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Editor's letter By
Dear reader, Welcome to the first issue of GEEKED magazine. Let me take this moment to take you on a journey through the makings of this project. As an avid feminist with a background in filmmaking and multi media arts, I’ve come to realize that all around me amongst my friends, co-workers, and fellow artists there are brilliant minds cultivating their own inspiring projects. Oh, to combine such talents, I thought! After a rather emboldening chat with a few friends I decided to weave together their contributions and musings and so I created We Geeked This blog. This was meant to work as a platform to explore the groundbreaking ways in which women create through collaboration. Although great articles started coming my way, I never felt like the blog was getting as much buzz as it deserved, well I admit that to be fair I was never the best of bloggers, I love colours, images, montages etc but I’ve always felt a bit constrained by the limits of a computer screen. So this year I’ve decided to revive the project by making it into a magazine, YES, in printed-paper, YES, what a fantastic achievement that would be. I started by approaching friends, who talked to their friends, who talked to their other friends and so on… and realized that there was a lot of interest in the project and that it could become something rather interesting and complex. Social media in hand, I went for it and the result was… well an absolutely amazing number of fantastic submissions from artists and writers from all over the world. The one thing I was determined to do this time was to try to dislodge negative preconceptions associated with the word feminist. To be a feminist doesn’t mean a hatred of men; it is not a static, universal ideology; indeed, to be a feminist one does not even need to be a woman. Thus, I sought to work with women and men who support gender equality, and who are invested in the fight for a diverse, yet fair human community. For this I would need some help, it was too big a project for just one tiny person, and so I contacted one of the most passionate, enthusiastic feminists I have had the pleasure to meet, Samantha Langsdale. Not only was she interested in taking part, she also came up with many ideas and contacted a lot of people to get involved and so my project became our project. Together, and with some help from our brilliantly-minded friends, we came up with the magazine you are now holding. The materialization of this dream was only possible because of the help from everyone who backed us through Kickstarter, be they friends, family or people who are just interested in supporting projects like this one. Through our varied feminist perspectives, we explore subjects such as art, fashion, gender, music, architecture, travel and food. By distributing the mag through London, and online for the rest of the world, we hope to open doors for all the amazing writers and artists who make up GEEKED. We hope GEEKED will become your project too. Enjoy…
FEATURES EDITOR’S LETTER _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ TRAVEL/ARCHITECTURE West Coast Represent! San Francisco to San Diego in 5 days _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Roof Gardens _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Street Politics _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ COVER Moran Mania _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ART Andrea Mary Marshall _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Jessica Voorsanger _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ FASHION Up and Comer: Jess Hawke _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ London Fashion Feature: Lazy Oaf _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Street Fashion _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ PERFORMING ARTS Views on Burlesque _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ MUSIC Jess Barr _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sue Denim _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ FILM Lena Dunham _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tiny Furniture _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ GRAPHIC NOVELS Nightbus _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Karrie Fransman Talks Comics _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A Foreign Species_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ FLASH FICTION Porn is like Pot Noodle _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ CyberCandy _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ FEMINIST CITY London Rollergirls _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A WORD FROM THE Y Women in Kitchens: On the importance of gendered knowledge and spaces FOOD Libyan Stuffed Vegetables _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake with a Pecan Streusel Topping _ _ _ _ Winter Lasagne with Rosemary and Thyme Cashew “Cheese” _ _ _ _ _ _ Food Rules Zine _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Restaurant Review: Wahaca _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ CONTRIBUTORS BIOS _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
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WEST- COAST REPRESENT!
SAN FRANCISCO TO SAN DIEGO IN 5 DAYS by Sofia Hericson
I must admit, I’m an East Coast kind of gal myself. The New York skyline and vibrant lifestyle makes
me long for it anytime I have to get on the plane home. But the hippie, sun-lover, beachdreamer in me took me to live a dream I had for many years - to go to San Francisco. I was in California once, when on the spur of the moment and having only been in L.A. for one night, me and my now husband, decided to elope to Las Vegas. It was great, but California without San Francisco is like ice cream without the scoops on top of the cone. So, on a very tight budget we decided to treat ourselves with a magnificent trip to the Golden Coast, and do it all in just 5 days. My preparations were easy: I read a couple of guides to choose where to stop on the way and, of course, On The Road. My trip wasn’t as eventful and adventurous as Kerouac’s, but it was a pretty special one indeed. We started by staying in Frisco for 3 nights, and there is just no city like it. People are incredibly nice, the vibe peaceful and inclusive, and finding food for a nerdy food-intolerant was as easy as finding sand on a beach. Right there in Haight-Ashbury, our long-awaited trip was like a trip back in time to the Summer of Love. I walked amongst fellow music lovers, smiled at the indifference to social standards, and got all emotional as I stood in front of Janis Joplin’s former residence. Then we went down to Carmel, where the houses look just like Disney film cottages, and down to Big Sur, a dreamy landscape where mountains meet the sea. We stopped at pretty much every beach from Santa Barbara to Long Beach and finished off by having an old west Mexican experience down in Old Town San Diego. All in all a holiday to remember... 05
Steep SAN FRANCISCO street
tion generahts t a e Lig s b Famoukshop CityISCO o bo N FRANC SA
Haight and Ashbury SAN FRANCISCO
shbury Haight and A CO SAN FRANCIS 06
Food Mar SAN FRAN ket CISC O
Surf rules in CA
er form N s ' A lin Jop SAN FR s i n Ja dence resi
Food Market SAN FRANCISCO
Disney li ke hous es CARMEL
Julia Pfeiffer Waterfalls BIG SUR
s meet the sea BIG SU R
Surfer in LONG BE ACH
Corn Dogs in NEWPORT BEACH
own Old T EGO DI SAN
Old Town SAN DIEGO 07
Roof Gardens Text and photography by Ashley Middleton
New York based photographer, Ashley Middleton, was asked to capture the
rooftops of New York and write a piece in response to what she had seen. New York has always been remembered for its sky-high buildings but what seems to be more fascinating is its inhabitant’s response and use of such height-specific spaces. The city’s green spaces are not only found in parks but also on the rooftops of NYC. Photographing the roof gardens in NYC was an unexpected sensuous delight. The assignment transformed my concrete jungle from an everyday stoic architectural assumption into a vibrant reconstruction of urban nature. Prior experiences to this enlightenment had rarely aligned themselves with ‘mother nature’. The way I thought about and felt the city was purely dependent on my knowledge of economic survival (get up, go to work, go home, dream about owning a puppy, eat food, bed). In the discovery of mother earth, as a citizen of the urban, I noticed that I had been lacking an essential element in human activity. My connection to plant life had been lost and after eight years in New York City, I finally found it in the skies of Soho. Through a constant battle with time and money, I had formed a limited awareness of the life around me, constructing daily routines that had disconnected me from my roots, and in turn, myself. Walking through Soho made me wonder how
many people might have also been through this experience and are now working hard to nurture nature in their everyday lifestyle (and also how many tried, and failed horribly). In my optic adventure I realized that my city had never actually been suppressing nature but forever within it. I had this misconception that nature was on the ground. Growing vertically and submerged in dirt. When I stepped outside of my limiting perceptions, and everyday habits, I noticed a different world where Mother Nature and Human Nature were not divided, but rather, threaded together in the urban fabric of my city. I had been looking at the ground for so long, that I neglected my sense of sight, and obstructed my body’s awareness of the life around me. Trees, bushes, flowers, etc were not only growing from the ground up, but also from the sky down. I discovered that nature was not at the level of my feet it was all around me. 09
That day my camera became an indicator, a tool for showing others what they could see if they were to look in a new direction. In an attempt to see through my eyes a passerby would fix themselves to a space next to mine and align their eyes with my lens. This was always an interesting interaction as it situated two people in time and space, making a connection through every sensory element, except for language. We were creating a language of our own, a connection through a mutual interest -what the heck is out there in the world? What can we see, feel, touch, and share? The experiences were somewhat intimate; a visual affair between myself, my object of desire, and this new stranger. These types of interactions are the main reason I love New York City, serendipity through shared curiosity. At one point I struck up a conversation with an individual who was living out his daily routine to work. His curiosity stopped his body from moving and as my camera pointed towards a nearby tree enveloped by scaffolding he began to wonder. He was curious about my relation to the east side of the street, “- What are you looking at? - That tree….I’ve never noticed a tree in scaffolding before. - I haven’t even really noticed the tree…and I work here” But I get it, it is hard to notice the green when the gray is so readily available for our eyes. I continued on my adventure and at the end of the day I noticed several potted plants in the city that 10
were unattended, and I grew curious about how those plants were left there, abandoned, forgotten about. I couldn’t imagine investing in something that needs to be nurtured and then letting it slowly reach its death. I imagine you can learn a lot about a person from how they treat their plant. At the very least, I know this project, and my neighborhood plants, taught me a lot about myself. I’ve realized how much knowledge can be acquired by incorporating organic material in your daily routine. Surrounding oneself with plant life teaches the importance of time, how to love, the simplicity of life, and the necessary integration of nature, culture, and self for positive creation. While growing up Mom always loved to tell me that if a man treats his Mother well he would in turn treat you the same. But I say, if a person treats their Mother Nature well then they are fit to be yours. If their plants are dead, steal them, revive them, and hope they won’t buy more. G
Street Politics text and illustrations by Frances Brown
Cities can be fascinating spaces of opportu-
nities and creativity. They were once places in which women in particular were unwelcome due to their chaotic and dirty nature. However cities have slowly changed to become spaces in which cultures, ethnicities and genders have the potential to mix and overlap in amongst the layers of inequalities. Cities’ structures are not only made up of buildings and public spaces; their qualities exist also in their in-between spaces such as paths, intersections and boundaries, in which (in)visible opportunities and creative and unpredictable uses of space, otherwise know as play, are performed. Pop-up cinemas, urban orchards, parkour runners, critical masses, graffiti, skateboarding, and socio-political protests are all played within these interstitial spaces. Several urban thinkers have demonstrated the necessity of the creation and safeguard of these interstitial spaces, such as Quentin Stevens’ The Ludic City and Jane Jacobs’ seminal work: The Life and Death of Great American Cities. They define human interaction and play as unpredictable, and implore that urban design should not try to create a space allocated to one distinct form of human interaction, but rather stay open to the very creativity of human play. There is however an ever-growing trend in creating specific ‘safe’ public spaces by destroying the in-between spaces due to their perceived ‘potential’ for being unsafe and encouraging ‘illegal’ 12
behaviour. Developers are increasingly creating cities in which there is no longer room for experimental use of space, and where public spaces are privatised and/or controlled by ever more technological pursuits in security. A few years back, a documentary photographer Henrietta Williams and a cartographer and trainee architect George Gingell documented the disappearance of public streets in the City of London. They found that since 1993 the square mile1, otherwise known as the ring of steel, has been developed into a 6.5 mile heavily securitised network of streets, with bollards, police boxes, CCTV cameras and other forms of subtle defence against car-borne terrorism. On top of that, two thirds of all the streets that used to lead into the City of London have now been closed off to traffic. Leaving only 19 ways to drive into the City of London, all of which are recorded by two CCTV cameras per street. The streets no longer in use have either been closed off to cars or have been privatised by companies who own both the buildings and the streets surrounding them. Private security firms control these spaces responsible only to the private company and not the public. Vandy Street is one such example. You can still find it on an A-Z however it no longer physically exists. The street is no longer public - it simply looks like an extension of the building that owns it, a space in which you are no longer allowed to ‘linger’ and play, except to sit on the benches. The landscape is scattered with flowers and bushes planted in anti car-bomb boxes. Homeless people are moved on, photography, skateboarding, ball play and cycling have
Which stretches from Aldgate to the Strand, and from Shoreditch to Temple.
been added to the exhaustive list of illegal practices. Alas, this is a growing phenomenon – in Ground Control Anna Minton produces a groundbreaking account on the privatisation of streets in the UK, which she explains is particular to Britain. In 2004 the concept of ‘public good’ was removed from UK planning legislation, which in other words means that developers are no longer required to consider and demonstrate the benefit of the public in their work. As a result, local councils rely heavily on Business Improvement Districts (BID’s) designated areas, in which they hand over their powers and employ private companies to oversee particular parts of the city. These districts, such as in Manchester’s city centre and Liverpool’s new shopping district, focus primarily on providing better spaces to profit businesses. Protesting, flyering, young people ‘hanging out’, and homelessness are prime targets of ‘illegal’ behaviour for the private security firms employed to create a ‘safe’ environment. Streets are no longer spaces to live and play in, they are there for a specific purpose of coming to shop and go. The concept of doing nothing in the city is becoming more and more alien.
