Class is in session! Beatrice Haven (Fionna Ross) is educating Fringe audiences with a new sex education curriculum. Through a clown lens, Ms. Beatrice Haven and Maximaliste Productions attempt to answer the age-old question, Is That How Clowns Have Sex? (ITCH(e)S).
Lining up outside Kink, a BDSM sex boutique on Bloor Street, Ms. Bea-Haven greets her students with a pure excitement to teach. Decked out in a bright orange suit with bedazzled eye make-up, she assigns the class to write down any sex-ed related questions they have (but no questions about her sex life, because that’s just rude!) and stuff it into her matching vagina clutch.
Audiences are in for a consensually wild night of awkward giggles, improv and heavy audience participation.
Walking into this mature sex boutique, with wall to wall harnesses, perfectly contrasts the elementary school-esque decorated bristol board that Ms. Bea-Haven presents from. There are four rules written on the blackboard that Ms. Bea-Haven comically repeats and enforces. She lets us know that she is here, she is queer, and she is ready to educate Toronto audiences.
I was excited but anxious to see how Ross and director Julie Cohn would tackle this recently politicized issue. However, Ross’ medium of clown is a perfect way to tackle sex education, as Ms. Bea-Haven is warm and inviting while exploring this hot political topic.
Armed with two Montreal Spirit of the Fringe awards (2016/2017), and Montreal’s Best Kisser (2015), Beatrice the “sexpert” will educate to her very best ability with sex-toy puppets and an array of vibrating dildos.
The awareness of the political climate of sex education is quickly addressed. After illustrating the void of queer identities in Doug Ford’s standard sex education, Ms. Bea-Haven quickly skips over into her new 2.0 sex education curriculum, which mostly derives energy from her audience questions.
The audience questions seemed to be introduced too early for a teaching format. It’s hilarious watching Ross act quickly on her feet (note no clown shoes) to this audience’s questions about masturbation, oral sex and non-penetrative sex, but no direct lessons from our “sexpert”.
There are some obviously planted questions for ITCH(e)S to have a structured lesson plan. She transitions into demonstrations on consent, comedic history lessons on archaic contraception ideas, and manifestos on problematic Freudian schools of thought. These are all great moments, but it’s only through the audience question format that the show moves forward.
It’s Ms. Bea-Haven’s own opinions on the current sex education in Ontario that is missing. Though Ford’s controversial platform forms the basis of the scripted portion of the show, it seems that Ms. Bea-Haven invites a comparison that never comes full circle.
At the tail-end of the show, Ross does address the audience as herself and confronts the problems of a clown answering sex-ed questions, but misses the opportunity to unpack the political content of the show.
We are all “sexperts” in training throughout our lives. Education has to evolve and reflect our society as a whole in order for it to be an effective tool. Ross has an entertaining course outline that makes me want to sign up for Is That How Clowns Have Sex? 201.
- Is That How Clowns Have Sex? A One-Woman, Queer Clown Sex-Ed Shows plays at the KINK Boutique. (975 Bloor St. W.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Sexual content; Audience participation; Unconventional venue.
- The Fringe Festival considers this venue to be wheelchair-accessible.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Wednesday July 4th, 9:30 pm
- Thursday July 5th, 9:30 pm
- Friday July 6th, 9:30 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 9:30 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 5:30 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 9:30 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 9:30 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 9:30 pm
- Friday July 13th, 9:30 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 9:30 pm
Photo of Fiona Ross by Pascale Yensen