Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lashings of Ginger Beer in Dublin!

Lashings of Ginger Beer
(Irish Premier)
May 2nd - 7th Mon-Sat at 8pm
Cobalt Café

Read about my Lashings fandom here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the day.

Violet from Worcester on 'Vajazzling':

"But darling that's not sprucing things up!
That's like having the Royal jewels of Persia on your fanny!"

More on Britain's Royal Wedding, uh, enthusiasts here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dublin Aerialists: Update

We got some big news today! Our proposal has been accepted by Dublin Fringe Festival 2011!
It's a big project and we are all really excited about it (secretly I'm battling inertia... but this opportunity is to be excited about) Why bother putting it in brackets? By putting it in brackets, is that like a whisper? So yeah, here's the deal, dreaded perfectionism! And the challenges of organising a big team and collaborating and seeing how far some of my most precious and secretly coveted ideas can be taken... that's the dreaded perfectionism. The precious ideas are sometimes better in one's head... it's always a risk to allow them a life outside of yourself. Keep Truckin'! Someone once said, and really this is the case. Just slog threw it. Excitement is the easy part, then comes the slog. Hopefully the slog will lead to more excitement, which, if I'm lucky will bring more creative, ambitious slog.

And so we train.

As much as we can.

But wait, something else is in the pipeline. A higgeldy piggledy kind of collaboration between us Dublin dwellers, Galway aerialists and possibly a Corkonian, and my first ever Aerial show. And what a grand debut! It's happening in a big top tent at the Phoenix Festival Tullamore, on the 7th and 8th of May. We will be mixing it up a little between things we are working on and characters we've strewn together, an adopted stage designer with big ideas and a few scraggly cabaret venturers to lead the chaos. Keep it Carny! Is another phrase I get told. Barny Carny is what it most likely shall be... (spot a Double Rainbow?)

Irish Aerialists
The Big Top
Phoenix Festival,
Tullamore, Co. Offaly
May 7th and 8th

This festival has now been CANCELLED due to Town Council politics and bureaucracy nonsense. Very unfortunate. I guess our aerial debut will just have to wait. Aww :(

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Bizarre How Bizarre

How I ended up in a parno mag:

The mag in question being Bizarre Magazine (issue 175) with MOSH model sporting a latex bunny ear cap on the cover. Some photographers from the magazine came along to the Black Rabbit Cabaret, planning to feature the event in their party section. The two lady photographers weren't in a great mood, having us fill out a questionnaire hurriedly with oddly uninspiring questions: "What living celebrity would you go down the rabbit hole with"... I am not sure why, at that moment in time, I decided that Dylan Moran would be the best choice... WHAT? Yes, that is what the caption reads... "I'd love to disappear down a rabbit hole with Dylan Moran"... I see it now, Myself and Dylan doing 180 degree turns while falling like Alice through a Walt Disney rabbit hole attempting to make small talk. Why? What was it that night that inspired me to say Dylan Moran? It makes no sense. I think I just figured spending time down a hole with Bernard Black could be more interesting than most celebrities... not Katie Price? That would be hilarious. Hugh Jackman? sexy, but married. Uh, Lady Gaga? That could be good. Panti? Intimidating, but inspirational. Eh, oh what about Darren Aronofsky? Local celebrities? Bella A GoGo would probably be the most likely candidate. She always has everything you need; hot cross buns and butter, tea, glitter, pizzazz, dance moves, witticisms, stories. But Dylan Moran?

Bella's quote reads: "I'm a local girl, but here I'm a 1920s vamp!"

Anyway, the grumpy photographers gave two thumbs up for the Black Rabbit Cabaret, including a nice personal mention: "... Mister Joe Black led everyone down the rabbit hole (well, next door) to watch The Fitzrovia Radio Hour perform horror radio play Beware of the Dark before stunning model Blackbird posed for a Dr. Sketchy's session".

St. Blackbird will be performing the Passion at the next Dr. Sketchy's event (APRIL 30TH, 3-6pm), with models Spunky Gore (whos behind is pictured in the Black Rabbit party review) and Fawnya Frolic.

Friday, April 15, 2011

quote of the day.

Regarding Tilly Devine, "Rough, tough, tea-sipping, street fighting, madame"

"If Tilly didn't resort to open violence, she'd turn to profanity. She was regularly arrested for letting fly with torrents of abuse, and seemed to enjoy her position as the 'number one swearer in Sydney'. Hauled up in court on one occasion for hurling abuse at a fish seller who had sold her a bad oyster, the magistrate shook his head in amazement and remarked that they were the 'worst words he'd ever heard'!"

