Tag Archives: Look at Me

Juliette Burton (a cow) complicates Edinburgh Fringe venues even more

Busy Juliette Burton arrives at King’s Cross

Busy Juliette Burton, King’s Cross

The Edinburgh Fringe venues in August are already guaranteed to be a mess with the Cowgatehead debacle (subject of already too many earlier blogs) meaning many ‘free’ shows will be in the wrong venues and/or at the wrong times or will not exist at all.

Now I have discovered even some ‘pay’ venues will be slightly confusing.

I met Juliette Burton at King’s Cross station to talk about her updated Look at Me show which is being previewed at the Leicester Square Theatre tomorrow night and Thursday night.

“I’ve been adding extra bits to it because of recent newsworthy events,” she told me.

“All that hoo-hah about the ‘beach ready’ ads?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“I’m impressed,” I told Juliette, “that you are not mentioning the product name. The yellow thing we don’t name so they don’t get unnecessary publicity. You wrote about it in Standard Issue and the Huffington Post.

“Yes,” said Juliette. “And it highlights the issues that are brought up in Look at Me. I’ve also been adding in jokes and making it more about me.”

“And,” I said, “you’re taking it back to the Gilded Balloon venue at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.”

“Yes. I’m doing it at the Gilded Balloon for six days, but the Pleasance Dome is housing me and a couple of other people.”

“What?” I said. “You are not actually in the Gilded Balloon building itself?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I’m not exactly sure. It’s called The Gilded Balloon Study, but it’s housed in the Pleasance Dome.”

Karen Koren of the Gilded Balloon and Anthony Alderson of the Pleasance

Karen Koren of the Gilded Balloon and Anthony Alderson of the Pleasance venues – civilised, amiable Fringe competitors

The Gilded Balloon and the Pleasance are two competing venues at the Edinburgh Fringe. As far as I understand it, the Gilded Balloon’s old press office was going to be turned into a venue this year, but there were problems and the Pleasance venue next door helped out by providing space.

“I’m just happy it’s all so amicable,” Juliette told me. “It’s nice when people work together to overcome obstacles.”

“Yes it is,” I said. “Is that all you’re doing in Edinburgh this year, apart from competing in the annual Russian Egg Roulette Championships at the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show on 28th August?”

(The Edinburgh Fringe is all about blatant promotion.)

“Well, I’m also doing Juliette Burton’s Happy Hour at the Jekyll & Hyde pub for one week and some shows with Abnormally Funny People.”

“Why are you appearing with Abnormally Funny People?” I asked. “You’re not disabled.”

“Because I’ve got mental health problems.”

“Surely that doesn’t count?’

“It’s a disability,” said Juliette. “There are lots of disabilities that are invisible. I always used to feel quite nervous about classing it as a disability.

“I’ve also been nominated for the National Diversity Awards 2015. I’ve been nominated by somebody else, but I have to put together evidence that I am, in fact, a role model for diversity.”

“Diversity” I asked, “is what?”

“It’s about breaking down barriers and encouraging people to embrace everybody, no matter what they look like or what they’ve been through.”

“If you want to embrace everybody, you should team up with Patrick Monahan,” I suggested. “So why are you diverse?”

“Because I’m a nutter. But I’m keen to be less of a campaigner and more of a comedy person now. I’m nominated for the Funny Women Awards on 23rd June. And my videos from MCM ComicCon are coming out soon.”

“You were dressed as your short film character SuperMum, weren’t you?” I asked

Juliette burton - coming soon as supreme

Juliette – also available in different costumes, including cow

“The SuperMum screening was at MCM ComicCon,” said Juliette, “but I was running round dressed as lots of different characters – Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy,  a cow…”

“A cow?” I asked.

“I was running round ComicCon interviewing people for VidFest UK.”

“A cow?” I repeated.

“A cow,” confirmed Juliette.

“A cow normally requires two people,“ I pointed out to her.

“I am two people,” she said. “I give you two for the price of one. I was the whole cow. Actually, weirdly, that was the costume I felt most at home in.”

“Your udder-worldly character?” I asked.

“Very good,” said Juliette, unconvincingly. “My milk shake brought all the boys to the yard… I’m recording another audio book for the RNIB in July.”

“Another Mills & Boon?” I asked.

