The gorgeous Julie Atlas Muz, who holds the titles of Miss Coney Island and Miss Exotic World, told the audience right at the start of The Freak and the Showgirl Greatest T.I.T.S (Totally Inclusive Theatrical Spectacular) that things were about to get f*cking crazy – and she was not wrong!
I said it on the night right after seeing the show, and I’ll say it again – you haven’t done Fringe Festival if you haven’t seen The Freak and The Showgirl.
Combining song, dance, nudity, comedy, freak show, strip show, more nudity, booze, political incorrectness and vaudeville, this show is what the festival is all about: pushing boundaries, blurring lines, incredible amounts of laughter, an audience craning forward on the edge of their seats, and an underlying messages of acceptance and radical self love.
The showgirl (Julie) and husband Mat Fraser (the freak) put on one hell of a show that was absolutely buzzing with energy and bursting with originality.
The duo opened the show with a lively dance number that let us all know just what to expect, before getting up close and personal with the audience. Mat Frazer – actor (American Horror Story: Freak Show), artist, writer and musician – kicked things off with a frank and open discussion of the ‘elephant in the room’ in as he talked about phocomelia (a condition which causes ‘seal-like’ arms, in his case as a result of his mother taking the morning sickness drug Thalidomide during pregnancy). Equal parts funny and heart-warming, he talked about the relationship between disability and entertainment, showcasing a clever wit, subversive lack of political correctness, and a playful sideshow style.
Julie kicked things off with a twist on the ‘sexy cop’ routine, showing us she could bump and grind with the best of the best, pushing the boundaries in a way that felt completely true to character.
After a tribute to friend and disability advocate Stellar Young, the pair launch into a vibrant whirlwind of performances: a look into the history of freaks and sideshows; a hilarious ukulele number; a video of a singing vagina that left the audience in turns squirming uncomfortably in their seats and howling with laughter; a terribly accented homage to Australian culture, complete with a half-naked tap dance to Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport (and a perfect dig at both Rolf Harris and Tony Abbot); and an unbelievable naked interpretive dance number that left me wondering just how they get away with what they do.
Without a shred of shame, self-consciousness or anything other than total acceptance, Julie and Mat gave us their all, and this is what makes them really stand out from the crowd. Because spectacle and theatrics aside, the lasting impression left by this show is of two people who are incredibly comfortable with their bodies and their sexualities – The Freak and the Showgirl was a true a celebration of the glorious reality of humanity, imperfections and all.
(Tonight’s show was the pair’s last in Perth, but you might be able to catch Julie and Mat at Adelaide Fringe – check out their Facebook page for all the details, and make sure you have a chat and buy some merch after the show, because they’re both incredibly lovely and friendly).
*I received free tickets to this show in exchange for my review (thanks Fringe World Festival). All opinions are my own.