Though Father’s Day may have already passed, there’s an alternative Daddy affair just around the corner that Minneapolis will be celebrating. The premiere of a new variety show/dance night, Daddy was created to bring the Twin Cities the best in burlesque, drag, music, comedy, poetry, fashion, Djs, and “all queer” performances.
Flaunting the tagline that “anyone can be a daddy,” the event is primed to be a recurring night marketed for “freaks of any gender” which reclaims the hyper masculinized connotations surrounding the term “daddy.” Instead of existing within stereotypical confines of its societal definition, Daddy hopes to be a safe space, aka the connective tissue where folx from across queer scenes can unite and share in uncensored expression while basking in a vibrant, playful environment.
Crafted and promoted by musician/MPLS daddy Brent Colbert and illustrator/sex-positive podcast creator Archie Bongiovanni, Daddy features an umbrella of queer acts showcasing the eclectic roster of talent Brent and Archie are capable of curating. The debut lineup includes performances from Marcel Michelle Obama, a GNC/Queer/Trans Artist of Color with a multidisciplinary background interested in subverting conventional notions of eroticism, and Catherine Charles, a low femme pop punk pretty boy who makes gay music about gay sex, just to name a few.
Marcel Michelle Obama
Much more than just a fun dance night, the event hopes to be a creative vision — fueled by queerness — which helps embrace self-identity and evoke self-expression.
I sat down with Brent and Archie to chat about what attendees can expect from this new variety show, what it means to be a “daddy,” and how important queer visibility and representation are in the TC nightlife and art scenes.
Juleana Enright: Archie, you moved here from Alaska in 2008 and Brent, you’ve been here since 2013. So, tell me, you’re attending queer events, going to dance nights, cabaret nights, queer art happenings… what did you think was missing from these events that led to the inception of Daddy?
Brent Colbert: I think a lot of spaces are starting to feel really cliquey to some people, which honestly could happen anywhere. Or often spaces are underground and not a public space so people don’t know about it or things are happening really late. Then there are places like Intermedia Arts who are doing amazing things but also showcase on an earlier, theater schedule. I think for the FB invite for Daddy I picked both the “parties” and “nightlife” categories because I wanted there to be a variety of both. There’s not a lot of events that do mix it up.
Archie Bongiovanni: And sometimes you’ll go to a dance night that’s also a performance, but our mindset is, “why not have a little bit of everything all at once?” I also don’t really think that there was anything necessarily missing as far as Minneapolis events, especially queer events, but that doesn’t mean that stuff can’t be added, that we don’t deserve another night. I think that having something that’s not on the weekend is really cool and good for us because we are both in the service industry. Part of what we were going for is having a spot for more venues and spaces to showcase folks who aren’t super established and who don’t have a “name” made for themselves yet.
BC: And taking space to not only “showcase” them, but curate them. Because there are so many amazing queer performers.
JE: In one of the posts I saw online promoting Daddy, you talked about “reclaiming” the queer context and connotations surrounding the word “daddy,” can you elaborate on that?
AB: Daddy already has this queer connotation in terms of cis, male gay sex and sometimes that has been able to translate into other forms of sex. We would like to take that word and make it accessible to femme folx and maybe even take the capitalistic approach out of it too. When I write ‘anyone can be a daddy,’ I think of going beyond the “sugar daddy” and “dominant” aspects of it and embrace that we can care for people in non-capitalist ways too. Really opening it up to include space for “loving” daddies, younger daddies — to challenge the hyper masculine part of it.
BC: When I first approached one of my coworkers about the concept of Daddy, they were picturing this hard, leather daddy event. From the mission statement, to the poster, down to the logo, we’ve tried to work to make clear what the theme of the event is — that it’s all-encompassing — and to collaborate with the performers to make sure the theme of Daddy is translated throughout the event.
JE: Can you talk a little about the performers on debut night? How did you find them; who are they?
BC: I’ve helped organize drag shows before and I’ve booked a ton of indie rock shows, but then I started to imagine the kind of party that I would throw and what it would feel like. I thought about all of the different spaces and how I think of them as different scenes, but what it would look like if those spaces and scenes could all exist within a larger space and we got to pull performers out from each scene.
So, when I thought of this night, Marcel was kind of one of the first people I thought of performing. I’ve seen her perform at Intermedia, the Townhouse, Dykes Do Drag, and every time has been incredible. The last time I saw her perform at the Townhouse she was layering sheets of sheer fabric over her eyes and then kind of slowly ripping them off. It’s always really conceptual; she’s one of my personal favorites.
AB: The musician Catherine Charles is someone who I’ve listened to on Spotify and who had wanted to have more chances to perform in public, and I was like “now’s your chance.” And bb phat, who will be hosting the fashion show segment, makes harnesses that are accessible for every body and every size with recycled material, which is in alliance with our values at Daddy in a multitude of ways.
BC: We picked Liv Hnilicka as the MC because she has the confidence and humor and really has a lot to say/is an important voice. I think she’ll really amp up the crowd and hopefully establish the feeling for it too. It’s a really big role.
I made a post about putting this night together and asking for people’s favorite performers or DJs and there were so many recommended whom I would have never randomly connected with. Within the scene, there are so many queer folx who have this creative, eclectic vision and often times it’s fueled by their queerness.
AB: Some of these are people we knew and some of them we just trust the people who recommended them. It’s a lot about giving opportunities to folks to expand their performance and putting trust into artists that they will deliver a performance that will really set the tone for future parties to come.
JE: Under Trump’s current political climate and looking back one year to the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, what do you think about queer visibility and how does Daddy affect that?
AB: I think while we’ve talked a lot about these fuzzy aspects of Daddy and showcasing the queer community, but we are also saying we want a sexy, safe party. Queer sexualities are always going to be seen as more pornographic, more deviant and explicit than heterosexualities. I think that being visible is a big part in taking that back.
BC: I think also just having this be a big party that is all queer — you get to dress the way you wanna dress, present the way you want to present and not have to be so worried about that — is important. Getting to feel yourself in that way is one of the most political things we can be doing right now. Also, taking a conscientious role in understanding who the performers are, what they stand for, and why they are performing is another crucial component in putting together the programming.
AB: With the political climate the way it is, if we don’t have these moments of recharging ourselves in feel-good ways or expressing ourselves and being around others who are doing the same, then there’s a chance of getting really burnt out. So, maybe Daddy is a little bit of both — political statement and party. You can see these amazing performers and support them but you can also ideally leave feeling better than when you walked in through seeing a new performer, connecting, recharging.
JE: It seems like involvement in queer events and the community is a priority and that your hope is through more events like this, others can find comfort and confidence in their own identity and expression. What does this event mean to you both on a personal level?
BC: For a long time, I was “out” but I had this weird falsehood where I didn’t want this to be my identity, but I’m like, this is my identity actually. I’ve experienced so many amazing events in Minneapolis, and it’s why I wanted to do this.
AB: It’s different than going to a bar or night and taking it over; we’re making it for ourselves instead of just existing in the cis-gendered, straight world. We’re forming our own instead of conforming. Queer and bar events have such a cool history; I love being a part of it.
Daddy: a QUEER variety show and dance night is Thursday, June 29th at Icehouse MPLS, 2528 Nicolett Ave. The debut lineup features MC Liv Hnilicka; performances by Marcel Michelle Obama, Catherine Charles, and Jenna Cis; a leather fashion show by bb phat apparel; plus DJ sets from YONI and Apollolypstic. For more information and tickets, visit the FB invite HERE.
Banner image: YONI