Where can you make things out of clay, or sew your own toy, watch a two person short play and a monologue about the Marquis De Sade before toddling off to the Cabaret tent to watch burlesque? The Chelmsford Fling in Essex, that’s where! Have a look online here. And the best part? No children!
In the cabaret tent Desmond O Connor (who’s popped up as MC for Bizarre Magazine’s Ball more than once) serenaded us with increasingly rude songs on the ukelele and Ginger Blush engaged the crowds in burlesque bingo (like normal bingo but with corsets), all punctuated with lovely ladies dancing about and removing items of clothing. Oh, and one man, he was quite nice too.
Elsewhere in the Make Do And Mend tent you could create your own toy, or watch two professional actors in a short play in the Storytime tent. If that’s not enough you can make things out of clay or your own hat if you don’t mind looking really stupid, or watch experimental films whilst drinking refreshing smoothies in the Psychedelic Film tent. Oh yeah, and somewhere there was some live music playing.
Obviously it’s already happened this year, but make sure you get to the next if you can and buy advance tickets as the price goes up considerably on the door. Now here are some pictures to highlight the experience:
I’ve had to interview various unusual and creative ladies for magazines and it got me thinking about a few that people may not have heard of, but would like to.
I’m on some pretty heavy painkillers (have a read of my post on endometriosis) so forgive me if I don’t make much sense…
The first two are musical. I like ethereal music ladies such as Bat For Lashes and CocoRosie, and two singers/musicians I came across in the last few years have caught my interest.
Anneka Snip lives in Brighton and has collaborated with electronica artists like Milanese, Blue Daisy and Ital Tek.
Kid A (or Annie T) is an American lady who is currently on tour with Scroobius Pip. Have a listen:
Next up is a cabaret artist known as Missy Macabre. A one woman vintage burlesque freak show, I interviewed her about a short comedy/horror film she appeared in called Annabelle’s Tea Party. Have a look at her in action:
Well, by golly they raised those funds and now they’re having a wrap party in London (have a look at their facebook page for more info). There’ll be performances from the likes of Veronica Valentine and others.
Sometimes when my friends are doing artistic projects I like to pretend I’m a real alternative model. I’m not, of course, but I have an active imagination. For Halloween this year a friend, Graeme Wallace, took some pretty pictures of me and here they are!
Want to be a magazine journalist? I did an internship at both Bizarre and Essex Life which has given me useful information to pass on, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know about the catalogue shoot for brown wellies I helped with or the article I wrote about Ladies What Lunch (I coined the term). No, you want to know about toe wrestling and making voodoo dolls.
The first thing you need to know about doing a Journalism course that will actually be helpful is that it needs to be accredited by the NCTJ, the National Certificate of Training for Journalists. Oddly enough the best place near me (Braintree, Essex) for this is Harlow College Journalism Centre. It’s got great teachers and facilities at a half decent cost, which was very surprising for a small town I’d never really been to.
During your time off at college you’re expected to contact a magazine (or newspaper, if that’s what you’re doing) and arrange a couple of weeks at least to go be their puppy. You’re probably missing out 100 per cent if you don’t. So, with my pathalogical love for the odd, I trotted along to Bizarre magazine after sending them an explanatory email. I thought about Fortean Times despite not actually believing in any of it but it’s literally just two people at a desk.
Each morning was spent checking over the new photos sent via the website to enter their ongoing alternative model competition Ultra Vixens. My eyes would drift to the stuffed animals on the shelf as I joined the staff around the large table. The room was filled with these tables, each belonging to the staff of a different Dennis Publishing magazine. It could become a problem when Monkey magazine next to us would play music wars, but mostly we all rubbed shoulders in piece like gentle Leviathans.
After adding the model’s pictures my duties included: typing up interviews (which included ‘psychic vampires,’ plus Neil Gaiman and Simon Drake in his House of Magic), going to Camden to find the ingredients for a voodoo doll photo shoot, interviewing Missy Macabre and conducting interviews at the Bizarre Ball, which I did two years running. As I wandered around Camden with my list of stuff for the doll on a warm spring afternoon, I vowed I would never again have a normal job. And I haven’t.
