For the last few days, while I slowly navigate myself into the grooves of 2016, I have been a part of a trio. We have feasted together, drunk together, danced together , watched feminist werewolf films, napped in sofas pushed together to form a den and watched a performance artist fist herself onstage together. A far more London, slumbersome and erudite version of Jules, Catherine and Jim, but with macbook pros... and far less erotic*.
The trio has been composed of two other Gaulier clown students and myself. JL, a well moustached comedian with great panache for word play and vest-tops, and Hannah - an Elizabeth Taylor look-a-like Aussie with skills in Irish Dancing and accent imitation to Mr Ripley-esque proportions. I love them both as they are both comfortable with how tactile and over-excited I am about everything and my constant desire to speak in a fake South-African accent...
It all started when my phone buzzed late one afternoon from Hannah - "I'm catching a bus into London which arrives at 9am tomorrow morning. Can we hang out?".
If there is one thing I love more than anything, it is being a tourguide to travellers who have never visited my city.
This message resulted in what I now look back on as a five night adventure. Hannah arrived in Victoria Coach station last Wednesday morning. After a quick shower in my cosy abode in south london we then went on an escapade around London. I showed her where the most recent stabbings had taken place on my high street, we visited Bar Italia in Soho and watched a drunk man shout at his trainers for half an hour, we walked a pair of lost German boys to the British Museum, I showed her the coffee bar I once got dumped in, we browsed Orbital comics in Covent Garden and discussed what our ideal super powers would be and we ended our 6 mile walk-a-thon in a Brick Lane Curry house where we devoured Saag Paneer and poppadoms before then adventuring to the countryside to look at some grumpy Shetland ponies in a field.
Sometimes, for as much as cinema often bigs up London's romantic clean brick-worked beauty, it is its scabbiness that I love the most - its niccotined gravelled side streets and grubby inartistic graffitti. To truly love a city you have to respect both the beauty and the bleak all in one and look at them both side by side.
JL joined us at some point during this time (I can't quite remember) for the preparations for New Year - and after the night itself, the 1st and 2nd of 2016 were spent with all three of us feeling queasy and still slightly drunk - recalling the blurred memories of the night before.
On Saturday night I took JL and Hannah to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Neither had ever been, but I've visited it fairly often ever since I studied it during my Masters at Queen Mary University. It's rumoured to be the club that Freddy Mercury dressed Princess Diana up as a man and took her to in the 80s.. and inspired by that sentiment we all dressed up to go.... well.... I did. I put on all my favourite christmas presents and vintage finds. I thought I looked pretty swish until JL said "From the back you look like one of the gay men from the Blue Oyster Bar in Police Academy". Er... thankyou? I think?
In hindsight, I think this "Look" was probably suitable for Duckie and I actually received LOTS of compliments for my leather jacksuit, hat and boot combo....so there.
Duckie is a post-queer performance and events collective and one of my favourite nights out in London - holding a 20 year residency at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Every Saturday three live artists or groups will perform small sets on the red sticky moon shaped stage - to an audience composed of RVT regulars, the london LGBT community and young theatre students. It's a rowdy and supportive crowd with acts going up on stage around 11pm, with the charismatic Amy Lame, who is similiar to a Ghost World character, mcing the evening's activities.
The night itself is a great one even if you have no interest in live performance. The DJS, Readers Wife, are the best in town if you like maximum cheese, techno and dirty lyrics. The Door Whores are the most well-dressed and enigmatic that I have ever seen. It's a true gem of the London night time scene. I hope we never lose it, though the building itself is always under threat.
On our night Amy Lame was not there to host and rather than three artists it was only one - Lucy Muck. Lucy Muck is a live artist and Duckie's Artist in Residence for 2017. I won't give away what her entire 20 minute performance involved, but it DID consist of a dynamic feminist re-enactment of the Nativity with audience interaction, lip-syncing, penetration and a very physical articulation of Muck's views of the goverment's decision to censor facesitting in porn films. Her performance certainly encouraged a dialogue between JL, Hannah and I about the issue of censorship and gender on stage and the relationship between live art and stand-up comedy and the distinct differences between the two, and when the lines blur. The cool thing about a night like Duckie is that it presents such diverse examples of the London theatre scene and what is happening in and around the UK with live performance. As neither JL or Hannah had been to a night like Duckie before I was happy to have shown them a part of London I love so much.
After the performance ended and the stage was covered in sausages and meringue we danced until 2am. When our bodies were drenched in sweat (perhaps the leather trousers WERE a mistake...) we did the smart thing... we went home, put two pizzas in the oven, and then did some comedy writing.
Going to see nights like Duckie, even if you say it "Isn't your thing" are a great way to broaden your mind and make you question what live performance is for. They are also perfect if you ever start to see 'Writers Block!' appearing in your midst and you need to step out of your comfort zone to start creating again.
Both JL and Hannah have gone now. Hannah to explore Ireland and JL someplace else. Now I am left to start writing the 2nd draft of my new show. Unusually, rather than be sad they have gone as there is now no one to play and procrastinate with, I am ready to crack on, inspired after what the last five days have opened me up to and all the new theatre ideas in my mind for the new show...
Who knows what I am going to write!
Well... what I do definitely know is that there isn't going to be any fisting in it....
Or is there?
No... probably not...