I get my kicks above the waistline

24 05 2009

You know, 5 euros might not be a great deal of money but if I’m paying 5 euros for a Drag Queen show, I want a bit more for my bucks. All I can really say is that last Friday Jackson, C and I had the most bizarre and surreal evening, to rival many that I’ve had in the past (Wurzburg summer 2001, anyone?). Watching a Drag Queen attempting (badly) to pose on one leg on top of an old orange box, at the end of every badly lip-synched song, just made me think of a senile grandmother – the lips drawn back from the teeth in a forced grin, the wavering leg and the bleeding lipstick edges really turned my insides, aided by the bad Sekt I was drinking.  The three of us thought we would never escape, and it did take more than 4 hours after our arrival for us to manage to get out – alive. It just wasn’t Ru Paul’s Drag Race, there was no bass in the walk. There weren’t even any Barbara Streisand or Annie Lennox covers.

I’m not sure if anyone but the three of us who went together will truly understand what we experienced/suffered. I actually suspect there might have been dubious ‘group activities’ occurring once everyone had consumed enough of the liquor chocolates that were passed around. At one point I asked C if I was missing the trick, the punchline or the green fairy that might appear on my shoulder.  I’ve never craved an out of body experience so much; my curiosity to find out what the senses of the ‘performers’ where receiving, compared to what befell my eyes was extremely high. Will anyone else ever understand the ‘Aldi Champagne Truffle’ advice I was given by an extremely shouty lady? Will anyone ever share my pain after being slapped, hard, on my backside by same lady as we finally escaped the….the…..menagerie?


Oh the tragedy!

4 05 2009

I’ve committed one of modern life’s most troublesome sins:

Crying into my microwaveable lasagna whilst watching Jamie Pugh sing on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.

The poor guy, never had the courage to stand up and sing in front of anyone before, and then who’d believe what came out! A man singing opera with a Welsh accent really can’t be beat can it?

I think watching ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is one of the few things I miss about home (that and HMV, and yes, Topshop), see last year’s posts tagged ‘cultural petite mal’ for more. I love the triumphs and tribulations but I equally revel in the mishaps and slip-ups. I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude when it all goes wrong. The only part I find awkward is when parents push on their little darlings, and little darling does not have one ounce of talent. Having said that, any saccharine child act doesn’t really agree with my sensitivities anyway. But that’s just my taste.

So, weeping tears into a mush of bechemel and vegetables, what next? Twirling round the living room clutching a martini glass listening to Neil Young’s “Hurricane”? Reading the end of “Mice and Men”? Putting “Sophie’s Choice” on to play whilst…..alone???

It’s just not my world

1 05 2009

We’re off to a contemporary art exhibition soon.


Jackson’s going as the potato famine and I’m dressing as a full-stop.

Mumble schmumble, botox schmotox

11 01 2009

Again! I’ve still got no coffee to drink; this time I did attempt to make some but forgot to put the water in the bottom of the pot. I’ve burnt out the rubber ring seal and left the air in the kitchen smelling rather noxious. Too bad. I’m thirsty. 


For a while I’ve had a quote in my head about the increasing propensity of actors to mumble their words too much, and audiences not being able to understand them. I couldn’t remember who had said this and when, but a quick internet search of ‘actors hard to hear because they mumble too much’ brought up the exact website that I’d read as the first result.


Apparently it was Sir Peter Hall, the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and quoted in The Times, who first voiced concern, and backed up by the actor Edward Fox. Young actors were claiming that to raise their voices would detract from the realism that they were trying to portray because no one SPEAKS BLOODY LOUD ALL THE TIME. But the truth is, no one can hear. And usually we pay money to hear something; personally I’m not a fan of French conceptual mime, so I want to hear.  And as with a Christian wedding, if the granny at the back can’t hear the ceremony, it’s not valid!  (Bribe your gran if you want a quickie divorce)


I’ve been noticing more and more that I just can’t hear what people are saying in films, I’m really having to strain my good ear towards the screen or rely on lip reading to get what’s lost between those expensive pearly whites that are flashed around. It’s the same with facial expressions; actors, women in particular, just can’t express anymore. I think their expressions have been lost under all the makeup and enhancements. The only actresses I really like at the moment are Charlize Theron, because of her amazing transformation into Aileen Wuornos and then transformation into a Dior perfume model (come on, there’s hope for us all!), Cate Blanchett and Jackson’s vote, Frances McDormand. Of course there are old timers like Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, and I would put Scarlett Johansson in as a new fave, perhaps Ellen Page too as she defies the LA stereotype. Oh, oh and I know! Mary Lynn Rajskub! But the rest? Come on! Act a little, speak a little (actually a lot, please). Don’t pout and emote so much. We want to see expression played out on your faces, we want lines and wrinkles, we want to see that you’ve lived, otherwise how we can imagine that your character is living on the very screen in front of us? I think the reason for me having more favourite living male actors than female is because of this, men just seem to have more going on. They add a depth to their characters because they can show more on their faces. 


