The Spare Rib Burlesque and Cabaret: Halloween review

I’ve only been to the Spare Rib once before and there weren’t many bums on seats, so I was pleasantly surprised when the space became packed as soon as doors opened. Fancy dress ranged from Garth and Wayne to an obscure Pokémon (i.e. not Pikachu or the lizard) to a glam granny rocking a bedazzled feathery corset.

The Magnet basement reminds me of bygone days I wasn’t actually alive for. A complimentary marshmallow eyeball kept me happy, and the fixed aircon meant I didn’t have sweaty underboob, though since getting fat I’m still enjoying actually having an underboob.

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Lola Rogue

In an unexpected turn of events, Lola Rogue played compère for the evening and warmed things up with the Time Warp. I’ve seen her glass-walking burlesque act at the Secret Circus and thought she came across as timid, so was totally taken aback to learn she’s a very, erm, confident triple-threat.  Self-deprecating and witty, she kept my attention even when going off on vino-induced tangents, describing herself as a “weird crab”. Oh, and she looked absolutely lovely.

The Spare Rib has a monthly “Stage Kitten”, this time Tia Maria whose bum I couldn’t stop gawping at in skin-tight leather pants. According to Lola, it’s ‘a very important job. She gets to pick up everybody’s knickers.’ The point of “Kittening” is that girls have the opportunity to become comfortable onstage, like my pal Mandy who’s working on her own burlesque act and needed some confidence.

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Tilly Mint

First up to get in the nuddy was Tilly Mint, one half of the Spare Rib’s founding with a filthy bondage act. My new pal at the table had a passionate Tilly crush and definitely approved.

Next was the Spare Rib’s co-founder, Minxie Coquette. I’d already seen her Wednesday Addams inspired act, but noticed it hadn’t actually been introduced as that. The soundtrack gave no indication, either, and I’m not quite convinced black pigtails were enough for a lot of people to get it – that is, if they like me weren’t paying attention to it being introduced as ‘creepy, cooky, mysterious and a little spooky’… A nice idea and effort, though, and the Kitten saved the day with the wardrobe malfunction thus proving her worth.

Minxie Coquette
Minxie Coquette

Diva Hollywood has headlined the best burlesque and cabaret acts from New York to Milan but hadn’t performed in two months due to illness, so I was prepared to be lenient. Her Freddy Krueger inspired act was oddly enchanting and despite cracking the whip, there was a softness which meant you couldn’t quite write her off as a scary bedroom maniac.

Next was my Aussie pal Little Peaches, who has the best cheeks either hemisphere. Her adorable act was reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, following a China doll’s exploration of her body and the secondary effect it has on the audience.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Sweet and playful, it didn’t scare the burlesque virgins in the house. Meticulously choreographed, it’s obvious Peaches has done it before; she has total confidence in her power over the audience despite little of the act alluding to sex.

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In stark contrast, Minxie’s second act of the evening was every bit as devilish as you’d expect a Halloween show to be. Poor Minxie suffered another wardrobe malfunction which actually added to the humour, and she really came into her own brandishing some serpent-like fans to reveal the snazziest tassels I’ve ever seen.

Tilly’s second act had a completely different tone to the first; narrated by a Disney track, Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger and morphs into a man-eating fiend to Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! This act had a better balance of feminine innocence and after-dark flirtation, the confusion and self discovery reminiscent of Little Peaches.

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Tilly Mint

I’m learning my own burlesque preferences, and definitely prefer the cheekier, more subtle kind to overtly sexual; for me, burlesque is about women celebrating their sexuality, and overtly sexual acts tend to kill that and remind me of lurid places like strip clubs. My new pal approved though, obviously, so either act was just fine with him! However, this is just personal preference as far as my tastes go rather than anything on Tilly’s part, and at least she’s a versatile performer.

Lola Rogue insisted that cabaret shows were also about ‘making serious socio-political statements’ and shamelessly shoehorned in a tune about police brutality with her ukulele. The sound wasn’t great so I couldn’t make out all the lyrics, but I liked what I heard. She also offered up some wisdom: ‘Ladies don’t sweat, they glisten,’ which I shall treasure forever.