“No. It’s a dark thriller with murder in it.”

“You should be a PR,” I suggested. “But you are so busy you probably don’t have the time.”

“Do you want me to tell you about my dental appointment and/or my lump?” Juliette asked.

“Probably not,” I said.

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Juliette Burton: the writer-performer who can make psychosis hilarious

Juliette Burton with Nick Clegg in background

A Juliette Burton selfie + Nick Clegg in the centre background

Comedy performer Juliette Burton was recently invited to Whitehall to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at an event giving out awards to ‘Mental Health Heroes’.

“Were you up for an award?” I asked.

“No,” she told me. “I was invited as a ‘celebrity ambassador’ for the mental health charities MIND and Time To Change. At the event, I met this guy called Harry who worked for the Department of Health who knew all about me. He knew I do voice-over work and shows and I was rather confused but also kind-of liked it. The explanation was that apparently I was one of only seven people there the staff had access to biographies of.”

“Did you meet Nick Clegg?”

“No. But I did slurp my wine very, very loudly during his speech, which I felt was opposition enough.”

Juliette has just moved down to London from Edinburgh, where she lived for three years.

“All of the industry is centred in London,” she explained, “so it’s a lot more practical living down here, but I do miss Edinburgh desperately.”

“Until recently,” I told her, “I’d always had relatives in Edinburgh. It is the place I’ve always felt most at home and the irony is I’ve never had a home there. I always reckoned, if I won the Lottery, it would be a house in Edinburgh and a flat in London.”

“I loved living in Edinburgh,” said Juliette.

Juliette Burton: Edinburgh-London, King’s Cross

Juliette Burton talked to me at King’s Cross…

“But now,” I prompted, “in April, you’re starting a new monthly comedy show in Shoreditch.”

“Yes. Juliette Burton’s Happy Hour.”

“And how long,” I asked, “does Juliette Burton’s Happy Hour last?”

“About two hours.”

“So that’s interesting,” I said.

“Well, yes,” agreed Juliette. “Happy Hour is longer than an hour and it’s hosted by someone with clinical depression.”

“Are you going back to the Edinburgh in August with a new Fringe show?”

“Not this year. I’m doing last year’s show Look at Me for eight days and I think I’ll also be doing some performances with Abnormally Funny People and some other things with other people.

“I’ve been working on Look At Me with Kevin Shepherd, who’s directing it. I’m doing it at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival on 22nd February and at the Brighton Fringe on 28th of May.”

“Ah,” I said, “that’s your broadcast journalist background showing. Getting the plug in… So why do you need a director now for Look At Me? Is it slightly different from the version that played the Edinburgh Fringe last year?”

“Yes. I’m being a bit more free with my ad-libbing.”

“How?” I asked, “given it has to run the same length.”

Juliette Burton - Look at Me

Juliette Burton says Look at Me ad-libbing more

“I’m cutting out some things and allowing myself to be a bit more ‘me’ – so a bit less ‘performer’ and a bit more ‘me’.”

“Why?”

“Because Kevin tells me I’m naturally funny, which I never thought I was – and I’m still a bit skeptical about that. He tells me I can relax a little more and not hide behind a script. “

“But why no new Fringe show this year?” I asked.

“Because the three new shows I am working on are all rather complicated and will take longer to put together. I’m going to try to get one, if not two, of them at a preview stage by autumn this year.”

“You had a plan of seven shows, didn’t you?” I asked. “And, so far, you’ve done the first two – When I Grow Up and Look At Me. What are these next three?”

“There’s The Butterfly Effect, which is about how much impact somebody can have on the world and about how, if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. Something like that. The Dalai Lama and all that.”

“He’d be a good audience for a comedy show,” I suggested. “He giggles a lot.”

“And then there’s Daddy’s Girl,” Juliette continued, which is one I really want to do.”

Daddy’s Girl Juliette retains some secrets

Daddy’s Girl Juliette still retains at least one secret off-stage

“And which I know we can’t talk about,” I said.

“Yes,” said Juliette. “It’s about something I can’t yet divulge everything about. It’s something that is extremely close to my heart and I’m really keen to do it. But there are lots of other exciting things happening at the moment. I think Dreamcatcher is the most likely show to be ready first, though a lot might change in the coming weeks. It’s a very exciting year.”

