Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in pictures: 2010


Well, what a year this has turned out to be. It started with a Derek Jarman marathon and ended with a nice little hat trick of features in Out There, Tetu and Attitude. Along the way I've visited Warsaw, Cornwall and Edinburgh for the first time and spent a lot more time in Berlin that I had expected. I had some rather hair-raising moments (running the gauntlet between the Nazis and the Catholics at EuroPride in Poland was no fun), some rather lovely ones (holding my new nice for the first time), some rather huge arguments and some entirely unexpected tenderness. The Winter was contemplative, the Spring was constructive, the Summer was unfeasibly busy, and Autumn brought me great satisfaction - all in all a solid year.

En route to Chantal's House of Shame, Berlin (by Gerry Visco)

Vogue.com, street style, Manchester

Onstage with Alexander, Berlin

Halloween

Shooting in the snow, Berlin

Zohar's birthday

Dressing for the Tranny Olympics

Onstage for "Good Morning, This Evening!", London

Pet Cemetery, Cornwall


Backstage at the Barbican

Thurnham Hall, Lancashire

Hauptbanhof, Berlin

POP magazine, Spring Studios

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Time Out Live, London

Tete a Tete Opera Festival, London

"Underclass Hero" at the Hot August Fringe

Out There magazine (by Adrian Lourie)

Eat Your Heart Out, Camden People's Theatre

With Bruce Benderson on set for Tetu

Berlin Fashion Week

Backstage in Warsaw (by Stevie Hanley)

Bodypainting session with Scottee in Camden

Charing Cross (by Earl Dax)

Christmas Day

Leaving the Attitude birthday party, London

Next year, God willing, the music of Alexander will FINALLY be out there in the big bad world. Plus "Underclass Hero" is getting another showing in London, and I'll be back at the Summer festivals. See you there!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last show of 2010



Tonight, Berlin, we are filming the extravaganza that is the Dandylioness Winter 2010 Tour!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

21st Century Queer Artists Identitify Themselves Vol.3




I'm super thrilled to be a part of Darin Klein's latest opus, the zine after which this post is named. In it the work of 100 queer artists comes together in a manner half catalogue, half telephone book, with each supplying a sample of their work and their contact details. Isn't that such a great idea? An exciting act of community and inspiration circulation? Of course I have my dearest darling Max Steele to thank for the connection (what'up gurl?). I submitted the above schwarz und weiß bilder, by Fussy Lo Mein, and this extract "Monologue for Divine", which is taken from my new play "Kill Everyone Now":

“Power that’s what it all comes down to, that’s what it always comes down to. Knowledge is power, know thyself and rule the world. That’s why I cause such a scene at the grocery store – because I’m a very powerful person! This va-va-voom body in this skin tight gown, my bombastic tits, my outrageous hair do, well, it makes everyone else feel, insignificant. There they are with their wimpy little stalks of broccoli clasped to their emaciated little bodies, all chewed up in mock horror, standing on at the cheese counter, disgusted at the very sight of me. Horrified and simultaneously sexually electrified by my mere presence. Oh sure, the battle lines have been drawn up and I’m outnumbered 100-1 but they all know that I’m winning this one. My very appearance in amongst the cucumbers, in the heartland of their commodified universe is confirmation that I’m the superpower in this supermarket. That I’m inching forward step by step, through the no-man’s land of moral ambiguity and tarmac and into, actually into, their neat little back yards. That I’m dancing in amongst their geraniums like a wild pagan love goddess, and I’m stamping on their patio furniture, kicking over their ornamental fencing, and grinding up their planters, their urns and their all-weather vases with the heel of my cha-cha shoes. I’m coming down the drive and they’re apoplectic.

You see, really, people don’t care what I wear. They don’t give a shit! They barely care what they wear themselves! I mean, have you seen how people dress? Absolutely no self-respect, no pride. They don’t care that I’m wearing a dress, they don’t care that I have on high heels, they’re upset that I’m not playing by the rules. When I dress like this it upsets people, because they feel as though I’m trying to fool them , that I’m trying to trick them into believing that I’m a real woman, or that I believe I am a real woman, or that I believe such a thing as a real woman exists. They hate me for not abiding by the rules, because they hate the rules. Only they don’t realise this, or they’re too stupid or too cowardly to admit it, because they’ve built up their whole self-worth, their whole identity, their whole stupid morality up on those rules, and if they go and start investigating it now, well who knows what they’ll find? Who knows how deep the cracks run? Your whole value system is based on an arbitrary set of images that you stumbled upon in magazines in the doctor’s waiting room, and you don’t even know it. You’ve never thought about it for one second have you? Why you believe what you believe and about whom. Why do little girls wear pink ribbons in their hair? Why do little boys like to play with cars? Admit it, the most complex debate you ever had with yourself was which toilet roll to buy.

There’s this unspoken set of rules to follow and nobody really wants to follow them but nobody really bothers to question them, so everybody just forgets they exist and agree to pretend that they’re spontaneous, natural, predetermined orders. People hate that, and they see me, flaunting it all, throwing all that out the window, flushing it all down the john – and they’re mad. They’re pissed, because nobody wants to wear black nylon trousers and sensible shoes , nobody wants to leave their home and family at 7am, 5 days a week, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being that festival of debt you call the weekend, but they somehow all got together and collectively decided that it’s the right thing to do. And then you see me, and clearly I’m not working an office job, clearly my only master is bation, and it’s just too much.

The only rules that need exist are the ones we make up for ourselves, and hold onto for as long as we find them useful, then we discard them with all the other floatsam and jetsam of modern life. We don’t cling to fax machines do we? We don’t hold on desperately to daguerreotypes or typewriters, or dial-up internet, or powdered egg do we? No. People need something to cling to, anything, I see that, or else why would there be so many speed freaks and alcoholics out there in the audience tonight?, but, the uninvestigated life is not worth living. Don’t cling to it just because it’s there. You see girl? I’m a self-made woman. And if I get bricks through the window? Well, I make a rockery.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tetu



From the new issue of Tetu, a piece by Bruce Benderson on Berlin's provocateurs and party kids. It was a marvellous experience meeting Mr Benderson, a man of immense knowledge and an outrageous sense of humour, combined with an inquisitive nature and a keen eye for contextualization. Okay yes, I'm a fan. And here's what he had to say about us all (click on the text to see it bigger):

Monday, December 6, 2010

At it


Well lover, what do you know? The nice people at Attitude asked me to contribute something on pornography to their sex issue, so I did. I wrote it on Halloween, in a face full of vampire make-up - bit of context for you there. For those of you who live in places where the magazine is not stocked, here's the piece in full:

"Porn can really teach you a lot about yourself, it can educate you on your own sexuality and desires by showing you things you probably wouldn’t ever see otherwise, acts and images you most probably didn’t even know existed. I remember watching lesbian porn for the first time and encountering the term “high femme top.” That was such an “A-ha!” moment for me, I think it informed my sexual identity more than any other experience, cinematic or otherwise.

Porn can almost act like a magic mirror in that sense, it shows you such unexpected aspects of sex, it can teach you a lot of new tricks. From a queer standpoint that’s powerful because so much of our experience is hidden in shame and obscured by a society that is so uncomfortable with its own sexuality. To reveal images so provocative and opposed to mainstream thinking is an act of liberation.

I think it’s important though, to remember that what you’re being shown in porn, is a fantasy. Even with “amateur” porn what you are seeing is most often a staged, edited and carefully constructed daydream whose codes of behaviour, though exciting, need not necessarily be a template for your own. Morality and responsibility are weighted differently on film, there are no repercussions inside the porno flashbacks. What’s hot onscreen is not necessarily safe, desirable, or even pleasurable in the non-cinematic world. The fantasies of pornography are a privilege we enjoy in this particular, epoch, the ability to revel in graphic images charged with such potency is as a marvellous thing, but as with all privileges it entails responsibility. Noblesse oblige, lover."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Freiheit


The question arose this week if linguistically, in English, you can attach singular or plural articles to the word "freedom" e.g. "a freedom" or "my freedoms". The German speakers were determined that you could not, the British were not at all sure, the North Americans were insistent that you could. I thought about how you can (without any argument) say; "I have the freedom to wear what I want", but realised this is not quite the same as saying "The freedom to wear what I want is just one of my freedoms." It sounds wrong to all but North American ears, and even some of those listeners find it strange, but why so? Moreover it is not just awkward to hear, but unsettling, a thorny concept.

