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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ginger Blush

A very very fun and easy shoot with the fabulous Ginger Blush. Ginger is yet another woman who proves wrong all those assholes who say that women can't be good-looking and funny. This is a woman, after all, who has performed burlesque routines as both Marty McFly and a chicken, amongst other things.

The main purpose of the shoot was to get some nice images for her new website, but I managed to steal a few quick fun portraits too, as is my wont. For one of the shots (which didn't end up being anything good, but you never know), we went outside my flat. As we walked back, I noticed Pranesh and Sue who run the minimarket next door to my flat, watching us through their window. A few weeks ago they let me shoot Mysti Vine in their shop, so I figured that they wouldn't be too bemused by seeing me walking around with another girl in full showgirl outfit.

Later, after Ginger had left, I went to their shop to get some stuff. Sue, a middle-aged Indian woman and Pranesh's mum, cornered me by the bread. "Another nice girl, huh?", she said, all raised eyebrows, "The other one - the one you brought into the shop - she had very nice legs, very long. Hmmm. But this one...more..." and then she held her hands out in front of her chest and did the international sign for "big boobs".


Oh, also: the traffic to this blog has skyrocketed thanks to all the people coming here to see my pictures of Richard Herring & co and the last AIOTM . Hello new readers! Thanks for coming - I try to post at least once a week, and it usually ends up being a little more often then that. The posts are usually either sneek peek images from recent photoshoots, or diary-type entries about my work as a cabaret performer. Either way, it's heavy on the snark and honesty. Check out the website links to the right for more info on who I am and what I do.

Good, that's that done. Let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Cumpkin R.I.P.

Back at the Leicester Square Theatre for one final time to shoot the last ever AIOTM . And if you don't know what that is, then you won't know what a cumpkin is, and *I'm* not going to tell you. Google it. Unless you're my parents, in which case - really don't.

Was a great final show - long, completely self referential and perhaps even a little moving in places (Rich playing trumpet gave everyone daffy smiles) - all made better by a massively up for it sell-out audience.

I first came down to shoot the show in show 2 of the first series, and was at a loose end professionally and personally. I'd had some big life changes, got hugely disillusioned with the realities of being a success in Europe but unable to make a living in my home country, and was trying to start again after 20-odd years by prioritising things that were interesting and fun rather than conventionally "good for one's career".

Now it's the best part of a couple of years down the line, and I'm stunned by how things have turned out. I'm making a decent living performing in the shiny and wonderful circuit of cabaret and burlesque venues in London and the UK, won a little national award for my photography, and wrote and performed a one man show at the Edinburgh festival that got the best reviews of my career and lead to a producer being foolhardy enough to take me back up to the festival this year for a bigger version of the show. I've been accepted into a family of amazing performers and promoters who make up a beautiful network of clubs and shows that I feel I've waiting most of my career to be a part of.

All this, and I get to go out for dinner with my wife more often that once every couple of months in between contracts. Good deal, kids.

I'm not saying this to brag, I'm saying this to remind myself, and I guess you, of how it happened. I stopped thinking about work, and started chasing stuff that was fun, involving people I liked . I stopped trying to get the great gigs and instead played with the idea of creating some interesting work for it's own sake. This was, I think, a similar mindset that motivated Richard's decision to start AIOTM - to stop being annoyed at things that you can't really control, and instead just sit down and make something. If you're a creative, then create.

If you're going to the Edinburgh festival, Richard will be performing his new show "What is love anyway"at the Udderbelly and doing a daily fringe podcast at The Stand, and I will be doing my show "Three Balls and a New Suit" at the Voodoo Rooms and appearing daily in "Vive Le Cabaret" at the Pleasance Forth.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Lady Alex walks the dogs

Yes, it's another in the "Showgirls in Mundane Locations" series!

Top is the main image, but I've thrown in a couple of backstage-y shots too.

This time, we have the beautiful, talented and batty-as-chairs Lady Alex - kingpin (or should that be Queenpin?) of the completely fabulous Wam Bam Club which reduces London's Cafe De Paris to a blushing wet mess every Saturday night, and of which I am a bit of a regular in my performing capacity.

The little white dog, Sookie, is Alex's, and can always be found backstage at Wam Bam being given bits of Pringle by giggling burlesque performers. She has a plastic Marilyn Monroe dog toy, which has lost half it's head from being chewed and now looks like a dark commentary on the nature of celebrity, rather than a kitsch plastic novelty.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Angry babies, Space buddies & Snapmares

Yes, we're talking wrestling. More specifically, Lucha Libre, which translates directly as "Just shut up and come to the show with me, you're going to love this, trust me". I think.

Spent a couple of excellent nights shooting at the London School of Lucha, at the invitation of the masked gentlemen behind the underground spectacle that is Lucha Britannia. Fun was had, bodies were introduced to the mat forcefully, and people jumped, kicked, flipped and flew with elegance, grace, aggression and spandex.

"The ring is a lake", said trainer (and cockney crusader) Greg Burridge at one point, "Stomp across it and you're going to sink, you have to move like a pebble skipping across the water". Rules for life, kids.

If you know me, then you'll probably know that I have a bit of a background in combat arts, both real and theatrical, and I cannot tell you how hard I had to work just to remain grown up and professional while stepping into the ring to shoot. All I really wanted to do was ask everyone to step outside and leave me alone with the ring for half an hour so I could run around like a child, hitting the ropes and throwing a couple of flip bumps. Ironically I currently have a bugger of a neck injury, so it was me walking around like an old wrestler rather than any of the actual wrestlers.

