Trash Cinema, Weird Travel And Freaky People: Bizarre Book Club Non-Fiction Special

Merry morning my little chimpanzees in the planning stages of taking over the world. I’ve been reading lots of weird things and here they are:

Death Confetti: Pickers, Punks and Transit Ghosts in Portland, Oregan, by Jennifer Robin death-confetti-510x801

This is, no exaggeration, one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I follow the author on facebook as well and, seriously, her status updates are miniature masterpieces.

Jennifer charts her non-linear journey from reclusive childhood to Portland artist with description as biting as William Burroughs and prose as rich as Anais Nin, but also completely unique. Sometimes she just remembers a character from her past, sometimes a full anecdote, sometimes she’s just looking at people on the bus, but all are beautiful. How can you not be fascinated by an intro like this:

“My directives, as established at seventeen—to experience real emotion, real contact with other people, all of the things you only learn by sucking cock, smoking rock, climbing cliffs, sleeping in catacombs, getting pregnant, and making a lot of mistakes—were fully enforced at this time. Within a year of my arrival I was playing in an electronic noise band. On and off-stage, we made—or perhaps “were”—performance art.”

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero ohm

I have genuinely never laughed so loudly and consistently at a book. If you’re unfamiliar with Tommy Wiseau’s complete mess of a film The Room, first of all where have you been, and second please watch it right now. Our fascination with it is hard to explain to people who don’t love terrible films. Example conversation with a friend:

Friend: Are you coming to Ian’s later?

Me: Yep. I’m bringing The Room

Friend: What? Not again. I’ve got Lolita at home, I’ll bring that

Me: Noooo, I can watch a good film anytime. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND MEEE!!!

And so on. Greg is the guy who played Mark (Oh, hi Mark) and he recounts the complete debacle from beginning to end including the first time he met Tommy and the events that led to his making the film. What elevates this above merely poking fun at an eccentric is the genuine level of affection – though sometimes tested – and desire to understand Tommy. He’s not a monster, he has real feelings and a desperate need to be an actor, and perhaps another reason we enjoy The Room is his sheer determination to make that happen. As Greg says, “The Room is a drama that is also a comedy that is also an existential cry for help that is finally a testament to human endurance.”

There is a film coming out, called The Masterpiece, based on this book. I, for one, will be watching it.

Everything Wrong With The Room In 8 Minutes Or Less:

Dandy in the Underworld by Sebastian Horsley dandy

“Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a peacock without a cause, I am a piece of transcendent trash – a futile blast of colour in a futile colourless world.”

If Sebastian had been born in the 1800s he would be one of those sons paid by their wealthy family to stay away. He crashes through life like a mixture of Byron and Withnail, rarely likeable but always interesting, an artist who’s biggest art piece was himself.

On a whim he goes diving with sharks, has a fling with gangster Jimmy Boyle, bets on the stock exchange and becomes horribly addicted to heroin and crack. When he has money he doesn’t respect it, when he doesn’t he’s desperate. He makes no excuses for shoplifting and generally being a louche, entitled rich boy and if he did I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed reading him as much. He died aged 47 of a suspected overdose.

(Be warned, I suspect he says things because he likes to be ‘shocking’):

A Curious Guide To London by Simon Leyland curious

Yes, yes, there’s the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square blah blah. Where are the corpses? A common cry, and one this book would like to answer.

Beneath the respectable layer of London’s past is a hidden world of information, such as the peculiar shrub in Chelsea Physic Garden that gave John Wyndham the idea for Day of the Triffids, St. Sepulchre’s watch house in Holborn (built to keep an eye out for grave diggers), the Haymarket cat opera (exactly how it sounds) or the leftover ‘snob screens’ in The Lamb pub which protected delicate wealthy eyes from the sight of the common man.

It’s separated into districts so you can have a flick through next time you go to London and see what’s about. If you’d like to see a bit more of weird London via a guide have a look at this spooky tour we embarked upon for Halloween.

Midnight Movie Madness by Ian Watson midnight-movie

A cavalcade of truly terrible films, this collection takes you from Maniac ‘director’ Dwain Esper‘s exploitation efforts, through fifties B movies to nonsensical modern day fare. Some of the descriptions made me chuckle out loud, particularly in the WTF section.

If monster movies are your thing, or perhaps overseas oddities, each film has been separated into categories ( I like categories, don’t I? I never realised that before), making it easier to dip in according to mood. Enjoy!

Absurdist Bizarro Short Story Video With Pictures

Good morrow ladies and gentlemen. I’m at a writer’s retreat (aka my mate Steve’s):

img_20170109_123702591 img_20170109_124926485Note the blobfish slippers. Anyway, I’ll have to keep this brief so here’s a short absurdist bizarro story of mine illustrated by my love puffin Bill Purnell. Enjoy!

Surrealists, Flappers and Gothic Horror: My Favourite Story Readings

Merry holidays one and all! I’m going to take two weeks off after today but, never fear, I shall leave you with the wonderful words of some of my favourite writers.

Lately I’ve been doing a series of story readings called The Onesie Tales in which I read whilst wearing full length pajamas and no make up. There’s no massive reasoning behind this other than my pajamas are very comfortable and I’m quite lazy. I’ll be continuing this in the New Year so if you’d like to join me subscribe to my youtube channel to be notified of the next one.

In the meantime here are readings of surrealists Leonora Carrington, Haruki Murakami, Algonquin Round Table wit Dorothy Parker and Gothic weird lady Daphne du Maurier. Enjoy!

