Art and Stage
Unique variety show Candyland returns to the Wunderbar this weekend. Vicki Anderson talks to its creator, Von Leon.
Candyland is a variety show with a twist, where a bearded lady in high heels tells fantastical stories.
One Candyland event had a gangster theme. A small man in a tuxedo played the piano. Old ladies got up and danced. There was burlesque. The night ended with a big chase scene around the stage and the finale was the show's creator, Von Leon, dressed as an angel, performing to Like A Prayer. At the end of the night everyone in the place did the conga.
A Christmas-themed version saw clowns chasing psychotic Santas and a Halloween edition of Candyland was even spookier.
"This is our fifth Candyland," Von Leon says. "It's Revenge of the Easter Bunny. I'm working on the entrails and the soundtrack for the show now."
This session uses a play format to tell the story of a pregnant Easter bunny, narrated by Ben Brown. Other "friends and randoms" who will perform are Skye Lark, Dylan Hawes, Tawdry Train Wreck, Julia "Juju" Croucher, Mercedes Myracle, Isabella Darling, David Francisco Clark, Matt Wheeler, Ash Vegas, the ghost of Mike Fordham and DJ Sassafras.
"We act out the story through the variety show. We have burlesque girls like Isabella Darling, who just won Miss Burlesque New Zealand 2014, and Dreaded Matlock who does comedy stuff. Everyone is part of the story."
The Easter bunny is a proud little bunny. She goes to the doctor because she is pregnant and discovers she is carrying the rare Queen bunny egg gene - chocolate eggs.
"It is rare across the known realms," Von Leon explains. "Which is the troll kingdom, the fairy kingdom, the human world and the bunny world. As the story goes there are chocolate egg thefts, rampages and trolls and at the end everyone will probably end up dancing."
Von Leon writes the script, but there are only two rehearsals. Candyland is not about being word perfect on the night.
"It's loose around the edges but that's the idea. That's what people enjoy about the show, they're not perfectly scripted, it's just an idea and people come along and have some fun."
To enlist his cast, Von Leon simply announced on Facebook that he was thinking of doing another Candyland show.
"Friends and randoms appear, it just happens. I'm the troll king, there are a few connotations and chaos but it should be good and the light show will be amazing."
When he's not creating Candyland variety shows, you'll usually find Von Leon at the Wunderbar on Sunday afternoons as Miss Candy Applebottom presenting Cross-Dressing Sunday.
"I play music and dress up every Sunday as the bearded lady in my high heels. Sometimes DJs and bands come along and join in. I play loops, guitar and drums. I've got what I call my industrial death boogie machine and I tell stories in 5-inch (12cm) high heels.
"I like to twist people's minds. I've been doing the cross-dressing Sundays for so long now. I'm 6ft 3in (1.9m) and when I wear my 5-inch heels . . . I'm a big guy in heels in a fisherman's town but most people treat me with respect."
Candyland 5, Revenge of the Easter Bunny, at the Wunderbar, Lyttelton, Saturday. Opens 9pm, starts 10pm. Admission $15 on the door.
- The Press