By: Adriana Rolston
Naked nymphs spray painted silver are for posing for photographers, white bras and panties hang from clothes lines above, in the corner there is a bra toss and every once in a while a woman dressed in a sparkling silver bikini and red feathered headdress walks by in stilettos.
It’s without a doubt the strangest tit-themed party I have ever been to. On second thought, it’s the only one I’ve ever attended. It’s Boobalicious.
This year’s theme on Friday, October 16 was “the pink playground, a carnival for your senses.” The event originated eight years ago as a private fundraiser when executive director, Louie Manzo discovered a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. So he threw a party to raise funds which are now donated to the non-profit, Keep a Breast foundation and The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers walk.
With general admission tickets at $67.80 a pop I never would have gotten an invite if I hadn’t checked my facebook inbox the day before. The Good for Her group sent out a mass message to their members offering a pair of tickets to anyone who emailed them with something they loved about boobs. On a whim I wrote something perky and won a double dose of the double D party.
But when we arrived I was a tad perplexed by the tables of items for sale alongside the glitz and glam of the high class guest list. It was a clash of the exotic, the erotic and the elite in a marketplace of expensive goods. The description on the website read, “Looking for a one-of-a-kind handcrafted necklace, designer clutch, unique art piece or crystal slave collar? It’s in the bag! An airbrushed or henna tattoo? Roll up your sleeve and show your true colours! How about a massage? Take a seat!”
It all seemed a bit superfluous and self-indulgent to hand over your Visa for pricey accessories while a woman’s personal story of surviving breast cancer plays on a big screen between shows, drowned out by the blasting music and audience conversations.
Afterwards I looked up a media kit and sponsorship video on youtube that explained the brand-heavy atmosphere of the party. In it Manzo says that, “Boobalicious, beyond being a fundraiser for a good cause is actually a marketing opportunity for corporate culture. It’s an opportunity for brands to be able to get in front of an audience of decision makers as well as centres of influence. It’s a chance for us to be able to say, ‘Your brand equals this audience.’”
Even if an event like this gives corporations a chance to rally behind breast cancer initiatives I still feel wary of the feel-good consumer mentality of it, so I chose not to look at the party through rose colored glasses. It seems that people can be lulled into a false sense of action on behalf of women with breast cancer when what they are doing is buying a designer dress. It’s a positive step, but put it in perspective and you’re also putting cash in a company’s pocket.
Bombarding the audience with so many brand names and products also made the real focus of the night hazy. And although I felt entertained by an onslaught of fashion shows, cabaret, burlesque, drag queen and band performances, breast cancer got lost in the mix. If the hosts of the night, Ms. Conception and The Edge’s Todd Shapiro hadn’t reminded us from time to time why we were assembled there I may have forgotten amid the sequence and the tassles.
I did love the burlesque though, especially the skits performed by Toronto’s troupe, Skin Tight Outta Sight. I mean who can resist Tanya Cheex with a plumed horse head protruding from her behind or Sexy Mark Brown squeezing a giant lemon full of golden sparkles over Sauci Calla Horra.
But overall I felt like I was in a glittery room full of the social elite of Toronto, who sipped martinis and purchased pink items that may have been more for show than for breast cancer awareness. It was definitely an enjoyable event, but sprinkling in some education and reality would have given it more substance than sugary pink glaze.