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killjoy

Popular culture from a different perspective

ÂŁ3.20

in defence of skyler white

hope, faith and pride

erm, what glass ceiling?

anarchist

the rise of the female

hunter valentine

issue one | may 2013 | the power issue

an evening with

stars of the real l word hunter valentine chat to us about new album collide and conquer


c o n t en ts Image credit: PlanetArt Foter

Erm, what glass ceiling? Statistically, more women than men are the family’s main breadwinner in the UK for the first time ever. But what does this mean for the future of business in Britain?

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An evening with Hunter Valentine The Real L Word stars chat to us about their time of The Real L Word, their hectic tour schedule and their new album Collide and Conquer

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The rise of the female anarchist Anarchism gets a rough deal, but why? KJ investigates.

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In defence of Skyler White Hope, Faith & Pride

Breaking Bad’s unwilling TV wife wife gets a lot of unneccesary hate, we think. See our piece to find out why

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London Pride last year was a disaster. KJ speaks to this year’s new Chair, Michael Salter, on why this year will be different

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popular culture from a different perspective |


killjoy | hello

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letter from the editor ello and welcome to the first issue of Killjoy Magazine! You may be wondering about the name. A killjoy, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is a person who deliberately spoils the enjoyment of others through resentful or overly sober behaviour. So I'm thinking, the asshole who calls the police while you're having a party or the peråson who looks at you in a horrified fashion after watching you eat several doughnuts in quick succession. However, despite continually living my life by the seat of my pants, eating copious amounts of pastries in an impressively rapid fashion and always paying homage to fancy dress themed events at LEAST, I personally have still been branded a killjoy. And I bet you have too. Because according to my personal experience, a killjoy is actually a woman who doesn't want to walk down the street with an inane grin on her face. Or doesn't find sexist jokes very funny. Or who questions whether or not it's really a good idea to stick a woman with her boobs out in a national newspaper “just for the lads.” So if this sound familiar, then this mag is for you. I don't think that calling people out on their behaviour should be a bad thing, so we might as well reclaim that word for ourselves. This first issue is based around the theme of POWER and comments on a number of ways in which women are fighting back today. I question whether Skyler White, one of TVs most infamous supposed killjoys, is really a bitch or whether the decision she made to leave her murderous kingpin husband is actually, really,

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quite reasonable. There's also an article questioning whether there is a place for anarchism in today's society and one celebrating the progress that women have made in fighting for equality in the workplace. We also speak to the Chair of this year's London Pride on page 10, where he assures us that this year's celebration is going to be much better. Finally, there's also an interview with The Real L Word stars Hunter Valentine on page 12, who are currently in the UK at the moment promoting their new record Collide and Conquer. So all good stuff, I can assure you. I hope you enjoy the first issue!

Charley

thanks a lot Images Wikimedia, sxc.hu, veer.com, PlanetArt Fotos, AMC, image.net, Hunter Valentine

Editorial Michael Salter, Peter Tatchell, AFED, The Solent Feminist Network, Hunter Valentine, Kelly Perryman, David Inglis, Joanne Dewberry

Special thanks to Ron and Rachel for helping me get this project together!

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Erm, what glass Men have always been the dominant sex, and in many ways they still are. At the end of 2012, just two of the FTSE 100 businesses in the UK had a female CEO and the Fawcett Society in London published reports claiming that on average, women in Britain still make around 15% less than a man does for the same job.

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owever, the times are changing, and despite these lingering reminders of times gone by, slowly but surely, women are catching up with men. Women in Britain now hold half of the nation's jobs, while girls are steadily outperforming boys in nearly every subject at school. Women dominate universities on every continent on the planet except Africa, and more than a third of mothers in the UK and the US are the family's main breadwinner. Evidence has suggested that this recent boom in women at work is due to the fact that traditionally masculine fields are being wiped out. Machines now carry out most of the work that once needed a man, and men have struggled to come to terms with a world where traditionally female traits such as friendliness, openness and ability to communicate well with others are valued in business over brawn. This has left women able to move forward and excel at the opportunities newly available to them, while the men fall behind. So, clearly women are – as we always knew – more than capable of excelling in a competitive work environment and it looks like having a set of skills that comes more naturally to women could even be a necessity to get somewhere in business today. Says Joanne Dewberry, a 31-year-old business expert from Dorset: “I think woman have this desire to help people without thinking about it. “When I meet a new business owner for the first time I always give lots of advice, purely because I like helping people. I don't keep events and contacts close to my chest, I like to share the wealth and see others achieving through my help.” Joanne's comments are backed up by age-year-old full time stay at home dad, David Inglis, from Scotland. He says that keeping an open mind and assessing each situation on its own merits, rather than what's traditional, helps more than address a gender

imbalance at work; it can help to improve your relationship as well. He and his wife came to a mutual agreement that it would be best for David to stay at home while she remained at work after the birth of their daughter. “Before we had our daughter we both agreed we did not want our child to be in full time nursery. This led us to decide one of us would go part time at work. My job naturally lent itself to part time

"I think men are generally less worried about being direct and asking for a promotion or a pay rise. Women tend to be less direct and feel awkward asking important questions like that. It's a shame, it's the only way to make your voice heard."

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work whereas my wife's did not. My job security was also less than my wife's and there were fewer opportunities for me to move jobs if required. She also loves her job, I did not.” He says: “We have an excellent relationship. We have always communicated and shared. There is no "yours" and "mine" which is essential in my opinion. Now I have become a full time stay at home dad, it has improved our relationship even more. I'm happier for a start and I get to spend much more time with my wife than I did when I worked full time.” He says he has faced no adverse reactions from anyone as a result of this, but people still question why his wife didn't give up work after the pregnancy. “My wife has been seen by some as being career driven and not maternal. This couldn't be further from

popular culture from a different perspective |


killjoy | feature

Image credit: veer.com

ceiling? the truth. Her job and skills simply create better opportunities which in turn help the whole family. She really enjoys her job and can relax knowing our child is safe with me.” This is a common issue faced by women who have had a baby but want to go back to work. Joanne says, “Mummy guilt is one of the biggest business killers! I learnt a very long time ago that being a mum in business means you do sometimes have to have tunnel vision. You can't stop and look at what others are doing, how fast they are growing, what awards they have won et cetera; work life balance is a routine and structure that will differ for everyone.” She advises that in order for women to get ahead in business, they have to have more confidence in their own talents and convictions. “Just do it! We woman are very good at thinking and dreaming but not always the best at putting things into action. Build yourself a supportive business networking community. That should provide you with a good degree of support, guidance and wine!” Kelly Perryman, a senior PBR engineer from Milton Keynes agrees that if women had the confidence to speak up more at work they would be surprised at the results. After working at her current place of employment for 14 and a half years, she recently asked her employer for a promotion and received one. “I don't think I would have been promoted if I hadn't prompted them for it,” she says. “I think men are generally less worried about being direct and asking for a promotion or a pay rise. Women tend to be less direct and feel awkward asking important questions like that. It's a shame – it's the only way to make your voice heard.” There's still a little way to go before women can enjoy the same percentage of top level positions as men do, but if we keep advancing at this rate, soon enough the imbalance at the top should start to even out. In order to reach a senior executive level in business it takes years and years. As in previous generations women could only progress past a certain point, there simply wouldn't be enough women with the right credentials to carry out these jobs at the moment, but attitudes are changing rapidly. “I've only encountered one person who tried to hold me back in my career due to me being female,” finishes Kelly. “Although nothing was said directly, he made career progression and access to further education more difficult for me that for my male colleagues. Despite this, I don't think it's more difficult being a woman in business than a man. It's only as difficult as you make it.”

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THE RISE OF ANAR CHIST A

narchism has always been considered a man’s game, but since the first stirrings of the feminist movement, women have been prepared to organise and fight for what they believe in. And like with all movements, there have always been discrepancies between how people think these battles should be fought.

First in the fight for women’s rights, there came the Suffragists. A peaceful organisation, Suffragists lobbied calmly and diligently, working hard to change public opinion from within. “Women bring all voters into the world!” they argued on Suffragist posters. “Give women the right to vote.” A sensible argument, but a counter argument was just as easily proposed, with anti-feminist banners of the time urging people to “Vote no on Amendment 9: The ballot will secure a woman no right that she needs and does not possess.” So, maybe time for Plan B. Plan B was a lot more extreme. Emily Davidson even went so far as to throw herself under the King’s horse during the 1913 Epsom Derby. Suffragettes, tired of the Government going back on promises, opted for the far less subtle methods of breaking windows, spitting in policemen’s faces and carrying out extreme starvation protests in jail to get their point across. And in the end, women did get the vote. But whose argument fared better in the grand scheme of things? Was it the Suffragists with their tireless lobbying, or was it the gutsy Suffragettes – enduring torture in jail and such as in the case of Emily Davidson, even going so far as to give over their entire life for the cause? If we think back to those times now, it’s the anecdotes about Suffragettes we remember, not the work of the equally

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popular culture from a different perspective |

Image credit: PlanetArt Foter


killjoy | feature

THE FEMALE Inna Shevchenko, FEMEN founder

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“Of course I don’t think Pussy Riot should have been jailed as an anarchist I oppose the prison system. I can’t imagine a sane society locking people up the way we do all over the world, which certainly includes the way we do here in the UK as well.” dedicated Suffragists. But, as evidenced by the London Riots a couple of years ago, people aren’t such a fan of oppressed groups smashing things up in frustration. The continuing dedication of all activists has meant that there have been more advancements for equality than those in the 19th century could ever have hoped for, but popular support for anarchism is still not something we see. Regardless, there is still work to be done, and where there is still work to be done, there will always be those who work peacefully and those who prefer war. When Pussy Riot attempted to play their protest song “Punk Prayer – Mother Of God, Chase Putin Away!” in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, the outcome shocked the world. The protest, which lasted less than one minute in total, left two of the five members jailed in a two year sentence in brutal Russian work camps. While public opinion was that a jail sentence was extreme, the two remain in custody where their work involves sewing uniforms for Russian officials for up to ten hours a day. A member of AFED – the Anarchist Federation in the UK – who wishes to be known only as Sophie agrees that their punishment was harsh. “Of course I don’t think Pussy Riot should have been jailed – as an anarchist I oppose the prison system. I can’t imagine a sane society locking people up the way they do all over the world, which certainly includes the way we do here in the UK as well.” But with places as socially conservative as Russia, it’s somewhat a given that peaceful protests aren’t going to work. Russia has banned Pride parades for 100 years. They are clearly serious about upholding traditional values. So a different, more drastic approach is surely needed.

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Cue FEMEN, a radical feminist group from Ukraine who conduct all of their demonstrations topless. They have been in the headlines a fair bit recently, garnering mixed reviews from the public. In November they protested at a Parisian anti-gay marriage lobby by spraying the protesters with white liquid and referring to it as “Jesus’ semen” and last month they staged a “Topless Jihad,” in solidarity with Tunisian student and fellow FEMEN activist Amina Tyler. Tyler inspired a media frenzy when she posted a topless photo on Facebook with the phrase “My Body Belongs To Me and Is Not The Source Of Anybody’s Honour” painted down her side. As a result, she now faces a prison charge and has admitted to the press that she fears for her life, claiming that she must leave Tunisia, or else. FEMEN’s controversial tactics have won them a little success in their native Ukraine with regards to equality for women, but they are battling others than just the patriarchy – many women in many feminist groups have also spoken out against the group’s controversial tactics. “I don’t think that the ‘anarcha-feminist’ groups are harmful, but some of the tactics that groups such as FEMEN deploy may not be helpful to the feminist cause,” says Charlie Dacke, a 34-year-old member of the Solent Feminist Network. “By carrying out topless actions, Femen are using tactics that do not challenge the status quo, where women are objectified and pornified under patriarchy. Granted, they get media coverage for their actions, but then nothing further is achieved as a result of their actions, only voyeuristic images in newspapers.” Additionally, many Muslim women spoke out against FEMEN’s topless jihad. “Nudity DOES NOT liberate me and I DO NOT need

popular culture from a different perspective |


killjoy | feature

All images credit: image.net

“In terms of tactics, direct action gets the goods. Let’s not let our drive and anger and passion get sidelined into ineffective A to B marches that don’t even stop traffic. We need to make society ungovernable until we get what we need.” saving,” reads a protest sign posted on Twitter by a Muslim woman in a hijab. Others have commented on the fact that the majority of FEMEN’s members are not Muslim and therefore shouldn’t speak for the Muslim population. But FEMEN think otherwise. “We quickly realised that if we took our tops off and screamed loudly it was a good way to get attention,” founder Alexandra Shevchenko said once, in an interview with The Guardian. “It works. Of course, people talk about our nakedness, but they are also listening to our message.” Which is entirely the point: FEMEN aren’t trying to liberate Muslims from traditional dress or trying to get them naked. They’re trying to provoke a response to an issue they have through the medium of disruptive anarchism. The discussion is, or at least needs to be, not whether women should protest topless or not, but what to do about patriarchal religious institutions that treat women badly. Sentencing a woman to death for posting a picture of boobs on the internet is pretty awful and not something you have to be a Muslim to agree with. The fact that some Muslims are perfectly happy to live within these confines, frankly does not negate the issue. Anarchist groups such as FEMEN inspire discourse. If radicals never made a fuss about anything, it is certain that progress towards equality would be considerably slower than it has been. As was previously mentioned, the Suffragists carried out vast amounts of protests but really, it was only the drastic actions Suffragettes carried out that made headlines. Charlie says, “New women are coming forward to fight prejudice as a result of the Pussy Riot actions, but whether these women will feel confident enough to take direct or radical action remains to be seen. Direct action is extremely important in achieving results.

Saying that, it should be non-violent and not put anybody’s life or health at risk.” Sophie takes a different approach: “I think it’s important to distinguish between violence against property and violence against people. I personally think a variety of tactics are necessary to oppose the overtly violent power of the capitalist state, where policemen can beat and shoot and kill us without consequence and whose justice system imprisons people for years for ill-advised Facebook posts. “In terms of tactics, direct action gets the goods. Let’s not let our drive and anger and passion get sidelined into ineffective A to B marches that don’t even stop traffic. We need to make society ungovernable until we get what we need.” So I think we need to give anarchist groups more support. We might not all agree on the method, but we can all agree that some things require fighting for. A range of people fighting from different places and different perspectives can only help the cause and broaden our understanding of why we are fighting in the first place. Sophie finishes by saying, “Our fight for feminism is stronger when all women are included. I’m an anarchist, so unsurprisingly I think we all gain in confidence, competence and consciousness when we organise non-hierarchically, which is something I look for in feminist organisations just like in any other.” Regardless of popular support, anarchist groups have always existed as a means of resistance. As long as there is unrest, there will always be anarchist groups. Maybe they won’t ever enjoy popular support from society and we might roll our eyes a bit when they make headlines, but they will always be making sure that they keep important social and political issues in the forefront of our minds, by whatever means possible.

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| may 2013

Hope, Faith and Pride

London Pride 2012. Image credit: Wikimedia

Last year London hosted WorldPride, an event held every two years by the chosen city to celebrate how far we've come for equality globally. Unfortunately, due to a list of cock ups as long as your arm and serious budgeting issues, what should have been a weekend of celebration ended up being a complete disaster. The time of the parade was changed without any warning and due to last minute budgeting issues, floats were disallowed so as to save £100,000 in marshalling costs. Despite this, many companies and charities had already forked out considerable expense to get their floats ready and weren't impressed that they had to scrap them. umoured names for headline acts that were circulating earlier in the year – namely Beth Ditto and Annie Lennox – never came into fruition, which meant that a couple of performers that 2014's WorldPride organisers in Toronto flew in as support slots (Canadian songstress Deborah Cox and 80s pop star Corey Hart) ended up as headliners. Erm, who? Lastly, none of the roads were closed, as is usual with Pride events and many bars in Soho were told that if they tried to organise anything in the streets they could have their licenses taken away. So in the end, this supposedly huge celebration of equality for all throughout the world was reduced to a few people meandering through Soho at a time that most people weren't aware of and a one million strong crowd left dancing to Canadian singers that, as

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Brits, they were unfamiliar with. Disappointing, to say the least. Official WorldPride statements indicate that the funding problems were the main cause of last year's failure, but why? London Pride is the city's third largest event after the New Year fireworks and Notting Hill Carnival – why was it such a struggle to fund a decent event, and will this year be any different? Michael Salter, official advisor of LGBT issues to the Tory party and senior PR and broadcasting strategist to David Cameron is this year's Chair of Pride. Working with a different organisation, he is committed to making this year better. “London Community Pride (LCP) is a very different organisation to Pride London Limited. LCP is a not for profit Community Interest Company which has been set up solely to organise Pride in London and put any profit we make

popular culture from a different perspective |


killjoy | feature back into our Pride event.” So, much more promising, but the organisers still need help getting the funds together. “Running one of the biggest annual events in London doesn't come cheap; we still need to raise over £400,000 to stage a good event. Put simply, the more money we raise the better the event will be.” It seems like LCP might be in the same boat as last year, and it's leading some to believe that a lack of Governmental funding and support is a considerable factor in the downfall of recent Prides. Boris Johnson didn't even attend last year; a move which upset a lot of Londoners. “There were failings by the Pride organisers but these were compounded by the Mayor of London's office, which unilaterally demanded at the last minute that the Pride march started two hours early,” says Peter Tatchell, who has been a prominent gay rights activist and political campaigner for over 20 years. “The Mayor's officials also turned down several funding proposals by gay businesses which may have rescued Pride.” Tatchell continues, “I have no idea why Boris Johnson didn't show up last year, but it was an insult to LGBT Londoners. I hope he'll make amends this year by marching with us.” It should be different this year. Salter explains: “The Mayor of London is providing £500,000 over five years to support Pride. They have agreed to front-load the funding providing £150,000 in 2013. There are a couple of practical reasons why raising money is a challenge this year. Firstly, the very short timescales – most companies set budgets for sponsorship and marketing way back in 2012. Secondly, several companies had their fingers burnt with WorldPride and Pride London Limited. We are addressing all of these issues.” So the Government appears to be learning from their mistakes and everyone else is determined to help rectify the situation, too. Salter says, “Without getting too emotional, I have been really impressed by how so many people have come together to work on Pride. People from such varied backgrounds are giving so much of

Image credit: Wikimedia one priority is to ensure that the march goes ahead. It is the heart and soul of Pride. It's what Pride is all about: celebrating and affirming LGBT culture and human rights.” Sure enough, plans for Pride are going ahead. “I also hope to see tens of thousands of LGBT+ people taking part in the Parade, safely!” says Salter. “When you realise that only two events a year

“There’s still much to campaign for such as more sensitive care for the elderly, and issues to tackle like bullying in schools, but there’s a lot to celebrate. That’s why Pride is important.” - Michael Salter

their free time to create the event. It’s been wonderful to see how our community cares and wants to make Pride great again.” So, fingers crossed, we can expect much better things for this year's Pride. “The theme will be 'Love and Marriage' in recognition of the Equal Marriage Bill going through Parliament. I hope it will bring us together in one eclectic, diverse group where by sheer volume of numbers we make a point about our community. It should also raise money for LGBT+ organisations – any surplus made by Pride in London can only be used to support the event in future years or given in grants to good causes – that could be anything from a large charity to a sports team that requires a new kit. “ The theme this year is something that Tatchell is happy with, too. “ I've always argued that every year Pride should have a specific human rights theme, like Marriage Equality. It has to be more than a party. Politics plus fun is the ideal combination.“ And despite there still being a considerable amount left to fund, Tatchell is confident the event can go ahead. “A Pride march promoted as a demonstration for LGBT equality costs nothing. You just get police permission seven days in advance and then march. We don't need floats and all the other expensive stuff; the number

