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This article was published 22/12/2016 (1977 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Chantel Marostica’s latest return to Winnipeg is something of a farewell tour.
Not for all of her, however. Just her breasts.
The popular formerly local comedian, who now calls Toronto home, is back in Manitoba for the holidays, and her busy week of festive merriment and mirthful performances includes a fundraiser for a life-changing procedure she has decided to undertake.
The hashtag-driven name of the Dec. 27 show — #TellEmBoobsBye — pretty much sums it up.
Marostica is a lesbian who identifies as "non-binary" or "gender-queer" — in other words, she doesn’t solely identify as either masculine or feminine — and as such, she is seeking to have her breasts removed in order to have her physical being more closely match the way she perceives and feels herself to be.
" ‘Top surgery’ is a double mastectomy," Marostica explains. "I identify as androgynous; I love being a woman, and I prefer ‘she’ or ‘they’ as pronouns, but I don’t identify with my breasts... (after the surgery), when I look in the mirror, I’ll see myself the way I really am.
"Right now, I wear a binder every day, which is very uncomfortable, but it’s the only way I feel comfortable in my clothing. (After the surgery), when I look in the mirror, I’ll see myself the way I really am."
The surgery, however, is not covered by OHIP (Ontario’s health-insurance plan), so Marostica has been staging fundraising shows to help her cover the cost.
"I’m having the fundraiser because, as someone who identifies as non-binary or gender-queer, I’m not covered by OHIP, and it’s a $10,000 surgery if you do it electively," she explains. "I could have gone to my doctor and said, ‘I think I’m trans(gender),’ and then it would be free because that’s covered, but it wouldn’t be right to do that. Trans people have gained the right to have it covered, which is great… but there’s a matter of integrity here — $10,000 is a lot of money, but it’s not worth it to me to lie about who I am.
"It wouldn’t be fair for me to do that, and I’d have a bit of a lump in my throat if I looked in the mirror and finally saw who I really am but knew I had to lie to get there."
After finishing a four-night (Dec. 20-23) headlining stand at Rumor’s Comedy Club, Marostica will spend Christmas with her family before getting back up onstage at the Park Theatre on Dec. 27 for #TellEmBoobsBye (a cheeky spin on the "Tell him boy bye" lyric in Beyoncé’s song Sorry) with a jam-packed roster of local comics who have rallied behind Marostica to support her effort.
The fundraiser (tickets are $15, available at the Park and at ticketfly.com) will feature performances by Dana Smith, Bucko, Tim Gray, Cathy Herbert, J.D. Renaud, Amber Daniels, Angie St. Mars, Melanie Dahling and Outside Joke, as well as a few as-yet unannounced surprises.
"It means so much to me," she says. "These are some of my best friends, and also some of the most talented people I know. When they heard I was doing fundraising shows in Toronto, they said, ‘Would you please do a fundraising show here?’ That’s why I booked it, basically — because people here were asking if they could come out and support me."
The end goal of the fundraising effort might be to alter her physical appearance, but Marostica says there will be no change to the style of humour she brings to the stage.
"I’m still just me; I’m just going to be me minus a couple of pounds of me," she says. "It doesn’t change any of my jokes, because I’ve always identified like this anyway. I talk about being a lesbian and being a woman, which I am, so it won’t change anything. It’ll just be even more me."
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After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.
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