Tag Archives: nudity

An average day in Vancouver – nudity, trailer trash, sturgeon, disappearances

What, you might ask – well, yesterday, someone DID ask me – has been happening to this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith?

Below is the latest from her in Vancouver. She lives on a boat.

Anna Smith (extreme right) on a skip in an alley behind the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver (Photo by Tadhg)

Anna Smith (extreme right) reclines on a skip in an alley behind the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver (Photograph by Tadhg)


Twisty can’t stop dancing. He is a performance artist/social activist.

Twisty: performer & social activist

Just now, I thought Mr Methane had arrived but it was a container of toxic disinfectant.

Although the river is hypnotic, I still go into Vancouver several times a week.

Ĺast week, I met up with my friend Bernie (Mr Nude Universe 1985). We have a lot in common, each having worked as strippers for fifteen years. My main striptease character was a nurse. His was a police officer.

I also met Twisty today. He is a performance artist and social activist. He can’t stop dancing. He says that being with me is like being at a party.

Anna with Mr Lahey (left) and Mr Randy at the Roxy nightclub

Anna with Randy (right) & Mr Lahey at The Roxy, Vancouver

And I met Randy and Mr Lahey, cult Canadian television stars from the series Trailer Park Boys. They did a really funny live show at the local Roxy night club. The posters advertised a party as well and dressing like Trailer Trash was strongly recommend. The club was decorated like a run-down trailer park.

If you want to imagine The Marina of Hell (where I live), Trailer Park Boys is good for reference.

There is a 7-minute Trailer Park Boys film on YouTube.

I often describe the docks where I live as a floating trailer park. This place does not even have a name or a supervisor.

Fraser River, Vancouver

The Fraser River in Vancouver

I told John Dunsworth (Mr Lahey) that I live in a west coast maritime version of their Sunnyvale and he was interested. John Dunsworth started the first alternative theater in Halifax and he is an unusual person. When I asked for his autograph he made drawings of boats and signed them. I could see right away that he was an artist and also familiar with boats. He has a boat which he rebuilt and he is working on a ghost movie with boats. He told me his next movie is going to be called Fifty Shades of Shit.

In one autograph, he drew a sailboat and wrote: Haul in your shit sails. Shit Storms coming! That is one of his catchphrases. He has also written a book called The Dicshitnary and sells it online. He sells a lot to Britain, Canada, Australia , the USA and Denmark.

Demonstrating how to piss through a funnel

How to piss through a funnel on stage with Randy (Patrick Roach)

Randy and Mr Lahey’s performance at times appeared to be abstract, with laundry and garbage strewn around  the stage – It reminded me of an Ian Hinchliffe show. Mr Lahey demonstrated his latest business idea: a portable hot box made from rubbish sacks – so you can get high at work without anyone realising. The hot bag has a window so you can still do fine even when there’s a performance evaluation.

The Trailer Park Boys’ stage show is apparently coming to London in September.

Canada’s top comedy hit. Banned from television. Criminals – Your blog readers will love them.

I understand, in Britain, they are also playing in Manchester and Cambridge.

Back on the river, the sturgeon fishers were out again today but I was busy doing a massive cleaning of my boat. It is like living inside an animal.

Half the time here it is deadly boring but then it swivels into a circus, with police boats chasing people down the channel, boats hitting logs, men and dogs falling overboard…

Today it was relatively peaceful. There is less ruckus in the winter and most of the boats are cocooned under tarpaulins. I was up on my roof and my neighbour told me he was going to fish for sturgeon at slack tide. He is obsessed with sturgeon and knows everything about their habits. We are not allowed to keep sturgeon as the stock is replenishing, but we are allowed to fish for them.

Here what my neighbor prepared to bait Sturgeon... oily oolichans soaked in rotton fish oil

Bait for sturgeon – oily oolichans soaked in rotten fish oil

I went out at slack tide and my neighbour was on the outside dock, with his pole set up. Apparently we are living atop a sturgeon hole. He said he had caught 201 sturgeon and another neighbour – a young father – was out there with his daughter who was wearing her life jacket and reading nature magazines, looking pretty, sitting in a mini lawn chair with a fancy miniature beach umbrella.

The men were slowly drinking Hell’s Gate beer and discussing sturgeon, salmon,  licences and how people are caught when they keep a sturgeon. Many of the fish are tagged by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and, if they get a signal from a sturgeon travelling overland, they follow it.

When my neighbour said he had caught 201 sturgeon,  that is in his whole life. He keeps count.

Here on the river, Search and Rescue Services are also concerned about the numbers of people becoming lost in the woods and they are advising hikers to take a selfie showing which direction they are heading in, saying: This might be the last picture ever taken of you.

A pod of transient orcas (killer whales) was spotted in the water near Stanley Park.

A salmon decoration by children on fence above Fraser River

Decoration created by children on a fence above Fraser river

A man disappeared from the deck of his boat upriver in New Westminster. He told some other people on the boat he was going out to sit on a chair. Half an hour later they found the chair on deck but the man has never been seen since.

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Nudity among the English, the East Germans, art colleges and comedians

Matt Roper chatted to my eternally-un-named-friend yesterday

Matt chatted to my eternally-un-named-friend yesterday

“What’s it like being naked on stage?” my eternally-un-named-friend asked my temporary lodger Matt Roper in my living room last night.

