Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Rosie Wilby’s “Is Monogamy Dead”

Originally published on PinkNews.co.uk

Rosie-Willby

Is Monogamy dead? Wounded, certainly, according to one Peckham based sex researcher. Rosie Wilby, musician and journalist turned comedian, performed a thought-provoking set at the Canada Water Culture Space last Friday as part of LGBT history month. Using somewhat scientific diagrams, surveys, and a whole lot of jokes, we explore the concept of relationships, breakups, and alternate interpretations of sexual identity.

The notion of a polygamous household is certainly not new, but our more typical connotation of these kinds of relationships tends to be quite negative. However, what is often missed with this generalisation is the consensual, open relationships that are more common within the LGBT community called polyamory. Rosie, having been inspired by a conversation with friends, decided the explore the idea in her new show, “Is Monogamy Dead”.

She said: “My friends all broke up from long term relationships and in many of those cases it was down to some kind of infidelity. I just thought it was a waste that all these long term relationships were breaking down. I started to wonder if there were better alternatives.”

After the success of her previous routine, The Science of Sex, a spoof lecture on sexuality, Rosie was well primed for this intriguing and sceptical look at the serial monogamist.

From giant lesbians to teeny tiny gay men, Rosie explores the reality of life as an openly gay Londoner, with lively humour and enthusiastic story telling. She pays particular attention to the differences between the sexes, comparing the life of gay women to their male counterparts. Are lesbians trying too hard to be monogamous? Is that what is leading to infidelity, and ultimately, catastrophic breakup?

“We are a relatively disenfranchised group,” she said. “You do get sexism and homophobia which means Lesbians are clinging to monogamy even more.”

Rosie uses her own sometimes tragic personal experience as a diving board for a more in-depth analysis of our beliefs and practices regarding relationships and sex. But she also combines history with humour to give us the big picture, regaling tales of John Harvey Kellogg’s strange views on abstinence, and incites the audience to take part in the process. She offered a cornflake to one unsuspecting audience member, who, to our surprise, found it to be a rather potent aphrodisiac.

So next time you’re partners not quite in the mood folks, I would recommend a hearty bowl of breakfast cereal.

Rosie’s peculiar wit had me smiling throughout the show, and she used her crude props to great effect. Hand drawn graphs, tables, and (somewhat) badly drawn doodles give the air of a classroom lecture gone horribly wrong. But there is reason behind the madness – Rosie subtly weaves in the science of relationships, comparing us to the sexually ravenous Bonobo, and looking at the way in which love tends to blossom and mature with time. In one instance, a woman is asked to graph the level of happiness in her current relationship, after which Rosie explains why these levels tend to peak and trough, and why many relationships ultimately don’t make it past the dreaded three year mark.

So while after the show I feel no closer to answering the original question posed by Rosie, I came home feeling somewhat more open minded about the concept of a polyamorous relationship.

While we may not be as promiscuous as our little monkey cousins, we do in fact have many loving relationships with a wide range of people throughout our lives.

If you’re looking for a good laugh, a stimulating night out, and want to learn more about the crazy world of polyamorous relationships, I would recommend a crash course with the very funny Rosie Wilby. Her next performances will be on March 19 at Cambridge CB2 and April 3 at Luton Hat Factory.

Losing my Burlesque Virginity

Note: This article was originally written for and published on www.planetivy.com

This last week has been quite a journey, friends. After twenty-four years of existence on this pale blue dot, I’ve finally lost my burlesque virginity. A seedy, hilarious and captivating concoction like no other, I dived headfirst into the Burlesque Games which took place in London last week.

Natsumi Scarlette performing at Twisted Burlesque night, Madam Jojo’s, Soho.

Natsumi Scarlette performing at Twisted Burlesque night, Madam Jojo’s, Soho.

“Stripping for posh people” is what it is often labelled by critics. Being a broke-ass pleb, I was going into the show a little sceptical. And the results? Tassels, glitter and giant rubber dildos – let me tell you, folks, Burlesque ain’t for the faint of heart.

It all kicked off with the press meet and greet last Tuesday, where I was hoping to get pissed off free booze and chat up scantily-clad ladies. I met Chaz Royal, one of the event organisers, by the door of Gore Hotel in West London. He’s a down to earth guy who doesn’t seem like he’d be the architect of one of the biggest Burlesque festivals in the world.

Event organisers Chaz Royal and Betty Q

Event organisers Chaz Royal and Betty De’Light

He told me there are 65 performers at the Games this year, with 6 shows and up to 2,000 viewers. The games started as a spin-off from the World Burlesque Festival, inspired by the 2012 games last year. Not exactly the Olympic legacy Cameron had in mind, I suspect. Chaz lives in Edinburgh after migrating from Canada, and has been around the world working with bands and burlesque groups. “London is the place to be,” he says, “people can be hostile…but not as much in London.”

I headed through the entrance and straight to the bar, but I quickly found I’d need a small fortune to get drunk here. I stuck with water and ice for the rest of the week. After realising I was actually going to have to do some work, I started talking to the folks loitering around the small room, which had a distinct 1920s feel to it. There was a grand fireplace, retro décor and fine oil paintings scattered along the walls. No wonder the drinks were so expensive.

The Emcee Reuben Kaye preparing to go on stage

The Emcee Reuben Kaye preparing to go on stage

The show was hosted by the flamboyantly gay Reuben R Kaye, who describes himself as a “rampant dipsomaniac”. When I first met him he was wearing a long, feathered hat and had a face caked in makeup. His eccentric look had a personality to match. Wonderfully enthusiastic and exceedingly intelligent, the man had a presence that was hard to ignore. The jokes came thick and fast throughout the show. He had a dark, self-deprecating sense of humour that was so typically British (even though he’s Australian). My favourite joke from the show: “I’m like a Sainsbury’s self-checkout: approval needed, approval needed – please put your items in the bagging area.”

Performing couple Collette  and Willy at the Press Party

Performing couple Collette and Willy at the Press Party

The first performing pair I met was Willy and Collette, a couple who’d travelled from Brussels for the games. They tell me they’re here to “meet international people and other performers”. The two are dressed in matching tuxedos, keeping in line with the early 20th century throwback. Collette has a dream-like glaze in her eyes and sports a gleaming top hat, while Willy has a suave pencil moustache and bowtie. I jokingly ask him if he’s fundraising for Movember, and he looks back at me with bewilderment. I guess it must not be a thing in Brussels.

Collette and Willy performing at Twisted Burlesque

Collette and Willy performing at Twisted Burlesque

I later saw the pair perform at the Variety act, which took place at the intimate Madame JoJo’s in a nefarious corner of Soho. The lights dim, and then turn a sombre blue as Willy’s booming voice begins the tale. His playing of the accordion was masterful, and together they crafted a captivating few minutes of song and dance. I was surprised by the performance, not by how professional it was, but by the fact that that there was no stripping. The pair went on to win the variety act and perform at the finals in Bush Hall on Saturday.

Another interesting character at the games was Equador the Wizard, a charismatic Londoner. At the press party he was sporting a long tail and a handlebar moustache with a pointed chin puff. He wowed me with some close-up magic and told me about his training as a ‘bubbleologist’ with bubble legend “Sam Sam Bubble Man.” This wizard is a rare breed, kinda like Gandalf the Grey, but instead of one ring to the rule them all, he’s got one tassel to bind them.

Equador the Wizard at the Press Party

Equador the Wizard at the Press Party

“Boylesque”, as he calls it, was a pretty big hit with the crowd, who roared in applause when he flung off his overalls and gyrated his hips to heavy metal. As the audience for Burlesque is mainly female, it’s not really a surprise that a half-naked man would draw such an eager ovation. Equador tells me he used to be a ballet dancer, like a lot of performers in the show.  But he was hit by a train in Bournemouth a few years back which left him with a broken pelvis. The accident turned the zany wizard into a bit of a philosopher. He told me to “always do what you find exciting. That’s why I do so many things.”

Equador the Wizard at Madam JoJo's

Equador the Wizard at Madam JoJo’s

By far the highlight of the week, though, was the weirdest of the five days: the wonderfully strange world of twisted burlesque. This shit was fucking weird, guys, I kid you not. At one point performer Lottie Kixx from Edinburgh walked off the stage sporting a strap on dildo which she rode like a horse. She grabbed Dennis the photographer and rammed the rubber phallus into his face, leaving a glittery jizz stain on his cheeks. It was actually quite a beautiful sight to behold, despite Dennis being none too pleased by the ordeal.

Lottie Kixx with The Phallus of Doom

Lottie Kixx with The Phallus of Doom

In another performance, Alan Debevoise, from Lake Como, Italy, stripped to the theme tune from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. He walked into the crowd and proceeded to display his waxed butt cheeks in front of my young innocent eyes. Some things cannot be unseen.

 Alan Debevoise performing at Twisted Burlesque night


Alan Debevoise performing at Twisted Burlesque night

What I found most enticing about Burlesque however, was the sheer inventiveness of it, the unbridled creativity that goes into some of the acts. Performers like Natsumi Scarlett from Amsterdam, and Bruised Violet, from Sheffield, impressed me with their dedication and hard work. They designed their own costumes and props, along with orchestrating the choreography and music. There were some bad bitches in this show, with the talent to back it up.

Natsumi Scarlett getting ready to perform

Natsumi Scarlett getting ready to perform

So my final thoughts on Burlesque as a newcomer to the scene – it’s definitely entertaining, a good night out and a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, burlesque is stripping, heck, it inspired modern stripping, but it’s a form of entertainment that goes so much further. It’s about working with characters and creating an engaging variety act. The best shows for me were the strange ones, I just couldn’t turn away. The more bog standard routines I found a little boring and repetitive. While there’s nakedness involved, from my week long crash course it’s more like a naked-themed pantomime than your run of the mill strip show, with whooping, hollering, cheering, singing, and plenty of laughs to go round.

 

Winners of the World Burlesque Games 2013

Winners of the World Burlesque Games 2013

*Pictures courtesy of Chaz Royal

Jessie Ware’s “If You’re Never Gonna Move” Music VIdeo Review

Song review:

Jessie Ware’s new single “If You’re Never Gonna Move” certainly made we want to move.  I found myself tapping my foot along to the upbeat tune, fawning over the beautiful Jessie, with her slender appendages and dazzling brunette hair. Jessie’s velvet vocals had me entranced for an (almost) blissful three minutes.

The video however, while highly polished and well-produced, was a little too nonsensical and contrived for my liking. Jessie frolics in beautiful scenic backdrops, sweeping grasslands sprawling over green country hills and a meadow full of daisies. Ah, how utterly cliché.

But admittedly I suppose it could have been worse. I mean, it’s not like she and the beard clad hipster of her dreams drive off into a golden sunset hand in hand, in some expensive and luxurious car. How romantic.

My only other gripe was the inaudible gravelly voice that seems to sporadically crop up from time to time, which to be honest, I found slightly frightening, but mostly annoying.

The lyrics are not bad, although again, it’s hard to tell what she’s singing during parts. Regardless, Jessie definitely has a lovely voice. So while I enjoyed the song on a whole, consider me unsold on the rather cliché music video, and dreadfully grating chorus.

3/5 Starfish