Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Naked on Stage

How's that for a provocative blog title?

Okay so I'm not planning on taking my clothes off in front of an audience, but before you sue me under the trade descriptions act, there are other sorts of naked.

I'm going to go naked-voiced on stage on 10 May. At Cabaret Confidential's first night in its new Canary Wharf home I'm going to be singing without a microphone for the first time since I was a choir girl - which was a lot longer ago than I'm prepared to admit.

London's Cabaret Godfather Paul L Martin says that The Space has incredible acoustics because it's a converted chapel, so none of us will need mics. But many of his other acts are musical theatre performers, used to belting out showtunes at full volume whilst dashing across the stage under hot lights in period costumes carrying a fellow cast-member. I'm just a lazy little jazzer used to moaning gently into an SM58 and letting the lucky soul on the sound desk pick up the slack.

Time to remind my diaphragm it exists, I think. It's ten years since my singing teacher drilled me through my scales and introduced me to the mysteries of Resonance, and many of the parts of my body she once pressed into service for making a big noise come out of me have long since gone back to sleep. I'm going for a refresher lesson next week with the lovely mister Richard Link, who says that what I have to do to make my voice carry is make a clean sound, without any air in it. Because the air is like white noise, interfering with the signal. I'm not 100% sure I get what he means, but I'm guessing it's something to do with singing less like Marilyn Monroe.

The question is, can I make my voice loud enough to carry without a mic, and still sound like Tricity Vogue? It's always worth trying something a bit different in my book, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. Plus it's a long time since anybody let me sing inside a church (even a converted one).

And while we're on the subject of trying new things, the lovely Crimson Skye was telling me I ought to give burlesque a go on Friday night... she says the first thing is to find a great song, one that makes you think 'yeah, I want to take my clothes off to that'. She does her act to The Doors 20th Century Girl, and Jimmi Hendrix Foxy Lady. I know what song I'd do my burlesque striptease to - if Beloved would allow me to do a burlesque striptease in a million years. But he is being very firm on the matter (and he's very sexy when he's being firm on the matter, I can tell you) so I will of course be respecting his wishes, and giving up on my fantasy to come on stage dressed as a nun to the strains of Johnny Cash singing Your Own Personal Jesus, then remove my habit to reveal devil horns and a basque underneath, just as the music segues into the Depeche Mode version of the song...

Shame, it was a cracker of an act. And I bet Stephane would enjoy designing the costume too.

But Dusty Limits said something very wise on Friday along the lines of the fact that being physically naked isn't really revealing that much in this day and age, and a really daring striptease is an emotional one, when a performer reveals the truth about themselves. I think that was the jist of it - I was onto my third glass of champagne by then and everything was very sparkly and fizzy - but it rings true to me. That's what great cabaret singing - in fact great singing full stop - is really all about. Emotional striptease.

So that's the kind of naked I'm going to aspire to on stage.



Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Fascinator

I found out what my little feather head-dress is called last night.

It's called a Fascinator.

it was only my Fascinator's first outing at a gig, and I must say i thought it did a very good job of fascinating. Although the pointy end of the feathers kept poking people in the eye, which was less endearing than the other end.

What a fascinating night it was all round at the Volupte Lounge. Gwendoline Lamour AND Roxy Velvet AND Crimson Skye in one night - a big chocolate box of burlesque treats. And then Dusty Limits bought after-hours champagne and I discovered what an enormous quantity of the stuff it is possible to drink without getting a hangover. Brilliant. I am only getting drunk on expensive champagne from now on.

After-hours secrets of the night? I couldn't possibly reveal what a roomful of burlesque queens, cabaret singers and supper club staff get up to after the punters have gone home. Suffice to say there were drumsticks, impromptu dance routines, and anecdotes involving fanning people's arses involved.

And right at the end, before I jumped into my taxi, there was one really really lovely shot glass full of something a bit coffyish which I couldn't identify but which i definitely want to drink again as soon as possible.

I don't know about anybody else, but I for one had a very fascinating night indeed.



Friday, March 16, 2007

The Trousers Mercedes Dubtet

Trousers Mercedes, diva wrangler and bassist extraordinaire, has decided to form his own band and perform dub covers of the entire Tricity Vogue repertoire.

Which means the set list will go something like this:

Honeysuckle Dub
Does You Dub Or Does You Don't
Dub Tropicana
All the Dub Reasons
Apple Dub
Under Your Dub
Boys Don't Dub
My Side of the Dub
Dub is a Girls Best Friend

I think he might be on to a winner. In fact, his band will probably become about 10 times more successful than mine, and be filling Wembley before the year is out.

Hopefully he'll let me sing in it, at least. Can you do reggae in evening wear?



Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Teaching My Boyfriend To Swing

What a fantastic title for a blog entry.

But I really am not making this up. Beloved and I have just been rehearsing together for our gig tomorrow night at Volupte, that most louche of after-dark hangouts, and our swing version of Sweet Dreams hit a glitsch when Beloved noticed how close to the White Stripes' 7 Nation Army our Sweet Dreams bassline was (really - there's only one note difference. Check it out for yourself). Once he'd noticed this, he couldn't get the White Stripes song out of his head, and this had the effect of knocking all the swing out Sweet Dreams and sending him off into a rock-out frenzy.

I cured him by force-feeding him Paul Anka's swing versions of Wonderwall, True, and Eye of the Tiger. No one can resist Mr Anka's swing for long, even if listening on a loop can bring on an effect that is the musical equivalent of having eaten too many ferrerro rochers.

