Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A not so Brief Encounter

On Friday night I was in Germany, getting ready for my second act at The Queen Calavera when Beau Rocks came back from doing her act and told me there seemed to be an all male troupe in watching the show. I was intrigued, what kind of show? And in Germany? I wanted to know more.
I introduced myself and was surprised at the mix of Australian and American accents, we spoke and I eventually asked why they were in Hamburg. 
The penny finally dropped (it probably took a while with how tired I was that whole weekend) that this was the cast of Briefs, the show that everyone I know in cabaret was talking about during the summer. We made plans to try and see the show when it was in London but never quite got the chance. A chance meeting with the cast in a small burlesque bar in hamburg seemed surreal but it was lovely to get to meet the cast, drink with the cast, and dance with the cast into the wee hours. 
The highlight on Friday was gogo dancing onstage to Nancy Sinatras 'These Boots Were Made for Walking' with Evil Hate Monkey and the youngest cast member Louis who had all the youthful energy of a 19 year old. 
The cast invited us to see their show the next night, only the second night of the shows run in the Fliegende Bauten theatre near to the Reeperbhan, and we couldn't wait! 

The next day we nursed our hangovers, did a quick Photoshoot and then ran to the show, we were lucky enough to get front row seats next to the stage and waited for the show to begin. Some of the cast came to chat to us while handing out mysterious raffle tickets to everyone in the audience before the show started.
They disappeared and soon the lights dimmed.... Onstage appears a sea of white feathers, opening the show with an amazingly choreographed fan dance number that you would expect to see in a classic musical. The difference being the more modern music, UV lights picking up the feathers, and of course the cast of boys throwing some stunning shapes, poses and gestures with the fans. We were blown away, we whooped and cheered our lungs out and it was only the first act.
The second was Evil Hate Monkey who seemed to dissolve us into hysterics every time he was onstage, the character so perfectly executed, his dedication obvious, energy and skill levels leaving us wide eyed and open mouthed. 

I won't reveal all of the details of the show as this is one event that really has to be seen, an amazing mix of skills, dedicated training, comedy timing, and a fantastic cast that not only were amazing onstage but lovely in person. I haven't talked about much since, and my boyfriend who is also a boylesque performer, is possibly either sick of hearing about it, or dying to see it too. 
The acts ranged from hula hoops, aerial acts, drag queens, insane comedy, and some tricks I have never seen before used in this way (Louis was a particularly shocking act to us, who had cooed over him the night before as any woman nearing her thirties might, but as he refused to tell us what he was going to do onstage we shrieked when we finally did see his act!), acrobatics, genius group numbers, and so so so much more that the time flew by and we just wanted to see it all again.

I highly recommend this show, which is running until January at the Fliegende Bauten, I have worked for nine long years on the stage and never have I seen a show more perfectly executed, with one number flowing into the next, more spectacular, and more fun than this, from opening number to the spectacular finale. We left with sore hands from clapping so much, a sore stomach from laughing so much, and a sore throat from so much cheering throughout the acts. 
If you live near, in or are planing a trip to Hamburg this show needs to be on your to do list, written really big, highlighted, covered in glitter, and surrounded with gold stars.

I shall never look at tightly whiteys in the same way ever again. Also you have to go to find out just what those raffle tickets were for. If anyone needs me, I'll be here planning a sex change so I can get involved!

Monday, 11 November 2013

The loss of the Band in the Brand

On friday Primark released a helpful blog that explains just exactly who those bands are that you can now buy the T-shirts, cushions, even bed spreads of in their store and why they are just so cool. At no point do they suggest any of their albums, or god forbid, listening to them.

To a seasoned music lover such as myself it would read rather patronising but to the average Primark shopper I'm sure its a helpful guide to who's who and what's what.
It opens on the Ramones explaining they wore jeans and had a lot of hair, and are labelled as the first punk band, I would say it was Television in my opinion, the band Malcolm Mclaren liked so much he decided to rip off their look and give it to the Sex Pistols, but this has no matter to the designers, workers, or patrons of Primark.
The only good thing about these designs is at least they have the original logo, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy all taking pride of place in the circle and no mention of Marky Ramone or, thank god, CJ.

Other bands mentioned include The Beatles, who wore 60's suits throughout their career apparently, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and many more whose entire career has been handily whittled down into one unimportant sentence with no mention of the music they created.
If you would like to read these useful descriptions you can do so here - http://m.primark.com/whats-new/article/186

Primark aren't the only guilty party, H&M selling Guns and Roses, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Joy Division and even The Sex Pistols T-shirts in case butter money isn't quite enough. H&M's main target being the slightly more discerning shopper who prefer the wider ranges of british (and one american bands) music at a slightly higer cost than Primark charges.