Matt is performing with the Greatest Show on Legs in Totnes, Devon, next Friday night. This inevitably involves performing the naked balloon dance.

“You’ve just got to get on with it really,” replied Matt. “there’s no time to consider being nervous or not nervous: you’ve got to go on and do it. I think it’s a great honour to be naked on stage with nothing but a balloon and your socks on as part of Martin Soan’s Greatest Show on Legs.”

“I’m just going to urinate,” I said and went upstairs to the toilet. My iPhone kept recording.

Martin Soan chats to an audience member after last night’s show

Martin Soan stands around naked

“Martin is quite used to being naked,” my eternally-un-named-friend told Matt after I had left. “He’s done this sort of show a lot, so he ends up just standing around almost forgetting he IS naked. In my family, we were very familiar with walking around naked in the house. John’s family was not.”

“My family was not a nudie house at all,” said Matt.

“You didn’t sit and chat to your sister while she was in the bath?” asked my eternally-un-named-friend.

“We probably did when we were all little,” said Matt. “I was by far the youngest. At what point does it stop?”

“In Germany,” said my eternally-un-named-friend, there’s a park in Munich where everyone’s naked.”

“And,” said Matt, “when the East German state was in existence, nude beaches and nude life was a big part of the state culture, because you can have equality when everybody’s naked.”

“But in England,” said my eternally-un-named-friend, “it’s not acceptable at all.”

Matt Roper, Alex Frackleton and Czech friend

Matt (left) is not un-used to oddity

“Maybe I’m a little bit different,” said Matt, “because I’ve been so much submerged into alternative culture with Totnes and all of that. And nudity isn’t a big deal at festivals. Being naked and drunk at festivals, covered in mud.”

At this point I came back in the room.

“John doesn’t walk naked around the house at all,” said Matt.

“Ye Gods,” I said. “What have I missed?”

“Martin,” said Matt, “is in better shape than all of us in the Greatest Show on Legs and he’s the oldest.”

“It’s his lentils,” said my eternally-un-named-friend.

“Is that what you call them?” I asked.

“They’re keeping him fit and regular,” continued my eternally-un-named-friend. “And he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.”

“No,” said Matt, “ but he smokes and drinks and…”

“It just goes to show what poison sugar is,” said my eternally-un-named-friend. “He’s been here at John’s and you bring out the chocolate and he doesn’t touch it.”

“Martin,” said Matt, “banned sweets for his two daughters when they were growing up. I think he used to let them have sweets or chocolate on a Saturday. His daughters thought that sweets were illegal except on a Saturday. I grew up on all sorts of shite. Lots of E numbers and crisps.”

My eternally-un-named friend in Nuremberg

My eternally-un-named-friend has been a life model

“Did you mention you were a life model,” I asked my eternally-un-named-friend.

“I was sort-of comfortable about it,” she explained, “except I wanted to be actually drawing instead of being the model. And keeping still is a real drag.”

“For how long?” asked Matt.

“Possibly a half hour. But within ten minutes you’re in agony. You can’t find a position to stay in that’s comfortable unless you’re flat on your back.”

“I’m saying nothing,” I said.

“Where was this?” asked Matt.

Goldsmiths and other arts colleges.”

“Were you happy with the results?” asked Matt.

“No. They were just averagy.”

“How old were you?” I asked.

“In my early twenties.”

“How about naked balloons?” Matt asked. “Would you be comfortable with nudity for comedy purposes?”

“What? Me doing it?” asked my eternally-un-named-friend.

“Yes.”

The Greatest Show on Legs' balloon dance

A previous Greatest Show on Legs balloon dance

“I would not be comfortable with me doing something DRESSED for comedy purposes!” she laughed.

“The trouble with including a woman,” I said, “is that the balloon dance with the Greatest Show on Legs is asexual…”

“Yes,” said Matt. “That’s why we keep our socks on. There is something that de-sexualises it. Three naked men with their socks on.”

“I thought Martin should advertise socks,” said my eternally-un-named-friend. “I thought he could get sponsorship. He was wearing £30 spotted socks that his eldest daughter had got him when she was working at a posh men’s clothing company.”

Martin Soan earlier this week, naked on radio

Soan wore socks on Schaffer’s radio show

“On stage?” asked Matt.

“No,” said my eternally-un-named-friend. “He was on a Lewis Schaffer‘s radio show and he had decided to do it naked.”

“There was,” I said, “a Malcolm Hardee Awards Show I staged in Edinburgh where a woman comic told me she wanted to take part in the naked balloon dance and I thought about it but figured you couldn’t add a naked woman because it would become sexual and then, also, there’s a physical problem because she has three bits to hide with two balloons whereas a man only really has one bit.”

“Why would it be sexual if you added in a woman?” asked Matt.

“I dunno,” I said. “I just felt it would.”

“I saw a funny act,” said my eternally-un-named-friend, “where a woman had a balloon stuffed down her shorts and she was taking the piss out of the Ch… the Ch…”

“The Chechnyan freedom fighters?” I asked.

“The Chipperfields?” suggested my eternally-un-named-friend.

The Chippendales,” I said.

