While just as upbeat and visually sensational as traditional cabaret, Hot Brown Honey is all about smashing stereotypes. At heart, this show is a subversive critique of patriarchy and the way it objectifies and silences women of colour.
Presiding over the action from atop her spectacular light-show of a beehive is DJ Busty Beatz (Kim Bowers), playing music and dropping feminist truths bombs.
Quoting feminist luminaries such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Angela Davis and Audre Lorde, Busty Beatz orchestrates the action on the stage as this cast of incredibly talented women step into stereotypes applied to women of colour only to explode them with lashings of sass and humour.
Lisa Fa’alafi turns the white western fantasy of the exotic Polynesian woman clothed in vegetation on its head with a reverse striptease, layering herself in greenery until she eventually resembles a leafy Lady Gaga.
Ofa Fotu performs a show-stopping rendition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” dressed as a golliwog, her voice so spectacular I could’ve listened to her all night.
Circus performer Crystal Stacey shows amazing range, balancing the obscene with the unsettling as she parodies disrespectful Australian tourists, then later performs a powerful aerial act as a woman subjected to domestic violence in a routine that had the opening-night audience audibly gasping.
Award-winning beatboxer Mateheare Hope ‘Hope One’ Haami is brilliant, her blazing vocal skill absolutely mesmerising, and Torres Strait Islander Ghenoa Gela dramatically breaks free from the shackles of colonisation in a defiant dance, stating her people are still here and still surviving.
While each performer dominates the stage during her solo acts, their ensemble work is equally impressive. Dances and songs examining white privilege and entreating people to stop feeling entitled to touch women of colour’s hair are as entertaining as they are subversive.
Hot Brown Honey has perfected the balance between political protest and entertainment, managing to make their point without leaving the audience feeling at all as if they’ve been hammered with a radical message.
This powerful show, written and performed entirely by women of colour, was presented to an overwhelmingly white audience, and while the content forces us to take a hard look at our culture and the impacts of colonisation, it also leaves us with the sense that feminist empowerment is something we can achieve together.
Feminist Emma Goldman is often quoted as saying: “If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.” I think she’d be pretty satisfied with the revolution in the hands of Hot Brown Honey.
Performances by Hot Brown Honey continue at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Saturday.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.