Tag Archives: genderbender

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 Cafè 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!

Status: Woe

‘Status: Woe’

 

My face hurts from smiling

My tongue hurts from lying

My eyes hurt from crying

My hands hurt from trying

 

My ears hurt from listening

My brain hurts from thinking

My liver hurts from drinking

My heart hurts from sinking

 

My feet hurt from running

My knees hurt from jerking

My soul hurts from working

My pride hurts from lurking

 

My conscience hurts from telling

My moods hurt from swinging

My throat hurts from singing

My nose hurts from minging…still, you’ve got to laugh!


 

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 :).

If you haven’t heard from me, I’m probably dead

If you haven’t heard from me, I’m probably dead

Though it may not have crossed your mind

My lack of communication

Is cos I’ve left my body behind

Maybe you think I’ve moved on

And have made some new friends

‘Moving on’ could be correct

In a suddenly non-living sense

If you haven’t heard from me, I wouldn’t worry

Probably life’s got in the way

I’ve been juggling it so awkwardly

It’s in such disarray

What was the last thing I said to you?

I bet it was as innocuous as hell

And you’ve probably forgotten

That’s why you don’t want to tell!

If you haven’t heard from me, I’m probably dead

It’s not like I’d be able to say

We don’t even know the same people

So you can’t find out that way

Don’t even know if I deserve tributes

Let alone ones I’d likely never see

So let’s share our feelings now

Me to you and you to me

Hot Sweaty Mess!

Apologies for the slightly lurid title, it seems to sum up my summer gigs rather well. Particularly that last one I did on Friday. I’m pleased to report another successful gig and that I seem to be getting the hang of whatever it is I’m doing!

It was a great night in general I should stress so as not to appear to be wallowing in some Anna-scented pool of smugness. Perish the thought. The 2 bands were excellent (The Joules and Quiche), the comedians were exemplary (Kavita Bhardwaj and another gentleman whose I sadly didn’t catch) and the opening acoustic act was charming (Raphael Cartoons). Getting changed in places other than the house is becoming normal as well and I’m getting quicker. I left it a good 10 minutes after changing before applying make-up as it was so warm downstairs in the venue. And that was before it was filled with people!

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That was before obviously – what a state!

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After I had transformed I took a couple of cheeky pictures before heading upstairs to the busy bar. It’s still a rush I can tell you. The venue is called the 13th Note Cafè and is one of my favourite places. I have played there so many times over the years. The food is awesome too and it’s vegan. They do excellent spicy chips and their cheesecake is to die for. I ordered a pint of cider then found a little spot by myself to plan my set. I turned a few heads which always uses me. Not long after that my wife arrived and we sat in the restaurant area to get dinner. The waitress was a consumate professional and didn’t miss a beat asking if we ladies needed another drink. Heading downstairs to the venue again I was struck by the heat and had to improvise a fan from a random piece of cardboard I found. The gig ended up running a little late and by the time I went on I had to cut my set from 30 to 20 mins but I didn’t mind. That increased my drinking and socializing time and gave me a chance to cool down a bit.

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The crowd were awesome and totally up for it which excited me greatly. I treated them to a bunch of daft poems and sung them a few songs, including ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ which went down a treat again…you could say it went down in the most delightful way 🙂

When I came off I was especially pleased to see one of my friends whom I haven’t seen for ages had turned up. He was especially chuffed as he got to feel my breasts the cheeky swine – there was also talk of motorboating! Oh dear…the things us girls put with. I was able to remain dressed for a good hour or so afterwards but inevitably the drabbing down time arrived. I took another couple of cheeky pictures (which I don’t think I look too bad in actually considering) and then normalized.

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Next weekend I’m all set to play a monthly night that The Creative Martyrs put on in the southside of Glasgow called ‘The Sinister Wink’. I played that last November as B-Side Boy and it was a terrific night, possibly one of my favourite ever gigs. So intimate and NO mics or amplification. You could’ve heard a pin drop. I wore a dress and heels that night actually – 2 dresses in fact (and a big top hat with no make-up and a beard). The sets were split in two so I did a costume change during the interval. Looking forward to going all the way this time!