“Have you ever,” Matt asked my eternally-un-named-friend, “seen women at a male strip show: the way they behave?”

“Only on television,” she replied.

The Full Monty has a lot to answer for

The Full Monty movie has a lot to answer for

“Years ago, when I was eighteen,” said Matt, “I worked in a pub up north and they had a strip night in one of the rooms and I was on the bar and they were doing obscene things to the strippers.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Everything apart from full sex.”

“Oral?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Matt.

“This was just an ordinary pub?” I asked.

“Just an ordinary pub. I can’t remember what the occasion was. It could have been the Sandbach Ladies’ Darts Society.”

“Did they have erections?” asked my eternally-un-named-friend.

“The Sandbach Ladies’ Darts Society?”

“No. The guys.”

“Yes. But they kind of go out and, I guess ‘fluff’ themselves and then tie it up with an elastic band to keep the blood…”

New Legs (left to right) Adam Taffler, Matt Roper, Martin Soan use sanitised rubber bands

Greatest Show on Legs demonstrate one use for rubber bands

“Oh gawd!” said my eternally-un-named-friend.

“…to make it look erect,” continued Matt, “when it’s perhaps not naturally erect.”

“Tying it with an elastic band?” said my eternally-un-named-friend.

“I think that’s pretty common,” said Matt.

“Well,” I said, “the Greatest Show of Legs always carry elastic bands for their Michael Jackson’s Thriller routine…”

“Which brings us back to Totnes,” said Matt.

“Are you the permanent third member of the Greatest Show on Legs?” I asked. “After the second we can’t mention.”

“I think it will probably have a rotating cast of members.”

“You will be rotating members?” I asked.

“Let’s talk about Totnes on Friday 21st,” said Matt. “The naked balloon dance is coming home. It was invented in Totnes. And (Matt’s on-stage character) Wilfredo, too, was invented in Totnes.”

“Both?” I asked.

“It is a fantastic place to live,” said Matt, “and it’s full of very creative, interesting people – a nice community – but there’s a very precious, almost slightly pretentious side to its attitude to art or artists’ attitude to their own art.”

“You don’t want to be quoted saying that,” I suggested.

“I’m quite comfortable saying it,” said Matt. “Martin and Malcolm (Hardee) had come across a group of militant feminists who were having a weekly meeting about how to wipe out Chinese foot-binding.”

“I think,” said my eternally-un-named-friend, “that John wrote about it in a blog.”

“I might have done,” I said. “I don’t read my blogs.”

“So they just created the balloon dance,” said Matt, “as a kind of statement.”

Wilfredo comforts Copstick (with her damaged left arm) by tickling her chin

Wilfredo seduces comedy critic Kate Copstick

“And,” my eternally-un-named-friend asked Matt, “you created Wilfredo because…?”

“I was sick and tired of how seriously people were taking themselves and…”

“Keep talking,” I said, “I’m watching the penguin…”

The John Lewis Christmas ad was on TV.

“I’m watching the penguin too,” said Matt.

I switched off my iPhone and we watched the penguin.

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Critic Kate Copstick talks about S&M at the Edinburgh Fringe’s Grouchy Club

Copstick with Simon after the Grouchy Club

Copstick and Simon after yesterday’s Grouchy Club, her broken arm recovering in a sling

The Grouchy Club has been running at the Edinburgh Fringe for sixteen days now and we are getting regular members of the audience – both comedians and ordinary members of the public – coming back day after day. Yesterday, notable newcomers included a CNN reporter and a large man in a leather jacket.

“The gent in the back row looks vaguely ‘industry’ to me,” I said. “An ageing roadie, perhaps.”

“Well,” said my co-host, Kate Copstick, her arm in a sling after a fall the previous day. “I first worked with Simon in…”

“What does Simon do?” I asked.

“Well,” Simon said, “I used to be a TV producer and then went on to other things…”

“We did programmes on motor bikes,” said Copstick, “and then we did sex. We did porn.”

“Do we talk about this?” I asked.

“Well,” said Copstick, “he’s a happily-married man with two children; I don’t see why not.”

We were also graced with the presence of Miss Behave, co-presenter with comedian Janey Godley of next Friday’s increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. Copstick is presenting the actual Awards at the show.

“You know,” I said to Miss Behave, “that Copstick has smashed her elbow in now?”

“I know,” said Miss Behave. “I think there should be a slave for Copstick on the show. I don’t care which forums we scout. It could be Fringe forums; it could be other forums. You just need someone whose idea of heaven would be to jump when Copstick blinks – goes and makes her coffee or helps her to the toilet.”

Kate Copstick cares in Kenya

Kate Copstick used to go clubbing (not baby seals)

“I think those people might be few and far between,” said Copstick. “Though, when I used to go clubbing – to SM clubs – I went as a sub but, because of the way I dressed, everyone thought I was not. So I was constantly getting sad little men coming up wanting to be my slave and the one time I said Yes, it was just embarrassing.

“I only went there so someone would rip three kinds of shit out of me with a whip and then I had this strange little man following me around and I had to spend hours every day working out things for him to do… I’ll do that… No, let me do it!

“This year,” I said, “the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show is lacking in nudity because we don’t have the Greatest Show On Legs.”