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Lola Rogue

‘Ladies and gents, put your hands together for me!’ Lola Rogue also performed a “boylesque” act, crossing gender stereotypes as a smutty cockney geezer (‘fuckin’ ladies’ legs?!’) to reveal a 20s inspired getup. Lola’s confidence is incredibly sexy, and so is her bod. She seems to love every second up there and doesn’t take herself seriously. I would go for a pint with Lola.

I will admit, I always get a bit impatient approaching the musical portion of an event and will usually stay out of politeness. I came to see the boobs! Jodie Anderson started with a couple of covers including Shut Up and Drive, a song I personally hate but she managed to make it alright. She has a sweet, gentle voice and provided nice background music while you went for a wee and and a nose about. And then came the tune about concrete. A civil engineer, she proved to be unexpectedly humorous, having explained a previous song about something close to her heart – traffic lights – so a smutty number disguised about sex topped things off nicely.

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Diva Hollywood

Finally Diva Hollywood rocked a 1950s housewife look to Mad About the Boy. The latex should have given it away; Diva is jilted by a lover and shoots him. Remorseful, she puts a gun to her own head, the audience pleading for her to reconsider, before aiming towards – and into – her crotch. A hangman appears, Diva’s boobs jiggling as she hangs. This is literally the definition of gallows humour, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I’m all for risqué usually, so maybe I’m getting boring in my old age?  Even if she wouldn’t get away with it the other 364 days of the year, Halloween is the day I definitely can’t judge. Diva has a wild imagination and a real gift for storytelling, and I have a lot of respect for anyone willing to lay their ideas bare for others to judge – even more so than the getting naked part.

All photos property of Art by Seraphic.

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The ridiculous Scouse bucket list

I’ve introduced various Couchsurfers to the delights Liverpool has to offer and have started a comprehensive list of the most boss attractions for visitors who have traveled across the land to soak up its culture.

  1. Listen to the old bloke singing ‘move, bitch, get out the way!’ at the Pilgrim open mic. Every. Single. Week.

2. Do the Rocky run up the Metropolitan cathedral steps.

3. Do a baked bean tequila shot at CaVa.

4. Drink from the holy fountain in St James’s Gardens and hope nobody’s recently urinated in it.

5. Have your photo taken with the gloriously tasteless Titanic boat in the Albert Dock.

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6. Visit the Black Rabbit to admire the stuffed dog wearing a gold chain and sunglasses. And the stuffed rabbit being ridden by a stuffed gerbil.

7.  Give old Eleanore a big hug whilst insisting she’ll never be lonely when you’re around and does she fancy a bevvy?

8. Gas with your pal in Luche Libre’s double cubicle whilst letting out the gas of those burritos.

Don’t let Tourist Information tell you otherwise; these are all destinations of cultural value. Keep Liverpool’s rich heritage alive by passing knowledge along, and don’t forget to message us with your own suggestions!

Liverpool CAMHS: Expressions of Emotions

When: Saturday 31st October – Monday 2nd November, 12-4pm

Where: Tate Liverpool, Studio

Exhibitions at the Tate tend to go over my head, like that blue canvas by an artist who was dead proud he’d invented a new shade of blue.

However, CAMHS is an organization close to my heart. The Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services helped me until the age of 18. I had an undiagnosed disorder and relied on self harm to get through the day, and clearly remember sitting under the stairwell crying during a free period. I would harm my stomach where nobody could see, and remember the agony of having to jump about in PE and trying not to raise my arms too high so my midriff wasn’t exposed.

Robin, late 20s, would spend half the session indulging me by talking about whatever I felt like. Music was common ground, and he was appalled that 17 year old me hadn’t been that interested in Radiohead at Leeds festival. Eventually he could get me to talking about all them feelz. I told him about my deceased grandma and cried, and he spoke about his grandma and cried. CAMHS were technically meant to cast you out into the world after turning 18, but he kept seeing me until I went off to university. I cried my heart out as if I’d lost my best friend. Each Christmas I would write to prove I was still alive and thanking him.

CAMHS isn’t something I let myself think about often, but I visited http://www.liverpoolfyi.com in preparation for this article and this gorgeous ‘Inspire Card’ legit filled my eyes with tears:

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Coinciding with mental illness slowly becoming acknowledged as “an actual thing”, mental health services are also being stretched to breaking point. I want to express how grateful I am; I honestly think Robin saved my life, and it would be wonderful if you would support the people CAMHS are helping now.

