’s more freighted sexual themes in previous shows. Amanda Jensen’s dramatic lighting design get kudos especially in tandem with the light/sound tech by DJ CJ Coleman. The song mix and soundscape by Montana is trance-inducing and club transporting and tribe-trance-inducing. KINK HAÜS runs through the entire festival.

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