Short story published: The Fair, Laudenum and Passion

Woo hoo, got another erotic short story out with publishers Forbidden Fiction, read it here. This time a jolly old time is had in a Victorian funfair. Here’s the description on their site:

“Ettie visits a funfair with her bullying husband in Victorian London. When a sword-swallowing sideshow performer grabs her attention, she finds herself drawn into a new world of strangeness, freedom and passion. (F/M, F/F. M/M, group).”

Now doesn’t that sound exciting? It was more than I did last Friday. You should have a look!

Songstresses and burlesque queens: Five unusual ladies

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:

Next we have comedy burlesque performer Fancy Chance. I was sent to review The Fire Tusk Pain Proof Circus and she was very entertaining:

In the same show was Lucifire, the lead stunt woman. Amongst other things she ate glass, walked on it and made me chuckle (the gentleman onstage is her husband and fellow performer Professor Tusk):

Just as an added bonus here’s Bat for Lashes doing Horse and I at Shepherd’s Bush, London:

Today’s entry in Samuel Pepy’s diary

On this day in 1665, Samuel Pepys wrote his customary diary entry. Like a ghost from the past, or a letter from a really slow postman, we can read what he did on the exact day over 400 years ago. To pick a day go to pepysdiary.com.

Samuel Pepys, September 10th 1665

(Lord’s day). Walked home; being forced thereto by one of my watermen falling sick yesterday, and it was God’s great mercy I did not go by water with them yesterday, for he fell sick on Saturday night, and it is to be feared of the plague. So I sent him away to London with his fellow; but another boat come to me this morning, whom I sent to Blackewall for Mr. Andrews. I walked to Woolwich, and there find Mr. Hill, and he and I all the morning at musique and a song he hath set of three parts, methinks, very good. Anon comes Mr. Andrews, though it be a very ill day, and so after dinner we to musique and sang till about 4 or 5 o’clock, it blowing very hard, and now and then raining, and wind and tide being against us, Andrews and I took leave and walked to Greenwich. My wife before I come out telling me the ill news that she hears that her father is very ill, and then I told her I feared of the plague, for that the house is shut up. And so she much troubled she did desire me to send them something; and I said I would, and will do so.

But before I come out there happened newes to come to the by an expresse from Mr. Coventry, telling me the most happy news of my Lord Sandwich’s meeting with part of the Dutch; his taking two of their East India ships, and six or seven others, and very good prizes and that he is in search of the rest of the fleet, which he hopes to find upon the Wellbancke, with the loss only of the Hector, poor Captain Cuttle. This newes do so overjoy me that I know not what to say enough to express it, but the better to do it I did walk to Greenwich, and there sending away Mr. Andrews, I to Captain Cocke’s, where I find my Lord Bruncker and his mistress, and Sir J. Minnes. Where we supped (there was also Sir W. Doyly and Mr. Evelyn); but the receipt of this newes did put us all into such an extacy of joy, that it inspired into Sir J. Minnes and Mr. Evelyn such a spirit of mirth, that in all my life I never met with so merry a two hours as our company this night was.

Among other humours, Mr. Evelyn’s repeating of some verses made up of nothing but the various acceptations of may and can, and doing it so aptly upon occasion of something of that nature, and so fast, did make us all die almost with laughing, and did so stop the mouth of Sir J. Minnes in the middle of all his mirth (and in a thing agreeing with his own manner of genius), that I never saw any man so out-done in all my life; and Sir J. Minnes’s mirth too to see himself out-done, was the crown of all our mirth. In this humour we sat till about ten at night, and so my Lord and his mistress home, and we to bed, it being one of the times of my life wherein I was the fullest of true sense of joy.

Freaky short film wrap party

A while ago I wrote a little article for Bizarre magazine to help raise funds for a short film called Annabelle’s Tea Party. Performing in it are Bizarre favourites Missy Macabre, Samppa Von Cyborg and sideshow performer Baawo Bee.

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.

Here’s a clip of Missy Macabre in action:

*Warning* perhaps not for children

A modern sideshow (kind of)

Last weekend I went to the circus in the 1930s. I’m clever like that. I had heard that the Roundhouse theatre was having a ‘Circusfest‘ during a previous London jaunt, and when I saw an ad for Professor Vanessa’s Wondershow – where the main stage would be transformed into a travelling circus on a village green – I got a ticket before asking if anyone else was free. I’m always assured of good conversation when I’m alone anyway.