“Why are you doing THREE new shows anyway?” I asked.

“Because I have lots of ideas and I can’t stop myself.”

“But it’s a lot of psychological pressure,” I suggested.

“I love that kind of pressure,” said Juliette. “I love creative pressure. Dreamcatcher is about our relationship with reality – and it’s funny. It’s how to make psychosis hilarious. I want to take time to make sure it’s fun and that I don’t try to cram too much into an hour. I need to make it the most accessible and light show I can while keeping real meaning. There ARE ways to make psychosis funny and you were the one who inspired me to do it.”

“I made you psychotic?” I asked.

Juliette Burton’s first So It Goes blog

Juliette: So It Goes

“When you did your first blog chat with me, I was so scared about telling everybody about my psychosis because I thought they would all judge me. But the reaction they had was so warm and welcoming that I thought: Well, maybe I could be a bit braver with this. And then a bit braver and a bit braver.

“Then, at the end of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Paul Levy from Fringe Review asked me if I thought I was unravelling more and more in each show. I thought that was very astute of him and it has stayed with me for the last few months because there are so many people out there doing all these amazing shows that do not involve them psychologically challenging themselves.

“Recently, someone said to me: Are you sure you want to be exposing yourself so much psychologically on stage? And I have been thinking about that and I think I want to really connect with people in a meaningful way and the truest stories are the most exciting. So why not just tell the truth? But make it funny in the process.”

“When Paul Levy said were you unravelling,” I asked, “did he mean Are you going loopy? or did he mean Are you revealing – unravelling – more secrets – more of yourself – in each successive show?

“I hadn’t thought of it like that,” said Juliette. “I might choose to hear it that way next time I hear it in my head. I thought he just meant Are you unravelling mentally?”

“Did you tell him Yes or No?” I asked.

“I think I said Yes. If we’re all going to go through life and it’s all going to be a little bit painful, then why not connect with other people about what you’re going through, so that you’re not alone?”

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Edinburgh Fringe: a cute dog, a dead pig and three women I don’t talk to…

Exclamation mark

Some people just don’t know when to stop…

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned an unwise act who sent me the same introductory e-mail three times then, the next day, phoned my mobile four times in an hour while I was driving up the M6 motorway. Yesterday morning, within half an hour, I received another three copies of the same e-mail from him within half an hour.

When I say “the same e-mail” I mean the same introductory one he had sent two days ago. Not a new one. It is like repeatedly getting a Nigerian scam e-mail without the misprints.

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts and his new co-star son

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts with his new co-star son

After aiming Google’s spam filter at the comedian’s address, I went to the Counting House to see if the posters/flyers for today’s Grouchy Club show had arrived. (They had.)

I bumped into the exquisite Andrew Watts who was looking for his own Feminism For Chaps posters.

I have made it my mission to relentlessly call him “exquisite” (Time Out reviewed him as “exquisitely funny”) until he breaks and runs naked down the Royal Mile attacking passers-by with a gherkin. I give him two weeks maximum.

Andrew told me he has decided to include his small son in his show after he heard comic Karen Bayley was including her dog in hers.

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie - the photograph accompanying the talented canine's brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie – the photograph accompanying the talented canine’s brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen had been handing out flyers for her Geezer Bird show in Edinburgh’s streets with the cute mutt. People then went to see Geezer Bird and were initially disappointed not to see the dog in the show. So the canine has now been added and Karen has clothes on order for it.

Then, after seeing Juliette Burton’s flawless funny show Look At Me at the Gilded Balloon, I bumped into sound girl (in all senses of the word) Misha Anker, who is doing the technical stuff for my increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Counting House on 22nd August. She was on two crutches. This is not normal for her. She told me she had fallen in the street and doctors had told her not to walk up hills. This is Edinburgh. It is all hills.

Grouchy Club + Malcolm Hardee Awards 2014

1st Rule of Edinburgh. If you got it, flaunt it

Since arriving in Edinburgh, I have been meaning to arrange a meeting with Misha to talk about the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. We had no time to talk yesterday.

I have also been trying to meet Kate Copstick since last Friday in London about our daily Grouchy Club show in Edinburgh (which starts today) but we failed utterly. So we will do that today, during the show. It is, after all, a chat show.

