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Q&A with Tahi Atea

28171003_1780129022010622_597957681_oPhoto by Adam Thomas

Tahi Atea has been writing since he could talk. A passionate spoken word artist, he has been active in the Canberra poetry scene since 2015. Tahi represented the ACT in the Australian Poetry Slam National Championship in 2016. His work explores themes of justice, homecoming and belonging.

 

When did you write your first poem and what was it about?

Tahi: The first poem I remember was in year four, and if I remember correctly, this is it:

“The ocean come up

With the tide in its arms

And lays it to sleep on the shore

It turns away

Comes back to its home

Slowly being followed by the tide.”

I was a very melodramatic 10-year-old. The first performance poem I wrote was six years ago, and it was about a friend of mine who thought I was kidding when I told her she was beautiful.

What’s the hardest thing about writing poetry?

Tahi: The hardest thing about poetry is realizing you will never be 100% happy with it! I struggle with this every time I sit down to write. Editing is my own personal, self-created hell because finding the middle ground between “it’s fixed enough” and “it’s fixed too much” is really difficult for me.

When did you realize you were a poet?

Tahi: I don’t know, short answer. I have been a poet more or less my entire life, but I can’t really pinpoint a moment when I knew I was a poet, rather than just someone who wrote poems sometimes. The first time I performed a poem was a really big one for me though, I was 16 and it was at a school poetry slam. The whole experience was terrifying, but afterwards, a few people came up and told me that something I had made inside my head meant something to them. That was huge.

What do you remember about your first poetry performance?

Tahi: Well, I’ve said some of that already, but other stuff I remember is mostly nerves. I remember that it was a random order and I got called first, which was terrifying. And I remember that I made a friend of mine cry (good crying) because the poem I performed was about her.

If you could meet any poet from the past who would you choose and why?

Tahi: Too many! If I could I’d hold the most epic poetry dinner party ever. If I had to choose just one, it’d probably come to a coin toss between W.H. Auden and e.e. Cummings. I love them both so much, their poems have touched and changed my life and my poetry in ways I’ll probably never be able to unravel or articulate, and to be perfectly honest I just want to pick their brains. And maybe have them write about me.

 

Next Stop: Tahi will be performing at the Poetry Gala for Red Nose.

Poetry Gala for Red Nose

28th of March at Smiths Alternative

Entry $10

 

The Work Behind Cosplay

From well-crafted Deadpool costumes to perfectly executed Harlequin make-up, the Canberra Cosplay community make it look effortless when showing off their outfits at conventions such as the Impact Comics Festival and CanCon. As someone wanting to one-day cosplay, I cannot help but wonder, what goes on in the sewing room?

Debri Madhatter

Picture: Debri Cosplay

Sitting down with two Canberra Cosplayers, Bri Edmonds (Debri Cosplay) and Jacob Murnane (Mischievous Cosplay and Games), I first ask what exactly is cosplay?

“Cosplay for me is dressing up as a character and representing them, or having fun and dressing up with friends. But I suppose if you wanna be really technical cosplay is costume play”, said Bri.

Jacob Munrane believes there is a misconception about Cosplay.

“A lot of people think that it’s limited to T.V. shows or movies. But I’ve seen someone who dressed as Aragon before the movie (Lord of the Rings) was made and designed the costume based on the description in the book, so cosplay is not just what you can see, it’s what you make of the character as well,” said Jacob.

The costumes are extravagant for sure, but how much work goes into making them?

“I think my quickest most complicated costume was my Mad Hatters one that took me a week…otherwise I do have one that I have worked on for about two months now and that’s probably the longest that I will work on a cosplay for,” said Bri.

Jacob agrees with his counterpart.

“It also depends on the detail in the costume. My Reaper costume is going to take close to 5 months of preparation, not only is it a head to toe piece, you’ve got some insane angles on it. The eyes will light up and it’s got L.E.D.S (Light-emitting diodes) included in the weapons. Not only do I have to physically make them (the weapons) and have to holster them like the actual character does, but I have to put the L.E.D.S in them as well and that alone is a lot of work,” Jacob said.

Jacob Cosplay

Picture: Mischievous Cosplay and Games

When asked about the costs of Cosplaying Bri answered without hesitation.

“A minimum cost of $200 per cosplay. That’s so you’ll have everything for it, because things like wigs can cost you from thirty dollars up, because you want quality,” Bri said.

