I had muttered onto my iPhone what was in the dream when I woke up, dehydrated.
I vaguely remembered this recording-a-dream thing happening before and have just looked through my iPhone recordings.
I had indeed recorded a muttered description about a previous dream on 5th October.
This is it below.
I have no idea what any of it means.
Look – I was half asleep when I recorded it.
These are the exact words…
In my dream, I had just arrived in Edinburgh and I went to see a guy I knew who ran hotels and he told me where I was staying.
He took me round to the place where I was staying, which was actually two buildings separated by a street and I said: “Oh, you’re doing very well. They’re both show-ers.”
He said something about getting money from somewhere and, as we went down the street between the two buildings, there were lots of little girl ballet dancers going into a lesson in one of the big rooms, which was a dancing school.
Just outside, as we passed by, in the street between the two buildings, an Australian girl in her twenties was talking to a man. They were talking about some sort of act. She was saying the audience would not see the stilts they were on when they were on the surfboards. So that would come as a big surprise to the audience: that they were on stilts under the surfboards.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Meanwhile, going in to the dancing school with the little girls was Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer,. He was wearing a small pink tutu dress.
I think this was in my dream because, earlier in the day, I had found out he is surprisingly small – around 5ft 6in.
The hotel owner guy was saying to me: “Where’s your stuff at the moment?”
I told him: “Oh, it’s at the BBC Hotel.”
I think that was in my dream because, earlier in the day, comedians Njambi McGrath and Sara Mason had been saying that, at the weekend, they had gone to White City House, part of the Soho House group of clubs. White City House, is a 2-storey club inside what used to be BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane…
The iPhone recording ends there.
Well, I did tell you I have no idea what any of it means.
In the age of coronavirus and no Edinburgh Fringe, hyphenate Peter Stanford – more than just a Henry VIII lookalike – has been far from quiet…
Peter Stanford performs his one-off 2020 non-Edinburgh Fringe show “Only 534 Miles Out”
Yesterday, I was in a theatre-above-a-pub with a gang of socially distancing people, some of whom I knew, but most of whom I didn’t. We were debating the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, and whether anything would take place. So I jumped up to the stage, and announced to the crowd that I was about to give a performance on the Fringe, but socially distant – 534 miles distant to be precise.
I gave them a ten minute routine about why I hate Agatha Christie, with a few topical jokes about the Arts events which lockdown had prevented me doing or seeing this year and then asked if anyone else wanted to join my off-Fringe show.
I passed a homeless man asleep under an arch in the current heatwave in London.
I passed him by.
About half an hour later, I passed him again and this time I took a photograph of him on my phone.
I felt embarrassed that I took a picture of him.
Although without an identifiable face.
I still don’t know if it was a morally bad thing to do.
I suspect it was.
And to post it here.
… 34 questions asked before you give blood …
TUESDAY 11th AUGUST
I was supposed to be donating blood next Wednesday.
But, beforehand, they send you a long list of questions you have to say Yes on No to, including Since your last donation, have you had any hospital investigations, tests, operations or alternative therapies?
As I was in hospital for a week in May, I had to say Yes to this. I phoned up to check if this meant I could not give blood and, indeed it did.
So my blood donoring on 19th August is cancelled and I can’t give blood again until I am discharged as an outpatient by the Kidney Man. I am booked-in to see him on 19th October.
Inconsequential to you, perhaps; means more to me.
WEDNESDAY 12th AUGUST
I am going to have a few weeks of just blocking totally paranoid Facebook Friend posters and commenters. The coronavirus seems to have stimulated latent lunacy. Life is too short. Well, it is at my age. With Friends like these, I need enemas.
Actually still cannot quite assume that I could always be one of those studying the important tips found on your web blog. My family and I are truly thankful for your generosity and for offering me the chance to pursue my personal chosen profession path. Thank you for the important information I obtained from your blog.
This seemed an unlikely comment on Sara Mason: How will she follow-up her banned “Beginner’s Guide to Bondage”? All the moreso when I put ewidencja lokali na sprzedaż into Google Translate and it came up as Polish for “register of premises for sale”.
There is nothing like good marketing and that was nothing like… etc etc.
You can’t beat a good bit of symbolism in marketing…
FRIDAY 14th AUGUST
As a sign that my blog is read somewhere other than by my loyal reader in Guatemala, I received an email headed New council scheme in Hertsmere from a company called Yes Energy Solutions. They know about delivering good marketing… Their message read:
I came across your local blog and thought you may be interested in a scheme that is running in Hertsmere designed to help people on low incomes get central heating and gas connections for free.
Let me know if you would like any further information.
Adam Lewis Marketing Administrator YES Energy Solutions
Full marks to Adam Lewis – and a gold star – for spotting that my blog is local and that I may be living in fuel poverty. Sadly, I already have radiators and gas central heating, but I have forwarded the info to my reader in Guatemala. So far, no comeback. He does not live in Hertsmere so is not immediately eligible, but he may have thoughts of moving here. Who knows what the future holds?
SATURDAY 15th AUGUST
I got an easyJet flight from Stansted to Edinburgh to see what the Edinburgh Fringe looked like without the Edinburgh Fringe. The flight was cheaper than either a train or an overnight National Express coach. Also the latter involved wearing a mask for about eleven hours each way. The easyJet flight involved a mask for about an hour each way. (The outward journey was 55 minutes.)
55 masked minutes for a different type of Edinburgh flyerer
National Express are very carefully socially distancing their masked passengers. To my surprise, the easyJet plane was totally full – as far as I could see, every seat was taken: three seats on both sides of the aisle. Packed like sardines.
