Dancers in briefs challenge games gay men play

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And now for something completely different. A former go-go boy and current Atlanta choreographer strips bare and reveals his gay male truth in a hypermasculine work of kisses, emotional honesty and man-on-man intensity.

Erik Thurmond (photo, right) assembled a cooperative of artists for “Meh Meh,” which in Chinese is onomatopoetic and means “kiss, kiss.” Here at home of course, it expresses apathy. That's the point.

“I was taken with the idea that what sounded like kisses to the Chinese is a sound of indifference to Americans,” Thurmond tells Project Q Atlanta. “I wanted to explore the games gay men play by feigning boredom or nonchalance rather than risking emotional honesty.”

Thurmond says that the piece, with performances on Friday and Saturday, is a “hyper physical display of male competition, virility, control and the objectification of desire.”

But before you say, “sounds hot” and move on, there’s way more to it for gay audiences, the choreographer tells us.

“The seeds for this piece were planted when I was working as a go-go boy at a nightclub in Tel Aviv, Israel,” he reveals. “I would be stripped down, perched above the crowd and dance as I witnessed the full array of gay club games. I thought a lot about how desperately we try to control one another and how we use our bodies as tools for control. The piece asks the viewer, ‘What is all this effort for? Is it working for anyone?’ and ‘Is it worth it?’”

See where he’s going, guys? “Meh Meh” is looking at you. Yes you.

“My hope is that the queer audience member leaves considering the futility of competition and superficiality of dance floor politics,” he adds.

With only Thurmond and Nicholas Goodly (left) on stage, “Meh Meh” is intimate and focuses on the forms of the two men in their tighty whities. The piece features original music by Ben Coleman, as well as textile and light installations by visual artists Aubrey Longley-Cook and Kevin Byrd. You may remember Longley-Cook “Serving Face.”

“The work of the other artists is incredibly important to me,” Thurmond says. “I have ideas to start with but can only approach the piece from my experience. Kevin Byrd's lighting installation defines the arena, while Aubrey Longley-Cook's fabric installation provides context and a setting for the dance.

“Nicholas Goodly and I tell the story by dancing the dance, and Ben Coleman's music carries us through the night and holds the piece together.These men have exquisite taste and expertise in their fields. By putting our minds together something far greater than anything I could make on my own is created.”

“Meh Meh” continues on Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14, at Druid Hills Baptist Church.

Photo by Aubrey Longley-Cook


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