Category Archives: Live Performance

Arty Anna

It’s been a funny few weeks since the Drag-Opticon gig. I think it’s because I have a lot on in March that I may be becoming anxious about it. I pulled out of a gig the other week at the last minute. It was after work and I’d just finished getting changed to go to the venue and upon looking in the full length mirror I did not like what I saw. Cue a massive crisis of confidence which culminated in me clambering back into my drab clothes and sitting on the floor propped up by the door. I don’t know if it was my choice of outfit, the hair and make-up, my loss of faith in my material as it was a comedy night I was appearing at. It could have been all of the above. Suffice to say the homing instinct kicked in and home I went. I only managed one picture from that session and here it is, I don’t like it that much but I guess it’s relevant to this particular situation.

Matters improved for my next appearance which was 4 days later. This performance took place at ‘Dr Sketchy’ in Stereo, Renfield Lane, Glasgow. It was unusual in a number of respects, the first being that it was at 1 in the afternoon, it was a paid gig and that it involved life drawing! Usually they have burlesque dancers and folk like that and the idea is that you do your act then you pose for the audience to draw you. Tremendous fun but also challenging. I’m not terribly great at staying still but I managed fairly well. It was so warm under those lights. I think I did 4 poses in total; one where I stood holding my guitar, one sitting down reading a book, one with me holding an opened umbrella and another where I lay on a blanket propped up against the back of the stage.

I think Nicola, the lady running the show took this one during my first pose. Here are a few pics showing how I actually looked. If I do say so myself I reckon I looked a lot better than my previous attempt.

Sadly I never got to see any of the drawings, I was hoping people would share them to the Dr Sketchy Facebook page but to no avail. It was also a first in that I shared the bill with a pair of life models. A married couple from the USA who seem to be travelling about the place, seeing the sights, appearing naked in the basements of bars for strangers to draw them. If I was wearing a hat I’d take it off to them! I had brought a sketchpad with me so I could join in so I relished the opportunity to give it a try. They did 6 poses I think and I drew them all but only one or two turned out well enough to share.

I’ve never drawn naked people before. I always prefer drawing animals or things as I find the human face particularly difficult – lips especially. Luckily the lady had wild hair that more often than not cascaded over her face and made it a bit easier. I’d definitely love to go again sometime!

A new wig arrived last week too so that was more than a bit exciting. It’s very close indeed to the shade of red I’ve been seeking for several years. For the benefit of non regular readers of this blog I shall briefly explain that I have long been trying to find a suitable replacement for my first brilliant wig. A gorgeous long auburn one with prominent bangs. This one doesn’t have the fringe but the shade is almost the same.

It’s bloody tight though haha! I must have a big head though to be fair. Next gig is ‘Ashes to Ashes’, a cabaret tribute to David Bowie at the Polo Lounge on the 1st of March. I’ve been asked to provide a special Bowie poem which I have been dutifully working on for the last while. It’s more or less done and probably just needs a wee touch-up. Here is the poster for it, it’s very smart indeed!

Life is Officially a Drag (in the best possible way)

I began my 2017 gig schedule in one of the coolest venues I’ve ever been in – and I mean that in both terms of temperature and ‘wow that’s cool!’. The Britannia Panopticon is a culturally, historically and aesthetically significant place. Apparently it’s the oldest surviving music hall, built in the late 1880s and closed in 1938 just before the war. So barring the odd superficial embellishments here and there it is pretty much as it was when it closed its doors to the public all those years ago.

