Lunar New Year with Lust Cove

QTBIPOC performance collective gives Lunar New Year a fresh, alluring and exciting spin

The Montreal-based burlesque collective Lust Cove is returning in full-force with their upcoming in-person show Moon Cake.

The collective of People of Colour, Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and artists provides inclusive, accessible and exciting performances. Their upcoming show celebrates the Lunar New Year and performers from East and Southeast Asian backgrounds. 

Lust Cove’s creator, Kaya Koko, started the collective with two of her friends, Kira Lockheart and Mei, before the pandemic ripped through the city. As Asian sex workers and burlesque performers, they noticed how burlesque clubs across Montreal lack diversity in their performances and casts, especially in terms of ethnicity, body shapes and gender identities.

“We’re sick of how white a lot of performance scenes [were], how fatphobic they are, as well just ableist—all the ‘isms’. So we’re like: ‘Fuck that, you’re not going to give us space to perform, so we’re just going to make it ourselves,” Koko explained.

Koko pointed out how some clubs falsely market themselves as inclusive through Asian-inspired shows. “They use the branding but I don’t see any Asian performers,” she said. 

Lust Cove started performing virtually throughout the pandemic, creating a space for performers to express themselves and to entertain attendees stuck at home. From then on, each online show formed a supportive community. 

As in-person performances are welcomed back, Lust Cove commemorates the Lunar New Year and celebrates East Asian culture by featuring an all-Asian cast. Attendees can expect butts, boobs, and music that will stimulate the senses. As Koko puts it, Moon Cake is a “slutty variety show.”

Performer Lia Jasmine will perform her first go-go set with Lust Cove in Moon Cake. With Koko’s guidance, Jasmine found her way to enjoy the art of burlesque, despite being a novice. 

To her, performing for a queer and BIPOC collective helped her find belonging in the burlesque-sphere. “It’s kinda a dream to have my first performance with an entirely queer and BIPOC sensual troupe,” Jasmine said. 

“There aren’t often spaces for queer and BIPOC people. For people who live in that intersection, there’s not always those spaces, so to be part of [a space like this] is beautiful,” Jasmine added.

Singer-songwriter Big Daddy Queen Power will have her first live musical performance of 2023 with Lust Cove. Having performed alongside burlesque dancers before, she is excited to return to the stage and share her new songs with an open audience. 

“[There's] going to be a lot of new community-building [...] It feels good to be supporting events like these,” Big Daddy said.

Koko ensured her commitment to making sure attendees are well-accommodated. In the future, she hopes to work with more venues that are wheelchair-accessible, as well as to continue hybrid performances online for immunocompromised attendees. Lust Cove also encourages attendees to adhere to health guidelines, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

Lust Cove welcomes new members interested in joining the collective. “We’re really open to anyone who wants to get started and join our troupe. It's really a space for people to come together and learn to [perform],” Koko said.

Details about accessibility have been edited for clarity. The Link regrets this error.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 9, published January 10, 2023.