Tag Archives: fetish

The greatest hits and the Jungian psychology of a London dominatrix

So I know this dominatrix.

Not professionally.

On Friday, we had a chat in London, at McDonalds in The Strand.

Outside, Extinction Rebellion protesters were blocking traffic in the street.


JOHN: So you are starting an online blog – The Dominatrix Diary. Why?

M.PSYCHE: Because I think it’s a good place to store the information and I want to develop an online presence.

JOHN: What’s your dominatrix name?

M.PSYCHE: BDSM Butterfly: Mistress Psyche.

JOHN: Why Psyche?

M.PSYCHE: It means butterfly in Greek. And I have an interest in the mental side – ‘mental’ as in the mind side, not the crazy side – of BDSM. The stuff that’s most interesting to me is the mental control of people rather than any actual physical domination.

JOHN: You have an urge to mentally control people?

M.PSYCHE: (LAUGHS) It gives people space to relax in a safe way.

JOHN: So being whipped is relaxing?

M.PSYCHE: It is for some people. I had  guy who wanted me to nail his testicles to a board.

JOHN: Not his actual testicles?

M.PSYCHE: No. The scrotum sac. 

JOHN: And he found this relaxing?

M.PSYCHE: He fell asleep while I was doing it.

JOHN: You’re joking.

M.PSYCHE: No.

JOHN: How long did it take?

M.PSYCHE: How many carpet tacks can you fit round a testicle?

JOHN: It’s not an area I have any expertise in.

M.PSYCHE: He found it relaxing. It gave him space where he didn’t have to think… 

JOHN: Surely the thought that one of his testicles might be accidentally nailed to a board might keep him awake?

M.PSYCHE: He trusted me.

JOHN: The impression I get is that a lot of the clients for this sort of thing are men in positions of power – bankers, top executives, the masters of industry and let’s not even mention Cabinet Ministers and judges…

M.PSYCHE: Yes.

JOHN: …and I can’t understand why people who have spent their entire working lives wanting to dominate and actually dominating other people should want to be dominated.

M.PSYCHE: Well, for powerful men who have to be in charge all the time in their jobs, it’s quite mentally intensive so, to go to someone… with the pain, the bondage, the scrotum-nailing… it’s not the actual experience itself, it’s the space it creates in their mind to be able to relax inside yourself and have some time off.

JOHN: You surely can’t relax if you’re expecting the next stroke of the whip on your back or a cane on your buttocks or carpet tacks in your scrotum. You’re anticipating not relaxing.

M.PSYCHE: Not necessarily… SOME people ARE just into pain. They are going to be excitedly expectant and awake and aware that the next stroke of the whip is coming. 

JOHN: Are you telling me they are not the predominant type?

M.PSYCHE: Most of the sessions I do involve relaxing people and putting them into a submissive space where they can relax.

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in stiletto heels…

JOHN: So you are like the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?

M.PSYCHE: (LAUGHS) Yes… in stiletto heels and a leather skirt.

JOHN: Getting back to powerful men like politicians and the captains of industry… Is it not that, even though they are tied-up, they are still in control because you are doing to them what they tell you to do? So the person being dominated is actually dominating the dominatrix?

M.PSYCHE: People say that. I don’t think it’s true. I am definitely in charge of all my sessions. Beforehand, they tell me what they want me to do and then I will facilitate it, but I am definitely in charge when it happens.

JOHN: Surely, if I come along to you and say: “Hello, missus, I want you to nail my balls to a plank,” surely I am in charge – You are doing my bidding.

M.PSYCHE: No because, once you enter the ‘play space’, you hand over the power. I have to decide in advance if it’s safe and sane and consensual and then, as soon as the session starts, I’m in charge.

JOHN: Presumably you have ‘safe’ words.

M.PSYCHE: No. You can tell the difference between someone enjoying something – even pain – and not enjoying it… I mean, I’m not a sadist. I’m not interested in moving beyond the point of them enjoying it.

JOHN: The first stories you have posted on your blogsite are… erm… quirky.

M.PSYCHE: I’m picking out the more eccentric fetishes and… Well, to be honest, most of them ARE quite eccentric. There’s the Welsh guy who gets turned-on by inflatable PVC bananas and the optician who wanted to see things. He wanted me to give him some quasi-religious experience in the basement of a famous high street chemist’s shop.

JOHN: I’ve had a bad back for the last three weeks and had to see three osteopaths. One of them has several clients who are dominatrices because they have to do a lot of odd movements – I guess like whipping and caning – so they get what I suppose are repetitive strain injuries.

M.PSYCHE: Well, I don’t do those sort of sessions. I don’t do much whipping and beating and things…

JOHN: There’s scrota-nailing…

M.PSYCHE: …I mostly do transformative stuff. People know what I’m offering and, if they want a hard-core pain session, I’m not really the person to do it. They will go somewhere else.

JOHN: I’ve not seen your online pitch for clients…

M.PSYCHE: It just lists my interests. And there are reviews on the site where I advertise where people leave reviews of the sort of sessions they’ve had from me. I don’t deal with hardcore masochists. The review I have right at the top at the moment says: “She’s a sensitive and very lovely spiritual girl”… which (LAUGHS) isn’t particularly useful. I had to add underneath it: “I do like to give the client the session they request.”

That particular guy wanted me to gag him. I went along to meet him at a hotel in Park Lane and he took me for dinner and told me all about the fact a court had placed a ‘gagging order’ on him. He talked about it and that seemed to be all he needed to do. So I got dinner and a bottle of perfume. He just wanted someone to talk to.

JOHN: You must have turned some people down…?

M.PSYCHE: I only turn people down who want sex.

