Sunny Drake delighted Summerworks with his show X and now audiences get to enjoy a newer work, No Strings (Attached). Drake, an Australian import, has transitioned smoothly into the Toronto theatre scene, and his quirky sense of humour and subtle LGBTQ politics make him as entertaining as the theatre he creates. Drake was not only eager to discuss No Strings (Attached) but also offered frank opinions/analysis on love, gender, relationships and polygamy.
Drew Rowsome: Why has it taken so long for a Toronto premiere of No Strings (Attached)?
Sunny Drake: I guess it is a little odd to have toured it so widely before premiering it in Toronto. It definitely took me a while to build up my networks and connections when I moved to Toronto. I more easily booked the show in Australia where I have longer relationships with venues. And in Europe, the US and other Canadian cities and towns that were hungry for queer work or contemporary theatre with highly integrated video. Or maybe I’m mean and just wanted to make you all wait . . .
X had a lot to say about addiction to alcohol and in No Strings (Attached), “Jimmy is trying to quit romance cold turkey” – are they both addictions?
Romance-aholic – me? Oh no, this show has nothing to do with me. Purely fictional. Absolutely fictional. Jimmy, on the other hand, yeah he’s got quite a problem and I’m really glad he’s finally getting some help. Seriously though, the show is not really about addiction per se – setting the show in a romance-aholics anonymous meeting is a fun way of exploring queer relationships and delving into some big topics whilst also making a fun night out at the theatre. I’ve found people will go much deeper with me when they get to laugh as well. Not to mention the cuties that get attracted to a show about romance-aholics - there will be hot queers in the audience, that’s a promise! So get yourself dressed up and prepare your best smoldering glances. Oh, and we have a post-show singles mixer night on Fri Mar 18 and a poly mixer on Thus Mar 24.
When we talked in 2013 you said “I think that trans men have become very fashionable and are celebrated in many areas of queer communities and beyond. Although it's still not the easiest to get laid within non-trans gay men's circles.” Do you think that is changing? Or is the divide between gay and trans widening?
I think there are some slow shifts happening. I’m noticing more and more non-trans gay men opening up about their attractions to trans men. In some cases, the attractions might have been there but they were not willing to admit that to their friends. In other cases, the attractions may have grown with awareness – whereas trans women have often been hyper-visible (and targets of intense violence), trans men have often been invisible until more recently. Even now, at times people think I’m a trans woman because they can’t understand the concept of a trans man (and probably also because I’m a femme trans man). I’m also noticing a slow shift inside myself - sometimes I’ve probably put my own barriers in the way of having connections with non-trans men. My experiences of transphobia have been very real, and so then sometimes I assume that a non-trans guy won’t be into dating me so I close myself off to connections even before getting rejected. I’m probably very unusual in that I don’t love being rejected (you’re all fine with rejection right?) – so shutting down can be a self protection mechanism, but it also prevents others from surprising me.
Who did write the Book of Love?
I think the Book of Love is still being written every single day. I’m interested in how collectively we can dismantle the shitty messages we get handed about love, romance and sex, and create new ones. I want to see us expand the chapters and the array of ways there are to love, fuck, friend, and care for each other. I want to see many books of love with different relationship models that don’t have to be seen as competitive - there’s so many poly folks who look down on monogamous relationships, and also monogamous folks who judge and blame poly relationships, when really I think different relationship styles suit different people. Also, there’s many common skills to be shared between varying relationship styles – I’d like to see more opportunities for all of us to learn good dating (and friendship) skills – including what to do when the shit hits the fan and how to break up well. I wrote an article on dealing with jealousy if you want to check it out: "The Green-Eyed Monster: navigating jealousy."