The third person I have failed to talk to – over several weeks – is Miss Behave, co-presenter on 22nd August of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

Tim Fitzhigham (left) and Bob Slayer host the Fool Members Club

Tim FitzHigham (left) and Bob Slayer yesterday…

After midnight last night/this morning, I went to Bob Slayer and Tim FitzHigham’s IndieRound (Fool Members Club) at Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop and, of course, she was there. It is her venue. But, again, we failed to talk because she made an early exit.

I am beginning to think the problem is either me or my shirt.

After the Fool Members Club meandered to its finish, around 3.00am, I went back to my flat and read an e-mail from Free Festival supremo Alex Petty telling me about journalist Nadia Brooks and the pig.

I found out more from Nadia this morning.

Nadia Brooks is a puny Lexicon Lady

Nadia Brooks is the punny Lexicon Lady

She is performing a show called Lexicon Lady which, she says, is filled with “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns as well as a litter of alliteration”.

Two days ago, about halfway through her show, a man in a high-visibility jacket walked in with a dead pig over his shoulder and took it into the bar at the back. He then came back out but returned a couple of times with another man who was wearing a high visibility jacket and carrying boxes.

This morning, Nadia told me: “The pig man was grinning broadly as he wandered through my show. The dead pig slung over his shoulder was not smiling.

“I think the audience thought it was part of my show because I’m a northerner and we often have bizarre deliveries to working men’s clubs. Usually it’s a cockles man.

“Yesterday, the show was bac-on again. This time three fire safety chiefs popped in about halfway through, carrying clipboards, seemingly unaware a show was going on.

“The pig man came in again – at the end this time – sans piggie. I asked him if he would be delivering a pig again and he said: Maybe in a couple of days.”

I should perhaps not mention that Nadia rounded-off by saying:

“I am hoping it is all a big stunt to secretly audition me for a part in a new series of Phoenix Nights. Still, hopefully it means my show will be the pork of the town.”

As I mentioned, Nadia describes her show as “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns”.

She also said:

“I look forward to coming along to see you at The Grouchy Club!”

So that is one person in the audience then. The upside is that, if no-one turns up, Kate Copstick and I will actually have time to talk. I may get Miss Behave and Misha Anker to come along on subsequent days.

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At the Edinburgh Fringe – How NOT to publicise a show & get your nose licked

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

Malcolm Hardee Awards, awaiting collection in Edinburgh

Yesterday I drove up from London to Edinburgh – an eight hour drive not helped by a performer phoning me at 9.34am, 9.59am, 10.32am and 10.36am to suggest himself for the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award. The previous night, he had sent three identical e-mails suggesting himself. Not three separate e-mails… The same e-mail three times with gaps between. Not a mistake.

This does not signal Talent to me. It signals Trouble and I can do without the comic version of Play Misty For Me.

At the Gilded Balloon’s launch party, I was interested to see the Big Four venues have changed the cover of their brochure since their London launch – or, at least, provided an alternative.

The original Big Four cover (left) and the revised one

The original Big Four brochure cover (left) & the revised one

For a couple of years, they had printed a brochure under the banner Edinburgh Comedy Festival which got them terrible criticism because it was said they were trying to con punters into believing their shows were ALL the comedy shows at the Fringe.

I never understood the criticism. All the venues and all the agencies who print their own brochures to complement the main Fringe Programme have, at various times, in various ways tried to make their brochure seem to be the only one punters needed. It seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable self-marketing and the hoo-hah against the Big Four’s Edinburgh Comedy Festival appeared to be (I was told) stoked up by another venue which had been keen to be in the brochure but had been turned down.

So I was impressed to see at the London launch of the brochure a cover declaring it was the EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE brochure. It sort of masqueraded as the main Fringe Programme rather than just the comedy shows.

Now THIS is the sort of launch party I like

Now THIS is the sort of launch party I like…

Now I can only imagine the Big Four have backed-off and changed the cover.

A pity.

More jollity was to be had at the new Freestival launch party, sponsored by the La Favorita pizza chain. Not only were there slices of pizza on offer amid the champagne, but there were stacks of fairy cakes. Now THAT is my sort of festival launch.

The downside was a wanton attack on my shirt by very talented but obviously sartorially tasteless comedians Alexander Bennett and Paco Erhard.

