Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School
Live drawing classes are a serious art practice to some, and a great excuse to catch an eyeful of bare skin to others. If you belong to the latter camp, Dr. Sketchy is the class where you don’t need to feel guilty about it: with burlesque dancers striking poses to vintage jazz and rock and roll tunes, the evening is so focused on fun they don’t even care how well you draw.
According to host Dusty Limits, the show is the sketching equivalent of karaoke – it’s not about singing well. In the welcoming, relaxed atmosphere of its three rotating pub venues (The Old Queens Head, The Paradise and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern), patrons are provided with A4 paper, pencils and felt-tip pens. Dr. Sketchy follows a simple format, with two performers, often male and female, alternating their acts with short poses, culminating in a ten-minute dual pose that pitches both models in a preposterous tableau.
In his trademark irreverence, Limits may stir the public’s imagination with additional instructions (“draw him like a zombie,” or “like George Osborne about to make cuts to Government arts funding”). After each pose, the shameless compère scans the tables in the audience, invariably finding a wealth of teasing material in their doodles. Reputations are dragged through the mud, relationships are strained and bitter sibling rivalries are rekindled. All in the name of art, of course.
Coloured by the approaching Halloween season, the October 20th Dr. Sketchy saw the best drawings rewarded with chocolate ghosts and eyeballs as the congenial Lumberjack Luke did his best to look threatening and ominous (a largely fruitless endeavour, despite his terrifying rubber axe). Burlesque was well represented by international starlet Agent Lynch, strutting her stuff in a mirror-balled, Red Sonja-like outfit that, at the climax of her act, proved quite literally (and explosively) booby-trapped. Previous evenings of the show have featured performers like Kitty Bang Bang, Marianne Cheesecake and Crimson Skye.
Utterly engaging and massively enjoyable, Dr. Sketchy glows with a decadent, laid-back atmosphere that hinges on its ingenuous ambivalence. As live entertainment, it features a solid interactive shtick, instantly stirring the audience’s sensibilities. As a live modelling class, it enhances the sketching experience with stage lighting, make-up, sensual costumes and risqué humour. A respectable selection of hunks and babes from the London variety circuit, of course, doesn’t hurt either.
Started by Brooklyn artist Molly Crabapple in 2005, Dr. Sketchy has grown exponentially in five years. Its “branches” stretch over one hundred cities in sixteen countries, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Berlin, Paris, Sidney and Tokyo. In the UK, London is only one of fourteen editions gracing cities from Edinburgh to Brighton. Hopefully this phenomenal expansion will prove part of an ongoing trend (see, for instance, live modelling one-man show Naked Splendour), yielding more brilliant performance hybrids with ingenious ways to involve an eagerly active audience.
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. Hosted by Dusty Limits. The Old Queens Head, Islington, London. 18 November, 20:00. £10. www.drsketchylondon.co.uk