Suffice to say that Beloved is now swinging like crazy.

It's going to be one hell of a night at Volupte tomorrow I can tell you.

I'd better retire for the evening and get my beauty sleep... unless Beloved needs more lessons, that is.



Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Things To Do When Your Computer Breaks Down

1. get it fixed
2. buy another one
3. borrow someone else's
4. do the housework
5.mend an antique fan
6. ring your parernts
7. read a book
8. visit your fashion designer friend and get him to iron your vintage ball gown with his professional steam iron
9.listen to a show on radio two called 'in search of the perfect pop song' in which guy chambers plays tantalising snippets of all your favourite songs ever and then plays more tantalising snippets of the people who wrote them talking about it
10. start furiously writing song lyrics for what will definitely be your own number one hit
11. go to bed early
12. get up in the middle of the night and sneak on your boyfriend's computer while he's asleep.

Me, I'm a big Mac fan - dating back to the days of the Mac Classic, that favourite of university computer rooms in my undergraduate days (oh god that ages me - more than if I admitted dancing to Come On Eileen at a college disco, because let's face it, everyone still dances to Come On Eileen at college discos) - but the thing is with macs, when they die, they really die. I took mine to show a nice hassidic jewish man in Walthamstow, who stroked his beard and said "You're logic board has gone". "Is that bad?" I said. Apparently that means the whole thing is bust - and for the money it would cost me to replace it I could buy a new one - he did have several very reasonable models on offer, but I decided to go away and think about it... then found the same computer £100 quid cheaper on the apple website. I was struck down by this massive paranoia attack in the repair centre that the shoddy-looking ibook they returned to me, shaking their heads, was not in fact mine at all, but one they had switched in the repair room for mine. Surely my own screen had not been that bent? Surely mine didn't have that huge crack down one corner? Surely my own power cable did not look so grubby and disgusting? I realised that all the things that make your own computer distinctive and familiar to you are on the inside - your desktop, your settings - and if I'd been asked to select mine at an identity parade I'd have had less clue than when they wheel out the ex pop stars on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The next laptop I have, I'm going to sign my name on the bottom in permanent marker, I can tell you.

Beloved was very eager for me to get on with buying a new computer as urgently as possible, mainly because for the last few days every time he gets up to go to the loo, he comes back to find me squatting his machine, faffing about on myspace or giggling secretively at emails. Thank god for my friend round the corner with a laptop sitting unused all day while she's at work, who let me go round and borrow hers so I could finish my work.

I've noticed I get on with what I'm supposed to be doing much more efficiently when I'm not at home. Many people who work at home claim that they end up doing the housework instead of working... if only my displacement activities were so worthy. We're not really into housework as an activity in this household: we tend to shut our eyes and pray for the fairies to come and do it, until we trip over a pile of Sunday newspapers so high we have to stir ourselves into a cleaning blitz (this usually happens on Thursday morning when we hear the recycling truck approaching down the street). However, without a computer of my own in the house to suck me in, I have found myself surveying my surroundings with a critical eye similar to the one I turned on the beat-up case of my old ibook - how come it got this bad and I never noticed? The hoover's been out, and - hold your breath - the kitchen floor has been Mopped. Yes, mopped. Not actually with an old school mop and bucket, but with this natty little toy called a Flash Powermop, which has a battery operated squirter to spit Flash liquid onto the floor just in front of the nappy-style mop-head attachment. Whether this marvel of modern technology actually gets floors any cleaner than the traditional method is questionable, but it's a lot more fun to use.

That's 1 - 4 covered. The antique fan in number 5 was once left behind at a gig by a friend of a friend - I sent her a message to say I had it and she told me to look after it because it was antique, and promised to come to another gig to pick it up some time. That was about 2 years ago. In all that hot weather last summer I took to using it on stage to cool me down... until one day it ripped in half. I'm not sure the friend of a friend will ever come back to collect it - but just in case she does, I thought I'd better try and glue it together again, so I stuck some tissue paper on the back with uhu. That was probably a sacriligeous thing to do with an antique painted fan, but it does mean the fan will now open and close without falling to bits. I haven't spoken to the friend of a friend since I bumped into her in the toilets of Century, that club in Soho. I'd been taken there by a fat cat I was dating, ostensibly for a drink, but, it turned out once we got there, his real intention was to dump me. Perhaps he thought that if he did it in a public place I wouldn't cry. However, I did cry - and, of course, in the midst of my emotional outburst a business contact of his moseyed up to say hello and asked to be introduced to his 'new lady friend', so that backfired on him somewhat. I then ran off to the loo, where I bumped into the Lady Of The Fan, who was so busy regaling me with tales of all the famous people she was hanging out at the club with that she didn't notice the black tear streaks down my face (liquid eyeliner is a bugger to do relationship breakups in). Luckily she didn't ask me about the antique fan either.

7 - 12 are pretty much self explanatory, except to say that the book I have just been reading is Black Swan Green by David Mitchell which I highly recommend to anyone who was a kid in the 80s (there I go again with the giveaways), or in fact, anyone who was a kid, full stop. And go to the bbc website and find Guy Chambers show under Listen Again for BBC2 because it really was delicious, inspirational listening about the secret ingredients that go into a really classic hit song. You've got a week to catch this episode, and the good news is, it's a series, so there'll be another lovely episode along next week as well.

Meanwhile, Beloved just got back home, so I'm gonna have to wrap this up before he catches me on his machine - again - and domestic harmony is thus upheaved (is that a word?)

Watch this space for that Tricity Vogue Number One Hit Single...