Standing on my left side, Alexander texted to Paco who was standing on my right side (this is the 21st century):

John’s shirt – a brave choice.

Men of dubious taste: Alexander Bennett (left) & Paco Erhard

Men of dubious taste: Alexander Bennett (left) & Paco Erhard

Paco texted back to Alexander:

Oh great! Made me look! It looks like a lava lamp to me now.

These two excellent but foolhardy performers are not quite up to the level of some bloke sending me the same e-mail three times and phoning me four times in one hour, but they are risking the wrath of my increasingly prestigious blog.

It was a relief to be dragged across the street for a meal with Juliette Burton and her musical director Frankie Lowe.

“Nice shirt,” they both said with I thought a tiny trace of sarcasm.

Juliette told me she had four reviewers in the audience for her first Look At Me show – always a good sign there’s a buzz about a show even if it is nerve-wracking for the performer.

If there were prizes for shirts in Edinburgh, I feel I could be a contender

If there were prizes for most tasteful shirts in Edinburgh, I feel I could be a strong contender

I said I went “across the street for a meal with Juliette Burton and her musical director Frankie Lowe”. In fact, I did not have a meal with them. I watched them eat. At the end of their apparently very tasty meal, it turned out that Empire’s restaurant does not take credit cards or debit cards.

In a sign of how technology is affecting us – or just our own individual bank balances – it turned out neither Juliette nor Frankie… nor I… had the required £22 in cash in our pockets. Not even combining our resources. So I paid with a cheque (to be reimbursed to me by them later in cash or in fairy cakes).

Frankie said he had not seen anyone use a chequebook since the 1990s.

This made me feel out-of-date. I do try to keep up with the kids in the hood. I listen to the wireless on my computer and use the interweb and wear trainers.

Juliette Burton braves the tongue of Bob Slayer

Juliette Burton braved the tongue of Bob Slayer last night

Round the corner from the restaurant, we bumped into Bob Slayer outside his new venue Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop.

He licked Juliette’s nose.

He licked Frankie’s nose.

I escaped his tongue.

I felt relieved.

I went back to my rented flat.

It is frighteningly clean.

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Painful nipples after London Mayor Boris Johnson screws nude Edinburgh Fringe performer Juliette Burton

Janet Bettesworth (centre right) celebrates her birthday

Janet Bettesworth (centre right) celebrates her 70th birthday

Last night, I went to flame-haired comedy temptress Janet Bettesworth’s 70th birthday party in a room above the Bedford pub in Balham, Gateway to The South.

Downstairs, the pub was a scene like something out of the Black Hole of Calcutta mixed with the Sacking of Rome by the Goths & Vandals and with a noise level similar to the arrival of ‘Fat Man’ in Nagasaki in 1945. That’s a World Cup Saturday for you.

Upstairs, at Janet’s party, it was comedians socialising and a very loud folk band, though sadly no nudity.

Yesterday afternoon, though, there WAS nudity in Central London.

I went to the starting point for The Naked Bike Ride, just outside the new St Martin’s College of Art behind King’s Cross station.

In previous blogs, I have mentioned comedian Juliette Burton’s enthusiastically-anticipated (certainly by me) upcoming Edinburgh Fringe show Look At Me, which is about whether who we appear to be is who we actually are – and whether we can change who we are on the inside by changing who we appear to be on the outside.

Among other things, it involves her being videoed in public wearing a a ‘fat’ prosthetics suit, being transformed into a man… and nudity.

Participants prepare for the Naked Bike Ride yesterday

Participants prepared for the Naked Bike Ride yesterday

So, yesterday, she was going to take part in the Naked Bike Ride which – allegedly – was being held to protest against the pollution caused by Society’s dependency on oil.

I say ‘allegedly’ because it is an annual event and, as far as I can see, just an excuse to get your kit off for reasons of exhibitionism, Bohemianism  or eccentricity – mostly the last two and nothing wrong in either.

In August, you can streak nude for tigers

In August, you can strip off & Streak For Tigers at Lindon Zoo

As I waited for Juliette to arrive, I was handed a flyer for a naked Streak For Tigers run being held at London Zoo in August. Fortunately I will be in Edinburgh and will miss the inevitable carnage.

When Juliette did turn up with her musical director Frankie Lowe (Juliette has an entourage even bigger than Lewis Schaffer‘s) she had a story to tell.

