Mariah Carey’s Lyrics


By Corinna Tomrley aka Lezzer Bangs 

Whenever I tell non-Lambily members that Mariah Carey is one of the best lyricists ever they almost universally say, ‘she doesn’t write her own songs, does she?’ or ‘are you sure it’s HER writing the lyrics?’ Eyeroll. Yes and very yes. I always wonder whether if it was a man pop star if the doubt would be so strong as with women who write their own lyrics. Anyway. She DOES. And if you paid attention to Mimi you would know that she does because she doesn’t bloody shut up about it. However, if I was her and every time my lyric authorship was mentioned it was doubted, I wouldn’t bloody shut up, either.

If you’re non-Lambily you’re probably saying, wait there, Lezzer, what the hell is Lambily? And I will again roll my eyes and sigh and condescendingly explain.

Mariah calls her fans her Lambs. So, we are in the Lambily. There. You’re welcome.

There’s many reasons to love Mimi’s lyrics. There’s inventiveness, there’s wit, there’s tons of pop cultural references and she doesn’t give a shit if they’re dated or will date. And there’s words that you would never find in anyone else’s songs. She can turn a phrase that sums up getting cheated on or fancying someone in a club and wanting to get on that and falling in love and having loads of money and bragging about it like no one else even comes close to. She is a fucking lyric genius and should be acknowledged as such.

So, no longer be surprised that Mariah Carey writes her own lyrics. Accept the fact, bitches. And then listen and worship at the alter that is Mimi’s oeuvre and her extraordinary poetry.

Here are some of my faves.

Heartbreaker

I first noticed Mimi’s lyrical prowess when I was singing along to Heartbreaker and I suddenly cried out, ‘hang on. Who would think to use the word incessantly in a song?’ And it works so well musically. So not only is it an unusual lyric choice, it is the most appropriate choice for the tune. I have to reiterate – GENIUS, darlings.

See also: I was oh so acquiescent, but I learned my lesson – It’s A Wrap

I get kind of hectic inside – Fantasy

I no longer live in your dominion – The Art Of Letting Go

Conspicuous consumption

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s kind of assholey to brag about your wealth, especially with so many of us with nothing. But when Mimi does it she’s simultaneously cute, endearing, and hilarious af. And at least she’s not pretending like she doesn’t have all that, she is no Jenny from the block (she, after all, doesn’t know her).

Behold the following examples.

In Get Your Number our girl picks up Jermaine Dupri in a club and asks, ‘tell me a little something about you’ but before he can answer she offers, ‘here’s a little something about me’ and informs him

‘I got a house in Capri and my own G4 and that Benz with the doors that lift up from the floor’

Then for the next verse she slays with

‘I got a pimp penthouse with a sick hot tub, we can watch the flat screen, while the bubbles fill it up’

And that is perhaps my second favourite Mariah Carey lyric.

And the thing is that this is a gender swap. Men are expected to brag about what they’ve got to women to pull them. Here’s a red hot chick who doesn’t need to brag or even open her mouth to speak. But she will. She will speak and be heard and what she is saying is she’s got it all, darling. Listen to her. And what you have to say better measure up to her stuff.

Then there’s the appropriately named Money. Actually called Money ($*/…)

‘Money, this, that, the other

Don’t mean nothing other than

Jets for holidays and

Chefs with hollandaise

Expensive lingerie, cuz I come home to you’

Although I did think it was ‘don’t need nothing other than…’ which would be funnier…

And for Shake It Off she tells the cheating a-hole she’s leaving that

‘See I grabbed all my diamonds and clothes

Just ask your momma she knows’

It’s a Wrap

There is SO much lyric magic in this song. OMFG. Pretty much the whole thing. Even ‘so just scoo da doo da doot, baby’. So where to begin? How about ‘know you seen me calling and calling, I should crack you right in your forehead’. ‘Ain’t no donuts, ain’t no coffee, see ya’. ‘Let me take a breath and regain my composure. Told you one more time if you f-ed up it’s over’. ‘Been sitting here all night, leave me alone. Since one o’clock a.m. been drinking Patron’. Oh. Sigh. And for the filmmakers among us she riffs on the ‘it’s a wrap’ theme and tells him, ‘boy, I ain’t checking the gate’. I mean.

The second verse deserves to be fully recognized:

If I ever misrepresented

My self-image

Then I’m sorry

I was oh so acquiescent

But I learn my lesson

Boy, you’re sorry

Buh buh buh

All out in the open

Don’t make me go call Maury Povich

I had to look up what acquiescent meant. And I’m a PhD. And a Maury Povich ref? I love you Mimi, so frikkin much.

