The summer has been most quite in terms of cabaret and burlesque, however the performance season has opened with a bang.
The month kicked off with the fabulous Luscious Cabaret – which has the streamline Step into a world of friends you never knew you had if you have never been you really should. I have been shooting their for about 18 months and I have never seen a dud performance.
And then I shot the award winning Busty and Ginger, again at the RVT, how can my life get any better. Well at time of writing I am still to shoot Burlesque Idol – a fantastic return to cabaret and burlesque.
Terrorism is a fact of life, well a fact of my life anywhere. When I was 7 the IRA blew up the toy-shop I used to buy Action Men in, which was next to one of the pubs that they attacked in Guildford Surrey. When I was a teenager, I remember going to see the broken windows at Harrods following the bomb that the IRA placed there in 1981 or maybe 1982.
In the 1990’s I saw French soldiers hassling a man of North African appearance after a series of terrorist outrageous in Paris. At the same time I remember the complete disappearance of public waste bins after the IRA, again, had taken to leaving fire-bombs in the railway station bins. London’s streets really suffered after these outrages, the streets were filthy.
I have been at the edge of latest bought of terrorism, when I was at Edgware Road tube station 2 hrs before the 7/7 explosions and then had a really difficult time trying to reach my darling sister who worked in the City at the time.
So, it should really come as no surprise to see anti-terrorism measures around London. But, but, but, despite seeing anti-terrorism measures on nearly every London Bridge over the Thames, I was terribly shocked and stunned to see anti-terrorism, anti-suicide and anti-wild driving barriers around Leicester Square.
The blocks are somehow beautiful, somehow terrifying, somehow stunning. It makes me really sad to see them.
For me, Leicester Square is a centre of fun. When I was 18 I went to see my first X-Rated film there, Risky Business – Tom Cruise (It’s really not that racy), I have been clubbing in the Square, met friends in the Square and bought theatre tickets in it to. There are also pretty nice public loos there too. Leicester Square is also the spiritual home to The Burly Photographer. I have shot Burlesque Idol umpteen times at the Hippodrome Casino. I have probably taken something like 20,000 images there. To have the Square barrackaded like a fort seems almost obscene.
It is obscene, but it is logical
But – lets look at this another way round.
Leicester Square is a centre of entertainment, it is fun messy, smelly (sometimes) and the place where fun begins. We should want to defend the ability to have fun, if we cannot have fun, have a laugh, get pissed and make fools of ourselves, then terrorism has completely won.
So we have to defend it – the fortress is unfortunate – but it has to be done – Es Liebe Madness……..
Do you remember when we thought that occupation could change the world?
In 2011 the City was occupied, Billy Bragg played an impromptu gig in front of St Pauls and we thought that there was a chance that the world might change. The Arab Spring had just happened and there was hope in the air.
Ok the Arab Spring turned very sour, and Occupy has changed the City not one jot, but it is sometimes nice to simply remind ourselves that there are people who were willing to make a stand and willing to hope for a different future.
Below are some pictures from that year of Occupation in the City, with 2 sites, one infront of St Pauls, another on Finsbury Square and also of the smaller Occupy Nottingham.
In 2011 I stood outside St Paul’s Cathedral where the Occupy Movement had set up camp in the forecourt. It was a time of hope, seminars and vibrant discussion. The Arab Spring was happening and revolution was in the air.
Yesterday, I had a slight sense of dejavu when I took my camera to Marble Arch to shoot the Extinction Rebellion occupation of the roundabout and the top end of Oxford St in London.
The occupation was ordered, happy, a little sweaty after having been in the sun for a sunny Easter Weekend. It was full of happy young people arguing about whether they should end their occupation and come back next week or continue the occupation.
Each workshop was accompanied by posters and tents, then there were the free hugs and t-shirts. You can see the full set of pictures – by clicking the picture below.
Like many photographers, I am a fan of the Weekly Imogen website featuring the work of photographer Mark and the model that he has worked with for four years Imogen. You can see their work on Youtube and Instagram .
They offer monthly courses in daylight portraiture, which is something that I am very interested in. So as a birthday pressie to myself I signed up to a course at the end of Feb.
It was super cold, but the results were fantastic and very enjoyable. It showed me some new locations and gave me lots of ideas, which I am looking forward to using in my next portrait shoots.
When I was a politician I was responsible for open spaces, allotments and community gardens in Reading where I live.
The gardens and allotments were always very serious things and redolent of hard work and graft. No fun at all seemed to be allowed. Contrast this with the Nomadic Community Garden near Brick Lane. It is a wild place full of cucumbers and opera houses, the smell of spliffs glowing in the sunshine and mad artworks.
With its composting toilets it has some of the same smells as the Calais Jungle camp, which I shot last year, but none of the desperation.
So if you are in Brick Lane break out of its plastic pretend East End, ignore the siren calls of hipster Shoreditch and relax in the bliss that is the Nomadic Community Garden.
If you have got this far with the set. This last picture is my favourite, not because it is the best shot but the juxtapositioning of the sign and the railway infrastructure behind says something about the place.
Another look at the pictures from my recent trip to the Imperial War Museum.
The place is full of the imagery of dictatorship and mass murder. The best images of failed dictatorships was a wall mural made from tiles (which probably shouldn’t be called a mural, but I digress) of Saddam Hussain. His burly visage stares out of a wall rifle in hand. It reminds the visitor of the man and how he wanted to be seen. Firm, martial a man of the people – utter tyrant.
Some of the imagery of dictatorships was a bit more ephemeral, the Nazi eagle from a building in Berlin. It is full of bullet holes and somehow vital and strong. Its very strange. The final images you might have already seen, those of Maggie. – I know that she wasn’t a dictator in the fullest sense of the word, but at the time those of us who lived through her reign weren’t so sure.
Last Friday saw me shooting the first heat of the amazing Burlesque Idol 2017 at the Hippodrome London.
The show was outstanding with Burlesque (and for the first time Boylesque) acts that challenged preconceptions and made you think. The winner of the heat Bonnie Knockers will certainly open your eyes if you are a bloke.
I have said it before and will say it again, I have to I need to get the word count up on this blog, if you haven’t been to Burlesque Idol before then you should go.
I was lucky enough to be the photographer at the final of the most awesome Burlesque Idol. It is a spectacle of amazingness, each act was outstanding and utterly brilliant. Ok, perhaps too many superlatives. The winner Fifi Von Tassel was an astounding and a challenge to everyone’s preconceptions.
If you get a chance, go an visit next year’s competition it will be brilliant.