Leather Week is officially here, and the Folsom Street Fair is coming up this Sunday. If you're looking for something to get you in the mood for the weekend, look no further than Baloney's Red Hot Folsom Show, which launches a week of performances at Oasis this Thursday.
The all-male gay revue, founded by partners Michael Phillis and Rory Davis, originally premiered at Oasis in February 2015, and is set to return to the stage this week.
Baloney is "part theater, part dance, and part peep show," says Phillis, with elements of burlesque and vaudeville. "It's comedic, carnal, and controversial ... There's nothing else quite like it; it's an only-in-San Francisco experience."
Baloney originally started out back when Oasis first opened in 2014, and owners Heklina and D'Arcy Drollinger were looking for new shows. Phillis tells us that they pitched the idea as something of a joke: "We decided we'd try to combine two things we love: porn and performance."
While both the name "Baloney" and the show were only supposed to be temporary, "after the overwhelming response to our first show, we realized that there was a huge audience for this work," Phillis says. "The joke became a meaningful artistic and business venture."
Since then, Baloney has had a show every 3-4 months; their most recent performance, Sizzling Summer, was held in July. The Red Hot Folsom show will be their eighth in less than two years.
Both Phillis and Davis have performing arts backgrounds. Since 2004, Phillis has been working in Bay Area theater and film as a performer, writer, director and producer. Davis is a choreographer who's worked with many of San Francisco's most famous drag queens, like Peaches Christ and Heklina, as well as RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Bianca Del Rio.
Phillis and Davis both produce and star in every Baloney show; Phillis is the director and emcee, and Davis is the choreographer.
Baloney places a strong emphasis on body, gender, racial and cultural diversity. "We think real people are sexy, and we're all about empowering and sexualizing the everyman (and woman)," Phillis explains. The cast is made up of a variety of performers: actors, dancers, comedians, singers, circus professions, sex workers, and even some married straight men.
While the show is billed as an "all-male revue," they've always included women in the cast, and say they always will. "We explore masculine and feminine sexuality across both genders," Phillis explains. "We want our show to reflect our city, in all of its wild, diverse sexiness."
If you've never seen one of Baloney's shows before, expect plenty of scenarios, stories—and skin. "We start out with funny, crowd-pleasing numbers, and move into more provocative, boundary-pushing material as the night goes on," Phillis explains.
The goal is to "entertain and to get people thinking and talking. You can expect to laugh, get turned on and maybe even expect to be offended ... Just don't expect a refund! That, we don't do."
For Baloney's annual Folsom show, the theme will be "exploration: explore your kink, find you fetish, flirt with your darker sexual side ... The scenarios explore BDSM, kink, consent, public faces and private lives."
Just be sure to keep your phone in your pocket; while you might be tempted to snap some pictures of the nearly naked men on stage, Baloney has a strict no-cell phone, no-photography, and no-recording policy. The goal, Phillis says, is to "make our audience stay present and not experience the show through their devices"—and protect the anonymity of some cast members who have corporate jobs.
With the ongoing closures and threats of closure for San Francisco's gay bars, namely The Stud, Phillis and Davis are especially grateful for the opportunity Oasis has provided them.
"San Francisco's LGBT-owned and operated spaces give us a cultural haven," says Phillis. Oasis, in particular, "offers both a theater and a nightclub atmosphere, as well as dance-oriented parties that us a place to commune and celebrate."
If you don't get your fill of Baloney during Folsom, they'll also be teaming up with local sketch comedy troupe Killing My Lobster for KMLZ, a holiday variety show at Z Space from December 15th-17th. Shortly thereafter, they'll be returning to Oasis for a New Year spectacular, from December 28th-31st.
Baloney's Red Hot Folsom Show will run at Oasis nightly at 7pm Thursday 9/22-Saturday 9/25 and Thursday 9/ 29-10/1.
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