Topshop probably selling their band tshirts at a similar price to those once independant music store owners who would stock a wide range of music t-shirts aimed to be bought by people who liked the music. Here you can nab insensitive two armed Def Lepard baseball tops which would be shunned by their one armed drummer, sleeve flapping in the wind uselessly...

Roxy Music, Slayer, David Bowie, Blondie, The Doors, The Who, and many many more have been given this mainstream cheap culture make over and you can now declare you know of music via your chest at the small cost starting from £8.00.
Courntey Love even manages to make yet another quick buck out of her long deceased husband by allowing Nirvana T-shirts to be sold at such a bargain price.

Most of the younger kids wearing these would have heard of these bands somehow, if it's from the cover versions ineptly sang on Glee specialist episodes where they learn week by week that there was music before GaGa, they do still love GaGa tho, and belt out what were once iconic songs to fill a primetime spot on Americas Tuesday night television. 
If they aren't fans of Glee, and these days who isn't, maybe they saw their favourite celebrity wandering the streets wearing a band tshirt that you can buy cheap on the high street, thank god for paparazzi eh, or how else would you know what to wear?!

I remember a time when you had to go to specialist stores to buy tshirts of the bands you liked, usually they wouldnt have your size so you chose to either wait or buy it anyway to cut up and fit to your body. 
I made friends with the guys who owned these shops, I spoke to them a lot and when I could afford the prices it used to cost for such specialist items I would get them as I loved that band and their music so much.

I recall one visit to the store with my then boyfriend at the time where I found a Clash 'Know Your Rights' tshirt in my size, happy as I was my ex declared I had to prove I knew how that song went before I could buy it. Of course I did and was allowed but felt my rights had been exercised that day. I wonder sometimes why it took me so long to leave him, that day should have been the one. 
It was a common thing then that music lovers everywhere would question your knowledge on the bands you were advertising across your person, asking you to name an album, who the band members were, where your ramones T-shirt may come in handy, or tell them your favourite song of that bands back catalogue.     
I wonder sometimes if someone somewhere is still doing this, or if they have all spontaneously combusted after so many recent attempts, leaving behind only a smouldering puddle of resentment. 

I used to own a lot of band T-shirts, and still have some. My favourite was a bright yellow X-ray Spex tshirt that I bought from a small punk shop in liverpool, which featured Poly Styrene dancing across it, which I wore when studying art at university, all chopped up and tied back together. I don't recall whatever happened to it but I wish I still had it. I also bought and wore a Crass tshirt, not being a fan of Crass I admit, but I liked Gee Vaucher the female artist who designed their album covers, so wore it and still have it regardless. 

I keep these tshirts usually tucked away deep in my drawers, a memory of what once was and who I was back then, maybe I'll wear one on a rare occasion but if I ever decend to Primark I will never leave with any of their incarnations. Unless, that is, they make a Rolling Stones Tshirt featuring the Marianne Faithful news paper headlines at the time.
Who can go wrong with a Primark Mars Bar Party?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The highs and lows of being a stock model

A few years ago I travelled over to St. Helens near Liverpool to do a stock shoot. I was paid for modelling and treated well, they had built a circus themed set with curtains, a hay covered floor, even a swing and we set about doing various poses and styles for the next few hours.
After the shoot I went home, probably drank tea and watched my boyfriend at the time playing Call of Duty with his friends, I can't really remember as it was years ago.

I thought nothing of it for the next year or so, it was just a shoot I had done and as I'd been paid it was just work. Occasionally I'd get a message from someone that they had seen my photo in a company newsletter, then in a magazine, once it even graced the cover of an Australian magazine someone was kind enough to have sent to me. 
I've never just come across them myself, people always found them and let me know, unsure if I knew my image was getting used for such things. I know they are being used but I have no say in the matter, that's what stock photos are for.

Sometimes the results were comical, advertising storage units off the motorways, sometimes kinda cool, as giant banners in a Las Vegas casino. People send me snapshots of these things all the time and it's interesting to see how far they've spread. I'm sure there must be so many more out there in this big wide world I'm not even aware of!

But there's the highs and the lows, I got paid yes, but not that much as I didn't think they would be used as much as they have. Is it down to my stunning good looks (that I apparently stole off either Rita Hayworth or Drew Barrymore depending on individual opinion), the costume which I made myself back in 2010 maybe, with its sparkles and top hat it has appealed to a mass market of people who like girls in top hats? Or the subject matter which seems more or less to be used out of context.

