PeepshowTO was born in the summer of 2011 when a small burlesque show called “Holy Boobies, Batman!” was organized as a fundraiser for another project and unexpectedly became a huge hit. The show attracted an audience of over 350 people to the Toronto Underground Cinema by featuring burlesque performers paying homage to their favourite characters in playful stripteases inspired by DC comic books. Founders Betty Quirk, Sevvy Skellington and Leelando Calrissian were overjoyed to see so many fans shared their same interest in seeing the art of burlesque combined with skillful cosplay and a unique nerdy flair. Upon realizing the potential of this concept, a new burlesque series was created as “The Underground Peepshow”.
The first official Underground Peepshow event, Marvelesque: A Marvel Themed Burlesque Show was another wildly successful comic-filled evening which attracted an audience of over 550 guests. The dedicated fan base continued to grow and within the first year of producing, “We Put The Spring in Springfield: A Simpsons Themed Burlesque Show” was presented to a sold out audience filling over 700 seats.
When the show’s beloved home cinema closed in 2012, the decision was made to tour the show to a variety of Toronto venues with a focus on expanding the core audience and bringing in the most creative talent while continuing to explore a new theme each show. The show continued to outgrow all typical burlesque venues, as well as some more unusual spaces such as The Metro, a local porn theatre.
In October 2013 The Underground Peepshow took on it’s most ambitious production yet and launched a show unlike any other Toronto-based burlesque production at The Jane Mallett Theatre. This stunning, state of the art theatre in the heart of downtown with impeccable sight lines launched the show into a new era that could no longer be called “Underground”. It was officially announced that the production would now become known as PeepshowTO.
With nearly 10 years as Toronto’s top Nerdlesque series, PeepshowTO is still going strong. Along with their highly-anticipated large scale shows, the producers have also put together smaller niche shows called “Peepshow Teasers”, as well as performed in several conventions such as Atomic Lollipop and YetiCon. Several acts created for PeepshowTO productions have also since been featured in burlesque festivals and toured all over the world.
Today, PeepshowTO continue to successfully produce large-scale nerd-themed burlesque shows at their new home venue, The Great Hall.
Betty Quirk Co-Founder, ProducerBetty Quirk is a Toronto based performer, costume designer and burlesque producer. She has shaken her tassels and assets across Canada in festivals including Toronto Burlesque Festival and the Bagel Burlesque Festival (Montreal) as well as travelled internationally to The Nerdlesque Festival (NYC) and as far as the UK for The London Burlesque Festival. She is known for her signature mix of geeky and cheeky burlesque and she enjoys creating playful tributes to her favourite characters from comic books, sci-fi, classic video games and horror. As an avid cosplayer she is also always on the lookout for any excuse to run around in a catsuit or cape! Betty is professionally trained in costume design and creates her own stage costumes as well as offering custom designs for many local performers and cosplayers.
Current Obsession: Wonder Woman, Arrow, Game of Thrones & Everything by Joss Whedon.
Favourite Film: Hedwig & The Angry Inch
Favourite (Comic) Book: Transmetropolitan Series by Warren Ellis
Favourite TV Show: Futurama
Memorable Acts: Lydia Deets (Beetlejuice), Bowser (Mario Kart), and Wonder Woman
Sevvy Skellington Co-Founder, Producer, Graphic DesignerSevvy Skellington is a Nerdlesque performer hailing from the Hollywood North. She has been entertaining audiences with her charmingly nerdy acts since 2010, and she has performed in a few notable burlesque festivals such as The Toronto Burlesque Festival, Nerdlesque Fest (NYC), and The Bagel Burlesque Festival (Montreal). A fan of pop culture trivia, She often looks for the most nostalgic moments from her favourite geeky subjects and re-imagines them as fun and often silly burlesque acts. A graphic designer and filmmaker by day, geeky burlesque performer by night, Sevvy is constantly busy pursuing numerous creative projects and dreaming bigger dreams.
Current Obsession: Pokemon, Musical Theatre, The Simpsons
Favourite Film: Moana, The Sound of Music
Favourite Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Favourite TV Show: The Simpsons & Game of Thrones
Memorable Acts: Pikachu, Cookie Kwan (The Simpsons), and Inigo Montoya
Leelando Calrissian Co-FounderLeelando Calrissian, as you’ve probably already heard, hails from Cloud city, and he ain’t got no titty! He has been a local legend since he was barely legal, making a big name for himself in the burlesque, cosplay and drag communities. He is known for his spectacular costumes, his incredible gender-bending skills as well as his consistent ability to wow audiences with his wildly creative and over-the-top drag and burlesque acts. Leelando has performed in multiple burlesque festivals and has even shared the stage with internationally acclaimed drag queens at The Toronto Pride Festival. While not performing on stage, Leelando can be found working on various bespoke costume projects at top speeds and betraying his best friend to Darth Vader.