I was there for an evening of drag, an event amusingly titled ‘Dragopticon’. It’s my first such billing and I admit I was a tad apprehensive. Most people involved with it hadn’t seen me before so I hoped I’d be able to get through it all without making an arse of myself. I really enjoyed rambling about backstage surrounded by top hats, corsets, bric-a-brac, rolls of pianola paper (if that’s even how you refer to them). The host Alana Duvey immediately put me at ease and I met the others one by one who are all part of Glasgow’s thriving drag scene. What a beautiful and inventive bunch! My fellow cast members included…

Alana Duvey herself

alana-duvey

Dharma Geddon

dharma-gheddon

Ru Jazzle

rujazzle

CJ Banks

cj-banks

and

Ann Phetimine

ann-phetimine

The format was that we all got 2 performances, 1 in each half, and I was truly blown away by them. The whole gig is up on Youtube having been filmed by an eager audience member. Here are links to my 2 sets…

 

My wife and sister came along as did my old friend Rachel and her brother Stuart. They had a blast too and were seriously talking about attending the next one. A lady took professional photos of everyones performances as well which I shall share here also. I took them from Facebook so the quality is not so great. She goes by the name Galactic Carnival so I thank her most graciously for the images and for letting me use them.

I even got to debut a new song called ‘Star Wars Pants’. A joyous celebration of my Star Wars underwear. Well I hadn’t intended to but I stupidly mentioned it on mic and I was cajoled into doing it. Also I was most pleased to see a lady called Carrianne and her friend pop along to support me. She’s a lovely lady I encountered at Queer Theory a few months back who graciously leant me her plectrum earring as I was plectrumless at the time. Brilliant stuff!

I also managed a few amateurish snaps of my own after I got ready and was hanging about backstage…

There was a milestone as well a few days ago on the 5th of February. The anniversary of my first gig! I sure have came a long way since that first outing. Here’s to another year ๐Ÿ™‚

Sinister winking, Jesus as a woman and looking to the future in general

Sometimes I hate having to title things, I may come back and change this at one point retroactively. I actually did that with my first four posts as I had originally only given them dates as names. They were even harder to name as they were almost themeless ramblings – I say almost as crossdressing was the main unifying theme.

Well I’ve had a few more outings since my last post proper. One of those was as an extra in a Black Doves music video being filmed partly at the Rio Cafรจ in Partick. The story was set in the sixties so I donned my wig with prominent bangs and wore a polka dot dress…

This was another after work activity so I got dressed in my usual toilet and popped along for a few hours. I had to stop off in a nearby Sainsburys to pick up makeup wipes so that was officially Anna’s first shop visit. Damn the lighting is unforgiving in those places! Amusingly I also passed a couple of folk from my work on the main road. One clocked me and the other didn’t. The lady who did was full of compliments the next day which did brighten the otherwise tired and hungover morning I was to have afterwards.

Aside from the band themselves and some of their friends I was joined by singing sensation Violet Duff who looked amazing as usual and a very dapper looking Paul Puppet. He is the vocalist in a band called ‘Scunner’ of whom I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside a few times over the years. He is also the man behind Spangled Cabaret and therefore the first person to give me a chance. What a guy!

The next gig I had was on Saturday the 17th of December at the Sinister Wink. It was awesome to once again be guests of The Creative Martyrs at the Bungo in the southside of Glasgow. Also joining me was Miss Innocence Bliss, one of my favourite burlesquers and a lovely person to boot. I learned a Christmas song as it was technically a Christmas gig. I don’t normally do festive songs but one of my exceptions to the rule and ticker of obscure boxes is that old Go Go’s classic ‘I’m gonna spend my Christmas with a Dalek’. It’s a real song honestly, it’s from the sixties at the height of Dalekmania. Gabriel Featherstone popped along too which was cool, he’d brought along his friends Chris and Boo too. Whilst I was chatting to them upstairs before the show a lady from my work arrived with some friends for a drink. Instictively I waved over and she eventually realised who I was – I often forget I must look so different all dressed up. We had a lovely brief chat and she joined her friends again.

As you can see I went for that Mrs Claus that I did last year when I had a little Christmas shoot. A couple of other people took photos. This next one was by Emma Fork.

A lady called Ruth EJ Booth took a few crackers too and she has kindly allowed me to share them here :).

A great gig overall. I did my usual mixture of poetry and music and generally had a ball. Thinking to myself that that was me until New Year. Wrong! On the Monday I received a wee message from Dean from Black Doves about doing a turn at the last Queer Theory of the year on the Wednesday. To me that was a no brainer as I’ve been loving the whole being offered gigs thing these days. There have been a couple I’ve sadly had to turn down but that’s not bad considering how many I’ve said yes too.

