Frau Welt


 

You can tell at once that Peter Clements has been honing this character over the past few years. Frau Welt is executed precisely, the performance is tight, the gestures and facial expressions exquisite. Frau may be a large character but there is depth and pathos here. We laugh but we feel more than mirth.

From the moment of her entrance we are captured in her spell. Frau Welt tales the life story of a diva of the theatre (or tee-ay-ter, as Frau says it). Years in the Berliner Ensemble as Mother Courage and Brecht’s mistress; ambitions of Broadway stardom by way of a glomming friendship with one Angela Lansbury… it is also a tale of lost love and secrets. We are captivated, we are won.

Everything about this production is perfection. The sparseness of the stage and props. The deliciously and flawlessly chosen music (including my favourite Judy Garland song, ever), the costume and the wigs. Even though what they have chosen to dress her in must be hotter than hell under those lights.

When Frau Welt makes her entrance in the second act we are faced with a stunning vision, strutting towards us through smoke and techno. Looking spookily like Alla Nazimova in Camille, dressed in silver lurex, this is an image I won’t forget. When I think back on the great theatre I’ve seen in my life, this will be what I remember.

Hackney Showroom was a project launched on a mere 20k, a dream that became a reality of a space for collaboration, development and opportunity for performers and artists and community. It is glorious. Frau Welt is their first in-house production of a full piece of theatre and what a debut. All involved should be rightly proud of this gem. The new Big Space is wonderful. Stark yet welcoming, a classic non-proscenium stage. I fell in love with it at first site. And it’s perfect for such a piece; intimate, comfortable. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

Hackney Showroom have supported and presented countless queer performances and workshops in its short life. This is the kind of space we desperately need and deserve. Be sure to support them by attending performances and other events. You can even pledge donations if you want to contribute even more to this valuable piece of London arts and community life.

Frau Welt runs until 21st October. So, plenty of time to catch it. You will be grateful that you did.

Image by Holly Revell

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Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales


Unwrapped

Review by Corinna Tomrley 

Oh. I knew we were in for a special treat with Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales because their last show, The Vaudevillians, was so bloody amazing. They work together flawlessly, their timing is impeccable, and they know how to pitch their laughs. And we, the audience, lap it up and beg for more. They are doing a Christmas show at Soho Theatre in London right now. Oh yes, I know, it’s still sodding November and so too early for a Xmas thing. But… this is pretty much an anti-Xmas show so if you are already gagging at this end of year nightmare being stuffed down our throats and dreading that enforced holiday or, like me, avoid it all together, this is actually our show.

After all, half of this double act is Jewish. This holiday is not for her. And Jinkx riffs on this immaculately throughout the show. Major Scales, a delightful foil for Jinkx, is as usual faultless in his craft.

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Both Unwrapped and The Vaudevillians are shows that have been honed over time and so the fact that they are exquisitely perfect makes sense. But this is also because they are stunning performers who are at their absolute best doing cabaret in front of a devoted, lucky, lucky audience.

They’ve put on extra dates. Go see this. (I’ve got a massive crush on the pair of them, can you tell?)

Jinkx Monsoon & Major Scales Unwrapped is on at The Soho Theatre, London until 10 December

Vampyres


Vampyres 1974
Review by Corinna Tomrley

This is gonna be full of spoilers blah blah blah. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

Vampyres is one of those films that I came across and could not believe I had never even heard of it, let alone seen it. How the hell had this passed me by? Dunno.

A British film – originally distributed by Rank, no less – it’s of the soft soft soft porn genre that sprung up in the early 70s on the back of the collapse of censorship. The studios basically needed to make money, and sex and gore – previously creatively and/or prudishly presented – was all the rage and all over the place. Tits and orange blood, basically.

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This one is more porny than the Hammer films; that probably explains why the acting is so shit. It’s often billed as an ‘erotic horror’.

Props must go to a great credit sequence of slomo flying bats and a great score by James Clarke.

