Words and Photography by Farah Beaini
Face carefully painted white; bright red lipstick to match flaming red hair; eyes framed by outrageously long lashes, embodied with a childlike look of wonderment. Mousetrap edges closer to her tongue as she eggs the audience on.
The audience claps along to resident DJ Knave’s groovy 70s throwbacks, faster and louder as the instrument of doom hovers precariously closer to its intended target.
SNAP! Metal connects to tongue. The audience gasps and moans, wincing as if channelling her pain, but she’s not done. A few more hair-raising, eye-squinting and body-clinching stunts follow as Little Laa Laa steps on crushed glass, staples a poster of Tony Abbott to her chest and hammers a nail into her nose.
With these death-defying acts out of the way, the ‘Art monkeys’, as audience members in these parts are called, bring out their sketchpads and begin furiously drawing this month’s scallywag as she provocatively launches herself into a series of semi-nude poses.
Welcome to the bohemian world of Melbourne’s Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art Show. Now in its eighth year in the biz, Dr Sketchy’s has become a hallmark of Melbourne’s alternative art movement and the longest running Dr Sketchy show in the world.
In keeping with the Dr Sketchy modus operandi, the show never fails to deliver on art, drinks, music and mayhem. Acrobats, clowns, burlesque dancers, opera singers and other stupendous acts regularly grace its stage, whether at The Toff in Town or its summer home, The Famous Spiegeltent.
The crowd is a joyful and cheeky mix of artists of all abilities. Director Melanie Knight is always on hand to ensure that the show remains a safe space for both the performers to foray into a new artistic medium, and Art Monkeys to cultivate their artistic finesse.
At the end of each show, the tables are turned and the performers get the chance to judge and select the best sketches of the night.
With its tantalising formula of part play and all fun, Dr Sketchy’s proves that you do not need to attend an art class to brush up on your art strokes and have a good time.
Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art Show runs on the last Sunday of every month at The Toff in Town, Level 5, 252 Curtain House Swanston Street. For more information on 2014 acts and how to secure tickets, visit the Dr Sketchy’s website.