So…after skipping around Brick Lane and Camden Lock, where the colourful clothes live, I found myself in the theatre main space breathing in the sickly smell of candyfloss and popcorn. On the way in I passed penny arcades and lurid posters, and was greeted with a row of tents lining the perimeter. I was excited!

In the middle of the floor was a small stage and here I watched a French, juggling tight-rope walker (I nearly proposed marriage there and then), a girl hula hooping with fire, aero-rope girls up above and… giant wasp taming. Everyone was free to wander and visit whichever tent they wanted, though its a lot to get through in only two hours.

Though I was at first concerned I would be having a ‘genuine’ sideshow experience (blockheads etc I love, but I’m really not sure about ogling a disabled person), I was quickly reassured that most acts were a mirror show. For example, ‘the Mummy’ featured a woman in Egyptian regalia transform into a centuries old mummy ” before our very eyes,” before she chased us out of the tent. Another showed early film clips and, being such a fan, it meant a lot to see them how they would have been at the very start of the twentieth century.

It was good fun; the tent shows were surreal entertainment and some of the stage acts in the middle were beautiful to watch. I always like a trip to the circus and if there are any French, tightrope walking jugglers out there come and find me.

Escort ads and a suicidal Barbie

Yesterday I went for a wander through Shoreditch in London, where the hipster artists go to pose. It ended up being quite unexpectedly productive and gave me a story idea. I also noticed this artist selling her wares (the art, not herself) at the market.

I’ve also decided that once I actually know some things about photography and have a half decent camera I’ll wander around London and take pictures of the interesting folks; I like unusual types as mentioned in my post about ‘freaky fashion’.

I came across the amusing scenes in the photos below, I hope you like the snapshots I got on my phone:

Notice the Barbie about to jump

Spiffing arty and writey updates from London

On Tuesday I went for a day jaunt around my capital city, soaking up information to pass on to others like a disturbing sponge.

I like to think of visits to London as plugging myself in, like a phone that needs recharging, which is very silly. However, the occasional visit does remind me of all the little things I may not have heard about otherwise.

If you’re a cheapskate like me have a look online for a list of free exhibitions and galleries and you’ll be fine. Museums of course are already free, which is as exciting as a singing fish doing cartwheels.

The tube gnomes notified me of Circusfest in May, which looks exciting. I shall certainly be there chatting up the clowns whether they like it or not.

I began my day by going to the Childhood Museum in Bethnal Green to write down as many toys as I could relating to the era of my historical novel. Reading about stuff is great but until you play with a zoetrope I’m not sure you get the whole idea.

The V&A museum will “redesign seven important galleries dedicated to European Art and Design 1600–1800” by 2014 amongst several other projects. It’s already a beautiful place full of art and fashion, both historical and modern.

I wandered into a Georgian ballroom and actually gasped, like they do in novels. I was in there completely alone and the silence made me feel as though I’d stepped through a time gap.The museum is also displaying a cape sewn from silk, which was extracted from millions of Golden Orb spiders.

All the V&A expect is a donation so you can’t really go wrong. They don’t accept bellybutton fluff.

The Serpentine Gallery, as well as featuring very interesting exhibitions, has a shop full of magazines and books dedicated to art and writing. My advice is to go there with a pen and paper and write down the titles. You can look at the submissions guidelines on their websites later.

In case you were unfamiliar with The Serpentine it’s in the middle of Kensington Gardens, just up the road from Exhibition Road (home to the many museums).

The gallery are opening a new space called The Sackler Gallery near the old place this year, so you can run from one to the other and watch dogs sniffing each other in between (disclaimer: don’t run from one to the other).

So there endeth my journey through the capital, may my facts serve you well. Apparently the Underground employs people to sweep up human hair. I like to pretend they’re tiny folks who use it to make nests.

The misguided squatter

What comes to mind when you think of squats and squatters? Hardcore people with dreads and mohicans, nostrils full of ketamine and all night parties, or me…sitting in my room reading Harry Potter?

OK, the Harry Potter book belonged to someone else, but you get the idea. A friend of mine who did actually have a nostril full of ketamine and a head full of dreads had left the room empty apart from a few things and I had found myself at a loose end. Clubs and parties in Brighton were starting to bore me and so was sitting on the phone listening to people moan about the service of American Express. I wanted to be doing something creative in London. I just didn’t know how.

Me at one of Brighton's squat parties

So I arrived in Stratford in 2005 eager and terrified. The squat was enormous; previously an old pub there were several floors and large bar rooms. I’d been naive – I had no plans and no need to find a job to pay rent, therefore I began a new routine of waking at 4pm, scratching myself for an hour or two and spending the rest of the night watching tv with a few of my housemates.