Whilst security is a genuine concern, there is a growing need to publicly question this trend for three particular reasons. Firstly, research has started to compile evidence in the questionable effectiveness in the use of CCTV cameras in actually decreasing crime, and have found that it can increase anxiousness and feelings of being unsafe. Secondly, the natural form of play and spatial opportunities are being strangled by the ever-growing reproduction of sterile urban form of street networks. These forms are primarily benefitting businesses and private companies whilst disregarding the benefit of the public. Finally the state of our streets reflects the state of our democracy. Streets are fundamentally a democratic space because they are inherently open for everyone to use. That right of way is rapidly disappearing highlighting socio-political and economical power inequalities. Which begs to question: who is the city for? G
References: Minton Anna – Ground Control (2012) Quentin Steven’s – Ludic City (2007) Jane Jacob’s – Life and Death of Great American Cities (1993) Evening Standard article by Kieran Long So Can we the secret Ring of Steel save the City from Terrorism? – http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/socan-the-secret-ring-of-steel-save-the-city-from-terrorism-6524967.html
Moran Mania: An Interlude with
Caitlin Moran Interview and Article By: Samantha Langsdale
had a hard time preparing for this interview. That’s not true – it wasn’t hard, but I genuinely labored over a few really crucial aspects. One: Caitlin Moran was Interviewer of the Year in 2011; what do you ask the master of interviewing in an interview? Two - and this was only slightly less pressing: what was I going to wear? I weighed my options carefully: want to look like a woman, but probably not the occasion to ‘slag out’ - and ended up wearing a finely-tailored dress with tights and sturdy boots - two things I know Caitlin loves. I’m not sure that my interview questions were quite as on point as my wardrobe, but I can say with absolute conviction that the 11 minutes and 27 seconds I spent with Caitlin Moran were some of the most thrilling and invigorating of my life. Caitlin Moran (pronounced Cat-lin – no really, check the website www.how-tobeawoman.com) is a high-octane, foul-mouthed, wish-she-was-your-big-sis type of woman, and from the minute we entered the room there was no holding her back. She offered me snacks, she complimented my outfit (huzzah!), she poured me a glass of wine, and she took the time to genuinely listen to the details surrounding GEEKED Magazine. And then it was time to get down to business. ‘Excellent,’ said CatMo, taking a healthy gulp of wine, ‘So, ask me some fuckin’ questions! Let’s do this.’ Eek! 15
SL: I would love to get your thoughts on the seeming eruption of feminist heroes in the past year. Women like yourself, Louise Brealey, Linda Grant, Grace Dent, and Martina Hyde have become objects of feminist lust for women all over the country! Do you feel like this is a sign that feminism is finally being reclaimed and reimagined? CM: Yes, totally. You know the thing is, it’s just kind of an administrative accident that feminism died for a bit. The reason I wrote the book—because there’s this big gang of chicks, who I thank in the back, that I run with—is that we all just felt the same about feminism. Feminism had never gone away for us, we had always described ourselves as feminists. We went to some feminist meetings and just got really angry about who seemed to own feminism. We all just sort of sat down, after one particular meeting, and we all just sort of said, ‘someone’s gotta write a fucking book which just explains what feminism is these days, ‘cause this is just bullshit’. And I went, ‘OK, I’ll race you all to it!’ and we all went away and I was the one to get it out first. I just sat there chain-smoking going, ‘don’t let one of the other bitches finish it first! This is mine! This is mine! This is mine!’ But you know another reason this has all sort of kicked off is because we’re all on Twitter, and all the girls that are on there sort of support each other. Girls kind of own Twitter; that’s where all the funny stuff is. All that feminism ever needed was just a bit of space, you know, to sort of redefine itself, and Twitter sort of gave it that space. You can come there and talk. Its like the ladies’ toilets in a nightclub but online. SL: Speaking of feminist lust, in her interview with Elizabeth Day in The Observer, Louise Brealey described the numerous marriage proposals she received from young women. So, how frequently are you hit on or proposed to now a days by your feminist fans? And, having asked that, can I buy you dinner later? CM: Yes! I’m always up for meals. I was doing a big signing [in Holland] and this chick came up afterwards: she was like 15, massively geeky, 16
and she just looked brilliant. She was amazingly dressed, she was mixed race, and she just had this crazy hair. We had this great conversation, and I think English was maybe her third language, but she was amazingly funny and fluent, and, as she was saying goodbye, she said thank you and then handed me a beer mat which said, ‘I wish you were a lesbian too, that would make you perfect’. And I was just like, ‘Oh my god, look at this brilliant feminist utopia we’re living in now where underage girls are hitting on 37-year old mothers of two during a conversation about how much we love Star Trek! This is the dream!’ If I’d ever known the future was going to be this great I never would have been so despairing as a teenager myself. That was pretty much my proudest moment of last year. SL: Even if the social landscape is increasingly illuminated by rockstar women and feminist men, a lot of younger women and men still face marked disdain for their feminism. Do you still struggle to carve out a feminist space? Is there ever a time when you feel like taking your feminism ‘off ’?
CM: Oh, I wouldn’t even know how! Its not even on me, it’s in me. You know, it’s mainly centered around my vagina and breasts. You know, I’ve never for a minute… I mean, there have been moments of frustration where I would say, ‘I’m a feminist’ and people would instantly assume that I hated men, and that I didn’t like sex – that it was sort of that angry, joyless feminism. And that was why I wrote the book because I got so tired of explaining, when I said, ‘I’m a feminist… but I do orgasm! And I like my husband, and I don’t punch every man that I meet, in the face’. And that was why I wrote the book to sort of go, ‘this is all that it means, it means being equal to men’. SL: You review a lot of popular media. How do you feel about the recent popularity of ‘mommy films’ (I Don’t Know How She Does It or What to Expect When You’re Expecting)? CM: The thing is, I’m not gonna be a twat, because I haven’t seen them and you should never critique something until you’ve seen it. On the other hand, something smells so bad, you don’t even need to walk into the room to know that Hollywood did a big, bad poo and it’s all over your feminist floor. My problem is, it’s women doing the same thing; it’s women either being really klutzy and falling over, or it’s women wailing and medicating their sorrows with shoes and cocktails and talking to their gay best friends. It’s just the same in every single film; it makes me so angry. SL: Speaking of being a mum, how do you feel about finding feminist ways to raise your daughters? Do they ever come home with stories about their classmates’ differing understandings of women and men? Do you feel as though raising your daughters has strengthened your own feminism? CM: My kids are so instinctively right-on it’s untrue. After one of them heard another kid call someone ‘gay’, my six-year-old came home and quietly had a massive gay wedding with two Action Men in the front room. I love my super-liberal kids. SUPER LIBERAL KIDS ROCK. SL: So, tell us about your next book, Moranthology… sounds reminiscent of The Beatles Anthology?
CM: That was the idea, yeah! How I came up with the title was, it got to the day and my publishers were like, ‘we really, seriously need this title, now’, and so I went on Twitter and some man came up with it and it was fantastic! I promised that man I would give him a hundred pounds, and so I must. I was desperate for a title! The thing is, feminism is my life story and its my big love, but in the first book we were confined to just the one subject which is feminism and the women in my life. But the nice thing in Moranthology is that I write about so many different things: there’s some about the welfare state, there’s stuff about feminism, more stuff about abortion… about television, technology, mental illness, uh, a lot about cheese. So I’ve just been able to tackle all the other big subjects I haven’t been able to address before and I just feel really proud of it! SL: I hate to sound like a total ingrate, but other than your weekly columns, your marvelously eclectic tweets, and your new book... what else have you got? CM: Well, the book is now out or due to come out in 17 countries, including AMERICA in July. The sitcom pilot will hopefully shoot this autumn, and we’re currently turning the book into a FILM for Tessa Ross at Film Four. Then I start my next book - a novel - after Christmas. 17
SL: Let’s end with a few quickies... ‘cause they can be satisfying too! What’s the last album you listened to? If you were a summer cocktail, which would you be? One shop you can’t live without? CM: Last album: the new James Yorkston one. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking. Cocktail: something cheap with lots of mint and ice. One shop I can’t live without: John Lewis. You just press three buttons and a Hoover appears in your house the next day. I wish John Lewis ran the country. - - - - - In our interview, Caitlin Moran gabbed and gushed and laughed with full force. When it came time to wrap up, CatMo insisted that I be given a chance to ask my last question, (gently) mocked the event organizer when he became nervous about the time, and apologized to me by offering to answer any and all follow-up questions I might have. Did I mention the fact that she actually answered the last question anyway? This woman does nothing by half. Although the story of her life is by now as well-known as her feelings on Brazilians, Caitlin’s lack of a formal education matters only in as much as it offers hope to anyone with ambition and desire. Her wit is ever-present, it’s what she’s famous for, but the beautiful nuance of her intellect is understated and always dissolving before your eyes. It feels almost as if the minute she notices you admiring the individual stars in the galaxy of her thoughts, she throws the star ship CatMo into hyperdrive, and you are thrown back in a blast of sparkling sarcasm, polemic, and raucous humor. Interviewing her is a bit like trying to get a butterfly to sit for a portrait. The woman is absolutely manic. In her talk, the power Moran held over the gallery was palpable. The talk sold out in 20 minutes, before the organizers had a chance to hang posters to advertise. Word spread entirely through social media: the amorphous realm of which Caitlin Moran is undoubtedly empress. The women (and oh, about seven men) who came to hear her speak filled every seat, stood in the corners, and camped on the floors. They literally came to kneel at the feet of this unlikely guru. There is no denying 18
the juggernaut that is Caitlin Moran, or the mania she inspires amongst young women and men who are thoroughly unsatisfied with the way this world works. CatMo chalks her wisdom up to ‘common sense’, and during the talk, affirmed her belief that academic feminists were not the only ones who could claim the F-word. Even in spite of this assertion - that academia alone does not define the essence of feminism - Caitlin managed, in her characteristically cavalier way, to conclude the talk so that everyone belonged, so that everyone mattered in her grand scheme to change the world: ‘I’m a feminist because I have daughters’, she stated, ‘And because I can’t be with them always mostly because they keep trying to get away from me - the only way I can protect them from the truly heinous is to completely change the world, just a little bit. And I will, I am out to change the world.’ Hell. Yes. G
How To Be a Woman and Moranthology are out now by Ebury Publishing.
CatMoHair by Rebekah Ford WINNER of the Many Faces of CatMo Contest
Photo credit: Nicholas Ong
Andrea Mary Marshall by Sara Bivigou W
￼ hat is a woman? is the question that all of Andrea Mary Marshall’s art asks. It answers it by creating whores and Madonnas, minxes and mothers, turning prostitutes into fashion models and making sexual beings of downtrodden deities. She explores woman as ideal, as beast, “as lovely as she is repulsive” and in her varied guises, in her many self-portraits fumbles through the fun and fearful contradictions of the fairer most scrutinised sex. Marshall held her debut solo show at Allegra LaViola Gallery in New York City last year. Toxic Women included knocked-up religious figures, strung out nurses paying homage to Richard Prince, alter-egos in states of manic grace and a series of aggressively calm nude paintings. The most stirring, In Search Of The Holy Grail features the artist in bed masturbating, her clitoris the hypnotic centre of the piece. Found glamour “at a party, on a canvas, or the subway” inspires Marshall and her work has had its fair share of fashion moments. She graffitied new life onto 100 Vogue covers, turning them into her own Vague magazine, transforming their blandly glossy subjects into cartoonishly dynamic artistic, religious and pop culture icons. Grace Jones in all her black angular glory bursts forth from the “I’m sick and tired of this bullshit” issue, Claudia Schiffer becomes Francis Bacon on the cover of another, Nicole Kidman is replaced by a wan Saint Teresa of Avila in the next and so on and so forth a further 97 times. Marshall defaced Louis Vuitton Monogram handbags with her romantic confessions and illustrated a series of smoking models portraits at the request of casting agency COACD’s Douglas Perrett. Marshall herself is modelesque, tall and thin with neat features and feline eyes. This is only a worthy, non-reductive, nongross observation because it explains the distance between her and her alter-egos. She is her biggest canvas, her messiest work. Some days a white Stetson wearing Marlboro Mary, others the brazen red-head Rosemary Myst or the diva Loretta Devine, a woman whose whole face is a snarl. Marshall considers herself a feminist“it brings out the masculine in me” but doesn’t identify her works the same way. She labels them simply her own and is super earnest in hoping that “people enjoy what I make as much as I enjoy making it.” Her most recently finished piece The Original Supper, a reinterpretation of Leonardao da Vinci’s depiction of Christ’s final repas, The Last Supper as a collection of tableware, 10 spoons, one knife, all with lips of rouge and nonplussed expressions. These will feature in her second solo show at the Allegra LaViola Gallery opening in January 2013. Here in that beguilingly distracted way that busy artists have, Marshall talks about her process, her alter-egos and Kate Moss as Jesus. 21
SB - You wanted to be a fashion designer before becoming an artist and your alter egos have such strong, almost editorial looks. What influence does fashion have on you and your work? AMM - Fashion has always been extremely important to me. Fashion plays an important role in my daily life as well as in my artwork. Wearing the right fucked-up t-shirt and jeans, or the correct black pencil skirt and heels is as important to me as the sharp nails, hair styles and shade of red lipstick in my self portraits. Fashion is always storytelling. The right message needs the right look. ￼ SB - Toxic Women was your first solo show. How did you prepare for it? Were you nervous? AMM - There was no time for fear. I did every piece in that show within 4 months.
SB - How did the idea of the 100 Vogue/Vague magazine series come to you? AMM - It was a very fast process and I felt I was going a little insane while creating them. I painted all 100 magazines in seven days. I did not sleep a wink that week. Towards the 75th magazine or so, I was using my arm as my palette, paint everywhere, it was really quite crazy. Hectic, but I look back on it now as a wonderfully fun, creative time. Originally, I saw an early 90’s British Vogue cover featuring Kate Moss, and I had the idea to paint on this cover turning Kate into Jesus. They are more about humour than criticism. I didn’t plan on them being such a statement. I actually almost decided not to show them because I was worried some of them were offensive. Luckily, I changed my mind. I really love the series now.
Toxic Women was a very cathartic body of work for me. I created these “toxic women,” these “victims,” as extensions of my personality that I found destructive to my personal growth. I gave form to these so-called “toxic” traits by creating an exaggerated alter ego for each of the behaviours I wanted to overcome (or at least analyse) Rosemary Myst, Diabolical Donna, Barbaric Barbara, Karen the Killer, Marsha Floss, Loretta Minx, etc. In many ways, these personas relate to all of us on a universal level. They are not just about me, they are about the emotions in all of us. I liked incorporating fashion as a way of glossing over the deeper meaning, and making the work more approachable to a larger audience.
The Bacon Issue, 2011 Acrylic, gouache and sharpie marker on Vogue magazine from May 2008 10 7/8 x 8 x 1/2 inches
Installation shot from Toxic Women at Allegra LaViola Gallery, December 2011
SB - Why do you take so many self-portraits? What’s the significance of repeatedly putting yourself in the frame? AMM - Because I have a lot to say. And I love self portraits because the artist is making a direct, one-on- one connection with the viewer. It’s just
me and my viewer. I think it’s easier to communicate this way. SB - Is it self-scrutiny? AMM - No, they are not about scrutiny. They are about exploring the complexities of womanhood. The Ideal woman lives in all of us. I like communicating this with my viewer SB - What is it about the ideal woman that holds your artistic imagination? AMM - Her shoes. SB - Have you had any difficult reaction to Search For The Holy Grail? It is a very revealing piece and often nudity and expressions of female sexuality expressed can be seen as merely provocative.
In regards to others’ reactions...well, everyone has their own degree of tolerance. Some stare and some look away. My goal is never to offend but to elevate. SB - What is it like to invent other selves through yourself? How do you create your alter-egos? AMM - Embodying my alter-egos for my self portrait photographs and films is a theatrical and emotional experience for me. I am usually alone. I shoot all my photographs myself. And I prepare all day, doing my hair, makeup, nails and organising props, setting up lights, etc. There are a lot of nerves running through me when I shoot photos of myself as I have to be quite vulnerable. Painting is much safer for me. My self portrait photographs require me to be fully present and completely engaged. Often I feel a sense of magic in these moments!