Jacobs Reaper costume is going to cost him over $700 and Bri mentioned a friend of hers who commissioned a cosplay outfit that cost $1500. Although none of that seems to matter to Bri.

“Yes Cosplay can cost you thousands. You do have cosplayers who go for the cheaper option and sometimes it does show, but so long as they have fun it’s all good at the end of the day,” she said with a smile.

Now knowing the cost and hard work behind the look, I see sewing lessons in my future and the raiding of a piggy bank.

Naked Girls Reading

Pictured Left to Right: Ivy Ambrosia, Virginia Fizz and Ursula Wolfe

An attentive audience watch as Ursula Wolfe, Virginia Fizz and Tiffany Blue let the words of Terry Pratchett flow from their lips. The three enthrall the audience with their enthusiasm and vocal gymnastics, bringing Pratchett’s comical and zany characters to life. But this is no normal reading, as the only garb the three women were wearing, were mauve dressing gowns and those gowns have been discarded on the floor.   

Making my way up the Polit Bar stairs to watch Naked Girls Reading, I noticed the venue was filling up quickly. Venturing further through the intimate venue, I noticed four booths with nicely cushioned seating, chandeliers that shed a yellow crystallised light and an antique lounge where I chose to sit. 

The event was started in Chicago, on March 2009 by international showgirl Michelle L’amore 

As I sat and waited for the naked reading to commence, I noticed the highly verbose crowd was made up of people from varying ages and that there was an even mix of both males and females.   

Then soon as the three mauve figures made their way to the stage, there was no rock star cheer, no raucous round of applause, instead, silence 

As I wait for the reading to commence and with a brief intro by Tiffany Blue, the gowns slipped off to carpeted floor. At that moment it’s hard to know where to look. Looking intently at them could be seen as perving, but looking away could be seen as wrong. With nudity used in a burlesque or a tableaux performance you are meant to look at the body as its part of the art form. 

 

With a silent crowd watching on in anticipation, Tiffany Blue’s passionate voice lit up the stage and bought the world of Terry Pratchett to life. As her words washed through the crowd I became more comfortable. After the first session of five minute readings, their naked bodies were nothing more than a backdrop to the fun and crazy stories they were telling. 

Throughout the readings, a supportive crowd laughed and listened intently as Ursula, Virginia and Tiffany would add their own personality to each of their stories. At the same time a friendly staff would wonder around delivering an unusual array of menu choices from cheese platters to olive dishes.  

During the last of the three readings, I found myself gazing around the room. I could see people either paying their full undivided attention to the women, or with their eyes closed, painting their own images to the words. 

When engaging the audience for their thoughts one patron suggested, “There is something profoundly comforting and enjoyable about it,”  

Another said, “A lot of art is juxtaposition, and this is juxtaposition on steroids. The material anchors the experience, but the visuals make it something quite new. As an audience, there are a lot of ways to experience a performance like this, and a lot of stories to hear. Would watch/listen again”. 

 

As the night drew to a close the venue erupted in applause.  

I found that each of the women gave a committed performance and both the audience and venue added an amazing atmosphere. 

After the performance, a now fully dressed Ursula Wolfe, offers revealing insights into how and why the event works.  

Responding to a complement about her hair she smiles brightly “Thanks, I didn’t think it would come out this bright, but I really like it”. 

So what drew you into Naked Girls Reading? Soon as I asked the question the passion of her voice cut through the noise of the crowded café. “The importance of having a space where naked women were presented in a non-sexual context was really interesting, the whole idea behind Naked Girls Reading is to appreciate nudity as a form of beauty without it being seedy or a peep show. It wasn’t about sexual arousal, it was about just enjoying the human form in a completely natural state without it being for the purposes of titillation”. 

Ursula smiles at the waitress, and as she sips her coffee I ask her how does she best describe naked girls reading as an art form? 

 

She pauses for a second and her hands gesture as she says, “The easiest way to describe it, is literally it is what it say on the can”. She then goes on to explain “There’s something really beautiful about the simplicity of nudity and being read to as two separate ideas and pushing them together and creating something different. As children we are read to a lot, we had teachers and parents reading out to us and it’s something we don’t get a lot as adults and it’s a really simple pleasure. Then adding in the visual spectacle of beautiful women of all shapes and sizes and persuasions sitting nude in a really lavish context, I think it’s just a lot of fun, there is no highbrow element to it. It’s just purely naked girls reading”. 