JOHN: Nothing so bizarre you don’t want to do it?

M.PSYCHE: No. I like interesting, bizarre stuff. Though there was one guy who wanted to be ‘un-gayed’. He wanted me to rape him with a dildo, which he hoped would un-gay him. I told him: “I’m not going to do that, because you’re gay and what you want is dangerous. It could cause internal physical damage.” He wasn’t looking to enjoy being ‘raped’; he was looking to be physically damaged to be put-off being ‘bummed’.

JOHN: So he was encouraging physical damage.

M.PSYCHE: Yes. So I said No.

JOHN: So you are more interested in… what?

M.PSYCHE: What I do is a sort-of renegade form of therapy. I’ve tried to help people but obviously, if you try to help people too much, it stops being sexually exciting. Which is not what they want.

One of Mistress Psyche’s Dominatrix Diary blogs

JOHN: So why am I not interested in BDSM? I’m just a tad too dull? I’ve had enough emotional pain; I don’t need physical pain, thankyou very much.

M.PSYCHE: You might have a different form of masochism. I mean, I’m an emotional masochist. I like being slapped-about emotionally.

JOHN: Being unhappy?

M.PSYCHE: Yes. That’s my type of masochism.

JOHN: So you have analysed yourself.

M.PSYCHE: Yeah. I know absolutely all of my mental illnesses and conditions. I know what they are; I know how they get triggered; I know how to manage them.

JOHN: So you never get over-emotional?

M.PSYCHE: Well, I’ve figured out how to manage that. But is over-emotionality a sign of mental illness? What is considered ‘sane’ and ‘insane” changes over time. Being gay used to be presented as being… It’s all very dubious. I mean, they were still lobotomising people until the 1960s. That’s the nature of mental health: very fluid and also very culturally determined and that’s why it’s all quite dubious. I’m very glad I figured out all my stuff before I went to… I mean, I have never been to an actual doctor.

JOHN: You mean to a psychiatric doctor…

M.PSYCHE: Yes. Or to an actual doctor. Because I would have been prescribed things and I would have been given ‘diagnoses’ that are actually very unhelpful and limiting.

I had a random consultation when I was doing another job and this woman told me that, probably because I was abused, I have borderline personality disorder. Which has become much more mild. But they give you drugs for that. And actually NOT having the drugs has meant that I have been able to manage it myself and get it under control rather than using medication which just suppresses it.

I have a friend who was also abused who went to a psychiatrist after a breakdown and they basically just papered-over it. She’s still really mental. They just gave her drugs and coping strategies whereas, because mine is DIY, I seem to have done it at a deeper level and actually got to the roots of stuff and sorted out the real underlying issues causing problems. It’s about creating balance in yourself. It’s basically the Jungian idea that you’ve got light and dark.

A little bit Jung; a little bit old yin-yang

JOHN: Jungian or yin and yangian?

M.PSYCHE: Jungian AND yin/yang and Zen and all these things that exist on a spectrum inside you and you need to find ways of balancing them and, if you can’t do it in one way, you have to do it in another.

JOHN: I’m not up on Jungian stuff.

M.PSYCHE: Basically, you have a shadow self. You can use these things as an access point to understand your shadow and integrate it because, in the West, we have a very disintegrated sense of identity and this is why you end up with these bizarre fetishes.

JOHN: Why?

M.PSYCHE: Because we are disintegrated as individuals. We have stuff which is acceptable; we have stuff which is unacceptable – all the taboo stuff which you actually need to accept as being an essential part of your human psyche. This is why people don’t function properly: that they can’t just accept these things are actually an aspect of them.

JOHN: Being healthy is balancing the yin and yang…

M.PSYCHE: Yes, exactly. It’s a counterbalance. That’s what I’m interested in. That’s why I’m called Mistress Psyche.

1 Comment

Filed under Eccentrics, Psychology, Sex

“…both dressed in complete rubber frogmen gear with full gimp masks…”

I finished my daily blog on 31st December. But occasional quirkiness continues.

For example, comedian Sara Mason went to Torture Garden‘s Not The New Year’s Ball.

Sara’s Edinburgh Fringe show in August this year is going to be titled A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage (with live demonstrations).

TortureGarden

Yesterday, she told me that, in the couples room at the Not The New Year’s Ball…

“I observed a tall person (I’m assuming was male) and a very short person (I’m assuming was female – though I’ve no evidence for either of these assumptions).

“They were both dressed in complete rubber frogmen gear with full gimp masks with only little eyeholes and they walked around hand in hand and then proceeded to have sex on a gynecological chair in the centre of the room – in the missionary position, through two tiny slits in their suits.

“The squeaking noises of their copulation were quite intense and most distracting. But it was certainly one of the most amusing versions of sexual intimacy that I’ve ever been fortunate enough to observe. Vive la différence!

Photo of Sara by Nathalie Kerrio

Photograph of Sara Mason by Nathalie Kerrio

1 Comment

Filed under Sex

Being edited now – Sir John Gielgud’s gay porn film which you may never see

(L-R) David McGillivray, Ethan Reid and Peter de Rome

(Left-Right) David McGillivray, Ethan Reid and Peter de Rome

“So I guess it starts with Peter de Rome,” I said to film producer David McGillivray at the Soho Theatre Bar in London yesterday afternoon.

“Well,” said David, “I met Peter in 2007 and eventually we made three films together, the last of which – Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn – is still going round the world. I’m introducing it in Berlin in a few hours time.”

“How did this lead to Trouser Bar?”

“Peter was a great one for pulling things…”

“Down?” I suggested.