Three examples for you, the first kinda good as it was a giant poster next to the Eiffel Tower and also used in the Paris metro advertising a woman's football team. What whip brandishing ringmasters and football have in common I have no idea, or if it even football it's advertising as I don't speak French and went with what I'm told?!

God knows how big it is, I'm kinda glad I didn't see this myself as I would have stood open mouthed staring trying to figure out just what's going on in this poster and claiming to the locals "Moi! Moi! Est moi!"

The second is one of the lows I shall say, of all the things my face may get put to his wouldn't be one I expect. Maybe I look like someone who has had an issue of this sort before? Maybe I look like someone who gets regular smears? Maybe I just look like a lesbian? I haven't a clue.

Although the advice didn't actually come out of my mouth, it's good advice none the less.
This advert has been doing the rounds for a few years and frequently get sent or mentioned to me. It no longer amuses me I must say, cervical tests are just part of life, wether you choose to do it onscreen or not is your choice.

The last is quite cool, I used to play these games myself but no longer have an xbox or a disposable income so didn't know about this until a friend sent it to me, I friend I used to play alongside online in a previous incarnation of this game. 

Yes that is a gun pointing out a poster of me, which I received alongside a bunch of other screen shots all over the game decal (i got my other half to ask his platoon in planetside 2, that's what they said the right term is) in the new Call of Duty Ghosts that's recently been released.
Of course I posted this online as a "look where I've turned up now!" post but it lead to the usual questions "did you know?" No. "Did you get paid for it?" Well, yes three years ago when I did the stock photos and probably not enough considering how much it's been used. 

I have no regrets for the shoot I did no matter how much it's been used, but if I was to ever do one again, I would most likely charge more.
I'm a stock photo goldmine! 

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Amazing Human Milk Detector

Another night of wrenching guts, bloated, sickly and miserable I traced back over everything I had injested that day. Salad? Nope. Soup? Nope, I had made these things myself so knew that no dairy had sneaked into the recipe. Soya milk hot chocolate? Hot chocolate powder? Sometimes made with milk? Oh shit, it thought, it's happened again.
All my life my body has had an amazing ability to detect milk, my youth spent feeling ill most of the time. I turned to veganism about ten years ago, utilizing what passed for websites in 2003 I gave it my best shot, but back then it was limited. A year and a half ago, now living in the urban utopia of London, I decided it would be easier this time around and really went for it head first. 

It worked! No longer was I constantly tired and sick but I then discovered a hidden talent. Cutting out milk completely meant my body could now trace the smallest amounts of milk in any product, it announces itself less regularly but a lot more painfully as time goes on. The smallest drop can lead to me whining and curled up within a matter of a half hour, but these days coeliacs is really where it's at. 

It's frustrating having an unfashionable eating requirement. The supermarket free from aisle is a great example, really it's a small section they like to hide, is it near the jams? The baking products? Or amusingly sometimes, opposite the refrigerated ham.  
On those four to six shelves there's gluten free pasta, breads, crumpets, all butter cookies (butter?! That's really rubbing it in), and more all claiming to be free from wheat. Meanwhile for the lactose intolerant like me? Here's some alpro soya gloop, it's meant to taste like chocolate. 
It tastes like depressed angel delight.

Many resturants and cafés boast of their gluten free products. Pizza Hut have a gluten free pizza base, hummingbird bakery have gluten free cupcakes, most of the products specifically made for vegans have also had gluten free flour shoved in to broaden their market base. Such a shame I'm allergic to gluten free flour, the coeliacs are trying to strangle me with their products, from the inside out. 

Tesco boasts their own free from range, as do sainsburys which are void of everything but not egg. It'll trap you that sneaky egg and reminds me of the worst day date I ever had just last summer.
I was still fresh to London and had arranged a day of walking around Hampstead Heath in the lovely heat that summers day. I should have realised when my sheer light summer dress couldn't hide my stomach ballooning to double it's size something was about to go wrong, I lasted as far as Hampstead station before declaring we should really go to a cafe first, right now, this very minute.... 
I had to rush to the bathroom for an immediate body emergency, I had to stay and see it through to the bitter end, but I had chosen the cafe with only one toilet. Soon French tourists had gathered outside the frosted glass, knocking less and less politely as time passed. They had a child, oh dear god I had to let them in.
I went back to the table where my date had finished his meal and looked very confused. I sat saying nothing and sweated at the table waiting for the tourists to reappear so I could once again take refuge from my body's protests. At last I claimed ownership once again claiming to my date I was a 'bit sick'.
Eventually I decided I had to get my old friend Imodium involved, I ran out of the cafe and eventually found an open corner shop that stocked them. I took them on the way back to the cafe and after 20 minutes of awkward conversation I felt well enough to go walk the Heath. 
It was embarrassing yes, but it saved me from trying to make small talk with the guy who's accent I couldn't really follow, this was probably made more clear on the Heath when I started to just ignore whatever he was saying anyway.
That day I learned, my body also detects egg.