Heck, while we’re here let’s look at the last verse:

Put all your shit in the elevator

It’s going down like a denominator

Trying to keep holding on, holding on

Boy, let me go

You gon’ wake my neighbors, get away from my door

That was your last shot, you ain’t coming back

It’s the martini I mean it baby

It’s wrap

Fyi, the martini refers to the ‘martini shot’, which is the final shot of the day on a film set. Let’s look at what else is going on there. ‘It’s going down like a denominator’. Wonderful. Tell me another who would put that word in a song lyric. ‘You’re gon’ wake my neighbours get away from my door’. We’re there, we’re in the scene. That bitch is gone from Mimi’s life. She means it, boy. Get away from her door or you’ll have us to deal with. You would prefer that to Mimi when she’s mad at you, believe us… Especially as she’s been on the tequila all night. That’s why there ain’t no donuts. No donuts for you, baby, ever, ever again.

Product placement

Mimi isn’t afraid to make cultural references in her songs and she does like to call on some brand names to help her out. These are some of my top choices.

Just like a Calgon commercial I really gotta get up outta here and go somewhere – Shake It Off

Seeing right through you like you’re bathing in Windex – Obsessed

He’s all up in my George Foreman – Obsessed

Boy you’re acting so corny like Fritos – Infinity

Pull down them Tom Fords and act like you see’

And then there’s the talk show refs. We’ve already had Maury Povich in It’s A Wrap but there’s also Betcha Gon’ Know

‘This is for real, for real, for real

Oprah Winfrey, whole segment, for real, for real

20/20, Barbara Walters, for real, for real

60 minutes for real

And for Touch My Body

Cuz baby they be all up in my business, like a Wendy interview

Mimi’s also on it with social media refs, in Touch My Body she warns

If there’s a camera up in here

Then I’d best not catch this flick

On YouTube

And in Thirsty she says

So you stunting on your Instagram

But that shit ain’t everything

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Cheating and breaking up

So we’ve had It’s A Wrap, which is a break up song and as he’s not been taking her calls we may assume it’s cuz he was with someone else. Well, there’s a fair old few catching him cheating songs in Mimi’s catalogue. And she captures it like no one else. Well, until Bey’s 90 Lemonade writers came along and made it a manifesto of catching someone cheating, that is.

Mentioned above is Betcha Gon’ Know and this song is about cheating, it’s about catching them in the act and they still fucking deny they’re doing anything. I mean. We’ve been there, Mimi darling, and we’re in that moment with you in Betcha Gon’ Know. It’s a two parter. The first (The Prologue) she catches them and runs off and he doesn’t know she knows. The second she catches him and confronts him. In the second part, we have ‘his’ side when she has (shudder) R Kelly as the ‘she drugged me and took advantage honey honest’ male protagonist caught literally with his pants down and a naked chick in her robe in her bedroom. These tracks are from Me I Am Mariah The Elusive Chanteuse which was her post being cheated on by husband Nick Cannon album so there’s a lot of heavy shit here. Is this what happened? We presume so. Oh hang on, she opens with ‘welcome to a day of my life. The memoirs of an imperfect angel’. So yeah, it is then.

In the prologue she sees them at it and drives away trying to get her head around what she’s found.

So I pulled to the side of the road to fix my face

But I can’t cover with makeup what my tears want to make

Then we have one of the great, extraordinary pieces of lyricism in this song (which is laden with greatness), when she’s come back into the apartment not knowing whether to acknowledge that she knows what happened.

I creep into the driveway

Tip toe through the door

But you’re there wide awake

You’re like ‘where you been?’

I’m like ‘sorry but I fell asleep on Jasmine’s sofa

I could have swore to Ray-Ray

I called you and told ya’

You like, ‘you ok?’

I’m like, ‘Mm, alright. Go to sleep and I’ll be fine’

And it’s that ‘Mm, alright’ that is a perfect simulation of a verbal moment in speech and SHE HAS IT IN THE LYRICS.

Ok, so next we have another example of the extraordinary breaking up song, from the same album: The Art Of Letting Go. It’s beautiful, it’s epic yet understated at the same time. It deserves a full sharing of the lyrics of the song because they are amazing. And it ends with the best Mariah Carey lyric ever. Behold:

I’m making a statement of my own opinion

Just a brief little reminder to help myself remember

I no longer live in your dominion (no, no, no, no, no, no ooh)

You’re just trifling, nothing more than a liability

Got up and laid all your possessions

Outside the kitchen window right now

 

Letting go, letting go ain’t easy

Oh, it’s just exceedingly hurtful

Cuz somebody you used to know

Is flinging your world around

And they watch, as you’re falling down, down, down

Falling down, baby

 

Evidently your words were merely lies

Reverberating in my ears

And the echo won’t subside

There’s a deep deep loss of hope

And the anger burns in me

I hope you don’t get no ideas ’bout re-uniting baby

Cuz that’s the last thing I truly need

Your audacity is too much to be believed, so

Go to Mimi on your contacts, press delete

 

See also: Infinity (the whole thing) and ‘We went round for round til we knocked love out’ – H.A.T.E.U.

Also, X-Girlfriend – If Mimi can write a poisonous song to a lover or ex lover she also knows how to tell off the ex-girlfriend of a new lover. You know, the kind who have not learned the art of letting go.

Seduction and getting it on

As she’s one of the hottest women on the planet and she knows it, Mimi can spin a lyric like nobody’s business about fancying someone, knowing they fancy her and that they’re gonna do it.