“… out of the bag, that I never knew,” said David. “On one occasion, while we were filming him, he happened to mention that Sir John Gielgud had written him a screenplay – and there it was, in his hand. I never quite worked out why the film had never been made. He wrote it in 1976.”

“This was a porn film?” I asked.

“Yes. Peter de Rome was a pornographic film maker and Gielgud was one of his big fans. He had a lot of celebrity fans, including David Hockney, Derek Jarman, William Burroughs. I also saw letters from Sir John in which he said: Oh, I so much enjoyed that film you showed last week. Please could you show it again.

John Gielgud (right) with Ralph Richardson in No Man’s Land

John Gielgud (right) with Ralph Richardson in No Man’s Land

“So, while he was in New York, appearing in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land on Broadway in 1976, John Gielgud wrote this film called Trouser Bar, which reflected his interests. Possibly until Gielgud’s Letters were published (in 2010), people didn’t know the extent of his clothes fetishism.”

“I read that he liked corduroy,” I said.

“That was his favourite fabric,” David agreed. “But he also liked velvet, flannel, leather, denim and it was inevitable that, if Sir John was going to write a script, it was going to be set in a menswear shop. And it was.”

“If he liked ALL those fabrics,” I suggested, “it was not so much a fetish about fabrics, more a general fetish on clothes.”

“No,” explained David, “he was very particular about the type of clothes he liked and how they were worn. The letters are full of his observations on men he had found attractive because they were wearing the right trousers.”

“You mean tight?” I asked.

“Tight, yes. But they had to be cut well. He was very particular about the pockets. Trouser Bar, I maintain, is a film of enormous historical interest. Nobody knew he had written it and, if Peter had not mentioned it to me, it could well have been destroyed because Peter died last June and we’re not sure what happened to all his papers. (He lived in New York and in Sandwich, Kent.)

Trouser Bar

“The budget increased. We had to buy all the vintage clothing.”

“We stuck to Sir John’s script very, very tightly when we made the film a couple of weeks ago. He was very specific about the clothes he wanted the actors to wear and, as a result of that, the budget increased enormously. We had to completely fit-out an empty shot as a men’s boutique circa 1976 and buy all the vintage clothing. Only time will tell if it was worth it.”

“How did you finance it?” I asked. “Did you just say Sir John Gielgud’s porn film and people just threw money at you?”

“No,” David told me. “I always finance my own films.”

“How much and how long?” I asked.

“£50,000 and it lasts… well, I don’t know precisely, because it’s being edited at the moment, but… about 15 minutes.”

“You didn’t direct it yourself?”

“No. I’m not a director. I haven’t got a clue. I hired a director.”

Kristen Bjorn…”

“Yes. It’s a made-up name. He said he was given that name when he worked in porn and it was inspired by the tennis player Björn Borg.”

David McGillivray

David McGillivray

“So Sir John Gielgud,” I said, “wrote Trouser Bar as a porn film…”

“Yes.”

“And it has been shot as a porn film…”

“Yes,”

“So it is not going to get a certificate…”

“It’s not going to get shown at all. The Gielgud Estate have come down heavily on me and it will never be shown in this country. They are claiming that they own the copyright on the script, though this is a grey area. I am convinced – and this is all conjecture – that they are determined this film will not be shown and they are using intellectual copyright as an excuse. That’s my opinion. The lawyer who represents the Estate won’t talk to me. The last letter I received was merely a threat: We will take appropriate action if this film goes ahead.”

“So the John Gielgud Estate is…” I started to say.

“It’s not the Estate,” said David, “It’s the Trust. I keep making this mistake. It’s the Trust that was set up in his name to give bursaries to drama students.”

“Who inherited the Estate?” I asked.

David McGillivray at Soho Theatre yesterday

David McGillivray spoke to me at the Soho Theatre yesterday

“Well, his partner was Martin Hensler who was originally on the Trust’s board before he died and I think the lawyer is an executor of the Will, so I think the Trust are his beneficiaries. I don’t know why they are behaving the way they are. I use the word They because the lawyer represents several actors who are all members of this Trust. He has said in an email: We own the copyright of this script.

“My head is on the block. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I am advised they had no jurisdiction over the making of the film, but they can prevent the exhibition of the film in this country, so I’m now looking to premiere it in America, where the copyright laws are different.”

“So why,” I asked, “did you spend £50,000 of your own money on a film that can’t be shown in this country?”

“I didn’t know that at the time. But I think I would probably have still gone ahead, because it’s a labour of love for me. I’m doing it for Peter and also because Sir John wanted this film to be made. It was his private fantasy and he would have loved to see it come to life.”

“Who is in the film?”

“Nigel Havers, Julian Clary, Barry Cryer.”

“Am I going to enjoy it if I ever see it? I’m not gay.”

“I think so. I wanted an art film that would reflect Peter’s work. I think people will appreciate the way it looks.”

“When will it be finished editing?”

The climactic orgy scene in Trouser Bar

Climactic orgy scene in Trouser Bar – as scripted by Sir John

“I’m seeing the first cut next Monday. We are also thinking about making a documentary about the making of Trouser Bar and I hope that will get the publicity I want:  Here is a film made about a film that you can never see. Why is this?

“We can make a film about the film being made, but we can’t use John Gielgud’s name. I have been advised I can’t quote from his letters, I can’t show his screenplay. I think it’s even risky to use the title of the screenplay. But we can talk about the film. So that documentary is the film you will see in this country and I’m hoping that will happen next year.

“I am trying to interest the likes of Nicholas de Jongh to appear in the documentary to talk about Gielgud and his interests.”

De Jongh wrote Plague Over England, a 2008 play about Gielgud’s arrest for ‘lewd behaviour’ in 1953.