Anyway - if you're in London and you fancy training in Lucha Libre - and trust me, it's serious business that'll get you fit fast, or just want to see masked superheroes kicking the crap out of each other and spinning through the air before your very eyes, then check out Lucha Britannia.

Everyone should have friends with secret identities who put on masks and fly.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Hagen & Chutzpah!

Had the pleasure of Audacity Chutzpah and Laurie Hagen coming by the studio today to shoot an image for the poster for their upcoming show "Hagen & Chutzpah's Night of Stuff!". They are, and I don't think they'll mind me saying this, stylish, glamorous, and completly batshit nutbag crazy. If you like your burlesque witty and silly, then get yourself some tickets for this show. I also hear there's a promising young juggler on the bill, who they're giving a chance to.

So, while they were around we also took the chance to grab a couple of new "Showgirls in Mundane Locations" shots. If you're new here, this is an ongoing personal project that tries to talk about the duality of a performers life by putting showgirls locations. Up we skipped to the laundrette at the end of my street, which was completely empty, allowing us to walk in, set up the shot, and get out without anyone ever knowing. Photo ninjas, that's us.

We had planned to go up to the local park and shoot both ladies on a park bench with cans of cider looking the worse for wear, but we'd timed it wrong, and the park was full of schoolkids and - amazingly - policemen. Suddenly it became apparent that this wasn't the best time to shoot some showgirls getting drunk, so we turned tail and retreated back to the studio, where we shot Audacity on the toilet.

And then, as Laurie was getting ready to go home, I watched her put on the red scarf and hat, dragged her over to the window and shot that little portrait using just the natural light. Happy with all the shots today, and happy is good.

Tickets for "Mat Ricardo: Three Balls and as Good Suit" at the Voodoo rooms, Edinburgh festival are now available here.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Nazis, Slags and dangerous clowns...

Lovely to be part of Time Out's "Friday Night Freakshow", at the Udderbelly on the South Bank, which featured - amongst many other things - the people referenced in the headline to this piece. Completely packed bill chock full of greatness. Always a nice feeling to be in a show alongside a bunch of acts that, if I was putting on a show, would be high up on my list of people to call.

Also worth pondering that a few short years ago a show like this would have had trouble existing, let alone drawing a sell-out crowd on the South Bank and being promoted by Time Out. I often joke that I waited twenty-odd years for the cabaret, variety and burlesque circuits to arrive so I could work them, but it's pretty much true. When I first started doing what I do, the choice of venues were not great - either Butlins and seaside Summer season gigs, where you'd be patronised by the older acts and paid little in both money and respect, or the "alternative" comedy circuit (as it still was back in the late 80's) where the stand-ups would look down on you for daring to have props and not just go on stage with a beer in your hand and slag off Thatcher. The third option was, of course, street performing, which is where people like me gravitated and thrived. But I always fantasized about cool venues with savvy audiences and shows full of glamour, and fun, and silliness, and spectacle. It took a couple of decades and change, but here it is, and here I am. Patience paid off.

There's another night at the Udderbelly on the first of July with pretty much the same line-up, so get yourself down there and see some deluxe, top-shelf crazy.

Tickets for "Mat Ricardo: Three Balls and as Good Suit" at the Voodoo rooms, Edinburgh festival are now available here.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

"Mat Ricardo - Three Balls and a New Suit" At the Voodoo Rooms throughout the Edinburgh Festival

Oh I'm going to be a busy boy in August. A whole month of comedy in various diferent rooms fueled entirely by deep-fried pizza and vegetarian haggis (Vaggis). I can't wait.

The centrepiece to my Edinburgh will, of course, be the return of my one man show, "Mat Ricardo: Three Balls and a New Suit". I played a small venue on the free fringe last year and a little London run earlier this year, dipped my toe in the water and got a few very kind reviews, but this year I'm cannonballing off the top board with a full festival run at the gorgeous Voodoo Rooms. Every night except Mondays, from the 3rd to the 29th at 9.40 is where you'll find the new version of the show (15% new material, 8% more ranty & a whole new trick!).

Information about the show on the Voodoo rooms website can be found here, and you can buy tickets online here. Please do come.

But that's not all.

I'm also guest starring in "Vive Le Cabaret" at the Pleasance Forth every night at 10.30pm (bearing in mind my own show ends at 10.40, it's lucky that I'll be on in the second half of Vive Le Cabaret..) alongside a bunch of other deluxe quality cabaret monkeys.

Also... from the 3rd to the 7th of August I'm one of the guests on "The Bitch Doctors", where I will be required to rant about things that have annoyed me about the fringe. Shouldn't be a problem with that. 5.30pm, also at the Voodoo Rooms.

Keep an eye out for me popping up as a special guest in The Voodoo Revue, 8.10pm - don't know exactly when I'll be doing that yet though!

For the most up to date info about my movements up to and during Edinburgh, keep an eye on my twitter and facebook.

The Voodoo rooms is a bigger and much more yummy venue than I had last year, so it'd be really nice if we could fill it, especially in the first week. So please, if you have even a passing tolerance to my work, spread the word!

I feel like a fighter training for the big fight. Train hard, fight easy. Keep your hands up and your face pretty.

Thanks, you.