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MARCH 2012





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KITSCH ’N’ STUFF PLUS John Webster’s joyful bricolage by Gordon Bowness


PLANET CHATTO Designer Farley Chatto’s effortless glamour by Paul Gallant


MONTREAL COOL Travis Taddeo takes luxury to the street by Paul Aguirre-Livingston


LONG MAY SHE REIGN Madonna sends Canada some luvin’ by Nelson Branco


MAURICE SENDAK in his own words










SPA YOURSELF by Dino Dilio






AVENUE ROAD by Derek Dotto


SWISH BY HAN by Alice Lawlor








CAUGHT IN THE ACT scene photos


VIEW FINDER → SUNNY DISPOSITION No winter trip this year? Then why not buy art and travel somewhere wonderful — or mysterious — every day you peer into it. Green around Red White and Blue by Toronto photographer James Robert Durant joins scores of great photo-based artworks on auction for Snap, the AIDS Committee of Toronto’s gala fundraiser, now celebrating its 12th year. The public preview runs Fri, Mar 16 to 18 at Edward Day Gallery. The main event is Sun, Mar 25 at the National Ballet of School. See page 25 for more details or go to; all the works are viewable online.

John Dugdale



March 2012

→ “I don’t write for children. I write. And somebody says, ‘That’s for children.’”

Satirical talk show host Stephen Colbert interviewed Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of such famous books as Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, in two hilarious segments televised on the Colbert Report at the end of January. A legendary grump, Sendak seemed to relish the opportunity to match wits and witlessness with Colbert, railing against everything from Newt Gingrich (“He’s an idot”) and eBooks (“I hate them, eBooks cannot be the future. They very well may be. I will be dead so I won’t give a sh*t”) to children (“I like them as few and as far between as I like adults — maybe a bit more, since I don’t like adults”). Sendak, now 83, came out to the media three years ago, following the death of his partner of 50 years, a point Sendak reiterated when Colbert asked him about flirting with sexy moms. This past fall Harper Collins published the delightfully menacing Bumble-Ardy, about a birthday-obsessed piglet whose parents have been eaten. It’s Sendak’s first full-production picture book in more than 25 years.




→ The tents are back. Toronto Fashion Week returns this month, complete with new title sponsor World MasterCard, showcasing the fall 2012 collections from Canada’s best and brightest. While Toronto is far from the coveted circuit of London, Paris, New York and Milan, there is something to be said about our sartorial achievements. We talked to industry insiders about the upcoming shows and Canada’s fashion scene. With established, emerging and international designers all set to show, this season is a true celebration of all the amazing talent that is coming out of Canada now. The Fashion Collective will be working with Rad Hourani to celebrate his five-year anniversary. I have been a supporter of this work since he started and to be working with him this season means a lot to me. I definitely feel the Canadian fashion scene is growing. Thanks to social media and a generation immersed in it, it’s possible to show your work to almost anyone directly, something that seemed impossible in the past.

The menswear collections will see a lot of different influences, from baroque detailing in outerwear to screen-printed shirting, a varying degree of deconstructed looks that move away from the usual tailored aesthetic that has taken over collections the last few seasons. Canadians, I find, like to think outside the box, they’ll take risks, whether it’s working with various fabrications in a collection or incorporating techniques that, for the most part, are avoided in design. But, to my horror, [most] Canadians prefer comfort and practicality over a certain aesthetic or look.

Trends? No shirts under blazers, coloured socks, chunky belts, drop crotch pants with skinny bottoms, and colour blocking. Although I will be very surprised if Toronto fashion embraces these trends. The Canadian look? One word: commercial. We don’t really break boundaries or set any trends we just follow them... safely. The fashion scene definitely needs help, we need to take more risks and embrace style and not just labels. Everyone wants the Jeffrey Campbell Lita boot (pictured) in plain black, even the woven version in black is too out there for the Toronto consumer.




1970: Jearld Moldenhauer, unhappy with the availability of gay literature in Canada, decides to open Glad Day out of his apartment in the Annex. Shortly after, the store — which shares space with ground-breaking gay publication The Body Politic — moves to 4 Kensington Ave, an apartment in Kensington Market. 1972: After The Body Politic publishes the controversial article “Men Loving Boys Loving Men,” the landlord throws both businesses out of their Market home. They land in a new house in Cabbagetown. Moldenhauer turns Glad Day into a real bookstore, and opens a storefront at 4 Collier St, near Yonge and Bloor. 1979: Moldenhauer starts a Glad Day in Boston (which closed in 2000). 1981: The Toronto Glad Day moves to its current spot at 598A Yonge St. 1982: Police seize two magazines, including The Leatherman, and charge the assistant manager with possession of obscene material for purposes of resale. He is found guilty, but the conviction is overturned. 1985: The Mulroney government specifies material Canada Customs can seize, including that depicting anal sex. Glad Day has to endure more than 400 seizures of shipments over the next six years, including The Joy of Gay Sex. 1987: A court forces the government to amend its regulations, but depictions of anal sex are still not permitted if they’re “prurient in nature.” 1991: Moldenhauer sells the Toronto store to John Scythes. 1992: Under the Supreme Court’s Butler decision, which allows Customs to seize material that is “violent, degrading or dehumanizing,” Customs seizes a shipment of lesbian magazine Bad Attitude. 2000: Glad Day takes on the Ontario Film Review Board after being charged with selling porn that had Continued on page 8


TORONTO TALK EXCHANGE Continued from page 7




not been reviewed by the board. Glad Day eventually wins its case, but in 2005, the Ontario government enacts legislation that basically duplicates the previous laws. The large costs run up by the store leave it in dire financial straits.

2007: Vancouver’s Little Sister’s bookstore has to abandon an attempt to take its case against Customs to the Supreme Court after they’re refused funding. 2012: Scythes announces that he is putting Glad Day up for sale, that he can no longer even afford to pay himself. The store looks like it might be done for, until a coalition of community members announces that it has bought the store. The group includes El-Farouk Khaki, Fatima Amarshi, Jonathan Kitchen and Spencer Charles Smith. “Glad Day Bookshop was a crucial centre for the gay and lesbian liberation movement in Canada,” says Smith, at 23 the youngest of the investors, in a press release. “I know I owe so much to the activists who came before me so I am investing my money and my time into Glad Day as a way to honour them and to give back to the queer community.” Krishna Rau


December 2011

Great design can change the world. Resource depletion is an ongoing concern, as the world population continues to swell past seven billion. More and more, individuals with entrepreneurial spirit are creating social innovations and successful business ventures that address these concerns. As the interactively resourceful engage with an uncertain economic landscape, new social entrepreneurship

GOOD BUSINESS AND HELPING OTHERS ARE COMPATIBLE PURSUITS. business models are emerging. Although the term social entrepreneurship has been around for decades, it gained momentum after the Wall Street crash of 2008. As we see a societal shift in awareness of our global challenges — in part brought forth by the collective sharing that is occurring online — we are seeing an ever-growing shift in consumer behaviour, one that equates business value to products, tools and services that benefit the common good, for current and future generations. Social entrepreneurs believe that good business and helping others are compatible pursuits. The term social entrepreneur-

ship is on the surface an exercise in semantics, marrying two words that have different, possibly contrary meanings. Veiled socialist endeavours or capitalist appropriation? Call it what you want, there are success stories out there. Two Degrees (on Twitter, @TwoDegreesFood) supports a business model where a meal is given to a hungry child for every one of their crafted health food bars purchased. Tiffinday (@Tiffinday) has built into their mission that everyone has a right to delicious and nutritious meals. They are committed to environmental responsibility, community enrichment, 3. reusable equipment and equal opportunity employment. Eva’s Initiatives (@evasinitiatives) works collaboratively with homeless and at-risk youth, providing safe shelter and a range of progressive services and longterm solutions, to help those in need lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives. Roozt (@rooztdeals) is an online marketplace that supports otherwise hard to find socially conscious companies with strong missions, providing a convenient portal that helps the socially conscious consumer find deals on ethically produced products and services. Additionally, 1 percent of all purchases are donated to the charity of your choice. Toronto is fortunate to have

the Centre for Social Innovation (@csito), an actual bricks-andmortar enterprise that brings together and nurtures people with emerging enterprises and business models that can change the world for the better. Books are cropping up on how to start, build and run businesses that improve the world we live in. When a Social Entrepreneurship for Dummies book appears, you know a tipping point has been reached. Leaders of existing businesses would do well to consider refashioning aspects of their business to reflect this paradigm shift, communicating their reforms at a more strategic and less tactical level, to maximize potential social profitability. CEOs need to be tweeting their company’s vision for the future, not their marketing departments. The time is ripe to start a business that reduces the carbon footprint, to create tools that will help sustain our resources for future generations and products that will further positive, educated and informed social change. Do it now. Because, let’s face it, old-school greedy capitalism is so 2007.

MICHAEL THORNER Tweets at michaelthorner.




off the beaten path and across the river to Brooklyn, yes, Brooklyn Story & Photography Gordon Bowness


hy Brooklyn? It’s hard to imagine travellers would ever tire of Manhattan. There is always something more to do and see. So it’s not a question of Manhattan or Brooklyn. It’s a question of Manhattan and Brooklyn, adding the borough of 2.5 million residents to your list of choice world destinations. Not for nothing did GQ last fall name Brooklyn as the coolest city on the planet. Brooklyn would be the fourth largest city in the US if it wasn’t part of NYC (and was its own city until 1898). Being in the shadow of its taller, brasher brother across the river means being overlooked.