John Gielgud as Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953)

John Gielgud as Cassius in Julius Caesar (1953)

Gielgud was arrested, three months after being knighted by the Queen, for ‘persistently importuning male persons for immoral purposes’ in a Chelsea public lavatory.

“What I don’t understand,” I said to David McGillivray yesterday afternoon, “is that, if he was arrested for cottaging in 1953 and it was publicised in the papers then, why did he not just come out of the closet when homosexuality was made legal in 1967? He never admitted to being gay.”

“He was a Victorian gentleman,” explained David, “and – this is my conjecture – I think he felt it was not seemly to ’come out’.”

“But he had already been caught out lurking in toilets,” I said

“But he was ashamed of it,” said David. “Deeply embarrassed. It was something he wanted to forget about. It had caused him trouble. For five years he couldn’t work in America.”

“So,” I said, “he’s embarrassed about being caught cottaging in 1953 and doesn’t want to come out as homosexual after 1967, but then he writes not just any old script or a slightly gay script but a porn script in 1976.”

Sir John gielgud (Photograph by Allan Warren)

Sir John dressed well (Photo: Allan Warren)

“Well,” explained David, “it wouldn’t have had his name on it at the time. He was perhaps somewhat naive. He enjoyed Peter de Rome’s company and they used to go to gay bars together in New York – he was quite open in that respect… but Peter made a film called Kensington Gorey and John said Oh, I’ll do the voice-over – forgetting that he would be instantly recognised because he had one of the most identifiably voices in the world. He didn’t think that through and possibly he didn’t think it through when he wrote this script either.

“I think it’s important we know more about Gielgud the man as opposed to Gielgud, the world’s greatest Shakespearean actor. He was human like the rest of us. He had a jolly good time ogling men in trousers. He was writing constantly to his friends about the delight he took in seeing men in tight trousers. It wasn’t a secret then and I don’t think it should be a secret 40 years after he wrote the script.”

THERE IS A FOLLOW-UP TO THIS BLOG HERE

6 Comments

Filed under Gay, Movies, Pornography

Frank Sanazi, hijab stripping and Jesus Christ flying in for Hitler’s birthday gig

Pete covers up a nasty spot on his neck Frank Sanazi

Pete covers up a nasty or potentially Nazi spot on his neck

This blog was supposed to be posted on 1st April, until I realised there might be a credibility problem if I posted it on that date.

I had a chat with Pete Perke aka Pete Sinclair aka Pete Cunningham aka Tom Mones aka Frank Sanazi. Frank Sanazi sings like Frank Sinatra but looks like Adolf Hitler.

“So,” I said to Pete,  “you are going over to Austria as Frank Sanazi to celebrate Hitler’s birthday.”

“Well,” he said, “Kulture Banane,  the Austrian boylesque troupe, have become massive in Austria and have asked me to go over and do my show Das Vegas Nights (Zis Time We Win) on 18th April, two days before Hitler’s birthday. Actually, I only recently realised that Hitler was born on 20th April, which is Aries. That would make him a genuine Arian.”

“They’re just boylesque?” I asked. “Not Nazi boylesque in short trousers?”

“Well,” said Pete, “one of the guys – he could be a woman for all I know – performs a hijab act which is basically strip burlesque.”

“You’ve played Frank Sanazi in Berlin, haven’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah. Five or six times.”

“How do they react?”

“The first time I did it, the crowd were a bit…”

“Stunned?” I suggested.

“Well, I was told they loved it, but you can never tell with German audiences. There’s not laugh-out-loud vocal appreciation. When I play to an older crowd in Germany, they can be uncomfortable-squirmy a bit, but the young crowd just find it hilarious. Time has moved on so much they don’t feel part of anything their forefathers did.”

The Awards Show was a rally for the middle classes

Frank Sanazi at the 2014 Malcolm Hardee Awards Show

“I suppose Hitler will never die,” I said. “Malcolm Hardee and I booked The Rockin’ Gorbachev on a couple of TV shows and, of course, his career died when Gorbachev got ousted. But you’re not just a one character act.”

“Yes, I’ve diversified,” said Pete. “I do a lot of straight singing and I have Frank Sanazi and Tom Mones (an old Tom Jones).”

“How is your Vladimir Putin act doing?” I asked.

“I’m not sure if he has legs,” said Pete. “Putin is still very ‘in’ at the moment. As long as he keeps in the spotlight, I’m OK. At the moment, I sing Ukranian Men (to the tune It’s Raining Men) But Crimea River (Cry Me a River) is an obvious follow-up. And then there’s Putin on The Blitz (Putting On The Ritz).”

“Are you doing him at the Edinburgh Fringe this year?” I asked.

“No,” said Pete. “This year I’ve got the Voodoo Rooms to take my whole Iraq Pack show. I’ve got Pete Storm playing Dean Stalin (Stalin singing like Dean Martin) and I’ve written a great song for George who’s going to play Osama Bing Crosby and Saddami Davis Jnr is singing Arranged Marriage to the tune of Love and Marriage:

Ar-ranged marriage
Ar-ranged marriage
To a woman called Fatima Mohammed
This I’ll tell you mother
She looks just like her brother

“I wrote a new song recently for Osama Bing Crosby. He said he needed a song on his own because we were just doing a duet:

I have heard to the Taliban
You are now a forgotten man
Well, dead Jew ever
What a swell party this is

“So I wrote him:

How unlucky can one guy be
They shot her, then they shot me
Like the New York Times said
Ain’t that a shot in the head?

“I’ve never,” I said, “heard you ever talk about getting bad reactions from audiences.”