After I arrived in Edinburgh (It would have seemed perverse to try this before I arrived), I walked up the Blackford Hill, as I do every year, to see the panorama.
Edinburgh from the Blackford Hill. It is worth the climb up… even at my increasingly advanced age.
This time, I felt my age. It was exhausting.
Halfway up, a group of seven teenagers were dancing to rave music on an mp3 player.
In town – a Saturday night – there were lots of 1960s long black fake eyelashes on Essex-type, skimpily-dressed teenage girls in teenage and twenties mixed-sex groups. Obviously, there was no social distancing in these groups of 5 or 7 or 10 yoofs, because they feel they are immune to the coronavirus.
I bought a packet of chocolate-covered ginger biscuits.
Very tasty, but I had a big falling-out with them on Saturday night in my Edinburgh hotel…
One of my teeth came out. A cap – a crown – on an already dead tooth.
I felt my age.
A picture of me – sans teeth, sans eyes, sans good taste, sans, well, pretty much everything…
Exactly one month ago, I posted a blogabout how performer Sara Masonhad lost her Leicester Comedy Festival venue next February because, after the programme had been printed, the venue owner decided he did not want her Beginner’s Guide to Bondage show to soil his floorboards.
I asked Sara this week about the effect of the blog.
SARA: It had a wonderful effect. First of all, I was interviewed in the Leicester Mercury. Then I got on BBC Radio Leicester. And then Big Difference managed to book me into Just The Tonic at The Shed for the same slot on the same night – Valentine’s Night at 9.30pm. Then another venue owner who had been ignoring all my emails rang me up and offered a venue – too late. So clearly notoriety in your blog had an effect. Meanwhile, this week, I am doing A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage at Kentish Town in London – this coming Friday and Sunday.
Sara’s show CAN be seen in Kentish Town in London on 14th and 16th December
JOHN: So people who don’t want to traipse to Leicester in February can see it in London this week.
JOHN: What are you doing with it between February in Leicester and August in Edinburgh?
SARA: I might do it again in Brightonin May. But I also have a new idea I would like to do.
SARA:An Intermediate Guide to Bondage would be interesting, because then I could look at the oddities that people have, like mummification and the…
JOHN: Whoaa! What?
SARA: Mummification with cling film wrap. À chacun son goût.
JOHN: This is not for beginners?
SARA: Well, in A Beginner’s Guide, you would not really want to cover the more out-there fetishes. Even a Pony Boy or Pony Girl might be a bit too much.
JOHN: Whoaa! again.
SARA: A Pony Boy. You put a bridle on them and, hopefully, a butt-plug with a tail and then you ride around on them or make them pull your carriage.
JOHN: Why ‘hopefully’ a butt-plug?
SARA: Well, because not everyone wants a tail butt-plug. They have a bit in their teeth and they go Neeeiiiggghhh! Neeeiiiggghhh! You crack the whip as you ride them. Neeeiiiggghhh! Whinny! Whinny! all that sort of stuff. It’s hardcore. It’s a bit more than anything in The Beginner’s Guide to Bondage.
JOHN: If you are teaching people about bondage, should there be ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels?
JOHN: Would there be a third show after A Beginner’s Guide and An Intermediate Guide?
SARA: An Advanced Guide? Well, some of these fetishes are more understandable and approachable than others. Some are more for the diehards. Mummification, I think, is quite funny. And then, of course, there are rubber fetishes.
Angelic Sara Mason at the Soho Theatre Bar
I told you about going to Torture Gardenand a couple came in, both dressed up as frogmen or women. They were completely encased in rubber from head to toe. One was tall; one was short; but it was impossible to tell which was the man and which was the woman.
JOHN: With flippers?
SARA: Yes. And, after a moment, they opened a little zip in their crotch, mounted a stirrup table and began copulating. The noise was squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak squeak-squeak like a very squeaky bed. Not very frog-like. That would have been more…
SARA: Yes. But the amazing thing was I still couldn’t tell which one was a boy. After a while, they climbed off and zipped themselves up. I had to stop and just laugh. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.
JOHN: Why have you got a bit of rubber on your finger? Is that a fetish?
SARA: No.I have a poorly finger. It is kinesiology tape. It has a stretch to it and is good for inflammation but I think I have arthritis, which is neither sexy nor mistressy, though luckily it is my left hand.
JOHN: A big relief for us all. In A Beginners Guide, you play the role of Mistress Venetia. Are you developing that character?
SARA: I am thinking of making her an agony aunt because, at the end of my show in Edinburgh this year, I did suggest that, if anyone wanted private lessons, I could oblige. And quite a number of girls did approach me to say they would like private lessons in domination. They wanted to learn to be a bit more ‘dom’. So that was intriguing because I had put it in as a bit of a joke but, in fact, I did have a few takers. There probably is a niche market out there for ladies who want to learn the business.
JOHN: Any other offers to audience members?
SARA: I have offered free fistings to any Brexiteers in the audience.
JOHN: So what is Mistress Venetia’s character?
Sara as “lovably dotty” Mistress Venetia
SARA: She is a ‘dotty’ dominatrix.
JOHN: How dotty?
SARA: Well, she’s lovably dotty.
JOHN: She dots the eyes and crosses the tease?
SARA: She’s a bit dotty because some of her ideas are really quite ‘out there’.
JOHN: The show is billed as comedy. Is it comedy because you put in lots of jokes or because what you are talking about is not quite as serious as the customers think?
SARA: I think what they do IS quite funny. A lot of it is very funny.
JOHN: But, in the real world, the men being dominated presumably don’t think of it as being humorous.
