This is one of many questions you might ask yourself when you’re standing in a long queue of people waiting to see a man paint pictures with his penis. What am I doing? is another. But Brent Ray Fraser leaves you no time for self-reflection. You’ve hardly a minute to prepare your inner prude, before he’s on stage, pants off, lubing up the danglies with paint. (Actually, not so dangly. Apparently a certain amount of firmness is required for the process.)
Then he’s straight into it with a fast-and-furious rendition of a cutesy koala, a sort of genital homage to kitsch Australiana. There’s a welcome change of pace when audience members help create cock-and-balls prints (yeah, maybe don’t sit in the front row) and then a snowy landscape with some hilarious scribbling in time to the “Winter” violin concerto from The Four Seasons.
The sterling soundtrack also includes such pun-tastic gems as “Knock on Wood”. And Fraser merrily swinging his dick as he sings along to Figaro’s aria, simultaneously painting a portrait of surprise guest Bob Downe, is quite the show-stopper.
Watching Fraser in action induces a strange roller-coaster of emotions. There’s a slight queasy moment early on (there’s A LOT to take on board, and his technique is so… vigorous) but it’s not long before you’ve somehow come round to thinking that making art with one’s genitals is perfectly normal, maybe even mundane. Then there’s a kind of awakening (perhaps at the point when he’s using his paint-filled bum-crack to edge the canvas) and you’re suddenly, “wait, what?… is this really happening?!”
The glue that holds the show together and stops it from sliding into a gimmicky shock-fest is Fraser’s cheeky smile and indubitable charisma. He’s a consummate performer and the show is carefully considered, well-paced and really, really funny.
And the results on canvas? Well, they’re a lot better than one might expect, given the artist’s unwieldy… er… tool, but it’s probably safe to say that, however well-hung he is, Fraser’s penis paintings are unlikely to appear in the National Gallery (boom-tish!)
However, let’s not forget this is cabaret daahling. It’s not about quiet contemplation in a hushed gallery. We want laughter! spectacle! shazam! And Fraser’s act has this in spades. He’s not the only man on the planet painting pictures with his wang (no really, he isn’t) but he’s surely the most buff, the most charismatic, the most professional.
In an interview with Vice, Fraser admitted to sometimes finishing off his paintings by “signing” them with his DNA. Thankfully (or perhaps disappointingly, depending on your inclination) the show has no such happy ending. Nevertheless, you’d be hard-pushed not to leave the auditorium with a big smile on your face.
Arty? Who cares. Hilarious, fun-filled debauchery? Oh yes.
The Naked Artist is showing in The Famous Spiegeltent, Adelaide Festival Centre, until June 20 as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
See more Cabaret Festival stories and reviews on InReview here.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.