Sex Salon: Queer Aesthetics and Performance


4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies invites you to our monthly Sex Salon series. This month our featured panel is entitled “Queer Aesthetics and Performance.”

Our panelists, their presentation titles and abstracts can be found below:

1) Julia Matias (Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, University of Toronto)

Troubling Nostalgia: Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender and The Figure of the “Exotic Other” in Contemporary Burlesque Performance

Viva Las Vegas is the largest annual rockabilly festival worldwide. “Rockabilly” refers to an early style of rock music originated by white musicians in the America South popularized in the 1950s. However, in its contemporary context, “rockabilly” extends beyond the musical genre and is more commonly used to describe a unique subculture interested in midcentury Americana, including burlesque striptease. Yet as a form that derives itself from white American culture, rockabilly in the 21st century has had to contend with many of the problematic racist aspects of its predecessor. My presentation will address how neo-burlesque artists who perform at Viva Las Vegas have navigated the pressure to perform acts that promote racial and ethnic fetishism through the creation of “exoticism” onstage.

2) Roshaya Rodness (English and Critical Theory, McMaster University)

Hard Road Ahead: Stone’s Queer Agency in Stone Butch Blues

What does it mean to get hard? I put this question to Leslie Feinberg’s monumental Stone Butch Blues (1993) with a view to the stones and stone-like objects that animate the rich affective and relational specificity of Feinberg’s stone butches. Now almost thirty
years after its release, at a time when stone butch sexuality is considered outmoded or historical, I return to this important text to attend to its hard or obdurate materials and their inherent mutability as a source of language and theory for the recessive energies and inexpressive appeal that characterize “stony” life in 1950s Buffalo. Stones, I argue, point towards temporal orientations that resist historicization and insist upon the existence of stone butch sexuality “yet to come.” The animacies of stone and stoniness attune us to frequently pathologized modes of expression and types of queer being that we may wish to rediscover in the present.

3) Jess D. Lundy (Women and Gender Studies, Carleton University)

Serving each other: Sharing Economies and Affective Labour in Montreal’s Kiki Scene

Against a tense socio-political backdrop of white supremacy, intensifying pressures of neoliberal fiscal austerity, and queer necropolitics, ‘Serving each Other: Sharing economies and emotional labour in Montréal’s Kiki scene’ addresses performance-based activist forms of place-making for urban-based queer and gender nonconforming communities of colour. Using participant observation and qualitative interviews with pioneering members of Montréal’s Kiki scene (a sub-category of the ballroom tradition) and Ottawa’s emerging Whacking community and interpreting my findings through the theoretical lens of queer of colour theory, critical whiteness studies, queer Latinx performance studies/ Chicana feminism, I argue that Kiki House subculture, which is maintained by pedagogical processes of ‘each one, teach-one’, is instrumental in facilitating and encouraging i) life-affirming, confidence building queer kinship bonds, (ii) non-capitalist economies of sharing (both material and affective) between members of this unique underground counterculture, and iii) hopeful strategies of individual coping mechanisms and community resilience during these economically tumultuous and necropolitical times.

Chair: Ryan Persadie (Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto)

Ryan Persadie is a PhD student in Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. He holds a MA in Ethnomusicology and Sexual Diversity Studies from the University of Toronto. His doctoral research investigates the interrelations of soca and chutney music, queer diasporic Carnival geographies in Canada and the US, queer Indo-Afro Caribbean intimacies, and LGBTQI+ identity formation, performance and embodiment across, between and within Indo-Caribbean diasporas.

Location: University College, University of Toronto, Room 253

Due to the UC Revitalization Project Construction, there will be no wheelchair-accessible entrance to University College until further notice. Since the UC Quad is a high-traffic construction area during the project, the entry must be restricted as a safety precaution. We hope to have accessible entrance re-opened as soon as possible. If you plan to attend Sex Salon and need accessibility assistance, please notify the event organizers at to arrange an escort through the construction zone.

For information on all construction-related closures and a list of available entrances, please visit:

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