Starring Marianne Morris, a Mayfair centerfold, as Fran and Anulka, a Playboy Playmate, as Miriam, the women simulate lez sex fairly well considering the constraints, ie they’re not going to actually show mouth-to-puss but they do suggest it in rather lovely angles. It’s more than the usual above the waist mouth and neck kissing with the occasional boob peck that we come to know and love in Hammer. When they do simulate going downstairs, as was usual with early lez sex scenes, it’s ‘handless’. But the eroticism (yes, eroticism is actually there and it’s possibly more erotic than porny if we’re being nuanced about it) comes from the mix of sex and blood lust. Drinking blood comes on the back of sex with their male victims, either alone or together as they drink and fuck. Yummerz.

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They’re not traditional fangy vampires, they cut and stab and drink from the wounds. This almost makes it sexier in that it’s more ‘real’, I guess, and certainly amps up the horror. And their victims are suitably terrified (apart from the one who is almost passed out each time it happens to him so he wakes up clueless with a sore arm and strangely lacking a lot of his blood). The vamps’ turn on isn’t from a seductive neck bite but their frenzied attacks fuel their sexual appetites as much as their supping from the wounds.

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Still, these are no mortal vampires. And here’s the thing. It seems to be a straightforward story with a bit of a twist. But I couldn’t quite get the link between the opening scene with what is revealed as a twist. So, this is what happens. It opens with the ladies getting it on in their bedroom of this big house. Just sex, no blood. A strangely dressed man enters and shoots them. This bit is never explained in any way. Was he a husband avenging their lez affair? Who the fuck knows. Is he weirdly dressed to suggest olden days (cuz they basically look like two seventies chicks doing soft porn)? Again, WTFK.

So when we cut to a bloke called Ted turning up at a nearby hotel and an old guy saying he remembers him from years ago and Ted is like, no, don’t know what you’re talking about mate, it kind of plot point infers that he’s the guy who shot them..? You’d think…

It’s even more confusing as to whether Ted actually knows what hotel man is talking about when Ted meets Fran and he says she reminds him of someone he knew long ago. So, you wonder if he knows who she is and if he’s enacting revenge or if he’s having a déjà vu thing. But he never brings it up again, so… what the actual is going on with that plot line? There’s a sort of possible reference to it in the final vaguely twisty scene but we’ll come to that.

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It should be mentioned that there’s this through plot involving a couple in a caravan, John and Harriet. They see Fran standing by the roadside. But the woman also sees Miriam hiding behind a tree. John doesn’t spot Miriam and thinks Harriet is imagining things. She becomes obsessed with the women and why one was hiding. He is really patronizing and a dick about it.

They park their caravan up near the house, which does little to dampen Harriet’s fixation on the women. She starts to see and hear things (male screams, a bloody hand on the window). He’s a bigger asshole about it all.

Although the couple are kind of central to the plot in that they interact with Ted when he comes to them for help (not telling them that his wounds are from sex with his new gf up at the house) and Harriet’s obsession and voyeuristic fascination with the women and their house draws the audience in (except we know what’s happening up there, she doesn’t) it doesn’t really go anywhere either. Fran and Miriam come across her once and Fran suggests they’ve been waiting for her but that doesn’t really lead to anything. For a lot of the film we forget about the couple and then, oh there’s a shot of the caravan or them having it off or her walking around in a woolly hat, nosing about. I expected her to happen upon Ted enslaved and bloodless on the bed. But she doesn’t nose that closely. Instead, she does a painting of the house.  All this vagueness makes it even more shocking when the couple are killed. When John’s killed, sure, that’s a convention. It makes her terror greater. And he deserved it, the dick. But when Harriet is slaughtered, it becomes reminiscent of the kind of killing you’ll see in later period horror than that of the early 70s. One of the ‘innocents’ usually survives, especially a woman. Her death is really full on ‘real’ too. Still can’t quite get over it.

