Review: Baby Bi Bi Bi20 September 2018
Created by: Annabel Larcombe, Erin Pattison, Samantha Andrew
Music by: Samantha Andrew
Produced by: Erin Pattison
September 18 – 23
Melbourne Fringe Festival
The Butterfly Club
Price: $34.00 (Full)/$30.00 (Concession)/$27.00 (Group of 6+)
On the 18th of September, we (Danielle and Maggy) attended Baby Bi Bi Bi at The Butterfly Club. As a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, the hour-long show describes itself as a “wickedly fun, often filthy cabaret about being a bisexual woman”.
Since the both of us are reeling with a lot of feelings, we thought we’d both break it down for you. If you don’t have time to read everything we have to say though, we can easily give the verdict now: Go. Please go and see this beautiful, hilarious show, we promise you won’t regret it.
Maggy: I’ll be honest. Before watching Baby Bi Bi Bi, I didn’t even know the difference between cabaret and burlesque. I have wanted to check out a show at The Butterfly Club for simply forever and this was the perfect opportunity to do that at last.
You know how sometimes you idealise an experience so much that reality can never match up?
Well, the venue did not disappoint. Tucked away in a quiet alleyway in Melbourne CBD, the decor was quirky, eclectic and unapologetically so. I had no idea why there was a lamp shaped like a naked woman with a rooster’s head in the corridor between the bar and the waiting room for the show but it just worked. More than the weirdness plastered across all four walls though, there was a deeper sense of acceptance and an anything goes vibe that only helped increase my excitement for the show.
Danielle: As a creative writing student who has an interest in theatre and writing for performance, I really need to see more performances. And as a bisexual writing student, I want those performances to be queer. Which is why Baby Bi Bi Bi was an obvious first preference for this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival shows—also, the name is amazing.
In my brand new Doc Martens I hobbled alongside—though slightly behind—my dear friend Maggy down Swanston Street, loudly and dramatically complaining about the blisters forming on both my heels.
Once we got to The Butterfly Club I plastered five band-aids on each heel and then wandered around the venue, admiring the very weird but very amazing aesthetic—a highlight being random Star Wars posters illuminated by Christmas lights, the ultimate mood wall.
I expected the show to be funny and entertaining, and I was right (wow good instincts), but it was also so much more than that.
Maggy: Why does an hour studying feel so different from an hour spent catching up with a friend over a good meal? The show felt much more like the latter option, perfectly balanced but also leaving you wanting more.
I was most impressed by how much energy the three girls had. For most of the show, there was at least two of them singing one of their MANY original songs (shout out to: Do I Wanna Be You (Or Do I Wanna F*CK You?), too relatable). I couldn’t help thinking how tired I would be if that was me up on that stage.
The pacing of the show was 10/10, Annabel, Erin & Samantha really had us wrapped around their pinkies. When they really wanted to get us going, you could hear the audience bursting out in laughter every couple of seconds. At other times, they would delve into more serious topics like their coming out story, the struggles of being seen as not being queer enough/too queer etc. The most impressive part is how they transitioned between these two extremes with ease, transporting us with them, eyes wide and mouths gaping, the entire time.
Overall, all three girls really showcased their individual stories and personalities in the show, and I found myself falling in love with each of them again and again, depending on who was in the limelight at any given moment.
Danielle: A really good gay hour. Within that timeframe Annabel, Erin and Samantha covered so many aspects of the bisexual experience—not being considered ‘queer enough’ by the LGBTIQ community (as though there’s a specific quota to reach), having to deal with trash straight men who think bisexual women are hot but don’t consider their attraction to other women a threat, coming out to your parents and friends, having your friends think you want to have sex with them all (throwback to when I told one of my straight female friends that I was bi and she asked me, quite genuinely, if I had a crush on her—tone down that narcissism, matey), being perceived as hyper-sexual and an expert of threesomes, misjudged as only identifying as bisexual because you want attention (or because it’s ‘trendy’, as my dad believes), etc.
Of course, this is only a show discussing the bisexual experience from three women’s perspectives, and not everybody’s experience is the same. I related to some, but not all and not even most, of their stories. But that’s okay. It’s not intended to document a universal experience, and the songs and jokes are hilarious without being offensive – and that’s all I ask for, really.
Maggy: My favourite part was the three girls’ coming out stories, presented in spoken word style. The audience was silent and their words filled the entire room. At points, they were saying the same line together, to highlight the similarities of their experiences, before one of the girls takes over and delves into their own journey a little bit more. It was so powerful to hear not only their shared experiences but their differences and to know that at the end of the day, you’re probably going to be okay.
Danielle: Because I’m very much a comedy>emotions kind of gal (hahaha do I use jokes as a defence mechanism to hide from pain? Maybe.) my favourite part was the bold introduction, all three women bursting out of the ‘portable closet’ (which was fantastically designed with some crafty breasts, vaginas and dicks attached to it, all different colours and sizes) to sing ‘Salad With the Girls, But in a Gay Way’. This isn’t to say that the rest of the show didn’t live up to this intro, because the entire performance was incredible, I just really love the EVERYTHING IS GAY!! Vibe (i.e. my vibe).
Maggy: To put it simply, the show far exceeded my expectations. It didn’t matter if you were straight as a breadstick, figuring out your sexuality, or a proud, seasoned member of the queer community, there is a space in the audience for you.
We were there, not only to witness but to feel as these women made us laugh and hurt as they explored the entire spectrum of being a bisexual woman, making light of the times they were accused of seeking attention, or were ostracised by both the queer and straight communities for not being enough to be accepted by either side.
It so cleverly makes bisexuality more visible in a fun, tongue-in-cheek way that leaves no room for intolerance to fester.
I remember exiting the theatre and not being able to stop smiling. As we were making our way to the tram stop, I couldn’t help shaking Dani’s arm and repeatedly (annoyingly) asking her if she saw what I saw and if she could believe it.
Being the kind soul she is, she patiently told me that yes, she was there the entire time and she knew exactly how I felt in that moment and there’s a small bit of shared magic that we both took away that night.
So please, if you have the time and money go see the show with a friend, I promise you won’t regret it.
Danielle: Biphobia and bi-erasure are still serious issues—part of the reason it took me so long to realise I was bisexual was because I didn’t actually know that much about bisexuality, and wasn’t sure if my feelings for women were ‘valid’ enough because of being raised in such an intense heteronormative society.
Shows like Baby Bi Bi Bi are important because it’s a declaration of bisexuality, of making it public and visible—because one of the most difficult aspects of coming out as bi is how do I do it? I still haven’t fully come out at my workplace because, how do I bring that up in a morning meeting? It’s not relevant and my co-workers don’t need to know that aspect of my life, really. But that means they’re assuming, most likely, that I’m straight—though maybe less so now that I’ve cut all my hair off.
I’m still wary around lesbians and gay men, too, in case they patronise my bisexuality or try to persuade me to ‘pick a side’. This performance is important and necessary to counter those opinions, and bring bisexuality to the forefront. It also happens to be hugely entertaining, emotional and hilarious—the perfect gay content this world needs.