When you make freedom an object, by applying an indefinite article to it, it enters into an economy of commodity and exchange, it becomes a product. As with all products in advanced capitalist economies, you are require to buy or trade for it and this is exactly what is happening, right now. The linguistic newness of "a freedom" and "my freedoms" are a central part of this era of terror, it's a marketing ploy which highlights exactly how far the language of counter-terrorism has affected the lexicon and capacity for thought in the US and Europe. All of the post-9/11 language, of "terrorists hating our freedom" put such a focus on the concept of freedom and with concurrent sleight of hand, changed the meaning of freedom.

Singular and plural freedoms, in stark opposition to definite freedom (the freedom) allow for freedom to be treated like a multipack of liberties. Freedom is broken down into units (freedoms), so we notice less when they're removed from us. It's not our freedom (our liberty, our rights as human beings) that is at stake, we argue, we are just trading certain freedoms (specific privileges) for protection against some semi-fictional force that wants to wipe us out. In this logic, since we are not losing our access to facebook, or our cars, or the ability to buy new jeans, we don't seem to notice that all we are being left with is the most empty kind of freedom. We have governments who rule almost totally and openly in the name of the rich, who have no qualms in waging wars against the better judgments of the people, who set-up teenagers as scapegoats, and deliberately stir up fear to stimulate support for their insane policies, backed by a masochistic media which kneels to lick their boots.

Breaking freedom down into freedoms allows for this, it suggests to us in its very language that we can pick and chose, that some freedoms are more equal than others, that we can drop some and trade them for something else. We are no longer concerned with liberty for all (wo)mankind, but rather protecting these few fake freedoms we're still holding onto (to all intents and purposes "a lifestyle"). In short it is the end of the Enlightenment, the death of idea that everyone should be free, the grave of Martin Luther King. Only now the epitaph has been deface, it no longer reads "no man is free until we are all free" but "Souvenir postcards $15.99". We are now entering the middle-ages again, we are all becoming serfs again, because we have forgotten what it was that led us so briefly out of servitude - collective struggle and an honest belief that the world could be made a better place. All we have now is cynicism, greed, irony and fatigue, and in this state we are allowing ourselves to be stripped bare.

Literally.

Witness the new US airport regulations which have brought controversial full-body "naked" scans into major airports. The German government looks likely to follow suit next year. Not only is this a horrible violation of privacy and a miserable windfall for the cyborgs who make these machines (already $247m from US airports) but drastically increases psychological paranoia in an already thoroughly traumatised population. Now terrorists are even further advanced than technology! And the only people who can save us are our beloved leaders, who really have our best interests at heart. It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote, "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither," I think.

And meanwhile we have the CIA training a teenage Somalian boy for almost two years, in how to plan a mass impact suicide bombing. At a Christmas market in Oregon he was arrested only 20 minutes before detonating his (fake) bomb, which is a rather brilliant PR coup for the CIA, since it allows them to simultaneously say "Look! You need us!" and "Don't worry we know everything!" It posits them as an omnipotent God, in some Cartesian paradox in which they rescue us from what they put into motion themselves. The German newspapers are full of terror alerts also, warning that terrorists planned to hit "soft targets" at Christmas markets. Not long ago wikileaks shared information with the world that this exact tactic (of putting terror plots into the media) had been discussed by the US government as a way of increasing support for its unpopular foreign policy within Germany. Or rather, I should say that these stories were all over the news, now the news says we must go shopping at the Christmas markets because if not (You guessed it!) the terrorists will have won.

And now 19 year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, will go to prison for a long, long time, probably forever, because one of the world's most powerful, best resourced, most advanced institutions found him when he was 17 and persuaded him to take up the role of this year's would be festive slayer.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Hit Reading Series



I'm excited about this! Travis is reading some of his work, Evelyn is reading her Bitch Magazine article and I'm going to do one or two of the monologues from "Kill Everyone Now". Plus Mary Ocher's performing a special live set. See you there lover!

Friday, November 26, 2010

This week with Alexander



And if you visit everyone's favourite psychedelic scrapbook fagcity, you'll find a brand new Alexander image. It's like a treasure hunt, lover.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It isn't in our blood.


Mary Ocher at Immer Gern, Nov 2010

Last night I finally had the pleasure of seeing Mary Ocher, one of my favourite songwriters, perform live. It was a fairly intimate gig, as it often goes on a chilly Monday in Berlin, but Ms Ocher presented a set of ten wildly colorful, deeply melodic, wonderfully emotive, altogether batty, original songs delivered in a soaring, swooping, confident voice channeling the blues, folk, riot girl and even, dare I say it, pop music. Confrontational at times, frequently obtuse but nonetheless captivating for it, Mary brought to mind a fascinating combination of Kate Bush, PJ Harvey, Diamanda Galas, Regina Spektor and Leonard Cohen. Those references are of course misleading because all of her influences are collaged in a marvelously off-kilter manner and become her own thing. As Taylor Mac herself said, "Comparison is violence", though sometimes it's useful in hinting at, if not defining.

Mary's record comes out in Spring 2011 and she will be touring Europe to promote it, so check her out at http://www.myspace.com/maryocher for a full list of her upcoming dates.

Picture by Stevie Hanley

P.S. Alexander and Mary will be performing together on Dec 5th at The Silver Future, but more on that later.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alexander this week.




This week's Alexander show is aptly on Alexanderplatz, at the City Boy party in celebration of Stevie Hanley's latest exhibition "Many Dogs Run Wild In The City...." which opens at The Centre for Endless Progress on Friday November 19th.

And here's a little peek behind the scenes of last week's show.

Alexander with the Crystal Tits

Jaime Diamonds of the Crystal Tits giving some showgirl realness

It's a very light-hearted working environment.

Photography by Evelyn Krampf International.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Queen at Breakfast



I saw this rather lovely painting of The Queen by her husband Prince Phillip a few months ago and have been thinking about it on and off since. It's a surprisingly good painting isn't it? I mean, WHO KNEW? The informality is very charming, and the style in no way showy, it's a terribly modern sort of portrait and very unexpecte. It's very unusual to have the monarch eating toast somewhere in the background, not even looking at the viewer. I wonder if the dear old D.of.E made more, or if this was just a one-off? I hope not.

The Queen is very young in this picture, I imagine there is a whole history of images from the interior of her life, running parallel to the images we see of the exterior of her life. She hasn't spent the best part of a century simply shaking hands with diplomats and waving at crowds in floral dresses. (Which prompts another question how did a woman so chic in the 50s become so, not so? How quickly does one descend into the cheerful hell of pastels?) Rather she has lived a life of nudity, fireplaces, emotional outbursts, child birth, heartache, excitement, illicit moments, unthinkable privilege and soft, even intimacy. If the Duke of Edinburgh has captured any of this, anything of the woman behind the throne it will be a hundred times more interesting than any amount of official portraits; those images that forever tell only one thing "This is the Queen."

I'm put in mind of Hemmingway and Dietrich's great, unconsummated, love affair and the letters they wrote to each other until the writer's suicide. They tell a very different story from that which we know. Hemmingway is revealed not as the alcoholic womanizer of popular mythology, but as a deeply depressed and very shy man who confesses to Dietrich that his sexual encounters have in fact been few. Dietrich meanwhile is shown to be more capable of romantic feelings, and considerably less megalomaniacal than would be believed. She called him "Papa" and he called her "My Little Kraut" - cute, right? Sort of.

Their love affair (partially due to it's unrequitedness) is amongst my favourite love stories, up there with Marlon Brando putting his cigarettes out on James Dean. Yet, I love to daydream about how Marlene and Ernest may have brought things to fruition, he femme butch, she butch femme, at it in the Imperialé suite at the Ritz. An alcohol fueled flight into self-destruction, the incomparable narcissism, bottles smashed and tears wept, panic, lust, cigarette smoke, and then, curtains. She would leave him bruised and hungover, a plane to catch a commitment on some other continent, and he wouldn't have the words to say goodbye. She would write to him often and think about him oftener, and he would nurse his wounds, she would send him trinkets and he would keep them in his pocket as he walked out into his garden in Idaho, shotgun in hand.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ich must besser deutsch lernen.




I'm currently learning German, I have class at 9am every morning, at a language school which has been rather conveniently placed at the end of my street. I am however late everyday, and in my early morning rush to class, am often reminded of Gerry Visco telling me that she takes a taxi to work everyday but is still always two hours late.

Learning a foreign language in a formal setting is infantalizing, not just because the text books look as though they were designed for nine-year olds and the listening exercises revolve around the sort of situations normally never seen outside of Postman Pat. You find yourself totally without verbal access to your thoughts, unable to express anything but the most basic (and usually unconnected) ideas. A limited vocabulary and little understanding of tense, means you find yourself thrashing about like a fish on deck, with access to only cocktail party language. Talking about objects one might see at the train station, activities for the weekend, or who has lost their ball. To be permanently caught in the present - I go, you go, she goes, they go - never even able to consider she has gone, I will go, or he would go, is maddening. Time shrink wraps you, all you have is the moment you speak, and the struggle to express that moment.

And of course, my teacher is demonically chirpy. Her enthusiasm is so intense, I sometimes ponder if she isn't in fact a speed freak. I doubt it though. To paraphrase Anna from Crystal Tits, she has the kind of enthusiasm that only evangelical Christians have, maybe she's doing God's work. I don't know, I'll ask, but there is something most definitely religious about the experience, being thrown together with strangers, all of whom have one focus, one aim, one belief - German. From across the world, we come, from different countries, professions, communities, age groups, and social strata, speaking no common language, all gathered in the belief that we can learn German if only we truly believe, if only we follow the scriptures. I am often put in mind of the Churches I attended growing up, when we run through verb endings, en mass and aloud. In the monotonous chanting Ich bin, du bist, sie ist, er ist, es ist, Sie sind, wir sind, ihr seid, there is no escaping how similar it all sounds to a congregation intoning a prayer together. That flat, unchanging intonation, the low register the group adopts, the obviousness of anyone who falls out of time, making the experience wonderfully close to that of uttering the Hail Mary, or answering the priest (altogether now); "And also with you."

Occasionally I see how tired our lecturer looks, how much older than her years. All of that pantomiming and manic energy really take their toll. She seems sad, behind her happy grimace leers a dark dissatisfaction, yearning to express more than my bag, your bag, her bag, our bags, is that all there is? And from amongst all the simple insistences, questions regarding "Who's suitcase is this?", she will from time to time let slip something accidentally poignant. Taking the role of one of the many horribly drawn text book characters, she will announce, "Ich bin allein. Menschen kommen und gehen." And even though we know it's not true, she's happily married, we all know it's true.

Of course, the most notable experience for me in beginning German, has been learning a gendered language - and sitting right at the front of the class. Several times a week I am the example in the formation of such sentences as "Is das eine frau? Nein das ist keine frau, das ist ein mann!" It's a little awkward to say the least. The entire class is conducted in German and I am yet to reach the level where I can ask; "Is Judith Butler translated into German?" So, I'm sort of suffering in silence, being shoe-horned into the good old binary. And of course, the text books and exercises are horribly heterocentric, every other page requires you to decipher some inane letter between Sara and Jan, or asks you to pair "frau" with "mann", "mädchen" with "jungë", and bind the apparent opposites together in perfect insidious naturalness.

German, however is further gendered, objects are either feminine, masculine or neutral, not just people, meaning that it's pretty inescapable. There's a strange sort of muddying effect with objects inhabiting the same genders as people, which is kinda cosmic on one hand, but on the other, very constraining because you always come back to der, die and das as though it's the root of being. At least there's the option of the third (ie neutral) way, huh? Only that's even more depressing - who wants to be neutral (neutered, neutralized) EVER? Exactly. Plus of course, to have a third option doesn't in anyway shake up the strangle hold of the other two, it actually justifies them in giving an alternative.

However, German, like French and all the other modern Indo-European languages (besides English of course), has a formal form, Sie, which can maybe help me in some small way to overcome linguistic social stratification. I have decided to address everyone as Sie, as though I were always talking to a learned scholar, a priest or royalty. That way I shall elevate everyone to a status of respect in a simple, personal way, a little off-center perhaps, but so be it. In my own way I shall defy the conventions of gendered language by always talking to everyone, everywhere as though they were a queen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stills from "Edward !!"





A set of pictures by Marcello from our video piece based on Christopher Marlowe's play "Edward II", shot in August.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alexander




New hit flier for new hit shows.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Overdressed and overeducated

I wrote this during the Summer for a now defunct German magazine, but I thought it deserved an airing - no?