“We could,” suggested Miss Behave, “just cough and Bob Slayer would pop up.”

“We could run an advert,” suggested Copstick: “Someone needed to get their cock out on the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

“And who better than you?” I suggested. “But the CNN lady looked particularly interested when S&M clubs were mentioned.”

“I have a friend who has a slave,” said Miss Behave, “and, in return for her walking on him with heels or whatever, he cleans her house, he cleans her shoes…”

“There’s a lot of ‘sissy mates’,” said Copstick.

“I personally would not be able to handle it,” said Miss Behave.

“I,” said Copstick, “have a friend who married her slave and he was something like a really high-up merchant banker or investment banker who comes home to run around in an apron and heels.”

“As far as I can gather,” I said, “the men who want to be submissive tend to be in positions of power at work whereas I, being only increasingly prestigious, don’t need it.”

“But,” said Copstick, “once you become truly prestigious…”

“Ah, then,” I said, “I guess I will suddenly have an urge to head for the apron, will I?”

“Have we,” asked Miss Behave, “got Russian Egg Roulette at the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Have we got ponchos?” asked Miss Behave.

“If anyone wants one,” I said.

Miss Behave’s Game Show

This year, Miss Behave has gone all glittery golden

“Can I play again?” asked Miss Behave.

“Of course,” I said.

“I won’t be in rubber this year,” said Miss Behave, “I will be wearing gold and I don’t want to get eggs all over it.”

This will be worth seeing.

On Friday. Be there.

Malcolm Hardee Show 2014

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A semi-naked man poses an old LSD riddle to comics in trendy Shoreditch

Two days ago, the London Evening Standard ran a double-page spread about someone they called THE NAKED COMMUTER.

In fact, the story was less spectacular: the pictures showed a man in perfectly-respectable boxer shorts and the sub-heading said: When he stripped off in protest at the sweltering Tube, he was hailed as a hero.

Today’s blog is not about the semi-naked man nor about his exploits, but keep them in mind.

Yesterday, I went to Rivington Street in Shoreditch to chat to Comedy Cafe Theatre owner Noel Faulkner about his future plans. Noel is always outspoken and, at the Chortle Comedy Conference last Friday, launched into a spectacular verbal attack on Jongleurs’ boss Marios Lourides for not paying several comedians for months – Marios claimed the apparently financially frail Jongleurs chain paid £2.5 million yearly to comedians and the backlog owed to comedians was “only” £60,000.

But this blog is not about that.

The final version of The Tunnel screened in Shoreditch last night

The Tunnel screened at the East End Film Festival last night

After our chat, Noel and I went to the Red Gallery (also in Rivington Street) for a screening to a very full venue of what is claimed to be the final version of The Tunnel documentary about the late Malcolm Hardee’s iconic and infamous comedy club. It was screened as part of the East End Film Festival.

Following the screening, there was what turned out to be a humdinger of a live comedy show but, in the interval between the two events, I went outside for a chat because I bumped into Miss Behave who had, earlier in the day, lost her appointments diary. I share her pain. It once happened to me and I virtually needed psychological counselling until a man found it in a gutter outside a Chinese takeaway, phoned me and I got it back.

Miss Behave thought we would have a chat

Miss Behave thought we could have a nice quiet alley chat

Miss Behave had to rush off and so we went outside to talk about her plans and her compering of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

But we never managed to do that.

Stick with me, dear reader.

“So you lost your diary today…” I started.

“It’s like I’ve lost my brain,” said Miss Behave.

“I have to take a photo of this man,” I said.

There was a man standing on the other side of the road, naked apart from a pair of underpants, putting on a leather vest. It was the man mentioned in the Evening Standard.

“He looks like one of your acts,” I told Miss Behave.

At this point, Noel Faulkner emerged from the Red Gallery.

“This is why the comedy clubs are in a mess,” I told Noel, “because people are doing their acts out on the streets.”

“He’s a local lad,” said Noel. “He may be on Ecstasy.”

The man came across to talk to us.

“Have you seen a pair of glasses lying on the floor anywhere?” he mumbled at us.

“They’re on top of your head,” Miss Behave and I said simultaneously, like a Greek chorus.

“The reason I couldn’t find them is because I never put them there,” said the man.

“Someone else put them there?” I asked.

Charlie Dinkin tries to mimic Gareth Ellis’ hay-fevered state

Charlie Dinkin tries to mimic Ellis’ hay-fevered state

At this point, Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award winner Ellis emerged from the Red Gallery.

He looked at the man with spectacles on his head and said to me: “You always make the best friends.”

I raised my camera. “Don’t take a picture of me right now,” said Ellis. “I’ve got hay fever and my eyes are all puffy.”

“Do you remember pounds, shillings and pence?” the semi-naked man no longer with spectacles on his head but on his nose asked Noel Faulkner.

“Of course I can,” Noel told him.

“Did you hear what he said?” the man said to me in a throaty voice. “He said he can remember pounds, shillings and pence with confidence.”

“I think you’ve taken some,” said Noel.

The man looked at him.

“LSD,” said Noel.

“You can remember pounds, shillings and pence?” the man persisted.

“Yes,” said Noel. LSD. Where are your fucking trousers?”

