Dirty Laundry

Jackie McMillan
29th Feb 2024

Busting for a giggle and a chance to air your deepest, darkest secrets? Roll up to the Sydney Spiegeltent for Briefs: Dirty Laundry. It’s raunchy and ribald, an adults-only queer cabaret, and it’s running as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival until March 15. Briefs Factory was born in BrisVegas back in 2008 as a collaboration between Fez Faanana and Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill. The duo have honed their stagecraft in cabaret rooms around the country and globe, assembling around them a talented troupe of performers that they quickly induct into one big queer family. The connection between the eight cast members sets this show apart from other burlesque variety acts you might have encountered. Suds fly when they’re all on stage together, sending you into a spin cycle as your eye tries to work out who to follow next. There’s literally no wrong answer...

Even for the Briefs faithful, Dirty Laundry delivers new acts, new boys, and, as Blur might suggest, new boys who look like girls, who like boys when they’re girls, and girls when they’re boys… Rowan Thomas is a newbie standout, offering up a breathtaking and seemingly effortless routine on the cyr wheel that can easily get away from artists. Thomas Worrell makes lyra look deceptively easy, dropping in a few tricks on the hanging hoop that even this cabaret veteran hadn’t seen. Commercial dancer, Brett Rosengreen, rocks the laundry theme by playing with queer iconography and bubbles, contorting his chiseled body so beautifully I didn’t pine for acrobatic tricks. 

From the co-founders, Fez and Mark, come the laughs and the feels. In light-up hula hoops, and as stage Mama to flatulent gymnast Nastia (Luke Hubbard), Mark draws out the giggles. Fez provides the political commentary that should underly the burlesque art form, busting out an acknowledgement of country that avoids Council-recommended wording and hits you right in the guts of sitting with how bad things have been, but also creates a path toward better. Fez also delivers an audience member a meat tray with a difference without using ritual humiliation. In a show that was turned down for Create NSW funding as lacking in artistic merit, Dirty Laundry hit me in the feels with something better: kindness and cultural cohesion. While artistic merit is subjective, we all know kindness and cultural cohesion when we feel it. 


Photos (c) by Belinda Rolland