For the love of ‘Dare’

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I decided it would be fun to try and write something different. I’ve not really written about music very much. I had to in school as part of my Higher and then Sixth Year Studies and it was difficult. Funny as music is one of my favourite things. In casting about for a suitable subject I thought I’d challenge myself to write about one of my favourite albums, ‘Dare’ by The Human League. We both turn 35 this year and out of the two of us it’s perhaps ‘Dare’ who has weathered the intervening years best. I have a strong relationship with it. I can go for ages without hearing it and then when I do it’s as if we’ve never been apart. It’s honestly the first music to ever make any sort of impact on me, second only to ‘Upstairs at Erics’ by Yazoo which of course is in a similar vein. The fact we are so close should make describing why I like it much harder than say describing why I like something I have only heard recently.

From what I’ve heard from my mother and other relatives as a toddler I had a special fondness for ‘Don’t you want me’ (who doesn’t?) the final track and biggest hit from the collection. While I do remember this to an extent I can say that as a whole all of those eerie synthscapes are etched into my brain and I love it as a whole, as it was no doubt intended. I’m a big fan of the art of album making, not just recording but the final sequencing and creating a journey. Deciding what to leave in and what to remove or swap around. If I listen to an album that’s exactly what I’ll do, I rarely skip tracks. In that sense I guess I’m very old fashioned. I can’t fault the tracklisting for ‘Dare’ at all, I only hope that one day I can make something this good.

“Everybody needs love and adventure” (The Things that Dreams are Made of)

In preparation I listened to it again the other day, and indeed as I type it’s gracing the turntable, and it still sounds fresh. I began to make a little list in my mind of the things I particularly enjoy. This includes Phil Oakeys voice somewhere near the top – so recognizable! I love the occasional dip into a pleasing baritone. The clarity of the recordings is superb too. There aren’t far too many overdubs and the songs have room to breathe. The subjects of the songs are great too, some of them are a bit dark in retrospect. As a youth I was moved to seek out the rest of their catalogue and found that their earlier albums were a bit dark too if not more so. I also noticed the pattern of including a diverse cover version amongst the originals. Their cover of ‘You’ve lost that loving feeling’ from their first album ‘Reproduction’ is astounding. ‘Dare’ contains a short melancholic keyboard rendition of the theme from ‘Get Carter’. It was played on a Casio VL-Tone which I only found out years later and is a keyboard I actually own. My first keyboard in fact – I received it as a present for Christmas 1987. The same instrument appears on a few other songs most notably playing a lead melody on ‘Open your heart’. To this day if I ever have the keyboard out the pull to play those tunes is very hard to resist indeed.

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The artwork is also amazing – it looks like a fashion magazine. Apparently this was the idea. I’d stare at it for ages as I would with most of my parents’ other LPs. Now that was an education. I found it slightly spooky because the photos of the band members were all cropped in such a way that you couldn’t see their hair. Also the androgyny of Phil Oakey must have resonated with me – a man wearing make-up with longish hair (I say ‘ish’ as it was only long on one side). The fact that the cover is almost all white suits the music. Precise, clean, fuss free, almost sterile. Catchy too, remember 4 of the 10 tracks were hit singles.

Knowing about the the history of The Human League as an adult makes me appreciate it even more. To find out that after 2 albums the original line-up disbanded leaving vocalist Oakey and visual guy Philip Adrian Wright with just the name. With a tour looming they were forced to forage for some new members. Jo Callis from The Rezillos and Ian Burden were drafted in and Phil Oakey found a couple of teenage girls at a local disco and convinced them to join. I wonder how the former members felt when they seen the success that the League went on to achieve in their absence. The other two of course went on to form Heaven 17 and had hits of their own, interestingly with a singer called Glenn Gregory who apparently almost joined The Human League before Phil Oakey stepped in. Hmmmmm.

“In darkness, where my dreams are all too clear” (Darkness)

I think the album’s also special to me for being amongst a few firsts. When I got my first record player in 1986 my parents let me have their copy as they knew I loved it so much. Therefore it’s officially the first record I ever owned (the first one I bought with my own money that I won in a Valentines card competition was Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’). I no longer own that particular copy, it became unplayable and the cover deteriorated. I have re-bought it 2 further times, again on vinyl and then CD. Also I’m pretty certain that vocalist Joanne Catherall (the brunette) was one of my first crushes. There is one picture of her that I adore, from the back of the ‘Love and Dancing’ album which was a selection of primitive remixes. That album’s worth checking out as it was all edited by hand before samplers became prevalent. It was a curious back cover as it had individual portraits of all the key personnel so you got to see not only what the other members of the band looked like but also the producer and engineers. Joanne looked especially lovely in her picture. I remember when we got the ‘Greatest Hits’ video collection in the late eighties it was particularly thrilling to see her in some of the videos. She looked amazing in the one for ‘Love Action’.