AMM - The Search For The Holy Grail is my favourite work that I’ve made. I love its double and triple meaning. The alternate title (or original title) is The Sexuality of Mary Magdalene. At the time I was reading a lot of theory on Magdelene being the holy bloodline. I truly do believe the ‘holy grail’, the key to happiness and everything we are searching for in life, lies within each of us.
Self Portrait as Rosemary Myst with Balloon Dick, 2011 Digital c-print 14 x 11 inches
SB - What do you do when you’re not making art? Search For The Holy Grail (Self Portrait as Mary Magdalene), 2010 Oil on canvas 30 x 30 inches
AMM - Sleep and dream. I also like to cook spaghetti. And I like to sing and dance to Prince and Diana Ross. G 23
Jessica Voorsanger Interview by Mohara Gill
Performance, dance, art and that audience participation that you either love or hate… Jes-
sica Voorsanger is an interdisciplinary artist whose work on the theme of ‘celebrity’ and fame appeals across the generations. From karaoke to musicals, sci-fi to celebs her art is fun, entertaining, bold and thought provoking. She has exhibited extensively at several galleries in the UK including New Art Gallery Walsall, the ICA and the Whitechapel, as well as international venues in New York, Berlin and elsewhere. Here I interviewed her by email about her recent co-exhibition with Bob & Roberta Smith, London’s Calling at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London. MOHARA For London’s Calling, you’ve chosen to present This is London, a series of photo-collages. Compared to your other projects, these are stylistically quite different; what was your starting point for these pieces? JESSICA The starting point for this series of 2D works come from an odd place. I was speaking to one of my students (I teach at UCA, Canterbury) and we were discussing different television shows that we found interesting and inspiring. As I work with the TV on (I use it like the radio, another sound in the room besides myself) I am always interested in new series that I can watch, preferably by box set, and indulgently watch one episode after another. She mentioned Supernatural and brought in the box set to lend me. I loved it but was also horrified and I am not a horror fan. I found it really scary and had intended to return it after I had seen the first series but by the end of it I was hooked. I liked the way that one character could be possessed by another so I started collaging celebrity’s heads into the eye socket spaces on larger images of celebrities. I tried lots of versions of them but the ones that were the most exciting for me were the ones that used these beautiful images of London. Everything seemed connected in interesting ways, which is why I started drawing into the images and using the architecture of the locations.
MOHARA You’ve been obsessed with celebrities in the past (David Cassidy, David Bowie and others); would you say that your depictions of personalities set across lines and dizzying angles is an attempt to redress the balance, in a sense to reclaim the streets and express fan culture from their perspective, or is this more about current trends of cultural consumption by the masses? JESSICA I would love to think that it was about redressing the balance but it isn’t. It is more the latter than the former. It isn’t so much a commentary on cultural consumption but taking advantage of it. This series is a bit of a departure (and holiday) in that in the past there were always specific reasons that I had selected whichever celebrity was depicted or approached in one of my works. In this case it is really about locating the celebrities faces in any throwaway newspaper, TV listing or magazine and playing with them in relation to the location. They become an abstract and slightly irrelevant. The relevant part is knowing who they are and how interesting they are for me out of context. I spend days cutting out the heads and then just play with them; experimenting which colours, shapes, expressions and hair styles lead to the most possibilities – that’s how they get used. The criteria for selection is very specific: I have to know who they are (I may forget by the time
the image gets used and that’s okay), there cannot be anything blocking the face (no microphone or hand, etc) and it cannot have any parts cut off (for example: sometimes there are talk bubbles that block part of the face). Yes, it does reference current trends, as the celebrities that are available are the ones that are popular or promoting a film/ show at the time and that is why they are currently in the magazines and newspapers. But there are only so many pictures I can use of Matt Le Blanc at any one time (from the promotional ads for Episodes)... MOHARA Interestingly, you have referenced vintage London – rather than use contemporary images, why? JESSICA There is something magical about vintage images. Also the colours are special. You really feel like this time no longer exists or is accessible. It must have something to do with my fascination with time travel. MOHARA Time travel…? Is this why so many of your works involve dressing-up, performance and role-play?
JESSICA That’s a really nice connection, one I will take forward. Oddly, I am always surprised how all of my interests and influences are so interconnected. I have always been a bit of a sci-fi fan, loving films like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Bing Crosby) or the book Time and Again by Jack Finney. It’s through seeing how the world has changed, even through our own lifetimes, that makes reliving or visiting a different time so engaging (Life on Mars & Ashes to Ashes, BBC). It’s not being a tourist in the normal sense of the word but having knowledge about a time and place that you shouldn’t. It’s empowering but also romantic (Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen). The first time that it all really came together for me was in the installation that I made for LIMBO in Margate, where I created a fake TV studio set for Star Trek (original series). I created a fake alien landscape, provided costumes, scripts and props. There was a camera that was used as a link to a monitor so the visitors to the exhibition could have the entire experience: acting on Star Trek, being whichever character you loved best and then seeing yourself on Star Trek! I was Lieutenant Uhuru.
Jessica Voorsanger & Ivana Saldana, West Side Story Meets Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wide Open Schools Exhibition, Hayward Gallery, 2012; Courtesy of the artist
Jessica Voorsanger, Star Trek TV, LIMBO Gallery, Substation Project Space, Margate 2011; Courtesy of the artist
Jessica Voorsanger, Star Trek TV, LIMBO Gallery, Substation Project Space, Margate 2011; Courtesy of the artist
Jessica Voorsanger & Ivana Saldana, West Side Story Meets Rocky Horror Picture Show, Wide Open Schools Exhibition, Hayward Gallery, 2012; Courtesy of the artist
Actually the dressing-up and role-play was more to do with embodying the character (fictitious) or celebrity (real), almost like an actor would (in a less professional way). I was exploring the concept of ‘impostors’, attempting to be someone you would like to be but not really, like karaoke permission for people to sing who can’t, like me. Originally, when I started the Impostor Series it was a reaction to Reality TV and commenting on people who are becoming celebrities by being notorious rather than talented. Not all celebrities became famous through ethical routes but (looking back even as close as 15 years ago) they could actual sing, dance, act, play sport, etc. (usually!). But not necessarily anymore. I was making an obvious connection to the exchangeability of celebrity by featuring people I felt deserved to be famous. The idea has moved on now to encompass not only the actors who portray characters but (in my case) actually wanting to become the characters themselves, which is why I feel that the Star Trek installation was so important for me. As Charles and Ray Eames said “everything connects in the end”. MOHARA As an established artist does you see yourself as a celebrity? JESSICA No, I am not a celebrity. I don’t get recognized on the street or asked for my autograph (which is fine by me). Although I have received fan mail. It is all in a folder and I have thought I may use it in a project one day... MOHARA Fan mail project sounds intriguing... What do you have planned in the way of future exhibitions, performances and happenings? JESSICA There are lots of things coming up - I have created some collages and drawings for a bunch of really interesting projects: One of them is a new audio edition for Moby Dick. Lots of amazing people are reading different chapters (from David Attenborough to Benedict Cumberbatch) and artists have made images for them, another is a drawing for a Friends of the Earth colouring book of endangered species (I did the Queen Triggerfish) and also have created an image to help with the launch of the Olympic Village in 2013. I also have one-person exhibitions next
Jessica Voorsanger, Modern Art Stars, Imposter Series, ICA, 2011; Courtesy of the artist ‘The performance consisted of female artists dressed as male artists. They all created portraits of the visitors in the style of the artist they were dressed as from the top left and descending: Andy Warhol, Barry Flanagan, Henry Moore, David Hockney, Thomas Gainsborough, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse (me). Banksy was present but hidden. The participating artists were all from the MA Fine Art course at Camberwell.’