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This brings me to the other murders and blood drinking in the film. Bodies of men are being found all over the place and even though the police are obviously involved we don’t see them investigating. You know, is it a coinkidink that all these men are found on a stretch of road where two birds are hitchhiking every day. For that’s why Fran and Miriam are hanging about on the side of the road, you see. Sometimes Fran will get picked up on her own (with Miriam lurking behind the tree), Miriam will pick someone up or they both will. It has to be said that this makes the tree-lurking even weirder. Why don’t they both always do it together or maybe the other one have a lay-in? What guy is going to be put off by two hot chicks wanting a ride? Yeah, sure, you can get in but your nubile lesbian gf with her tits showing will have to walk…

So, anyway, they pick them up and smile at them and, not surprisingly, by the time they get to the house the guys are up for sex and wine. Cuz the girls have a cellar full of amazing wine. If hot chicks won’t pull you, then a nice vintage will. They get the men so drunk that by the time the girls are thirsty for blood the men have no chance. Perhaps it makes the blood nicer, too. You know, like with a stew.

Fran picks up Ted and takes him to their house. Ted asks if she does this with all of her ‘dates’ inferring she’s a sex worker but he basically becomes her bf or bleeding sex and blood slave for the rest of the film. Because this one she doesn’t kill. He wakes up with a massive gash on his arm and blood on the bed, feeling really weak. But instead of going, oh shit what happened I must get away, he hangs around. He waits for her all day (she’s nipped off to bed in the graveyard), sitting in his car. He’s pissed off and moody when she returns but she’s like, oh shit sorry I had to nip out, and he goes alright and goes back in the house with her. They did seem to have pretty hot sex (even if his wet tongue was quite gross to watch), so no wonder really. But I assumed he was hanging around because he’s onto who she is and he’s like a Van Helsing or something. Oh no. He just goes back for more and more, getting weaker and weaker and gets pissed off with her disappearing and bringing other blokes back – one of whom he sees dead in his car on that stretch of road – but still he stays. But then she’s a vamp and she’s hot and he’s getting some and in the end he can hardly move anyway.

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There’s a bit where Fran and Miriam are having a shower together, washing off the blood before they nip back to their grave. Again, not trad vamps as running water is a definite fatal no-no, btw. Instead, they have sex with Miriam going down on Fran. The camera POV is as if they’re being watched through some plants and I thought we were to assume that it was Ted. But we don’t get a shot of him and if it was he’d know what their game was. So it would seem that this bit of camera work suggests that the voyeurs are us. I think this is probably just a porn trope because we’re voyeurs for the whole bloody film and the camera’s not suggesting lurky peepers for the rest of the movie.

Miriam (whilst going downtown) admonishes Fran for not killing Ted outright and it’s never really explained why she doesn’t. Is it cuz she’s getting good sex? Is she relishing weakening him and having a play toy on hand? Is it because he’s the male lead and we get to see them having it off a lot and it is after all an ‘erotic’ film? And one is usually bled dry whilst the others die outright in a vamp film plot…

Ted somehow finds the strength to leave the house and goes to the couple for help. They get killed and he drives away. But the sun is coming up so the vamps have to get back to their graves. It’s either they perish in daylight (presumably, though the film is playing fast and loose with vampire tropes and they hitch in the day time so who the fuck knows anymore?) or he gets away.

He’s found by an estate agent almost passed out in his car with an empty bottle of wine. TWISTY TIME!!!!!!! The estate agent is showing an older American couple around the estate. It’s empty and up for sale; DUH DUH DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! They ask about ‘the rumours’. Estate agent is like, oh yeah two women were brutally murdered and it’s made it hard to shift the place. There’s fear the killer will return and their ghosts are said to haunt it but it’s obviously bullshit, of course. The older couple are delighted. How cute to have an English pile with a ghost! Oh, how lucky for them that two chicks were shot to death there. Fun!