P.S. The ending of the first video is very embarrassing. I didn’t realise I was still recording and I talk in a silly voice to my boyfriend Bill and look for my glasses like a drunk aunt at Christmas.

I Spent Christmas With A Racist

Merry Christmas and all other holidays nearly! I am wearing a Christmas onesie as we speak. I shared a difficult memory with Clash Media yesterday called The Last Time I Saw My Sister’s Children and, yes, it involves a horrible day we spent with a very unpleasant man.

Read it here.

me-christmas-tree

When Surrealism And Fashion Collide In Extremely Bizarre Ways

Hello my little bowls of granola secretly filled with chocolate treats!

Continuing the Surrealism theme from last week I thought we’d have a look at some fun instances of the fashion world absorbing the world of surrealist art, with varying degrees of oddity. Now, I want to explain, I love so-called avant-garde fashion, the weirder the better. I’m fascinated by the point at which it becomes art in pictures and performance art on the runway. That said, let The Weirdening begin!

First off we’ll have a look at ‘real’ surrealist artists entering the fashion world. Man Ray is one of my favourite photographers and you can see every one of his fashion photographs in this book (which of course I own).

 

Next is a clip of Salvador Dali’s swimwear line. Did you know he did a swimwear line? Neither did I!

Nightmare Beachwear (1965)

 

Here’s a line of hats with a kitchen theme, because you know how us girls get nervous when we’re too far away from our safety bubble! (1950s)

 

Shilpa Chavan of Little Shilpa is an eccentric designer and milliner who’s latest collection is heavily influenced by Alice in Wonderland, and you can’t get much more surreal than Wonderland.

Shilpa Chavan (2016)

 

Next up is Vogue photographer Tim Walker. His photoshoots are like fantasy film sets. He’s taken pictures of various celebrities as well as major magazines and you can own his work in this amazing book.

Mechanical Dolls, Vogue Italia (2011)

 

Comme des Garcons is led by Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and have been known for their eccentric style since 1973.

Spring Summer Collection (2017)

Autumn/Winter (2016/2017)

 

Viktor and Rolf began their career in the 90s. You can watch a year of their working lives in the documentary Because We’re Worth It. It’s interesting but it doesn’t get close to showing how weird they can be.

Spring/Summer (2016)

 

Finally here are some living dolls circa 1985 showing off Gareth Pugh‘s designs. Creepy!

Spring/Summer (2016)

Book Review: Surrealist Women, An International Anthology

Hello my little dustpan brushes sprinkled with attractive gems. Recently I read Surrealist Women: An International Anthology. The kindle version is slightly cheaper than the hardsurrealist-women-cover copies but still costs a whopping thirty pounds. I do think it’s worth saving up for, however, as it is an almost exhaustive encyclopedia of all females involved in the art movement from the twenties to sixties counter-culture to now, including examples of their work.

The essays at the beginning of each new era, separated into chapters, refutes the idea that women were not as involved as men. While they were not seen as full members during the twenties they were just as passionate, and only a decade later their participation exploded. It only seems to be outside critics and scholars who have omitted them since.

This passage offers an explanation for the reticence at the start (Andre Breton’s wife, Simone Kahn, wrote several letters to her cousin Denise Levy in the early years): “Although masculine egotism surely existed in the Surrealist Group, what is known of Kahn’s correspondence refutes the temptingly simple but shallow argument that the relatively small production of the first women surrealists can be blamed on male chauvinism alone. What held these women back, more than likely, was a complex of inhibitions and fears inherited from centuries of French and European patriarchal, capitalist, Christian culture; notions of “feminine reserve,” “woman’s place,” and “biological destiny” that they had internalized more or less unconsciously as children and which continued to wreak havoc in their psyches in later years, despite themselves.”
Meret Oppenheim's 'furry cup'
Meret Oppenheim’s ‘furry cup’
The author mentions other biographies of individuals but Surrealist Women is packed with primary research and any omissions of a particular writer/artist’s contribution to surrealism is addressed. She also looks at surprising aspects of surrealism, such as it’s affinities with Trotsky and other leftist leaders as well as feminism. In the early thirties the wall street crash brought a tide of woman-hating against those who ‘stole the jobs of men.’ Two high profile murder cases took place in France during that time, the Papin sisters – maids who killed their bosses – and Violette Noizierre. Both were reported vitriolically by the press as examples of women running amok, but apparently the Surrealists were one of only a few groups to point out that all women involved were being abused and possibly acted in self-defense.
I discovered several writers and artists I had never heard of as well as learning more about others. As a huge fan of Anais Nin I was excited to discover Nelly Kaplan who, under the name Belen, wrote “erotic tales of black humor.” She is also a filmmaker, one of her best known being A Very Curious Girl (1967).
There was also Suzanne Cesaire, born in Martinique. Though her husband, Aime, often overshadowed her, she was very active and started the magazine ‘Tropiques’ with him. There’s Joyce Mansour, the best known Surrealist female poet once told by Breton himself “Your gift is that of a genius,” and Rikki Ducornet, artist as well as author, who has illustrated books by Jorge Luis Borges among others.
I enjoyed it and learned a lot, and now have plenty of further reading and art to explore, as will you.
Below is a short documentary about Leonora Carrington, also featured in the book. Incidentally one of her stories is in The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, another I highly recommend.

Disturbing, Strange And Beautiful Animation ‘Decoration’ By Ben Wheele

Bonjour! I’m in the final throes of the second edit of my novella, thus I don’t have long to spend with you. However I wouldn’t want to leave you empty handed so here is an animation by Ben Wheele.

It’s beautiful, with Georgian overtones, but also rather dark so only watch it if you like dark things.