I got to do a surprising amount of writing while I was there, such as the step by step instructions on making a voodoo doll (turned out to be not so scary covered in pink glittery beads) and a review on a sideshow they sent me to one night on Brick Lane, The Fire Tusk Pain Proof Circus. I got to see comedy burlesque dancer Fancy Chance and glass eating Lucifire for free, which was very nice.
Being an intern is exhausting because you have to be constantly aware of things you could be doing to help or ways of suggesting ideas, plus you have to be open to very last minute suggestions of tasks eg, the afore-mentioned toe wrestle. The man’s toe was enormous. Half the time in the office I didn’t really know what I was doing.
The Ball was always lots of fun, I brought along a friend and, as I misguidedly attempted to interview a girl in a gas mask, I turned and found said friend being spanked by a professional dominatrix, beautiful grey underwear on show. We got her card. There’s always a good photo opportunity there and the atmosphere is very friendly, but I’m sure you’ll be devestated to learn that I don’t have any pictures of the man wearing nothing but shoes and a cock ring.
So there we are, the life of an intern. The only thing you can count on is each day being drastically different. Good luck!
In the video below the lovely Alix Fox takes us sword swallowing:
I watched a rather peculiar documentary today called Party Monster, The Shockumentary. It’s quite a deliberately bad taste film about the Club Kids in late 80s New York – young people who dressed outlandishly and included fashion designer James St. James– and their party organiser Michael Alig who ended up murdering someone and putting the chopped up body in a trunk. Obviously it got me thinking about fashion. And murder I suppose but that’s no change.
I love art from Francis Bacon to Lempicka to photographers of the unusual like Diane Arbus, but I also love fashion. The outfits at the Bizarre Magazine Ball for example are truly bizarre and great, so here I shall include some of the things that make me weep with joy and perhaps you will find something of interest.
Most people complain that catwalks are full of designs people would never wear in the street, but to be honest that’s the thing I enjoy seeing, mainstream or underground. Regular fashion bores me but anything a bit fantastical, gothic, odd or grunge I love.
First off I have to include my favourite online shop, Joe Brown’s, as its something people will actually be able to afford. There’s some regular stuff but look around, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.
The fashion pics of artist Man Ray are beautiful – as shown here on author Matthew Revert’s blog. They’re very imaginative of course.
Newish designer Jared Gold’s gothic and historical clothes are great, they have a similar Alice in Wonderland feel to Bill Gibb.
Tokyo is known for its ‘avant garde’ fashion and I’d love to go there. I particularly like the punk and Gothic Lolita styles.
Keeping in the fantastical realm I definitely recommend looking out for alternative models/designers out there such as Ophelia Overdose and Audrey Kitching. Also have a look at Bizarre magazine’s alternative model website Ultra Vixens for more ladies of the odd and artistic variety, or become one of them if you like. Plus Spitalfields market in London is host to the annual Alternative Fashion Week (presented by Alternative Arts), 16-21st April. Exciting! Colourful! Imaginative!
I have a book I love containing alt glamour/pin up pictures (piercings, tattoos etc) taken by Octavio Winkytiki and Lithium Picnic (my favourite). They’re pretty and unusual, but be warned, some of the content on their sites is not for children’s eyes.
My good friend Emma Bailey is a photographer in Brighton and has done a number of burlesque shoots. Burlesque is fun, the women often have normal sized bodies and I love vintage glamour. Fancy Chance is very funny to watch live and Banbury Cross is lovely too.
I’m also drawn to the pictures of a model known as Scar, they’re creative and apparently she makes headresses too, which is nice. Another artistic model is Allison Harvard, who reminds me of a Tim Burton character, and gothic model Apnea is jolly too.
Finally, I know it’s such a cliche that a person who likes Neil Gaiman and alternative models such as the Suicide Girls would also like the outfits in Tim Burton films but I do, so there. I’m not a goth but Alice in Wonderland and the White Queen had me searching for my dark lipstick, as did Lilly Cole in Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Here’s a video of a creepy mechanical doll themed photo shoot by Tim Walker for Vogue Italia 2011
Here’s a video of a Jared Gold fashion show in 2008: