Interview with Martha ...
A ‘Kurt’, sudden, ...
Why Cate Blanchett ...
Backlash over ‘dickhead’ ...
Perth’s ‘Sculpture By ...
Fringeworld ends with ...
On a scorching summer Sunday with the tempting prospect of a public holiday the next day, what looked like 30,000 of Perth’s most beautiful people braved the trek to Joondalup Arena in their festival best. Most were wearing as little as possible to keep as cool in the lack of shade (and presumably not willing to skip an opportunity to flaunt amazing physique). Oh, except for one girl in fully bright banana clobber.
It was on from the get go. Everywhere you turned, at every stage and in every corner, was an appreciate crowd dancing and enjoying the plethora of electronic delights on offer. Even the ‘Foamarama’ stage, pumping copious amounts of foam and fun, old-school classics, was packed with people getting bubbly and wild all day long.
One of the unsurprising stand-out acts of the day was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who played to a massive, adoring crowd on the impressive main stage. They managed to win this approval early on in the set with humble appreciation, expressing their advocacy for gay rights, and even changing the lyrics to their enormous hit ‘Thrift Shop’ to ‘Op Shop’ for full Aussie benefit.
Nearby on the ‘Safari Stage’ (which maintained a steady flow of interested folks throughout the day) Rudimental and Co were making an impression with an energetic set, well-received by the appreciative crowd. They were closely followed by Aussie indietronica foursome Cut Copy, who kept the crowd happily bouncing along to their electro-pop beats.
French legends Phoenix closed the stage to a disappointing turnout – though this was to be expected, as they stuck out oddly on the predominantly electronic and dance line-up. The crowd may have been a let-down but the killer set they played certainly wasn’t, much to the delight of those who stuck around to watch.
Unfortunately, drawcard Eric Prydz was unable to play due to illness and was replaced by a two-hour set from the Dutch DJ Hardwell, who kept the main stage area pumping as the sun was setting.
The crowd for headliner Deadmau5 was sparse and disappointing, as by this point a majority of punters had moved to the crammed and sweaty ‘Haunted House’ big-top to dance to tunes by Knife Party and Chase & Status. There, bright lights illuminated the enormous swarming troupes, dancing energetically until the final beat of the day… and before that dreaded sweaty train ride home.
Photography by Jennifer Lee Hay.
Images, from above: Rudimental, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Rudimental again, Cut Copy, Phoenix, Deadmau5, and hardcore ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’ers.
For Generation X-ers, there is a certain sensation felt when tuning in to a classic track by The Motels. In particular, hit singles like Total Control or Suddenly Last Summer will bring back a flood of memories otherwise only brought on if flipping through a high-school yearbook. Polaroid-like memories of partying on the beach til midnight with friends, making out in the backseat of a bent-up Holden, discovering MTV in blissful sync with the music industry’s own introduction to the new entertainment medium, and so on.
The Motels are as early Eighties as big hair, bright lips, dramatic verses in songs, and just-as-dramatic concept videos. In fact, they were more cause than effect of all the aforementioned.
Lead singer Martha Davis was the rock chick that girls wanted to be and that guys wanted to, well, ‘do’. Right up there with the likes of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and Debbie Harry of Blondie, Davis was the kind of rock icon caught between pure feminine and postfeminist. The gal said what was on her mind while handling her own amongst the hardest of dudes, but she also knew when to turn on the come-hither factor – all-too necessary in a decade where image seemed everything.
Antonino Tati chats with Martha Davis about making music that matters, her forthcoming tour of Australia, and about getting ahead – sometimes literally – in the music business.
Hi Martha. I must say, all journalistic professionalism aside, you are one of my top five female artists of all-time.
Well thank you.