My personal favourite is from one of my favourite Mariah tunes, Say Something (with Snoop Dog)

She says:

I am over here, looking at you

You are over there, watching me too

Both painting pictures of

Of how we’ll kiss and fuck

So what we gonna do?

I mean. Amirite? Yeah? Yeah.

Tell me why we’re standing here

The moment’s fresh and so sincere

You got my mind blown

And baby I’m ready to go

So they’ve pulled Mimi. But wait… not so easy, partner

But, uh, if it’s worth your while

Then say somethin’ say somethin’

If it’s worth your while then say something good to me

And isn’t that all we really want when we pull? Sure I want you and I can see you want me. But it won’t hurt to use the words. The words. Goddamn how many times I’ve just wanted some words. Words are miraculous. Words are wonderful. Yeah actions, body language, looks are great. But words are sometimes the best thing. Tell me how you feel. Tell me what you want. Say something good to me. Cuz if you do, you might just get to shag Mariah in the loo as happens in this song. Just sayin’ (something good to me).

Another great example is her duet with Miguel, #Beautiful, and her part is great but his first verse and chorus is so hot and sexy and respectful. Again with the words. Oysh.

Hop on the back of my bike

Let the good wind blow through your hair

With a ass like that

And a smile so bright

Oh you’re killing me you know it ain’t fair

Ride on through the middle of the night

Let the moonlight kiss your skin

When you dance like that

With your cheeks so tight

Oh you’re killing me

Baby do it again

You’re beautiful

And your mind is fucking beautiful

And I can’t pretend that that doesn’t mean a thing

To me to me

You’re beautiful

Good lord you’re fucking beautiful

And I can’t pretend that that doesn’t mean a thing

To me to me

He loves her body and her mind and that’s just the most fucking beautiful thing

 

See also: Get Your Number (see example above for how to pull Mariah when she’s bragging about all the stuff she’s got); and I’m That Chick

Da Brat

Finally, my actual favourite lyric in a Mariah Carey song is not a Mariah Carey lyric but comes from a rap by her sometime gf (yes, really. It was in The National Enquirer and everything), Da Brat, in the remix of Loverboy.

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I first heard Loverboy when my ex-bf (who is responsible for getting me into Mimi’s music. I was already a fan of her ass, see here for details) bought the enhanced CD. Remember, those kids? It had the video on it! Why you would ever play the audio single when you had that to look at, I have no idea. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a decent version of that video on Youtube, just blurry ones. Someone get an enhanced CD from ebay and rip it and upload it, will ya? Thanks. Anyway, I was smitten. And Loverboy became my favourite Mimi song, by miles. It is an absolute coinkidink that I ended up working for a glorious, queer magazine called Loverboy, named after that same song. Well, perhaps it was fated, if you believe in that sort of thing. So, there’s Mimi with a kerchief for a top and short short shorts and there’s racing cars and blah blah blah. It’s magnificent. But it’s not just the visuals actually, I promise. The song is AMAYYYYYYYZING!!! And, of course lyrically it’s stunning.

I got myself a lover, who knows what I like

When he invites me over I come every time

So so so so so hot. When you get one of them, keep ‘em.

And when my sugar daddy takes me for a ride

Everywhere we go is delirium time

Delirium time!!!!!! I love delirium time! It’s my favourite time!

And also

I’ve got myself a lover, and he’s so sublime

It’s quite a bit of heaven to feel him inside

This song is filthy and it’s wonderful.

So, anyway, there’s an inevitable remix and on it Da Brat raps the best thing ever.

Banana split my dairy queen

Butterfinger my tangerine

And there we have it: a food metaphor lyric which pretty much sums up bisexual sex. How perfect is it? Very, very perfect, darlings.

banana-split

And I am going to have a tramp stamp tattoo (reclaiming the slut shaming of the concept of tramp stamp) of that lyric with a Dairy Queen logo, a stylized banana split, the Butterfinger logo and a cute anthropomorphic tangerine fluttering her eyelashes. And the kickstarter to fund that will be up shortly. Tattoo artists, please get in touch. Especially if you want to do it for free and I don’t have to try to do a failed kickstarter for it. Go on, you know you want to have that as the prime example of your work. And to mark me.

The end.

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Carrie


By Corinna ESP Tomrley

I just found out that The ICA are having a 40th anniversary screening of Carrie on 24th September. I squealed and bought a ticket (I’m going to the prom, mama, and you can’t stop me). It’s being presented by feminist film collective The Final Girls and there is going to be a panel discussion. The blurb said something about De Palma’s films being problematic and I get that, when you consider his oeuvre and how women are often helpless victims etc. But – Carrie? Really? They call her a ‘divisive female protagonist’. I can’t wait to hear about that. Divisive how? Surely everyone loves her, roots for her, cheers on her revenge. No?

carrie

For me, Carrie is one of the most powerful women ever to have graced the screen. And, actually, when I was just thinking about it, the character doesn’t even have to be a woman. I’d love to see a version where it is a queer kid (of any gender) who is our hero. Maybe I’ll write that.

