A Figment In The Elsewhere #2: Dickie Beau

•December 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

-being another in an ongoing series detailing stand-out acts that have ‘appeared’ at The Double R Club (often more than once); acts that Rose Thorne and I love, that seem to typify in some way, or stand as emblems for, just what it is The Double R have attempted to do, to be, displays that went some way to describing our own particular brand of ‘Lynchian’, over the last 100 shows and nine years…

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[pic by Gh0stdot]

This time: Dickie Beau and his Judy act.

First appearing at The Double R in January  of 2011, Dickie Beau’s was an act we had seen snippets of online but were in no way prepared for the incredible emotional impact of. Gay culture (and culture as a whole) of course abounds with Judy Garland this and Judy Garland that, tributes and parodies, drag acts and homages, to the point where it is a sold gold cliché. So to not only attempt such a thing but to transcend expectations so successfuly, so movingly, is as rare as hen’s teeth. Beau’s act does this and more.

Dickie Beau, sometimes called a ‘Drag Fabulist’, is arguably the best lip-syncher in the world. Perhaps understandably nervous of the all too prolific term ‘lip-synch’, Beau explains that what he does is really much more “about channeling the voices,” and when you see him perform you realise that this is exactly what he does. This isn’t a joke or a gimmick, this isn’t buying into, or cashing in on, hip, post-Drag Race culture, this is something else entirely.

In his Judy act he appears as a strange amplification and refraction of Garland’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, dressed in ruby red, pigtails and all, and after an intro to Britney Spears’ ‘Gimme More’, Beau then proceeds to ‘channel’ tape recordings made by Garland aged 41, recorded for a memoir she never wrote, and which descend into a mixture of slurred words, bluster, humour, self-pity and the true, gut-wrenching sadness of a life lived and now gone, of a childhood stolen, of past glories forever in the rearview mirror, and of a woman facing the façade that the world sees and knowing the pain of the woman behind that façade:

“I might admit defeat at this point. I doubt it. I have a tenacity of a preying mantis.”

“I’ve just about got it made, all I have to do is talk and all you have to so is listen, and believe me the way you believed me when I sang all the songs, well now I’m talking and listen to me for goodness sakes. Don’t make a joke of me anymore.”

The way Garland says (and the way Beau channels) this last line will tear your heart out.

In fact the way Beau embodies this refraction of Garland, utilising a mixture of lip-synch, physcal theatre / mime, even slapstick, is easily among the best things I have ever seen on any stage, anywhere, either in cabaret or theatre. It’s truly astonishing.

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[pic by Soulstealer]

POST SCRIPTUM…

Some years later I was lucky enough to work with Dickie in his Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award winning show, the disturbing Camera Lucida at the Barbican, London:

“Taking inspiration from funereal rituals, spiritualism and the history of image-making Dickie Beau builds on his shtick of “playback” performance: by dissecting, then re-membering, found sound artefacts in the creation of a virtual script, he conducts a kind of psychedelic cyber-seance in his directorial debut. The result is an eerie on-stage archive comprising salvaged recordings of those who might be lost, or are no longer living.”

This brief insight into Beau’s methodology, discipline and practise served as an invaluable tool in my subsequent cabaret performances and was one of the best performative experiences of my career.

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The Tale of Ben’s Bandage

•December 5, 2018 • 1 Comment

As I recently announced at The Double R Club‘s 100th show, the bandage I wear on my left hand to host, inspired (as much of my garb is) by Dean Stockwell‘s Ben from Blue Velvet‘s bandage:

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is the same bandage I’ve worn for  e v e r y   s i n g l e   o n e  of those 100 shows and those 9 and a bit years. Yes, that’s quite repulsive, and yes the bandage now looks like something small died in it. I may have suggested that perhaps for the anniversary show that I filter vodka through it and drink it; sadly, health and safety intervened.

Here are some exclusive backstage pics [by the wonderful Jody Whittle-Wyeth] of me telling this very story to our cast at the 100th show, which seem to tell a story all their own:

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[#1 Presenting ‘The Bandage’. Cast member Rodent tries to hide their understandable disgust]

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[#2 Louche’s Quandary. Rodent leaves me wondering and unsure: has it been a terrible and deeply unsavoury (not to mention potentially unsanitary) mistake to keep the same bandage all this time? For nine years?!]

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[#3 Resolution. Nah, ‘course not. It’s a great bandage. And, hell, what have I got to live for all of a sudden, right?]

Lima Bean Man

•November 28, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Dead Dog (reprise)

•November 28, 2018 • 3 Comments

For some reason I found myself thinking of a certain incident (and associated blog post) from two years ago…

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And wrote the following:

 

Four Line Poem Written Upon the Remembrance of Seeing of a Dead Dog in the Canal

Dead dog in the canal,
Without an owner, without a friend,
Bobbing gently, gently straining
at the leash that has no end.

 

A Figment In The Elsewhere #1: Traumata

•November 26, 2018 • Leave a Comment

-being the first in an ongoing series detailing stand-out acts that ‘appeared’ at The Double R Club (often more than once); acts that Rose Thorne and I loved, that seem to typify in some way, or stand as emblems for, just what it is The Double R have attempted to do, to be, displays that went some way to describing our own particular brand of ‘Lynchian’, over the last 100 shows and nine years…

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[pic by SoulStealer]

This time: Traumata and her rabbit act.

First appearing at The Double R in November of 2010, and most recently at our 100th show this year, Traumata (performance artist Hellen Burrough) took as her inspiration David Lynch’s webseries of shorts Rabbits, a collection 6 sinister/absurdist films prefaced with the tagline “In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain… three rabbits live with a fearful mystery.”

As Hellen hails from the world of performance art, her approach to that performance is makedly different from practically any other act we’ve ever booked.

Performed to music and dialogue from the Rabbits webseries (and from Inland Empire), to its ominous synth drones and tones, to the rabbits themselves speaking in strange non-sequiters and a disembodied audience barking canned laughter and applause:

JACK: Were there any calls?

JANE: Do not forget that today is friday.

[audience laughter]

JACK: I am not sure.

JANE: There have been no calls today

[audience laughter]

it is an act of supreme minimalism, a slow crawl of an act that builds beautifully, and that routinely wrongfoots an audience and leaves them never quite sure just what’s happening and where the act might be going. You can almost hear them wondering Is… Is this… Burlesque?!

So that when the act does end in blood, real blood, as Hellen first takes off her jacket, then her rabbit mask, and then pulls several needles from her forehead (and bleeds freely down her face) the sense of dislocation from expectation, from what cabaret is ‘supposed to be’ and from the unreality, the artificiality, of performance being somehow invaded by the visceral real, this has a wonderfully unsettling, yet strangely beautiful effect.

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[pic by Sin Bozkurt]

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[pic by Sin Bozkurt]

POST SCRIPTUM… An email received by The Double R Club, following the act’s second appearance:

Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2011

Hello!

I came to your Twin Peaks Contest in Bethnal Green on the 16th, such a great night and so expertly compered, fantastic stuff. I just wanted to mention that I have this unfortunate habit of fainting and becoming very unwell when I see blood. I’m not a squeamish person and it’s really very annoying, but I do for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just me, but having live self-harm, in ‘Traumata’s act, seemed a bit extreme in the context of this night, something more suited to the likes of Torture Garden… I think it’s great to test boundaries and I’m all for extreme acts but in this case I felt perhaps there could have been some kind of warning. As it was, I blacked out and spent half an hour on the steps outside with my head between my legs trying to regain composure!

This really isn’t an arsey complaint email as I can see why it might be tricky to put a warning on the programme, but I thought you might welcome the feedback. Thanks for an otherwise entertaining evening

So I… Just smoke ’em up like regular chickens?

•November 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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Smoked turkey anyone?

Artist Tom Greenhand makes 4-Gram joint for Thanksgiving.

Hmmm, looks familiar…

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“There’s always music in the air…” #5: ‘Hate Song (version)’ by Fudge Tunnel

•November 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Fifth in a continuing series of posts highlighting Lynchian sounds and musics (as defined by The Double R Club and I) that may have flown under the radar of many and which perhaps one might even imagine appearing at The Roadhouse in some future, imaginary episode…

An unexpected track from the band’s otherwise heavy-as-all-get-out debut album Hate Songs In E Minor, this tracks fades up as a kind of low, almost wet sounding buzz, before stumbling into a track that lumbers into a slow, filthy dirge, sounding as if suddenly the whole world has slowed down. Buried vocals whisper sinister among the ponderous bass-heavy guitar and the insistent ride cymbal, before it all simply stops, leaving only that wet buzz again, before the whole monster starts up once more, this time with the addition of what sounds like a slowed roaring sound and barked, reverbed and unintelligible vocals.

It’s like a conjoined twin to ‘The Pink Room’ but on Valium, on heroin, played in treacle, in a hazy dream, it’s music that sounds like the inevitable result of all those beers drank and those cigarettes stamped out under Laura’s feet as the band plays and as she dances, under the influence of more than mere alcohol; it’s what rock and roll sounds like just before the collapse of everything.

As might be gleaned from the addition of the above parenthesised word ‘version’, there is another variant of this track but while it too starts slowly, it’s a much meatier, more traditionally rocky headbanger of a track. As before, I can’t say that the rest of Fudge Tunnel’s output bares any resemblance to this track, but if you like your sounds on the heavier side I can definitely recommend their final album The Complicated Futility Of Ignorance, the drum sounds of which I regularly become borderline obsessed with.

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