I ask what books most engage the crowd? 

As she’s about to answer the question, a tall brown headed man wearing a black t-shirt and jeans, walks over with a Kit-Kat chocolate bar. He softly prods her shoulder and puts the chocolate on the table. With a smile and a brief holding of hands she focusses back on the question and says, 

“Anything that makes people laugh, I really love that because it gets the audience really engaged”. She talks about how she has found the audience’s favourite books are those of Terry Pratchett and Dr Seuss. She goes on to reflect on some of their misses, such as the Naked Girls Reading Erotica night.  

“It really didn’t go down well, which I thought was really interesting. It might be a step too far towards titillation and people seemed uncomfortable with the idea of naked girls reading about sexually arousing scenarios. So I don’t think that would be a theme we will be revisiting” she says laughing. 

I Asked about the amount of preparation needed, she says “personally I would rehearse for probably a good hour or so for each five minute reading”. She then goes on to explain the differences in difficulty between the books. She suggests Terry Pratchett is an easy read, due to its conversational nature. Where Dr Seuss, is trickier due to tongue twisters and rhymes that are easy to stumble over. 

  

I then enquire about a naked males reading event. 

This is met with a laugh “I get this asked a lot” as she talks about one of the issues being the London based Naked Boys Reading group being very protective of their copyright. She then clarifies that “there’s also a legal issue on why we won’t be able to do a Naked Boys Reading. There’s a very specific section of the Liquor Licensing ACT that deals with sexually explicit entertainment. It’s to do with the exposure of genitalia and women can get away with it a little bit more easily when we are sitting, we can have our knees together or our legs crossed, so everything is a little bit more hidden. It would be a bit harder for a guy, with all your stuff there,” she says giggling. “And the other thing is, because of those licensing laws we would have to put it on in a space such as a theatre or somewhere alcohol was not being served. So at the end of the day it just comes down to what we can legally do and what we can’t”.  

 

As I’m about to ask my next question, I briefly pause to tuck my chair in to let a patron squeeze past in a fast filling café. I then ask Ursula about any problems she has faced when trying to find a new venue for Naked Girls Reading? 

 

Her tone turns more serious as she talks about how there are very few venues in Canberra that has easy accessibility to a stage and adequate dressing room facilities. She acknowledges that some audiences at other venues struggle with the concept, “Naked Girls Reading might at times challenge a person’s views of feminism and the objectification of women. I can really see how that would be a difficult concept to reconcile”.  

As she takes a sip of her coffee and with the noise of the Café picking up, she goes on to say “But at the same time it comes from a misunderstanding of what Naked Girls Reading is about. We are a non-objectified way that you can be covered from head to toe and feel empowered or you can be uncovered head to toe and feel empowered. But it’s no one’s place to tell you what’s empowering and what’s not, it’s about the individual’s choice. In a society where female nudity is automatically designated as a sexual thing or as a titillating thing, female nudity is framed in the male gaze, which that’s what makes it objectifying. 

“So to then be presented with an event that reframes female nudity in a way that isn’t for any particular gaze, it’s just completely a non-objectified frame of reference for female nudity. It’s nothing we come across very often as a society and culture and it can be very challenging for some people to accept, that female nudity doesn’t have to be sexualised”.   

With Ursula working her way from being a performer to the creative director of Naked Girls Reading in Canberra, she has noticed that it has a large female viewership and she has found the female audience appreciate what they do. 

“I have had women who’ve come up to me after the show and say how much they’ve appreciated seeing women who are more curvy or women who look more like they do, or women who don’t shave. These are the things that we are challenging cultural attitudes while still being able to present something really beautiful and I feel like we have a lot of the odds stacked against us because we are having to work against so many preconceptions about female nudity and because the other issue is unfortunately because of those liquor licensing laws that we were talking about earlier I can’t fully open Naked Girls Reading to the whole gender spectrum.  

What about the future of Naked Girls Reading?  

She leans forward, “I am actually working quite heavily at the moment on bringing it into a more central location. We are looking for more venues closer to the city that are disability friendly and I also would like to start collaborating with events like Art, Not Apart and continuing our relationship with the Spring Out Festival for the LGBT community. And really just bringing it to different communities, audiences and seeing if there are places that would be interested in Naked Girls Reading, but not have necessarily heard of us and the real focus is making people aware of what we do”. 

