Entertainment
Aaron Whitfield/The Gauntlet

PUPPETS FROM DOWN UNDER

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NOTE: The correct information for this event: April 17-21, MacEwan Hall, Tickets at Ticketmaster.

     While you may have some preconceptions of what exactly Puppetry of the Penis is, it's even harder to imagine it.

"I hope you've all had a drink, because you're in for strange afternoon," says Puppetry of the Penis
co-creator and co-star Simon Morley. He took the stage with partner Dennis Friend during a press conference at the Den on Wed., March 6.

They quickly offer a very blunt, very direct explanation.

"You should all expect full-frontal male nudity," follows Friend.

That is exactly what the audience received, as both uncaped themselves and offered onlookers a taste of what to expect when the duo comes to MacEwan Hall next month.

At first, naming it puppetry might be misleading. Calling it "the ancient art of genital origami," on the other hand, definitely isn't.

Wearing only socks, shoes and a cape-now pushed behind them-the two demonstrated four of their works of art. They manipulated their genitalia into recognizable shapes such as the hot dog, the Eiffel Tower, the Loch Ness Monster and, their hallmark, the hamburger. And since their penises were broadcast on a large screen behind them, it wasn't difficult to see-the audience reacted.

"It demands a reaction and everyone will react differently," says Morley. "I had this old lady come up to me after a show and give me a big cuddle. She said, 'son, I've been waiting 65 years to laugh like that.'"

This bizarre "hobby" began many years ago after Morley's younger brother showed him the hamburger-his first origami trick. After releasing a calendar of his favourite penis poses in 1996, he decided to go live. Since then, the show has sold out month-long runs at venues in New York, London, Australia and Montreal. And even though their act is now world renowned, they aren't free from criticism-that's not a bad thing, either.

"We love it," laughs Morley. "If anyone really puts up a fuss, they usually double our sales."

Although controversy is a great marketing gimmick for the puppeteers, Morley says he hopes people won't be offended.

"It's a non-sexual show and there's no swear words," Morley says, addressing possible concerns. "Most people, when they see the show, they find it hard [to criticize]."

After some public apprehension, Puppetry of the Penis soon became part of pop-culture down under. Morley doesn't expect much resistance outside of his native land, even in conservative Alberta.

"Cowboys are going to love playing with their dicks," laughs Morley. "It's still in the closet here. I think most people have got a couple tricks up their sleeves."

For young, aspiring gentlemen wanting to bare their souls and penises to the world, they're always taking auditions. Not every newcomer is as comfortable as Morley and Friend.

"Can you imagine going out and having your penis on a big screen and laughing?" asks Morley. "It's terrifying. There's nothing we can do to prepare them for that-they have to get in and swim."

Surprisingly-or maybe not-the audiences are usually mostly female outside Australia.

"Females have been told: 'you're not aloud to laugh at the male genitalia. It'll crush the men,'" says Friend. "We say it's not true. We put it on a big screen and say, 'laugh away.'"

Students' Union Vice-President Events Chris Kerr says that the University of Calgary is very lucky to have such a popular act coming through, even if it might ruffle some feathers on campus. "First, we had to determine whether or not it's legitimate theatre, which it is," says Kerr. "There was a couple questions and we determined it was fine."

MacEwan Hall was the second choice for the act, since the Jack Singer Concert Hall refused. Now that they've found a home and demonstrated what they have to offer, all they have left to do is brave the Calgary weather.

"It's cold," laughed Friend. "I've had my long johns on all day getting ready."

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