Bad Girls and Wicked Women by Jan Stradling (2010)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blackbird and Rufus: Tank Girl

Dublin's Tank Girl and her human-animal hybrid beau Booga at Dr. Sketchy's mentioned previously, as captured by the lovely and talented Peter Griffin of Griff Pics (see here). Well well well, something very interesting and exciting has occurred since all this Tank carry-on spirited me back to my punk lady roots! Who knew that the Tank Girl comics were alive and well, with a new team duo continuing the series in their own style. I was intrigued! The lovely and fascinating artist Rufus Dayglo and I have struck up a friendly correspondence and there seems to be potential for a future collaboration of some sort. In the meantime, I intend to interview him about his take on Tank Girl, the continuation of a comic book legacy and racking his brains for more joyous tales of beloved coffee houses, round the world travels and jumble finds.

The image below appears in black and white in Team Tank Girl's 'We hate TANK GIRL', but Rufus posted it in colour on his fbook. He describes it as the guide art for the painting done by his hero Gerry Talaoc, who he has collaborated with. Interesting story - he's full of interesting stories!

You can find out more at the following online addresses~:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bunny's Hutch!

Bunny's the Hutch from St. Blackbird on Vimeo.

A fan video/promo for 'Bunny's Hutch' drag and cabaret show which happens every Friday (previously each Tuesday night) at Panti Bar, Capel St, Dublin city.

Filmed and edited by Emily Aoibheann

Music: The Pulpit

The Pulpit
Coin Operated Girls
Oscillate Wildly
Azaria Starfire and Tom Riddle of The Lovecats
Tallula Boom Boom

And more...

Steven Doyle Photography Exhibition

Steven Doyle, mentioned previously, is opening an exhibition on Monday the 2nd May, from 7.30pm at the Front Lounge, Parliament Street, Dublin. Steven has a fondness for fake eyelashes and gender bending, the colourful and the colourfully odd. I am thrilled to be included in this collection, although I do not know which image he has picked for display. Other's include Ireland drag legends Panti Bliss, Veda and Bunny, the gorgeous aerialist Arian Levanael, other bodies and civilians, all considered under the banner of 'Up Close and Personal'. I expect it will be a visual insight into the activities and lives of some interesting Dublin (and elsewhere) peeple.

View his website here.

For a few more of his pictures of me, here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Regarding Stripping.

With regarding to some comments published in response to Ciara O'Connor's article on Burlesque posted earlier:

  1. I dunno. I’ve never been to a strip club of any kind, but my one experience of going to a burlesque show at the Sugar Club made me wonder if they’re really so different. It’s strange to be told that a woman gyrating near-naked on a stage is ‘empowering’ or ‘ironic’ in one context and always ‘demeaning’ in another. I appreciate that in a respectable burlesque show you can be reasonably confident that the dancers are being properly paid and treated respectfully by management, but it still boils down to taking off your clothes for other people’s entertainment. Which, regardless of context, is either absolutely fine or not a good idea at all. Plenty of the blokes I saw there were just treating it as an opportunity to get an eyeful that was somehow acceptable to their female companions.

    • I’d like to see us get away from this idea that whether a woman’s actions are demeaning or empowering mainly depends on the way men react to them. I think it’s entirely possible that burlesque could fall into the first category while ordinary strip clubs could fall into the second. The critical contextual difference, it seems to me, is the reason why the performer is there in the first place. It’s what she is getting out of it, not what he is.

  2. You’re absolutely right, Wendy. I suppose the point I was making is that I don’t quite understand why burlesque shows are deemed socially acceptable in a way that strip clubs aren’t just because they are more popular with women. If the performer on stage is comfortable then it doesn’t particularly matter what the gender make-up of the audience is, or what their motivations in watching the show are.

  3. I’d just like to say that Burlesque is not sex work. The Burlesque performers referred to in the above article do not dance 40 hours a week in a highly explicit, sexualised environment. ‘Strippers’ are sex workers. They dance a full time job. Strip club stripping is a pornographic industry, Dublin’s Burlesque scene is not. Rather, it is a dynamic community of grassroots performers and creatives who use the stage space in a highly playful and inventive way, and yes, sometimes in a sexy way too! Like the woman on the sex ed video shown me in school said, “But that’s ok!”

    I enjoy cabaret and burlesque because it reclaims the playful and childish aspect of sexuality and nudity. I think that we need to be self aware as performers and audience, and I think that conversing about sexualization and objectification and the dynamics of power at play in these situations is very important! It’s true however, that these conversations are often the domain of women. As I was quoted saying in Hot Press this month: “Women perform, women are objectified, and it’s male privilege that they don’t have to talk about these issues”. But I think burlesque and cabaret, intelligently crafted, can be a space to reclaim our sexuality and explore an opportunity to be playful in our sexuality – an opportunity sometimes denied us in the face of pornographic capitalism and it’s societal twin, puritanical conservatism.

    I also think that the devices for understanding dynamics of power presented to us by second wave feminist theorists, including words such as ‘objectification’ are sort of worn out! We need new, more nuanced ways of understanding dynamics of power, exploitation and desire which consider the complexities of these issues and avoid a reductionistic, polarization of how people ‘do’ their sex, performatively, voyeuristically or whatever else.

    Finally, I LOVE to pole dance, just not as a full time job.
    I have practiced it as a sport for conditioning rather than as a sexy enterprise or indeed, for financial survival. But since we are on the subject, a hero of mine, Kathleen Hanna once wrote in a fanzine article entitled “Lots of girls get bad reputations”: “I, personally decided to become a sex trade worker cuz I feel a lot less exploited making $20 dollars an hour for dancing around naked than I do getting paid $4.25 an hour (and being physically, psychically and sometimes sexually exploited) as a waitress or burgerslinger”.

    Sex, capitalism, nudity, desire – they are complex issues… but it’s frustrating when burlesque and sex work are somehow equated. That is a mistake.

Blackbird in the antiroom...

Guest Post: “The beauty of burlesque is that it can be anything and everything…”

Feminism and the art of burlesque have traditionally had a complex relationship. It is empowering? Degrading? Subversive? Creative? Clichéd? Pandering to the male gaze? Subverting that gaze? Here feminist and burlesque fan and performer Ciara O’Connor gives her view.

The word “burlesque” has cropped up in polite conversation quite a lot recently. Christina and Cher’s affront to the word notwithstanding, every so often someone brings it up when out for drinks if I say I’ve just been to a show… and often there is a reductive remark about strippers. Take for example Maeve Higgins’ recent comment on the Tweeter : “Burlesque is so shit. Stupid middle class women stripping.” I’m not sure if Maeve has ever been to a show, but I know her comment was a reflection (if a slightly more abrasive reflection) of some peoples ideas and conceptions of what Burlesque is and is not. There are always people who are indifferent towards any medium, the decriers declaring Burlesque is dead, those who say it is anti-women, and those who couldn’t care less.

Feminist burlesque performer Blackbird, aka Emily

Because I’m a fan of the art form, and I occasionally perform at cabaret shows and see a lot of different types of burlesque, I thought I’d throw my two cents into the ring.

Burlesque’s etymology denotes a send up, it is a derisive imitation, grotesque parody. Burlesque is close in meaning with caricature, pastiche, parody and travesty, and, in its theatrical sense, with extravaganza, as presented during theVictorian era ( From the Wikipedia entry on Burlesque we see that it isn’t just all 1950s pin-up wither, its been around a long time: “”Burlesque” has been used in English in this literary and theatrical sense since the late 17th century. It has been applied retrospectively to works ofChaucer and Shakespeare and to the Graeco-Roman classics.“

Later forms of burlesque came in the popular variety show format. These were common from the 1860s to the 1940s, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres, and featured bawdy comedy and striptease as part of the show. Burlesque has historically been seen as a cheeky, low-brow and very bold form of adult-only theatre. Performers draw from theatre, mime, improvisation, movement to music, as well as all forms of dance. They are also usually loaded with cultural reference and spoof.

There has been a resurgence of interest in classical Burlesque in the 1990s which quickly became popular in the US, the UK and the rest of Europe. This resurgence also birthed what is referred to as Neo-burlesque (see Hot Press this month for a very interesting round-up of Neo-Burlesque in Ireland). Neo-burlesque often removes the nostalgic aspect of burlesque and uses contemporary music and themes, so you may find yourself watching Jessica Fletcher do a striptease to Gothrock. The beauty of burlesque is that it can be anything and everything, as creative as your imagination and the boundaries you put on yourself as a performer.

