Sunday, 4 December 2011

Oh the weather outside is weather...

It's December 3rd and I'm panicking about my Christmas shopping. Due to the extremely long hours I work during the week I only have my weekends to get all the important stuff done, like eating, sleeping, sewing feather to interesting parts of my body, and buying presents for other people.

Yesterday was fairly productive (I certainly ate quite a lot), and so when I woke up this morning it took a while to register that I had to get up and do things today! It's a bizarre list of tasks too, including helping my flatmate return items she was brainwashed into buying in House of Fraser (definitely a two person job, remember the episode of Friends when Chandler tries to quit the gym?)

I also at some point today have to write a reference for one of my staff, buy some fan staves and re-assemble my feather fans, iron all my clothes (the first time I have willingly picked up an iron in four years), make enough soup to last me a week, buy cereal and light bulbs, wrap all the Christmas presents I've bought so far, make Christmas cards, write Christmas cards, and hang the new shower curtain.

I feel like someones mother, except the only life I'm organising is my own! There must be an easier way than this...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Something for the Weekend

It's a cold and misty morning in London town, and I'm making the most of my favourite Christmas jumper and bed socks, by sitting in bed with carrot cake watching films, reading trashy magazines and generally enjoying my day off!

My first outing with AM Preacher -
can you guess where the riding crop is?

The gig with The Boom Boom Booms was a fantastic night -  a small but devoted crowd ensured I felt the love from all sides (and in particular the young man whose lap I sat on to remove a troublesome stocking), and the band played he most amazing set, with influences from 50's and 60's rock and roll, classic rockabilly, and my personal favourite - Rebel Yell by Billy Idol.

I first danced to this song with the band AM Preacher (who share Lars, their enigmatic front man, with the Booms) about 3 months ago, and completely feel in love with the decadence of the 80's rock movement. Billy Idol in particular appeals to me as an artist because his voice is so full of raw, unadulterated passion (not too mention incredible sexual magnetism!) Listening to any man screech the lyrics of this song is enough to get me swinging off a chair, or chasing someone around the room with my riding crop - a permanent feature of the act regardless of where I am!

Wearing more than normal for the end of a routine!

Speaking of venue, the pub hosting the gig was a gorgeous little pub in Islington call the Queen Boadicea. With dark wood panelling on the walls, tasteful decor and low lighting it was one of the cosiest, warmest gigs I've ever played, and the owner of the pub even vacated his bedroom for my fellow dancer Sophia Disgrace and I for the night, so we could enjoy our offstage moments lounging on a bed eating bar snacks and swapping accidental nudity stories. In other words, a perfect evening!

However, my absolute favourite moment of the night had nothing to do with me or my acts (fabulous though they were!) No, I have to confess that the final act of the night by Sophia Disgrace totally trumped me, and rightly so, for Miss Disgrace performs an axel-grinder routine wearing nothing but silver hotpants and electrical tape. Imagine if you will the delight of the audience when she whips out her safety goggles, leans back and sends sparks flying from her crotch to the corners of the room, only to discover Lars has decided to join in by playing in the direct line of fire! Fan-bloody-tastic!

Lars getting involved with a real Fire Crotch!

After this display of fire-crotch goodness we retired, changed and went on our way, bumping into some of the audience members on the tube on the way home. Though a little tiddly and very sleepy they were most complimentary about all the acts, and wished us every success in future crotch related endeavours, which just goes to show that you can meet nice people on the tube after all (provided they've already seen you in your underwear!)

In comparison to this I though Friday night would be tame in comparison - how wrong I was! My best friend H is a drama teacher for a school in SW London, and called me up after work yesterday (when I was indulging in some wine, gossip and complaining with a colleague) to invite me to see The Woman in Black with some of her Y11 students. Well, what's a luvvie to do? I finished my (second) wine, grabbed my files and strolled along to the theatre to see what I had been reliably informed was the scariest play I will ever see. I don't know if this is true or not because I spent most of the play hiding behind the tall man seated in front of me, so bloody scared was I! Not only was the play itself remarkably staged, but the scares were so genuinely terrifying that at one point I was almost crying with terror (no doubt helped along by the screeching girls behind me who kept saying 'Miss I am soooo scared right now, I can't even watch innit!)

Thankfully I was so tired when I got in I didn't have enough energy to have nightmares, so hopefully this truly terrifying experience will not come back to haunt me...though I can't imagine I'll be happy to hear a rocking chair for a while!  And on that note, I'm going to get up, have a long shower (in a brightly lit room) and enjoy what is shaping up to be a really lovely weekend!

The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre, Russell Street, WC2, London.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Under Pressure

This is not where I work

It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me since I last wrote about my impending Halloween show. Immediately after returning from the South West I accepted a new job working with young apprentices studying for their Level 2 NVQ qualifications. The role is an odd combination of teacher, mentor, manager and mum, and every day brings a new challenge, including some terrifying teenagers, sulky senior management and mind-numbing Macs. Oh yes. I, the consummate PC user has been forced into Mac usage against my will. So one month in I'm enjoying most of the days, and the various tantrums, tears and triumphs that accompany any given minute in my office.

Pretending to be a Cello
is one of my many gifts to the
noble art of performance
However, I'm trying to balance this with taking on more freelance offers of gigs and performances, a lot of which involve travel and time (which I have much less of than I did when I blissfully self-employed!) Getting the balance between work, other work, home, fun and anything else I need to do at that particular moment is proving very difficult, something I don't like to admit, because I'm spending every day hammering home the imprtance of effective time management to my staff!

