“I got in on the waitlist for the Fly Honey show and have an extra ticket….do you want to go?”
That star-blessed night, I stumbled into The Den Theatre in Wicker Park to see what was briefly explained as “an epic femme-centered, queer-powered, body-positive show.” In my guarded mind I couldn’t possibly dream what I saw that night entering the Fly Honey atmosphere for the first time. The gates of Gay Heaven could never.
The Fly Honey show is a reimagining of cabaret, performance, music, and dance all together. It’s an interactive and immersive celebration of the body, uninhibited and unapologetic, and like the best domino effect, a celebration of sexuality, queerness, and identity. The Fly Honeys rely on and exist in direct response to their community and the consistent talent and support Chicago has to offer. This trust in the collaboration from the community to keep the Fly Honeys growing was illuminated in my conversation with founder and choreographer, Erin Kilmurray.
The first ever Fly Honey show premiered in the family room of a live-work space turned DIY venue called the Inconvenience in 2009. Making use of the vast talent of the fourteen living there and their networks, the one-night show with only two prior rehearsals resulted in a greatly successful and fun accident.
“What ended up becoming the mass ensemble element of [The Fly Honeys] started with me asking 30 women to do a strip tease with me. It turned out I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see what that would feel like. That 30-woman strip tease experiment ended up being the finale of the first show.”
The OG Honey hive noticed that the human need and curiosity to express, dance, shake ass, strip, and feel good in your own skin was contagious. Ever since that first show, the Fly Honeys knew they had something special, they just genuinely no agenda. Treating every show like it may be their last, the Fly Honeys danced their way into their own unthinkable future.
What started as us practicing loving our bodies turned into a social practice,” shares Erin.
The Fly Honeys are inclusive of all bodies, all skill levels, and all mediums of art. They sustain an anti-competition culture by hosting free classes, using recommendation systems for featured acts, allowing the performers to dress themselves, and facilitating an overall compassionate and safe space.
Erin shares, “Dance allows for a lot of humility. It asks for vulnerability in a lot of different ways. That, in addition to people learning at different speeds, created a super organic and relaxed rehearsal environment. There’s a culture of ‘we’re gonna have to forgive ourselves for all the moments that are uncomfortable.’” This allowance of humility really shines through in the final performances. Every person looks different than the one next to them, and every person is radiant.
Now, after years of quarantining and a New Years Reschedule, the Fly Honeys are BACK with a 3 night extravaganza at the magnifying Thalia Hall June 23rd-June 25th.
“I’m not the bee I used to be,” laughs Erin, highlighting the transformative theme. Everyone is different. Everyone is at a different point in their lives. Peoples’ bodies have changed. Peoples’ relationships with their bodies have changed. Peoples’ relationships to OTHER peoples’ bodies have changed. We’re throwing a party.”