year at the Alice Herrick Gallery (London) and The Kornhaeuschen Gallery (Aschaffenburg, Germany). But I get invited to do things at short notice so always have lots of things on the go! What I’d really like to do is another TV studio installation for the Brady Bunch and some more dance projects like I did over the summer for the Hayward Gallery, as a collaboration with the dancer Ivana Saldana - West Side Story Meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show (http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=OsgeYM6lPbU). MOHARA Are there any particular artists that 27 have influenced your work? 27 27
JESSICA Yes there are many artists who have influenced me. They range in period, style and intention but are all relevant and amazing. Agnolo Bronzino (for his portraits), Alice Neal (again for her portraits, and painterliness), Sylvie Fleury (for her style), Sophie Calle (for her nerve), Christian Marclay (for his approaches to materials and popular culture) and Yayoi Kusama (for her intensity). That sounds a bit like a recipe! But really the list could go on and on.
practical skills but also theoretical and dissemination skills. It is through the art school process that you learn to dissect an idea and push it to its boundaries. It creates debates and understanding. Art schools are like a personal expedition that until you take it you cannot begin to imagine what there is to discover there and how life altering and enabling it can be.
MOHARA What advice would you give to budding artists? Do you feel it’s important to have a solid grounding in art technique e.g. painting?
JESSICA My idol at the moment is Johnny Depp. I can’t get enough of him. I never liked him in his pin-up phase, like when he was in the original 21 Jump Street. I am not very interested in the Rum Diary version of Johnny Depp as I am for the Mad Hatter version of Johnny Depp. When he takes the eccentricity to an extreme and runs with it that’s when I love him best.
JESSICA Anyone who wants to be an artist can be. You need passion (obsessions help) and a little talent. As an interdisciplinary artist, I have had to learn new skills for the projects that I have wanted to make but having had art training has been essential. I would say that an art school education is invaluable. You don’t go to university just to learn
For more information and to view examples of Jessica’s work: http://www.elevenspitalfields.com/ http://jessicavoorsanger.zxq.net
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MOHARA And your idol of the moment is…
Many thanks to Jessica Voorsanger, Anita Lawlor and Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London. G
This is London page 75 Jessica Voorsanger, This is London, London’s Calling, Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, 2012. Courtesy Eleven Spitalfields
London’s Calling was on at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, London 7 September - 26 October 2012
HAWKE Jess Hawke, aka Heptagrin Girl, tells GEEKED about her passion for science, her mission to make more nerds, and her unlikely place in the fashion world. Meet our Up and Comer!
GEEKED: Tell us a little bit about how you got started. Jess: I’ve never been an avid follower of fashion. I prefer to take inspiration from unusual places rather than following trends. I’ve just started my BA (Hons) Fashion at Middlesex University and the guy at the art shop says I’m the first fashion student he’s met to rock up to lessons in jeans, a hoodie and a Batman top. That’s not the only thing that makes me the world’s most unlikely fashion student: my designs mix science, maths and fashion to create pieces of art which aim to inform and inspire. With A Levels in Chemistry, French and Product Design, I had no idea what I wanted to do after sixth form. I loved science, but wasn’t that good at it and didn’t have the right qualifications to study fashion. I also had three years work with Alica Kerteszova at the Clothing Surgery in Bradford on Avon and had done a mini apprenticeship with her during my AS levels. I applied for Art and Design Foundation at Trowbridge College as something to do during my gap year and it turned out to be the best year of my life. I made skirts based on molecules, a jacket made from The Financial Times and lots of other nerdy things. I didn’t realise how nerdy and science/maths based they were until my friend pointed it out. My ideas were working really well, so I made a conscious decision from then on to include as much science and maths in my work as possible. Most people at college didn’t understand it, but it was something different so I decided to go with it. This eventually paid off. G: What would you say was your break-out moment? J: Late in 2011, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker tweeted a picture of a heptagrin spiral. I saw it and fell in love with the shape, so decided to use it my design work. I came up with a skirt prototype and after going to Festival of the Spoken Nerd in January 2012, Matt emailed me asking if I’d like to show it at the next FOTSN in May. Onstage at the Bloomsbury Theatre. In London. A sell-out gig with over 500 people. How could I say no? The skirt got such a great response that I decided to set up an Etsy store and sell them. I was referred to as Heptagrin Girl by some people at the show, so I decided to use
the same name for my shop (http://www.etsy.com/ shop/HeptagrinGirl?ref=si_shop). Towards the end of my foundation course, I had an interview at Middlesex University. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I decided to just go for it and be myself. As usual, I spent all of two minutes doing my make up that morning, threw on jeans and the blazer I’d stayed up making until 2am the night before and headed off up to London. My friend at college had said to me “blind them with science!”. I was interviewed by Meg Osborne, the course leader, and her first question was: “What would you say your style of work was?” Instead of naming a million designers I could relate my work to, what I’d been holding back all through college came out. I told her I mixed science, maths and fashion to create art. I told her that I wanted my work to communicate science to a wider audience. Fashion has a huge influence on society, so why not use it to explore new ways of educating people about subjects they had previously dismissed? I also said that as separate entities, science and art are beautiful. So why not combine them to create something amazing? Meg said that she was currently reading a book by Richard Dawkins. I said I’d been to a show where he was speaking. We then proceeded to have a twenty minute chat about science and the media, after which she offered me an unconditional place on the spot. So that’s how I got to where I am now! G: What are your plans going forward: J: I’m currently working on turning a large proportion of fashion students into nerds (I did it at college last year, I will do it here too) and have already got a small group of art students going to a Festival of the Spoken Nerd tour show this month. After my degree, I’m thinking of either following it up with an MA or expanding Heptagrin Girl. But something I would love to do is collaborate with scientists or engineers, to create wonderful and unique pieces of art. G