Because Carrie is my hero. She has been since I was a kid and first read the novel by Stephen King. And read it over and over and over and over and over. I think I read the novel before I saw the film but can’t swear by that. The experiences probably wouldn’t have been far apart; both incredibly formative. I became a massive Sissy Spacek fan and would watch whatever she was in (they showed loads of great films on tv back then) and can’t remember her ever being in a dud. She has made some amazing films and should be hailed as one of the screen’s greatest ever actresses.

I was also obsessed with ESP, the supernatural, anything like that. ESP was so much a part of our popular culture when I was a kid that, for me, it was totally feasible, totally real. I was terrified by, but enraptured by, films such as Carrie, The Fury (another De Palma), Amityville Horror (I also read the terrifying book of this). I got books and magazines that showed poltergeists at work, spontaneous human combustion, stigmata. This was the world. I believed everything. And, to be honest, even though I’m an ex-sociologist who thinks that everything is social construction and myth is about control, power and self-delusion, I still kind of believe some of this stuff could be true. I still really, really want to be able to move things with my mind. I frequently dream that I can. Oh the crushing disappointment when I wake up and I can’t…

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For anyone who has been bullied – at home, at school, at work, wherever – the revenge film can be an incredible catharsis. Carrie is that. The ultimate revenge movie.

Carrie is a hero and a positive character because she has to find her power. It’s all about the powerless becoming the most powerful and that being her triumph over the adversity she faces. Her power is metaphorical of the power we find when we dig inside ourselves, finding the power within to survive. And the brutal truth of Carrie is that the power we find is often destructive and self-destructive.

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Carrie is the bully-victim’s hero. She is tortured. And doesn’t want to destroy but she has no choice in the face of such day-to-day horror. Because that’s what being bullied is. It’s day-to-day suffering, stress, torture, horror. A day that ends is a day survived but you know you’re going to have to face it all again when you wake up. I didn’t go to school for ages at a time. I got away with it. I missed huge parts of my 4th and 5th years. I have no idea how I passed any GCSEs. (Yes, I’m incredibly intelligent and that must have helped, but I could be awful at exams, especially when I hadn’t been there for half the syllabus)

When you have that torture at home too, you have nowhere physical to run away to. So you run away to the inside of your mind. We somehow find tools to help us escape and survive. Mine was Hollywood, old Hollywood, all films really. And books. Tons and tons of books. And music, singing. I’d sing all fucking day. And I’d fantasize about being a star. And there are other tools too, tools that are destructive but you use them anyway. Like romanticizing thoughts of suicide as the ultimate escape. Marilyn Monroe was another of my heroes. It’s horrific, but I’ve realized through therapy that the shit things are just as much a part of survival as the positive, healthy survival techniques.

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I had a handful of books that I would read as a kid over and over. Valley Of The Dolls (still my favourite novel), Love Story (I can recite the first page and a half by heart, I’ve read that thing so much), a 50s pulp novel called Tomboy, and Carrie. No wonder I grew up to be a camp, queer, weirdo… and have a romantic view of tragic love.

I remember that each time I would re-read Carrie I would be surprised by her description. She’s fat and spotty in the book and that’s part of the reason why she’s bullied. I wasn’t spotty but I was fat. But I wasn’t actually bullied because of that. And, actually, there not being a ‘reason’ why screen Carrie is bullied (the girls never mention her looks) apart from the fact that she has a ‘wacko’ mom and is shy, is more poignant. Yes, if you’re in one of the bullied-victim prime food groups – fat, queer, spotty, nerdy – you’re more likely perhaps to be a target for the lazy bullies, but if you’re not and you’re attacked anyway… it is somehow scarier. Anyone can become a target at any time. Hell, I was bullied by my ‘friends’ when they decided one day they didn’t like me anymore. Talk about bewildering ‘reasons’. And when your home life almost simultaneously shifts to become unsafe… you’re gonna be fucked up and have to find ways to survive. God, if only my hours of trying to move stuff with my mind had paid off and I could do that shit. How much fun would it be to be able to make something fly at someone’s head? Or just to freak them the fuck out? Oh… sigh…

lamp

I’ve watched film Carrie countless times too, including going to see it in the cinema a few years ago. Oh god, it’s a perfect film. The whole cast is sublime. I always get confused because I know I should hate Chris as the prime bully in the film but I fancy Nancy Allen so much. I believe Tommy Ross actually likes Carrie and is glad he gets to squire her to the prom. Amy Irving is wonderful as the bully who has a sudden awakening to how awful her actions are and tries to right her wrongs. This film and these characters are so nuanced. So complex. So real. We know about Sissy. She’s glorious. And Piper Laurie, oh my god. Again, has there ever been more perfect acting? Did the woman win any awards for that? She bloody should have done.

the fury

Amy went on to do The Fury, De Palma’s other ESP film. I saw it again a year ago and it was far more magnificent than I remembered. I knew there was a film I’d seen with a scene where they are testing ESP powers in a lab and when I realized it was The Fury, my kid-fascination with the whole supernatural genre came hurtling back like a thing that Carrie is chucking at someone. It’s kind of silly, kind of terrifying, all wonderful. Amy is the one with powers in that one and she is wonderful as the bewildered teen trying to cope with her ‘gift’. Someone should put on a double bill of Carrie and The Fury. And invite me to come and talk about them. And maybe one day I’ll start a band called Carrie & The Furies and do songs all about ESP and bullied-victims revenge.

On a side note I recently saw Carrie 2: The Rage and I was surprised that I actually really liked it. The telekinetic heroine was stronger than Carrie, but she had that slightly ‘odd’ look that really worked as to why she was picked on. I liked the revenge apocalypse ending. The tattoo thing was rubbish, though. Telekinesis is real. That tattoo thing would never happen.

 

Lesbian Vampires: Vampyros Lesbos


By Corinna ‘Gaze This’ Tomrley

As part of the series on lesbian vampire films I analyze one of the more notorious of the genre, the wonderous Vampyros Lesbos. WARNING: THIS THING IS FULL OF SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT AND DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE PLOT, STOP READING. THEN QUICKLY GO AND WATCH IT AND COME BACK. THANKS!

vampyros poster

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) stars Soledad Miranda and Uwa Stroemberg. Both are solid, wonderful, magnificent to look at lesbian vampire stars and both would go on to make other horror films with the director, Jesús Franco. Franco himself has an uncredited cameo in the film as the super creepy torturer and killer of women, Memet. It’s a good example of that movie animal – the European co-production. It’s a Spanish-German film shot and set in Turkey, the script in German, the stars Swedish, Spanish and English (old Ealing stalwart, Dennis Price crops up as the doctor). Miranda plays a Hungarian Countess  and Stroemberg an American. Fun fact: Price, bankrupt by the late 60s by gambling and drinking, would star in 5 of Franco’s films. He also made a few Hammers, including lez vamp film, Twins Of Evil.

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Vampyros Lesbos is one of those films that has an almost mythical status. Many have heard of it without seeing it. When a compilation of music from the director’s horror films was released in the 90s as Vampyros Lesbos – Sexadelic Dance Party, the film became a further cult on the back of the success of the CD’s sales. A trippy, psychedelic jazz score (co-written by Franco), the soundtrack is one of the best things about Vampyros Lesbos. It’s actually incredible. But even though the film itself tends to get less than favourable reviews, I would argue that it’s actually a really decent example of the lesbian vampire genre. If taken as it was presumably intended – a European soft porn art film – it is actually great.

I first saw this film in the mid 90s, like everyone else after hearing the soundtrack (that a boyfriend had), and then I simply had to get the video. And oh, my, but that was a very pleasant viewing experience. I hadn’t seen it since and watched it almost fresh for this review. I have to say, I really love this film. It’s right up there with other great lesbian vampire movies.

It looks stunning, it’s compelling and although I’ve read the acting being described as ‘wooden’, that’s a whole part of the genre! Get with the programme, people. Embrace these things for what they are. Are you entertained? Yes. Are you titillated? Hells, yeah. Well then. What more can you ask for?

What’s more, even though I can hear the screams of ‘male gaze’ from the ghosts of feminist film critics past (and present, let’s face it) –  as I will for most of the lesbian vampire films I review for Ethel – I argue that there is a queer subversion to these films that while they were undoubtedly produced for the pervy male gaze, can be reclaimed by a queer agency. Shock announcement: women look too.

And there is no better example of this than in the opening to Vampyros Lesbos. No, not the trippy titles with Soledad Miranda on her back gesturing towards the camera as guttural, demonic psychedelic jazz blasts out. Although she is inviting us and holding our gaze. It’s only presumed that this is for men.

Because, no, I’m referring to the first scene is in a club. Is this a strip club or progressive dinner theatre? We’re not sure but what we watch is more than a little on the ‘arty’ side as much as it is on the porny side.

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A woman, who appears to be imitating a mannequin (and who at times is very convincing. Only they’re not built like that) stands naked at the side of the stage. Another woman (our vamp antihero) looks into a mirror (she has a reflection!) and dances a bit and caresses herself a bit. She rolls around on the floor (nice ass) and then approaches the ‘mannequin’. The dance becomes a strip and reverse strip as the vampire dresses the mannequin in her own lingerie, caressing the mannequin’s body as she does so. When her object of lust is fully dressed the vamp embraces the mannequin who jerkily/animated mannequinly embraces her.

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All the while we focus on one couple in the audience who are watching. This is a usual vampire movie trope – the young, beautiful, seemingly hetero couple. We see that the woman is compelled; her subtle eye widening and mouth twitches suggest arousal. And, actually, wooden my arse; this is the most convincing bit of being turned on by watching that I’ve seen in one of these things.

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Her boyfriend is not aroused: he’s perplexed by her response and very unnerved by it. This is the first subversion of the male gaze. She is the one getting erotic pleasure from this spectacle.

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Although the audience is fully mixed of men and women, mainly couples (and weirdly look like they’ve come out for a nice meal in a bistro and are slightly amused by the show), she is the one who is the most obviously affected here.

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The two dancers fall to the floor and the vamp symbolically bites the mannequin’s neck.

The performance is symbolic, period. It is the dance of a lesbian seducing a ‘straight’ woman and of a vampire seducing a mortal. She appears as a mannequin because she is hypnotized to respond; perhaps we cannot see her going willingly or that would really upset the hetero state of things. She has no choice but to succumb to the succubus. But succumb she does. As does our blonde, watching heroine, Linda.

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We next learn that Linda has been dreaming about this dancer night after night. She tells this to her therapist. But she had never seen the dancer in waking life before the night she saw the show. She’s been having intense erotic dreams that she’s called by the mysterious woman and as they embrace, Linda wakes up, cumming. Her therapist dismisses it as sexual frustration and suggests she get herself a lover. ‘A better lover.’ Bitch, please! Was that therapy in the 70s? Hmmm, actually, maybe they were on to something. No one mentions the bizarre coincidence that her dream woman happened to appear in a strip show Linda got to see, where she seduces a woman on stage. It’s one of many occurrences of a man dismissing what she’s saying. We even see that instead of making notes about her session, he’s doodling stick people and box animals.

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But we will know that what she’s saying is valid. We’ll always know. It is the men who are ignorant, dismissive, unwilling to face what is happening to the woman who is asking for help and support. Fuck me, this could almost be argued to be a feminist film!

It turns out that Linda (who, incidentally looks like a cross between Diana Dors and Geri Halliwell. It’s uncanny, darlings) works for an insurance company and has to go to see a Countess about an inheritance. Guess who that is? And we will find out that the inheritance is bequeathed to the Countess by the estate of Count Dracula; twist!

As she goes to the island to visit the Countess Nadine Carody, Linda sees things that were in her dream:

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a red kite in the sky,

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a trapped butterfly,

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a scorpion,

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mauve and red (paint/blood?) dripping down glass.

It seems the dreams were premonitions of this visit. We will be battered over the head by that bloody symbolic white butterfly and the scorpion. I’m surprised they didn’t give the scorpion a little brunette wig to really hammer the point home.

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Anyway, when Linda sees the paint/blood, she freaks and goes to run away. But with a simple ‘hello/guten tag’ this is reversed and the butterfly is caught in the net.

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Within seconds of meeting the hot countess convinces her to skinny dip. Well, it would be impolite not to.

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When they do, they are watched by a man. This is a familiar trope; the lesbian frolic being observed by a man, unseen by them. In this way, it can be argued that this is all for the male gaze, for men to watch, whether the women know it or not. It happens in a similar way in Lust For A Vampire, but in that case it is the controlling male vampire who is watching. It turns out the watcher here is a minion to the Countess, Morpho.

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But we will learn that Countess Nadine hates men. She gave her neck to Dracula but that was all. She craves women. So Morpho may serve her, but she’s a full on homo and he is made impotent. He can only watch.

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After a drink of ‘wine’, Linda gets an instant headache then passes out. The Countess helps her to ‘recover’ by stripping her, having a bit of a go, then bites her neck.

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Here we see the offspring of Diana Dors and Geri Halliwell.
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Here in the seduction, Nadine mirrors the straddling that the mannequin did in the dance; is this an indication that the ‘victim’ is as powerful as the ‘attacker’? Or that roles are slippery when it comes to lesbian vampire seduction?

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And I have to say, bright scarlet aside, this is one of the best blood drinking scenes I’ve ever witnessed. She really seems to be gulping it down and pulls away leaving a convincing trail of blood and spit.

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Linda wakes to find Nadine floating in the swimming pool with blood on her face.

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She presumes she is dead and faints, waking in a ‘private clinic’ where another blonde, female patient raves about a woman who possesses her and who will return to be inside her. She won’t reveal the name of this woman to her doctor but we know who she means. This woman is at once like Renfield and Lucy in the Dracula story. Oh and she has this weird wooden clown doll thing that looks like a horrific dildo.

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Nadine tells Morpho about how Dracula made her a vampire and that she then went on to possess and take over women victims. Only now Linda has really got to her and she feels like she’s the possessed one. Oh shit, we’ve all been there, right? Jeez, I know I have. ‘I must initiate her into our circle,’ says The Countess. The sewing circle, perchance?

In a reverse of the hetero watching the lez sex, Nadine and Morpho visit Linda’s hotel and watch her being fucked by her bf. Nadine isn’t enjoying it though.

Linda ‘recovers’ but is simultaneously drawn to Nadine and tries to resist her. They share a drink from a big vase and Nadine says, ‘you know that’s blood, right?’

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Then they have sex, with Linda taking the lead.

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Linda goes to the clinic doctor for help. He’s kind of like Van Helsing but confusingly called Dr Seward who is another character in Dracula. Wow, they’re messing with the referencing a lot. Is Linda Jonathan or Meena? Is her boyfriend either or both? Anyway, Doc comes clean that he’s not a psychiatrist but he’s actually a vampirologist and that if she doesn’t want to give in to Nadine she must kill her. No steak through the heart though – she is to be killed by an axe splitting the brain or a spike stabbing it. Bloody hell, that stake is sounding pretty damn good right about now, eh?

