Friday, May 28, 2010

Blackbird's Tattooed Lady

So at last, some explanations! For those of you who hadn't the pleasure of witnessing the live explanation, the big reveal, the circus for sinner's and my own avian debut... (which number debut is that again? haha! A chameleon has many guises and each has it's first outing...)

Firstly, I could not have made manifest this daft idea without the help of three seriously talented artists, one industrial designer, two gorgeous gimps, a generous lady and her fans, a terrific cook, a red-headed critic with a good eye for performance and a host of people to support me along the way.

Here's how it went:
After the initial meeting with artist Sarah Sheil which I posted about here, it became clear that one artist would not be able to cover a body with elaborate tattoos in less than one day. So I recruited two other splendid young talents, Julia Duff and Stephen Ryan Coffee.

We spent all day working, but Stephen had the insight to use tracing paper which saved us loads of time. I think it took about 9 hours in total:

Laura Sheeran was a total legend on the day (and night of the show)! She was a huge support, full of enthusiasm and most generously cooked dinner for everyone after all our hard work.

And of course, the MACHINE. I don't have a photo to show you of the marvelous machine or it's maker at the moment, that will come later.
I met up with Luan weeks before the show, when I was still figuring out if my idea was do-able. I've definitely made some sort of mad-inventor alliance with Luan, he is my ideal technical playmate. The day we met he was preparing to give a presentation on these surgical tools he had been busy inventing, what a legend!

So he set to work on the rotating platform. There were a few technical hitches along the way, and at one stage we weren't sure if it was going to work, but in the end it worked a treat!

I posted about it here: this was the original lid (thanks to my Dad for this one), the rotating pedestal upon which the tattooed lady would be displayed! In the end though, when Luan went to build the machine (underneath the lid) he forgot his measurements so he quickly made a replacement platform, phew!

I experimented with a number of ways to decorate the platform, but in the end I took advice from Mom and her chakra influences: orange is the colour of joy, enthusiasm, and creativity and promotes a sense of wellness, and it's compatible balancing colour is blue for creative identity, expression, communication, faith in oneself and trust in others. And yellow for personal power, abundance, courage and self-confidence. I think yellow and gold are also colours which protect...

The finished pedastal can be seen clearly in Christian Talbot's photo, which captured the event (see below).

Thanks also to my beautiful and gorgeously performative boot boys Mr. Torso and Mr. Legs (or as Armitage Shanks accidentally labeled them on the night, Captain Torso and Captain Legs). I have some great photos of us rehearsing, but I think the anonymity may appeal to the gimps, haha!

Here are some photos that Christian Talbot took of the performance on the night.

Check out the chakra friendly pedestal of wonder! Thanks Luan you genius!

And the grand finale!

We actually managed to convince some people that I was an authentic tattooed lady which was pretty entertaining for me since that was the desired effect: as I dipped into my bucket for the offending sponge I heard a woman exclaim, "no way", and when Julia and Sarah wailed "noooooooooo!!!" from the back of the room I scrubbed with sudden glee as all their hard work trickled away in a mess of paint and water. Oh the pleasure!

Lastly, I conceived of these red pointed pasties (well they were actually inspired by the BBC Underground series "Private London", available from Lazer on Georges St.) especially for this act and had them made by the innovative and talented Ruby DeMure. They are now the Blackbird signature pastie! Very exciting indeed... more to come!


  1. Thanks _Dushka_. You're word vomit looks pretty damn cool!

  2. Just saw this now. That was such a great performance and yes I am one of the people who thought they were real tattoos!!
    Glad the pasties worked out so well.
    Well done, hun xx

  3. Ah! Thanks Ruby! You are a very talented lady indeed! Can't wait to get you started on these other crazy pastie ideas I have... Let me know when suits!