After thanking Ursula, I’ve come to the conclusion that Naked Girls Reading is more than a fun and entertaining event. It also puts three very passionate women on a stage who are combating cultural attitudes, preconception, and law. There are different ways you can combat these things and Naked Girls are doing this all while enjoying a good book.   

 

 

kalee pic Naked Girls Reading

Pictured: Ursula Wolfe

Q&A with Milly and Chloe

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Deadpools, Captain Americas and a myriad of colourful creative cosplay gripped Canberra as the Impact Comics Festival came to life. While wondering through the crowd the awesome cosplay of Milly and Chloe caught my eye and I was lucky enough to get a Q&A with the duo.

Milly and Chloe are a cosplay duo from NSW, Australia. Since 2011 they have been cosplaying together at conventions such as Supanova, Oz Con, EB Games Expo and Pax. Some of their most notable cosplays include: Tali’Zorah vas Normandy and Commander Fem Shepard from the Mass Effect Series and Little Sister and Big Sister from Bioshock 2.

So what exactly is cosplay?

Chloe: Cosplay is short for ‘costume play’, and for me it’s something that allows others to dress up as their favourite character and be that character for that day. Since I was younger I’ve always loved dressing up, so being able to dress as one of my favourite characters from a game or movie is always exciting. Cosplay can also be a good way of challenging your skills; I definitely know that cosplay has pushed me beyond my limits, and I’ve learned a lot from it. Cosplay is also a great way to meet new faces, hang out and socialise. It’s a great community.

Milly: I’m like Chloe in that I’ve also grown up loving to dress up. Having come from a background of dance myself, I have always loved to wear costumes and perform. Now that I am no longer performing on stage, cosplay lets me continue to engage in my passions. Cosplaying is also an art form in itself; it allows me to express myself, to build, and to create and learn new artistic practices along the way. Finally, as a fan of games, comics and movies, I personally cosplay to pay tribute to the creators of the amazing worlds and characters that I have come to admire.

How did you get involved in it?

Chloe: As a teenager I made a few different costumes of favourite characters to try and challenge myself, but only ever wore them to parties or for photos. I discovered others wore costumes together at big events. After attending my first convention I got hooked.

Milly: I haven’t been doing it for as long as Chloe. Having grown up in quite an insular, coastal area I was the only one of my friends that ever showed an interest in pop culture. But, there weren’t any conventions or comic book stores where I lived, so it never crossed my mind that cosplaying existed. It wasn’t until 2010 that Chloe introduced me to the world of cosplay. We had been friends for a couple of years by this point and I was interested in the photos of her costumes, so I decided to join her on her next trip to Sydney Supanova the following year.

Do you remember your first cosplay?

Chloe: My first cosplay was Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas back in 2006, since I had a huge obsession for that movie and anything Tim Burton related.

Milly: 2011 was the first time I went to a convention, cosplaying as a Little Sister from Bioshock. It was quite the rush job, done the week before the con. But it was also the first cosplay that Chloe and I did as a duo. I remember coming home from that con weekend and thinking, “Oh my gosh, there are others like me! I have found my second home!” and I haven’t stopped cosplaying since then.

What type of characters do you prefer to cosplay as?

Chloe: I like to cosplay characters that are unique, and not commonly worn. Like Big Sister and Boys of Silence from the Bioshock series. I loved the unique appearance and eeriness of those characters. I also tend to cosplay characters wearing armour, like Shepard from Mass Effect; the design is distinctive and the character is very capable.

Milly: I don’t think there’s ever one particular reason for why I cosplay a certain character. For me it can be a number of things. Sometimes I cosplay because I admire the character and can relate to them on a personal level. Other times it’s because as an artist myself I love their appearance and design, I want to pay tribute to the character and challenge myself by recreating their outfit; or sometimes it could be due to the simple fact that I am a fan of the source that they originate from. Chloe and I pretty much like the same things so it’s never hard to agree on what to cosplay!

What is the best part of cosplay?

Chloe: For me the best part of cosplaying is expressing my love for the character and dressing up as them for the day. But I also think one of the best parts is being able to hang out with so many others who share the same interests.

Milly: Like Chloe said, all of the above. I love that cosplaying has allowed me to broaden my skill sets and enter a new world that I didn’t know existed. It’s really rewarding to see the reaction you get from your peers after working hard on a costume for a number of months and finally being able to wear and show it off.