An artist who, I might add, has survived the long haul. I mean, The Motels started out in the Seventies…
Yep, ’71 was our first show. [Former band member] Lisa Brennais called me up and said, ‘You act like you wanna play music; well I’ve got a band for you’. She basically dared me into it, and we had this little band that was… well, quite something. Then we moved to L.A. in ’75 to ‘make it overnight’. Of course the band broke up a couple of years later. We did have a smidgen of interest from Capitol Records with that first band.
Some of the players have been with the band for a long time, like saxophonist Marty Jourard. What would you say were the key ingredients that keep certain musicians together?
Well musicianship has to be there, but first and foremost, I’d say a sense of humour. You have to love what you’re doing, but you have to love to laugh as well. I have a rule that the only ego that is allowed in the room is the song’s ego. The rest of us are just servants tending to the songs. When bands have problems, a lot of the time it’s ego-driven.
Is it good to know you’ve left somewhat of a musical legacy and that these days, with modern media and communication, a new generation can now appreciate that music?
It’s thrilling. Somebody sent me a little message the other night to say they went out to see the Pixies and the Cults, and said that the Cults did a wonderful version of ‘Total Control’. And I’m, like, ‘That’s awesome’. Amanda Palmer has done a cover of the song, too, which is great. ‘Total Control’ gets covered [and played] more than any of our songs. As a matter of fact when my youngest daughter got married, her husband-to-be’s chums took him to Vegas to see naked people – of course – and one of the ladies stripping was actually stripping to ‘Total Control’. So one of his friends is up there telling her, ‘That guy over there; you’re stripping to his new mother-in-law’s song!’
That’s hilarious. Can I just say that with that particular track, the way you deliver it is as though you’re really taken by a guy, but listening to the lyrics, the song is actually about a girl taking total control of a guy.
You know, it’s strange because I am the last one to read any of my lyrics. I’m a very stream-of-conscious kind of writer and often-times I don’t even question my lyrics. I just kind of go, ‘Oooh, that sounds good together’. But getting back to that particular song, when I wrote ‘Total Control’ I was breaking up with the former guitar player of our early band; Dean Chamberlain. We were going through a rough time, and I was broken-hearted and angry and all of those things that you get, and so I wrote it as a kind of punk-rock song. [Starts singing in much faster, rockier tempo than we’re used to:] “Looking counter-clockwise // Knowing what can happen any moment, maybe you // Maybe even you”. It was originally really angry. Then I went to rehearsal that night and one of the guys was playing that chord progression [the famous bassline that runs through the version we’re used to hearing] and so I twisted those angry words and added a new melody. And I think that’s what makes the song so dynamic. It was like this amazing, happy accident. It’s great that ‘Total Control’ still resonates; that people are still curious by it; mesmerised by it. I’m very proud of it.
Where do you think that stream-of-conscious style of songwriting comes from?
I think it comes from my mother, who was a wonderful English Literature fanatic, and who would read to us, as children, from the strangest of texts. I remember being read ‘Tropic Of Cancer’ as a bedtime story [a book by Henry Miller notorious for its sexual candour], and books by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. So I think I learnt the lyricism of words from my mother. From some of those [texts] you might not even have understood the words, but it’s the cadence of the words themselves that created this beautiful, beautiful mood and picture.
Speaking of beautiful pictures, it’s surprising to see there was no official video to go with a song like ‘Total Control’. I mean, I know it was pre-MTV…
We didn’t do any official video for that song, however there is a pretty classic version of it from a live music show. It’s the old days, so I’m smokin’ the cigarette and, you know, carryin’ on. That was a pretty good version. I don’t know what I would have done if we’d made an official video for it. Who knows, maybe it’s better that we didn’t make a video.
I used to DJ back in the day and I’d play that song and – mind you, this was way before the mashup phenomenon of today – when it got to the a capella bit where you sing ‘Over you’, I’d cut to the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ where John Lennon sings ‘Over me’.
Classic! That’s very good.
Then Lennon would sing his part, and when he got to the bit where he was about to sing ‘Over me’, I’d cut to your vocal.