Brooklyn shares with Toronto and Chicago that second-city vibe — in a good way, not in a provincial-desperate-for-attention kind of way. Brooklynites aren’t so concerned with the next big thing, the hippest club, the most exclusive restaurant. They are more concerned with the here and now, more invested in the local scene. And what a wonderful, eclectic scene it is for those willing to venture off the beaten path. This place is big — a smidge smaller than Toronto, and just as varied and diverse. So, that’s why Brooklyn. Plus Brooklyn offers the best

views of lower Manhattan. Its hotels are cheaper. And its bustling neighbourhoods open up to less crowded spaces and great parks. Then there’s the ocean — Coney Island is a must. And for those with cars, it’s much easier driving around Brooklyn than Manhattan. So if you bomb down I-95 to Florida, you should consider Brooklyn as a pit stop on the way back. Even if you don’t stay in Brooklyn, plan some day trips from Manhattan. It’s easy to get to by subway… or ferry or water taxi, cool alternatives to getting around on either side of the Lower East River. But planning and maps (or apps)

are key. There aren’t subway stops or taxis at every corner. This isn’t Manhattan. But that’s the point. Load in some car service numbers into your phone. Car services are a little pricier than taxis, but they will pick you up. And pity anyone trying to hail a cab in Brooklyn between 4pm and 5pm during cab shift changes. Fuggedaboudit.


id I mention Brooklyn is huge? It’s comprised of dozens of distinct neighbourhoods, big and small. Here are just three focal points to pique your interest. Continued on page 10


LIVING & DESIGN Continued from page 9

Let’s start with a perfect day near

Chicago’s The Dinner Party next to

downtown. Begin with a fortifying

dioramas of 18th-century homes

brunch at Jack the Horse Tavern

next to Kehinde Wiley’s blacki-

in Brooklyn Heights (66 Hicks St;

fied Old Masters next to cool dec-, nestled among

orative arts galleries. There’s tons

blocks and blocks of billionaire

of gay programming, too. The just-

brownstones, and just a 20-minute

closed portraiture survey Hide/Seek

walk from Nu Hotel (see next page).

was amazing and saw galleries

Burritos and red flannel hash to per-

buzzing with stylish LGBT art-lov-

fect pancakes are served expertly in

ers both young and old. This spring

a pretty, sun-filled room. The sun

sees shows on Keith Haring, Djuna

glows more golden after a house

Barnes, Rachel Kneebone, Hank

Bloody Mary (with fennel- and rose-

Willis Thomas and Chris Johnson.

mary-infused scotch, house-cured

You can easily spend a whole

duck prosciutto and pickled cippo-

weekend at the museum, espe-

lini onions, it sounds disgusting —

cially with the Olmsted and Vaux-

it’s so not).

designed Prospect Park next door

You can then wobble around the

offering fresh air breaks. Check out

tony historic neighbourhood built on

the amazing central branch of the

the hill overlooking the East River,

Brooklyn Public Library around the

or you can make your way down to

corner on the Grand Army Plaza. It’s

the new Promenade Park. Stunning

an art deco marvel.

views of lower Manhattan abound.

There is great shopping and carousing a few blocks away in the

Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges

hip neighbourhood of Park Slope.

you’ll find the absolutely charm-

Bar 4 (444 7th Ave; bar4brooklyn.

ing Jane’s Carousel (janescarousel.

com), a stylish, laid-back and very

com), a restored merry-go-round

mixed gay and lesbian bar, offers the

now housed inside a sleek crys-

perfect respite.

tal pavilion designed by starchitect Jean Nouvel.

K Kirk

By the river just between the

To the north is Williamsburg with a vibe all its own. Instead of

Next door is the River Café (theriv-

Victorian brownstones, the neigh-, a floating restaurant

bourhood is packed with clapboard

that is a bit of a take-your-mom


kind of place but, again, you can’t

industrial sites. Italian, West Indian

buy a better view.

and Hasidic residents have made



There are lots of art galleries

room for recent immigrants, trendy

and a great bookshop to explore

young couples from the big city. It’s

nearby in DUMBO (Down Under

like a giant Queen Street West, but

the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

with real money. The high street of

Or you could head off to Wall Street

Bedford Ave is crammed with big-

(up twinkles!) across the river by

booted, tight-jeaned, knitted cap-

walking the Brooklyn Bridge.

wearing couples, all very alterna-

Not too far from downtown are

tive-looking but sporting price tags

Prospect Heights, Park Slope and

in the thousands. There are great

the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern

second-hand stores and a real love

Pkwy; This

of analogue culture here. Even the

encyclopedic museum was a reve-

fancy Hotel Williamsburg (see next

lation and has muscled its way into

page) has Crosely record players in

my top tier of NYC’s cultural insti-

every room. If you are looking for

tutions. It’s massive. Don’t think you can just breeze in and out; it’ll tion of inserting new and contemporary works among existing, historical collections. So you find Judy 10

March 2012

→ HIT THE HEIGHTS Lower Manhattan from Promenade Park (opposite page), Jane’s Carousel (top right), Brooklyn Heights (upper right), Williamsburg (lower right) and Brooklyn Public Library (bottom right).


hook you. The museum has a tradi-



a different kind of bargain, here’s


a must: North America’s only Paul Smith Sale Shop (280 Grand St)

— with Dino Dilio

offering a break on pricey but perfect UK style. Great restos abound. Egg (135 North 5th St; for a

An at-home spa can be such a wonderful and deserving retreat from life’s stresses and messes. It just takes a little organization. And book the time off. A full day is delightful but a morning, afternoon or evening is all you really need to escape and pamper yourself for a few stolen hours. →

yummy Southern breakfast. Ham and scrapple, anyone? El Amacen (557 Driggs Ave; is dark and cozy with a quaint little garden in the back. It’s Argentinian, so it’s all about the meat. But there’s great eggy things, enchiladas and avocado fries (!). Pies ’n’ Thighs (166 South 4th St; piesn-

→ KEITH HARING Spring exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Setting up your own home spa

skins. Time to rinse everything

doesn’t involve buying expensive

away with a warm shower. Pat dry offers more Southern-

Long a staple in the gay scene

spa products or renovations. Most

with a soft fluffy towel and while

fried scrumptiousness. And Acqua

Metropolitan (559 Lorimer St) is a

things you already have. Start with

the skin is still damp apply a face

Santa (556 Driggs Ave; acquasanta.

sprawling but comfortable complex

a clean house. If you can afford to

serum or moisturizer to soothe

com) has hearty Italian fare served

that has a huge outdoor patio in the

have someone come in and clean

and seal the face and slather the

up in a garden fantasia.

warmer months and two big fire-

your home you will really be able

body with lotion too. Step into a

places for the cooler ones.

to let go and enjoy it more. Spray

freshly laundered terry-cloth robe

bed sheets with lavender water.

or PJs. It’s delightfully decadent if

Fill a spray bottle with water and

you can heat them up in a dryer.

And who doesn’t want a dog fix when travelling? Lucky Dog (303 Bedford Ave;,

End up here and you’ve “done” Brooklyn. Lucky dog.

understandably scrappy, is a neigh-

a few drops of lavender oil. Place

Nourish yourself with a variety of

bourhood bar that welcomes dogs.

candles around the bathtub and

light foods such as veggies and dip,

by the bed. Nothing beats this kind

cheese, olives, dry sausage, soup,

of relaxing warmth and glow. A

sushi or salad. Prepared food from

scented candle from Crabtree and

Cumbrae’s or Loblaws makes it a

Evelyn changes the mood of any

snap. Be sure to include sparkling

It seems new boutique and

room and is very long-lasting, even

water with lime and lemon slices,

chain hotels are opening up in

after being blown out. Play music

herbal tea, wine or bevvy of choice.

Brooklyn every month, at all

that takes you back to a time of

Do I hear champagne?

price points. Here are two great

happiness and calm. Make a new

For the final wind-down stage,


playlist on your iPod. Sade does it

a new or favourite book or movie

for me.

you have always wanted to watch


On the inexpensive side is Nu Hotel downtown (85 Smith

Bath time, the beginning of let-

is fitting. I love the old black and


ting go. Use a fragrant bath wash

white classics on TCM. Either

breezy, trendy décor might be a

or make your own. When I’m out

should be light and lifting. This

bit dinged up but the rooms are

of bath stuff I use my facial wash.

is not the time for business, self-

well-appointed, clean and quirky

A good squallop (between a squirt

help books and gossipy rags. And

and a dollop) works well. Add a few

lastly, turn off the phones, elec-

drops of essential oil and you’re

tronics and computer. This time is

living in low-cost luxury.

all about you. Enjoy!


(love the slate chalkboard wall in


the bathroom). Affiliated with the International Gay and Lesbian

swiming pool. Try finding that in

Travel Association, it’s a welcom-

Manhattan. The rooftop bar offers

Scrub a dub dub. After lounging

ing hotel with great service. From

stunning views and is open to the

in the bath for 20 minutes or so

$149 to $349, with an average


it’s time to buff and polish the face

of $199.

An urban oasis like this doesn’t

and body. Use a liquid face scrub

If you are looking for luxury, then

come cheap: from $199 to $460

lightly over the face. Oatmeal bar

check out the just opened Hotel

(the luxurious Treehouse suite

soap from Noah’s Natural will



can top $1,000 a night). But think

exfoliate and moisturize the body

(160 North 12th St; hwbrook-

of the money you’ll save at Paul

at the same time. Apply a face Great design, cool fur-

Smith. •

masque to deep cleanse or super


nishings and a 40-foot outdoor

moisturize. A clay-based masque is best for oilier skin while richer cream kinds work wonders on dry

DINO DILIO The freelance makeup artist and writer is resident beauty expert on CityLine.





Artist and blogger John Webster’s Parkdale apartment is chock full of vintage and flea-market finds. Cute, kitsch and crazy all coalesce into a beautiful, off-kilter home Story Gordon Bowness | Photography Lulu Wei


March 2012


Do you consider yourself a collector? I never did but I think I am. I never set out to collect anything. I just ended up owning groups of all this stuff. If there is one thing I do collect it’s ceramics with funny faces. They’re cute but they’re also a little screwed up. Something is off. They can be borderline creepy. That something off is really gay to me. When I look at old illustrations of kids, or illustrations that were made to appeal to kids, everything all pink and blue and cute lambs, I go, “That’s not what kids are like. That’s not what life is like.” I mean sheep don’t look like that. We eat sheep. Reading that other meaning into everything is queer — and lots of straight people get that too — loving something for all its awfulness and all its loveliness. What are the most surprising items you own? All of my original ’70s action figures from Star Wars — though I don’t display them. I was really obsessed when I was younger. And then I got back into it in the 1990s. I chucked the ’90s stuff during my last move. It was winter. I had placed my Tauntaun and AT-AT Walker on a big snow bank. Everything else was snapped up by neighbours, except those two. People must have thought it was an installation. What attracts your eye? Everything I loved as a child. Old family photos. Anything from the past — and it doesn’t have to be my past. Even as a kid I was obsessed with anything old. Fave shop? Sasmart in Kensington Market.

