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By Corinna ‘Merm’ Tomrley

There are countless things on Youtube that are rather marvelous. There’s a handful, though, that are just so wonderful, so extraordinary, that we wonder why when we mention them to most people they’ve never seen them or even knew of their existence. These are videos we’ve even posted a lot but that for some reason still don’t get the attention and acclaim and cult status that they so deserve.

Ethel intends to put this right and give you – THINGS ON YOUTUBE YOU REALLY SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

 

  1. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN COOKING CHICKEN WITH PEARS

There is so much about this that is just really ace. Firstly, it’s Christopher Walken cooking chicken. It’s on shitty video in his kitchen. His hygiene practices are questionable (touching poultry and then touching your salt pig, Mr Walken? Salmonella City!). There’s his descriptions of things in that voice. There’s the cat.

Chris did go on to remake this with a proper TV crew and some bloke from that thing as his guest. We really wish he hadn’t because it takes away from the raw weirdness of the original. So don’t ever bother to watch that one but instead what this version over and over and over.

Best moment: the insipid, vile looking result that he produces.

 

  1. JOAN CRAWFORD IN THE SUPERMARKET

We were alerted to this treasure by the sublime Stargayzing. David Munk wrote so wonderfully about this bizarre ad that we won’t witter on ourselves too much. Suffice to say that the very idea of this film is enough to make the camp heart flutter. But the actuality of it surpasses anything you could imagine from such a concept. Warning: the opening music may make your ears bleed. But hopefully you’ll still be able to hear what comes out of Joanie’s mouth as she does her shop. Because it’s something else.

Best moment: Did she say ‘weirdo’?

 

  1. LEGO SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

As far as we’re aware, there was a plan for a full musical film of Lego SOTL, but this is all that got made. You may wish for more but it’s kind of great that this is all that there is. It’s enough. The concept itself is genius. The execution perfection.

Best moment: Put the fucking poodle in the basket

 

  1. MANDOM

Say it: ‘Mandom’. What a word. Who can we possibly get to advertise this ultra butch cologne? Who else but masc god Charles Bronson? The theme tune (one of the best ever, you’ll thank us for this earworm) tells us ‘All the world loves a lover’, but who exactly is Mr Bronson the lover of? For, although he has his Mandom shrine of products at home and he basically fucking showers in the stuff, there isn’t a single woman in this ad. There’s the piano player, there’s the creepy doorman and then in his apartment there’s… his pipe. Marvel at Mandom. We can only presume it stank to high heaven and could be used to remove varnish from the floorboards, just like all 70s perfumes.

Best moment: How Chuck takes off his shirt. There’s no chick to bitch about it strewn across the flat, after all.

 

  1. FAYE DUNAWAY EATS A BOILED EGG

It was informing our soul sisters Graham and Pal about Mandom brought the Dunaway egg film into our lives. Yes, the Bronson ad is extraordinary and funny but had we seen the egg advert? What? No. What? When Pal said ‘it’s Faye Dunaway eating a boiled egg’ he wasn’t exaggerating. Because that’s literally what it is. Actually, forgive us, it’s Faye Dunaway peeling and eating a boiled egg. Why is this sexy? Because it’s Faye Dunaway. Why is this weird? Because it’s a film star eating an egg. Why is it really weird? Because that’s all she’s doing in a beautifully lit black space. Why is it super weird? Because this egg eating activity is advertising a department store.

Best moment: Um… when she eats the egg? Actually, when she peels it and gives sexy cheekbones to camera. What is she going to do next? Oh she’s going to eat that bit of egg, the saucy minx!

 

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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