So now I have three things with which I agree with The Times journalists: that actors mumble far too much, that Cate Blanchett is “curious looking”, and that I, like Sathnam Sanghera, have a “perpetually pissed-off looking face”. We can’t help it, it just works that way.

There’s something buried deep down there

31 10 2008

What is going on?  Jackson told me over breakfast that the headline of The Times website was ‘Russell Brand falls on Sword’. The world is trickling at a steady pace into meltdown, financially and ecologically and yet Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross are getting more coverage for their pointless high-jinxs than is necessary.


A weird feeling is hanging over this, like the news story is just coverage for something else. Something is stirring and I suspect that it’s hidden in Brand’s gargantuan stack of hair. It’s as if the world leaders are on the verge of a big announcement and temporary distraction is required in the form of the cultural petite mal of British TV.  In fact, is Jonathan Ross responsible for the recession? He gets paid 18 million pounds of licence payers’ money. Think about that for a moment. Jeez, every year I’d dilligently pay my license fee and every year it got more and more expensive. No wonder we’re melting away our financial resources. Wake up world! I’m all for entertainment, in fact the world of entertainment in all its forms is one close to my heart but maybe someone, somewhere just needed to stop and think. Have we just been flushing money down the drain, willy nilly without a backwards glance as to where it comes from?

Celebrating celebraties is a cheerful way to lift people out of their doom and gloom, but it’s sad to see what being a celebrity actually means these days in England. Ross, I can just about understand – he has a certain appeal to a certain audience, and I’d occasionally laugh along, but recently he too has been sliding somewhere unknown. But Russell Brand?? All he’s done is inspire emaciated guys to wear winkle pickers and give them an excuse to never wash or comb their hair. I’m so fed up of hearing people squeezing out a brash London accent, forced through an ashtray of burned out Malboro Lights, and passing it off as whacky. 


Remember this?

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!


Thanks, Emily Dickinson. That’s about the only poem that Jackson can’t stand. But I think it has its resonances.


So how about it? Is Jonathan Ross’ pay packet the sole reason for the English financial recession? Are there sombre forces lurking somewhere in the depths of Brand’s barnett, waiting to be unleashed upon us like wraiths? 

Why is the voice of freakin’ Carrie Bradshaw in my head whilst I write this? Which reminds me of the time I visited Hamburg and had to spend the night in a tiny sweat box of a hotel room, and the only channel I could watch on TV was playing the one episode of SATC that I’ve seen from beginning to end. How about that for just plain bad luck?

One sweet and sour pork, two fried rice and SILENCE!!!

31 05 2008

I think the presence of tinnitus is following me around after I wrote this.

I was sitting in Chinatown having a meal with Jackson and a rather flamboyant Spaniard when a fellow diner (I’m guessing any age between 30 and 70) wearing track pants and a grey wife-beater, sporting a buzz cut and boobs swinging freely at her waistband approached us, shouting and flailing her arms wildly, as she did – “SILENCE, I’ve got to have SILENCE. I’ve got TINNITUS! TINNITUS”. A strangled mewl proceeded “WaaaaaWAAAAAAAA”. Being as polite as we could, with minimal eye rolling, we got up and switched tables.

I’m lamenting not having ITV2 right now, I thought I’d be sated with the finale of Britain’s Got Tat/Talent, but I see that there is an American version doing the rounds too. I would love, love, love to see this especially with Sharon Osbourne and David Hasselhoff sitting side by side. Their comments, I’m sure, would be priceless. Weirdest of all, having sat open-mouthed through much of the petit mal of recent talent shows, is my absolute surprise at developing a crush on Cowell. I know loads of girls always go on about him when they audition but I was never really buying that whole Cowell = sex vibe. But something certainly switched a light on earlier this week – apparently he loves animals, and well, I love a man who loves animals. Gets me every time.