A singing Hitler - Less offensive than a dead Elvis

A singing Hitler – apparently less offensive than a dead Elvis

“I used to do an act called Dead Elvis,” Pete told me. “I used to come out of this coffin in a mask with worm holes cut out and I did send-up songs: Are You Hungry Tonight? (Are You Lonesome Tonight)… and The Burgers Went Straight To My Heart… those sort of songs. And I got more stick for doing that than I ever have for Frank Sanazi. Because people love Elvis so much they treat him like Jesus. I stopped doing that act because I was getting so much grief for it.”

“And you’re trend-proof,” I said. “because you play the comedy circuit, the cabaret circuit and the fetish circuit.”

“Yes,” said Pete. “There’s a Festival of Sins show this Saturday, a new fetish night. It ran before, five years ago. It was always overshadowed by the Torture Garden but Festival of Sins was possibly the second biggest in London – run by a guy called David de Vynél and he’s re-kickstarting it. It went tits-up when he married the woman he ran it with.”

There is a clip on Vimeo from the Festival of Sins show in 2010.

“I performed at his wedding and the wedding cake was an entire woman just covered in cake: you had to eat the cake off the top of her. It was very well-presented. This guy turned up – the best man – completely stark bollock naked. All he wore were a couple of little bits of tinsel round his penis and a couple of baubles for balls. And he had a massive dong – I think that’s why he went round naked.”

“Just to annoy people?” I asked.

“Mmmmm….,” said Pete.

“I went to one Torture Garden years ago,” I said. “I blogged about it.”

“I remember one Torture Garden,” said Pete, “where there was a guy in a cage and he had a Superman-style cape on and nothing else and he was peeing on people as they walked past. The other thing they had was like an iron lung from Barbarella with perspex over it, so you could put your hands in the gloves and feel whoever it was inside.

“And you know those things they have in Post Offices? Big thick latex things that hang down. I think they do it for health & hygiene. They have them in abattoirs – almost see-through plastic that you can push our way through…”

“Your local Post Office,” I said, “is more interesting than mine.”

“Well,” said Pete, “they had these people just chopping meat up. They had carcasses of sheep. I don’t know how they got away with that, because blood was spattering over everybody as they were going through.

“A couple came in when I was performing- I only knew they were a man and woman because of their size and shape. They had full Nazi outfits on and full gimps masks with zips so you could just see their eyes. They sat right in front of the stage when I performed, watched me for about 25 minutes, then stood up, clapped their gloves together and walked out. It was the most surreal thing.”

“Who else is on the bill with you for the Hitler birthday gig?” I asked.

“Jesus Christ is flying over from Glasgow,” said Pete.

There is a clip on YouTube of Frank Sanazi singing Strangers On My Flight.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bad taste, Comedy, Offensive

An Edinburgh Fringe rant, Paul Merton, Dirty Girls, fart fetishers & Comic Relief

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps could let people take better shows to Edinburgh

One thing that increasingly gets up my nose at the Edinburgh Fringe is comedians who do not do stage shows.

They want to get picked up by radio or TV producers, so they bung in long pre-taped video sketches or pre-recorded sound recordings. All this makes me think:

  1. they don’t give a shit about the audience and
  2. they are incapable of doing a live performance

If you are doing a live show, then do a live show, do not make the audience sit and watch you do nothing while a pre-recorded piece of irrelevance plays.

There are exceptions to this, of course – notably the wonderful Juliette Burton (an ex-BBC person) who integrates extremely well-researched and shot videos into her shows and then interacts with them.

I tend not to review shows in this blog – it is mostly a blog of previews and interviews. But I am a Scot brought up among Jews so, if there are two free tickets going, I will always turn up.

The 39 Steps - Paul Merton

Paul Merton took The 39 Steps yesterday

This is a prelude to the fact that, last night, the show I was invited to see was The 39 Steps at London’s Criterion Theatre – obviously, a (comic) stage version of the feature film. And, ironically, it was a brilliant and flawless stage production which could only exist as a live stage show.

Anyone intending to perform a stage show based on material from a different medium – well, any narrative comedy show – should see how The 39 Steps had been crafted. The amount of tiny bits of visual stage ‘business’ is staggering. No wonder it won The Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2007 and two Tony Awards in the US in 2008. It is a masterclass in writing and directing a live stage comedy.

The reason I was invited to last night’s performance was that it included a cameo by Paul Merton in aid of tonight’s Comic Relief.

And that ‘charity event’ label is enough of a tenuous link for me to mention that, also yesterday, I Skyped Amber Willat, one of The Dirty Girls, in Los Angeles. (The other Dirty Girl is Amber’s sister Harper Willat.)

The Dirty Girls in Los Angeles

Amber (right) and Harper Willat: Dirty Girls  in California

The Dirty Girls turned up in a couple of blogs last week, when they contacted my farting chum Mr Methane about possibly performing at their Funny Farty Yoga Party charity event at Venice Beach which is being held this Sunday.

The Funny Farty Yoga Party starts with a laugh therapy session and continues with a ‘guided yoga session’, a Native American flute player and much else.

“Do the good people of Venice Beach,” I asked Amber, “need persuading that yoga is a good idea?”

Ad for the Sunday event in Los Angeles

Dirty Girls’ Funny Farty Yoga Party event ad in Los Angeles

“Californians love their yoga,” said Amber. “That’s for sure. But yoga has become such a hip thing that it’s become a full-fledged, multi-billion dollar industry. So we kinda wanna demystify the whole yoga world. A lot of people, when they do it for the first time are afraid: Ooo! What if I fart? and we wanna say: No worries. People fart in yoga. That’s why we wanted a professional farter like Mr Methane. But there are none in Los Angeles. When I looked for some, I just found guys on Craigslist who are fart fetishers.”