A friend writing a blog on fashion and feminism recently described me as “someone who I imagine came into the world screaming ‘I am a feminist!’.” As a feminist-from-the-womb – or at least a young age, I was needless to say not immune to the impressions the media give out about burlesque, and my inner feminist was in twitch-overdrive when I went to my first ever burlesque show. My twitching quickly subsided – and not only was I completely hooked: I was fascinated, enthralled and excited, brimming over with ideas after it – I was convinced that in my eyes, burlesque was decidedly feminist.

As I wrote recently in a guest blog for Dr Sketchy’s, decontextualised women’s bodies are everywhere in society. Disembodied perfectly round arses in Reebok trainers, floating breasts selling car insurance…. our world is saturated with nudity, implied nudity and women’s body parts, exposed, scrutinised, made grotesque and vilified… or portrayed as perfection and symmetry and the ideal we should all strive for/compare ourselves to. Burlesque shows are one place where you get to see real women’s bodies… not on display for the sexualised gaze, nor for “auntie Gok” to truss up like some Christmas ham and stuff into magic knickers to try to fit into normative beauty standards, but just – celebrated. Cheered. Whooped at and hollered for. Breasts, bellies, smiles of all ages and types, none of them detached from the woman they belong to. In fact, firmly in context as the performer is not only showing off her body but her creativity… her body can be tattooed, pierced, decorated with body paint, breasts all different shapes and sizes adorned with nipple tassels; they have meaning, they have context. These are real bodies, (ab)normal, individual, all appendix scars and jiggly bits. In a society where nudity has become so… meaningless… here it is loaded with meaning.

Also, the burlesque scene in Ireland is decidedly radical. The performers are smart, creative and quite amazing men and women who do fantastical things with the medium. A great example is my friend and fellow fabulous feminist Emily. She is a stunning performer – she creates acts that are thought provoking, political, visually stunning, sometimes hyperfeminine, sometimes very masculine, always impeccably costumed and gripping from beginning to end. She tells a story and makes a statement in a way that is firmly tongue in cheek and yet quick off the mark and very intelligent.

Lilly DeValle's barbershop act gradually turns from cute to creepy

Another burlesque performer, Lilly DeValle, cuts a striking figure on stage, playing a cheesecake cutesy character who has a dark and evil side – for example her cute barber shop act which quickly transforms into a bloodbath as she hacks up the poor unsuspecting customer in her barbershop chair. She is a true storyteller and has impeccable comedic timing. One of Dublin’s queen’s of the burlesque scene Miss Bella A Go Go is one of the most creative people I know, sewing and handmaking all her costumes, her incredible mind is full of fantasy which she expertly brings to life on stage with incredibly intricate themed shows, such as her recent Steampunk Cabaret.

So for those who may reduce burlesque to “stupid, middle class women stripping” – I’d like to extend an invitation to come and see a show. The scene here is vibrant and bristling with life and energy. The performers (male and female) are dedicated to making you smile, cringe, cower and giggle like a kid. I asked my friends when writing this why they attend these shows, and the consensus was strong – the striptease element is the last thing on the list. They come to find something different, something entertaining, to find like minded people and to have fun. The nudity in the shows is a great leveller. It’s an opportunity to dress up, to drink cocktails and smoke cigars, to travel to another world for one night only. And who among us doesn’t enjoy some escapism now and then?

If you think you’d like to give a show a go, then I would highly recommend any of the following nights:

The League of Decadent Bastards

This will be the show of the summer – an all male cast and an amazing line up including some of my favourite cabaret artists, a proper treat for the senses!

Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club

The mainstay of the Dublin scene, mostly classical and vintage burlesque and music, monthly, at the Sugar Club

The Love Cats Burlesque

Fabulous troupe of burlesque artists, comedians and musicians in Dublin

Dr Sketchy’s anti-art school – for the artists among us – where life drawing meets cabaret

AND watch out for shows from: Sedition Industries, AWOL tattoo studio Galway, The Pony Girls, Midnight Burlectro, Sideshow Cabaret and many more over 2011.

Ciara O’Connor is an avid amateur cook and veggie. She has been working in women’s health and education for many years. In her spare time she likes to read, cook, drink wine, and is a student homeopath, sometimes cabaret performer and occasional yogi.
Her twitter is ciara_oc