I met my friend Deedee for dinner upstairs in the venue before the gig. Nice n’ Sleazy was the place, a Glasgow stalwart, one of the few. I just had chips I must confess as I was being a cheap ass. It was compered as usual by the incomparible Callum MacLeod. Joining me on the bill were Kavita Bhardwaj the comedian (and a good pal of mine these days), Ruby Waters (a brilliant drag artiste – one of her acts was ‘Alien’ themed and saw her dress up as Ripley!), Boris Gay (not sure how to describe Boris Gay but I thoroughly enjoyed her), the Black Doves (who brought some sparkle as usual) and Zyna Hel (who was sonically mesmerizing and gorgeous to behold in equal measure).

I snapped these pics backstage. They turned out okay actually, there was a wee ledge I could rest the phone on to do so. Someone was taking pictures so hopefully I’ll get to see them in the new year. It was getting late and Deedee offered me a lift up the road which I duly accepted. She dropped me off at a roundabout 15 mins or so from my house. She wasn’t local so I didn’t want to bamboozle her with directions. Also she gave me a dress which she had purchased recently that didn’t fit. Walking up the hill to my house in heels with a guitae and suitcase is not something I want to repeat any time soon I can tell you!

Queer Theory Photos

This is a follow up to my last post as since then I very gladly received 15 high quality images from Dean Darkie Cargill of Black Doves fame from my last gig. Photos were taken by a friend of mine, a very talented chap called Martin J. Windebank. It’s rare for me to have photos of Anna taken by someone else and the fact that they are great images makes them even more special…

Then I switched to the guitar after the poetry as I often do…

I really love the one shot from below when I’m in motion. Cracking stuff! I also found myself lurking in a couple of other photos. This next one is me with my friend Deedee and her friend Emma…

That’s a blurry one of me laughing my head off at something. The blonde lady on the far right is Tom Harlow who put on a showstopping performance that night as his alter ego Harlow.

Some footage from my last Spangled gig has surfaced on Youtube also, courtesy of Jon the Hat. It’s basically footage of my 3 songs from that night; 13 Stone’a’luv, Bonus Sausage and Catch the Tiger. Here’s a handy link to view it xxx


Also excitingly it seems I’ll have 2 gigs before years end, a Christmas cabaret with The Creative Martyrs as well as the New Years comedy night I’m doing. I’ve also confirmed my first proper drag show appearance at the end of January. Dragopticon at the Brittania Panopticon, which is the oldest surviving music hall in the world. A very interesting historical place! Originally closed in 1938 but reopened in recent years still in the same state as when it closed, hermetically sealed. I’ve been meaning to go for ages so now I have a definitive excuse :).

Surprise gig joy!

As you all know I’ve become very busy of late! My inability to say ‘No’ is very strong indeed…except for a cabaret I was offered on the 2nd December which I had to turn down for practical reasons. I’m attending a wedding reception and my wife may very well kill me if I do the gig instead 😄.
This past Wednesday I was intending on attending Queer Theory again which I had last played in June. It was a fab night and I wanted to make sure I popped along again in an audience capacity as I’d missed a few crackers in the intervening montha. One of my friends Deedee was meant to be going too so I promised I’d meet her there. I advertised it as such on Facebook as I was looking forward to it. Most excited was I to then receive a message asking if I wished a little 10 minute slot as someone had pulled out! I managed to scrape a wee set together and had to make do with the decrepit guitar I usually leave in work but I set off in high spirits.

Compered by the highly irreverent Callum McLeod I shared the stage with some sensational folk again! A.Crow, (on top form, I’m a big fan of her words) Harlow (spectacular as always), Gabriel Featherstone (such a funny guy – I wish he did a full show one time), Black Doves (who were astonishingly brilliant this evening) and The Three Gentlemen (who were it seems from the future and a perfect way to end the evening).
A large number of photos were taken by a chap I know called Martin Windebank and I look forward to having a peek at those soon. I shall some when I get them – he has a fantastic eye so he does. I don’t get many ‘action’ shots but I’ve a feeling he’ll have captured some keepers.