SARA: There can be a lot of laughter in the dungeons. If you don’t like laughing, you wouldn’t enjoy a session of domination with me.
JOHN: …if you were a real dominatrix and not a performer.
SARA: …if I were a real dominatrix and not a performer. (LAUGHS) I think you use your own personality no matter what you do. Mistress Venetia is dotty and quite funny. If you approach domination and say this is a very frightening, traumatic, torturous thing then, OK, I am not gonna wanna play with you. You are not my type of playmate. My type of playmate wants excitement, joy and doesn’t mind if I take the piss out of him.
JOHN: Sometimes literally.
SARA: Exactly. In the show, Mistress Venetia says she doesn’t mind the occasional golden shower. It can be quite refreshing. But scat is a kink too far from me. I don’t judge anybody for whatever their fetish is. Everybody has the right to whatever sexual expression they want and, certainly, if you’ve never tried something, you have no right to judge about it.
There are certain things that are not my cup of tea but good luck to the people who want to do them. Scat is not for me.
SARA: Because the CEO of the venue I was booked in suddenly flatly refused to have me perform.
SARA: He or she didn’t say. But he or she did say he or she would not be persuaded and he or she was obviously horrified by the subject matter.
JOHN: So he or she accepted your show and then changed his or her mind?
SARA: Well, the wonderful Big Difference Company had programmed it in the venue as a Valentine’s Day show – which I thought was a brilliant idea – and the CEO then looked at the line-up after the brochure had been printed – and absolutely, categorically would not allow me to perform.
JOHN: You had already paid to go in the brochure…
SARA: Yes. The CEO totally, categorically agreed to pay me a figure I won’t divulge NOT to perform the show at the venue.
JOHN: Can you perform it somewhere else in Leicester?
Sara, surprised by the sudden cancellation
SARA: At this point, most venues are full – the brochure has been printed. I started discussing a venue for this show back in August – before my run at the Edinburgh Fringe had finished – and the brochure deadline was mid-October.
JOHN: What’s the title of the show?
SARA:A Beginner’s Guide to Bondage.
JOHN: One might think the CEO could have got a hint of the subject from the title.
SARA: Possibly. But I suppose it could have been about a housewife ‘chained’ to the kitchen sink.
JOHN: Or someone who just liked James Bond films.
SARA: Indeed… I am sure we would have sold out on Valentine’s Day night. People are interested in the subject. That’s the thing about this show. Audiences are interested. But the critics don’t want to know. The press don’t want to know. The publicists at the Edinburgh Fringe didn’t want to represent me. I tried to get a publicist. Couldn’t get one. Yet, at the end of the day, I was sold out every single performance.
JOHN: I’m never totally convinced about the value of publicists at the Fringe.
SARA: I felt I would never get reviewed at the Fringe if I didn’t have a publicist. And I wasn’t. And that was – is – the reality. To book a tour for this show is possibly impossible.
JOHN: Though your show got audiences in in Edinburgh – which is no mean feat.
SARA: My show is a feminist and funny look at all the weird and wonderful kinks that people can have. It’s not judgmental and it’s not for the raincoat brigade. One chap from the raincoat brigade came to see it in Edinburgh. He came in his raincoat with a plastic bag and sat by himself in the crowded back row. He walked out after about ten minutes and complained to the manager that he thought the show was very sexist and anti-male – particularly, I assume, anti white, middle class men. I felt I should put that quote on my programme! He was the only person who has ever been offended, apart from a Tory lady who was offended by what I said about Boris Johnson.
JOHN: Which was?
SARA: I said that I would like to use my massive strap-on on him. Usually, that gets rounds of applause and shrieks of laughter, particularly in Scotland, where they are not very fond of Boris or Brexit. But there happened to be a party of Tory voters in who – although they liked the show… Well, one lady felt morally upset that I was bringing politics into my show.
But a dominatrix is a human being with a political opinion and it’s my show and I can say what I like. Without a doubt, all of the dominatrices I have ever met were Left Wing and all of their security guards were Right Wing.
JOHN: Security guards?
Sara’s show CAN be seen in London on 14th and 16th December in a Kentish Town venue
SARA: They all have security. Someone to answer the door and security at night. Sometimes they are ex-Army and usually they are Right Wing. I think dominatrices tend to be Left Wing.
SARA: (LAUGHS) Maybe because they like beating rich toffs for money.
JOHN: So the Tory lady who went to your show did not object to the title or subject of the show.
SARA: No. Just me dissing Boris Johnson.
JOHN: Did you have the ‘dead dad’ bit that all successful Edinburgh shows are supposed to have?
SARA: I included a sad story, yes. But the Tory lady who didn’t like my Boris Johnson references said she didn’t understand why there was a deeply-upsetting, sad moment. My reaction was: Well, you don’t understand how you write a play or a comedy show. There is always a climax and then a resolution.
SARA: If you are writing a play, you call it the climax. In comedy, it’s the ‘dead dad’ moment and then you get them back laughing again.
JOHN: The show was a success in Edinburgh…
SARA: It sold out. There were queues down the street. Hardly any of my friends could get in to see it – Only if they told me when they were coming and I physically reserved them a seat.
JOHN: Who were the audience in Edinburgh?
SARA: In the main, young – under 26 – and more women than men. On the few nights when there was a bit of a geezerish crowd – a chav crowd – the sort of guys who sat in the front row hopin’ I’d get me tits out – they didn’t laugh half as much and I didn’t enjoy performing to that crowd at all.