You'd be surprised at the things that contain milk, I am. My mother doesn't believe me the amount of times I've had to ask if there's dairy in things claiming that "surely, there won't be dairy in a tomato soup" before the waitress returns saying it was cooked with butter. I've learned the hard hard locked in a cafe toilet hard way to always check and double check.

And to prove my point, here is a list of things you wouldn't expect milk in -

Salt and pepper Pringles, it's salt. And pepper. So what the milk in there for...?

I used to love these, and I check every time I see them just in case but no, there's always milk in there.
Hint of lime? Lies....

You may have gathered by now, I quite like crisps...
Smokey bacon while they are vegetarian nothing gives that bacony essence more than some milk. 
The roast chicken don't have any in, but do have dried chicken breast so I don't eat them. Mmm powdered meat.

It's not all bad tho, here's some things that don't...!

Yes it's BBQ like, so meaty but actually has a tick on its side that it's suitable for vegans. Good job, get to work on those pepper ones tho.

Oh yes....they don't work with salsa, or any dipping actually but if you miss the feel and look of orange powder stuck to your finger tips this is the way to go.

Now these, tescos own skips style maize snack. 
Real skips? Not vegan.
Fake skips that taste just the same, only come in big bags, and are cheap? Vegan. 

Maybe if my diet consisted of less crisps I would find more to eat.
People use these labels these days as a reason that they are now eating healthy, I cut out bread and now I've lost weight! What're you eating instead then? Oh fruit, vegetables...
I combat this by probably being quite unhealthy. Yes I do eat properly but I can also eat a whole bag of those bad boy fake skips in 10 minutes. 

I do my best, but with society helping the new in Vouge allergy mine is being overlooked. I spend stupid amounts in holland and Barrett's, I know exactly what I can and can't eat when it comes to crisps and buiscuits (jammy dodgers, bourbons, and some supermarket own brand digestives and rich tea all fine) but my list of allergies, even to things that actually don't come out of animals bits, mean I'm the worst dinner party guest ever. 

One day I hope my dietary requirements becomes the new fashionable one to have, we reclaim the free from aisle, cafés and chains pander to us, and the alpro soya gloop cheers up a bit. 
Till then I shall barricade myself at home with home cooked meals, for fear more than anything else.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Why my latest purchase was a typewriter....

I enjoy writing, I always have done since a young age where it was the only school subject I was half decent at. I'm not very academically minded so to be good at anything the school deemed a useful life skill was something I felt proud of.
My family encouraged me but it fell to the wayside somewhat as I started to travel, work, and experience life outside of books. As a child I would take the maximum (six) allowed from the library every week and devour each book one after the other, reading one a day sometimes. I was a lonely child.
Even when I was a student through college and university it was known that if I started a book I would ignore everyone and everything until I was done reading it.

And so I started writing again, I'm aware my posts have quite a varied range as I practice writing, different subject matters and toning my technique but essentially that is what I would like to do, write.
I've always admired writers, especially those who write taken from their own life experiences. Mainly Hunter S. Thompson who I have a tattoo of, and regularly argue that Hunter would be a perfectly acceptable name for our first child.

So I bought a type writer. 
My favourite film is about Hunter S. Thompson, played by Bill Murray called "Where the Buffalo Roam" which it seems hardly anyone I know has heard about, find it, go watch it, enjoy it. 
In the film Thompson (Murray) is shown sitting at a type writer recounting events, smoking cigarettes and teaching his dog to attack an effigy of Richard Nixon. 
The typewriter sticks in my mind, and when I saw this baby blue vintage type writer it decided I needed it, it's still usable but I doubt I will make any attempts to write a novel on it, the tape is dried up and I have no idea which is the correct replacement but it is a reminder to write more often.