When did it all begin? When I first moved from Winnipeg, I lived in Mississauga. I was very lonely, there. And finding these lovely little objects became a comfort. I think it all stems back to my mother keeping a very sparse house. She’d always throw out my stuff. As I child I remember thinking that there should be more. Like the house of a favourite aunt, Aunt Audrey. She was a teacher for 30, 40 years in a small town in Manitoba. She’d always get little gifts and she’d keep them all — tiny ceramics, Christmas decorations, toys. There’d be a doily on the arm of a couch with a ceramic cat on the doily.… On your popular blog sissydude. com you constantly find and share digital ephemera — old illustrations, fashion photography, campy music videos, porn — stuff that’s quick to appreciate and easily discarded. And yet you have a passion for tangible objects. I think objects are real, that they are alive. When I was a kid, everything around me was alive. Even Smarties. I’d group them into colours and then pick my favourite from each, give it a name, a gender, a story, and I’d play with them. The rest I’d eat. I remember our chess set. I’d love playing with the pawns. I’d dress them up in Ice Capades outfits that I’d make out of construction paper. Continued on page 14

→ BRICOLAGE John Webster’s home and art are intimately entwined. “My home is a collage,” he says.


LIVING & DESIGN Continued from page 13

If all these objects are alive, isn’t it a

the house is the art. And this apartment

little noisy in here?

is the first home I feel is complete. You

I find it very calming. I just don’t get the

have to see this collection as a whole.

whole Zen-plain-white-wall thing. The

The context is my life, me being happy.

more stuff I have displayed, the more I feel I’ve done. An empty white wall

Your blog often juxtaposes naïve and

would make me feel nervous.

sentimental illustrations with X-rated photos of masculine, hairy men.

Any touchstones, objects you can’t do

Again it goes back to my childhood. I


was raised in a very female-centric

I’m attached to all this stuff, but if

home. Only sisters. A lot of aunts.

something falls and breaks, I don’t care.

was obsessed with maleness. And I still

Maybe because nothing costs anything.

have that wide-eyed boyish wonder

The stuff I covet is usually $3.49. But the

about men.


one object I can’t live without is Figgy, a stuffed toy my godparents gave me. I


loved it so much I ruined it. Its legs fell

online is fascinating.




off, its eyes came off and my mother

People message me all the time about

would fix it, but totally reforming and

taking down “their” image from my

reshaping it in the process. His nose is

blog. Just because you scanned an old

a pompom, his eyes don’t match and he

label or found something and posted

still doesn’t have legs.

it online doesn’t mean you own it. You didn’t make it. An artist made it.

Much of your art is digital collage.

Everyone thinks they own everything.

Is there a connection to your design

They don’t.

aesthetic? Another artist/illustrator friend pointed

We’re old friends, so I know what

that out — that my home is a collage,

a wonderful host you are. You love being a happy homemaker. I’d love to be a non-repressed ’50s housewife, cooking and cleaning for my husband. That sounds magical to me. All I need is the husband who’d love June Cleaver with a beard. •

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Park’N Fly - IN TORONTO MAGAZINE 1/4p AD#2 2/22/2012


Lauren Pirie & Darlene Huynh


the capital of Saskatchewan to the fashion capitals of Europe, Farley Chatto has charted his own quixotic path to design success Story Paul Gallant



n the weeks running up to

He wore one that was embroidered

have created original pieces to raise

his December wedding at the


awareness and funds for grassroots

instincts in yet another direc-





Carlu, Farley Chatto was sew-

“I just chalked it up to the usual

organizations involved in HIV/AIDS

tion: furrier. PETA be warned — if

ing his butt off. So were his fashion

— the cobbler’s children don’t have

in sub-Saharan Africa. He’s involved

ever there was an ideal spokesper-

students at the Academy of Design

shoes,” says Chatto, 42, laughing.

in the Heart Truth Fashion Show on

son for the fur industry, Chatto is

at RCC Institute of Technology,

“I have a few evening wear jack-

Thu, Mar 8 and, later in the spring,

it. Affable, humble, compassion-

whose stitchery skills had been

ets and tuxes to choose from. I just

he’ll appear in a pilot for Slice called

ate and intent on making fur fash-

recruited to boost the ceremony’s

went into my closet and pulled one

Wedding Dress Wars that, he boasts,

ionable again, Chatto might be just

fabulous quotient. Chatto and hub-

of them out.”

will be “Project Runway versus Say

what’s needed to breathe new life

Yes to the Dress.”

into one of this country’s oldest

bie John Bradley, a customer service

Of course he did. Having made his

manager at the Toronto Research

own clothes since he was a teen-

A Filipino-Canadian from Regina

professions. But shaking up the

Chemical Company, had already

ager, Chatto’s closets are burst-

— when his immigrant parents

stodgy industry could be an even

been married on PEI in a folk-

ing at the seams. A designer for

met in Saskatchewan in the 1960s,

bigger challenge than shaking up

sier September ceremony aimed at

more than 25 years, Chatto has

they were two of only a handful of

the politics of fur.

Bradley’s family — eight brothers and sisters and parents for whom the trip to Toronto might have been overwhelming. After those Country Mouse nuptials, the Carlu shindig had to be very much City Mouse, a black-tie event populated by many

Filipinos in the province — Chatto


of Chatto’s fashion industry peers.



broke into the fashion world in the early 1990s, when it was still primarily a WASP enclave. He initially


hatto originally wanted to be a gemologist, a vocation he

claims his family didn’t think was

focused on menswear in an indus-

weird. His godmother gave him

try where women’s wear rules, fol-

semi-precious stones as gifts. “My

lowing his own quixotic interests

parents were very open free-think-

as he forged contacts across North

ers. When we were growing up,

America and Europe.

there was never the word ‘no.’ If I

The black jackets, slinky gowns and

shown himself to be a prolific and

fascinators would remind every-

pervasive force in Canadian fash-

“Farley is important because he is

wanted a doll, I got a doll. If I wanted

one of the unadulterated pleasure of

ion. He’s costumed productions for

one of a handful of designers who

a gun, I got a gun.” He rethought the

dressing up.

Paramount and Warner Bros stu-

designs both women’s and men’s

gem career when he was 13 after

Chatto knew exactly what he

dios and Mirvish Productions, and

clothing,” says Chris Tyrell of Hoax

being invited to a black-tie event

intended to wear: a white mink

dressed celebrity clients like Chris

Couture and Dare to Wear Love

(yes, black-tie events are a reoc-

tuxedo jacket of his own design.

Noth, Andrea Martin (a major advo-

(the Stephen Lewis Foundation

curring theme on Planet Chatto).

But as the big day approached, his

cate), Duran Duran and Elton John.


Unable to find a jacket that would

attention to his guests’ needs —

This spring, along with the likes of

Week again this year). “He’s one

Who requires something taken in?

David Dixon, Brian Bailey and Linda

of the most easygoing, charismatic

From then on, he was sewing

Who needs help tying a bowtie? —

Lundström, he’s celebrated in the

designers out there. He’s a fun guy

all the time. He started making

overtook everything else. Chatto’s

Textile Museum of Canada’s Dare to

to be around and his technical

clothes for the other kids at school

jacket didn’t get finished in time.

Wear Love show of designers who

skills are legend.”

and when he was 15, a friend of a

March 2012




fit, he made one himself.


friend commissioned him to make

Maeder at a Regina fashion show,

her wedding dress. “Knowing what

Chatto impressed Maeder with

I was doing at that time, it proba-

his beading abilities. Maeder gave

bly had big leg o’ mutton sleeves, a

him some names of people to call

long train and appliqués all over it.”

in Paris. Chatto apprenticed for

He designed a runway collection

several months at Maison Lesage,

for his independent study course in

world famous for its beadwork,

the last year of high school and by

lacework and embroidery. “When

the time he was finishing his first

they say the dress is done by hand,

year at Ryerson, at age 17, he and

it’s done by hand,” says Chatto. “It’s

a school friend had incorporated

an art that’s slowly dying.”

their own design house.

From there, he made the rounds

The early 1990s were not the best

in Italy, eventually ending up at

time to launch a fashion business.

European menswear powerhouse

The recession was kicking in and

Fabio Inghirami in Bologne. That’s

retailers were less likely to take

where he learned to cut fabric prop-

the risks they had in the pleated

erly and appreciate the tailoring of

and big-shouldered 1980s. “Orders

men’s clothes. Unlike the fanta-

were still coming through, but the

sia of women’s wear, menswear

stores weren’t paying and we were

has a much more limited palette:

at the bottom of the list of the

shirt, pants, vest and coat, typically

creditors.” Chatto and his partner

in a limited colour range. Chatto

finally closed up shop. A stint liv-

embraced these restrictions, play-

ing with his parents and tailoring in Regina didn’t drive Chatto off to a more stable career track. Instead, he spent a good chunk of the 1990s travelling and apprenticing. After befriending US textile guru Edward

Continued on page 18

→ T IMELESS Farley Chatto’s Brigadoon collection blends big-city style with outdoorsman classics. And don’t get him started about the fur.


LIVING & DESIGN Continued from page 17

ing with cut, fabric and detail-

tified with the Origin Assured label.

ing — his pieces often have a lit-

“I know exactly what farm or

tle zip of colour or some whimsical

trapper provided the fur. I know

detail just where you least expect

where it was taken. I know it was

it. “Obviously it takes a bolder man

not illegally caught,” says Chatto.

to wear some of it,” he says.