She told me how she had just been screwed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Juliette advertised her Fringe show yesterday

Juliette advertised her Fringe show yesterday

“We spent a while with the make-up artist this morning,” she told me, “advertising my show on my back and advertising my boobs on my front. Then I put my clothes back on and went to get the Boris Bike.”

[Note to non-Brits: The publicly-rentable bikes causing traffic chaos all over London have been nicknamed ‘Boris Bikes’.]

Juliette, pained, after being screwed by Boris

Juliette, pained, after being screwed on a bike by Mayor Boris

“We had paid our £2 for the code to access a bike,” Juliette explained to me, “and we went round every single docking station in this row of bikes off Caledonian Road and none of them would let us have a bike. Boris screwed us over. So we walked here, just so we could salvage a shot of me standing around supporting the good cause surrounded by naked people and getting my things out.”

Frankie Lowe - a man who wears two hats

Frankie – a man who wears two creative hats

Juliette had been planning her naked bike ride since last December with Frankie Lowe – not only her musical director but also her cameraman – he is a man who wears multiple hats simultaneously and, yesterday, literally.

“We had been going to start here at King’s Cross,” explained Juliette, “and then do Haymarket and have Frankie film me on Westminster Bridge by the Houses of Parliament…

“I had taken my Dutch courage – a half a glass of Prosecco before I left. And then Boris screwed us. It’s very disappointing.”

“Though,” I said, “as of this week, you now do have the even better…”

“Except you cannot blog about that yet,” said Juliette.

So I won’t.

“Frankie,” continued Juliette, “made a very good observation that it was ironic we were prevented from doing a protest against oil dependency by the ineffectiveness of a city-wide bicycling scheme that is meant to help people not depend on cars.”

“Frankie should wear a PR hat on top of his other two,” I observed.

After the massed naked cyclists set off, the three of us had a drink nearby. This also gave Juliette time to go off to the toilet and take off her pasties.

I forgot to mention that Juliette had bright pink circular coverings over her nipples.

Juliette relaxes with her pink pasties in the foreground

Juliette with her pink pasties in foreground

Apparently they are called pasties – pronounced not ‘pass-ties’ but ‘paste-ies’ – and are/were stuck on with the make-up artists’ equivalent of super glue.

When she re-emerged from the toilet, looking slightly shaken, Juliette observed:

“Everyone suffers for their Edinburgh Fringe show, but I didn’t know I was going to suffer this much physical pain for it.”

“Suffering pain from tits is common in Edinburgh,” I suggested.

Rule 17 in blog writing: always try to give yourself the last line.

There is a promo for Look At Me on YouTube.

 

 

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My gay day in Soho yesterday and, later, seeing women’s armpit hair in Stockwell

Me and my new friend in Soho yesterday

Me and my new boy friend in Soho yesterday

So, I was at a gay bar in London’s Soho yesterday afternoon, talking to this young ‘boy’ with stubble on his chin. I did not ask his name and we went into an alleyway beside the Vue cinemas in Leicester Square where he asked me: “Do you want me to take my penis out?” then stuck his hand into his trousers and started rummaging around.

But more about that later.

I was in another bar a couple of weeks ago – the Soho Theatre bar – and Zuma Puma aka Nelly Scott told me:

“I was in this film and one of my teeshirts was a little bit shorter and I was thinking Oh no! What if they’re really upset? and I was walking round the set trying to cover up the fact that I’m a woman with armpit hair, when it’s actually like a matter of pride for me. I was thinking What if this is unacceptable for this character?

“But you were playing the part of a killer,” I said. “A homicidal female psychopath.”

“Exactly,” said Nelly. “Why would she be shaving her armpits? – When would she have the time in between killing people?”

“Why are you so proud of your armpit hair?” I asked Nelly.

Michael Brunström stands in a bucket of water

Michael Brunström stands in a bucket of water

“I love it,” she told me. I love the texture of it. I like stroking it. I like how it keeps my arms warm. And I like my own smell. That’s another bonus. I would wear it as a perfume.”

Last night, I went to her always extraordinarily bizarre weekly Lost Cabaret show in Stockwell which she comperes as Zuma Puma. Somehow the sight of Michael Brunström standing in a bucket of water passionately reading a random article from a Yachting magazine seemed quite normal in the context of Lost Cabaret.