Current Obsession: Harley Quinn, RuPaul’s Drag Race
Favourite Film: House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Favourite TV Show: American Horror Story and Futurama
Memorable Acts: Ada Wong, Harley Quinn
Zilly Lilly Creative DirectorZilly Lilly is a trained dancer with a BFA in Contemporary Dance and Choreography. After finishing school she set out on a path to be as outrageous and quirky on stage as her glitter-filled heart desired. She now brings her dance abilities, warped sense of humour and nerdy attention to detail to all of her acts. She’s a proud gamer, cosplayer, collector and all around lover of sci-fi, horror and comics.
Current Obsession: Pickles, forever and always
Favourite Film: Young Frankenstein
Favourite Books: The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien, Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
Favourite TV Show: Batman: The Animated Series
Memorable Acts: Sauron, The Night’s King and The Ark of the Covenant
Velvet Valhalla HostVelvet is a host, philanthropist and Icelandic pop sensation. On her last tour of Greenland she achieved the world’s record for most swear words shouted while opening for the popular kids show The Wiggles. She is known for her foul mouthed pop culture rants and hatred of scripts. Her spare time is spent plundering European shores for glitter and studs in her longship The Excelsjor. Can’t get enough of Velvet? You can get your fix by checking out her RuPaul’s Drag Race podcast, Sissy That Talk! or catch her shooting up some bad guys while in full face on her live Twitch feed!
Nerdy Vices: Video games, Drag Culture
Ajay Fry HostAjay Fry was born with a microphone in one hand and a video game controller in the other. (sorry mom!) After completing the comedy program at Humber College and training at The Second City he landed his dream job hosting the Saturday morning block CRUNCH on YTV. Two years later he blasted off to Space to host InnerSpace weeknights along with various specials for the next ten years. Though he once tried his hand at performing with PeepShowTO, he’s delighted to be back as an MC along-side his most beautifully salty gaming buddy Velvet Valhalla.
Nerdy Vices: Video games
Rena Ashton Production CoordinatorRena has been along for the Peepshow ride since the very beginning, first acting as stage manager and now serving as the production coordinator and de facto stage mom. You can usually catch her running front of house at our shows, but she also handles volunteer coordinating, VIP and sponsor management, and (quite famously) keeping the cast and crew well fed. When she’s not running around with multiple clipboards, Rena works in television and also serves as conductor for the Jewish a cappella ensemble Varsity Jews.
Nerdy Vices: The Simpsons (first 10 seasons only, of course), Game of Thrones, musical theatre, and terrible Jewish-themed pop song parodies
Mimi Ex Machina Stage ManagerMimi is Peepshow’s stage manager by night, arts administrator by day, and Rocky Horror cast member by other nights.
Nerdy Vices: Always playing as the tank in D&D, singing the Evangelion theme at karaoke, and buying Ravenclaw paraphernalia
Missing In Action Stage KittenMischief In Action (AKA. Mia) has been stage kittening for Peepshow since they moved to The Great Hall and helped front of house at all prior shows. She also does stage management and front of house for other burlesque shows around Toronto. She went to York University for Theatre Production specializing in Lighting Design. Her love for animals is evident with four cats and three ferrets, which she will happily talk about forever if prompted.
Nerdy Vices: Harry Potter, The Last Unicorn, Pokemon, Sword Art Online, Marvel, Disney
Asia Stage KittenComing Soon.
DJ Tanner Disc JockeyDJ Tanner secured his position as resident DJ by instinctively pairing Big Shiny Tunes contenders with S Club 7 era pop hits after one particularly memorable post-show party. He has played pre-show/intermission music for every PeepshowTO event so far, delighting audience members with the triumphant chorus of Mario Kart 64’s victory lap song, (Super Smash Burlesque), playing the obvious head-exploding Slim Whitman song, (Nightmare Before Stripmas), and even inspiring back row air-drumming to King Crimson (Dungeons, Dragons & Damsels). DJ Tanner is probably out record shopping right now, looking for the perfect thing that you’ll have no choice but to listen to at our next show.
Nerdy Vices: Collecting vinyl records