“When you look at [the sustain-

An opportunity to work at Armani

ability of] cotton, probably fur does

was dashed by European labour

the least amount of harm. There’s

rules, which sent Chatto back to

so little waste, only three to five per

Canada. In 1999, having gone as

cent. It does less harm than faux

far as he was going to go in Regina,

fur, which is made from chemicals.”

Chatto found himself in Toronto starting again from scratch.

In addition to facing down animal-rights critics, Chatto is also

“I was itching to be out. I had





declared myself to be gay but I’d

industry that bristles at change.

never had a boyfriend. Regina

Not only are fur consumers older

was pretty white. You could count

than the average fashionistas, so

the Asian guys in the club on one

are the designers. It’s been a con-

hand,” he says. “But then I had to

stant tug of war as Chatto learns

rebuild my contacts all over again.

what fur is and isn’t capable of, and

People had forgotten who I was.”

as he persuades his peers to push

Luckily, his sojourn in Europe

the envelope.

hadn’t merely given him the eye of

“They’ll be, ‘We don’t work that

a couturier. It had honed his skills

way. You can’t do that,’” he says.

as a social connector. He began to

For one project, his fellow furriers

attract a client base of both men

rolled their eyes as he attempted

and women for his custom work,

to mix fur of two different lengths.

as well as contracts for more cos-

When he finally worked out the

tume-oriented special events. For

design and they saw him wear-



ing the scarf, they conceded that

Cashmere Collection in 2004, a

his experiment had been worth it.

show dedicated to breast can-

“It was one of the most stunning


pieces we had done,” says Chatto.









THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL → Montreal’s Travis Taddeo is back to walk Canada’s biggest

curates, Chatto created a soft tux-

Meanwhile, Chatto heads into his

edo in bathroom tissue. Then in

third and final wedding to Bradley,

runway this month — on his own terms

2009 he won praise for his Marie

this time in Bali. It’s where the cou-

Story Paul Aguirre-Livingston | Photography Rainer Torrado

Antoinette-inspired “Let Them Eat

ple got engaged about two years

Cake” entry. He’s shown it’s possi-

ago (Chatto was the one who pro-

ble to make fantastic creations that

posed). Hosted by friends who live

are rigorously constructed — and to

in Indonesia part of the year (an

not be a bitch while doing it.

Islander-Balinese couple who also

Bathroom tissue is a novel fabric,

hosted the PEI wedding), it will

but fur, which has been Chatto’s

be the least formal of the nup-

primary passion since 2010, is a

tial events. There will be no mink.

completely different kind of chal-

No black ties. Chatto, for once, is

lenge. Working with furrier Four

happy to let others make the fash-

Seasons Fur, a family company

ion decisions.

founded in 1974 which supplies

“It’ll be too warm for fur,” says

Holt Renfrew, Chatto has found

Chatto. “I’m okay wearing what

himself again learning another age-

ever it is they give us to wear.”

old tradition. Nobody’s called him a murderer to his face (yet), but he’s had people yell at him from cars when he’s worn fur on the street. Chatto isn’t having any of it. He works with reclaimed fur or fur cer18


March 2012

FARLEY CHATTO DESIGNS Fashion photography: Angus Rowe MacPherson. Styling: Kurt Salt. Hair and makeup: Sabrina Rinaldi. Models: Andrew Mark (Sutherland Models) and Matt King (Sutherland Models).


oung designers — often so hungry and, by consequence, so unfocused — know they want to go somewhere but aren’t quite sure how. When I first saw a Travis Taddeo show at Toronto Fashion Week’s tents in 2009, I knew there would be none of that — he’s got plenty of fire in his belly, and a vision in his head. At the ripe old age of “twentysomething” Taddeo has consistently worked at mastering his craft since migrating from Calgary to Montreal to attend LaSalle College’s illustrious fashion design program. He’s been relentless in carving out a look and manipulating a niche that works for him, dubbing his line a “lifestyle brand for individuals.”

Last October, Taddeo returned to Toronto to participate in the first annual Mercedes-Benz Start-Up competition aimed at helping the country’s top emerging stars. He didn’t win, and it’s not something he talks much about, but the competition served its purpose: placing him back on the runway and catapulting him onto the country’s collective radar as part of the 588 million media impressions garnered for last season’s shows. Taddeo is so, so good at blending a street-savvy, ear-to-the-ground approach to garment construction that works in tandem with a luxury aesthetic in fabrics, and vice versa — plus it’s all made in Montreal. He’s a risk-taker, both in busi-







boomers. I read that you like to blend “luxury and street wear.” Elaborate on that. We take street wear fabrics and looks and incorporate it in a luxury way. It can be leather sweatpants or a leather sweatshirt, or a fur bomber instead of a jean jacket. It’s bringing that luxury element to street, and that street element to luxury. You’re one of the few Canadians who has managed to balance both a women’s wear and a menswear collection. Do you have a preference? → WHERE STREET MEETS LUXURY Travis Taddeo (left) and his hot spring 2012 collection (above).

getting stronger and better at what

haps a little more “cosmopolitan”

I always feel one can’t exist with-

you’re doing, constantly surviving.

— if those descriptions make any

out the other. Inspirations come

sense to you.

from both, and I often create one

When did you realize you wanted ness and design. The brand is one

to design clothing?

look for men and one look for Let’s talk about the spring 2012

women, changing with just the

of the few Canadian houses able

I guess when I figured out I couldn’t

line that’s out now — the leather

right tailoring. This season, we’re

to concurrently produce equally-

sing, so I couldn’t be a rock star.

shorts, the bleached denim, the

shifting focus more on the wom-



Kidding. In Calgary, I took a fash-

light-as-air silk chiffon creations.

en’s collection, but there will def-

en’s wear collections, and Taddeo

ion design class in high school and

We called it “Dry Heat.” It’s basi-

doesn’t shy away from translat-

started making clothes for friends.

cally trying to find an adventure in

ing a look for another gender. For

It just went from there.

the middle of summer. It’s restless

What made you decide to return

and hot, like scouring the Arizona

with a solo show this upcoming

desert for a party.




the current spring collection — available in Toronto and Montreal

Why Montreal? Why not come to

boutiques and across the country

Toronto or move internationally

online — this resulted in relaxed

like many of your peers?

initely always be the men’s items.

Toronto is just the right place for What can we expect for the upcoming fall 2012 line?

us in terms of a fashion week in

leather pants (and shorts!) for men,

Montreal is pretty much home

bleached denim for everyone, and

base, and it just made sense to

The new collection is called “The

buck.” What happens in Quebec

feathered tank tops with mini skirts

build a foundation here, and maybe

Doomed Generation.” It’s about

tends to stay in Quebec, and there’s

to match for women.

explore travelling later on in life. I

this girl (or guy). She’s not happy,

really no comparison in the amount

In advance of his return to the

could have picked up and moved, I

and she’s not sad, but she keeps

of coverage. [Fashion council presi-

Toronto runway to present his

suppose, but I don’t think it would

on fighting anyway. Even though

dent] Robin Kay has a vision and I

fall 2012 line with a solo show at

have been any easier anywhere

the world is shit, and there’s chaos

admire her greatly. She believes in

Fashion Week, I caught up with

else. The point is you have to get

everywhere, she’ll keep going until

something, and that’s important to

Taddeo to talk shop and find out

strong regardless of where you are,

the end. You’ll see some wool jer-


if he’s ready to run this town with

and Montreal feels right for what

seys, more silk chiffons, a lot of

what sounds like his strongest col-

I’m doing.

Japanese leather. If there’s a bud-

lection yet.

get, maybe some fur accessories. The biggest difference between

You’ve officially been around since





Toronto and Montreal’s fashion scenes?

Canada. It’s the most “bang for the

What does the future look like? We’re looking to expand into stores across Canada, and look at

Describe the Travis Taddeo customer in a few words.

markets with bigger numbers strategically. Maybe head to Russia or

describe your journey into the

Montreal is a lot more carefree

It’s about someone who wants

South America. My ideal goal is to

fashion world, making it on your

— hemlines can go as high as you

to be an individual, looking for

have a brick-and-mortar store in


want, there are very few rules and

a cut that’s above market stan-


It’s a challenge. I was designing the

limits. I find Toronto can be a little

dard. I design for strong and con-

whole time I was in school, selling

more conservative. If I had to define

fident people — it doesn’t mat-

my clothes. I knew what to expect

each city, I would say Montreal is a

ter what age you are. We have a

coming out. For me, it’s just about

little more “edgy,” and Toronto per-

broad range of customers shop-

FASHION WEEK Travis Taddeo shows at 5pm on Fri, Mar 17.



WE L L - B E I N G


matter how successful you become as you get older, bigotry can still present surprising challenges Story Andrew Vail | Illustration Corey Pierce


ast year I was working in a big advertising agency in downtown Toronto. I had a senior position as a writer and handled a slew of projects and assignments on a daily basis. So I was shocked to find myself derailed by a casual homophobic slur. I was out to my coworkers and never encountered a single problem about being gay. Until one day I was with a group of my colleagues in a boardroom discussing via conference call a project with a group of clients. A woman on the client’s


March 2012

side was struggling to describe her feelings in reference to a line of copy, eventually coming up with, “Well, it just sounds kind of gay.” A silence fell over the room. A few eyes sheepishly looked my way. Then the call continued as if nothing odd had happened — except that I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I sat stewing in a quiet rage. I was suddenly 14 years old and back in school listening to homophobic slurs. This was ridiculous; I was in my 40s and a successful professional. I thought I’d left all

that behind me. No matter how old we are or how successful we have become, homophobia can still hurt, irk and offend. While we have developed tools and coping strategies over the years to deal with these insulting faux pas, they can still affect us at work and in life. Dana Shaw is a successful educator, events planner and activist in the queer community. She is an out bisexual woman who has felt marginalized both outside and inside the queer community. She recounts

one particular incident that had long-lasting ramifications. “I was going to a bar that mainly catered to women. I walked in this particular night to meet some people and in the course of the evening I told them I was actually bisexual. I was looked at like I just told them I had a communicable disease,” she recalls. “After I asked them to explain their feelings, I was told that I was ‘buying into the patriarchy’ for being bisexual.” The shunning she received had a dramatic result on her almost


immediately. “To have been hit in

socializing during the day,” he says.

the face with bi-phobia as imme-

“Even now, years later, I still find

diately and openly as I was,” says

myself walking on the inside of

Shaw, “put me back in the closet

the sidewalk and looking over my

in the queer community for about

shoulder more.”

five years. I didn’t just feel unwelcomed, I felt pushed out.”


