The dating scene is so different since my dating days. But what isn’t different is the reality many Asian women face whether on dating apps or IRL. Just hearing the words “Asian fetish” can be triggering. Newsflash — it’s not a compliment. It can be awkward, scary and just plain weird. But okay, sometimes we need to just laugh and find ways to say, “hey, jia jia we got this!” (sister in Cantonese). In comes a fresh new interactive theatre work about two Asian women looking for love.
Love You Wrong Time
Nightwood Theatre presents Bad Muse Collective’s production of Love You Wrong Time at select pop-up locations from April 5 – 23, 2023. This brand new work is created and performed by Maddie Bautista and Deanna H. Choi. Directed and created with Erin Brubacher and visually designed by Helen Yung — the show delivers a hilarious, no-holds-barred song cycle. The performance centres on two friends on the dating scene while contending with the fetishization of Asian women.
Using music, true stories, bar games, and stand up, Bautista and Choi’s inventive, interactive show serves as a battle cry. In the wake of mass violence against Asian femmes, it creates a space for rage, grief, tenderness and ruthless comedy.
“Our dating lives were fraught with racist micro-aggressions, digital misogyny, and lateral violence,” said Bautista and Choi. “We couldn’t help making connections between our personal lives and the forces of the larger world. The more we peered into white supremacy and its history, the more we found evidence of its handprints on our dating apps. The more we researched how Asian sexuality has been policed in the West, the more we found its fruit in incel Asian men in online forums. Our investigations made us angry. Our anger turned into spite, our spite into humour, our humour into our music, and the joy of making it together.”
This is what inspired Love You Wrong Time. It’s a show where two Asian women make music with all their might, armed with a piano and a violin (yes, two undeniably stereotypically instruments).
I’m excited to check this one out. In the meant time, we had a chance to chat about the upcoming show and more …
For the folks in the back of the room, who think Asian fetish should be taken as a compliment? What are your thoughts?
Bautista and Choi: We actually discuss this directly in the show, so stay tuned! Although being considered attractive can be flattering at the best of times, when that attention is garnered solely because of one’s racial background, it’s hurtful and harmful. And beyond that, the way that ‘yellow fever’ is often brushed off can mask larger underlying issues of anti-Asian racism.
Any advice on how to handle these situations that have worked for you, particularly on dating apps?
Bautista and Choi: We’re not sure we’re the best people to give that kind of advice! We think the same way anyone stays safe on dating apps – trust your instincts, be clear about your boundaries, and know that you aren’t obliged to put up with any kind of harassment.
As women, and especially women of colour, we are socially conditioned to be people-pleasers and to take on additional emotional labour on others’ behalf. But it’s as simple as walking away, ending with, “I’m not interested”, or “I don’t think this is a good fit”. Knowing that you have the power and freedom to leave a situation at any moment can feel extremely empowering.
Your show is popping up in various locations around Toronto, what can we expect in the various venues?
Bautista and Choi: We are very excited by the contrasting nightlife atmospheres in each venue, and how we can incorporate the specific locations into each performance. All three venues cater to different crowds, so there’s something for everyone. Superfresh is a multinational Asian night market-themed restaurant and the Emmet Ray is a cosy whiskey bar that regularly hosts live bands. Buddies in Bad Times is an iconic space for the queer community.
We prefer to think of this show more as a concert meets comedy night than a play. Audiences can grab another drink at the bar in the break between our sets, some shows come with a dinner option, and we invite people to come with friends, partners, even Tinder dates. There’s less delineation in the space between audience and stage at these venues, so the boundary between ourselves (the performers) and the audience is very porous.
What do you wish people to know when they come to see this show?
Bautista and Choi: Come as you are. Be ready to have fun. Come with a person who gives the best hugs – you may need one! We use humour a lot in the show as a way to contend with challenging situations and difficult emotions. Although this show was made through our lens as Asian women, we hope that people of all backgrounds come away from the show with something new or reflected about their own experiences.
Anything else you’d like us to share?
Bautista and Choi: Who would last longer on a deserted island? Find out at the show!
April 5, 9:00 pm: Superfresh (384 Bloor Street West)
Come early or stay late to enjoy a night market meal with this performance of Love You Wrong Time. Made by Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, and Japanese Chefs, each ticket includes one drink ticket. This can be used for either a non-alcoholic or alcoholic drink.
April 16, 8:30 pm and April 17, 5:00 pm + 8:30 pm: The Emmet Ray (924 College Street)
Fabulous food and drinks await at the Emmet Ray. Join us for an up close and personal performance of Love You Wrong Time at this intimate College Street Whisky Bar and music venue. Three ticket types are available: general admission, general admission with dinner and general admission with dinner and a drink.
April 20–23, 7:30 pm Thursday to Sunday, 2 pm matinee on Saturday: Bad Times Theatre in the Cabaret (12 Alexander Street)
Join Bad Muse Collective as they bring their community tour home to Buddies in Bad Times’ Cabaret! This option delivers the most affordable ticket price in a space that is celebratory, queer and fully accessible.
Show runtime: approximately 90 minutes with an intermission.
Tickets range from $23 –$50.00 and can be purchased by visiting nightwoodtheatre.net