What advice would you give someone wanting to start?

Chloe: There’s no limits to who you can dress up as, but I’ve found it’s easier to start on a simpler design and set a budget so you don’t overspend. Plan a realistic time frame for when your costume needs to be completed, so you’re not rushing last minute to make it.

Milly: Who you cosplay is for you to decide, not others. Having said that, know your own capabilities and what toolsets you have available. When in doubt, there are so many ‘how to’ videos that are easy to find online; many cosplayers post tutorials of their work up on Youtube. I would also urge you to join cosplay pages. There are plenty on Facebook, and they are often good sources when wanting to ask questions or seek out advice.

Chloe: Anyone can cosplay, and as long as you’re having fun dressing up then you’re doing it right.

Thanks Milly and Chloe

Next stop for the duo: Supanova 2017.

To see the rest of their awesome cosplay go check out their Facebook page!

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Frances Carleton is a Canberra based counsellor, Lego mini-figure enthusiast and poet. After years of writing only business reports and essays, she is now focusing her creativity by writing down the thoughts that cross her mind when she’s out bush walking with the dogs. She works mostly in Tanka but throws in a free-form to confuse every now and then. Her poems have appeared in Eucalypt (a Tanka journal), Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka, and ‘Poems to Wear’ edited by Amelia Fielden.

What’s your first poetry memory?

As a child I saw Pam Ayres on the television and loved her accent. She made me laugh and she really made me want to look after my teeth. She’s still my go too when I need a chuckle.
Richard Scarry was my other influence. I loved his books ‘A story a day: 365 stories and rhymes’ and ‘Best Story Book Ever’. For years I believed every poem should rhyme. This led to problems when I took a poetry class at university.

What gets you writing?

All sorts of things end up in my poems. For my Tanka though I get most of my inspiration when I’m out bush walking with my dogs, FeFe and Toodle. The sunset (I’m never up for sunrise) through gum trees, the peeling bark, my dogs having fun, flies having an orgy, so many things inspires me in nature. That’s not to say nature is the only thing that get me writing. To use the words of Geoffrey Chaucer in ‘A Knight’s Tale’ (2001), “I will eviscerate you in fiction”. The guy that road raged me, my grandmother; the nitwit at work…the list goes on.

Do you have a favourite poem?

E.E. Cummings, ‘she being Brand’.
Cummings’ use of language, the slight twisting of the meanings of words is stunning. It’s about such a mundane subject and yet it has the power to leave you breathless.
I first saw it performed in the movie Plain Clothes (1987). After hearing him read this poem as a school assignment on metaphor, I had a massive crush on Arliss Howard and an insatiable urge to read more of E.E. Cummings work. I was 15 and my Muv, the holder of the cash, didn’t understand my sudden desire to buy poetry books. Over the years the crush on the actor faded, by my love of Cummings and poetry never did.

What do you do when you’re not performing poetry?

I work in an office pushing paper as my main job. I’m also a counsellor that specialises in sexual health and grief and loss. I’m working at transitioning away from corporate and government work as my main source of income, as it stifles my creativity too much. Counselling using the narrative method and incorporating artistic expression, gives my clients scope to express themselves in ways they didn’t know was possible and it inspires reflection in me.

What inspires you?

I think this is best expressed in a brief and succinct list poem:
1. I am inspired by the rainbows at 40 degrees
2. I am inspired to trust by the thought of being alone
3. I am inspired by the idea that today has to be better than yesterday
4. I am inspired to write because I like being the center of attention
5. I am inspired to get out of bed by the dog standing on my bladder
These are a few of the things that inspire me, today.

Thanks Frances

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Next Stop: Frances will be performing at the Poetry Gala for Sids and Kids.

 

Poetry Gala for Sids and Kids

10th of October, Smiths Alternative

Entry $10

 

 

Walking through the food court I see poet Ryan Schipper, sitting at a table, short blonde hair, bespectacled, wearing a suit. He looks up and waves me over with a big smile. We start talking about his life changing moment, the 2013 Christmas that saw him get dehydrated due to food poisoning and while at the hospital a routine scan saw him diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.

He reflects on the day he was diagnosed. “When I went to the doctor and he said you have Lymphoma but we don’t know what sort, I was sort of crossing my fingers that I would get the same thing as Delta Goodrem because I thought it was funny.”

Four months of chemotherapy and 15 days of radiation therapy put paid to that idea. But Ryan continued to work until the effects became too much and he was forced to become a homebody.

Eventually, the chemotherapy worked.  He recalls the doctor being late. He also remembers how the initial news had no real effect on him until he spoke to his mum. When he broke the happy news, he broke down.

He has found that his priorities in life have now changed. “I think before I took relationships for granted and now I don’t. Now I’m really keen on making sure that the personal relationships I have in my life, those are the most important things. Everything else is now a lower priority.”

Throughout this ordeal he found writing difficult. “I did not write a lot during that time. I did not feel that I could express the experience in a way that could make sense to other people.” He can write again now, but not about that subject.

The experience can’t be captured with a pen, but the scar on his chest bears the testimony, a reminder of a dark time.

A mark of survival.

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Performance: The life-blood of Alison McGregor

The buzzing of an excited crowd, the sounds of applause and yawping – a familiar welcome to Sparkles, also known as Canberra’s Alison McGregor. Sparkles steps out onto the stage in a familiar pink robe. Her act starts with dirty comedic love poetry, which sparks her onstage break-down.  Her ribald poetry is soon accompanied by crazy props ranging from potato and gravy to champagne; and when it’s all done, the applause from the fun-filled crowd is deafening. “Disgusting and wonderful”, one audience member enthuses. It seems to be a common sentiment.

On a cold Canberra night I wander into the Phoenix Pub to interview Alison McGregor. As I walk in, I spy Alison sitting at a table, rugged up in a warm grey coat and scarf and sporting shiny blue hair. With a beer resting in front of her, she waves me over.

Alison is a multifaceted performer who is well known for her poetry, burlesque dancing, acting, her enthusiasm for Gameboy DS and her job at Questacon. Had I missed anything? She waves the concern away with a laugh. “All those things are correct. I am all of those, I think that’s pretty comprehensive. Oh, I’m also a trivia host here at the Phoenix doing Nerd Trivia”.

As she takes a sip of her beverage, we talk about how she first got into poetry. She pauses. “Umm that’s a hard question, I think it might have been seeing my first slam at the front and realising that this was not just a way to write what was on my mind, but a way to create something that I could perform with, and performing’s my life blood. Burlesque and theatre are my priorities, but it was like hey, if I write stuff I get to perform more, this is pretty sweet”.

As another chilled-out tune filled the Phoenix air, I ask how her perception of poetry has changed since she began writing. “It’s a lot of that understanding of where performance and poetry can intersect. I get that a bit from what I do. In that I can write things that are more narrative based or more prose based rather than thinking that it has to have some sort of a iambic pentameter. But also through watching things like the slam and seeing the different, I say characters, but they are not necessarily characters they are just people doing their thing. But they have so much character and life and take such different approaches to what they do, that I find I don’t know if I have changed how I write, but it’s definitely informed the potential for me”.

The conversation then turns to her character Sparkles and how she came about. She laughs, “Well Sparkles is my most famous burlesque character, but when I first started I didn’t realise I was doing burlesque. I was asked to be a feature act for BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! and I was kinda stressing, I’ve been a feature act before doing Ali poetry but I felt that I needed to do something new. I had this dumb idea, which was to write the worst love poetry I could and to have a mental breakdown on stage and that worked pretty well. I’ve refined the act since then, but I still try and slip in things that make this person seem extremely needy obsessive and crazy so they fall in love and they get dumped straight away”

When trying to pin down her favourite/funniest moment as Sparkles Alison rubs her hands together “Oh, there are so many good ones. I think maybe getting a standing ovation at the National Folk Festival was pretty good. I wasn’t sure how the crowd would take to her because I’ve performed as Sparkle in places like the pub where it’s really rowdy and you can get away with that. I’ve also done sparkles in burlesque shows, where people are expecting something extreme. I feel at the Folk Festival people were expecting poetry and they got poetry, but they also got this other thing” she says with a smile. “But it turned out really well. I don’t think that was a funny moment, it was just a great moment”.

One of Alison’s fellow performers best describes what makes Alison stand out on stage. “Alison brings an incredible energy with her when she performs, no matter the event or context. She has this presence and enthusiasm that draws you in, and you just feel so involved. She is an absolute joy to watch”.