close Europe’s busiest shopping street to traffic – the Oxford Street Traffic Free Shopping Day and Pride – it makes you realise how significant the event is. I am looking forward to delivering a safe and fun Pride that restores confidence in the event and will be able to show potential backers why they should be involved.” So hopefully the event this year is in much better hands, with a Chair who understands the significance of an event like this in London – a place where events don't usually disappoint. Salter finishes by saying, “My belief in the importance of Pride was re-awoken when I went to EuroPride in Warsaw and saw people marching against a backdrop of hostility. “Stones, eggs and even a Molotov cocktail were thrown at the marchers, but that didn’t put them off and as the parade moved through Warsaw, its numbers swelled. I was reminded of how important it is for the LGBT+ community to act together and be seen en masse. There’s still much to campaign for such as more sensitive care for the elderly, and issues to tackle like bullying in schools, but there’s a lot to celebrate. That’s why Pride is important.” London Community Pride is to be held from the 25th - 30th of June. To make a donation visit http://londoncommunitypride.org

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| may 2013

killjoy | profile

an evening with

hunter

valentine Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, pop-rock band Hunter Valentine are a pretty genuine bunch. The group are currently in the UK in support of their new album, Collide and Conquer, which is out in the UK this month. We catch up with Kiyomi and Laura, who also starred in America’s The Real L Word, to chat about their experiences on the road, on TV, their new line up and their plans for the future.

All Hunter Valentine images credit Warner Music Group

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unter Valentine are sound checking for the first night of their UK tour in support of their second full length album, Collide and Conquer, which was released in the UK two weeks ago. Things today, however, haven’t gone so smoothly. “Our keyboard hasn’t arrived yet,” says Aimee Bessada, tugging at her hair exasperatedly and signalling to the sound technician. “Do you have a keyboard stand we could borrow?” For those of you who watched America’s reality TV spin off of The L Word, simply named The Real L Word, you might not be surprised that the keyboard has gone awol. The show, which followed the band’s trials, tribulations and successes as they toured the US, allowed viewers a peek into a world not usually documented on reality TV. It showed us that behind the screw faces, the painstakingly applied liquid eyeliner and the back-toback shows every night is a lot of hard graft, quick decisions and most importantly, compromise. If you’re a sucker for reality TV like I am then you will be aware of some of these compromises. The band, which now consists of original members Kiyomi McCloskey and Laura Petracca and new members Aimee “Sprinkles” Bessada and Leanne Bowes has been through its fair share of upheaval lately. First there was the very public break up with ex-keyboardist Somer Bingham, as documented on the show. Then, after the The Real L Word finished airing, longtime bass player Vero Sanchez also made the decision to leave in order to pursue a solo career. “We were all very sad to see Vero go,” says Kiyomi when she, Laura and I sit down finally, an hour after scheduled. “It’s hard to see band members leave but, you know, not everyone can do this crazy lifestyle. You’re away from your loved ones and it’s really demanding, so sometimes you have to let people go off and do their own thing. It’s tough.” It must be. The band play an average of 200 tour dates a year and the UK leg of their current tour is fully sold out. Kiyomi assures me, however, that relations between the band are doing well. “We

| popular culture from a different perspective

really needed to have Sprinkles join us. We were three piece for a very long time and we’ve always aspired to have a fourth member to bring the sound in; we want to be able to play all of the parts that are on the album live. We love her too, we’ve known her for a few years from back in Toronto so it’s like having a little sister in the band. We’re all very close now.” It’s good to hear, as the first few episodes of the show were fraught with tension for the band; most notably the relationship that Kiyomi shared with the keyboardist at the time, Somer Bingham. “In the beginning when the show was airing they sort of villain-ised my ‘character,’” she says. “They sort of made me look like a crazy asshole dictator. It’s fine, I’m sure I was a really big jerk at some points, but they really focused on it. There was a lot of negative feedback. “Somer and I were very good friends and the show sort of interfered with that. I do miss Somer and I hope to reconnect with her soon. We are not on bad terms and do have plans to meet up when I am back at some point.” That’s the thing with reality TV – whether you like to admit it or not, part of the draw is the fact that the characters, who generally have no real talents as such to document, are a bit OTT – the producers find the oddest people they can to thrust in front of the camera and the audience loves to hate them. At the end of the day, however, it’s generally assumed that the fights and the drama are, as they say, created for entertainment purposes. Not so with Hunter Valentine. “It’s different to have a band on a show like that, because normally every storyline is so focused on individuals. Shows like that are always looking for integration because they cast all these people who aren’t normally friends,” continues Kiyomi. “Well, here’s three or four people and all their individual worlds and they’re all already integrated.” Which means the drama is already there. The arguments felt a lot more intense to the point where it almost felt voyeuristic to