Sara in costume at the Edinburgh Fringe
I had one night when it was a predominately male audience with a few of these geezers sitting in the front – they were quite big and made me feel quite threatened. After that, in every performance, I would pick either couples or a group of girls who didn’t look too frightening and ask them to sit in the front row. So I couldn’t be heckled by people who had come to the show for the wrong reasons.
The thing is it’s a Fem-Dom show. Which part of Fem-Dom didn’t audience members understand? Did they not know I would be taking the piss out of certain men? Not in a horrible way, because my show does not judge even the slightly yuck fetishes. We live in a free society.
Nowadays, we have transgender, transvestite, gay shows. We have all types of things. But it seems like ‘kink’ and bondage is still an unpronounceable thing. Why should that be so? Let people do what they like in the bedroom. We can laugh and giggle. I show my delight at people’s eccentricity. Everyone has a right to express themselves.
JOHN: Did you aim your show at a particular type of person?
SARA: I have a friend who is a theatre director and he told me: In your show, reach out to the ‘vanilla’ couples in the audience and let them know it’s OK to experiment. It’s not abnormal. So I end my show with a little speech to the vanillas, offering them a little role-play exercise they can do with each other to discover if they are sub or dom or neither or vanilla or double vanilla.
JOHN: Or strawberry whip.
SARA: Exactly. I give them that speech and they seem to enjoy that.
Three years in the making, the design for the publicity flyer went through some changes when it was a Work in Progress
JOHN: How do you know so much about the subject of bondage?
SARA: I take the Fifth Amendment, but I spent three years writing this show. Everything in it is true. Even ‘the nose man’.
JOHN: The nose man?
SARA: The nose man needs his nose to be stimulated in order to achieve any sort of gratification. Now – look – that is quite amusing, you have to admit.
JOHN: Does he think it’s amusing?
SARA: No. But it is a known fetish. It’s called nasophilia.
JOHN: Well, people sometimes like their ears fiddled with – that’s aural sex.
SARA: There is a fetish for everything.
JOHN: You mentioned rubbish.
SARA: ‘Rubbish Boy’ likes you to put him in a wheelie bin and cover him with rubbish.
JOHN: Smelly rubbish?
SARA: Any kind of rubbish. So my character in the show – Mistress Venetia, the ‘dotty dominatrix’ – one time she put him in the bath tub and covered him with all the rubbish from the flat and he wanked himself to completion. Of course, I made him clean it up afterwards – half a bottle of bleach – he loves that.
Another time, Mistress Venetia put him in a pair of ballet tights and taught him some ballet moves. Bend-down-stretch… bend-down-stretch. She taught him a pas de chat and he was leaping all over the dungeon. That is a true story. He said it was the best day of his life. The real man is quite chubby and had never been asked to do ballet before.
JOHN: So the good people of Leicester are not going to hear any of this.
Comedian Will Franken cross-dressed as a woman for six months last year. I only did it for seven hours on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, I got a text from Sandra Smith, this blog’s South Coast correspondent, saying: “It’s the first time that I’ve ever walked into a pub with my tights around my ankles.”
A couple of months ago, performer Frank Sanazi (he sings like Frank Sinatra; looks like Adolf Hitler) asked me to come and see his new singing act ‘Elvis Corpsely’ – Elvis Presley back from the dead. He told me he was performing it for the first time at Torture Garden, the monthly BDSM fetish club.
And so he did this weekend, on Valentine’s Night (well, 9.00pm Saturday to 6.00am Sunday).
Tony knew Sophie Seashell, who had booked bizarre acts for that night. The Tiger Lillies performed. As did the extraordinary Andrew Bailey. In the cabaret section, it felt like they were trying to re-create a feel of the decadent Weimar Republic nightclubs in Germany between the Wars.
This year, I thought of going dressed formally
Twenty years ago, as now, Torture Garden had a dress code. Tony Green, wearing a white straw hat, a rather louche suit and looking a bit like Sylvester McCoy’s incarnation of Doctor Who. was told by the Torture Garden doorperson: “You’re OK. You look perverted.” Alas, my loud, hippie Indian-style shirt was not deemed a suitable costume. The people on the door conferred and suggested I take my shirt off so I was naked from the waist up, then take off my black leather belt and tie it diagonally across my chest with the buckle at the front.
With that, I was allowed in.
Since then, though, the dress code has been tightened, if that is the word to use.
Now the rules read:
You can’t wear a fetish top with normal black trousers or vice versa, we do not allow jeans, even black ones, no suits, no camo, no cotton underpants, no regular party dresses that you could wear to any club, no normal black trousers that you could wear anywhere and although full theatrical costumes are fine, cheesy fancy dress is not. Dresscode is enforced throughout the night. TG is a home for people that want to express the most extreme version of their fetish fantasy alter ego, so take this opportunity to push your boundaries.
BDSM and fetish are not my thing. I am quite happy with a picture of Baby Spice and a peach. So my wardrobe does not include anything remotely suitable.
So, on Saturday afternoon, I found myself in the car park at Beckenham railway station as Frank Sanazi handed over to me a long leather Gestapo coat – genuine, from the 1940s – and a small hand whip. He had temporarily lost his Nazi armband down the back of a bookcase in his living room.
With these legs, could I have a second career?
This was my fallback costume. But I also know comedian Sara Mason, whose Edinburgh Fringe show this year will be called A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage.
Which is how I found myself in her bedroom in Fulham at teatime. She was – for reasons I did not ask – particularly keen that I should go in drag.
So I tried on various shoes, stockings, panties, black tops and wigs. Sara seemed unsettlingly keen on dressing me in a variety of things, though I did stop at the offer of a butt plug.