And that’s it. Bloke gets away but who’s gonna believe him, I guess? Despite the tons of dead bodies everywhere. Although will he tell? He hasn’t before. AND WAS HE THE ONE WHO SHOT THEM AT THE BEGINNING? WHO THE FUCKING HELL KNOWS????? Is that the inference to the killer returning? It’s so vague and, really, this is so hit you over the head with everything else that I don’t think vagueness is part of the aesthetic.

Btw – the lady of The American Couple is Bessie Love who goes back to silent days, pretty much worked up to her death in the 80s when her last film was another lez vamp flick – The Hunger. This is my fave picture of her.

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So, yeah, Vampyres.

Great lez sex and blood drinking film though so this film gets a very bloody vampy thumbs up from me despite plot holes and shit acting. Actually, that adds to it all really. Two bloody thumbs up.

Magnificent 7


Review by Corinna Tomrley

Hmmm. So, westerns have always been, or had the potential to be, pretty problematic. Or to put it another way, basic and/or offensive in their treatment of race, morality, women, oh I dunno, pretty much everything. Later ones did tend to address or even overturn some of this. Genres, after all, aren’t static. And I know I know we can look at the westerns from the beginnings of cinema to, what the 70s, even the 80s perhaps and say ‘they have to be viewed in their historical context’. But in 2016?

I am pretty baffled, actually, by what I’ve just watched. And also about the experience of watching it in a massive West End IMAX cinema with a bunch of predominantly critical people. I’m gonna make a sweeping assumption that lots of these people will (or should) be clued in that laughing at racist ‘jokes’ isn’t ok. There are quite a few aspects of The Magnificent Seven remake that are iffy and it totally obliterated any of the qualities that the film has underneath all of that.

Now, confession time: I’ve not seen the original (or Seven Samurai). Although, to be honest, I kind of want to now despite westerns being one of the genres that does little for me. But despite not being a fan, I’ve seen westerns, believe me. I grew up having to sit through the spaghetti ones again and again and again. Watched some in film school. And then had a boyfriend who liked the Leone ones and I can appreciate their majesty. Red River is also one of my favourite films, despite me hating John Wayne. But then Monty Clift is in it and the juxtaposition between him and Wayne is fascinating. And there’s that homoerotic gunplay scene with Monty and John Ireland. But, on the whole, I wouldn’t really choose to see most of them.

Yet I know that they can be done well and casual racism and Native-Americans-as-evil tropes are addressed and overturned in more modern ones. And you might get a ‘strong woman’ in there too.

So here’s the thing. In The Magnificent Seven, there’s seven of them (natch) and three of the seven are white.

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We have the unusual blockbuster occurrence that the majority of the heroes are people of colour. Wow, amazing. Pretty wonderful. But then it’s not so great. On the whole, they are ‘types’ that are somewhat clichéd depictions their racial identities: the martial artist Asian character (Lee Byung-Hun), the lone wanderer Native-American character (Martin Sensmeier). With the Mexican character (Miguel Garcia-Rulfo), it’s not him that is the stereotype. No, something much worse happens; that I’ll come to in a minute. But whilst you have all of these characters whose race is addressed, the main character, Chisolm, the big boss of the 7, is black. And no one mentions it. And it’s, what? Late 1880s? When I am pretty sure his presence wouldn’t have been automatically accepted by all and sundry. I have no qualms with Denzel Washington’s casting as the lead role. I love him and he’s good in it and that should happen much more often. But this isn’t a ‘colour blind’ film and so it can’t be a ‘colour blind’ character. It was just very odd. And in a way made the stereotyping of the other non-white characters even more shit.

SPOILER ALERT: I did wonder if the reveal at the end was a reference to his race. As a result of Bad Man Bogue’s greed, Chisolm’s mother was raped, his sisters killed and Chisholm was strung up and bears the scars. Yes, rape, murder etc is something that Bogue’s men do to everyone, but the mention of lynching cannot help but evoke specific racist violence. Still, this doesn’t explain why a whole town – although suspicious when Chisolm first arrives – is totally accepting of him (and indeed the multicult of the whole gang).