Alison does a range of performance arts – does she see them as interlinked or separate? “Oh, definitely interlinked. I think that skill in one can directly translate to skill in others. So I feel like my background is primarily in theatre and in physical theatre. So I’ve done a lot of work on dance and clowning and what my body is doing in space and all of that has very much informed me as a burlesque character”.

“I think any creative pursuit helps keep your brain working in that creative space. One of my favourite things to look at is how people do one thing and then see if I can apply it to my practice and vice versa. Or see where the bits match up in people’s practices, how a musician matches up with a burlesque performer, how a visual artist match up with a poet. What kind of bridges are there between these artistic practices?”

How did you find the transition to burlesque? “So I have two burlesque personas. I have Sparkles and Sparkles is extreme and she’s funny and she’s clowny and she’s weird and part of the whole point of her is that she wants to be really girly and beautiful and gorgeous, but misses the mark. So it means with her if I don’t look sexy or I fall over or if I just screw up somehow it’s ok. However Sparkles is limited in what she can do in burlesque. My other persona is Virginia Fizz who is far more classic, austere and elegant and I find Virginia very scary to perform. In terms of a learning curve it was learning to be precise and learning to be quote-unquote sexy, cause there’s no right or wrong way to be sexy. I guess learning all those things that classic burlesque performers do was scary and hard. Also playing things straight down the line is a little be scary for me then just being an idiot in front of an audience, which is really quite fun,” she says with a laugh.

One last question: if you could travel through time, where would you go and why? She sits for a second and ponders before saying, “A lot about the past is really interesting, but I would want to go to the future. Because I like to play sci-fi games and I love watching sci-fi movies and tv shows, not so much sci-fi books.  I would like to go to the future to see what it’s like. I think my favourite thing about sci-fi is it’s always our contemporary reimagining of what the future is like. Back in the 80’s everything was gritty and cyberpunk, but now everything is shiny surfaces and clean. In the 60’s everyone wore wacky suits. I would actually like to go to the future and see what it’s like because it’s probably like nothing any of us would have imagined”.

Next Stop: Alison will be performing at the Short and Sweet Festival.

Alison

  Photo by: Adam Thomas

When trying to answer that question, I find that my writing predominately over the years has been about Tom Cruise Toilets, Kermit the Frog seeking vengeance and Brogan characters looking for love.

I find whenever I write it’s usually about some fun weird kooky idea. I find that popular culture and celebrities make their way in to my writing more often than not. I think Tom Cruise is my favourite person to write about. The moment he used Oprah’s couch as a trampoline, as he confessed his love for Katie Holmes has been the source for many of my poems.

Another thing that I like to write about are characters that I make up. One of these characters is Teddy Truman, Teddy is a Bogan who is constantly looking for love. I made him up in a role playing game that I was in. I enjoyed playing this character so much that I started adding him in to my poetry.

What type of things do you like to write about??

Teddy Bela                                                       Me as Teddy Truman, Photo by: Adam Thomas

Perform

Confidence is the key to performing well. These are few of the methods I have used over the years to help me perform in front of a full Phoenix crowd.

 
Step 1 Throw Nerves to the Ground: The best way to do this is to rehearse and rehearse and then rehearse some more. I use to be the Sacrificial Poet at BAD!SLAM!NO!BISUCIT! and every month I would spend at least a couple of days rehearsing my poem. On the actual day, I would rehearse my poem at least ten times out loud. This helped get rid of some of the nerves.

 

Step2 Rehearse Out LOUD: Rehearsing out loud is the best way to hear what you sound like. It also gives you a chance to let you know where you might want to break up your poem.

 
Step3 Record: I have found listening back to myself really effective for deciding what words or phrases I want to emphasis. I think it’s also a good tool to help memories your poem.

 

Step4 Audience: Reading in front of friends or family members is a really good way to simulate an audience. Perform in front of anyone who will listen. It’s an excellent way to build your confidence for performing in front of people.

 

Step5 Have fun: It’s important to not take yourself too seriously. Putting on a great performance is awesome, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. Going out and giving it your best and having fun really takes the pressure off and it’ll show in your performance.

 

I hope this helps.

Belamike

Photo by: Adam Thomas

 

 

Movie Review

Myself and Andrew Galan made our own movie review show. This was a lot of fun and it’s something that I wanted to do for a long time.

http://upstairsfoodcourtmoviereviewshow.bandcamp.com/

BelaAndrew

Photo By: Adam Thomas