The ideas and words that fill my head and feel that they must be expressed and shared with the world. Who knows why my head feels the need to express itself in such a manner but all my mind and body wants to do is write more and more, improving, imagining various scenarios and stories that I could explore and hope would interest others. I am always happy receiving feedback, debating and generally talking about such subjects with readers. Yesterday's post lead to a lot of interesting interactions and only makes me yearn more to write, hopefully at a level where my words could even possibly one day sometime god willing be published in good old black and white. Or these days various colours on various colours, but never ever ever will I allow my words to become "comic sans-ed".

I read when time allows, usually stories written about the authors life which is possibly why some of my writings have been quite personal as it's the best experience to draw from, but I just haven't stopped living yet. 
My boyfriend and family are supportive, reading my current blogs and articles and talking to me about the inner workings of it all. My mother asked me today as we caught up over a cup of coffee if I'm getting paid for my writings yet, I'm not, I am stupidly tapping away for free as I'm either very generous, or not so smart. But as she suggests I charge by the word if you've read thus far you all owe me a fair bit by now.

In seriousness now I have come to a crossroads.
I'm happy people have enjoyed and responded to the style, make up, and review posts it is not where my heart lies truthfully. But as they are so well received I feel I should carry them on.
But tucked away along these posts I have turned my hand to articles which fall under a completely different category all together it may not appeal so much to those who want the review posts.
So loyal readers (I assume as much as you've read all the above) do I seperate these types of writings into seperate places or combine the two as I have done thus far? 

Till them I am ready to write...!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Million mask march

Last night people from 477 cities all over the world donned masks, mainly the newest anti-government recognisable symbol of the V for Vendetta guy Fawkes mask made popular from the comic book and then film franchise. Yes a franchise owned by Hollywood company time-warner but originally used for the comic books written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd in 1982. 
The film raised awareness of guy Fawkes and his original plot outside of the uk where it has been a known story and holiday for every man, woman and child but until now has only been a celebration of burning a man at the stake, then decending into firework displays and bonfires which from my earliest memories meant firework safety, scare adverts and warnings, the one sticking in my memory is when my school warned the shell suit wearing that was popular in early 90's Liverpool, was dangerous as the material could light easily and you could burn to death in a shell suit flaming drama.
The masks have been since donned by the group anonymous more known to start with a hashtag and are referred to as "hacktavists" working mainly online, as people marched some websites were reportedly hacked although the details of which and why have not been revealed publicly.

If you wanted to learn more about the marches you should look for the hashtag #millionmaskmarch as to look to the news you will find little to no information, the bbc devoting all of two paragraphs and a closed comment section on their website, the guardian although using twitter to find more information from the people involved and taking over the hashtag have one upped the bbc with three whole paragraphs and an open comment section where people argue over the use of the masks which of course gives some funds to Time - Warner and if Russell brand can be taken seriously as a participant.

All of these things are distractions to the marches themselves, people feel disappointed that there was no to little media coverage but who were they trying to send the message to? The mainstream? The media itself who are aware but have chosen to not cover? Or to the actual government that society is so angry toward?
The marchers of London descended towards Buckingham Palace, possibly confusing many tourists along the way, and met with police barricades protecting our nations figurehead, but isn't that what the gates and her many guards are for? The people of Washington marched to the whitehouse where an American flag was burned which in America is known as the biggest fuck you to America. 
I wonder if that flag was made in China.

Videos and photos from the marches all over the world are now circulating online, I could have easily used a few here but I found it somewhat pointless, photos of burning flags, videos of men either drunk or high on the adrenaline dancing shirtless but masked on the top of statues while screaming "freedom" cheapened the point of these marches. Some cities took it more seriously than others but as with every protest some take it too far, they help to get their fellow protesters labelled as idiots or vandals. They help the media to taint them and miss the point completely.

In Washington a building was defaced with spray paint, windows were broken all by mask wearing individuals which will help the media in their case to brush it under the carpet. 
In the Uk people argued that Russell brand was and I quote a "fag" who is trying to claim the attention to himself. Maybe it is hard to believe that a successful comedian and actor may feel the same as the average joe on the street, but how many protesters can really take this message to the mainstream media, brand being hot topic lately due to arguing on air with Jeremy Paxman has always been rather outspoken, however I do remember a video that he even showed himself on his own tv show of him stripping naked and dancing on top of a car during a previous protest, back when he wasn't a household name. 

I wonder how the writers of the original comic feel about this, are they happy their message came across? Are they sad it took over 30 years to do so? Is Natalie Portman glad she shaved her hair for this?! 
And now we sit and wait to see if anything changes, if only one parliament listen from the many many countries that took part in this than has it been a success? Or have the select few tainted the point of the many? 
We shall have to wait and see.