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But not all the characters are beyond being racist. Oh no. I was flabbergasted when  Faraday (Chris Pratt), did a ‘lazy, drunk Mexican’ impression to take the piss out of Vasquez and it was not overturned, questioned, or anything. In fact, horrifyingly, the audience I was in laughed. I blurted out, ‘yeah, cuz racism is so funny, isn’t it?’ Why was that  supposed to be funny? It’s not. It’s childish and awful.

Oh but Corinna, I hear you cry, you can’t one minute complain that racism isn’t depicted and then complain when it is. Except it’s not that simple. Up to this point in the film, Faraday has been the jovial, conceited yet charming one. It’s Chris Pratt ffs. So I assume we’re supposed to find this, what, endearing? Are we supposed to laugh with him? I was waiting for the moment later on when this would be addressed in some way, making that incident one that Faraday learns from. But, nope. There’s just more egotistical joshing from Faraday, the lovable, racist cutiepie.

The next problematic character is Jack Horne, played – it has to be said – magnificently by Vincent D’Onofrio. Now, I’ve always thought D’Onofrio is one of the best actors of his generation and despite getting some acclaim, is pretty much underrated considering his chops. He should be being spoken of as the Brando of our time. No, not quite that because he doesn’t do the messy, self-destructive showboating of a Brando. D’Onofrio is so good. And in this, he is, by miles, the strongest of all the cast. He’s so great, though, it’s almost like he’s in a different film. His characterization is just compelling. But his character is a former ‘scalp hunter’ made redundant when the government stopped paying for the slaughter of the indigenous people. Oh, there’s a smidge of ‘tension’ between him and Comanche Red Harvest and a joke is made that Red is nervous about Horne checking out his hairline… cuz genocide is fucking hilarious too, right? So he’s a hideous character with a horrific past. But what do they make fun of? Oh, he’s fat. And he stutters a bit and his voice is high. If Jack Horne had not been a mass murderer of indigenous people I could have fallen in love with him and watched a two hour film just about him as Vincent D’Onofrio played him. Fuck you Hollywood for making the worst of the bunch the most sympathetic and fully rounded. Although I suspect in anyone else’s hands he’d have been as 2D as the rest of them.

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But – racism out of the equation – the shallow, two-dimensional can be ok in a cliché-ridden genre. And I actually liked that director Fuqua pays homage with a gun fight that has a stuntman falling from a saloon balcony, another ‘thrown’ through a window etc, etc. But the casting alone is surely supposed to be addressing race in some way? No, why do that, silly. It would make all the white people in the audience uncomfortable. We’re just there to see all the ‘bad guys’ being shot, right? Because the men the 7 are there to fight are the really evil ones. A genocidal guy is ok, really, because he wants to hang out with the gang and help the poor folks of the town. And those tomahawky, slashy skills are gonna come in real handy when the shit hits the fan.

There’s a female character, played by Haley Bennett who is ‘tough’ but she’s so by-the-by, a cliché in herself as the tough woman in a western and wheeled out at a few key moments and then forgotten so that I couldn’t really care about her. Which, you know, as a chick and a feminist, I should, right? I was more distracted as to why this ‘good wife’ of the town was dressed so that her tits kept showing. Was that for the boys in the audience? So that when the gun fighting and machismo weren’t quite enough for them they had something to look at as the woman shot people and cried? Yeah, she’s got moxie but don’t get threatened because look she’s also got blood spatters on her cleavage. She’s tough but you can think about her tits and her tears.