Oh, you’re a clever boy, aren’t you?
It brings me to my next subject: what do you think of music today with all its covers and samples and mashups?
The mashing is kind of fun. I mean, I like it when it happens in life. There’s so much sound going on around us all the time, so there are mashups happening constantly. Where I live there’s more of a mashup of a cow moo-ing over a sheep bleeting, but in the city there are so many rhythms and stuff going on at once. And I think it’s wonderful when it happens in music; it should be done more often. I think people should go even further out – like bring classical music into it.
And what about actual music of today; what do you think of it in general?
Music in general? The Top 40 – if that’s even a term anymore – you know, the most popular music; music that makes the most money and music that costs the most money to make – seems to involve so many writers today. I mean, first of all, don’t write a song with a committee; that defeats the whole purpose of writing a song in the first place. I think of a song as somebody’s story, but when you get to about four or five people writing one song…
It becomes less about the art and more about the commerce?
Yeah, I think that’s it. And then there’s the computerised [element]. I mean, the computer is a fantastic and wonderful thing – and I’ll learn how to work one, one day – but a song is an art. It’s a thing that starts here and goes there, and you’re supposed to follow it down its path, not just be plugging in stuff or putting in bits willy-nilly.
On the subject of commerce, tell us some stories about what you had to do to get your music played on radio before the age of music video and the internet. I heard that if a vinyl single arrived on the DJ’s desk with a bag of cocaine, the song would most certainly be played.
I have a really good story for this. When I first got signed to Capitol Records, oh boy, was I a pain in their ass. First of all I didn’t want my picture on the album because I wanted to be known for the music. And I said that the other thing I didn’t want – ever – was anybody paying to have our music played. This had to be earned; this had to be organic; it had to be grown naturally. Of course, payola was the way that things happened back then. But I think they actually heard [my requests] and obeyed. So the first few albums did absolutely nothing in the United States. Then on the third album, we got this crazy chart position; really high up in the numbers on one chart – I think it was Cashbox – but just bubbling on the other, and I was like, ‘Who’s paying somebody?’. I was really furious. If it had been high on both charts, I might have thought it was real, but I thought somebody was just paying somebody. Then years later, our bassplayer Michael Goodroe came up to me and very sheepishly said, ‘Do you remember when on one chart our song was really high and you were worried that someone was getting paid… well, I was actually sleeping with the girl at Cashbox!’
Of course, the oldest form of trade!
Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you do.
When you’re delivering songs live, do you like performing variations of them?
I went through a phase of doing that, but the band I have now and have had for 10 years are these younger guys who are stunningly brilliant, and they’re very loyal to the songs. They’re also very good looking, which makes this ol’ cougar happy. But, really, they’re sticklers, and it’s them more than me that want to do the songs as they were originally intended.
I’m sure most of the fans would want that, too.
What do you do to keep it fresh for you, as you get up there and sing a song for the millionth time?
I don’t know how people do get sick of singing the same thing over again, because you’re never really singing the same thing. It’s a different audience; it’s a different venue; it’s a different night and, as a result, it’s never the same song. That’s what keeps it fresh and always new for me.
What about your own taste in music; what are five albums you never tire of?
The David Bowie album, ‘Outside’. I played that one non-stop for about three months. And I actually quite like Bowie’s new album [‘The Next Day’]. Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Rite Of Spring’ has always been one of my favourites. And I am a huge fan of Ravel’s ‘Daphnis et Chloé’. I love me some Brian Eno, so ‘Another Green World’. And I’m pretty good with Radiohead… Which album? Okay, let’s see…
Well you just said the first word of one of their best: it’s got to be ‘OK Computer’, yeah?
[Laughs]. Okay, ‘OK Computer’, yes!
