Sequins, suntans and sand

Suntan (Art Simone and Philmah Bocks)

The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Paradise Showroom

October 3

With polka-dotted swimming costumes and striped beach chairs “Suntan” looks like a postcard from Brighton Beach of years gone by …. if drag queens were to feature in such visual nostalgia. It is a fitting staging given the show’s narrative premise, which sees award-winning Melbourne lip-syncing drag duo Philmah Bocks and Art Simone, in search of finding the perfect tan.

Taking the audience along their journey, the pair share hilarious photos of their global beach travels (and more), before instigating a beach party limbo competition (cue the audience participation segment that seems so crucial to modern cabaret shows). The premise also allows for clever use of songs like Kylie’s ‘Cover Me with Kisses’ and Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’, whose catchiness only add to the accessibility and good-time feel of the work.

Over the course of the hour long show, Bocks and Simone try nature, tanning beds and tan-in-a-can and happily, by the end, they get the glow they’ve been craving – even if it is more Nicki Minaj orange than bronze or caramel toned. This makes for an entirely memorable final number to Stan’s ‘Suntan’ and fluro finale that has to been seen to be believed.


From start to finish, “Suntan” is full of fun. It lags a little in segments when local ‘girls’ fill the space of costume changes with uneventful lip-sync routines (as fun as ‘Love Shack’ is), but has an apt balance of comedy and song to suit the notorious 9.30pm cabaret spot when audiences are liquored up and eager to voice their opinions.

Art Simone in particular is striking in performance, especially in delivery of an energetic Katy Perry routine to ‘California Girls’. As the duo note when channelling Romy and Michele in one of the show’s lip-sync movie moments, “we are the cutest we have ever looked…  we’re not being conceited… we’re just being honest.” From what audiences are introduced to in “Suntan” this is definite not the oil painting type of drag that is best viewed from the other side of the room (to steal a show line). Rather, it is a vibrant show of the fabulousness that can manifest when sequins meet sand Gold Coast style.

Photo c/o –


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