Wearing nothing but a blindfold and briefs, Brendan Healy is led around the packed lobby of the Gladstone Hotel and made to sit in a chair perched on top of the front desk. The artsy Toronto hot spot is hosting a party for artist Stev’nn Hall’s (www.stevnnhall.com) racy bondage-themed portrait series, and, in one image, a naked Healy is shown twisting the head of an equally naked clone of himself. This flesh-and-blood version of what’s in a picture frame in the gallery upstairs has the crowd in awe of both Healy’s body and his nerve. Yet when the head of the world’s longest-running and biggest queer theater companies claims he’s not nearly the exhibitionist he seems, you almost believe him.
“I’m a terribly awkward, shy person,” says Healy, the artistic director of Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (www.buddiesinbadtimes.com). On the day we chat, the 28-year-old ginger, his beard all scruffy, is wearing a black T-shirt with an Egyptian-style print. “I gravitated toward theater because theater culture is a very codified way of relating to people. There are all kinds of rules, but it’s incredibly intimate, so it’s perfect for me.”