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The showdown is ok. I was there, I was pulled into the desire for revenge and slaughter of the ‘bad’ army of baddy baddies. But it went on forever and I lost focus and interest part way through it. And, as is my bugbear with most action films, I lost the plot with what I was actually watching. Perhaps sitting front row of an IMAX isn’t a good idea after all. But I have a feeling that even if I watch it on telly it will still be too fast, too much cutting and I’ll start thinking about something else. Like, why are we supposed to care about this again?

The Magnificent Seven is in UK cinemas from Friday 23rd September 

Don’t Breathe


… Or, confessions of a scary movie wuss.

Review by Corinna Tomrley 

I’ve got a really weird relationship with scary films. I generally declare that I don’t do horror films, that I can’t take scary. And, on the whole, it’s true. But then I’ll mention a film I love and someone will say ‘that’s terrifying!’ Or I’ll say I can’t watch something and I’ll get a look of ‘my kid could take watching that’. So I’m contrary. But on the whole, I try to avoid it.

When I was a small kid and we got our first video player my family rented a lot of horror films. I kind of had to watch them so I’d lay there right in front of the TV with my hands beside my face so that no one would see that I’d close my eyes at the terrifying parts and take the piss out of me. But you don’t always have to see to absorb fear. And I heard and saw enough.

I also grew up watching stuff on TV and some of that was Hammer Horror. It developed my burgeoning sexuality and because it was more campy than truly petrifying, I could deal with that. But then there’s things like I adore Carrie, The Exorcist, Amityville Horror. But I cannot cope with Amityville 2: The Possession (it’s all about the POV of the demon. Fucking hell, just writing that…)

But in the last year I’ve been trying to challenge myself a bit when it comes to scary things. I watched The Blair Witch Project for the first time ever. And by myself. At night. (*Proud face) Perhaps not a great idea for someone who has nightmares virtually every night but I did it. And survived. I’m currently editing a horror novel and even though there’s been moments (when I’ve been generally glad it’s day time and not the middle of the night that I got to that bit), I’m dealing with it OK.

And when I got the invite to a press screening of Don’t Breathe I thought, hell. I’m gonna do this.

I couldn’t get anyone to go with me but I still decided to attend. I did prepare myself by watching part of the trailer beforehand, just to make sure that it wasn’t too hideous. There are some topics and scenes that I still won’t put in my head. But it seemed like something I could do. I told a friend and he said ‘I’m immune to horror and I found that trailer terrifying’. This kind of made me more determined to go.

I say I watched part of the trailer and that’s because I prefer to know as little as possible before I go and see a film. It’s more ‘pure’ an experience that way. But because I needed to make sure I could potentially do this I watched a bit. But not all because I didn’t want too much given away. Trailers can be assholes.

When I got there something happened to me that has never happened before at a press screening. Someone talked to me. It turned out he could be scared too and as he has served in Afghanistan it made me feel less wussy that I can get scared. There’s good reasons why this stuff shits us up. It’s not a weakness. He did say that he tends to laugh inappropriately when he’s scared. I said I sometimes did too but was more likely to be heard exclaiming ‘Shiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttt!’. Both those things happened. I was glad he was there in the cinema with me. It somehow made it better. As if I had an ally.

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Don’t Breathe is part thriller part horror. I don’t want to give stuff away so I’ll just tell you that it’s about a group of young things breaking in to a house to do a robbery but they get more than they bargain for with the house’s occupant. The villains become the victims and vice versa. I thought I might find it hard to side with the kids but their characters are drawn so that most of them are very likable and you can’t help but put yourself in their shoes. (And then take them off again when you get into the house)

The film is most magnificently shot. It cleverly sets up signposts that at first appear like bleeding obvious exposition but you realize it’s like a game where you have to recall under pressure the clues they gave you. The camera work and editing are gorgeously seamless as well as rightfully showy and it makes this creepy house seem almost beautiful. The acting is really excellent. David Shepherd from Lost has really come into his own. And Jane Levy is good as the woman protagonist – equally savvy, tough and victimy without it being hard to watch as a fellow chick. There’s a bit of squirm misogyny but it does work within the story. I didn’t find it too exploitative and I don’t think it will give me PTSD (I’m not exaggerating here. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the torture scene in Wolf Creek). I did worry that the guy in the house being blind (and being called Blind Man in the credits) would be disablist but it was incorporated rather than being spectacle. There’s always going to be tricky balance issues with both these points. The same with the war-vet as psycho trope.

