Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pendragon Female No. 4

Back in October, when I was working part time, I somehow managed to get a callback from an open casting for Camelot extras. I say somehow managed because I went to the casting day with the Bear, and if anyone would be expected to get a callback for a series set in the days of beardy, burly, long haired men, it's him with the beardy, burly, long haired head on him.

Nevertheless, t'was I who got the call to spend a day drinking tea in a Portakabin in Bray. I had a costume fitting the previous day and was assigned a spectacularly unflattering light green scratchy dress and a heavy brown cloak in which to wander about Pendragon Castle for a spell. I got needlessly excited when I was sent on my way to the hair and make up trailer, as the hair and make up in question really just meant backcombing the shit out of my hair to give it that Middle Ages rats nest look, with a few small plaits thrown in, and brown make up smushed into my face and hands to give me an authentic smudgy, dirty mush and fingernails. So hot right now.

The scene we were required in called for us to enter the set of the big hall, all agog at the impressive interior and wander along our given routes looking amazed, for we were but local merchants and had never encountered such grandeur. The direction of my track brought me right past Sinéad Cusack as the duplicitous nun and I managed to get in the way of her exit at least eight times or so. Thankfully we were eventually rearranged and it was someone else's go to be that infernal extra that kept crossing in front of her path. All my determined concentration not to step on the dress worn by the girl in front of me or knock anything over OR be distracted by how tiny and gorgeous Eva Green is actually paid off and last Friday night, who was to be seen doddering past in the background?

Me, that's who! Pendragon Female No. 4, all up in yo business! Delighted, I was. I'm still waiting to hear back about my idea for my character's spin-off series, The Girl With The Pendragon Tattoo.


I'll see myself out.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Away With The Birds

For quite some time now, I've been admiring the fun and quirky t-shirt designs of Lady Umbrella and when they very kindly shared a promotional code for a 15% discount on Twitter I figured that was as good a time as any to pounce. Their bright blue "Lady Umbrella Is Away With The Birds" t-shirt won me over with its turbo cute birdcage design, as well as the fact that I can be somewhat away with the birds myself from time to time. Only a few days ago a co-worker was trying to say hello to me while I was on my way to the office and had to whack me with her newspaper to get my attention.

Their customer service is faultless and tremendously friendly, as I discovered when I cleverly managed to order the wrong size from their online shop. There was no problem exchanging it and the t-shirt even arrives with cute as a button badges to boot.

The Lady Umbrella online shop can be found here and they're also at the Loft Market in Powerscourt. The Facebook and Twitter pages are definitely worth a click of the Like and Follow buttons, since they're always running great competitions and discounts. So now you've no excuse not to support a great independent designer. Consider yourself informed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barack Attack

As Obamarama and yet more general traffic mayhem gripped the country yesterday morning, I had one eye on the live coverage and the other on the work I was supposed to be doing. All of a shot, an envelope with my name printed on it was thrust into my hand. "Eh..thanks. What's this?" said I, with a bewildered look on my face. "It's a VIP ticket to Obama's speech" came the wondrous reply. I opened the envelope, which went down a little something like this:

To be honest, I still don't know how my name ended up on the list of people in work on which these magic tickets would be bestowed, let alone on the front of that envelope. Maybe there's a gremlin in someone's computer that's taken a shine to me for some reason.

Anyway, off I skedaddled to College Green with Cartman's voice singing "I got a golden tiiicket" firmly lodged in my head. The VIP area was ridiculously close to the stage. Like, properly ridiculous. I was so excited that I didn't even mind having to watch Westlife croon and sway in unison through sideways rain.

THAT effing close, like. Wahh!

When it transpired that Mr. Rockstar President was actually coming down off the stage to meet and shake hands with us mere mortals, the crowd damn near lost their mind. Myself included. My panicked surge towards the barrier was paid off with a proper and brilliant handshake from Michelle (stone cold fox, by the way) but I just missed out on one from Barack, as he was busy being so incredibly lovely to the three little girls in front of me and I didn't want to interrupt as he was telling one of them that she had "the most spectacular blue eyes". I'm not going to lie, at that moment I was really quite jealous of an eleven year old. Nevertheless, my face made it onto the live coverage on RTE. And check this out:

Boom. That'd be MY famous hand, that would.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Along Came A Spider And Sat Down Beside Her

As you'll no doubt have gathered from my Winchester Mansion post not so long ago, I do rather enjoy stories that entail a mysterious old house. So while I was skipping about the internet looking for pictures of Tura Satana for my last post, I happened upon a link that led me to the story of the Spider Pool, a strange and elusive site secreted in the hills of Los Angeles that was also the setting for thousands of cheesecake and nudey camera club photos in the fifties. And I thought to myself, "Why yes indeed Mr. Internet, I'll be having some of that."

In 1920s Hollywood, John McDermott, an actor-turned-director of silent films, had seen his fair share of beautifully designed movie sets being used for an hour or two and then unceremoniously consigned to the scrap heap. Balls to that, thought he, and he proceeded to build himself a crazy-ass house in the Hollywood hills constructed of the various pieces of sets he collected. The result was an amazing, rambling house that was Algerian looking one minute, Navajo next and Egyptian too just for the craic, along with dozens of other styles. There were three canons mounted on a parapet, tombstones from the set of The Hunchback of Notre Dame built into a wall, a tunnel staircase that spiralled up to a mirrored bedroom that had a fireplace under the bed and most importantly, a gorgeous swimming pool area that featured a huge mosaic of a spider with a hornet embedded in the tiled web.

The dwelling became known locally as The House That Jack Built and gained notoriety for the wild parties thrown by McDermott. A Hollywood columnist wrote an account of her visit to the house for one of its legendary shindigs, in which she describes underground passages, trap doors, duck ponds and pieces of elk meat being roasted on a spit. Stories abound of party shenanigans such as dollybirds dressed as harem girls shimmying out of said trap doors to the sound of John beating a drum and also of the host surveying the beautiful pool from a throne atop the infamous spider mosaic, as apparently it was his wont to furnish lady guests with swimsuits that dissolved when they hit the water, the absolute HOUND.

So, it's that pool area that all of this is leading to. A few years ago, a group of people online were trading vintage pin-up and cheesecake photos and became fascinated by this one recurring location, the Spider Pool.

It was a hugely popular backdrop for girlie photography, the tiled spider wall had countless hotties in varying states of undress pout and pose on it and near it. Including my heroine du jour, Tura.

Anyhoodle, the various fans of this mysterious locale did their damnedest to work out where it was. As it happens, a relative newcomer to their cause, whose post was the first article I read about it, set off on a mission into the hills and only went and FOUND the bloody thing. After McDermott's death, the house passed through a few owners, barely survived a fire and eventually fell into disrepair at the hands of vandals and squatters, before ultimately being condemned and bulldozed to the ground. All that remains of the once wondrous home is the chipped and weathered spider wall, which still must have been overwhelmingly exciting to uncover.

It's a shame that there don't appear to be any pictures of the house itself from its debaucherous heyday, but I do love that somewhere hidden away in the hills of L.A. lies this weird memento and one time playground of showbiz stars and cheeky pin-up models. There's a hugely detailed timeline of the house here, put together by a member of the discussion group, and this is the post by the intrepid Jacy Young who rediscovered the amazing Spider Pool and took the present day photos above. Colour me obsessed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pussycat Dolls

Last Friday, the Bear and I had quite a busy evening for ourselves. After getting work out of the way, we giggled our way through Spamalot from circle seats in the Grand Canal Theatre with a bottle of rum-spiked ginger beer, like some kind of degenerate Enid Blyton characters. When the show had finished, off we skittered to The Sugar Club for a Midnight Movies screening of Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! starring the sadly late, tremendously great Tura Satana. I've previously oohed and aahed over her unbeliveably kickass life on this here blog, but this was my first time actually seeing the film. And boy, is it a riot.

First off, the Midnight Movies crew put on a fantastic screening. A girl goes from table to table beforehand selling cola bottle sweets and bags of popcorn from the Savoy with a tray not unlike my beloved cigarette girls. A Skype Q&A with Lori Williams, who stars as blonde firecracker Billie preceeded the film, which was then brilliantly introduced with trailers for Blacula and Barbarella and even the classic "it's too orangey for crows..." Kia Ora ad.