“In 1963,” said the man, “someone walks into a bank and says: Here’s a pound note. Kindly change it into twenty pieces of silver. And the bank teller says: Certainly, Mr Jones, because she knew him. And the man says: But I want those twenty pieces of silver to be made up of half crowns, sixpences and two bob bits. What quantity of each coin did the bank teller give him that equals twenty pieces of silver and adds up to a pound?”

“Our chat is going well,” I told Miss Behave.

“Absolutely,” she agreed.

As Noel and the man discussed the mathematics of 1963 coinage, Miss Behave and I arranged to meet again at the Pull The Other One comedy club on Saturday.

“We could try not talking to each other there as well,” suggested Miss Behave.

David Mills (right) with Gareth Ellis

David Mills (right) being unusually reticent with Ellis

At this point, American comic David Mills came out of the Red Gallery.

“Great to see you,” he said to Miss Behave and kissed her on the cheek.

“Are you on the turn?” I asked him.

“I’ve got to run,” said Miss Behave. “I wasn’t supposed to have to run, but all this happened.”

I took a photo of David and Ellis.

“I’ll take another one,” I said. “Ellis had his eyes closed.”

“I’m keeping them closed,” he said, “because they’re all red from the hay fever.”

“Not on a computer! Not on a mobile phone!” Mungo 2 was saying.

A 1963 UK shilling, as in Mungo 2’s riddle

A 1963 UK shilling, as in Mungo 2’s riddle

“Listen,” said Miss Behave. “I’m doing something new, but I haven’t figured it out yet.”

“It’s probably in your diary,” I said, trying to be helpful.

“You didn’t listen,” the semi-naked man told me.

“I didn’t listen,” I admitted. “What was the answer?”

“Oh,” said the semi-naked man, “I couldn’t give you the answer. I’d have to give you the challenge.”

“I’m not a challenge sort of man,” I said.

“But you are challenged,” said Miss Behave.

“I am Scottish,” I tried. “I don’t care about your English money.”

“See,” said the semi-naked man, “this is where you walk into a pile of computers. I’m a Border Reiver.”

Painting of the infamous Scottish Reiver Auld Wat of Harden

Painting of the infamous Scottish Reiver Auld Wat of Harden

“You are?” I asked. “Cows? You’ve stolen cows?”

“Carlisle,” he said.

“Oh,” I said. “Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed should clearly be in Scotland. Clearly Scottish cities.”

“Is your history between Scotland and England any good?” asked the semi-naked man.

“I’ll see you on Saturday,” said Miss Behave, wisely deciding to leave.

“I’ll leave you two to…” said the semi-naked man, starting to say something, then turning away and leaving himself.

“Play your cards right and you’re in there tonight,” I told Miss Behave.

She set off towards Old Street station, following the semi-naked man at a distance.

“He’s been round here for about a year,” an unknown and unseen voice said, like unto the Voice of God in the wilderness.

“I used to work down the road. I came out of work one night at eleven o’clock at night and he had a deckchair. You know those deckchairs that have got a beer holder in the arm? He was just in his pants in a deckchair, just berating people as they passed by.”

“It seemed strange,” Ellis told me, “that he could afford hair dye but not trousers.”

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Edinburgh Fringe comedy performer Juliette Burton explains why she will be stripping at an erotic night in London

Juliette in Melbourne this weekend

Juliette this weekend, preparing for her shows in Melbourne

Last time British performer Juliette Burton appeared in this blog, she was heading from Adelaide to Melbourne. Now she has arrived. I talked to her via Skype this morning in an English-themed bar with Frankie Lowe, her composer-sound technician-cameraman.

“When we arrived in Melbourne,” Juliette told me, “we went to a restaurant and someone working there was from Edinburgh. He’s going back in May, so I told him Oh! You’ve got to come and see my new Edinburgh Fringe show in August; I’m writing it with Janey Godley! So I’ve started promoting it already!”

Juliette is preparing her new Look At Me show for the Edinburgh Fringe in August while still performing her When I Grow Up shows in Australia.

Juliette Burton, both below and on top of Kevin Bridges

Juliette on top of Kevin Bridges down under

“I’m performing When I Grow Up at the Trade Hall in Melbourne from Thursday onwards,” she told me, “and there’s a huge poster on the side of the building. My name is listed just above Kevin Bridges. So I’m currently ‘on top of Kevin Bridges’ and I’m very happy about that position. I’m wearing a tartan skirt.”

There was a piece in The Scotsman today,” I said, “which reckons a 5% swing would mean a Yes vote for Scottish independence in September. The Fringe in August is going to be full of references to the Scottish independence vote in September.”

“Well, Look At Me is not going to have much about Scottish independence!” laughed Juliet. “Just independence from the voices in my head, maybe. We arrived in Melbourne last Thursday and I’m not performing When I Grow Up until this coming Thursday so, every single day, I’ve been able to get up and think about the new show.”

“And Look At Me is about…” I prompted.

“It’s 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.”

I usually hate video clips dropped into live stage shows but, in When I Grow Up, Juliette managed to integrate and interact with them flawlessly. She is also using extensive video clips in Look At Me.

“All the ones I’m going to use in the Look At Me,” she told me, “I shot before I left for Australia. Frankie is sitting here in this bar transcribing the video interviews and I’ve been highlighting them, trying to get ready for the edit.