Twenty gigs down – another milestone!

…or is a mill-stone?

I’ve been a very busy bee in the past 10 days as I managed to clock up another 4 appearances. All memorable in their own way and the overall experience has made me question it all again. I am enjoying it there are no quibbles as far as enjoyment is concerned but I’m not really sure I can keep it up. Anna taking over my performance life has been both blessing and hindrance. I have met a whole bunch of new friends and plus done things I never thought I’d ever do, mainly involving being out in public regularly en femme. It has relegated my ‘man side’ a bit though and I’m frustrated at not being able to have completed many new songs this year. I can count 2 since last November. That may change as I have been given the opportunity to join a band as purely a musician and not a frontman. The idea of being a tad anonymous appeals greatly just now.

The Glasgow Festival of Burlesque gig was fantastic. Probably my favourite of the four which is nice as it’s the one I’ve had booked the longest. Some great cast members including Talullah Belle, Tootsie Annie, Nymph O’ Maniac, Trixie Whipp, Tom Harlow, Raphael Risky…annoyingly there are 2 ladies whose names I did not note but when I find out I’ll amend this accordingly. All hosted and ran by the unstoppable Roxy Stardust! Here’s a grainy pic of us enjoying complimentary cocktails. Roxy took it with her new selfie stick.

I only took a few pics myself before heading out. It would have been ace to have gotten some pics with the ladies but at least there are a few photos of the curtain call which were subsequently shared on Facebook.

I should point out that I changed when I arrived at The Riding Room, into black stockings, suspenders and glittery heels ;). I changed my planned route to the gig also and got off the train a stop early. Just thought I’d take a stroll through George Square and feel the wind on my legs briefly.

My friend Deedee came along with her sister and they took a few snaps which I’m pleased to share!

The next gig was at the Western Baths Club two days later. Apparently it’s the second oldest baths in Europe and as it’s title suggests it’s a members only club. This night was called the ‘Comedy Cake Showcase’ and was ran by Scott McPherson and compered by Kavita Bhardwaj. It’s great to share a stage with these folk again, Gabriel Featherstone was there too as was Natalie Sweeney Potter, Iain MacDonald and published crime writer Chris Dolan who read extracts from his recent novel.

I was on last and folk enjoyed my act to the extent that one last song was demanded! I gave them ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie and as I had just finished the chorus and began verse 2 a woman appeared in front of me informing me that what I was doing was an insult to the memory of a great artist and I should be ashamed of myself. Now I wasn’t expecting that! Cue pandemonium and chaos as everybody else in the room disageed vehemently. I wasn’t upset, more angry as I dearly love and miss David Bowie. I reckon he would have taken a dislike to this woman too. She was asked to leave I understand but the night kind of ended on a downer. Well it would have done had it not been for the amazing moral support from my peers and loads of random hugs and kind words from bewildered attendees. Also sold a few CDs – they’re supposed to be free!!

The next day I attended a friends wedding which was a lovely day all round. Fatigue began to creep in a little at this point. The day after that I was shaving and slipping into another dress. Back at Spangled Cabaret my spiritual home but in a new venue. A bar called Dukes in the Yorkhill district. From the moment I walked in I could tell I’d love the place. Electronica, jazz, funk all mixed up on the playlist. I got changed in the Gents this time which was an amusingly cramped experience.

A great night and a fantastically intimate venue. It was especially nice to see Violet Duff again, a very lovely and talented lady indeed. Overseen by the puppet master himself Paul Puppet who in particular did a great tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. Also on the bill were The Guru (wondrous and amusing in equal measure), Lala (awesome acapella) , The Creative Martyrs (sublime as ever), Innocence Bliss (who gave an approaching customer quite an eyefull right up against the glass front door!) and Laydee Rocket (whom I have yet to find the appropriate words to describe).

