Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Nearly home

As the people pushed and gathered around me I decided this train was a loss, I was at highbury and islington and saw that there would be another overground just after this. I had my suitcase at the fullest it may have ever been since I moved to London just a year and a half before, a heavy handbag and a tote bag bursting with the new winter coat I had seemingly prematurely bought.

As the train moved away the station guard seemed to be offering me advice, I smiled at him politely until I realised his advice was less than useless as he suggested I move away from the front doors and further down the platform. "It opens to the exit of my station, it'll take me to right by the ramp so I get get out of the station easier" I claimed, he offered in response that "everyone wants to be at the front, what if there's prams, or bikes, or four other people have suitcases?" His accent was the thick Irish I have to pay close attention to to understand with my genetic bad hearing and the trains coming and going. "It's fine, trust me I do it all the time." He shook his head and walked away still muttering about suitcases and prams.

The train arrived promptly after and I got into position to let people off and get on as quickly as possible, all Londoners know this trick well and usually it works but my plan was scuppered. Large French family, 9 or so kids who I couldn't count due to them constantly moving between three mothers who didn't realise it was up to them to teach their children the manners it would help to stop receiving death stares while vacationing. 

They jumped on, tiny legs becoming ever so close to the wheels of my suitcase, and scarpered to find any remaining seats to take up although they could have easily fit two to each seat. I claimed my orange checkered throne with many bags in tow and started the disdainful tutting that tourists may mistake for birds in neighbouring trees. There are no trees in that station.
I recounted the strange semi argument with the station guard and wondered if he had somehow foretold that the annoyance would not come from being able to get on and off the train, but just using the train itself.
Eventually it came to my stop, and theirs.

As they took forever to use the station barriers going through in clumps at a time I lost any patience I may have had left, they crowded around walking down the street I was also walking down, children running back and forth while the mothers gossiped about whatever French film star is the latest worth gossiping about. 
My thoughts turned to the fire sticks and fuel in my suitcase and wondered if now was the time to start fire breathing, clearing myself a path and gaining myself murder or GBH charges for at least 12 people, but soon I was free as they had gathered confused about directions outside the one pub you probably wouldn't gather at if you knew the area at all, and I broke free. Almost home.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ageing disgracefully

Sometimes I like to be able to pretend I'm younger than I am. I'm the wrong side of 25 and add a few years, while working in an industry where youth, energy and the ability to kick your leg over your head can be sometimes useful, now I have to face the dwindling energy, that I may pull something if I kick too high, and that I get sleepy past 1am.

I push through it and it's not completely uncommon for me to crawl onto a night bus home blinking in the sunrise, feeling somewhat ashamed at not having been to bed yet while others I'm commuting with are on their way to work, not from what I consider to be work. Sometimes, I'm paid in alcohol.
I crawl into bed drawing all the curtains and try to pretend it's only midnight, make believing that eight hours sleep doesn't mean I'll wake up at 3pm in the afternoon before lazing on the couch with a take away because "I worked really hard last night".

Luckily I don't look my age, or so it would appear to anyone anytime I try to buy cigarettes or alcohol. Most corner shops don't ask but every supermarket employee whether younger, older or even the same age as me feel obliged to question my age.
As I'm aware from previous encounters the disbelief, I watch for their reactions when they figure out my age as I find it amusing enough to even be requested to prove that I can live the life of nicotine and alcohol infused sin. 
Only if you look over 25!
Some try to play it cool, glancing and without meeting eye contact completing the transaction, mainly women will compliment that I don't look my age to which I reply that I certainly feel it. Just the other day while awaiting a reaction to my birthdate I was met with a loud "gosh!" Which turned into a conversation I have repeated many times about how I'll appreciate it when I'm older.
I am older, I'm older than you thought I was.

I remember maybe a year or two ago a rather young looking man had to ask me, and he asked nervously it would seem but I smiled as I handed over proof of ageing. It was the best reaction I had ever had. His mouth shot open and he seemed to almost jump as he figured the numbers out in his head, I of course started to laugh as the reaction seemed so strange and dramatic. He blushed and allowed me to continue filling my lungs with their much required tar.

One day it'll catch me, that I know for sure, overnight it will seem I drank from the wrong cup in raiders of the lost ark and on that day, I can leave my passport at home.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Tempest storm, burlesque queen...!

When I was a child I hoped that by the age of 21 I would have already lived an amazing life, I was to an extent as I had not long been performing in a then small scene called burlesque, travelling, meeting new people, and honing my craft.
So when I learn of a beautiful inside and outside burlesque super star, who dated Elvis, liaised with JFK, and was friends with Marilyn Monroe all while becoming famous in her own right I feel like she is someone to aspire to, someone who built her craft and made her name when the burlesque scene was booming and yet even now in 2013 she is only the tender age of 21.
Imagine, she has lived 84 adventure filled years full of love, heartbreak, glory and sometimes sadness all while creating a unique stage persona that has not and cannot be matched all while keeping the burlesque scene of America alive. And she's 21!
I am of course talking about the leap year baby that is one of the icons of burlesque then and now, a pioneer of the sexual revolution, miss Tempest Storm. 
She is truly the Queen of Burlesque working in the scene when performers became household names, and hers did, but sometimes for the wrong reasons. Her name was smeared in papers and tabloids of the time when her affair with JFK was revealed to the world, but she kept her head held high and rightfully so.

She started work as a young woman, cotton picking in the fields of Southern Georgia before finding her love for the stage. Her certain, ahem, attributes helped to launch her stardom earning the nickname of owning "the two biggest props in Hollywood" she had a bust that caused envy across the world, and lust in the rich and famous.
Launching her career during the 50's Tempest kept on stripping till into her 80's but it's been quite the career. She was even offered studio contracts with reputable studios MGM, who sadly couldn't see past her relationship and love for an African American Man, in a time when segregation was still the norm she shocked with choosing love in an interracial relationship.

Any burlesque dancer worth her salt knows who Tempest Storm is, and even those who don't know the name will recognise her as the fiery red head alongside Bettie Paige in the cult classic, Teasorama filmed by Irving Klaw. During the making of those films she was the top billed star not only of that movie but of burlesque clubs all over the USA.
She has since worked closely to help bring the always hotly anticipated Exotic World competitions and kept the scene alive for this new generation of performers.

This is all just a snippet of her life and stories, I'm sure there are so many many more and I hope to hear them, as I'm sure you are but for this to happen the help and generosity of burlesque lovers and performers would help to make a documentary of Tempests life, filled with never before revealed footage, photos, and even her personal letters and scrapbooks over the years as well as intimate interviews with Tempest herself.
The film has already won a $7,500 start up fee at pitchfest, and has hit over half of it's required production costs through a kickstarter campaign that ends on the 9th October but there's still some way to go yet. 

There has already been so much interest in the documentary directed by renowned award winning film maker, Nimisha Mukerji and produced by Kaitlyn Regehr and will feature interviews with some of the burlesque queens of today including Lou Lou D'Vil and Dita Von Teese as well as interviews with friends of Elvis and JFK. This is definitely a film I want to see, as one of the last living legends of the age of the sexual revolution, and I'm sure you do too so donate what you can to help make this film a reality.
I am. 

So let's all do what we can, please share this blog, tweet the link for the kickstarter, share it on your Facebook and have this important and amazing story told. 
It's a good thing she's finally hit 21, she can now raise a glass with us all to celebrate not only this film, but her life. 
Go to to read more and of course to donate, there are plenty of goodies in return for donating including previews of the interviews with tempest so far!

Cheers to you Tempest!