— with Adam Segal

Howard Shulman, who is the Community Services Coordinator at the 519 Church Street Community Centre,







Violence Program, is all too familiar with these types of stories. He deals with a growing number of adult queer people who are facing varied forms of bigotry. “Homophobia in adulthood is a continuation of homophobia from

My partner and I are in the adoption process and will soon become parents to a seven-month-old baby boy. We’re so excited and have worked so hard to make this happen. With all of the joy we are experiencing it has been hard to express to him that I’m also pretty freaked out. I’m scared of what impact a child will have on our relationship. For six years, it’s been just us and now our whole dynamic will quickly change as we become not just lovers but parents. I’ve seen several of our friends have their romantic relationships deteriorate once kids arrive. How can we prepare ourselves and stand a fighting chance once our boy is in the picture? Elijah →

Situations like these can leave

our youth,” Shulman says. “We get

people feeling alienated. They may

harassed when we are a kid, and we

even stir up long-buried feelings

see that it continues into adulthood

of guilt and self-loathing thought

either by bashing or verbal harass-

to be long dealt with and resolved.

ment and so on,” he says. “It’s a

Clearly, just because one is a suc-

traumatic thing, especially bashing.

cessful, middle-aged professional

Bashing can be so random. Victims

First, I just want to congratu-

brate the munchkin’s first word....

does not necessarily make you bul-

of bashing try to make sense of

late you and your guy for getting

or first successful poop on the

letproof when it comes to dealing

what happened to them. They end

this far with the adoption process.

potty (serious sleep deprivation

with bigotry. Sometimes the occa-

up blaming themselves. They try

There’s nothing I can say that can

will make such a celebration make

sional arrow pierces our armour.

to rationalize it by thinking they

create a baby-proof seal for your

perfect sense).

And, of course, we are not immune

shouldn’t have been dressed a cer-

relationship but I can suggest a

Another potential source of con-

to the physical attacks that can still

tain way or not holding their part-

few ways of supporting yourselves

flict could come from differing

happen when we least expect them.

ner’s hand. In some cases,” he says,

as daddyhood inches closer. That

parenting styles. Criticizing each


“out of fear they go back in the

freaked-out feeling you’re expe-

other’s parenting approaches is a

request), 45, remembers an inci-

closet or try to ‘straighten out’ to

riencing is perfectly normal and

surefire way of creating relation-

dent that happened a few years ago

conform to expected gender roles

the best thing you can do, for now,

ship distress rather than nourish-

after leaving a popular nightspot

and norms.”

is let yourself share those feel-

ing a healthy and functional fam-

in the Church/Wellesley Village. “I



ings with your hubby because, on

ily. Do your best to compliment

had left the bar after last call with

remark in the workplace, an anti-

some level, he’s feeling similarly.

your guy’s finer kid moments —

a few friends,” he says. “There were

gay slur heard on the street or a bla-

Trying to pretend that having a

this way you’ll set the best tone.

still lots of guys milling around

tant, violent attack, bigotry takes

child is all cuddles and giggles is

Also, the “It takes a village” stuff

outside and I felt completely safe,

many forms and affects LGBT peo-

likely to strain things and lead to

is true — work toward creating

didn’t give it a second thought.

ple in many different ways. There is

the kinds of conflict and discon-

a network of support in friends

Then, these guys pulled up in a car

no quick fix. The best way to man-

nection you’re trying to avoid.

and family so that you can share

and one guy waved me over to ask

age is to remember your strength as

A first child is one of the great-

tips, struggles, joys and strategies.

for directions.” Ken, thinking noth-

an individual and stay close to your

est stressors on a relationship.

Sharing with others will validate

ing of it, approached the car with

friends both inside and outside the

Why? Both of you will be adapt-

the stuff you’re already doing well

the passenger smiling brightly at


ing to new roles, identities, expec-

and prop you up when either of you is feeling overwhelmed.







him when he was blindsided. “The

“Because some people have expe-

tations and to a drastic decrease

guy who was smiling and asking

rienced [homophobia] for so long,”

in the amount of personal time

directions suddenly pulled out a

says Shulman, “they just come to

you’re accustomed to. A lot of


metal object like a pipe or a wrench

the idea they will just experience

parents privately grieve the loss

from the experience — in ways

and smashed me across the side of

it as part of their daily life. They

of their previous, more liberated

that won’t make sense ’til you get

my face.”

think, ‘Well, this is just the way it

days. Do the opposite: Voice your


has to be,’ when in fact it doesn’t.” •

fears and normalize each other’s

Ken was left with massive bruising on his face and head and a

range of feelings about all fac-

swollen eye. But the scars ran much

ets of this journey. If you’re both

deeper. “I found it harder to go out

being honest about the hardships

at night and spent a lot of my time

it will clear the way to really cele-

Despite the sacrifices involved, also



ADAM SEGAL The writer and therapist works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental health question at




La ur en tP hi li



Cylla von Tiedemann





TARA BEAGAN Free as Injuns opens at Buddies


DO IT ON THE ICE Bonspiel play begins

WAYNE MCGREGOR Entity closes at Fleck Dance Theatre


LES DEMIMONDES Cabaret closes at Buddies

TKO MONROE Definitions ball at Goodhandy’s

Art & Photography ANGELL GALLERY Half-Light over the Baltic Sea, Daniel Hutchison’s inaugural hometown solo show of seascape paintings. With Josh Schwebel’s Currencies in the East Gallery and Renee Duval’s Now Skyward in the Project Room. Noon5pm. Wed-Sat. Until Sat, Mar 24. 12 Ossington Ave. (416) 530-0444. KWT Two solo exhibitions: printmaker Daryl Vocat’s One Continuous Mistake and painter Fiona Crangle’s Be Prepared. Noon-6pm. Until Sat, Mar 31. 624 Richmond St W. (416) 646-2706. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN ART The Main Space exhibition is

Tasman Richardson’s Necropolis, a multi-media meditation on the nature of video and its strong affiliations with

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY National Ballet of Canada opening night


Christopher Cushman

ANGELIQUE KIDJO Performs at Koerner Hall




SEVEN DEADLY SINS Starring Lindsay Sutherland Boal, first of two nights

death culture. Consisting of six installations housed within a twisting, darkened superstructure. The Project Room features Spectral Landscape with photo-based works from Peter Doig, Tim Gardner and Sarah Anne Johnson. PWYC. 11am-6pm. Tue-Sun. Until Mon, Apr 1. MOCCA. 952 Queen St W. (416) 395-7490. DANIEL FARIA GALLERY Welcome to the Twenty-First Century. Recent landscapes, abstract works and text-based pieces by cultural provocateur Douglas Coupland. 11am-6pm. Tue-Fri. 10am6pm. Sat. Until Sat, Apr 7. 188 St Helens Ave. (416) 538-1880. THE ARTIST PROJECT Meet and purchase art directly from the artist. From digital art, painting and photography, to glass, sculpture and textile works. Expert tours, emerging artist competition, studio videos and more.


LUCAS SILVEIRA Performs at Hugh’s Room

Participants include Mark Laliberte, Shelagh Stewart, Clayton Haigh, Scott Griffin, Beverly Owens, Russell Brohier, Ross Bonfanti and Clement Cheng. Opening party. $25. 7pm-10pm. Thu, Mar 1. $14. Noon-9pm. Mar 2. 11am9pm. Mar 3. 11am-6pm. Mar 4. Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. 180 Princes’ Blvd. ELLE FLANDERS & TAMIRA SAWATZKY

Fresh from their appearance at the Berlinale, the Toronto couple presents Road Shots, a series of photographs tracking the political landscape at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Opening. 6pm-9pm. Fri, Mar 16. 11am6pm. Tue-Sat. Until Apr 21. O’born Contemporary. 131 Ossington Ave. (647) 478-5782.


BLISS Delphine Bienvenu as Celine Dion opens at Buddies

Fashion & Design FASHION WEEK Runs Mon, Mar 12 to 17. Featured designers this season include David Dixon, Cara Cheung, Chloe comme Parris, Juma, Korhani Home, Pink Tartan, Travis Taddeo (see page 18) and Bustle. The fashion showcase closes with Dare to Wear Love (, Hoax Couture’s unique fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation which sees local designers like Brian Bailey, David Dixon, Adrian Wu, Paul Hardy, Linda Lundström, Pat McDonagh, Izzy Camilleri, Lida Baday, Greta Constantine and Lovas Wesley Badanjak creating unique one-offs out of African prints to help showcase and support the foundation’s work fighting AIDS in Africa. $75. 9pm. Fri, Mar 16. David Pecaut Square. King St W and Simcoe.



Cool Moves Choose from a wide selection of beautiful Casablanca ceiling fans on sale now at ROYAL LIGHTING


Cylla von Tiedemann

1549 Avenue Rd. (N. of Lawrence) 416•782•1129



The National Ballet of Canada’s Sonia Rodriguez and Zdenek Konvalina. John Neumeier’s adaptation of Chekhov runs Wed, Mar 21 to 25.