One of the people living there was a dealer. He was a nice bloke. Everyone else did actually go to work regularly and only a couple had what I would call a coke habit. One man was reaching his late thirties and beginning to realise the majority of his life had been spent outside the system, and he was starting to panic. Most of my time there, though, was spent on my own, not knowing anyone or how to begin my new creative adventures, reading this Harry Potter book left by my friend, and I was bored…bored…bored.

Some good memories did come of it. One day as winter hit hard I realised I would have to collect firewood or freeze. Myself and a hippie girl went out into the courtyard, searched amongst the tires and tiles and found enough branches and logs to take up with us. Once back in my room the frozen streets were hidden behind the pink sarong I’d hammered in place above the window (I’ve still got it with me today) and we stacked the wood and twisted newspaper in the fireplace grate just outside the door. Once I’d got it crackling we turned on the tv from its place on the makeshift stand ( a wooden box) and warmed ourselves. I fed the fire all night, smiling like a proud mother as it leapt up the chimney.

Another night the dealer had arrived back after one of his times away. I was always pleased to see him and his dog as they were the ones I was closest to. Hours of film watching and rubbish tv would take place in his room as the fire in his own grate roared more substantially than any I lit. He’d brought a smoke machine back from Brighton and everyone was standing excitedly round it in the empty bar. “We should set it off,” he suggested, and we agreed.

After several hisses large clouds obscured our vision. We giggled like children until the novelty passed and we went our seperate ways. I moved the sarong curtain in my room aside to check the streets…only to find a small crowd had gathered. They were shouting to each other and waving to me. Confused, I waved back. A lady formed a loudspeaker with her hands and called: “Don’t worry, we’ve rung for help.” Oh dear.

In the next minute a fire engine pulled up outside to rescue us from the building with smoke pouring from the roof. I ran to find one of the others. At the time it seemed like a disaster but only hours later we were laughing about it, and in my retellings I left out the bit where I panicked and begged my friend to go outside and speak to everyone.

Birthday Burlesque at Proud Cabaret

Welcome to my parlour

T’was recently my 30th year and to celebrate it my friends and I went to Proud Cabaret on Mark Lane, Tower Hill (very close to Liverpool St).

Ladies!
My birthday cake!

The place looks amazing. You have to be well dressed to go in and I was pleased to see all my friends in vintage wear as Proud Cabaret itself is decked out in 20s style, and the gothic candles and mirrors on the walls were beautiful. One friend arrived in upper class Victorian wear and another in working class Edwardian, so obviously the Victorian had to beat him and wave money for photos.

The acts themselves were lively and fun, mostly performed by a group of ladies with a single man. The compere Coco Dobois was a lady with a lovely voice and great sense of humour. The theme of the shows change and that particular night was ‘decades,’ with each new performance taking us forward in time from the 20s to the 90s. Personally I would have been happy to remain in the 20s but it was still very enjoyable.

Nathan shows the help the true value of money

Highlights for me included the compere coming over to speak to me, the birthday cake staff brought over, lovely ladies and entertaining juggler Mat Ricardo.

I liked the way the stage had a long area in the middle that allowed the performers to come forwards.

The only troubles came with a rude waitress, the price of the food (at around 45 pounds you’d probably do better to look into a show only ticket) and Marilyn Monroe-esque Banbury Cross not being present. I also wasn’t too keen on the male solo dances (sorry lads, very talented but we were in it for the ladies).

However, the rest was great and much fun and laughings were had by all. I’d like to go back to see a more vintage orientated show but that’s just my personal preference. Recommended!

Alt models, weird designers and factory girls: Freaky fashion

Lithium Picnic (photographer)
Audrey Kitching on Jared Gold’s runway
apnea-photograph
Apnea (model)

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.

Gothic Lolitas in Tokyo

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!

The model known as Scar

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 like how bananas high fashion can be, including the designs of Alexander Mcqueen and the photos of Tim Walker. Feast your face!

I’m not hugely a fan of Andy Warhol but I love some of the Factory types like the Velvet Underground, and there was something very interesting about his model Edie Sedgwick.

Lithium Picnic (photographer)

She had a fascinating life, one well worth reading more about.

Allison Harvard

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.

Warhol’s model Edie Sedgwick

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:

Below is a short ‘documentary’ of Edie Sedgwick: