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Drag Assassin Agent Cleave is ready to set the stage on fire with his new cabaret show

After starting off in Melbourne’s club circuit and blurring the gender lines, Agent Cleave is embarking on a cabaret career for the first time with Show Stopper, a one-hour character-based cabaret that’s part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. “A lot of the stuff I do is club-based and usually only goes for less than ten minutes,” Cleave says. “But theatre audiences are a very different environment, and it’s working on a different level of performance. I’m excited to sink my teeth into more developing character more. It’s the next logical step for me”

During the hour, we’ll meet five different versions of Agent Cleave, all aspects of the same character, and reflect what Cleave loves in pop culture. “There’s the Vamp, a 1940s lounge singer, there’s a mermaid, and a Fellini-esque virgin. There’s also a stripper, and to open the show, there’s a pirate character, a campy pantomime character. I’m calling it dangerous feminine sexuality, the non-straight-acting or the femme fatale that have been dear to me since a little kid, and giving voice to them in a contemporary context.”

Since he was a boy, Cleave has been drawn to more macabre images of beauty, and cites Morticia Addams as his muse. “I loved Death Becomes Her, with Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn and its huge dark versions of female beauty, and I carried that into my adult life.” While studying painting at VCA, Cleave started putting himself into his work. “I did lots of self-portraiture, and found it really exciting to embody those classic images I was always attracted to.”

The response to Agent Cleave has been enthusiastic – and life-changing. “I met the musician Peaches, and got to tour with her for a couple of years, here, in New York, Berlin and London,” he says. “From there it kept growing, and I came back to Australia with all of these experiences and ideas and inspirations piled up on top of each other.”

Cleave’s exploration of drag, gender and sexuality comes at a very exciting time. “Drag as an artform has been blown apart in a fabulous way. Because of performers like Conchita Wurst in Eurovision and RuPaul’s reality show, interest in what it is to be a drag performer has really opened up the language, and it’s much more sophisticated.”

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By Tim Hunter   |  

Show Stopper details

35 Johnston St, Collingwood 3066

Telephone 03 9660 9666

Nearby Stations: Victoria Park

Price $22.00 to $25.00

Date 18 Sep 2014-28 Sep 2014

Open Thu-Sun 10pm

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