text by Samantha Langsdale photography by Sofia Hericson model Gisela Rocha Oh Lazy Oaf, how we love thee, let us count the ways! Actually, yes, let us count the ways! Rather than us talking excitedly and incoherently at you about everything we absolutely love, worship and ADORE about Lazy Oaf *SCREAM* how about we just make a nice, calm, organized list. *Tries to slow breathing* 1) The number one reason we think Lazy Oaf is all aces is their creator, Gemma Shiel. Gemma started LO with nothing more than a head full of creative ideas and space in her dad’s garage. Like a hip, Boomerang Generation Eliza Doolittle, Gemma used to make her signature t-shirts by hand-screen printing and then carting them to a Spitalfields market stall. Her passion and determination to keep Lazy Oaf nostalgic and smile-inducing has brought her through 11 years of business and into more than 250 stores worldwide. She describes her personal attachment to the company as akin to ‘a crazy lady and her cats’. Yeah, we dig on that. 2) The colours!!! An essential part of the Lazy Oaf design philosophy are bright colours and we love, love, love it! In a city that is sometimes notoriously grey, the brightness of Lazy Oaf designs are like beacons which can be spotted across busy intersections or peeking out the top of heavy coats. Simply marvelous. 3) Girls, girls, girls! The Lazy Oaf team is made up almost entirely of women. From design and production to marketing and sales the LO company is powered by creative, passionate women who want to inject London with a little bit of weird. That’s not to make less of their token guy, Paul Pellow, who charmingly loves The Smiths, the pub and cooking programmes but hates his ‘terrible hair’ and cottage cheese. Fair enough Paul, fair enough. 4) Cartoons! Being illustration Geeks ourselves, it’s probably obvious that we just can’t get enough of what Lazy Oaf is selling. Their collections are described as cartoon-focused and centred on 90s nostalgia. Wearing a LO piece can make you feel a bit like a cast-member of Saved By the Bell and who doesn’t think that’s totally awesome?! Plus, their interests in cartoons means envy-inducing collaborations like their current Batman line, made with the creators of DC Comics. The Batman Cropped Baseball T-shirt has got us all kinds of covetous. 5) Something for Everybody. Although Lazy Oaf started as a t-shirt line for men, there are now designs for women, men, accessory lines, shoes, stationary, homewares, want, want, want, want. There is no way you could enter their website (www.lazyoaf.co.uk) without finding something you had no idea you couldn’t live without. Suddenly you will find that life simply isn’t worth living without a LO Scarf (which has pockets!) or a pair of the new Jeffrey Campbell Lita Skull boots. Also, all LO t-shirts are one-size-fitsall so no one is left out, but everyone will look unique in their Have A Nice Day T. For stockists, online shopping, or to take a peek at their Lookbooks, check Lazy Oaf ’s webpage. Also, log on to their blog to see all their latest collaborations. We adore Lazy Oaf for their passion, their quirky designs and for their commitment to London street fashion. No matter what the weather does this winter, inject your wardrobe with a little LO and we guarantee you will find yourself wearing a big Cheeseburger smile G
Photography by Sofia Hericson
IRREVERENT LGBTQ-friendly, body-positive dance training for adults. Irreverent from the Barre to the Bar! Not everyone who wants to learn ballet is young, skinny, graceful, cisgender-female and gives a toss. In fact, most of us aren’t… If you’re atypical in any way, learning to dance can be a nightmare. Be it ballet, tap or hip hop, you want to give it a go but you’re worried you wouldn’t be able to keep up, you’ll get stuck in the kids’ class, or you’ll look like an idiot in your oversize t-shirt and those sweatpants that haven’t seen the outside of the flat.* Irreverent Dance doesn’t take itself too seriously. We aim to have you feeling better about yourself when you leave the studio than when you arrived; week on week. Our studio is an LGBTQ-friendly, body-positive space and our sociable classes frequently roll on to a nearby pub for a quick post-dance pint and gossip before we all head home. Ideal for the ‘never-done-before’ or ‘not-since-I-was-five’. All shapes/sizes/genders present and welcome! But I’ve Never Danced Before! Yup. These are classes for total beginners. Your inexperience is actually what qualifies you for this class. That’s the point! But I’m Not Graceful / Cool / I Have Two Left Feet / I Can’t Dance! Uh huh. Dance teaches you co-ordination, grace, strength, muscle tone, posture, flexibility, musicality and much more. If you already had all these, you wouldn’t need this class. Right? But I’m...<Misc Body-Image Excuses> Join the club. I Don’t Want To Wear A Leotard! Then don’t!
Irreverent Dance is a body-positive space
Irreverent Dance is accessible for complete beginners I Want To Wear The Whole Kit! I Want To Irreverent Dance is LGBTQ friendly Buy ALL THE THINGS! Cool. I highly recommend coming to your first class and talking to me before you part with any money but if you want to window shop in the meanwhile knock yourself out!
Um.. Are You Actually A Real Teacher? Yes. I have an up-to-date IDTA (International Dance Teachers’ Association) Qualification which I can produce. Why? Because amateur adult dance classes should be fun, physical, sociable and have absolutely no business undermining your body or your self-esteem. *The 200m hungover dash for milk and bacon doesn’t count!
www.IrreverentDance.co.uk 41 @IrreverentDance
Burlesque has a long history, from music-hall
and vaudeville acts of the 1800s, through the classic Cheesecake Pin Up, to modern-day stripping. Traditionally it was a form of erotica: the revealing of the female form, onstage, for a male audience. However, the past decade or so has seen a revival, with Neo-Burlesque going in many different directions, and it’s thanks to Neo-Burlesque that I first discovered this art form and fell in love with it. Wandering around my local bookstore on a dreary Sunday afternoon, I stumbled upon Dita Von Teese’s The Art Of Burlesque and was immediately excited. Her style, that of a classic cheesecake pin-up, was gorgeous, elegant, and truly revelled in her femininity. This was the sort of curvaceous, hint-of-garter femininity of Gil Elvgren, and it pulled me in instantly, but what made me stay and delve deeper into the world of burlesque, what personally appealed to me, was the celebration of femininity and sexuality in its many forms, the expression of character and personality, the subtle humour and flirtatious wit. I was hooked. For many years I simply drooled over these gorgeous images, without knowing too much about its history. That is, until I came across Liz Goldwyn’s Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens (Harper Collins, 2006, 2010) in a bookshop in the cosy backstreets of Bath, its baby pink cover and the sheer weight of the tome drawing me in. Goldwyn’s book covers the history of burlesque in comprehensive detail: its roots in vaudeville, the harsh times which saw heavy policing of the theatres it was performed in, its shining stars, and its demise - or rather, the closing of one era that would later be recovered and reshaped into something new. The new stories, styles and perceptions of burlesque developing from the Neo-Burlesque revival are incredibly exciting, innovative, empowering, as well as progressive for women and gender equality. However, as the perception of stripping and sexuality has become tarnished with connotations of sleaze and exploitation, burlesque has often been misunderstood. I set out to understand the true heart of burlesque, how it has developed since its beginning, and what it means to and for women today. How is burlesque changing the correlation between female nudity and obscenity? What has the art form done for female empowerment and gender equality?
In search of these answers, I went to the woman who got me asking questions in the first place: Liz Goldwyn herself.
Goldwyn, perhaps unsurprisingly, calls herself a feminist. This is partly due to her mother, a “flag waving feminist who gave me copies of Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique as soon as I could really read!”. However, she tells me that she also feels there is room for revelling in the concept of femininity produced by the patriarchs of the 1950s, as well as the possibility of breaking free from its oppression: “I came out of the womb a lingerie loving, pink wearing 1950s style closeted fantasy housewife who believes that men and women should be equal but harmonious and in balance. I do not think that being a liberated, modern woman means that I cannot cook a nice meal for my man while wearing a vintage apron and high heels. That said, I also want to make movies and art and be considered on the same level as my male counterparts.” 43
She was first drawn to burlesque whilst studying photography, when she began collecting old costumes for a project. The images she found during her research displayed “strong women, who teased yet were in control of their posturing and sexuality”. The discovery of these elegant women and their painstakingly detailed costumes, along with the realisation that this history was going undocumented and would soon be forgotten, set Goldwyn on the path to a new project which would take her a decade: to archive the women and stories behind these costumes so that they might be remembered equally as well as their male counterparts in vaudeville.