Sharney Emma Nougher (left) & Zuma Puma raise their arms

Zuma Puma (right) and Sharney Nougher raise their arms

After the show, Zuma Puma and Sharney Nougher showed me their armpit hair.

I was very grateful.

It was a fairly ordinary day.

I am always grateful for small kindnesses.

So back to my gay afternoon in Soho yesterday…

The young ‘boy’ I met asked five men in the gay Ku Bar if they fancied him. Three did. Well, two did and one said: “Only if you are in the process of transgendering.”

Juliette Burton as herself

Juliette Burton as herself

A shrewd observation, because yesterday was Day Five in performer Juliette Burton’s week of shooting partly-hidden-camera video inserts for her upcoming Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Look At Me (co-written by comedienne Janey Godley). It is about how people’s external image affects how people perceive them as people.

“Each day has been challenging in different ways,” Juliette told me yesterday.

DAY ONE 

Juliette dressed as what, merely for understandability’s sake, I would describe as ‘tarty’.

“It had the biggest reaction from other people,” she told me. “I was dressed in a costume that was inspired by The Only Way Is Essex, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and Jordan before she became Katie Price. I started at King’s Cross, then got on a bus to Soho Square and walked through to Covent Garden. Wherever I went, people stared at me and some of the looks I got – we’ve looked at the video we shot – were so disdainful and so scornfuI. I did not do anything tarty. All I did was walk past dressed in a particular way.”

DAY TWO

Juliette partially made-up, with and ‘old’ cheek and throat

Juliette during her transformation, partially made-up, with an ‘old’ cheek and throat

Juliette was made up to look like an old lady.

“That was more liberating in some ways,” she told me, “because I was less noticeable. But, in some ways, it was more emotional.”

“How?” I asked.

“You’ll have to come and see the show,” Juliette said. “It was a sad day.”

DAY THREE

Juliette wore a ‘fat suit’ and was made-up to look fat.

“That was very difficult for personal reasons,” Juliette explained, “because there were some emotional things going on inside me that I hadn’t anticipated. The prosthetics were very good and the character was confident and bold and bright. I was about a size 18 in the prosthetics. I wanted to reclaim my experience when I had been that size, because I used to be a size 20. I wanted to reclaim how I felt about myself back then.”

DAY FOUR

Juliette under cover, literally

Juliette – literally under-cover

“I thought this was going to be my hijab day,” said Juliette. “The hijab is what Moslem women wear when only their face and hands are exposed. The niqab only exposes their eyes and hands. I thought the hijab I had ordered online had a headscarf and a black dress but, in fact, it actually had niqab headgear as well.

“So sometimes I dressed in a niqab, sometimes in a hijab. That was very interesting because most people don’t bat an eyelid if you walk round London like that, though there were some experiences I had that were quite shocking.

“What I hadn’t anticipated, again, was the internal journey. There’s stuff that goes on psychologically that I hadn’t anticipated.”

“But, to find out, I’ll have to come and see the show in Edinburgh?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” laughed Juliette.

DAY FIVE

Juliette (left) and the reaction of friends Lizzy Mace and Frankie Lowe

Juliette (left) arrives at Ku Bar + the reaction to her changed personality by her friends Lizzy Mace and Frankie Lowe

“Well,” said Juliette, “That’s today. I’m dressed as a man and you say I make quite a good man.”

“You look like a rather effete South American boy,” I told her. “You could maybe make money selling yourself in Rio during the World Cup.”

Make-up artist Sarah-Jane Lyon had given Juliette a false Adam’s apple.

“And I’ve got a bulge,” said Juliette. “A foam penis. Do you want to see it?”

“No,” I said.

“Don’t you want me to take my penis out?” Juliette asked.

“Don’t you want me to take my penis out?”

“Don’t you want me to take my penis out?” Juliette asked.

“No,” I said. “Not down an alleyway in Soho. I’ve seen too many real ones on stage.”

“So you’re bored with penises?”

“I’ve been too close to too many pricks,” I said. “I worked at the BBC.”

“It’s a foam penis,” said Juliette.

“I would prefer to see Martin Soan’s singing and dancing vagina,” I replied.

That was yesterday in a Soho alley.