It’s interesting you bring up a couple of classical references there. When you listen to a lot of the Motels’ music, you can hear subtle classical references, like the synthesisers emulating strings on ‘Suddenly Last Summer’…
There are certain things – kind of like ‘go-to’ musical phrases – that I use that are a bit on the dissonant side; where there’s just enough of a rub. You’re made to feel a little uncomfortable – it’s not just pretty; it’s not just sad – and there are certain little intervals that you can play, that drag you in but are just a little odd… I’m not a normal, you know, chord-progression person.
I think that kind of equates your personality. I mean you’re the artist who put the prettiness into punk, and the punk into pretty…
Oooh, gosh you are such a clever boy. I love it.
Well we’re really looking forward to your forthcoming tour of Australia. Any fond memories of tours past here?
I remember we were down there and the record company got us a boat and we went out to Rottnest Island. Everybody was drunk off their asses. We couldn’t dock on the island so we had to swim to it. Then halfway to the island we realised this was the breeding ground of the great white shark!
Ooh, don’t go there. It’s a touchy subject these days. Suffice to say, Martha, it’s been a sheer pleasure chatting with you and I look forward to seeing you when you get to Australia.
It has been a pleasure, and I’ll see you soon. Now I’m going to go feed my goat!
Fresh from their sold-out show celebrating L.A.’s famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go’s 50th anniversary, Martha Davis and the Motels return to Australia to play the following dates and venues:
Wednesday March 12 – The Astor Theatre, Perth
Friday March 14 – Chelsea Heights Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday March 15 – Thornbury Theatre, Thornbury
Sunday March 16 – Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick
Monday March 17 – The Basement, Sydney
Wednesday March 19 – New Globe, Brisbane
Tickets are available through www.tombowler.com.au.
A Reserve: $74.90.
B Reserve: $64.90.
Also available are extremely unlimited VIP tickets which include: a meet-and-greet with Martha Davis, unique opportunity to attend the band’s soundcheck, official commemorative laminate, limited edition poster card, three of your personal items signed by Martha, and a photo on your personal phone or camera. Too great a deal, really!
Oh, and tune in to Cream Radio’s ‘Peak Season Dance Mix’ of ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ here.
This month sees the anniversary of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain’s death, and already more dirty worms are coming out of the woodworks. Yet another person is trying to make a buck off of the legendary singer’s legend, with the New York Daily News reporting that a man claiming to be Cobain’s former housemate is suddenly selling what he says is a box of the singer’s “stuff” on Craigslist.
The “stuff” includes a pair of old skis, an old-school telephone, broken video game, clothing and magazines, all of which supposedly belonged to Cobain.
The online ad is pretty flip, beginning with “Hey Seattle, what’s up? I used to live with Kurt Cobain back in the 90s and have been holding on to a bunch of his stuff that he left in a box when he moved out.”
The dude then goes on to diss Cobain by adding: “He owed us rent and said he would get the box when he came back but he never came back, then when he was famous he never really talked to any of us again because Courtney [Love] never liked us but she’s a dick so no hard feelings.”
It has since been discovered the online poster’s name is ‘Alex’ and that, reportedly, he used to be a musician who played in a Nineties grunge band called Guntruck.
Whether or not the objects really did belong to Cobain is questionable, although ‘Alex’ does claim he has pictures of Kurt with some of the stuff. Oh, he also insists that he has “friends that will talk to you that will say that this is Kurt’s stuff”.
Kurt Cobain died in April 1994, presumably of suicide via a gun to the head.
When hype began to escalate, just prior to the Golden Globes, over Cate Blanchett’s role in Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’, even this avid film-goer wasn’t sure what to make of it. First of all, a Woody Allen movie? Sure, the director’s films are usually of high standard, but they can start to seem a bit same-ole, same-ole, so why all the buzz about this particular flick?
Upon viewing the film for the first time a few weeks ago, I realised what all the fuss was about. In fact, let’s not call it ‘fuss’ or ‘hype’ but instead highly deserved praise over one of the most astonishing roles ever to be portrayed in cinema by a male or female actor.
Cate Blanchett’s character – that of a high society debutante who falls from grace, loses all her money and is suddenly forced to get used to the ‘low’ life – goes through so many arcs in ‘Blue Jasmine’ that the viewer is left wide-eyed and jaw-slacked by the time the end credits start to roll.
Forget having to cope with multiple personality syndrome, or even bipolar disorder, Jasmine really doesn’t know if she’s Arthur or Martha in her topsy-turvy world.
Her emotions run the gamut from elated to depressed within minutes. One moment she looks like getting her life together, conducting the most menial of tasks, then suddenly she’s being traumatised and molested by her boss.
At the start of one scene, she appears keen on her studies but by the end of it she’s downing pills and Stoli cocktails.
She goes to a party, meets an eligible bachelor that looks like the one who might turn her life around, but suddenly becomes a whole new person, making up more and more lies as the relationship builds, that even she doesn’t know who she is by the time her tall tales come crumbling down.
But besides having to chop and change her personality in this film more times than Sybil, which is enough to impress audiences, it’s the sheer volume of dialogue that Cate/Jasmine has to deliver to tell her tortured rags-to-riches story, her incessant banter filling every scene. Even when she’s on her own, the tragic soul is talking to herself or to some ghost.
And that’s the real reason Cate Blanchett is deserved of her second golden statue – because carrying over three-quarters of a film’s dialogue is a challenge even the most seasoned of actors would feel exhausted by. And yet there’s a swag of films she completed within months after – all of which we’re waiting with bated breath to see.
Here are some of the main winners at this year’s Oscars:
Best Picture >> 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress in a Leading Role >> Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role >> Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role o >> Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Animated Feature >> Frozen
Best Cinematography >> Gravity
Best Costume Design >> The Great Gatsby
Best Directing >> Gravity
Best Foreign Language Film >> The Great Beauty (Italy)
Best Production Design >> The Great Gatsby
Best Adapted Screenplay >> 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay >> Her
Okay, we’re not really sure what to make of this. It’s an online ad campaign put together by a bunch of Sydney dudes – renowned for their bullying antics – hypocritically telling Australians not to instigate drunkenness, bullying and violence.
Notorious Kings Cross nightclub owner, John Ibrahim, equally as notorious radio shock jock, Kyle Sandilands, and [cue the obvious adjective once more] notorious ‘Bra Boy’ Koby Abberton have banded together to create a supposed anti-violence advertisement that preaches to the average Aussie punter: ‘Don’t be a dickhead’.
Ibrahim, who has had an entire series of ‘Underbelly’ based around his underground dodgy club and drug dealings, is heard in the video pronouncing support for the government’s venue ‘lockout’ regime [which while supposedly keeping drunken idiots out of clubs and bars, also ensures a huge lot of equally drunken idiots are locked inside like cattle] while Sandilands, who has been in countless amounts of strife bullying people on radio, is portrayed as some kind of arch-angel, stopping a drunken dude from getting into a fight.
Says Ibrahim in the clip, in his typically decrepit brand of English: “Every group has got a moron in it; I know I have a few.” And yet this moronic few have the audacity to tell the rest of us how to behave or not behave?
The public backlash within minutes has been interesting, with comments ranging from “Two total fuckwits, one a murdering smack dealer and the other an offensive, provocative dipshit, have the audacity to tell kids how to be behave; wow” to “How do we stop the violence? How about we start by not giving money and a public platform to three of the most obnoxious bullies Australians have had the unfortunate ‘privilege’ of knowing’.
Indeed, let’s hope taxpayers’ money hasn’t actually gone to these highly (and wrongly) celebrated bullies.
To view the moronic ‘Don’t be a dickhead’ clip, click here.
People of Perth might have noticed interesting sculptures, big and small, cropping up around the city and its suburbs lately; perhaps even regional areas. One thing’s for sure, it’s great to see the arts flourishing in WA. And you can thank events such as ‘Sculpture By The Sea’ for that.
Since its inception in 2005, the annual art event has grown to become Perth’s largest and much-loved free-to-public outdoor exhibition, with over 200,000 visitors now witnessing Cottesloe Beach’s transformation into a giant sculpture part. Similar outdoor exhibitions going by the same name are put on only in Sydney (along Bondi Beach) and in Denmark (organised by the lovely Princess Mary).
This year’s ‘Sculpture By The Sea’ in Cottesloe reaches shore on Friday 7th March, and will feature the works of 74 artists from around the world. 2014 is also the event’s 10th Anniversary, so the quality of sculptures on display is set to be exceptional.
But back to that point about artworks cropping up all over the place. What we’ve noticed is that often governments purchase pieces and position these in certain suburbs and towns. Three fabulous examples of this are the Chen Wenling’s ‘Games’ which sees a kid balancing on the feet of an adult, now situated on Vincent Street in North Perth, an oversized ‘Scrabble’ rack by artist Emma Anna, now posited on Ellsemere Street Reserve, and a giant ‘Give Way’ sign, by artist Jennifer Cochrane, which has be re-erected near the junction of Scarborough Beach Road and Anzac Road, Mt Hawthorn – all three works previously included in ‘Sculpture By The Sea’ exhibitions.
Let’s hope the government keep colouring up our great cities and towns!
‘Sculpture By The Sea’ takes place from Friday 7th to Monday 24th March all along Cottesloe Beach. For more information visit www.sculpturebythesea.com.
Pictured: ‘Look this way’ by Ken Unsworth, and ‘Games’ by Chen Wenling. Photography by Jarrad Seng.
If you were in the vicinity of Northbridge in the past four weeks and didn’t pop in to see anything – anything – that was scheduled as part of Fringeworld 2014, all we can say is shame on you!
Had Fringeworld been a smaller, shorter-term affair featuring only a handful of acts and set up in only one section of Northbridge would have been a decent enough strategy to inject colour and life back into the somewhat tarnished area. But the fact that this year’s festival was set across several venues (including the Perth Cultural Centre and Russell Square Park, both transformed into grand carnival atmospheres), hosted over 450 acts, and boasted many a sold-out show borders on the magnificent. Nay, it’s testament to sheer magnificence!
After enjoying a couple of dozen of shows, Cream can attest that this was the best Fringeworld Perth has seen by far. And we’re hoping it is the beginning of something even bigger and better each and every February.
From intimate comical productions like the camp two-hander ‘Drags Aloud’ and relatively humble (in props budgeting, at
least) ‘Gameshow Gameshow’ to big, brassy, bluesy affairs like Yana Alana’s ‘Between The Cracks’, a merry time was had at just about every outing.
Yana Alana, in fact, might do well just off-Broadway – her provocative brand of cabaret performance is that good. Truly, I have never laughed so much in 60 minutes.
The fact that most shows came in at just under an hour made Fringeworld events even more appealing, especially to a newer generation of ADHD-afflicted creative types. That the prices started at $5 a show made enjoying more entertainment economically, with some punters seeing up to three productions a night, and even coining a new term: ‘fringe-bingeing’.
This year’s festival should certainly have government funders wide-eyed and ready to inject cash into next year’s – with box-office turnover being well over $3.2million, and with many local productions having reported full houses. It’s an impressive achievement, considering that well-established fringe festivals, such as that in Edinburgh, see attendances averaging at 10 per cent daily.
Once again, if you didn’t get yourself to a Fringeworld event this year, shame, shame, shame on you. Next year we’ll be asking one of those big, busty, S&M-doyenne-looking women to lay you over her knees and spank you good and proper.
With its main aim to reduce expenditure by $2billion in the next financial year, Australian airline Qantas look like making even more drastic budget cuts than first suggested, when it announces these this Thursday.
Where job loss estimates were initially around the 3,000 mark, it is now looking as though more than 5,000 employees will actually lose their positions with the company – a total of about 15% of its workforce.
Also on Thursday, the airline will announce the grounding of 15 of its Boeing 767-300ER fleet, drastically reducing service runs, and therefore likely to lead to a major increase in flight fares.
It is reported that Qantas’ cost-cutting tactics are looking similar to those of its alliance partner American Airlines, who went through similar bankruptcy protection methods in 2011. The US airline was able to cut costs – mainly staff ones – by 17 per cent, and is now enjoying solid profits.
Only time will tell if the red kangaroo could be so lucky. Meanwhile, there’s sure to be a lot of tears for some 5,000 ex-staff.
An international report on internet ad revenue revealed this week that over $200million in ad income is collected by pirate websites.
The 29-page report was published by American watchdog Digital Citizens Alliance, stamped with the title ‘Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business’.
It revealed 30 major torrent sites that had pocketed over $4million last year, and dozens of small content theft sites making as much as $100,000 in ad revenue.
Some of the bigger sites include The Pirate Bay and Bitsnoop who hosted advertising in the past year by big brand names such as McDonalds, Lego, even Amazon.
The advertisers often don’t even realise their brand appears on these sites as the advertising has gone through what is known as “blind sales channels” (random placement, basically). Indeed a McDonalds ad could well end up sitting next to one for illegal pharmaceuticals or a hooker parlour.
The Digital Citizens Alliance hope to encourage brand managers and marketeers to seriously consider the damage such random ad placement could be doing their business. Or is it helping the big brands, who can tell?
It can look pretty easy for a drag queen or tranny to get up and perform in a dingy nightclub where the semi-drunken crowds, music, smoke and mirrors (well, not so much smoke these days), erratic lighting and general information overload take the attention away from the occasional error in lip-synching. But it’s a hell of a lot more difficult when drag performers are positioned in a small tent in front of an intimate audience who can spot every nuance more closely.
That’s why kudos must go to Fringeworld entertainers Mandy & Ca Ca, who this week have been injecting some OTT dress-up shenanigans into a program otherwise heavily devoted to cabaret, burlesque and stand-up comedy – their show ‘Drags Aloud’ confined to one very small marquee.
Mandy (the tranny of the duo, ie: she has had an official sex change) and Ca Ca (the drag queen, but OMG how she pulls off the big Mama uncannily) had their intimate audience in hysterics for most of last Wednesday night’s performance – usually when they played up against one another and got into the thing we’re used to seeing such performers doing: bitching.
While Mandy would do better treating the show as less of a class in Gender Studies 101 and more of an entertainment event, she does come up trumps with some of the punchlines. For example, hearing her define the root-word ‘trans’ to mean ‘cross over’ a third time when telling a story about closet cross-dressing men did verge on annoying, but the ultimately joke that the ‘gender’ part of ‘transgender’ translates to ‘when the wife has left the house’ in speedier delivery hits just the note of quality stand-up.
Ca Ca, on the other hand, has no qualms in playing the giant kidder – self-deprecating and insulting to the audience in equal measure, which is always a sign of great comedy since it puts both entertainer and the entertained on the same platform (ie: we’re all up the shit sometimes, so let’s just have a laugh with it).
One of the highlights of the production was when three punters from the audience were pulled up on stage and asked to lip-synch and deliver raunchy movements to a sample from a heterosexual porn flick, which proved a well-executed example of impromptu audience participation.
For comic relief, this show was a fairly bright spot on the extensive Fringeworld program. Stick these two girls on a bigger stage, have the audience drink a little more, and you’d have one very hilarious night out.
‘Drags Aloud’ starring Mandy & Ca Ca is on at The Pleasure Garden in James Street Northbridge tonight, Saturday night and Sunday night, from 9.15pm. Tickets available through www.fringeworld.com.au.
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