On the whole the characterization and filming of this story is excellently executed, full of tension, jump scares and tight pacing. The score is creepy as fuck and I was compelled from the first till last shot. I think all these things – as well as watching with an audience instead of scarily at home – made this film one I could handle and certainly one I recommend people checking out. Am I a horror convert? No. I’m still a weirdo about what I can and can’t do. But I’ll keep pushing that bloody envelope, be assured.

Don’t Breathe opens in UK cinemas 9 September 

Camposphere


Review by Corinna ‘Merms’ Tomrley aka Lezzer Bangs

We need camp in our lives. It is as vital as anger. Actually, it can be an expression of our anger every bit as much as screaming our rage. Camp is rarely frivolous. Camp is fucking subversive.

This is something that people generally don’t get. And this is why we need Camposphere.

When I first heard about Camposphere – an evening soaked in glitter with queer, camp performance and disco dance tunes – I thought I had died and gone to queer heaven, darlings. I had the absolute privilege to interview Camposphere founders Sam Pallis and Chris Nelson for Loverboy. Alas, my Jennifer Ellison/Bob Fosse knee injury* meant I couldn’t make it to the first one. A misfortune that has forever left me with sorrow and regret. But even though that knee decided to play up a bit the night of Camposphere 2 (and I subsequently couldn’t walk without pain the next day) I was not going to miss this again. Even if it meant being carried around by butch queers all night. (Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary. There were chairs)

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As Sam told me (for Loverboy)

“The rise of normcore pushed Camp to the sidelines.  Camp goes in cycles; at points it is seen as attractive and at other times it loses its currency. This time it feels different; the notion of being queer has started to question this cycle, by acknowledging the performative nature of all of these identities. Camp is at the forefront of this movement and through drag it has become a renewed subversive sensibility where anything goes. With Camposphere we want to bring the energy surrounding the London drag scene into the queer music scene.”

And, by glittergoddess, they have done this.

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There is so much vital importance in fun. I adore the queercore scene with all my punky little heart (and there can be humour and tons of fun there) but with camp we sing a different, equally crucial song.

When I was chatting last night with Sam at Camposphere 2 I told him how essential I found Camposphere. He agreed, talking about the loss of our queer spaces, how we need a place for queer entertainment and performance that embraces and shouts about the politics of this happening.

It is so true. We need to celebrate and we need joy and we need to say fuck you, norm world, we’re here, we’re queer and we’re covered head to toe in fucking massive glitter.

So last night at Camposphere 2 I fell in love hard. I fell in love with JOEY FOURR, I fell in love with Georgia Tasda’s fabulously perverted performance. I was already madly in love with GIRLI and… the chance to see her live… with DJ Kitty… om fucking g. And I got to tell her she’s my hero.

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And I fell hardest for Sam and Chris’s own discofunk collective band Latexxx who deserve tons of gigs, a huge cult following and to be heard. HEARD. I can’t actually remember the last time I’ve had so much fun and my heart swelled with so much joy.

Oh and I got covered by a BUCKET full of glitter. No wonder I fell in love. Glitter is the quickest way to my queerheart.

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As much as it was a privilege to interview the whole schlew of Camposphere folk twice for Loverboy, it was an unequaled honour to witness Camposphere 2. Roll on Camposphere 3. We need this in our lives like we didn’t even know.

Read my interview with Sam and Chris for Loverboy

Read my interview with Sam, Chris, JOEY FOURR, and Georgia Tasda for Loverboy

Camposphere on fb

*If you ask me about this I will bore you tell you all about my embarrassment which has  left me with a lifelong disability. I’m such an asshole.