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I realize I haven’t really described the songs very well. Who was it that said ‘Talking about music is like dancing about architecture’? I don’t think I’m qualified to do such a thing sadly. Amusingly another thing I noticed when I revisited it was that the majority of the songs start with a lone drum beat to set the scene. Programmed of course, I believe there aren’t any real guitars, bass or drums on ‘Dare’. Apparently Jo Callis did use his guitar to reshape some of the soundwaves and create keyboard sounds. Far out man! The lyrics are deliciously loopy too at times. A highlight being

“Stroke a pocket with a print of a laughing sound” (The Sound of the Crowd).

As I mentioned earlier the subjects of the songs are nice and varied, not all your usual love fodder. Even back in their first single ‘Being Boiled’ Phil Oakey was singing about the plight of the silkworm – whilst the b-side talked about a malevolent circus who takes over the world…I think that’s what it’s about. Without going into too much descriptive detail, which I’m sure other folk on the internet have done better, I’ll briefly outline the themes present on the album as a whole; The assassination of JFK, simple pleasures and ambitions (plus a nod to Norman Wisdom and The Ramones), infidelity, fears and darkness, sympathy and authority, jealousy and romantic obsession. Good to see that the contents are educational. It’s been there since the beginning of my life so it is a lot like a third parent. My dad left when I was 12 but ‘Dare’ never left.

“But there’s no future without tears” (Open Your Heart)

I’ll always return to it. It’s a comfort thing, like ‘Ghostbusters’ or ‘Highlander’. Those things never fail me. They’re always there, unchanged, non-judgemental. And you need that. ‘Dare’ is like a big analogue hug to me. I’m not sure when I shall next listen to it but I know it will happen!

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Queer Theory Cabaret

The alternative title could be ‘Nice n’ Sleazy’ does it 😄

So I do hope you are all well! I’m not too bad, still half asleep as I write this. Well I had another gig a couple of days ago. This would be Anna’s 5th since February which is not too bad. It also has the distinction of being the first one so far that I was independently offered and didn’t have to pester anyone for. The next one I have coming up is the same actually only I was given carte blanche as to who I could perform as. I did give the briefest of thoughts to doing my standard male act but as I haven’t practiced that in a while the Anna option seemed easier. The one after that is in NOVEMBER!! Pure ages away but that one is very exciting. I’ll be performing as part of the Glasgow Festival of Burlesque. Further details pending (actually, I hope I’m able to discuss it at this stage).

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The gig on Wednesday went reasonably well. I was being spoiled a little as I was given a 20 minute slot – double what the last ones I have done were. I elected to put a couple of songs in to break up the poetry. It did become clear I was in danger of losing folk towards the end though and when I realised I had 5 more minutes having overestimated my set I flung in an extra tune – a rather spirited rendition of ‘Pump up the Jam’ by Technotronic. That went down alright but I had put too much into it and became a big sweaty mess! It took me a wee while to cool down.

Here’s a blurry action shot taken by a friend, I have difficulty staying still on stage.

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The other acts were brilliant! No burlesque at this cabaret but there was some excellent performance art from Katy Dye, comedy from Scott Agnew, visual art from Artiflora and music from the Black Doves and King Wine. King Wine were great fun actually, they were a male female duo who’s backing consisted of 2 Gameboys and an old Casio keyboard. 80s bliss :). The compere was suitably animated as well, kind of reminded me of Rik Mayall in the lowlighting of Sleazies. I’d really like to play that night again sometime if they’d have me.

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Now that music has become a more integral part of the act hopefully it means I have more gig potential. If a night doesn’t really need poetry I can just dig into the songbook. That’s the plan anyway, tailor my set accordingly and be flexible. Only 2 more gigs on the horzon at the moment…time to start pestering folk again! 😄

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