Robert Van Rhijn



Marie Losier’s documentary on rock music innovator Genesis P-Orridge who undertook his most radical project when he began a series of surgeries designed to turn him into the mirror image of his long-time lover and artistic partner Lady Jaye Breyer. Fri, Mar 16-22. TIFF Bell Lightbox. 350 King St W. (416) 599-8433. JOHN GREYSON The AGO, V Tape, Inside Out and TIFF Bell Lightbox present a retrospective of shorts and features by Toronto gay filmmaker John Greyson. The series kicks off Fri, Mar 30 at 6pm with the launch of a DVD and book set and a conversation with Greyson and Noah Cowan, Wendy Gay Pearson, Susan Knabe and Wanda Vanderstoop. That’s followed at 7pm by a screening

of Greyson’s irreverent AIDS musical from 1993, Zero Patience. TIFF Bell Lightbox. 350 King St W. Over at the AGO at 9:30pm is a screening of Proteus, 2003’s wonderful but sadly overlooked romance between a Dutch sailor and a Khoisan herdsman in 18th-century South Africa. 317 Dundas St W. The retrospective continues through Apr 5 with The Law of Enclosures, Uncut, Lilies, Fig Trees, two shorts programs and Greyson’s “Carte Blanche” choice of Derek Jarman’s Edward II. john-greyson-retrospective.

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IN SPOT AVENUE ROAD Story Derek Dotto | Photography Evan Dion

Understated luxury, thy name is Avenue Road. Where other highend furniture stores may encourage patrons to flaunt their wealth, this shop’s meticulously curated collection makes opulence look easy. Modern contemporary furniture and accessories from top designers including Christophe Delcourt, Ricardo Fasanello and Anna Torfs fill the Eastern Ave showroom. Even Avenue Road’s president and co-founder Stephan Weishaupt is stylishly reserved when bragging about his store. “It’s an assembly of unique stories that, altogether, create a bigger picture,” he says. “I hope to provide a pool of ideas that people can take pieces from and make their own.” Weishaupt doesn’t simply choose lines to carry, he often has a hand in their design. The store’s exclusive line, Avenue Edition, started in 2007 with a handful of designs created in collaboration with celebrated Toronto design firm Yabu Pushelberg. It has since grown into a collection of hundreds of pieces. Two years ago, Avenue Road moved from Booth Ave into its current home, a heritage building that originally served as a warehouse for the Consumers Gas Company and later a Chinese newspaper. “It was in really rough shape,” says Weishaupt. “So we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted to do.” It took two years to gut the hundred-and-something-year24

March 2012

→ DON’ T LOOK AT T HE PRICE TAG Just be inspired by great design at Avenue Road.

old, 16,000-square-foot space. The result: A chic, industrial interior, complete with white-washed brick and glass walls. Helping to warm the otherwise stark space are stunning wooden chairs, tables and accessories by Brazilian designers, a community sparsely represented in Toronto before Avenue Road opened its doors. “Brazil is very interesting because of its heritage. It had a lot of European immigrants who brought their skills there,” Weishaupt says. Cross those with the precious woods found in the Amazon and you end up with stunning designs by the likes of Sergio Rodrigues and Etel Carmona. You’re bound to fall in love with something at Avenue Road, whether it’s the $27,000 crystal chandelier or the $6,000 lotus dining chair. Even if you can’t afford any of it, the experience will still be nothing short of stimulating. “There is a lot to discover here,” says Weishaupt. “Even if it’s just to walk through and be inspired.”

AVENUE ROAD 10am-6pm. Mon-Fri. 11am-5pm. Sat. 415 Eastern Ave. (416) 548-7788.

Joby Talbot. (McGregor’s Chroma last year was one of the sexiest things the National Ballet has ever done.) $45. 8pm. Until Sat, Mar 3. Fleck Dance Theatre. 207 Queens Quay W. (416) 973-4000. TIGER PRINCESS DANCE PROJECTS Two new works from choreographer Yvonne Ng: Frequency, an abstract work featuring Zhenya Cerneacov, Mairéad Filgate, Amy Hampton, Meredith Thompson, Brendan Wyatt and video by Jacob Niedzwiecki, and Untitled Solo, performed by Ng. $20. 8pm. Thu, Mar 810. 2pm. Mar 11. The Citadel Theatre. 304 Parliament St. NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA Two full-lengths on offer this month: The fouffiest, grandest, most-plumed production ever returns, the beautifully refurbished The Sleeping Beauty, first mounted on the National in 1972 by Rudolf Nureyev in a bold move that made the reputation of the company and many of its stars. It’s a series of star-turns — including legendary designer Nicholas Georgiadis — just sit back and see who, or what, grabs your attention. Sat, Mar 10-18. Then it’s John Neumeier’s The Seagull which the company first performed in 2008. It’s Chekhov’s tale of love spurned and rebuked across generations and between an artist and his muse, translated into the world of dance. Set to a gamelan-like score from Evelyn Glennie. Wed, Mar 21-25. $25-$177. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St W. (416) 345-9595.

Stage THE NEVERENDING STORY A bullied young boy escapes into books and Fantastica, the land of stories. Based upon the much-loved novel by Michael Ende, adapted and directed by David S Craig. The Roseneath Theatre production stars Natasha Greenblatt (as the boy), Walter Borden, Billy Merasty, Adamo Ruggiero, Derek Scott, Dalal Badr, Kate Besworth and Richard Lee. $10-$20. Until Sat, Mar 17. Young Peoples Theatre. 165 Front St E. (416) 862-2222. THIS WIDE NIGHT Mermaid Parade presents British playwright Chloe Moss’s hard-hitting portrayal of friendship between two women who once shared a jail cell. Starring Astrid van Wieren and Clair Burns; Jon Michaelson directs this production staged in a gritty store-front venue. $20. 8pm. Thu-Sat. PWYC. 2:30pm. Sun (and 8pm, Mon, Mar 12). Thu, Mar 117. Red Sandcastle Theatre. 922 Queen St E. (416) 845-9411. FREE AS INJUNS Native Earth Performing Arts presents Tara Beagan’s poetic take on identity and birthright, inspired by Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms. Ruth Madoc-Jones directs. Starring James Cade, Lisa Codrington, Jerry Franken, John Ng, Yvette Nolan, PJ Prudat and Ash Knight. PWYC-$20. 8pm. Tue-Sat. 2:30pm. Sun. Thu, Mar 1-18. Buddies in Bad Times. 12 Alexander St. (416) 975-8555.

LES DEMIMONDES Toronto’s smartest and sexiest burlesque troupe The Scandelles is changing its name to Operation Snatch and its members are coming out from behind their stage names. Co-artistic directors Alexandra Tigchelaar (Sasha Van Bon Bon) and Catherine Nimmo (Kitty Neptune) present a thought-provoking and entertaining tour through the history and representation of the sex trade. With Jesse Dell and Andrya Duff. $20. 8pm. Fri, Mar 2-4. $15. 3pm. Mar 4. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 12 Alexander St. (416) 975-8555. THE HAPPY WOMAN The imminent arrival of a new baby brings into focus the difference between idealism and truth in Rose Cullis’s dark family comedy. Starring Maev Beaty, Ingrid Rae Doucet, Barbara Gordon, Martin Happer and Maria Vacratsis; Kelly Thornton directs. $22-$46. 8pm. Mon-Sat. 1:30pm. Wed. 2pm. Sun. Wed, Mar 7-24. Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs. 26 Berkeley St. (416) 368-3110. THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS (AND HOLIER FARE) Against the Grain Theatre

presents soprano Lindsay Sutherland Boal headlining Kurt Weill’s cabaret The Seven Deadly Sins. Plus John Adams’ two-piano masterpiece Hallelujah Junction and Steve Reich’s Piano Phase. Also Abraham and Isaac from Benjamin Britten’s Canticle II with choreography and dance by Matjash Mrozewski. Joel Ivany directs. $30 & $50. 8pm. Fri, Mar 16 & 17. Gallery 345. 345 Sorauren Ave. LA CALISTO The Glenn Gould School

LISTINGS & EVENTS 8pm. Mar 7. Other offerings include music director Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting Brahms’ Symphony No 3. 8pm. Thu, Mar 29 &31. $35-$145. Roy Thomson Hall. 60 Simcoe St. (416) 593-4828.

Pop, Rock & World

IN SPOT SWISH BY HAN Review Alice Lawlor | Photography Gordon Bowness

Kai Wa Yapp


launches with the premiere of Brian Harman’s Sewing the Earthworm written for soprano Carla Huhtanen. Plus David Passmore’s Seven “Dark Lady” Sonnets performed by mezzo Krisztina Szabo. Free. Noon-1pm. Tue, Mar 6. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St W. ANGELIQUE KIDJO The African diva performs a concert of her unique brand of Afro-funk fusion. From $33. 8pm. Sat, Mar 10. Koerner Hall. 273 Bloor St W. (416) 408-0208. LUCAS SILVEIRA Local rocker performs as part of the Proud to be Portuguese Canadian fest (running Mar 15 to 25;, some of it in Portuguese for the first time. With Nancy Dutra. $35. 8:30pm. Mon, Mar 19. Hugh’s Room. 2261 Dundas St W. (416) 531-6604.

Leisure & Sports DO IT ON THE ICE BONSPIEL The

→ T HE BALL AD OF GENESIS & L ADY JAYE Marie Losier’s documentary at TIFF Bell Lightbox Fri, Mar 16 to 22.

Opera presents Cavalli’s 17th-century opera where gods and mortals get caught up in love. $22-$39. 8pm. Wed, Mar 21 & 23. Koerner Hall. 273 Bloor St W. (416) 408-0208. VIEUX CARRÉ The Wooster Group tackles Tennessee Williams. Wed, Mar 28-31. Enwave Theatre. See page 29. BLISS Céline Dion speaks through an oracle to a group of cashiers at WalMart. Québécois dramatist Olivier Choinière’s darkly surreal hit play developed by Montreal’s Candles Are for Burning and directed by artistic director Steven McCarthy; translation by Caryl Churchill. Starring Delphine Bienvenu, Jean-Robert Bourdage, Trent Pardy and France Rolland. $23-$33. 8pm. Tue-Sat. PWYC. 2:30pm. Sun. Thu, Mar 29-Apr 8. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 12 Alexander St. (416) 975-8555.


