“Beer, Boobies and Glory” is a pretty honest way to describe the artistic madness that is Dr. Sketchy’s Christchurch. Born from a bottle of whiskey in the early Two Thousand and Teens, this chapter of the Anti-Art School has been growing from strength to strength. Run by the amazing duo of Rosie Reckless and Tawdry Trainwreck, these sassy ladies and their helpful minions have kept Christchurch artists in giggles and bad puns for five years now.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this rags to riches story, Dr. Sketchy’s is an international artistic movement, promoting a more hands-on, entertaining form of art, by mixing a classical life drawing class with naughty neo-cabaret. Started in Brooklyn, New York, by an ingenious art school dropout, Molly Crabapple, who was utterly fed up with the typical life drawing class format. She had a brilliant idea to reawaken the experience by engaging in the sexual side of the models, as she believed that the models were often seen like objects, rather than the beautiful people that they were and felt that “it is much more objectifying to be a table than a beautiful naked girl”. Dr. Sketchy’s is like having a franchise, there are several rules to follow, but the rest is up to your imagination. Some of the rules are based on the frequency of classes, the affordability of them and how the models are managed. In an honourable fashion, Dr. Sketchy’s models are paid, treated like the human beings they are and given an immense amount of respect, which provides a supportive, friendly artistic environment. Having a few Burlesque friends pose for her helped Molly race up the class, and soon, people all around the world were asking about Doctor Sketchy’s, and seeing if they could bring it to their town.
So in steps our Head Mistresses; Reckless, and Tawdry. During a night on the sauce, the dynamic pair was stalking through their friends photo’s online when they discovered she had been to a Dr. Sketchy’s overseas. Eureka, they thought! These two friends had decided they must bring a Sketchy’s chapter to Christchurch, and lo and behold, they did it. Starting out, Sketchy’s Christchurch was set up in Poplar Lane, behind a black curtain in a popular bar. After having a few pub patrons squeeze their head in for a look, and several hundred earthquakes, the squad moved over to a typical New Zealand Bowling Club. For a few years, this was the Dr.’s home, and each half time the artists were treated with a typical kiwi fare of saussies and cheap pints. As Rosie Reckless said once “you get drunk, and then you get better”, as the beer flows, the creative juices do too.
But if you want to put on an Anti-Art School, be prepared for a monumental amount of hard work. It’s not just about summoning a crowd, booking a venue and buying a few pens, there is an immense amount of behind the scenes work to do. But by far the most entertaining decision would have to be “What Theme Shall We Use? ” From a devious Dolly Parton night, to Gender Blending and Pony Play sessions, these gals have amazing imaginations. The entire show is mapped out and choreographed, as well as having a unique sound track each time. The Headmistresses also fill every evening with art challenges, competitions and scandalous, exclusive burlesque performances from the models, so no second is mundane.
The collectives most recent escapade truly showed off their management skills, with a sold out, flawless show called Salty Sea Dames, where, you guessed it; the theme was naughty and nautical. Seafarers of all types – pirates, sirens and sea monsters alike – from all over congregated in the Port, at the new Lyttelton Coffee Club for a maritime themed session. The Sketchy’s crew had been meaning to go Portside for a while, and this year they got to, thanks to the exceptional folks at Lyttelton Summerfest. Poses this evening were by our Maid in the Shade, the stunningly graceful Miss Burlesque 2014: Isabella Darling. Channeling a 50’s pin-up girl, Darling led the artists on a daring beach romp for several well struck poses, and then titillated the crowd with a cheekily energetic sunbathing routine. Buoy, oh, buoy! After a quick break and costume change, the crew took to the deck with a full ensemble pose, with Miss Darling as the Yacht. Following some poses, the crowd was treated to an exclusive Yacht Themed performance from the Kiwi Burly Queen. As usual, the burlesque babe didn’t disappoint. With her hilarious knack for pantomime, Isabella had the crowd almost in tears over the perils of a Little Yacht in Lyttelton Harbour. With her adorably quirky humour, it’s no wonder she is currently reigning supreme over the Kiwi Burly scene. A life-drawing class has never looked so good.
But as much as we like her, the show isn’t all about the bodacious model! Other shenanigans were to be had, like drawing competitions and crowd contests. The artists drew with their wrong hand, imagined sea monsters and had their costumes and artworks judged by the Head Mistresses and were rewarded with marine themed prizes – one lucky lady even got a full sized paddle crab as a gift for her art.
Miss Rosie Reckless has decided to give Altearoa a small sneak peek as to the next session’s theme! Coming up on the 17th March, Dr. Sketchy’s will be out of the art-closet at Christchurch Pride Week! Keep an eye on the Dr. Sketchy’s and Christchurch Pride pages for ticket and location details, and remember to be there and be Queer! But wait! There really is more. More shows coming this season, that is, so don’t fret if you can’t get to Pride Week. You can catch a show throughout the year, usually at the Greenhorn in Addington, as the Dr. likes to be seen at least every six weeks.
You don’t have to be Picasso to get some enjoyment from a life drawing class, and artists of all degrees are welcome, even if stick figures are your deal. But some, as Tawdry puts it, “come for the tits, and they stay for the art’. Dr. Sketchy’s is uniquely good entertainment, fusing together the best from burlesque and life drawing into an intimate and engaging evening of whimsical fun. If you like nudity, alcohol or sketching, it’s definitely something to add to the bucket list, and not one to be missed.
– Stella McGuigan