Expressions of Emotions contains artwork produced by young people from the Liverpool branch, through a partnership which provided a six week summer programme at the Tate. Art is an incredible way of expressing emotion, and I still use the analogy I drew for Robin to express my state of mind to show people what it’s like to have borderline personality disorder. Please come along and show your support – you never know when your loved one may rely on CAMHS.

The Secret Rocky Horror Show: a review

We went along to the Secret Circus on Parr St last night, after many reassurances that my pal didn’t look massive after eating her flatmate’s fish and chip leftovers and how the whole point of a corset is you can eat fish and chips and still look fit anyway.

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Thaddeus by Justine Zoe Photography

It was a full house as usual with latecomers perched on the floor for lack of seating.

Highlights included comedy ghost stories by Thaddius Bent of the Legion of Doom, who proved he can hold his own as an individual comic. Creative and professional, it was disappointing that he needed to acknowledge someone in the front row fiddling with their phone who continued all night. Later on, someone nearer the back conducted an unsubtle telephone call DURING AN EXTREMELY LOW KEY ACT AND WE ALL NOTICED. These performers have put a huge deal of work into creating acts to entertain YOU, so don’t be so freaking disrespectful, people.

I wasn’t a fan of comic Rikky Wiley, partly because I didn’t find him funny and partly because he made fun of the thing I’m really conscious about so now I’m biased anyway.

Helen Rawlinson by Justine Zoe Photography

*Breathe* I also enjoyed the Turkish belly dancing by Helen Nasheeta Rawlinson, who oozed energy and got several audience members on their feet.

Although there were some student-centric laughs from Frank Foucault – I totally put the washing powder in every compartment so I can’t get it wrong too! – the German accent and “heil Hitler” didn’t really do it for me, because I have a rule that you can only joke about terrible things 100 years after they’ve happened – which is why the tasteless sinking Titanic boat in the Docks is fine.

Daria Lee’s horror act proved you don’t have to get your kit off in burlesque, whilst the audience were also thoroughly grateful to Tilly Mint for doing with her Alice Cooper vampire act (poor Tilly got a mouthful of glitter but handled it like a pro).

Tilly Mint by Marie Fletcher
Tilly Mint by Marie Fletcher

Alastair Clark returned, without the world’s greatest gold pants but an impressive handlebar moustache. He’s openly discussed his issues with mental health in past performances and the biggest laugh came thanks to a recent scathing review from an 18 year old “director” ABOUT A COMIC OPENLY BATTLING DEPRESSION. Way to send a guy other the edge, nobhead.Eve also did a cracking job of hosting without her partner in crime Chanel, who has temporarily had to return to the US.

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Eve by AP Photography
Pals
                                                                          Pals

Where are you buying your last-minute Halloween costumes?

Mates, what is with this queuing down to Concert Square and waiting for security guards to grant you entry into Smiffy’s?

There’s another brilliant fancy dress shop in town in the form of Lili Bizarre which has a huge collection of professional costumes; the shop adjoining Bumper on Hardman St didn’t close down contrary to popular belief, just moved to larger premises a stone’s throw from Primark (although please bring back the pink). The staff are lovely too, unlike Smiffy’s where I’ve always found them pretty unenthusiastic and general cranks.

Alternatively, visit the legendary Quiggins where you’ll find the exact same face paint and such for a fraction of the Smiffy’s price (mad contact lenses in the shop to your left of the entrance, face paint and a fabulous range of glitter, false eyelashes etc straight ahead. You’re welcome).

Smiffy’s costumes are terrible quality at hugely inflated prices – usually in the region of £35 – and you’ll always find the exact same costumes in unopened packaging on eBay for around £10-£15.

Also check out Oxfam on Bold St, which has the most fabulous range of fancy dress costumes, ranging from the insane to what we suspect are genuine stripper cast-offs. During regular visits over the past couple of weeks we’ve found countless costumes by the likes of Ann Summers, and several beautiful corsets from around £6 each. There’s also a huge selection of wedding dresses, some already decorated with blood, so you can be a zombie/virgin bride.