“There are fart fetishers?” I asked.

“There are a lot of fart fetishers,” Amber told me. “I was amazed to see the array of fart fetishers.”

“How did you become The Dirty Girls?” I asked.

“When my sister and I and some of our friends were in high school – like aged 13 and 14 – we were causing a ruckus on campus. They were saying: These girls haven’t showered in the last two years; they’re disgusting. And we kept fighting back. We went: Oh? You wanna see dirty? No problem! 

“So we would literally come to school with like whipped cream in our hair and, instead of lipstick ON our lips, it would be AROUND our lips. We just wanted to completely like obliterate the status quo of feminine products and beauty and all those kinda things.

the original Dirty Girls documentary

Harper and Amber in the original Dirty Girls documentary

“That was in the 1990s, before iPhones. We were just doing it because that’s what we wanted to do. But this other student kid, Michael Lucid. captured it on camera and shelved it as a VHS tape for 17 years and then, in March 2013, he digitised it and put it on YouTube just to show someone in New York and it leaked and just blew up (in hits) in days. We were called The Dirty Girls in high school. It was an insult then, but now we’re flipping it into like an empowered state.”

“And now it’s The Dirty Girls Project,” I said.

“Yes. There was so much outrage from lots of young women and adults and teenagers reaching out saying: Oh! We wish we had more dirty girls on our campus! You guys are so inspiring! So we thought: I guess there is a real calling for more inspirational badass girls that allow you to be who you wanna be. The Dirty Girls give you permission to be weird.

“And The Dirty Girls Project is this new multi-media platform where we collaborate and find more Dirty Girls and produce original content around them – an event, a video, an art project. Badass awesome content. We launched our website in October 2014.”

“The Funny Farty Yoga Party on Sunday is for charity…” I said.

Shine On Sierra Leone’s sustainable building

One of Shine On Sierra Leone’s sustainable building projects

“Yes. It’s going to various women’s groups, local groups and to Shine On Sierra Leone: they’re an amazing organisation that has very successfully empowered the women of the villages. They’ve built primary schools; they’re building an elementary school; they’ve set up a whole micro-loan system; they’re teaching women how to run their own villages. An incredible organisation. So we are working with them too.”

“Why Sierra Leone?” I asked.

“I know it sounds far-fetched,” Amber started to say.

“We like far-fetched,” I told her.

“But,” she continued, “it’s based in Culver City, where we are and we’re very good friends with the woman who is the founder of it and we’ve directly seen the impact she has had.”

“You were born and raised in Hollywood and you live in Culver City,” I said. “When’s your feature film coming out?”

“We’ve put it on a back-burner. There could be two different approaches. One would be a documentary. Michael Lucid did the film in 1996 and then did a follow-up with us in 2000 and then he did a third one.”

“Are you looking to start a Dirty Girls chapter in London?” I asked. “You could have branches everywhere, like Starbucks.”

“We don’t go corporate,” said Amber. “No way. Evil! Evil!?”

You can see the original 1996 Dirty Girls film on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Edinburgh, Sex, Sierra Leone, Theatre

Coming soon – Great Sexpectations, the Erotic Awards, The Night of the Senses

(This was also published by Indian news site WSN)

Grace Gelder in Soho yesterday

Grace Gelder in London’s Soho yesterday

It was comedian Matt Roper – currently in India – who first told me about The Night of the Senses. This year, it is being organised by his photographer friend Grace Gelder.

“You’re not actually going to call it an orgy, are you?” I asked her yesterday.

“No. It’s an erotic ball,” she replied.

“A good combination of words,” I said. “Do you have a job title?”

“Apparently I am officially called The Director of Pleasure,” laughed Grace.

We were at Bar Italia in London’s Soho yesterday, talking about The Night of the Senses, which has been run by Tuppy Owens for 25 years to raise money for her Outsiders Trust, the UK charity which aims to raise awareness about sex and disability.

“So,” I asked Grace. “This year it’s you organising The Night of the Senses. Why you?”

“I originally met Tuppy,” explained Grace, “because I had started to develop a documentary film about sex and disability. We worked on that for two years and went to interview Tuppy at her home in Inverness. She’s in her late sixties now and said that, when she started running the event, all of her friends came. A few weeks ago, she said to me It’s the same as you guys. All your friends are gonna come. We’re all over sixty; it’s time there was a new generation of people starting to hear about it.

“A new generation of sensual people?” I suggested.

“Well, it feels,” said Grace. “like there’s a lot more interest in this kind of thing right now. I’m not sure why. But people want really experiential things. The Secret Cinema has taken off. People want to go to an event and be integrated into it. There’s a lot of parties which touch on the ‘erotic’ like people who have hot tubs in the middle of their parties. But I think people are quite scared of putting on something that is so overtly sensual because they’re worried about How do you manage it? How do you handle it? I feel confident that I’m able to do that, especially having done erotic photography with people who start off really scared because they’ve never done anything like it.”

“And you’ve been to previous Nights of the Senses?”

“I’ve been to two.”

“How many people turned up last year?”

“About 1,000. This year’s one is in May with the Great Sexpectations semi-final in March.

“Basically, on The Night of the Senses itself, there are the events and included in that there’s The Erotic Awards, which have been running for about 17 or 18 years. They champion the stars of the erotic universe. People are picked out in different categories – books, films, campaigners – people who are campaigning for sex workers’ rights for example – artists, strippers, live artists whose work has an erotic element.

“The theme for this year’s Night of the Senses event in May is ‘The Zoo’, because Tuppy is a former zoologist, so it’s like a homage to Tuppy and the work she’s done over the last 25 years.”

