Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ask a stupid question


I wrote this outstandingly profound piece, on festival fashion, for Edinburgh's much loved fringe magazine, Three Weeks. I was a little, erm, altered whilst I wrote it.


"Now everybody knows that whilst the dull eye of television will be sizing up London’s Olympic demise this summer, the world’s real arbiters of taste and decency will be tripping down Edinburgh’s hallowed hallways. Everybody who is anyone will be there, tarting their wares, and serving themselves at the buffet table of culture, so you’d better be looking your best.

I wouldn’t advise a ‘fashionable’ approach when it comes to making your mark on the glitterati, that’s far too obvious. Everyone at the Festival will have read that same copy of Grazia on the pendolino to Edinburgh, so you will gain no advantage by displaying your savvy choice of bubble skirt. Nobody will care, good taste is old hat.

And don’t try some ker-azy fancy dress either as 50% of the city will be dressed in polyester reproductions of comedy animals, so they’ll entirely steal your thunder.

Everyone is trying to stand out, so really the only way to stamp your sartorial supremeness all over town is to dress yourself entirely as though you have no interest in theatre, the arts, culture, or humanity in general. If you dress like an out and out misanthropic loser, people will undoubtedly flock to you! For performers and promoters alike will be so sick of the manic grins of the shamelessly self-promotional that they will fall over themselves to find a human vent for their pent up frustrations and repressed fury. If people think you cannot possibly gain any pleasure or advantage from conversation, they will lavish it on you.

Now, what would this inconspicuous miser look like? This sepulchre of a person? Try to tap into all of your deepest insecurities for a moment, and then heap all of that horror into a shopping list and run immediately to TK Maxx. Will that a-line skirt make your arse look really ungainly? Buy it! Does wearing a shirt with a mandarin collar make you look like a half spent tube of toothpaste? Grab one! If you walk the streets in a God Hates Fags t-shirt will people refuse to make eye contact with you? Find out!

You want to look like you are suffering a prolonged (and probably fatal) round of depression, and to cultivate an air of bitterness around yourself, to make it clear that you lack empathy entirely. Try dusting yourself lightly in talcum powder, wearing your shoes on the wrong feet, listening to the soundtrack to Xanadu on a walkman, and whispering to yourself intermittently, that should be a good start. You must find the rock bottom within yourself and then, imagine how she would dress.

At first you might be a little uncomfortable with looking so dreadful, but you’ll get used to it, trust me (and some of you sooner than others). It might be a little embarrassing (and you’ll probably want to avoid meeting anyone you would ever like to see again) but after a few days the benefits will make themselves known. You will be a beacon of hopelessness in a sea of manufactured optimism, and so by the basic rules of attraction people will flock to you.

Your novelty value is simply that since there is no apparent reason anybody should want to talk to you, everybody will want to. Nobody will take you, in your mismatched supermarket brand sportswear and your free-with-Cosmo tropical beach bag, for a stage school brat or a wannabe starlet, oh no! It will simply be assumed that you are a mysterious outsider, onto which the exhausted and delusional denizens of the city will inevitably project endless romantic fantasies.

They will come to you in waves as thick as crème anglais, dying to rattle off their sorrows to an indifferent, unconnected outsider. To you they can complain about the garbage they have to sit through, and admit freely that they never liked theatre to begin with, and only got into this game to spite their parents. To you they will decline to censor themselves, figuring you as being too ignorant to comprehend, let alone cash in on, the indecipherable information. They will confess dutifully, they will heave up their tragedies like a drunken secretary on a hen night, and they will be raised up with relief.

Then, right at the moment of absolution, when they are almost grateful to you for listening to their tedious privileged whinings, just as they reach out the hand of approaching friendship towards you, you can knowingly slip into that clammy palm, a flier for your show. Surely they will be so embarrassed to realize what a fool they have made of themselves that they will come running to your show and give it rave reviews, if only to save face? Really that’s the kind of audience you want to generate isn’t it? Ashamed, deluded and indentured to your good will.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always spend all of that glorious free time you find yourself in possession of (after your venue goes bankrupt mid-run and you find yourself stranded with an non-transferable train ticket booked for Sept 1st ) cruising Oxfam for cheap sex, and even cheaper knitted goods. Chin up Marge, it’s not the winning, it’s the being humiliated publicly and worn into the ground financially that really counts! Which is just as well; because that’s really what you’re good at".

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