I was going to Torture Garden with this blog’s South Coast correspondent Sandra Smith, also not a BDSM fan, who, while I was trying on my flattering fishnet tights in Fulham, was glueing studs onto her black jacket in Brighton.
Later that night I met Pete Cunningham – aka Frank Sanazi – at a pub in Elephant and Castle and he told me: “I’m playing Tel Aviv on the 7th of April.”
“As Frank Sanazi?” I asked.
“That should be interesting,” I said.
“I’m doing two gigs out there” he explained. “I’m opening for The Producers in Tel Aviv. It’s the first time they’ve shown the film out there. I’m doing my songs as a warm-up for the film. And I’m also doing a burlesque night – they have a dark burlesque night. I was a bit apprehensive at first, because imagine checking in at the airport.”
“It could be a tough gig,” I suggested.
“Well,” he said, “if I can play Berlin, as I did a couple of weeks ago, and last year I did Vienna – why not Israel this year and New York next year?”
Prestigious blog’s South Coast correspondent (has initials SS)
At this point, Sandra Smith arrived at the pub. As she walked in, her tights fell down.
And then we went to Torture Garden.
Just as I found St Peter’s in the Vatican to be a decidedly non-spiritual and non-religious place, Torture Garden was decidedly non-erotic and the punters seemed to have changed in the last twenty years.
In the blog I posted about that visit, | wrote:
There was a look in the more outrageously dressed (or un-dressed) people’s eyes at Torture Garden which made me think a strong British sense of irony and an active sense of the ridiculous don’t gel (if that’s the word) with wearing outlandish sado-masochistic costumes for sexual thrills.
My memory of twenty years ago was that there were a few decidedly odd people wandering around. Sexual thrills were in the air. Some had come over from Amsterdam for the night.
Pete Cunningham – now a real dead ringer for Elvis Corpsely
This time, people seemed more relaxed wandering around semi-naked or in bizarre get-ups and there were more of them – 2,000 people in The Coronet, a fairly small former cinema.
But, just as people say that modern Glastonbury Festival-goers are not like they used to be in the 1970s – today they are sometimes like tourists visiting a theme park far-removed from their comfortable suburban lives – so Torture Garden seemed a bit like a theme park where participants dressed-up for the occasion. There was no sexual tension in the air.
Until towards the end of the evening.
Sandra Smith and I were trapped in the venue until 5.00am by a lack of trains home.
Dug up: Elvis Corpsely in performance
So we were sitting at one of a group of cafe tables by the bar behind the large dance floor, shouting at each other. You had to shout because of the loud, thumping, repetitive music.
Sitting at one of the adjoining round cafe tables was a couple – a young man and his topless girlfriend. And, at another table, a similar duo. All the other tables had similar couples and groups in various states of undress.
Sandra and I, by this point, were rather disappointed by the normality of it all.
Alright, there was a lot of naked flesh, leather thongs, PVC, latex and occasional studded choker collars with dog leads on display. But everyone was terribly polite, well-behaved and very very British and I observed to Sandra that any other bar in Elephant & Castle – or anywhere else in London, really – filled with people in their 20s knocking back large amounts of drink for hours on end, would have been less politely civilised. Our little cafe area was a bit like sitting in a Costa Cafe emporium with actors resting and chatting between takes in a Mad Max movie.
The girl in one of the couples at one of the tables next to us decided to make a thing of showing off her very nice breasts and adjusting her leather or plastic costume. This resulted in an invitation for her and her man to join the couple at the other adjoining table. and, over the course of the next five minutes or so, five or seven other young topless girls meandered over. I think the attraction was her breasts. There was much silent female amiability with the girls canoodling, snogging, kissing/feeling each others breasts and suchlike. All in a strangely innocent, only semi-passionate way.
Somewhere along the way a taller, thin girl was involved and another man sat down at the next table and, as she bent over, aiming her naked buttocks in our general direction, he started to insert his finger into her in what I suppose one might call an active penile impression.
This then continued when she stretched over to put her hands on the seat of a nearby plastic chair and he replaced his finger with a more appropriate length of his body and started making what Shakespeare called ‘the beast with two backs’.
The strange thing was that this uniformly rhythmic movement was an emotionless, almost mechanical, happening. No passion, not real excitement, no eroticism – just a meeting of meat in what William Burroughs called the soft machine.
It was one person who had an emotionless face doing something to (not really with) another person who had an emotionless face. Watching it was like having an out-of-body experience although, obviously, it would be incorrect to use that description for the two participants.
This ended without really ending. It just stopped. It had got nowhere and never was going to get anywhere. Then there was some other unemotional happenings with soft machines, some erect penises being played with by the two men (separately) and, at some point, a wet wipe was taken out and used for no apparent reason. It seemed more for show that for any practical necessity.
I have a feeling the object was to shock two old and presumed dull people sitting at the other table (us). But really, at this sort of event, this was a forlorn hope,
I suppose this was the climax of the night but – ironically – it involved no climax by anyone.
Sandra Smith’s opinion today was: “It seemed a lot tamer than I expected. One thing that did amuse me in that little scenario at the end was the girl in the midst of it all. While one man was fucking her at one end, she was giving the man at the other end a blow job but covered her head with a coat. With everything else going on, she covered her head with a coat! That amused me.”
Personally, I too am mystified why a coat was necessary for this but not the other parts of what I can only call the act.
Which it did seem to be.
For Sandra Smith’s blog about the evening, click HERE.