Here are photos of myself and a friend last night wearing corsets for the first time to the Rocky Horror themed Secret Circus at Studio 2. We bought others with gorgeous designs, but black seemed like a safe way of easing ourselves in. We’d love to know what you’ve dug up, so send in pics!

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Alex only let me take this pic after a few bevvies and will almost certainly rage that’s it up, but doesn’t she look amazing?
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Me being decapitated for Halloween. This is one of those shorter corsets that doesn’t actually cover your boobs, so I might wear it with nipple tassels next time…

The Hardman’s House

When: March-October, Wed-Sat

Where: 59 Rodney St, L1 9ER

I actually only picked up this leaflet because of the pretty retro design; before I go into any details, keep in mind this is only open March – October, Wed-Sat, so if you’re interested, get your skates on.

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‘Maintained by the National Trust, step back in time to the 1950s and experience the sophisticated and bohemian life and travels of a society photographer in the heart of Liverpool when you step inside the former studio and home of Edward Chambré Hardman, and his talented wife Margaret. A unique time capsule of Liverpool life and creativity, packed with vintage treasures and fascinating artwork.’

I’m rushing to write this as there’s so much good stuff going on this week, so I don’t know a whole lot about it and am still absorbing the fact that Hardman St actually means something other than pizza. I’ll definitely attempt to squeeze the 90 minute tour in, though, as I’m a fan of all things fifties and such a perfectly preserved time capsule is every urban explorer’s dream.

Book your tour at 0151 709 6261, and bring a friend for free by quoting ‘Vintage 1’. Adult tickets £6.50.

Fiestival Bombarda

When: 6pm 21 Nov – 3am 22 Nov

Where: Venues TBA across Baltic Triangle

Fiesta Bombarda is another of my all-time favourite events, a carnival of colour 1233995_785326788179881_1976416783059525665_nwhich rolls into town roughly every couple of months. My friends and I always scramble for tickets, and even if you end up alone you’ll constantly bump into familiar faces.

What sets Bombarda apart is its taking place at the city’s most inspiring spaces, including the Sefton Palm House, Williamson Tunnels and St George’s Hall.

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Though a more modest venue, my personal favourite was the UV party at Constellations, whilst founder Sam Garlick says, ‘Personally I enjoyed the [Anglican] cathedral the most as it was our second birthday party and hearing ‘Sexual Healing’ by the Hot 8 Brass Band in Europe’s 5th biggest cathedral isn’t something that happens every day.’

10384759_10152080525730957_7881797767240151983_nSo what inspired the Bombarda crew to challenge countless mainstream party hangouts? ‘Since our founding, the mantra of Bombarda has been to cultivate the appeal of culturally-rich genres such as afrobeat and reggae, and world cultures, for audiences previously unfamiliar by utilising unique and inspiring spaces. Our first event was a one-off in the Bombed Out Church, however due to the unexpected success we knew we couldn’t leave it there… 11401404_886245644754661_999379144347002959_nWe’ve always made sure to using interesting, varied and constantly changing venues, which is probably the biggest appeal of the event, as each night offers something hugely unique and different.’

Bombarda has had an incredible year so far, returning to where it all started for its third birthday at the Bombed Out Church. They’ve also brought the carnival to cities like Leeds, Sheffield and Bristol.

Bombarda has outdone itself with the Fiestival, having just released a fourth wave of tickets. Originally booked for the Camp and Furnace, they relocated due to overwhelming demand. Having expanded to several incredible warehouse spaces, four stages of reggae, afrobeat, brass and carnival sounds will engulf an entire area of the Baltic Triangle for just one day and night.

King of the Jungle Congo Natty will headline, and returning all the way from Chicago will be the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. There’ll also be another 15 live acts and seven DJs. If that isn’t enough to keep you entertained, there will be 12108200_941100289269196_8124269960355113801_n special performances from Hex, Katuma, Bring The Fire with more TBA.

You can expect some mad set design, transforming the Triangle into a ‘Moonlight Jungle’, ‘Aurora Lagoon’ and ‘Twilight Hollow’.

There’ll be installation art, screen printing workshops, Fiesta face paints, a head dress workshop and tropical food stalls and much, much more.

Viva la fiesta!

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