I’d definitely love to play there again, hopefully one time next year…

The last gig of the four was my twentieth Anna Secret Poet appearance. It was an odd one too. A return to McChuills in Glasgow for a heady mixture of music, poetry and comedy. I got changed at my sisters this time as there wouldn’t be a suitable place at the venue. I took the opportunity to take a couple more pictures during the transformation process.

The journey itself was uneventful. No doubt folk stared but I was none the wiser really. Even took a couple of pictures waiting for and then aboard the train.

I look dead happy don’t I!! 😄

The gig itself was okay but I probably didn’t ‘feel it’ if I’m to be honest. The gig was ran by Robert Winning and a chap known as LJ.  It was great to see Kavita and Scott again plus there were some great comedians on the bill including Scott the Redman Redmond, Christopher KC and John Callum Carruthers. There was another poet and she was called Mary Nicolson. Apparently it was her first gig and she was really good. Her stuff was short and to the point. I made a hash of trying to talk to her though but perhaps we’re on completely different wavelengths. There were musicians too; Scott Wishart, Rose City Blues and Bunker Monkey. I didn’t stay till the end as I knew a bus home on a Saturday would take an age so I set off in search of the elusive bussy beast.

What’s next? A gig on New Years Eve which I confess to be kind of losing love for conceptially. A little break might restore my verve we shall see.

Catch the Tiger

Titles are sometimes a problem for me these days, especially with wee peripheral posts like this. I’m afraid it’ll mainly be an excuse to show off some pictures I took before my gig last Wednesday at Brass Monkey. This was the relocated Rockus comedy gig which I sort of unofficially headlined in a fashion (believe or not I’m still a bit shy about being the centre of attention after all these years 😄).

I made a bit of effort with cinching and padding as I don’t offen wear figure hugging bodycon dresses. Hopefully it looks okay.

I took that particular picture just down from my work on the way to the station. I don’t have many outside photos and I think this one turned out okay!

When I arrived there the place was fairly empty so I bought a drink and got comfy. A young woman came over and asked if I’d mind her and her mother sitting at the next table. Of course I didn’t mind…and the evening began. They were great company – Stephanie and Patsy they were called. We talked about a lot of things (including make-up and Stephanie actually gave me a Mac Primer tester she had in her bag) but generally they were intrigued by me so I had to field various questions regarding what I was up to dressed like a woman in a city centre pub. I explained about the comedy night I was to be performing at and Stephanie persuaded her mum that they should stay for it. 

It was a wee shame as she did get rather drunk over the course of the evening even to extent of the bar staff refusing to serve her anymore. I blame the shots she kept buying us! Sadly she stormed out before I left and I never got to say a proper goodbye. Her mother had explained that they had just had some bad news regarding a close relative and that’s why she was partying so hard.

Eventually I was joined by my fellow performers – a cracking bunch indeed! It was great to hang out with Daniel Drever again as I feel I’ve found a kindred spirit and possible future collaborator. Compere and event organiser Gillian also announced her pregnancy which was lovely news indeed for her and her partner. I seem to also remember we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to a chap named Kelvin who is one of Glasgow’s longest serving gig promoters. I myself have had gigs off him many times in my formative years. Amusingly he didn’t recognise me when I briefly spoke to him!

Also on the bill along with Daniel and myself were Christopher Scott, Natalie Sweeney Potter and Charlene Petersen. A most talented and amusing bunch indeed. I think I’m  appearing with Natalie again in November so I’m looking forward to that. This was also the first gig I was able to distribute copies of my CD ‘Vowel Movements’ at. I’ve been left with only a handful so I need to make more for next week when I appear at The Blue Chair again.

Now to the title, ‘Catch the Tiger’. This is the name of my latest composition which I’m learning so I can start putting it in the set asap. Having had some slight creative drought of late I happily seem to be experiencing some ‘idea rain’ if you catch my drift. I’ve completed a couple of songs this past week which is encouraging by my standards. One of them is (hopefully) amusing enough to enter Anna’s set. It’s a song about seizing the day and doing it for yourself but as ever seen through my slightly askew perspective. I recorded a version of it on Friday so I may try and share it at some point soon ๐Ÿ˜‰