About a week after posting this blog and after it was mentioned on the Chortle comedy website, Chortle editor Steve Bennett got this comment from Israel:
I wanted to clarify a mistake in a report about Nazi in Tel-Aviv. It was said that The Producers will be shown in Israel for the first time. Well… The Producers is a huge cult movie over here and always have been. You’d be surprised how much the Holocaust in Israel is a common topic for comedy. Since it’s the land of the Jews no one can accuse us at being anti-semitic so we can take it one or few steps ahead.
Steve Bennett commented:
If you can’t trust the word of a man pretending to be Hitler, who can you trust?
There is a video of Torture Garden’s 2015 Valentine’s Night Ball on Vimeo.
Sara’s Edinburgh Fringe show in August this year is going to be titled A Beginner’s Guide To Bondage (with live demonstrations).
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!”
Things are not as bad as they seem (Photo by MEUNF)
Yesterday someone – as people often do – asked me if it is difficult to find subjects for this daily blog. “No. Not at all,” I told them.
But, of course, the difficulty is often fitting in time to actually write the bleedin’ blogs, especially if (as is often the case) listening to, transcribing and editing 45-60 minutes of chat is involved even before I start writing the bleedin’ things.
Even when there are no lengthy chats to transcribe, time or too much stuff coming together can be a problem.
For the 16 days until I leave for the Edinburgh Fringe, I already have 9 recorded chats, I am seeing 11 upcoming shows, there are two podcasts to plug and I am meeting up with 5 other people for possibly bloggable chats. Plus whatever else turns up.
Ali Jones having a Rumble in Hemel tonight
Tonight I went to Hemel Hempstead to present one of The Rumble Awards. They “celebrate the positive contribution people with learning disabilities and differences make to the world and recognise their unique skills and talents and personalities”.
Organiser Ali Jones says the awards are not about doing things for people but doing things with people. The recipients are the participants and her Pioneer Approaches organisation are complementary therapists who compliment people.
The prestigious two-hour Rumble Awards show tonight was basically a series of awards wrapped up in a variety of other interesting events.
More later in this blog, as you might expect, about another increasingly prestigious two-hour awards show.
Sofie Hagen has a memorable opening line
The last couple of weeks have involved me seeing a lot of Edinburgh Fringe previews in London.
Some of the ones I have seen recently might seem to imply that a 2015 Fringe theme will be female comedians talking in extreme detail about their sexual experiences. So far I have had Sara Mason with tales of Burt Lancaster piercing her hymen and much more… Giada Garofalo linking her sex life, fairy tales and serial killers… and Sofie Hagen, whose very first line in a preview of her Bubblewrap show two nights ago (I might be paraphrasing, but only slightly) was:
“So, I was pissing on this man…”
This week has been awash with unexpected lines. I had Fringe preview organiser Dec Munro say to me, without any introductory explanation:
Dec Munro tries his best to mount a horse
“I wanted to be the king of gerbil sales at school. Michele was going to be Gary Lineker’s wife and so I played romantic music – Barry White, all that sort of stuff – into their little gerbil cage and actually sang Let’s Get It On a couple of times to them. Unfortunately, after six-and-a-half months, it transpired that both of them were male.”
“Explain,” I asked him, “the phrase ‘I was the king of gerbil sales’.”
“I said,” replied Dec, as if explaining it, “I WANTED to be the king of gerbil sales.”
“Because,” she said, “Malcolm Hardee died on my birthday – the 31st of January – and that was very hard to organise in advance.”
“You were born in 2005?” I asked.
“I was ‘created’ in 2005,” she insisted.
“So you’re ten years old?” I asked.
“In many ways,” she replied, as if this explained something.
Either I am developing dementia or explanations are getting less clear.
Then the Edinburgh Fringe Office sent me a list of awards at the Fringe this year, which excluded any mention of the three increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. I suggested, they could just repeat last year’s listing, but a new one was written by them for me, which was very nice of them. It read:
THE MALCOLM HARDEE COMEDY AWARDS 2015
The three Malcolm Hardee Awards await their Fringe winners
The Awards are in memory of Malcolm Hardee, one of the most anarchic figures of his era, a great influence on British comedy over the last 25 years and the Godfather to a generation of comic talent.
The Comic Originality Award is for performers who, in the opinion of the judges, have not yet been given the attention they deserve and who have potential for continual development.
The winning act does not need to have the potential to become a major mainstream star. It is an award for people who deserve to succeed and who deserve to have their potential recognised and nurtured but who have not yet received their due recognition.
The Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality
The Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt publicising a Fringe act or show
The Malcolm Hardee ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid’ Award
Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges and awards will be presented during a two-hour variety show Friday 28th August 2015 as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.
The Fringe Office asked: “Could you clarify how the selection process is made?”
I suggested: “If you fancy, you could change:
“Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges and awards will be presented …”
“Acts will be shortlisted by a panel of judges more-or-less on a whim and awards will be presented …”
My toe – shortly after it got unexpectedly shelved
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So it has been a fairly odd week.
And then the nail of my big toe started coming off.
Comedian Matt Roper is staying in my spare bedroom until the Edinburgh Fringe starts in August. In the middle of last night, he posted this on his Facebook page:
Well, friends. Here I lay on the bed of bewilderment in what is known as a cockroach hotel. I’ve known far too many of them in my time. The owners of such places tend to decorate bedrooms like mine with the strangest objects of paraphernalia. For example: who the hell is this grinning at me from the wall opposite my bed? I’ll be fucked if I know.
This photo accompanies his Facebook post.
The face on the wall in Matt Roper’s bedroom
I should point out that Matt is in Istanbul for a week. But I will re-decorate my spare room so he feels more at home when he gets back. I have a much-admired framed portrait of Nicholas Parsons above my own bed.