Creations Festival kicks off with a program featuring works by Brian Current, Claude Vivier, Peter Eötvös and György Kurtág. Eötvös, who curates the festival, conducts. With soprano Barbara Hannigan and violinist Akiko Suwanai. 8pm. Thu, Mar 1. The fest closes with the North American premiere of the TSO commission of Eötvös’s Cello Conerto Grosso, plus works by Jörg Widmann and Vivier.

Riverdale Curling League hosts teams from across North America for three days. Fri, Mar 2-4. Around 9am to 9pm, Fri & Sat; until around 7pm, Sun. Royal Canadian Curling Club. 131 Broadview Ave.

Nightlife DEFINITIONS Mother TKO Monroe

presents a mini ball, a vogue/ballroom competition with DJ Charmed Monroe. Partial procees to the AIDS Walk. $10. 10pm doors. Sat, Mar 10. Goohandy’s. 120 Church St. See Facebook.

Causes & Events KITCHEN SISTERS Top women chefs team up for a night of great food and wine to raise money for Sistering, the local nonprofit that supplies hot meals and other support for low income women. $500. 6pm. Thu, Mar 8. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. 85 Hanna Ave. (416) 926-9762 ext 243. SNAP The AIDS Committee of Toronto’s annual photo auction. Works on offer this year, their 10th, from Herb Ritts, Geoffrey Pugen, Suzy Lake, Roberta Bondar, Stev’nn Hall, Beverly Owens, Eldon Garnet, Graham French, Steven Beckly, Joan Kaufman and many more. A superb mix of established and emerging artists. Preview: 10am-6pm. Fri, Mar 16 & 17. Noon5pm. Mar 18. (Invite-only events on Mar 15 & 16). Edward Day Gallery. 952 Queen St W. The works are all online, too. The big night: $90. Reception: 6pm. Acution: 7pm. Sun, Mar 25. Canada’s National Ballet School. 400 Jarvis St. •

Swish by Han is no ordinary Korean




find a greasy BBQ bowl in your

→ CON T EMPORARY MEE T S OLD SCHOOL Swish by Han is Korean fusion at its best.

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At dinner, order from the Swish

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List, a complete meal of broth,

Toronto-born, Philadelphia-raised

veggies and either beef, sea-

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The restaurant opened in 2009

is inspired by the chain of shabu-

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shabu restaurants run by the

The décor is an unexpected mix

brothers’ parents in Korea. Shabu-

of contemporary chic and old-

shabu (an Asian version of hotpot)

school elegance: lacquered blond-

translates as “swish-swish,” the

wood tables and vintage steel

sound made by the meat when



it’s being swirled around in the

chandeliers. A mural of kimchee

broth. Fans of the Korean staples

pots runs the length of one wall.

won’t be disappointed, either. An

It’s sophisticated without trying

updated version of tabletop BBQ

too hard — a vibe that’s reflected

is available. Bibimbap rolls are a

in Leeto’s self-assured wait staff.

fresh twist on an old favourite.



While Leeto runs the front-of-

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His mission is to bring a style

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troubled times, there’s something reassuring about the perennial resurrection of Madonna Story Nelson Branco


s Madonna still relevant? More than ever. Since Madonna Louise Ciccone last toured with her outrageously successful Sticky and Sweet extravaganza ($400 million, thank you), the world lost two of music’s most indelible influences, fallen ’80s super icons Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. And music’s next great hope, Amy Winehouse. All to drugs. 26

March 2012

Luckily, we don’t have to worry about the Eternal Girl. Knowing Queen Madge and her stubborn spirit, she’ll outlast us all. After all, her drug of choice isn’t dangerous or life-threatening. “Life and love inspire me,” says Madonna. “I think reinventing yourself is vital to your survival as an artist and a human being. I know it’s cliché to say about me at this point, but it’s true. My curios-

ity definitely is the driving force in my life and career. When you stop learning, engaging and growing, you’re dead.” For mourning pop fans, Madonna’s perennial resurrections have been soothing and reassuring in these tumultuous, complex times. She’s still kissing girls (this time, the lucky whippersnapper is Nicki Minaj), selling-out stadiums, producing infectious hit singles (“Give

Me All Your Luvin’”), thumbing her nose at movie critics, reshaping her age-defying body, cussing out hydrangeas and inspiring us all by raising a modern family as a single mom. Whew. Somewhere in between all that managed chaos and fun, Madonna scored her second Golden Globe Award for “Masterpiece.” She even beat her longtime rival Elton John in the category. In a rare act of


diplomacy, Madonna didn’t take

Would she, like Edward, give up

Elton’s bait when the surly musi-

her throne for love? “Yes,” she

especially in this youth-obsessed

crime, William Orbit, helping me

market of ours.

cian — and his Toronto-born part-

answers. “But then again, I’m of

Moving forward, it’s her lat-

out with the substance. MDNA is

ner David Furnish — attacked her

the mind: Why can’t I have both?

est album MDNA and upcoming

a good hybrid of the introspective and fun.”

mercilessly in the press afterward.

tours fans are most excited about.

She’s looking forward to visiting

When I bring up John’s snarky,

Canada, where’s she performing

ing movies, touring and record-

in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa

knowingly. “Yes, it appears he’s


“While my new passion is making will always be my first love,”

late summer and early fall. “I love

always mad at me about some-

I don’t think we need to compro-

she says. “My music career pays

Canada. You guys get it,” she says.

thing, isn’t he? I’m honest when

mise. Of course, these are differ-

the mortgage — and keeps me in

When asked if she still thinks

I say I have nothing against him.

ent times and I am not a royal.”

shape. Plus, it’s fun. I think the

Toronto is a “fascist state,” an

pointed attacks, Madonna smiles

I’m a fan of his music. He’s a bril-

She is royalty of a kind, remind-

fans are going to love it. I didn’t

infamous moniker from her Truth

liant artist. And I will always

ing everyone she’s still the great-

want to do anything too serious

or Dare documentary, fallout from

adore and respect him. And he

est performer of ’em all by sin-

because the film was so taxing for

her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990

has the right to gripe as much

gle-handedly stealing the Super

me on an artistic level. I can’t wait

and a visit from Toronto’s moral-

as he wants. I like knowing he’s

Bowl earlier this year with a

to get up there and dance and

ity squad. “No, of course not,” she

thinking about me a lot.”

lively, record-breaking half-time

sing. Some of my little ones have

says, shaking her head. “My how

Her recently released movie WE

performance which people are

yet to see that side of my life.

times have changed, huh?

tackles Madonna’s two favourite

still talking about. Her Egyptian-

“I wanted to make an album

subjects, fame and love, through


that was unapologetically happy.



inspired spectacle was the most-

I think we all need to dance a bit

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.




watched halftime show on record,

more these days. The world needs

While the movie received mixed

and actually edged out the game’s


reviews, Madonna managed to

averages in both ratings and total

Martin [Solveig] knows how to put

escape the personal attacks she’s


a smile on people’s faces. And,

faced in the past for her films.

Not bad for a 53-year-old star,



“My country could learn a lot from you guys.” •


of course, I have my partner-in-




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contentious love for humanity

Story David Bateman | Photography Franck Beloncle


usan Sontag’s essay “Notes on Camp” harbours a quiet, somewhat insidious distrust of camp, the commingling of love and satire, as a natural mode of emotion — the perfect entrée to our favourite camp playwright and the upcoming production of Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carré by NYC’s legendary avant-garde theatre company The Wooster Group (officially known as The Wooster Group’s Version of Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carré). When director Elizabeth LeCompte began to look carefully at the script she says she detected a “dark side of it that was cut by this other weird thing that I didn’t know what it was… some kind of a farcical thing. “The blending of those two things, the earlier Tennessee Williams, the kind of dark and lyrical voice, next to this kind of raucous satirical one, I thought was good for us.” The Wooster Group version sports all its signature theatrics, ranging from a visceral, moody ambience cut with video projections and evocative soundscapes to brilliant performances by an ensemble dedicated to profoundly inventive and experimental interrogations of classic scripts. Vieux Carré has been considered one of Williams’ weakest plays, taking almost 40 years to complete. The early incarnations began when he was writing The Glass Menagerie, and the completed script is often described as a thinly disguised autobiographical treatment of the playwright’s early days as a struggling writer living in the French Quarter. When LeCompte travelled to New Orleans during the early post-Katrina years, she remembers seeing “so many foun-

dations of houses, just the flat outline of where rooms with steps up to them used to be, but no walls or roof, just piles and piles of junk that used to be people’s loved objects, the detritus of a life on the surface.” These striking images became extremely influential for the overall design of the production. The deeply carnal qualities of the text, representing a kind of sexual awakening, are augmented through video citations reminiscent of the pornographic films of Joe Dallesandro. Thongs and dildos take the stage and become

→ BENEATH THE DETRITUS OF LIFE The Wooster Group’s avant-garde version of Tennessee Williams’ Vieux Carré.

fitting bedfellows for the caustic lyrical satire that first attracted LeCompte. A brief encounter with Scott Shepherd, a member of the Wooster Group ensemble, and a southerner himself, had the actor challenging LeCompte on a comment she had made about Williams being “the greatest of American playwrights.” Then he asked why she

had never done any Williams. She couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer, and the seeds of the Wooster Group version of Vieux Carré were planted firmly. When I remind LeCompte about Blanche’s famous line from Streetcar, “I don’t want realism, I want magic,” she chuckles. “I just try to put something up there that thrills me,” she says, “things that are about the theatre, that can’t be done in any other way or in any other medium, which probably means that I veer away from a certain kind of realism.” The LA Times review of the hourlong Wooster version raved, “I’d trade a dozen or so Broadway retreads of Williams’ acknowledged masterpieces for this… brilliant production.” While the culture journal Times Quotidian called it “a tortured miscreant… untidy, oddly unresolved in itself, a wounded limping thing… that the Woosters seize in their jaws like rabid wolverines.” Sounds like a mighty queer play to me. The World Stage run promises to reveal some fascinating, titillating and theatrically stimulating fare for those of us who devoutly believe that Williams was a great camp prophet throughout his entire career, laying bare the artifice of human emotion as a camp construct in and unto itself. Alas, there are no natural emotions. There are only theatrical representations of the things we truly feel, both onstage and off.

