Ian Mozdzen and Doug Melnyk say the sex act in their show was simulated, but the enemas were real. (Nicholson/CBC)
This story contains graphic details about nudity, sex
A controversial Fringe Festival performance featuring two naked actors engaging in mayonnaise enemas and a sexual act on stage left some audience members in shock while others walked out of the theatre Friday night.
The show, Hollywood Hen Pit, stars Doug Melnyk and Ian Mozdzen, who have been known for their edgy performances, having raised eyebrows in 2011 with their Fringe play Monopoly Man Pit.
Listen to a discussion about last year's controversy.
This year's performance is about the life of an aging Hollywood starlet as performed by two nude men.
"What I saw were not one, not two, but three mayonnaise enemas," said Fringe Festival reviewer Michelle Palansky, who was in the audience Friday night.
"By the third time...I was like, you know, this is gratuitous. I do not need to see any more mayonnaise enemas for the rest of my lifetime."
The show, that is completely improvised, to the surprise of many also featured oral sex between the two men.
"Fellatio was performed," said Palansky. "Not for very long, for a couple of seconds, but definitely performed," she said.
The Winnipeg police said performing sexual acts on stage is illegal, and Palansky said the actors should have known better.
"You can't be a performer on stage in Winnipeg, or any other city, and not know the laws of the land," said Palansky. "And as far as I know, everyone should know that live sex acts are not allowed on stage period."
Artists say show meant to challenge audience
Doug Melnyk and Ian Mozdzen told CBC News the oral sex in the show was simulated though the enemas were real. The pair said they classify their work as performance art, not theatre, and it is designed to challenge the audience.
"If think if you make art according to what people want you're a shoemaker," Melnyk told CBC News Saturday. "You're trying to figure out what people want and you make it for them. That's not art."
Melnyk describes the performance as "cartoony" creating images for people to think about.
"We're sort of trying to show all the sides of the body and of human actions that people are often embarrassed about or have conflicted feelings about... we're going to show the raw side of things and we're not going to protect people from imagery and that's a better way to get at these issues of deep feeling and deep pain," he added.
Mozdzen agrees, saying the show is intentionally fake. He adds that neither of them are interested in making any money from the performance.
"It is a commercial Festival so walk outs are fine. Even if we got shut down tomorrow we'd be fine because we did it and it's done," said Mozdzen.
Fringe Festival officials said there have been no formal complaints about the piece, but that they will be keeping an eye on this situation as the festival progresses.
The performers said they had a discussion with the festival about the issues after the performance and everyone is satisfied.
In order for the police to investigate, a formal complaint would have to be filed, none of which had come in Saturday.
The show is set to take the stage again Sunday at noon.
Earlier work by Mozdzen and Melnyk mashed-up fiction and history