Meanwhile, I have a backlog of blog chats to post and things keep happening to prevent me transcribing them.
Yesterday included being dragged willingly to the National Theatre by my friend Lynn, seeing Kate Cook’s excellent Invisible Woman show preview at RADA and (for a second time) seeing Sara Mason’s both funny and deeply traumatic show Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11) as part of the ongoing Edinburgh Fringe previews at the back of Kate Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in Shepherd’s Bush. This was followed by Copstick telling horrendous after-show tales of a Somalian vagina crawling with maggots in Kenya. She has shown me the video too. I am lucky I do not remember my dreams.
Performer Louise Reay was in the audience and told me her Chinese language It’s Only Words Fringe show (which I blogged about appropriately on 1st May) has now been sponsored by the Chinese government in the form of The Confucius Institute – China’s version of the British Council.
Cleaning a great wall may have helped Louise Reay in China
“How did you get them to sponsor you?” I asked.
“I asked them and they said Yes,” Louise replied. “It’s a real lesson in just posing the question.”
“What did you tell them the show was about?”
“I didn’t. I just said: My show’s all in Chinese, but for an audience that doesn’t speak any Chinese as all. I think they thought it would attract new people to the Chinese language.”
“So they have no idea what your show is about and they’re covering your costs?” I asked.
“And then some,” said Louise. “I’ve taken four months off work.”
My day had started with sophisticated comic David Mills sending me an e-mail:
I’ve just confirmed UK-boxing promoter Kellie Maloney (formerly Frank Maloney) as a guest on my chat show / podcast The In Crowd with David Mills at the new Camden Comedy Room on 8th July. Can I entice you to come along?
David knows me well enough to know that I am not going to turn down the chance to see a chat show involving a transsexual boxing promoter. I asked him more about the show.
David Mills – will be strutting his stuff, talking boxing
“As you know,” he told me, “I’ve been itching to take the reins of my own chat show for ages and I’ve trialled The In Crowd with David Mills out and about a few times. The new Camden Comedy Room has really got behind the show and will be recording it as a podcast as well. We’re sort of seeing how this goes before hopefully launching something more regular after the Edinburgh Fringe. I approached Kellie on Twitter and she agreed immediately.”
This seems to confirm what Louise Reay says. “It’s a real lesson in just posing the question.”
Sara Mason’s first full-length Edinburgh Fringe show is billed as comedy and is titled Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11).
This is not hyperbole. It is true – with all that the title implies.
Last night, I told Sara that her show may not get as many laughs as she may have hoped for, because it is very difficult to laugh when your mouth is almost continually wide open and your jaw is repeatedly hitting the floor.
“That,” I said to her, “was not your original title for the show, was it?”
“No,” she said. “It was originally going to be called From Hollywood To Homeless – but I will save that story for another year.”
Sara’s story will last from here to eternity
“And,” I asked, the title Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11) was suggested by Tinky Winky from Teletubbies?”
Sara’s show is directed by the multi-talented Dave Thompson who played the above mentioned part on children’s television but was replaced because his “interpretation of the role was not acceptable”.
“I was dubious about the Burt Lancaster title,” Sara told me. “I was dubious about even doing the story.”
“Even last year,” I said, “you were dubious about telling the story as part of a show.”
During last year’s Fringe, Sara and I shared a flat in Edinburgh.
“Well you,” Sara said to me, “must have been the second person I ever told that story to, the first person being my ex-husband.”
“How did he react?”
“He tried to sell the story to the newspapers.”
“With your knowledge.”
“Why didn’t they pick it up?”
Sara previewing the show in London last night
“Because (she named another victim who was sexually attacked by Burt Lancaster) was alive at that time and he didn’t want it printed. He said: This is my life; I don’t want it discussed. He was so violent and vehement about it, so we dropped it.”
“One reason the show is so powerful,” I said, “is because the audience thinks it knows the worst from the title but, in fact you are very graphic about what actually happened – and then there is this extra unexpected thing they get hit with.”
“What inspired me and encouraged me to do it on stage,” explained Sara, “was seeing Chris Dangerfield’s show Sex With Children last year, because I thought Wow! I’ve got an anecdote quite similar to his and mine involves a famous film star.”
“So why were you so worried about telling the story in a show?”
Burt Lancaster (left) & Nick Cravat – billed as Lang and Cravat – in Federal Theatre Project Circus (1935–1938)
“I was worried about my daughter, apart from anything else.”
“I always,” I said, “thought Burt Lancaster was gay, because there were rumours about him and his circus partner Nick Cravat.”
“Bisexual,” said Sara. “He had five children and three wives. But he was a paedophile. That’s clear.”
Sara was brought up in Hollywood.
“Some of the child actors,” she said, “have come out now about Hollywood being a hotbed of paedophiles.”
“So this year,” I said, “your show is entirely truthfully called Burt Lancaster pierced My Hymen (When I Was 11). What’s next year?”
“The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage,” Sara told me. “I already have a set all worked out.”
“Why,” I asked, “is it called The Beginner’s Guide To Bondage?”
“Because I’m going to have a cross and I’m going to give a demonstration.”
“Why you?” I asked.
“Why me?” Sara laughed. “Ohhhh! that would be telling! But we all have to have a day job, don’t we?”
Sara Mason last night – much more to come
Having shared a flat with her last year, I know the Burt Lancaster and Bondage shows are only the tips of a flotilla of icebergs. As I left her last night, she said: “My father was a psychiatrist in Hollywood. He wasn’t allowed by his professional ethics to discuss the stars’ problems with outsiders. But I was his daughter. He told me the stories.”
