Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moisture Is The Essence Of Wetness

When I hear the word mermaid, I pretty much automatically think of Disney's irrepressibly cute Ariel, representing for redheads in their twinkly canon of princesses.

While the original shell bikini-ed Ariel is lovely and all that, there are two non-movie incarnations of her that I really love. One is from a Disney campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz which casts Julianne Moore as the underwater princess, all ethereal and pale skinned with flowing red hair.

The other is a decidedly saucier version, in which artist J Scott Campbell re-imagines her as a devastatingly sexy aquatic temptress with a set of knockers that must be damn near impossible to submerge.

I keep expecting the ship in the background to tip over from the sheer force of her outrageous rideyness.

I quite like it when mermaids appear in popular culture, where they seem to either be unfeasible love interests or enticing predators. Most recently they were featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Darryl Hannah flopped her tail fins around in Splash! and both Sade and Lady Gaga have put in turns as lovelorn mermaids in their music videos.

Larry: I just thank the Lord she didn't live to see her son as a mermaid.
Derek: Mer-man! (Black Lung cough) Mer-MAN!

Anyway, what prompted me to fish out (Haha! Oh COME ON, it had to happen sooner or later) pictures of foxy sea dwelling ladies in the first place was cinema's first mermaid, Annette Kellerman.

Annette was an Australian swimmer, high diver, stuntwoman, model and star of vaudeville and film who revolutionised women's swimwear and invented synchronised swimming too while she was at it. In the early 1900s, women were expected to wear woollen dresses and pantaloons while swimming, all in order to protect their collective modesty. *shakes fist at patriarchy* Annette, a world-class swimmer, was having none of that stupidity and fashioned her own swimming costume by sewing stockings onto a men's racing swimsuit. Take that, squares!

That saucy wench, flashing her KNEES! Someone think of the children!

However, one day in 1907 she was swimming at a beach in Boston wearing one of her fitted one piece suits without the leg coverings and was promptly arrested for indecency.

I love that she's making it as awkward as possible for that jerk to bundle her into the paddywagon.

Undeterred, she went on to create her own line of women's swimming costumes, encouraging ladies swamped in layers everywhere to ditch the stupid woolly sailor dresses and go for a one piece that they could actually move around in, paving the way for modern swimwear. She became a major film star, appearing in many underwater adventure movies as a mermaid, designing her own costumes and developing the first swimmable mermaid outfit for camera. She was also the first well-known actress to do a fully nude scene in 1916's A Daughter of the Gods.

As if all that wasn't enough, she also wrote several books on swimming and beauty, a book of children's fairy tales and opened a health food shop in Long Beach, California. Considering all Ariel managed to do was catch a touch of laryngitis and marry Prince Eric, I think it's safe to say I have a new favourite mermaid.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Quelque Chose #14

Random Fact: In the mid-seventies, a teenage Michelle Pfeiffer worked in Disneyland, playing Alice in Wonderland in one of the park's many parades.

(via Mental Floss) 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Truly Truly Truly Outrageous

One of my more recent charity shop finds and one that I was particularly delighted with was a VHS tape in a battered case with a special offer sticker from days gone by half peeled away. But not just any tape, for this was in fact the all-singing all-dancing ninety minute extravaganza that is the first five episodes of Jem. Girls born in the Eighties, brace yourselves.

I watched it on Saturday afternoon and can confirm that it is exactly as cheesy, sparkly, demented and brilliant as I hoped it would be. It was a bucket of glittery nostalgia being thrown in my face, interspersed with one minute music video segments and I LOVED it. The outfits are bitchin', the hair is enormous and multicoloured, the pop songs are insanely catchy and the storylines are utterly bonkers. Just to recap, Jerrica (Jerrica? Seriously? Not even a real name) Benton's father dies and she inherits half of his record company and a house full of orphaned girls. As you do. She then receives a mysterious gift of earrings that lead her to a supercomputer called Synergy, designed by her late father. The computer can project holograms and transforms Jerrica into pink-haired pop sensation Jem.

Look at the SIZE of that hair! The sheer weight alone would be enough to snap any normal person's neck.

Jerrica's makeover and an evil music executive trying to take over the company then results in the formation of Jem and the Holograms, comprised of Jerrica's redhead sister, the Eighties-tastically named Kimber (who doesn't seem to mind that her dad left her fuck all in the will) on keyboards and their friends, blue-haired guitarist Aja (who I thought was Eastern European from her accent but is actually supposed to be Asian) and purple-haired Shana (who immediately hooks up with the only other black character in the show) on synth drums. Synth. Drums.

The rival band in the show, and the one I remember best from my childhood are The Misfits. They're the punky, brazen and mean counterparts to Jem and her do-gooder Holograms, led by the perpetually snarling and scheming green-haired frontwoman Pizzazz. The rest of the band is made up of white-haired bassist bitch Roxy (who seems to display slightly sociopathic tendencies, as she very nearly steamrollers Jem and the Holograms to death just for the hell of it at one point) and my favourite character from when I used to watch it, blue-haired keytar player (KEYTAR!) Stormer, who is actually the only nice member of the Misfits. Although watching it as an adult, I realised that she's actually a total pushover and could do with copping the fuck on and not putting up with Pizzazz and Roxy's bossy bullshit.

The Misfits were my strongest memory from the show, which may be partly due to their magnificent entrance in the first episode. They smash into the record company office on not-at-all-unwieldy GIANT GUITAR MOTORBIKES and threateningly circle Jerrica, bursting into their first song. Incidentally, their songs are far better than those of the Holograms. While Jem's numbers simper over love and friendship, the Misfits sing about causing trouble, winning at all costs and other assorted divilment. The music videos in the show seem to provide either an opportunity for a montage or even better, actually just reuse footage from previous episodes and videos, often completely irrelevant but shoehorned in nonetheless in what had to be cost saving measures. Needless to say, eight year old me didn't notice at the time. Twenty seven year old me was most amused by it all.

Giant guitar bikes. The only way to travel.

An aspect of the show that seemed to go over my head as a child is the love triangle storyline between Jerrica, her boyfriend Rio and Jem. Winning the award for most oblivious boyfriend ever, Rio has no idea that Jem and Jerrica are the same person, even though the only difference is their hair and a bit of pink facepaint. However, he seems happy enough to cheat on his girlfriend with...eh...his girlfriend in disguise, shifting the face off Jem at every given opportunity. Which isn't really cheating at all, but HE DOESN'T KNOW THAT. If he'd just get his dopey horn under control for all of five minutes he might realise that his beloved Jerrica is inflicting the biggest mindfuck of all time on him.

Anyway, once I had finished the video and was searching the internet for pictures for this post, I realised that there were TONNES of episodes I had never seen. Later into the series there were even new band members added to both the Holograms and the Misfits. Raya, a Latina drummer temporarily replaced Shana, who later rejoined the band and Jetta, an obnoxious Brit sax player with a brilliant Adam Ant style lightning bolt across her forehead was added to the Misfits line-up.

And, AND as if that wasn't enough of a surprise (for me anyway) there was A WHOLE NEW BAND introduced to the series in the form of The Stingers (supposedly based on German metal band The Scorpions), led by frontman Riot with a head of hair that would outgay both Siegfried and Roy, accompanied by Aryan hotties Rapture and Minx.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! At one point Kimber and Stormer, both feeling unappreciated, temporarily leave their respective bands, record an album together and embark on a tender and exploratory love affair. Alright fine, I made up that last bit but that would have been an amazing storyline.

I don't know about you, but the picture on the left screams "INTENSE SEXY LADY LOVE!" to me anyway.

Other new developments to me include Clash, a Misfits groupie and henchwoman with bloody MARVELLOUS hair who uses disguises to sabotage whatever Jem and the Holograms happen to be up to at the time.

There's an 11 disc Jem boxset due to be released in October, which I'll be most unsubtly dropping hints about in the run up to the C word. (Christmas, not cunt. In case you were wondering.) But for now, I'll leave you with some shots of the outrageously ferocious Eighties explosion that is the fashion from the series. Leggings and side-ponytails a go-go!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Boldly Dress

Last week marked the 45th anniversary of Star Trek and as such, last Friday night, I experienced what was undoubtedly the nerdiest evening of my entire life. To honour the occasion, a screening of The Wrath of Khan was planned, with the film projected on to a bare wall in Billy Flag and Jack Samson's Rathmines apartment, which as it happens is one of the best ways to watch a film ever. I say it was a nerdfest of an evening, but obviously that also means that it was a huge amount of fun. The main event was preceded by an episode of Deep Space 9 and an episode of the original series. The DS9 episode was one that saw the crew go back in time in order to infiltrate the Kirk-era Enterprise and featured the character of Dax giving herself a sixties Starfleet makeover in order to blend in. When she emerged in her red Mary Quant style minidress and shiny beehive, EleventyFour turned to me and said "That's going to turn up on your blog, isn't it". And GUESS WHAT….she was RIGHT! She knows me so well.

I've actually written about Star Trek once before on this blog, and have posted about sci-fi fashion over on Blaubushka, when I looked at the shiny dresses of Forbidden Planet, but this post is all about the wondrous wardrobes of the women from the original Star Trek series. For example, the most famous wearer of said red minidress, Lieutenant Uhura. There may have been a constant threat of ass cheek, but if anyone could rock it, it was she.

Anyway, the other episode we watched before KHAAAAN! was the one in which, as Jack Samson puts it, "Spock is so horny he might die". This particular episode also features the enchanting T'Pring, a Vulcan bird that Spock was betrothed to when they were both children, but in a fit of wagonry (I may have just made that word up, but you know what I mean) has decided she'd rather hook up with Kirk. All this is beside the point though, as I think my mouth fell open every time she was on screen. She's utterly GORGEOUS and sparkly and lovely and…just look at her for Jaysus sake, she's amazing. Kind of a bitch, yes, but amazing.

The hair! The clothes! The FACE!

Of course, enthralling as T'Pring and her outfit were, the series had its fair share of dodgy wardrobe choices, not least those of Andrea the Android and her criss-crossed mostly-not-there bodysuit, Shahna the stern, green haired gladiator trainer in her silver nappy and the tin-foiled state of this random blonde slave girl.

Speaking of slave girls, there were also green skinned Orion Slave Girls who appeared in the original series, all bouffant hair and looking like an alien version of Goldie Hawn when she used to appear on that 1960s sketch show. They also popped up in an episode of The Next Generation, however this time around they were updated and dropping it like it's hot as if they were the Verdigris Pussycat Dolls.

In fairness to Star Trek's costume department though, the ladies weren't always nearly naked, and oftentimes their more modest outfits were properly gorgeous, such as Dr. Miranda Jones and her cool beaded dresses (one of which was displayed in the Smithsonian as part of their Star Trek exhibit), finished off with a weird but cute topknot.

Former Catwoman Lee Merriwether also lucked out when she appeared on the show as Losira in a deadly purple cutout dress and utterly awesome eye makeup that totally reminds me of sweets from the 90s like Fruit Salads and Drumsticks.

Finally, one of my favourite Star Trek looks belongs to warrior woman Nona who, apart from being ridiculously beautiful, looked astounding in black leather, bright orange fur like she's just been Muppet-hunting and a Native American style necklace, finished off with sparkles on her face. GLORIOUS.

However, for every superb costume, there's a horrendous one too. While Nona's outfit used brightly coloured fur in a tremendous way, the following picture illustrates the exact opposite of that.

Step away from the Fraggle showgirls, McCoy. Just. Step. Away.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gotham City Girls

When Eli Mordino pointed out earlier today on Twitter that the Joker in the poster for the upcoming Batman Live stage show was channeling a serious Caesar Romero vibe, it reminded me that I had been meaning to investigate Catwoman's costume for the same event. You're probably aware by now that I'm pretty gay for this particular slinky villain, what with the big rambling post I've previously written, which detailed all her different incarnations since her first appearance. So naturally, I had to know what this production went for, especially after being so very underwhelmed by the recent image of Anne Hathaway's costume from The Dark Knight Rises.

Ehh, Anne, I don't know if you realise this, but your costume is seriously lacking a pair of kitty ears and y'know, A GENERAL AIR OF AWESOMENESS.
However, I was rather glad to see that the live tour has gone for the current comic book outfit of a shiny black catsuit and a pair of feline goggles, giving the look a tiny tasty lick of steampunk.

While I was happy enough with Catwoman, I'm not quite sold on Poison Ivy's costume, in that she looks more like a vaguely garden-themed stripper rather than an alluring, albeit demented scientist/eco-terrorist with dominion over all plant life.

That being said, however nonplussed I might have been with Poison Ivy, the absolute STATE they made of Harley Quinn's costume is nothing short of disastrous. Allow me to remind you how brilliant and amazing and kickass Harley Quinn usually looks.

Now, have a look at the manky, monstrous, Pippi Longstocking-runs-away-with-the-circus atrocity they've inflicted on her for the live show:

I hate the pigtails, I hate the stupid skirt and I hate that she's not all red and black or wearing her jester hat. In essence, I've got a bag full of NO especially reserved for this thing. Just...no. NO!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Hectic Picnic

I think it's pretty safe to say that Electric Picnic is essentially a weekend of guaranteed merriment, regardless of how demented the weather has decided to be at that given point in September. Of this I am convinced, having had spectacular fun at the the wet, muddy, cold version in 2009 and the earlier ones around 2005 and 2006 where there was actual honest to God SUNSHINE for most of the weekend and I have the photos and rather hazy memories to prove it. Anyway, that's enough preamble. For this was yet another shenanigan-filled three days, which involved the following...

> Santigold taking the roof off the Electric Arena on Friday night, such was the ferociousness of her electro/superfunk set, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Her show was made all the more amazing thanks to her two backing dancers that would out-fierce Tyra herself, bopping along in perfect time with matching golden pom-poms which were soon exchanged for giant hammers, which then gave way to lassos for the part when the pantomime horse came onstage and danced to the music. Yes. A DANCING PANTOMIME HORSE. I want to live inside Santigold's head.

> The Salty Dog shipwreck stage being its usual decadent, dreamy and brilliant self, where we caught Jerry Fish and The Mudbug Club, a Cajun band I can't quite remember the name of and most importantly, the three delightful cancan dancers that frequent The Burlesque and Cabaret Social Club. Jackpot.

> Getting our disco on at the glittery, sparkly wonderfulness of Bitches With Wolves. I seriously can't get enough of this band, not to mention frontman James O'Neill's AMAZING Eighties Madonna dance moves. Eighties Madonna but miles better, in fact.

> Ambling past someone in the full bespectacled, stripey jumpered Wally outfit passed out asleep under a tree.

> The sheer joy of getting to see the very lovely and tremendously talented EleventyFour play both the Peace Pagoda and the Love Letter Stage in Body & Soul. Both of her sets seemed to attract the most random, bizarre and brilliant of happenings, what with the man dressed as a tiger raving to her sweet, funny, folksy stylings, a zombie bridal party stopping by for a listen, a conga line of people disguised as a deck of cards scampering through the audience, and that's actually only the half of it. She handled all the distractions marvellously with her witty banter and the audience most firmly on her side for the Eleventy vs Loud Drumming Bastards debacle. She's recounted the whole thing on her own site and it makes for most surreal and entertaining reading. Also, I completely missed the fact that I had been sitting near Pop Culture Monster at her gig, who I would've loved to have met properly. Next time, purple monster!

> Mr. Billy Flag distracting the drunk-ass headwrecker that kept asking us all what our favourite Bruce Springsteen song was by pointing to the middle distance and shouting "What's that over there!?" whereupon we all legged it in the opposite direction. It was the only way, there was just no getting rid of this fucker.

> Tieranniesaur stomping some amazing funk pop into the main stage of Body & Soul, with bass lines so big and delicious I wanted to eat them. The bass lines, not the band. There was also a brief appearance by frontwoman Annie Tierney's brother Mick Pyro, which was rather class.

> Discovering the genius that is Abandoman in the Comedy Tent. An improv hip-hop duo that stormed through a series of amazing on the spot songs, earning themselves three standing ovations from the delirious crowd. After that astounding performance, MCs Andrew Stanley and Damien Clarke led the audience through the first verse of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, with the entire tent taking over when they forgot the rest of the words because we all knew it by heart, obviously. David O'Doherty's meandering lo-fi whimsy followed, which was hilarious as ever and topped off what was possibly my favourite ever stint in the Picnic's Comedy Tent.

> Lords of Lightning BLOWING MY MIND entirely with their genuinely awesome lightning bolt performance as they duelled atop a giant Tesla coil each alongside the fire-breathing Arcadia stage. Yowza.

What the Jaysus fuck? Amazing, is what!

> Dancing my socks off in general, but particularly to Gordon Gano finishing out his set with Blister In The Sun, Public Enemy lashing out Don't Believe The Hype, Pulp treating us to Disco 2000 and pretty much all of Beirut, as I do love a bit of brass.

> The Brownbread Mixtape knocking it out of the park in Mindfield with their inspired comedy sketches (in particular the reconstruction of Amanda Brunker's already laughable appearance at Oxegen, punctuated with the YouTube comments from her video. There's really nothing like seeing the unnecessary rage of the YouTube commenter brought to life) the gorgeous poetry and music and the most rousing end to a performance that I've ever seen, in the shape of their alternative Irish anthem My Blood Is Boiling For Ireland. It mostly involves the crowd shouting "Ireland! Ireland! Ireland, FUCKIN' IRELAND" and a fantastic call and response bit as Gaeilge. Go h-ana funky ar fad.

All told, it was a typically fantastic Electric Picnic weekend...'till next year, Stradbally!