“And then, as soon as I get back to the UK in May, I’m going to be working with the prosthetic make-up artist to film all the days when I’ll be transformed into different guises. There will be a Lady Gaga-esque day; a day when I will be transformed into a man; there will be an ‘old’ day, an ‘obese’ day, the hijab day and the ‘nude’ day.”

“Ah!” I said. “the nude day.”

Gypsy Wood will be giving Juliette advice

Burlesque performer Gypsy Wood will give Juliette advice

“This Wednesday in Melbourne,” Juliette told me, “I’m going to be meeting Gypsy Wood, who is an amazing burlesque performer out here. She is going to talk to me about my nude performance for Mat Fraser at Sleaze, the erotica night he runs in London. I’m going to be performing there on 4th June. That’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

“It’s not really going to be a burlesque performance. I don’t know what to call it. Mat Fraser has kind-of erotica pieces. It’s not quite that; it’s not quite theatre. It’s been quite a difficult thing to start doing. That bit of Look At Me is definitely not comedy.

“Frankie’s going to be composing a soundtrack for this 2-3 minute sequence of me stripping in defiance of The Voices in My Head – Society’s voice, my eating disorder voices, my body dysmorphic disorder voices – all the voices that tell me I’m wrong and bad and disgusting and my body’s not nice and not good enough. I’m going to be stripping to defy them and to spite them. So it’s not stripping for sex’s sake; it’s stripping for equality and… and… for independence,” Juliette laughed, “…for Scottish independence!”

“At the Edinburgh Fringe, you’re going to be performing at the Gilded Balloon,” I said.

“Yes. I had to decide if I was going to tick a box that said This Show Contains Nudity. I ticked the box that said it contains swearing, but not the one that said it contains nudity even though, in effect, it will do.”

“Defining nudity is an odd thing,” I said. “I watched Cliff Richard’s 1959 film Expresso Bongo the other night and it’s set in Soho with strippers involved. This is 1959, a fairly mainstream British film and full breasts were visible – only tassels on the nipples. It looked like some French sex film of the 1950s, but it was acceptable in suburban British cinemas in 1959. I guess back then you could see breasts provided the nipples were covered. Maybe if you saw a bit of nipple it was ‘nude’; but if you saw a naked breast with no nipple visible it was not ‘nude’.”

Juliette Burton (Photo by Helena G Anderson)

Juliette Burton prepares for Look At Me
(Photo by Helena G Anderson)

“Yes,” said Juliette, “if you have nipple tassels on it’s not really nude and if you have a c-string – the gusset of a g-string – then I don’t think that’s counted as fully-nude either. I’m going to have to do a lot of research to make sure I really am above-board. I guess it’s the tone, the intention that matters, like a lot of the things being discussed recently about comedy in the UK. It’s the intention of the words that are used. Whether it’s about rape or race. In any of those ‘taboo’ subjects, you have to be accountable. If you say something intelligently with the right intention, then I think anyone can surely artistically be allowed to do anything.

“It’s really important for me to take Look At Me to a crowd that’s under 18 years old – I want the message of the show to be about body confidence and celebrating body diversity in a way that will make people laugh and feel included and happy – I want to make sure the nudity that is included is not sexual or grotesque. It will be part of the over-all story of body celebration… That doesn’t sound very funny, but it’s going to be hilarious!… But I’m still terrified about the idea of me being nude… It’s going to be difficult.”

“I’ll post this blog today,” I told Juliette

“Me on top of Kevin Bridges is the most important thing,” she said.

“Ah,” I replied, “that’s your BBC News training coming out.”

(Juliette used to be a BBC broadcast journalist.)

“I do love a Reithian Lecture,” said Juliette.

“A Reithian lecher?” I asked.

“A Reithian Lecture,” Juliette said. “The Reithian ideals of the BBC are very important to me. I would love all my shows to adhere to them – to educate, inform and entertain all at the same time. That would be the ultimate goal.”

On YouTube, there is an 8-minute mini-documentary about one day in the shooting schedule for the Look At Me video interviews.

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Just when I thought the anarchic nature of the Edinburgh Fringe had peaked…

Four went naked in Edinburgh last night

Four comedians went naked at Bob’s Bookshop late last night

It was Bob Slayer’s final Edinburgh Fringe show last night and, I presume the last Fringe show in general, given that the Edinburgh Fringe officially finished five days ago.

That was no deterrent to Bob Slayer though and he ended it as anyone who knows him would expect – with four naked comedians playing what I think is called “Willie Tag”.

Willie Tag is played in much the same way as the normal children’s game of Tag – the object is to touch another person who tries to evade you. The difference is that, in Willie Tag, you try to touch the other person with your penis.

Yes, I know… I know…

What can I say?

I was as surprised as you.

All I can say is that the four naked comedians pursued the game with some vigour in-and-out of the audience and, shortly afterwards, the audience dispersed with a variety of looks on their faces.

But, as I say in the headline to this blog, Just when I thought the anarchic nature of the Fringe had peaked…

…there was another surprise.

A few days ago, I mentioned in a blog that a well-known comedian had (for reasons only known to himself) told his PR people NOT to put review quotes and stars on his posters. He had then been shocked to see stars from Broadway Baby reviews on his posters. But both his management’s PR people and his venue’s PR people denied sticking the stars on his posters.