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“I think it’s important to live your life freely and not hide who you are. You are not truly living if you are not being yourself. I am very proud with where we are and what we have accomplished. It’s all about growth for us; we want to play to as many people and in as many places as possible.”

watch at times. Kiyomi laughs. “Once we went out on tour it was funny, because we stay and sign and talk to the fans for about two hours usually and people who learned about the band from the show were like, you’re actually not horrible! You’re a really nice person! I was like, that’s kind of a weird compliment, but thanks!” Despite this, they agree that going on the show was a positive move. “I’d definitely do it again. The positives outweigh the negatives,” says Kiyomi. “It takes like a day and a half to get used to it,” follows Laura. “Well, at least for me it did. But eventually it became so much fun. We used to joke around, saying these people keep following us! That black van has been in every city in every state!” But they admit that they didn’t watch the show before they agreed to be on it. “The producers approached us. I don’t think that there are a lot of people that already have careers that have that drive of wanting to be on a television show,” says Kiyomi. “I think there are a lot of people that just want to be on TV and their afterthought is what they’re gonna do after being on TV. Oh, I want a tanning lotion! I want a clothing line! I want a night club! “But we’ve been a band for a while and we’ve got a pretty strong online presence at this point, so word gets out. They were looking for a musical artist and they found a band so they struck gold! Once we found out we were on the show we did watch it, though.” “Well, we’d already been on it in the first season!” interjects Laura. “We were randomly in a bar drinking and we could see the cameras filming.” “I was like, what show do you think that is?” says Kiyomi, “and Laura said Oh, that’s that real estate chick from that real estate show! Then six months later we were watching television and you could see her swaying there in the back, photobombing a reality show that she would end up being on two years later.” But for now, the band are focusing on their new album and their hectic tour schedule. “I think the last album had a lot more really straight up hard driving rock songs and on this one there’s a wider range. In our old days we weren’t afraid to embrace a good ballad! One this one there’s been a couple of pop songs and, you know, we show a lot more of our soft side on this one.” Laura agrees. “Yeah, I think so too with regards to diversity; there’s also a bit of a dance song, sorta. Well, for us!” “Our version of a dance song,” finishes Kiyomi, laughing. It’s clearly paid off, as the album has received great reviews from critics and fans alike. “The fans have been super supportive and great. We love playing this album live, it’s really been a great experience so far. I’ve really enjoy playing Crying.” Says Laura: “I’ve noticed that there’s been a variety of people that come to our shows now. Of course we’ve always been lucky to have the support of the queer community but I’ve noticed that we do have more couples coming out or gentleman that are straight and it’s great, I love it.” Kiyomi nods in agreement. “Yeah, we have a pretty diverse crowd. If you look at it quickly, it looks like a lot of ladies, I’m