About Hasselhoff though, no crush there but I was laughing away earlier as I remembered a defining moment of my teenage years, an epiphany of sorts at how easy it is for growing boys to turn puce with embarrassment. I was on a school exchange to Germany, our German class with the local boys German class. It was disastrous; we were allowed a party at which we were told (by the German teacher) “you can drink wine and beer, but no alcohol”, it was like the Hallelujah chorus to our light-weight ears. However, the best part of it was my best friend and me becoming buddies with one of the boys on the trip with us. He was tall and butch, he had a biker look about him, his hair was long and messed up, he wore a leather jacket – Dan was our friend. One afternoon we went into the local record store, I don’t know why, German music didn’t produce much in the 1990s. Our friend took great delight in scouring the posters for sale for AC-DC, Motorhead, Metallica, White Snake and the like. He picked one out – some rough and ready metal group, flames blazing, biceps tattooed, leather waistcoats, long hair and off he went to pay. The whole class met up outside with Dan to see the big unveiling. The plastic sheath was slide off seductively, the poster was pulled out bit by bit, it was slowly unravelled to show us all – a topless David Hasslehoff sitting astride a Harley. Oh, how we laughed and laughed! Weirdly enough, about 4 years later Dan turned up at my friend’s house, totally unexpected considering we hadn’t kept it touch, with a large picture of her face that he’d done for his Art project. Creep.

Jackson and I are totally miffed at missing the Zombie Walk at Alexanderplatz in Berlin that took place today. Next year we’ll be there, maybe I’ll be wearing the Nosferatu t-shirt I found in the back of my closet just now. What a treasure!

Ha ha Thisaway, Ha ha Thataway – my oh my!! *

27 05 2008

I was looking for some excitement to jump start the torpor of my surroundings and this week I have every night, Britain’s Got Talent. I’m still undecided about what I think of this programme, particularly when it comes to children being involved. Jackson and I were talking about it the other night and there seems to be two lines of thought on it –  1) let them get on with it; they’re resilient and they’ll bounce back, 2) don’t let them on because their dreams might be crushed and they’ll never get over it and suffer agoraphobia from large crowds for ever more. Part of me thinks that children have years ahead of them to have their lucky break, compared to the dozens of other entertainers who are just waiting for their day to come around. I’m also a bit biased because I can’t bear those lispy, dribbly performances. I do wonder if the scars of failure run deep though and if confidence problems will spring up to haunt them just as they’re about to sit their A levels or say their wedding vows  – nausea will rise up and up and the sound of three HONKS will be an ever lasting tinnitus-like presence. 


The other problem I see in BGT is the long standing question of ‘does Prince Charles really want to see this?’. I know that sounds elitist though, and that the Royal Variety show is for everyone, but I’d happily replace my name with that of royalty – do I really want to see this?? Piers goes on about how the show is exactly about the risible, embarrassing and hapless case who turns up with an unpolished act. Well yes, Britain does have that sort of talent, and in one sense that runs as an undercurrent to a lot of our cultural output, but we have it in spade loads up and down the country. The Royal Family does not want to watch someone resembling a Christmas cracker singing in drag, they can get that down the Working Mens’ Club on a Saturday night. Seeing someone squeezed into a body length pair of pantyhose and a triangular wig resembling Wizbit is not representative of anything unique about Britain. There’s raw talent and there’s polished talent and then there’s pure tat. Even the large dance acts, although I can see why they’re popular (music! lights! movement! recognisable song we can all sing along to), are so samey. Doing the Hustle is not just old in terms of being 30 years old, but to revisit it, ‘ironically’ or not, is a bit old hat. 


Wizbit – also an Old Hat

Now my favourite acts did get through on tonight’s semi final: we were so rooting for wee Gin tonight. That is an act which has not been seen here before and shows how, from just a small corner of the country something new, entertaining, charming, touching and fun can arise. The singer who lost out, I think he has a great voice, but he’ll be snapped up by the West End in no time at all, and really, he should have jumped off the stage again, because as I said once before, the audience love a bit of movement. Every year there’ll be a breakthrough singing talent that lights up pound signs in Cowell’s eyes, so yes, I think the wee dog should win because it’s something we haven’t seen before. Signature also represent great talent that’s been practised over and over, and is polished and slick. And, it is modern and it is progressive; it’s taken two elements of well known and popular culture but brought them forward with a new vision to 2008, giving us something which Britain should be proud of to showcase and which we’d enjoy watching (something off track here, but some of the comments about the duo on Youtube, questioning their “Britishness”, are immature, unnecessary and idiotic).  


I’m no actor/singer/dancer myself but I’ve done my penance in some musical theatre. I was told I was always ‘smiling’, like an idiot I’m sure, even if I didn’t have the best voice on stage. But the nerves from going on stage, the sickening feeling of the curtain about to rise, pales into comparison to the nausea I feel every time I see an Iceland frozen BBQ advert. There is something criminally wrong with a 25 piece FROZEN BBQ set that only costs 5 pounds. BOIK!


* that’s the Wizbit theme tune for anyone born after 1986