London’s hippest neighbourhood, Hoxton, has gone and got itself something of a bad rap. It is mocked for being the centre of all things try-hard, its inhabitants taunted for their fashion sense, and its hang-outs slandered for their extortionate prices. As such it is a magnet, for what New Yorkers would call “the bridge and tunnel crowd”. At the weekend the area is awash with drunken suburbanites looking for cultural kudos to compliment their pitchers of mysteriously colourful cocktails. The streets are full of hen and stag parties brawling in the middle of the road, puking in doorways and screaming homophobic abuse at the area’s earlier residents (artists and performers) who now make their way further afield to parties in territories as yet unspoilt. The visiting revellers are arguably some of the worst dressed people on the planet, skin tight high street party dresses, and murderously orange sunbed skin, accessorised by neon tutus and sunglasses worn as an ironic laugh at the Hoxton trend from 5 years ago, for 90s rave inspired looks (itself of course ironic to begin with). Like Kreuzberg or the Lower East Side, raucous new arrivals force the previous occupants out, and the cultural landscape changes again. Call it gentrification, call it evolution, call it capitalism’s sickest joke yet, nothing is stable.

On sunny days in Hoxton Square, a ruptured square of grass behind Old Street, a crowd of a sixty or so people gather to enjoy the afternoon’s glow. In twos and threes they are chic twentysomethings who work in the area (at one of the many bars and restaurants or design firms) or students returning from art school, stopping off on the grass on their way home. They are all dressed in that specifically London way, that unmistakable transhistorical, borderline outrageous look. It’s too vulgar to be French, too impractical and immodest to be American, too gaudy to be Belgian and too grungey to be Italian, it’s a style that can only be British.

The girls wear super short denim shorts with turn ups that graze their upper thighs, leaving long acres of flesh exposed. They walk on sky high platform heels, they wear scarves in their hair and studded leather jackets and oddball vintage sunglasses. Vermillion red lips and ghostly white skin, tattoos, and enormous handbags of expensive fabrics. Their hair is platinum blonde or cinder brown, either lustrously long or viciously short å la garconne. The boys themselves (and yes, the gender disparity is that blatant) are a lot more understated, sporting a look comprised of the French Rivera, geek chic and a very bourgeois nod to hip hop. They wear baseball caps with flat brims, oversized spectacles, deck shoes with no socks, plaid shirts or pastel polo shirts, and skinny jeans. Likewise the hair is almost always identikit, short through the back and long on the top, varied in contrast and shape depending on how bold you care to be. From a limited menu of acceptable options the British fashionista puts together a look they would like to call “individuality”, which underscores vividly how in such a developed capitalist economy, choice is always an illusion.

They lounge in the sun, glad to be free from the drudgery of the classroom, or their entry level job, flipping disinterestedly through classic American novels (say what they will, the British are deeply enamoured by American culture), discussing last weekend’s adventures, drinking cans of cider and planning next weekend’s adventures. The pose is that of slumming it, the scene reminiscent at once of an alfresco music video casting, Manet’s Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe and a zoological garden. Satiated by relative economic stability, distracted by an unprecedented flow of technology, and subsidised by a constant influx of material goods produced in foreign sweatshops, this is the most apolitical generation of the past hundred and fifty years.

In the mid-70s this very same spot, the exact same square of grass in the sun now populated by mid-afternoon daydreamers, the infamous British fascist movement, the National Front, would square up with the local black youth. On Saturday mornings, the two sides came face to face at a designated time, and gathered as though on a medieval battlefield, they lined up and fought it out hand to hand. They fought for control of the East End, for the shaping of the capital and the country, to see whose ideology would rule. They fought bloodily with broken bottles and improvised instruments of violence, with absolute conviction, but before they did so, before the first punch was thrown, combatants from both sides of the lines spent time admiring the ensembles of their enemies, complimenting the cut of each other’s jackets and the leather of their boots. The same boots that would soon be biting deep and hard into their opponent’s face. One of East London’s most knowledgeable long time denizens, Beverley Whispers, told me, “It was two tribes, more about style than hate.” In a decade of massive political upheaval and soaring unemployment, Londoners literally wore their heart on their sleeves. The white skinhead National Front combatants wore boots and braces, super cropped hair. The black youth wore flares, double denim ensembles inspired by Bob Marley, and afros replete with combs jammed in the front. As a teen Beverley knew not to go near Hoxton, now she runs the Joiner’s Arms one of the pubs that has defined
the new East End scene, and the National Front have moved out to Dagenham.