There is nothing as worthless as yesterday’s stars

Edinburgh’s secret star maker is revealed

On a wild whim yesterday, I sent an e-mail to Barry Ferns who, this year, won the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for publishing spoof versions of the Broadway Baby and Three Weeks review sheets, which included fake reviews praising his own Fringe show.

“I don’t suppose,” I wrote in my e-mail to Barry, “that by any stretch of a very stretched imagination this was you trying to get ahead on a Cunning Stunt for 2014?”

Today Barry replied:

“Ha! I was adding random bogus stars to posters throughout this Edinburgh for my own amusement… It wasn’t a campaign as such. I just had some printed up… I didn’t think anyone had noticed.

“However, to add to the intrigue, I did not accredit any stars to Broadway Baby… They were just unmarked stars… So perhaps the search continues!… I quite like this element of bringing out your deductive skills around my comedy industry related seditious acts. Moriarty to your Holmes…”

Bob Slayer protects what little modesty he has

Bob Slayer protects what little modesty he has

Barry warns me that he is planning an even bigger and more spectacular scam next year.

Who am I to dis anarchy?

I am leaving Edinburgh this afternoon with Bob Slayer in my car. He has not showered since Tuesday. It is an 8 hour journey to my home and another 45mins to his.

I have hopes of renting him to the Syrian government as a chemical weapon.

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At the Edinburgh Fringe yesterday: nudity, farting and a hysterectomy

Today, my new temporary Edinburgh flatmate inventor mad John Ward arrives. He invents arguably useless or useful things like the bra warmer and the personal snow-making back pack. He also designed the physical trophies which are the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards.

Yesterday, Mr Methane’s window show entertained not just audiences but passers-by

Yesterday, Mr Methane’s Edinburgh show in the window of Bob’s Bookshop entertained not just audiences but passers-by

My previous temporary Edinburgh flatmate Mr Methane left yesterday, although he is returning on Friday specifically to perform at the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

I will miss Mr Methane’s daily interesting facts which included not just surprising tales of touring with the semi-punk band the Macc Lads but also the fact that John Paul Jones – not the Led Zeppelin rock star but the 18th century US hero – led the only US attack on mainland Britain, by attacking Whitehaven in Cumbria and St Mary’s Isle near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, in 1778.

Mr Methane is very well-read for a man who farts professionally.

There is a distinctly literary lifestyle in my flat at the moment.

Comedy entrepreneur Neale Welch has a Fringe Odyssey

Comedy entrepreneur Neale Welch had a big Fringe Odyssey

Also staying here is Neale Welch from London’s Comedy Cafe Theatre. His audio company Just The Greatest has put up some money to cover part of the costs of the Malcolm Hardee Awards (though not any of my personal expenses lest I appear to be benefitting personally). For this, he gets to sleep on a sofa that is shorter than he is. No-one said life is fair.

I came back unexpectedly yesterday afternoon to find him reading Homer’s Odyssey.

He told me he had discovered Edinburgh is a great place for second-hand bookshops and that he had walked into one shop and asked if they had a copy of The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides.

The owner of the shop had replied:

“Would you want a copy of that book in Greek, Latin or English?”

And, sure enough, the shop did, indeed, have copies of The History of the Peloponnesian War in all three languages.

“Which one did you buy?” I asked Neale.

“The English language one,” he told me.

Frankly, I was saddened and rather disappointed in him.

Shortly afterwards, I bumped into Nick Awde at the Pleasance Dome, who started talking about Adrienne Truscott and her much-discussed show Adrienne Truscott’s Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else! which she performs naked from the waist down.

This coming Friday, Adrienne is a guest on my Fringe show Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! So It Goes – John Fleming’s Comedy Blog Chat Show. She will be discussing the joys and pitfalls of performing nude on stage with Martin Soan of The Greatest Show On Legs, who created the Naked Balloon Dance.

Nick Awde heads the Fringe review team for The Stage newspaper.

Adrienne Truscott and her one-woman bottomless show

Adrienne Truscott’s show split then united opinion

“Adrienne’s show split arty people and comedy people,” Nick mused yesterday, “At the very beginning of the Fringe, the comedy people were pushing her show away saying No, that’s performance art… and the performance art people were saying No, it’s comedy. Now they both claim it as their own.”

And now it is impossible to get tickets for Adrienne’s show.

In theory, you can turn up and entry is free; you pay to get out. But all the £5 pay-in-advance-to-guarantee-a-seat tickets have been bought and there is no space left. So an extra show has been added – tomorrow night at 11.00pm.

She has also been nominated for a Total Theatre Award.

Total Theatre “celebrates and supports a wide spectrum of contemporary theatre and performance” but I suspect Adrienne may get nominated for some pure comedy awards too.

While I was chatting with Nick Awde, he told me he always reads my blogs from the bottom upwards because, he claims, I usually get to any ‘meaty bits’ at the end. So this next bit  is hidden in the middle to confuse him.

I had a chat with Canadian comic Tanyalee Davis, who performed her first Edinburgh Fringe show in 2003 and who was last heard of in this blog transporting critic Kate Copstick to her trial. Tanyalee is currently appearing on the Channel 4 hidden-camera TV series I’m Spazticus.