Linda’s bf goes to watch the show again and we see a longer version of the stripdance with a groovier bit of the weird score. Instead of symbolically biting the mannequin’s neck she actually goes for it, killing her. But somehow she manages to leave the gig without being arrested. And the bf just stands there watching and smoking. So it’s all a bit redundant. And we don’t even have a good explanation as to why Nadine killed the girl. If she needed blood, why do it publicly? But, hey-ho, we got to see the dance again so I am not complaining.

Nadine turns up at the clinic where the doctor says he actually wants to be a vampire but when she refuses he gets all Latin-god-spouting and so she gets Morpho to kill him.

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Linda goes to Nadine’s house and walking under this AMAZING red tassel chandelier thing on the ceiling (the art direction in this movie is fucking stunning). She finds The Countess laying on a modern modular bed couch deal saying she’s dying and that drinking Linda’s blood is the only thing that will save her.

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We want Linda to give her the drink, don’t we? But we know she won’t because, as with all femme fatale films of certain periods, the vampire must die. Linda tells her that she can’t have her.

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But instead of just straight out killing her Linda at first drinks Nadine’s blood and then stabs her through the eye with a spike.

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Morpho kills himself with the spike but when Linda’s bf and psychiatrist turn up, Nadine and Morpho’s corpses have vampirically disappeared. Bf tries to convince her it was all a dream but she knows better. We know better.

However, what is unclear to us is the answer to this question: is Linda actually a vampire now? After all she drank from the blood of a vampire before she killed her. Isn’t that how it works? Is this supposed to be ambiguous or is it a plot hole? Whatever, I’m going to take it that she is a full-on, card-carrying vamp now and she will find herself a little vamp gf and leave the boring, non-believing stupid bf who can’t make her cum and she’ll have centuries of happy life sucking blood and having lesbian vampire orgasms, the end.

And, you see, I can do this because I am not paralyzed by the male gaze. I can watch and absorb and identify. Part of my sexual formation was watching lesbian vampires. Women on screen who were created to titillate men titillated me instead. And helped me to realize that I’m queer, like femmes and have a penchant for blood and vampires. And because I have this agency as a viewer, like Linda watching the show, I can watch and get turned on, I can then choose whether to go along with the story or, like Linda, make my own. This trippy, porny narrative can actually allow that.

And anyway, women are the ones with all the power in this film. First The Countess, to seduce and possess and to evade capture and finally Linda, to choose her own fate. And the power shifts constantly between the women. They have the gaze for each other and we have the gaze for them.

Kesha: Warrior Goddess


When Kesha appeared at this year’s Billboard Awards it was always going to be an emotional event. Her horrendous fight with Sony and her abuser. The threats against her if she performed because they were worried she’d use it as a platform to speak out. I’m team Kesha. We warrior goddesses must stand together against this kind of vile bullying and the abuse that continues after someone is heroic enough to come out and talk about their experiences and demand justice. Justice that, unfortunately because of our fucked world, only very occasionally is granted. I stand with Kesha. It’s a symbolic standing cuz she has no idea of my existence, but I stand.

And she stood, on a stage, sang the most beautiful version of ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ you’ve ever heard (and that I play constantly). She stood with quiet dignity and used her voice – her singing voice – to move us. She did not speak about the case or the abuse or the bullying. She didn’t have to. We already knew about it. And by attempting to silence her once again the record company and her abuser only made us more aware of how important her appearance was.

It was a little while ago now that this happened. But she continues to fight in magnificent and creative ways. Every time I watch that video I am floored. I am writing about it because as much as the context of this performance and the sublime beauty of it, I am also always moved by how gorgeous she looks. A little rounder than usual, she is dressed in a white Manuel suit and she looks incredible.

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The Nudie suit – heavily and campily embroidered suits, usually white or in bright colours, worn by people such as Dolly, Loretta Lynn, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, Salvador Dali, and Bobby Redford in The Electric Horseman – is synonymous with Nudie Cohn.

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But Manuel Cuevas (“The Rhinestone Rembrandt”) was producing similar garments and went to work with Nudie at his store and was responsible for most of the famous suits the stars wore. When he and Nudie parted ways, the clients mainly followed Manuel to his new store.

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The Manuel suit that Kesha wore was amazing. We had a bigger woman wearing white for starters. The suit was decorated with rainbows and broken hearts and a stabbed heart and her cat, Mr. Peeps. The symbolism of betrayal and hope was there for all to see. She didn’t need words to spew on stage; she had a narrative on her suit.