Geist


I was anticipating very good things from Geist, Lover. You only have to watch some of the music videos to appreciate that as a postpunk performer, the creation ‘Alexander Geist’ is an amazing pop star. And the concept and the conceit… oh, I was very excited. And I was not disappointed. I just wanted more.

‘Alexander Geist’ is the fictional persona of genderqueer artist La JohnJoseph. From an undisclosed time (that feels very early 80s but seems to slip and slide around), perhaps from Berlin or perhaps from England, queer, marvelous, just… incredible… Alexander Geist is the ultimate star. A mask, a character, an image, a gesture. It is as if Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Marc Almond, Arletty, early 80s Annie Lennox, Jacques Brel, Grace Jones, and Ute Lemper all merged into one, magnificent entity. Alexander Geist may be made up but they are as real as any superstar persona ever is.

La JohnJoseph is the consummate performer. You can tell that they have worked on every word, every gesture, every brush stroke of makeup, every single detail to make this immaculate creation just perfection. But although there is a chill about Alexander Geist, they are not cold, 2D or false. You feel the pull of this charisma – is it La JJ? Is it Geist seducing us? Is it both, Lover?

geist

Geist, the show, ran for two nights at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, London. One can only presume that this was a preliminary run ahead of something bigger later on. Because this show deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. It is compelling, fun, and has twists coming out the hoo-hah. The only frustration is that I wanted whole songs, to watch a Geist concert in amongst the storyline. I understand very well why that could not be the case… but it just goes to show how complete a creature Geist is. And how wonderful the music is.

I will not give away any spoilers. The synopsis, on its surface, is simple – Geist is dead and a documentary maker seeks to uncover the truth of their demise. She has found the tapes of the last concert Alexander Geist performed before their tragic end and thinks she has discovered the secret behind that fateful night.

As magnetic and superb as La JJ is in the lead role, they are not the only actor in this play. We hear the voice of the documentary maker and see the projected interviews of a biography writer and the executrix of the Geist estate. And it is the latter who becomes a major character in this tale and the actor Fran Lima manages to draw our eyes away from La JohnJoseph as the story unfolds… no small feat, Lover.

By Corinna ‘Merm’ Tomrley

Top image by Marco

Bottom image by Stevie Hanley

Split Britches


When I was a baby feminist, baby queer doing A level Theatre Studies back in the late 80s, I devoured anything I could find on feminist and gay theatre. There’d been a lot happening in the previous two decades and a lot going on (just out of reach of my geographic restrictions) at the time. It was exciting; it was mind-blowing; it was inspirational. I’d always wanted to be an actress but up to that point my ambition was to be on Dynasty. When I read about political theatre, my thespian world made a very different sort of perfect sense.

It was through my insatiable research into feminist/gay theatre that I first heard of Split Britches. To be honest, I pretty much fell in love with Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw the more I read. I’ve always liked my art and activism to be as full of F.U.N. as it can be and Split Britches were taking the complexities and controversies of gender and sexuality politics and making them accessible to a broad audience. La SWOON, darlings.

In recent years Lois Weaver has been teaching at Queen Mary University, crowd sourcing for a book on her life’s work and living her alter-ego, the most GLORIOUSLY named Tammy WhyNot? I keep hearing of these endevours and my love just grows and grows and grows…

When I found out that Split Britches are to be performing a Retro(per)spective of their decades worth of fabulous work as part of the SACRED festival, well darlings, I just plotzed. For ONE NIGHT ONLY we get to experience these incredible, essential and marvellous performers at The Chelsea Theatre, London.

Astonishingly, there are still a few tickets available. Snaffle them while you CAN, honies! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something very, very special.

By Corinna ‘Mermaid’ Tomrley

Get your tickets here for Split Britches at the SACRED festival, Chelsea Theatre