Today Juliette is in Stoke-on-Trent shooting extra footage for her pop video to promote Look at Me.

And, on Sunday, she is back in London, to shoot more hidden camera reactions to her superficial appearance.

“I will be wearing pink underwear,” Juliette told me, “and fishnets, a wig, flippers, snorkel, body paint, absurd make-up and I will have a giant glittery purple peanut on my head and be carrying a bright pink dog. A real one.”

“What will the dog be wearing?” I asked.

“The dog will be wearing a tutu, of course,” said Juliet matter-of-factly.

“Of course it will,” I said. “Do you have armpit hair, Juliette?”

There is a promotional video for Look At Me on YouTube.

and also one for Zuma Puma’s Lost Cabaret shows

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Filed under Comedy, Gay, Psychology, Theatre

Impoverished comedians grasp at floating food skydropped in Australia

Juliette promoting her When I Grow Up show

Juliette has always taken an interest in aerial transportation

Juliette Burton ended her run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last night.

This morning – early evening to her – we talked via Skype

“We have an end-of-Festival party this evening,” she told me. “It’s a Tarantino-themed fancy dress party. I have two costumes and I can’t decide, so I’m going to go in a yellow jumpsuit in Kill Bill style AND as Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction with the black bob haircut.

Not Juliette Burton

Not to be confused with Juliette Burton

“I’m planning to make a fool of myself in one outfit, then make a quick getaway, change, then come back and make a fool of myself in the other outfit.

“Sounds like a fully-formed Edinburgh Fringe show,” I said.

“A few days ago, you blogged about the lovely Lili La Scala in London,” Juliette said. “And the other day in Melbourne Sam Wills (Lili’s husband) phoned me up and asked Do you want to take part in a Jaffle-shoot contest – Do you know what that is?

“Shooting Jaffa Cakes?” I guessed.

A jaffle - as parachuted-in to comedians in Melbourne.

A jaffle – as parachuted-in to comedians in Melbourne.

“Well,” explained Juliette, “jaffles are toasties – toasted sandwiches. Two slices of bread with cheese in the middle and you press them in a sandwich toaster. Over here they call them jaffles and it’s not a jaffle-shoot as in shooting jaffles with a gun…  it’s like in parachutes – jafflechutes. They come down from the sky with little parachutes attached.

“So, basically, Sam Wills aka The Boy With Tape On His Face arranged for a group of comics to get together at a certain place at a certain time and we had to follow some arrows on the ground to X-Marks-The-Spot and that’s where the jafflechute was going to happen.

“When we got there, we looked up at every plane or helicopter that went over because we thought there might be some Third World country sending jaffles down by parachute to us poor impoverished comics. But, suddenly, this mysterious figure appeared on the top of a building and started dropping toasted sandwiches attached to small parachutes.”

“Was he dressed as Spiderman?” I asked.

“No. In fact, everyone was dressed very casually.”

“Strange for such a formal occasion,” I suggested.

“Well,” said Juliette, “Frankie Lowe, my musical director, and I are currently editing together a video of what happened which we’re going to put on YouTube. As soon as I finish talking to you, I’m going to go and record a voice-over. It was really awesome fun.”

“Did you just say the word awesone?” I asked.

Juliette (left) with Felicity Ward and (behind) Squid Boy

Juliette (left) in Oz with Felicity Ward and (behind) Squid Boy

“Yes,” said Juliette, “and, while we keep talking, I’ll send you a photo of me with Felicity Ward… Oh, Celia Pacquola was there too and Trygve – who does Squid Boy and Kraken – and, of course, Sam who is The Boy With Tape On His Face and Alexis who performs as Marcel Lucont…”

“It sounds like an upcoming Marvel superhero movie,” I said.

“…and we were all leaping about,” Juliette continued, “trying to catch melted cheese that was airborne… We were grabbing at floating food… So we’re going to post that video on YouTube soon. But now I have to go do the voice-over and then dress up as Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction for the party.”

Juliette is flying back to Britain tomorrow with stopovers in Bali and Dubai.

Tomorrow I might go to Watford with a green-eyed monster.

In the meantime, there is timelapse video on YouTube which shows Juliette being prepared for a photoshoot promoting her upcoming Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Look At Me which is about the relationship between people’s external appearances and what they really are. She is co-writing it with comedienne Janey Godley.

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