So what to do? I don't want to give anything up, especially not now - I've just finished transporting all my costumes to London, a task that included dismantling my beautiful feather fans and squashing said feathers into an overfull suitcase for a 6 hour bus journey with Benny the welsh Megabus driver, who very much enjoys telling jokes over the bus tannoy system. We've met several times now. It's always a pleasure.

I'm holding off making a decision about the impossible workload, as I believe it's better to be in demand than pathetically available. Yes, the 'wait and see' approach could have some potentially dire consequences (I've agreed to a 12 hour round trip, just so I can dance for the grand total of 10 minutes, because I'm nice like that) but I'm hoping that, somehow, it's all going to turn out well in the end. How? I don't know, it's a mystery!

"The Boom Boom Booms" Burlesqueabilly, with Fanny LaRue and Sophia Disgrace, The Queen Boadicea, Islington, Thursday 24th November.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Celebrity Skin

As Halloween approaches my thoughts have turned once again to dead celebrities, my absolute favourite theme for new acts and creations. I will be dancing at Annabel's Cabaret & Discotheque, Plymouth, and their theme for Halloween is 'Hollywood Horror'. I must admit that I am a little responsible for this, having suggested the theme and volunteered my signature act for the evening, my Marilyn Monroe tribute piece.

I first showcased this act in the first edition of the alternative cabaret night 'Twirls of the Unexpected' to general revulsion, as the audience witnessed dear Ms Monroe drag herself out of a body bag to inspect her autopsy scar.The genesis of the routine had come about around 4 months earlier when I dressed up a dead Marilyn Monroe for Halloween last year, after several years of despairing that all the really challenging and interesting costumes were being created and worn by the men in my life, while I found a different set of animal ears each October. No more, said I, and so began my morbid fascination with the rest of the world's positively gruesome fascination with Marilyn Monroe. How many among us can say we know nothing about her, and in particular, how she passed away? I certainly have an indecent knowledge of the circumstances of her death, because the information is freely available to all that seek it. Over the past 40 years men and women have made films about it, written songs about it and even dedicated episodes of Quantum Leap to the last days of Marilyn Monroe (a clear indicator of her place in modern American history).

But the fascination doesn't stop there. In my quest for the perfect Monroe tribute, I encountered several pretenders to the throne: Madonna; Gwen Stefani; even Lady Gaga is living the dream of Monroe through her hair. It's always the hair you see, it practically screams 'I'm a Star!', and now I want a piece of it. I want to be a Star, with the beautiful hair and the provocative dress (with additional wind machine at no extra cost), and I feel like I can have it, because the hair, and the dress, and the sound of her voice don't really belong to her anymore, do they? They belong to us, because we took them and turned them into posters on the wall, and pop stars, and songs about misspent youth and now it's almost as though these material things that should be reminding us of her have become her. Which leads me back to the bodybag...

I want to tell it like it is. The body of the woman in the picture is not smiling. The body of the woman with the curled blonde hair is not gliding across the stage. The body of the woman singing sultry love songs to you cannot speak, on account of the autopsy scar. And the body of this woman, though black and blue and clad in nothing more than a toetag and some oddly familiar white underpants, belongs to nobody. Hang that on your wall.

Fanny LaRue's 'Hollywood Horrors' - Saturday 29th October 2011, Annabel's Cabaret & Discotheque, Plymouth. Entry £5.00, open 8.30pm til Late.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

"You Want HOW MUCH?"

It has been one of my great pleasures for many years to complain about how stupid/mean/ignorant/cheap other people are, on the basis that I'm clearly so vehement and scary when doing so that no-one in their right mind would contradict me, lest they in turn face my unyielding and multi-faceted wrath. My particular bugbear, the phrase I have heard so often over the past three years that I sometimes dream about people saying it to me, followed by me punching them in the gut (or lower) is "You Want HOW MUCH?"

Because of course, they know exactly how much I want. I just said it. A loud exclamation of their shock and disgust at the amount of money I am asking for in exchange for goods and/or service is simply not necessary. Perhaps they wonder if, by making such a splutter, that I may suddenly become aware for the first time that this price is unacceptable? Maybe they dare hope that they will be the person to finally shame me into changing forever this unfair and unrealistic price. Maybe. Then again, maybe they're just being rude. I have an opinion on this matter that needs little explanation, but has recently brought me to an unpleasant realisation.

Having recently relocated to London, I have spent the past few days wandering around with my mouth open in awe of the splendour surrounding me. As I am privileged enough to be living in the heart of Central London, a stones throw in any direction from Soho, Covent Garden and Leicester Square to name but a few, my path constantly crosses a plethora of theatres, restaurants, shops and other establishments of repute and wonder. It also takes me to Tesco, where I do my weekly food shop. And this dear readers is where it gets slightly unpleasant.

I do not want to pay £2.65 for pesto.

I do not begrudge Tesco for opting to sell a high-end, luxury brand of fresh pesto, available for the pesto connoisseurs of the Tesco clientele across the UK, and indeed the world (I myself have visited the Tesco in Prague, where you can buy reasonable priced Violins). However. This pesto is the only pesto available in my local Tesco. Moreover, my favourite jam is approximately 4 pence more expensive. And I'm suddenly, inexplicably enraged. They want HOW MUCH for a tub of bloody pesto? I fear the self-loathing will slowly drive me insane...