THE WOOSTER GROUP’S VERSION OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ VIEUX CARRÉ. $45. 8pm. Wed, Mar 28-31. Fleck Dance Theatre. 207 Queen’s Quay W. (416) 973-4000.





and activist Sarah Schulman loves stirring up trouble Story Alice Lawlor | Photography Nayland Blake


rom writing the queer classic Rat Bohemia and organizing the first-ever Dyke March with San Francisco’s Lesbian Avengers to chronicling the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York, Sarah Schulman’s impact on gay and lesbian rights shouldn’t be underestimated. These days, the acclaimed novelist, playwright and activist has her sights set on Palestine. After 30

March 2012

a solidarity visit to the West Bank in 2010, Schulman brought a group of prominent queer Palestinians to the US for a highly successful sixweek tour. In January 2012, a delegation of Americans returned the favour. With her new AIDS memoir, The Gentrification of the Mind, just out, Schulman shares her thoughts on censorship, “homonationalism”

and the Canadian novels on her nightstand. Talk about your work in the Middle East. More and more queer people are interested in connecting with the emerging Palestinian queer movement. The potential for this to become a regular conversation in the queer community is very high.

I just organized the first US LGBT delegation to Palestine. It’s very prominent, openly queer people in a wide range of fields: religious, legal, medical. I [selected] people who have a lot of credibility in a number of communities and who influence policy. It was a dozen people on a seven-day tour all around the West Bank, some really interesting people. Hopefully it’ll



→ “ WHO IS WE?” From anti-Semitism to “homonationalism” Sarah Schulman shakes up the group dynamics many follow blithely.

translate into conversation, policy,

What is the state of lesbian fiction?

and institutional attitude. When

It’s very sad being a US lesbian

you have a community that’s this

writer; we always feel it’s in England.

small, 12 key figures becoming


aware and having more conscious-

Winterson and a bunch of others. I

ness about something can really be

mean I look at them with great envy:


They’re treated like people, their



books are treated like books, they’re reviewed alongside everybody else,

controversy in Toronto involving

nominated for the Booker like every-

Queers against Israeli Apartheid?

body else and their books become TV specials.

Semitism where Jews are expected

I think that it’s American publish-

to be a monolith — and it’s from

ers, not readers, who have never

inside and outside the commu-

been able to identify with a lesbian

nity. Of course, that’s the definition

protagonist. They have a very high

of racism, that a group can only

“ick” factor and lesbian editors do

have one point of view. So these

not advocate. And it’s not because

Christian entities or leaderships of

of sales — our sales are just as good

gay communities who are terrified

as plenty of straight people — it’s

of doing anything wrong actually

a perception of being a diminished

end up capitulating to these gross


racial stereotypes and censoring everybody.

What are you reading?

What about post-liberation homo-

Canadian books that came out last


year: Zoe Whittall, her book is fan-

“There are some really great

[US-based academic] Jasbir Puar made probably the most important

tastic, and I like Amber Dawn and Daniel Allen Cox’s Krakow Melt.

contribution to queer theory, which

But the US lesbian books… I

is this word “homonationalism”

mean the best lesbian novel of last

that’s now being used all over the

year was Inferno by Eileen Myles

Middle East and Western Europe.

— she’s an iconic writer, she’s

This is a kind of gay person, usu-

been writing lesbian work in multi-

ally a white male but not always,

genres for 30 years and has influ-

who has so many rights they start

enced two generations of writers.

to identify with all the racist con-

And this book is printed by order!

structions that the society operates

You cannot go into a store and

on, so they become anti-immigrant

buy it, you can’t get it on Amazon,

and pro-militarist.

and this is the best lesbian novel

This is an increasing phenom-

of the year in the US. That’s how

ena in countries like Canada per-

our books are treated. I find it very

haps, certainly the Netherlands and

annoying. It’s like, close your eyes

Germany, where gay people have

and think of England!”

a lot of rights. It does ask an interesting question which is, “Who is we?” There are plenty of we’s in the world who have quite a ways to go. SARAH SCHULMAN In conversation with Shani Mootoo 7:30pm. Sun, Mar 11. Gladstone Hotel. 1214 Queen St W. (416) 531-4635.

Measure of a Man

Review Derek Dotto


What’s your spin on the ongoing

There’s this new kind of anti-

→ BOOKS: The


he suit is quite possibly the most loaded garment in a man’s wardrobe. It can make you feel like a warrior ready to conquer the world or a quivering fool who’s in over his head. “A suit is never just a suit,” writes Vancouver-based fashion columnist and broadcaster JJ Lee in The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son and a Suit. In this touching memoir cum history lesson, Lee successfully dissects the suit both literally and figuratively. It begins with Lee pulling his father’s last suit out of the closet. It’s been a decade since John Hing Foon Lee passed away. His son has decided to alter the suit to better fit his own frame. This throws Lee headlong into memories of his childhood, clearing away the haze of childish idealism to see who his father was and understand his tragic fall from grace. John Lee grew up in Sherbrooke, Quebec, sent from China at the age of four to live with his grandparents. He struck out on his own at 13 and by age 19 was married with two kids. John Lee made the hard climb up the service industry ladder, reaching the height of general manager of a top Montreal restaurant. With his power career came custom suits, Bally loafers, and aviator sunglasses — instilling in his son, early on, the value of style. But poor business decisions, alcoholism, spousal abuse, an affair and eventually estrangement made for a disastrous end to his good fortune. During his campaign to retrofit the suit while honouring his father, JJ Lee seeks out an apprenticeship at Vancouver’s Modernize Tailors, in turn, finding a surrogate fatherfigure in the store’s owner Bill Wong. Lee’s attempt to pay tribute

→ SUIT UP JJ Lee’s memoir cum fashion history.

to an aging profession takes him on a path down the broader history of menswear. He explores the suit’s ancestry in medieval armour, the icons of men’s fashion who wore it best and its universal appeal, writing, “The suit has the ability to summon the unbidden and liminal; it has an X-factor, a mojo.” This aspect of the book is informative if slightly disjointed. While it serves as a good primer for those not fully versed in the roots and rules of menswear, the transitions seem, at times, forced. Lee offers a solid sartorial philosophy but it can come off as preachy — though, in all honesty, how many fashion writers don’t? From its early beginnings to his own experiences with the garment, Lee expertly captures the complexity of the suit. In doing so, The Measure of a Man forces you to reexamine not only your wardrobe, but also your childhood, your relationship with your father and, for this reader, what it means to be a man.

THE MEASURE OF A MAN JJ Lee. McClelland and Stewart. $30.



S EX s p o n s o r e d b y s p a e x c e s s

ASK THE SEX GEEK — with Andrea Zanin

“I’m interested in spiritual approaches to sex, but in the past I’ve found all the Tantric/energy/spiritual writings out there to be heavily entrenched in a male/female gender binary, which really doesn’t work for me. Do you have anything to recommend?” Cash →

Heteronormativity, the bias toward

American sexual explorers in the

heterosexuality that suffuses our

1970s, “the roots of Tantra are really

culture, and the resulting male/

ancient, and the most ancient ones

female gender binary are rampant

are completely artistic and undisci-

in almost all the resources you’ll find

plined, transgressive as hell. It was

on spirituality and sex. While a few

a wild revolutionary kind of practice

same-sex Tantra resources exist,

that got tamed — certainly by the

they often use the kind of flower-

time the British got there, but ear-

metaphor language that makes me

lier even than that. About 800 years

instantly lose my hard-on (“Now the

ago a sort of white Tantra, a more

rose begins to rub sesame or olive


oil on the orchid”). Plus, it bugs me

along.” According to Carrellas, that’s

when Tantric practices are appropri-

when the present-day gender bias in

ated by white people as being some

Tantra first came about.

sort of exciting, easy-to-fetishize Thank




“The Hindu religion is extraordinarily complex if you didn’t grow up


in it. In Tantra, Shakti and Shiva [the

Carrellas (,


Hindu deities most often referred to]

a queer New York-based Tantra

are not girl and boy. Shiva is pure

teacher and author of Urban Tantra:

consciousness and Shakti is pure

Sacred Sex for the 21st Century, who

energy. Somehow in our pure sim-

kindly agreed to talk with me about


gender and Tantra.

got interpreted as Shiva’s the boy




Carrellas defines Tantra as “an

and Shakti’s the girl, and therefore

embodied spirituality. It’s not a reli-

that’s what our practice needs to

gion,” she says. “In Tantra, all earthly

look like. It’s reduced to that. I don’t

paths and pursuits can lead to the

even use ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’

divine. This includes but is not lim-

as descriptors anymore, because

ited to sex. Tantra is wonderful for

they’re so loaded. I use principles

showing us the energetic aspects of

like ‘active’ and ‘receptive,’ which

sex, and that’s what it has to offer all

basically tells you whose turn it is to

communities. Tantra is the perfect

do what when.”

antidote to a gender binary, paradox-

Carrellas also recommends the

ically enough, because it focuses on

work of Mark Michaels and Patricia

the energy of sex, not what genital

Johnson ( “They’re

bits one is born with. So in fact learn-

a male-female couple, but for our

ing how energy flows — that’s where

purposes, they’re queer as all hell,”

the juice and the power comes from.

she says.

That’s one of the reasons it’s so per-

Have fun!

fect for queer people.” Carrellas says that while Tantra became a trendy pursuit for North

ANDREA ZANIN The Sex Geek blogs at




magic Indian sex.


Email or call 416-506-1400 x.238 for more information.




JJ Thompson













Lu Chau/



Tom Sandler Photography



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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Toronto Magazine: March 2012  

IN Toronto Magazine: March 2012 Issue ISSUE: 22 IN Toronto Magazine's March 2012 issue featuring stories on gay and lesbian city living.

IN Toronto Magazine: March 2012  

IN Toronto Magazine: March 2012 Issue ISSUE: 22 IN Toronto Magazine's March 2012 issue featuring stories on gay and lesbian city living.