“I come over to the UK on alternate months,” she told me.

“I always come over in December and this last December I had a 7-week tour booked but, after a couple of days, I developed a blood clot in my groin and then it all just went tits-up from there.

“It started when I got back with a guy I was dating 18 years ago. We only dated for 2 years, then I was married to somebody else for 13. So we were back together again. I went back on birth control because I was in a new relationship, I got a blood clot and then that caused all these problems. But him and I are together still, thank goodness, ten months on.

“The blood clot led to three months of having eight blood transfusions and ended up with me losing my box – my cooch, my meat locker – I got about 16 different ways of saying fanny.

“I was in four different countries for the whole medical shebang. It started in the UK. I flew to America, then Canada, then I got cleared to fly on a family holiday in Mexico and then I started hemorrhaging. I got there Friday, I started bleeding Saturday, I was hemorrhaging Sunday, then I ended up having a hysterectomy the next week because they were like We don’t know  what to do with you… Too many blood transfusions and, because I had the blood clot, they couldn’t do surgery because I could have died on the operating table.

Tanyalee turned tragedy into Fringe comedy

Tanyalee turned tragedy into Fringe comedy

“So now it’s a comedy show and the interesting thing is trying to find the humour in… I mean, I nearly died… I had 8 blood transfusions and nearly died on a couple of occasions and making that funny is…”

“I always tell comedians,” I said to Tanyalee, “that, if anything goes wrong in your life, it’s not a tragedy, it’s the script for your next Edinburgh Fringe show. It’s God giving you a 60-minute show.”

“Yeah, I lost my box,” said Tanyalee, “but I gained a show. I’ve been wanting to do a new show for a couple of years – I haven’t done a solo show since 2007 – but I didn’t want to do straight stand-up. So, when this whole shit went down, I thought Boom! Now I got a show! – It’s Big Trouble in Little ‘Gina.”

“Are you as ambitious since you nearly died?” I asked. “Or has that changed your perspective? I remember sitting watching my father die and thinking: Nothing really matters. Only love and friendship.

“Well,” said Tanyalee. “I just gotta enjoy my time while I’m here, because you never know when it’s gonna get yanked away from you. I have such a fun life normally, so being held up in the hospital and not being able to be on stage for three months… That was the worst thing.”

“Really?” I asked. “Not getting the applause?”

“No,” said Tanyalee. “It’s because it’s such an endorphin release and it’s therapy being on stage. I’m a raging bitch when I haven’t been on stage for a while.”

The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and Edinburgh – my favourite city in the world – has been called the Athens of the North. But it is also a tough wee town on the quiet.

As well as Fringe people getting beaten up in the street – I refer you to previous blogs both this year and last – it is the home of Trainspotting and (being Scotland) heavy drinking. I can say that as a shamefully teetotal Scots.

Last night, at around 1.30am in the morning, on my way to Arthur Smith’s legendary annual tour of the Royal Mile, I bumped into comedian Eric cycling home.

“A mother and daughter just fell down in the street in front of me,” he said. “just fell down.”

Arthur Smith’s tour of the Royal Mile was as bizarre as normal. NOTE: Arthur is on my first Fringe chat show tomorrow afternoon.

Arthur Smith, alien, in the Royal Mile last night

Arthur Smith, alien, spouted poetry in the Royal Mile late last night

The tour involved occasional mass wailing by the group of about 30 people trailing down the Royal Mile with him. We were instructed by Arthur to do this in the fashion of North Koreans being told their leader had died.

There was also a shouted conversation with some people in the top storey flat of one of the buildings in the Royal Mile who played a Leonard Cohen song and threw plastic milk bottles out of their window… a £10 challenge for any man or woman to take their top off and sing the Proclaimers’ song 500 Miles… a demonstration of strange rickshaw driving… and a Lithuanian couple who were persuaded to sing in Lithuanian on the steps of St Giles Cathedral. It ended with Arthur disrobing and turning into a sparkly-costumed alien.

Among the crowd were comics Carey Marx, Phil Nichol and, recovering from a street attack in Leith, Scotsman journalist Clare Smith.

Bob Slayer (right) in his sponsored underpants

Bob Slayer’s (right) face-off in his underpants

Afterwards, I walked to Bob’s Bookshop to see if Bob Slayer’s Midnight Mayhem was still in full swing. When I opened the door, I was confronted by a fully-dressed man standing face-to-face with Bob who was in his underpants. This is unusual. To see Bob wearing clothes.

Alas, I arrived a few minutes before 3.00am and, as soon as I arrived, Bob told the audience to shout “tonight’s catchphrase” at me and the show stopped. I have no idea what they shouted, but they seemed to be laughing as they shouted it. I would like to think the show stopped because my arrival climaxed the show. In fact, it was due to licensing laws.

I then walked home.

About two minutes later, on the other side of the road, three girls were walking along singing. One fell over.

As I got to my flat, on the opposite pavement, a man still holding a mobile phone to his ear was picking himself up off the ground.

That’s Edinburgh.

Comedy, performance art, tragedy and people so pissed or drugged out of their heads that they fall over in the street.

Sometimes these categories overlap.

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