“But,” I said, “as in movie disclaimers, no actual animals will be hurt during the production of this event?”

“Only humans dressed as animals,” said Grace. “Or zoo keepers. It leaves some space for the more kinky members of the public.”

“What was the theme for last year’s event?” I asked.

Last year's theme at Night of the Senses was 'Equestrianism'

Last year’s theme at Night of the Senses was ‘Equestrianism’

“Equestrian.”

“And you officially only started organising all of this on Monday this week,” I said. “Why did you get involved?”

“Initiating my film documentary project about sex and disability,” explained Grace, “completely opened my world to all this stuff which I didn’t know about. I found it very, very fascinating… which fed into my own life and ended up initiating a sexual journey for myself… of liberation and exploration and that sort of thing.”

“Any details?” I asked.

“What sort of details?” laughed Grace.

“Preferably quirky,” I said.

“Well,” said Grace, ignoring this, “I had to go to The Night of the Senses as research, for example, and that blew me away. Going to the event was a real catalyst. You step into a completely different environment.”

“How?” I asked.

“Just because of the nature of the event. Tuppy has never said to people You’ve got to come to this, because it is still a sophisticated event where you need to have some understanding of being in a sexual environment. To be aware of what you’re going to go and experience. People just being completely open and free with their… fetishes, with their actions… but in a very safe and well-held event.”

“I know nothing about this world,” I said, “but I did once get dragged to the Torture Garden club about twenty years ago.”

“That’s very much more specifically fetish and power games,” said Grace. “The Night of the Senses has all of those elements, but more as well. There’s always a dungeon-type place, but there’s also a tantric space where people can get a massage and put their name down to be tickled with feathers: that type of thing. A lot of sensory stuff. So it’s a lot more… You don’t have to be into power games. And there’s a bit more of a theatrical aspect to it as well. There’s a sensuality chamber for couples where live musicians play along.”

“You said your eyes were opened…” I prompted her.

“I’d never been in a situation like that,” said Grace, “where there was every spectrum of people – people with disabilities, people who were older, younger, gay, straight, all spectrums with all sorts of fetishes. Apparently one year they had a turtle-neck jumper fetish corner. They have their own clubs.”

“For people who have a fetish for turtle-neck jumpers?” I asked.

“Apparently.”

Ed Wood, fan of angora

Ed Wood, movie fan of angora sweaters?

“I seem to remember,” I said, “ that the film director Ed Wood had a fetish for angora sweaters. I think he had an angora sweater in every one of his films. Or it might have been his refrigerator that he had in every film. I have a very bad memory.”

“Interesting,” said Grace.

“When is your event happening again?” I asked. “I’ve forgotten.”

“Two events,” said Grace. “The Night of the Senses is in May with the final of the Erotic Awards as a stage show as part of it and, after that, everyone goes upstairs to play – or just watches – it’s up to you.

“But the first event is Great Sexpectations – in Bush Hall, Shepherd’s Bush on 22nd March. It’s a beautiful old music hall. Great Sexpectations is a sit-down table event, including the semi-finals of the live part of the Erotic Awards. The judges decide who will be finalists at the main event in May.”

“Is it like ice-skating?” I asked, “where you get awarded points on style. content and artistic interpretation?”

“It’s not like The X Factor,” laughed Grace. “Our judges watch and take notes and decide afterwards. Best Stripper and Best Live Artist are the two categories for the live aspect – It’s a cabaret, basically. I think we’ll also include a comedian and a singer, whereas the ‘stripper’ is anything from pole dancing to burlesque and boylesque. But then there’s also the author, photographer and the other categories at The Night of the Senses in May”

“Where is the main Night of the Senses going to be held in May?”

“The location of the venue is always released much later on to everyone who has bought a ticket. There has been trouble with the event in the past because of people campaigning against it or ringing the local council because of the nature of it. Some venues have an issue, but most people are totally fine with it: they know what it is and that it’s a fundraiser, so…”

“And,” I interrupted, “there’s no illegality of any kind. It is not ‘outraging public decency’ because it’s a ticketed event and people know exactly what they’re buying the tickets for.”

“Exactly,” said Grace. “You have to choose to go. You don’t just pass by and say Oo-err! I think I’ll pop in there and see what’s happening. And there’s a very clear code of conduct which is on the website.

“I’ll be updating the website in the next few weeks. Like I said, I only officially started organising all of this on Monday. There’s more to come.”

Grace asked me to say: “Any enquiries to gracegelder@gmail.com.”

I am not sure this is necessarily wise, but what do I know?

Leave a comment

Filed under Sex, Theatre

Copstick comedy audience attack + Charlie Chuck fetish + Janey Godley Twitter play + Bob Slayer bum tattoo

An extraordinary show showcasing cabaret

When I arrived in town yesterday, the first thing I did was go buy a cup of tea.

“Oh,” said the girl at the till, “I’m still confused. They put the prices up this week because it’s the Fringe and I can’t remember what’s what now.”

Welcome to Edinburgh during the Festival.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I was in a daze. I had had two hours sleep in a layby just outside Edinburgh at 5.00am plus an hour’s sleep at 2.00pm. My rented flat has WiFi access which is, unfortunately, provided by the ever-incompetent TalkTalk. This means that all access to any Facebook or Twitter or WordPress (which hosts this blog you are reading) is blocked because.. well, who knows?

Later, crossing North Bridge on my way to the Voodoo Rooms, I saw a double rainbow over Edinburgh. This presumably means either double my luck at the Fringe or twice the shit. But it started well.

Mat Ricardo, the man who can not only pull a tablecloth OUT from under crockery on a table but who can also sweep it back UNDER the crockery again in one fast move has brought his London Varieties format to Edinburgh as the Voodoo Varieties.