Sara is by no means a one-shock storyteller. To adapt the most famous quote from All About Eve… Fasten your seatbelts, it’s likely to be a bumpy few years.
For anyone who read my blog yesterday and may be wondering, my co-host Kate Copstick did not turn up at our increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club yesterday afternoon. She woke up in agony in the morning. With luck she should be at our show today. No doubt more brief news will follow tomorrow.
Someone who was at yesterday’s show, though, was my Fringe flatmate Sara Mason. She is a relatively new comedian who is picking up a few gigs in Edinburgh plus a few tips for a future Fringe show.
“So,” I said, introducing her, “you are an American, Swiss, French, English errr God knows what you are…”
Sara in an Edinburgh flat selfie taken today
“I was born here in Britain,” she said, “and then my parents emigrated to America when I was ten, to Beverly Hills in California. We were originally supposed to go for five years – my father was at UCLA (lecturing on psychoanalysis) – but he never came back.”
“And you went to Beverly Hills High School,” I said.
“I was two years ahead,” explained Sara, “because I had been through the British school system, which was better, so I was 15 when I finished high school, not 18 like them.
“I have a brother who is sadly no longer with us. He was on heroin and was a drug dealer and had the honour of being the worst student ever to attend Beverly Hills High School. Eventually they chucked him out. He had long hair and people said we looked alike, although he was 6’5” and had dark long hair and he was cool and I wasn’t very cool. I was into theatre, which was deeply uncool in Beverly Hills.”
“Why was theatre uncool?” I asked.
“In the Theater Dept,’ said Sara, “we were into theatre and Shakespeare and opera and classical music and I was a bit nerdy. I was on the Principal’s Honor Roll. That was so uncool at Beverly Hills where I should have been shooting up… although I did my fair share of drugs,
Beverly Hills High School’s gym, never knowingly understated
“Your friend would take eight tablets… and so, next week, you would take ten to make sure you had outdone them.
“They would do one hit of acid so you would say: I’m gonna take two!
“It culminated for me one day when I took four and had a really bad trip. But that was after having taken LSD every day for a year. I did all my SATs on LSD and did very well.”
“What,” I asked, “is an SAT?”
‘Your exams to get into university,” explained Sara. “I wanted to go to Drama School and my father was having none of that. So, secretly, I forged my parents’ signatures and transferred myself out of all the courses I would have needed to take to get into UCLA – because there’s a minimum. I talked my counsellor into the fact I was going to be an actress, so I should do drama classes and French classes and English and History but not the Maths and Science requirements.
“I thought I was very, very smart and got a job between classes, but I didn’t calculate for the SATs, because I scored so highly on the SATs in spite of the LSD that I WAS offered a university place anyway. So I ran away from home.”
Sara in a photo taken by Nathalie Kerrio
“You knew the film producer William Castle, didn’t you?” I asked. “I know of him because, as well as Rosemary’s Baby, he produced The Tingler, where he wired up the seats of cinemas to an electric current and, at the shocking bits of the film, the audience were literally given an electric shock.”
“He was a lovely man,” said Sara,”with a huge cigar and was almost like a caricature of a film producer. But it wasn’t just him I knew. Debbie Reynolds was the local scout mistress for the Brownies in Beverly Hills. Can you imagine that?
“Jamie Lee Curtis was in my brother’s class; her sister was in my class. Dean Martin’s daughter used to come to school in a yellow Jensen sports car or a Corvette and she had a diamond bracelet with great big diamonds spelling out the letters of her name. I had a bracelet made out of string. I was completely piss-poor and I wasn’t cool.
“Joan Fontaine’s son had a crush on me when I was ten. It was so embarrassing! He used to follow me round and I had never heard of Joan Fontaine. He used to follow me around and sing I Carry a Torch For You!… I was thinking: You’re ten years old! I want to kill you! You are embarrassing me! Beverly Hills High was really odd, a surreal experience.
“My brother was cool from Day One. He managed to get arrested in primary school for drug dealing, but they had to let him go, because it was kitchen herbs.”
“Kitchen herbs?” I asked.
Sara (right), with Claire Smith of The Scotsman & Bob Slayer
“Oregano, catnip, parsley…”
“Does that work?” asked someone in the audience.
“With nine year old kids…” said Sara. “That was his first arrest.”
“That is very entrepreneurial,” I said, “to sell parsley to kids.”
“My brother was so sharp,” said Sara. “Such a business brain. My brother used to lock us in his room and weigh out the drugs and I would help him, thinking: One day, they might think I’m cool. Although his friends used to call me Luscious. That was even worse. It was so embarrassing.
“My brother used to pretend he didn’t know me at school. On the other hand, Morgan Mason – James Mason’s son – used to tell everyone I was his sister.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Just to tease me. That was Beverly Hills High. It’s scary, because so many of them are dead now.
Sara inside her favourite tree in Beverly Hills
“I went to the High School reunion and everyone I met was saying: I’ve been sober for 20 years. I go to AA every week. Every single person: Oh! I used to be on cocaine. Oh! I used to be alcoholic. If they’re not dead from a drug overdose or AIDs, they’re going to AA. All that money and all that corruption.”
“Well,” I said, “that’s the censored version of Sara’s life up to the age of fifteen.”
“That was a very censored version.” agreed Sara. “I remember at lunchtime when we were 13 or 15, we would all sit in the girls’ toilet, cross-legged on the floor, rolling joints, smoking them, smoking cigarettes and practising giving blow jobs on a banana. We didn’t un-peel the banana.”