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- Kiyomi McCloskey sure, but I think it’s grown in a new direction since the show.” And they’re quick to point out that they don’t want to be pigeonholed as a lesbian band. “I don’t think that any musician wants to be pigeonholed. As a musician, your main objective should be to play to as many people as possible. You don’t want to cut off your audience. Again, we’ve always been so grateful for the support in the queer community but we’re always looking to play to as many people as possible.” They are succeeding in doing so, too. “This would have been better,” says Kiyomi, dryly, on arrival at the venue, which also houses a considerably larger room downstairs. “Because we haven’t been to the UK for about five years, the team were terrified nobody would come and they booked quite small venues. All the London shows sold out in one day.” It’s fair to say that this band work incredibly hard. After the tour of Europe is over the band are right back to the US to keep going. “We’re going on tour with Cyndi Lauper in the US and we’re going to Japan to play Summer Sonic Festival with crazy bands like MUSE and Metallica,” says Laura, excitedly. “Then we have just a couple of one offs, like a few festivals and pool parties.” Pool parties, of course. “We just want to really, really push and promote Collide And Conquer. We’re really proud of this record so we just want it to do well,” concludes Kiyomi. Later on that night at the venue, it’s clear to see that their management didn’t need to worry about the turnout. The room is packed and the atmosphere is one of excitement. Any issues with sound that may have occurred earlier are long forgotten and Kiyomi commands the attention of the audience, which does contain a surprising number of blokes, with her blend of snarling vocals and angry guitar hooks. The addition of an extra member has definitely paid off; the set is tight, well polished and clearly rehearsed. The slower songs from the new album are scrapped in favour of older, more solid rock hits, such as Revenge. The result is an extremely high energy affair complete with crowd surfing, screaming and lots of sweat. Kiyomi grabs a beer from somewhere, finishes it in about twenty seconds and bids London a good night.

Collide and Conquer by Hunter Valentine is out now, available online and in stores. popular culture from a different perspective |


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| may 2013

In defence of

Skyler Take Lori from The Walking Dead. Both she and Skyler are continually placed under intense stress; either by threat of death by zombie attack, or threat of death by dangerous drug lord. Many fans felt Lori “got what she deserved,” when she died during childbirth, and a lot of Breaking Bad fans routinely voice that they wish Skyler would die. “Lori is every horrible aspect of a woman a man could conjure up. I mean the dudes that wrote the Bible would applaud how much she sets her gender back,” argues one commenter on a Walking Dead forum. And it’s true; Lori did make a startling array of ridiculous choices. Much as most of the barbs aimed at Lori did attack her on the basis of her gender, in the end, it was her actions that made her unlikeable. Plus, it’s hard to ignore the gender issue when she opted to stay at home folding clothes instead of going out and fighting zombies. But Skyler’s case is a lot less black and white. Lori played the two men she’d had relationships with against each other, using the power she held over both of them as a result of their romantic relationships as a tool. But in the end, she was still ultimately dissatisfied with the outcome she herself promoted as ideal, which frustrated viewers. Skyler, essentially, has never held the power in hers and Walt’s relationship: he’s used physical violence against her before and his warped attitude towards murder is terrifying. “I’m relieved, Walt. And scared,” she says, after Walt admits to killing drug lord Fring. “Scared of what?” replies Walt, convinced that with Fring gone, the threat to the family is removed. “You.” Skyler is desperately trying to make sense of a situation in which she has no choice but to pick the lesser of two evils. Trying to extricate herself from the situation completely has failed – Walt refused to sign divorce papers or even move out of the house. As such she has no choice but to remain complicit in order to shield her children from the truth about their father, despite not being overjoyed about him being a murderous meth cook. So, inevitably, turning on the character who retains the moral high ground is redundant; in the end, it’s Skyler’s reticence about the situation that shows us the truth about Walt. If you extricate yourself from the emotions behind his situation, Walt is a delusional, dangerous man. Skyler reveals that there really isn’t much of Walt left that we can root for when he is so far removed from the man in season one who hit back against cancer with a pork pie hat and an undeniable love of chemistry. Quite frankly, I think Skyler deserves a break. Skyler is not a bitch; she is simply a woman doing what she needs to do to survive, over and over again. Time will tell whether she will stick by Walt until the end, but I would bet that whatever happens, she’ll come up with an escape plan. As she says herself: someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.

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popular culture from a different perspective |

Image credit: AMC

Breaking Bad’s long-suffering Skyler White is unlike so many other TV wives: She is complex, emotional and completely integral to the story. She holds the key to ensuring either Walt’s survival or his downfall, and without her he would almost certainly be imprisoned. But on the other hand, and just like so many others before her, she is still distinctly unpopular amongst fans.


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