On her Instagram she captioned a photo of the back of the suit with:

“the story is …my heart got stabbed. I was betrayed. I thought I was going to die. then I found my rainbow by following my intuition. (or third eye as I’ve interpreted it) and learned to trust myself. find my real voice. and learned to love unconditionally through my relationship with that little shit Mr. peeps. that’s my nudie story❤️”

A heart is not just broken by romantic pain. It is broken when those who are supposed to protect you yet fail to do so. It’s broken when people turn their backs on you. It’s broken when they don’t believe you. It is broken when you are accused of greed instead of simply seeking justice. It is broken when women sit with the accused and fail to side with a sister. It is broken when you are not only refused justice but then punished, prevented from doing the one thing that feeds your soul, the thing that means you can make a living and move on.

Kesha’s heart has been broken multiple times in multiple ways. Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual story.

Kesha standing on that stage looking fabulous in a suit that tells a story, singing a song that says you cannot count on those you hope will keep you safe and love you, was the most powerful move she could make given her shackled circumstances.

Her Instagram profile says ‘The truth shall set you free’. Oh, if only life were really like that. It then says ‘I am a rainbow’. The rainbow – a symbol of optimism and freedom – has been well-used by chanteuses, most famously Judy, of course. And also by our goddess, Mariah. Both women were tethered professionally – Judy to the studio system that would eventually fire her, Mariah to Tommy Mottola, her first husband who controlled her. Their relationship is reminiscent of Phil Spector and Ronnie Bennett. Significantly Ronnie released a solo album called She Talks To Rainbows.  Rainbows appear on many outfits that Kesha wears.

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Other images of Kesha in Manuel suits are featured on her Instagram. In one photo we see her with Manuel himself, the back of her ‘magical suit’ depicting a booby angel, an anarchist sign, a hand flipping the bird.

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Another picture shows Kesha, head down, face covered by her hair. She is barefoot and wearing a Manuel suit decorated with dolphins, killer whales and spaceships. This is not a still image but actually a gif. When you click on it she repeatedly shakes her head. The caption reads ‘BOOGIE cuz Kesha and The Creepies are hitting the road!’

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This is her new band. She is getting around her ban to produce music by touring with a country/rock band covering her own hits and those that have inspired her. She cannot record outside of her abuser’s control but she can perform. Kesha and The Creepies are fierce, forceful, and their slogan is FUCK THE WORLD.

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The image advertising the tour is reminiscent of The Cramps, featuring a tiger and Kesha looking as if she has ripped the heart out of someone with her teeth. Someone who probably deserved it. She has done what warrior goddesses do best when we are backed into a corner and kicked instead of helped: she is rising up, she is taking control as much as she can within her limitations, she is screaming, she is rage.

In defence of weird, weird celebrity art


Checking out the stats on The [now defunct] Ethel Mermaids’ Etsy shop I noticed a lot of recent traffic came from this blog. Thrilled to think we’d got a mention I found the entry. The author laments that there is a lot of ‘weird, weird celebrity “art” out there’ and asks of my portrait of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, ‘HOW?! WHY?!’

For those of us who get bad art the answer to the first questions is acrylic and pen on card. For those of us who get bad art, the second question needs no answer because it is not asked.

I’m not upset and I’m not being defensive. In terms of bad art, I find this fascinating. I’m actually perversely stoked that she reacted to it so strongly that she needed to bitch about it on her blog. (And that we got some traffic!) The description of the piece states that it is by a bad artist but she either missed that or didn’t think what it meant in terms of the picture. Or didn’t care. I’d gladly have a dialogue with her about it if she wants to, but can’t be bothered to initiate it as she didn’t ask me directly ‘why’ before she blogged and linked to my art in the first place. Instead, I figured I’d reciprocate by blogging about her blog post on our blog. Blog.

If we did have that conversation she might find out that whilst the pictures she  features in her blog post as examples of good, accessible, not amateur, not weird, weird celebrity art are very nice, bad art is about breaking down rigid, judgmental binaries of good and bad, talented and nontalented, capable and incapable. Bad art questions ideas of taste through undermining the classic hierarchy of high and low art. And bad art actually gives a lot of joy to a lot of people. For some bad art is simply about that pure joy. It can be all about the weird. Bad art is loved because it is camp and subversive and radical and fun and silly and righteous. It can be light as air or incredibly deep. Bad art can upset because it disturbs and that disturbance can come from all kinds of places – some valid, some that should perhaps be considered and questioned.

Bad art also offers a lot to those who do it. For the trained and those who might otherwise make art that would be judged as ‘good’ or ‘correct’, doing bad art can be an extremely liberating – if sometimes challenging -endeavour. It can offer a freedom, and bring the fun and joy back, to the process of creating. For those of us who are not trained and have always believed that we can’t and so shouldn’t bother trying, doing it can change our lives. I get tons of pleasure out of it and that would be enough. The fact that I have had enormously positive feedback since I produced my first piece and had requests, commissions, sold pieces and had work so tempting and wanted that it was stolen (and later paid for when the thief was suitably shamed), tells me that there are people out there who do get bad art and enjoy it enough to want it to happen. Some people will get and like bad art, some won’t. It’s all fine. Different (brush) strokes for different folks, eh? I for one can’t get enough of all the weird, weird celebrity art out there. I’ll keep on bad arting for all those who do get it, and even for those who do not.

By Corinna Mermaid