It seems that the afternoon picnickers, lovers, and Kerouac readers have absolutely no idea however of what happened right here, beneath their feet, before they ever arrived. If they are cognisant of those events, they show no signs of it, no-one discusses it. It’s as though Hoxton Square were newly created specifically as a destination for weekday afternoon lounging. But such is the prerogative of each successive generation, to be bored by the recent past. Perhaps it is for the best that such violent scenes as the clashes between the NF and the BP have been condemned to the dustbin of history. Maybe we don’t need to be further traumatised by such memories. But I can’t help thinking that it’s important to know where we came from, that we should be aware of how the freedoms we take for granted came to be. Civil liberties weren’t just handed out by benevolent governments, people fought and died in the streets for them whether that was in fist fights with fascists or at the hands of the police (and often one can discern little or no difference). Interestingly the boot boy style of the skin head National Front members is once again en vogue; witness the re-emergence amongst the fashion forward, of the Doc Marten boot, stonewash drain pipe jeans and braces over white graphic t-shirts.

Thankfully the politics of the look have not been resurrected with the ensembles. It is provocative, exciting even to see such a loaded look reappropriated by wearers with a very different political bent, especially when (as can be seen in Berlin today) left-wing punk skin head activists rub shoulders in the streets with right wing militants, and all are dressed the same. The code is broken, and re-written, power is reclaimed from the iconography of fear and transferred. But without knowledge of what is being reworked, the purely fashionable, apolitical wearers run the risk of ignorantly digging up bloody visuals from the past, and unwittingly parading themselves zombie like to through the parks and gardens of Europe’s metropolises. To paraphrase performance artist Penny Arcade; “You are the most informed generation in history but you lack context.” And that is the postmodern danger, without knowing our history, without a Penny Arcade or a Beverley Whispers, we all become billboards – loaded symbols unaware of our content.

- JJ Bibby, Summer 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shows

Here's a lovely flier for the first Alexander show of the Winter in Berlin. It's a fundraiser, which doubles the need for you to be there.



And here's a lovely article from Bang Bang Berlin

"Sodom can come disguised in many forms, is it that man lurking behind the bushes in Tiergarten? Or possibly it's the lady who measures bra sizes in underwear shops? Who knows... But Ladies and Gentleladies I have sodom in a much richer, riper form for you... Yes, The next installation of Sodom into our hearts comes in the form of a very witty, very enigmatic English young man.

You may be thinking about me, but no, unfortunately not, This fiery redhead goes by the name of La John Joseph.
I saw John Joseph perform many months back now at homo-house "Chantals House of shame." I, like everybody else in the room, was hideously captivated by not only this lovely chaps mirmaid-esque luring voice but the lyrics and the way he works the crowd, Already I was bitten by the John Joseph wasp and craving for more venom, So it was only the other week when I got news around the bush that La John Joseph has now moved to Berlin... Score. What makes it even better my pretties is that he has some gig dates coming up... Double score. In venues across Berlin such as smash hit Karaoke bar "Monster Ronsons" along with King Kong Club and Neukölln based lesbian leftist heaven "Silverfuture". This man is on fire, make sure you are there to see the fire display, It is something no short of a spectacular evening to be had, not quite the sodom you were expecting, no dark rooms this time, no hefty hangovers or names in your phonebook the next day which contain numbers and punctuation due to you being so drunk.
No, This time you are going to experience some real homosexual hugging, captivating cabaret talent who's lyrics are not only witty but politically, geographically and life affirmingly accurate to todays lifestyle. But don't take my word for it, there is an endless list of compliments from the homo-press just gagging to say lovely things about him."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cake Bush


There's a great story which I remember reading, about Kate Bush in the late '80s finding herself under pressure from the record company to cut a new album. After various attempts to persuade the powers that be, that her family had taken precedence and that she just wasn't ready to make another album, Kate was forced to call a meeting with them in order to keep the peace. Unhappily she invited the record company people to her house, agreeing to show them what she had been working on. When they arrived Kate produced a tray of fairy cakes and said; "This is what I've been working on."

On a similar note, this is what I've been working on.



Oh, and learning German, filing my taxes and preparing for the 5 Alexander shows in Berlin. But, mainly baking.