The opening scene shows our three pussycats go-go dancing up a storm, while a gravelly voiceover informs us that sexy sex is the most dangerous form that violence lurks beneath, or something to that effect. I can't remember exactly. (To be fair, cocktails were but a fiver in The Sugar Club at this stage.) It's a sleazy, turbo charged, grindhouse film with fast cars, impossibly sexy girls, camp, ridiculous dialogue and outrageously unnecessary violence. The dancers tear off into the desert, racing their cars, taking impromptu swims in a lake, catfighting for, like, no reason and ultimately karate-chopping a man to death for even less reason.

The leader of this demented girl gang is the ferocious Varla, played by Tura Satana, a somewhat psychotic, switchblade wielding Amazon of a woman. Mean, domineering and awesome.

Gas Station Attendant
(while staring at Varla's astounding rack): Now that's what I believe in, seeing America first!
Varla: Well, you won't find it down there, Columbus!

Rosie, played by Haji, is the gorgeous Italian bird with kind of a thing for crazy Varla. Her accent is a constant source of hilarity throughout the film, as she speaks like Super Mario's long lost hot sister. i.e. I'm-a gonna spin-a-dry you out!

Rosie (having been offered a soft drink): We don't like anything soft. Everything we do is hard.

(Heh. In your endo.)

Lori Williams, as smokin' hot bubbly blonde Billie completes the trio of kitties. Cute, fun-loving and out for the craic, she has a bit more of a conscience than the other girls, but enjoys racing and boozing just as much as they do.

I'm of legal age for whiskey, voting and loving. Now the next election is two years away, and my love life ain't getting much better, so how about some of that one-hundred-percent!

It's trashy, silly and hugely great fun altogether. It's referred to as an exploitation film, and while it has no problem making the absolute most of the gravity-defying knockers and long legs of its stars, you'd be hard pressed to find a female character as unapologetically strong-willed, powerful and domineering as Varla. Officially great craic.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tick Tock Toe

The footpaths round our way have taken on the appearance of a spraypainted game of noughts and crosses of late. I say noughts and crosses only because I can't find a satisfactory way of either punctuating or spelling exs and ohs/x's and o's/xes and os. (See? None of them look right.) I'm presuming it's all part of the "sealing up every little thing in the ground that could possibly be opened" process in anticipation of Herself and the visit that's going to make getting anywhere eleven times more difficult for everyone next week. The Bear wisely suggested that they're nervously checking out all the sewers as a preventative measure against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Over on the Southside, the area around Grafton and Nassau Street seems to be playing host to some manner of footpath Cluedo.

Twitchy Gardaí have been hovering two by two around the Holy Mary blue gates of the Garden of Remembrance for the last two weeks, with the place eventually being closed altogether "until further notice". She's swinging by my place of work on Wednesday, so I'm rather interested to see how much of the paranoid security measures I'll encounter when in her general vicinity. Personally I'm looking forward to it all being over with and her safely ensconced back in her fancy palace so everyone can chill the fuck out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Smoke and Mirrors

For someone who hates cigarettes as much as I do, I have something of an odd fascination with the cigarette girls that could be found in American nightclubs and cafes of the 1940s and 50s. Their outfits were cheeky and cute, rocking fishnets or seamed stockings and pill box hats, with a great big tray of sweets, novelty items and emphysema slung around their pretty necks.

Cigarette girls popped up all over the place in the 40s and 50s, celebrity hotspots, comic books, cartoons and pin-up art to name but a few pop culture appearances.

Ciro's was a famous nightclub and moviestar hangout in Hollywood from the forties through to the sixties, where little hotties like this could be found flogging tobacco.

An issue of the 1940s aviation-themed comic book Link Thorne featured this deadly sci-fi looking cigarette girl.

Foxy cigarette girl pin-ups by Enoch Bolles and Al Moore. Mega gorgeousness.

Hollywood starlets like Jayne Mansfield and Elizabeth Taylor were snapped posing as cigarette girls in nightclubs in the fifties at charity events, Audrey Hepburn had a bit part as a cigarette girl in 1951's Laughter in Paradise and even Betty Boop jiggled into the still-excellent Who Framed Roger Rabbit? brandishing a tray of cigars and Camels.

Josie Maran as a rather alluring Egyptian style cigarette girl in The Aviator and Audrey as her minor character in 1951.

I'm so in love with the look and reckon it would make for a rather terrific fancy dress costume, although I'd almost certainly get fed up of lugging the tray around. But it would look deadly altogether, which would be some consolation I suppose.