This involves an admirably zealous pushing of variety acts, different top-notch cabaret acts each night, a different chat guest each night and not a stand-up comedian in sight.

I was caught unawares (left) by Ian Fox’s camera last night

Last night, this meant an audience with a high percentage of Edinburgh’s best cabaret acts in it. This also meant that, on-stage, ukelele chanteuse Tricity Vogue accidentally ended up with audience member participation from singer Lili La Scala whose own Fringe show is called Another Fucking Variety Show

I had not realised until I got there that last night’s chat guest was doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers (and fellow Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge) Kate Copstick.

After watching Up and Over It’s (Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding’s) extraordinarily rousing electro-pop hands-beating-on-amplified-table-while-physically-attacking-each-other pastiche of Riverdance style music, Copstick and I just looked at each other in awe.

Kate Copstick: “A lot of comedy audiences are muppets”

Copstick, in her own chat with Mat Ricardo was raving about Paul Provenza’s Set List, Tom Flanagan’s Kaput and the fact that “in comedy, the audience is dwindling up the arse-hole of television.

“You could have a crock of shit live on stage at one of the major venues,” she suggested, “and, if they add an As Seen on Mock The Week or Star of Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow strap on the poster, it would sell out at £16 a pop. A lot of comedy audiences are muppets…

“And then you get somebody who’s dragged up the arse-end of a tour that has been every place in the UK except Edinburgh to do seven nights at the (large) EICC or somewhere. Fuck you! The Fringe isn’t the place to do that. This is the place to do new stuff, interesting stuff. Don’t just schlep up some tired old crap because you know there’s enough dumb people who’ll pay £16 a ticket for it!”

“I kind of think,” said Mat Ricardo, “that pretty much every show up here… the person doing it should be unsure of whether it’s going to work or not.”

“Absolutely,” said Copstick. “The Fringe should be where you take risks. If the Fringe can be killed, it will be comedy that kills the Fringe.”

Copstick is not big on safe comedy. She mentioned Bob Slayer’s Alternative Fringe shows at The Hive venue.

“Things don’t get much more unacceptable than Bob Slayer,” she told Mat admiringly. “I was absolutely gutted that, last night, I couldn’t go to the Alternative Fringe launch party. I had been offered free beer and, normally, that will have me flat on my back with my legs in the air. I was asked to go and tattoo someone at the launch party. I told Bob But I can’t tattoo anyone! and his reaction was Ooh no problem, no problem! He’s got a very high pain threshold!

Later last night, at the Free Festival launch party, I asked Bob Slayer about this.

Surprisingly sober Bob Slayer talked arse tattoo at the party

“It was my friend Miles Lloyd,” he told me. “Miles has got the biggest collection of terrible tattoos in the world. He is happy to be tattooed anywhere by anyone, provided it isn’t on his face or hands. It couldn’t be worse than what he’s got. He’s got a tattoo of a band that he didn’t even know. He just saw it as a logo on a skateboard and thought Oh, that looks cool. But then he found out they are a band and they are shit!”

“What did you do when Copstick didn’t turn up?” I asked.

“Well, we didn’t tattoo him.”

“You should have tattooed him yourself,” I said. “Anyone can do it.”

“Well the tattoo needle thing didn’t turn up either. We’ll get Copstick to do it at a later date. This is an open call to Copstick!” Bob started shouting. “We need you at the Alternative Fringe to come and tattoo Miles’ arse!”

Charlie Chuck to host a monthly Fetish Fair

I then checked my phone and found I had received a tweet from the monthly London Fetish Fair, which I went to a few weeks ago but did not blog about. There was a Twitpic of a poster which said:

CHARLIE CHUCK HAS GONE TO THE DARK SIDE

London Fetish Fair… The world’s longest running fetish fair & alternative cabaret party welcomes our new, iconic compere to interpret the world of the bizarre with a riotous, irrepressible hilarity. 2nd Sunday of every month, starting October 14th 2012.

I had actually gone with Charlie Chuck to last month’s Fetish Fair where he talked to them about this. (No pictures!) There had been talk, I think, of them providing a latex suit for him. I must ask him about this when he arrives in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Janey Godley’s viral sensation goes dramatically live on stage

The other thing I need to catch up on is the half-hour play based on Janey Godley’s extraordinary Twitter viral story about an overheard conversation in a train.

This is now going to be staged as #timandfreya – a special one-off, one-night-only event at the Pleasance venue on Monday 20th August, dramatised by Janey’s daughter Ashley Storrie. Their selling line is:

For one night only, the world gets to see the account of two people, one horse and an internet sensation that provoked worldwide debate on privacy laws.

Whether the real Tim is going to turn up at the performance, I don’t know. I expect details when Janey and Ashley descend on Edinburgh to overnight in my flat tonight. Pity they can’t access Twitter from it.

Lewis Schaffer at the party last night, desperate for posters

Last chat of last night at the Free Festival launch party, before I went to an early bed, was with comedian Lewis Schaffer, whose posters went missing after they arrived in Edinburgh. No doubt spurred on by Britain’s double-gold-medal win at yesterday’s Olympics and with the glittering hope of winning a second increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award, he tells me he is going to have a competition.

He says there will be a prize offered for the person correctly guessing the time and date when his misplaced Edinburgh Fringe posters will be located.

“I’m also offering a prize,” he told me, “for the best suggestion of what that prize should be.”

“What’s the prize for that?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I may have another prize competition about that.”

The strange thing is that, unlike most people performing at the Fringe, Lewis does not drink much.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabaret, Comedy, Humor, Humour, Marketing, PR, Television