In her writing of the book, Goldwyn became close friends with the last generation of American burlesque queens, who taught her a lot about the reality of burlesque: “I definitely had my rose coloured glasses of glamour and fantasy lifted and saw great pain underneath the sparkle...what burlesque was and how the original queens were viewed by polite society is a very different thing than the Neo-Burlesque movement today. I think it is a wonderful tribute to the original performers to have their art transcend modern times and be re-purposed by a new generation of women.” 44
Goldwyn spoke to me of the unglamorous roots of burlesque: seeing girls flaunted as mere sexual objects in front of hungry male audiences, downand-out women struggling to make ends meet, thrown from one dingy dressing room to another. Yet she also spoke of successful, independent, no-nonsense women, such as Zorita with her “outrageous and inspired routines...her shocking and overt sexuality”, and her inspiration Gypsy Rose Lee, who commanded respect through her quick-witted comedy. The original burlesque queens may have been born with nothing more often than not, but they used what they had to create a name for themselves and make a living, to stand up and demand to be seen - and they made sure they had a damn good time doing it. Isn’t that, after all, the strongest shout of feminism: to win on your own merit, and to revel in winning?
In the glittering world of Neo-Burlesque, it is often easy to forget where it has come from. Caught in the sweet glitter of sequins and tease in our modern world of relative wealth and equality – although, as Goldwyn and I agree, when it comes to equality there is still much work to do – it is easy to forget that the women who forged a path for our frivolity often did so out of need, not want, and that many were never truly satisfied. But from their necessity, many women found freedom, independence, and happiness. Neo-Burlesque is a celebration of all the work those women put in for us, their cumulative effort. As members of the movement, as performers and spectators, I feel we must respect the like of Lili St. Cyr, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Tempest Storm. Goldwyn’s history speaks honestly and respectfully of these women, appreciating them for all that they were and giving a comprehensive picture of how their legacy has been developed into the revival we see today. It has been easy for the media or public opinion, both then and now, to tear down these women and their art, their living, as merely misdemeanours, but Goldwyn’s history, coming from such a passionate, balanced, and forward-thinking feminist, is fair and trustworthy. She gives burlesque and its women the understanding and respect they deserve.
With the progression of feminism to its current state, the revival of burlesque has developed into a no holds barred, all encompassing celebration of sexuality, creativity, and striptease. It is fun, sexy, risqué, and no longer limited to women, with the emergence of boylesque, with just as much glitter, flirtation, and decadence as its female counterpart. By learning the truth of its origins, looking at both sides of the coin shown in Goldwyn’s unrivalled history of burlesque, we understand that its progression, and how and why it has developed, is due to the advancement of gender equality and acceptance of sexuality in all its forms. In my opinion, the Neo-Burlesque movement is the epitome of what feminism should be: an exciting, joyous, welcoming celebration of men, women, and sexuality in all their forms, always remembering that “our brains are our best assets.”
LIZ GOLDWYN has also directed the documentary ‘Pretty Things’ (HBO, 2005) Her upcoming projects include a collaboration with MAC COSMETICS out november 2012 and a new short film “PAINTED LADY” starring JENA MALONE premiering fall 2012. G
Antony Hegarty by Jessi Finn
Jess Barr is a Manchester-based music producer, beatmaker, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwrit-
er. Her compositions combine soul, world music and experimental sounds to make her own blend of electro-acoustic experimental urban music. Jess grew up bilingual in Berlin as daughter of an American street preacher and a German postal worker. She started singing in church and school, which was the only affordable inroads into music for her as it didnâ€™t cost anything. As a teenager she began writing music and poetry and has been published in the U.S. as well as publishing her own book of poems. She went on to travel the world, live in different places and learn languages only to find that her one universal passion was music. So at 19 years of age she started instrumental lessons. It was only years later that she used a mixing desk for the first time. She found technology a remarkable and fun tool to make her compositions come to life and started working at a radio studio as sound and mixing engineer. In 2009 she started LittleBlueSkeletonRecords, an independent music production company in Manchester where she has honed her craft as studio engineer and hip hop freestyle vocalist, specialising in songwriting and composition. She is currently working on her singer/songwriter debut album under her stage name Vela Vox which combines Ukulele with soul and funk influences, rich vocal harmonies, produced by herself. G http://www.littleblueskeletonrecords.com
Sue Denim And The Unicorn
Rhian Jones - Your solo album seems lighter and more laid-back than the Robots in Disguise sound, with a more varied musical palette. Was this a deliberate new direction or have you always wanted to make this kind of music? Sue Denim - I’m trying to lighten and simplify my life in general, and it’s reflected in this music. At first I decided I only wanted acoustic guitar and vocals, as the songs were written. In the end I also used piano, electric guitars, percussion, violin, field recordings (seagull cries, rain, walks on the pier!). So it’s not quite as stripped down as I intended, I’m so pleased with how it sounds though. Rhian Jones - You’re releasing the album on your own label, Superhealthy. Given the general predictions of doom for traditional big record labels in an age of digital downloading, are you optimistic about the rise of independent/grassroots models of production and distribution as a way forward for artists? Sue Denim - I’m not sure! Having already released a single, there does seem to be a MASSIVE disparity between the number of listens online and the number of buys...I don’t know what the way forward is for artists! Maybe we need rich sponsors like in Victorian times! I have been experimenting with working 9 - 5 on the label, in the hope that this would mean business success - so far, I’m not sure this is paying off - I’ve now dropped this and am back to part time work and part time play for now. Superhealthy ain’t paying enough for me to be in the office full time! Rhian Jones - As a female musician and a feminist, what kind of issues or difficulties have you encountered for women in music? Sue Denim - Hmm. In terms of the media, as part of an all female band, invisibility, to some degree. RiD have been quite ignored by the UK media. I think being in an all girl band that actually sticks around for a while is probably very threatening to the (mostly male) media. Solo female artists are just about acceptable, but then again maybe not so much if you’re not really really young. There have been various sexist encounters. But this happens to every woman in a patriarchal society, it’s not just in the music business. The music biz is a pretty unprofessional place though, so possibly it’s even worse. There are difficulties for ANYONE though. But yeah, look around, just HOW many big all female bands are there? I think that says it all! Rhian Jones - ‘For JT and Carson and Emli’, off the new album, is based around the joys of reading. Can you recommend a couple of books for our readers, or ones that you think everyone should read? Sue Denim - I’d firstly recommend your readers to listen to the song! There’s LOADS of books recommended in it :) My current read is Jeanette Winterson’s ‘Why be happy when you can be normal?’, I absolutely love Jeanette Winterson’s writing, and this, her autobiography, is funny, moving and inspiring, so I’d recommend that too! Rhian Jones - You have a UK tour coming up in September - what can we expect from you after that? Sue Denim - Depending if the gigs are full or not, another tour, and another album I hope! Otherwise, you might be able to see me on the tills at Morrisons. Ha! BUY THE ALBUM if you wanna hear more Sue songs in the future! And.. .THANKYOU!!!! G 49
Lena Dunham text by Laura Crosby
At just age 26, it must be really wonderful to be a
genius of writing and acting in two incredible accomplishments of film and T.V. A girl, nay, woman, of our society who not only perfectly throws caution to the wind in her very pragmatic film and T.V series, but saves women world over from personal torment by doing so. On October 8, 2012, she signed a $3.5 million deal with Random House to publish her first book, she was nominated for 4 Emmy’s AND has written and starred in short films as well as her hit series ‘Girls’ and her incredible feature film ‘Tiny Furniture’. I am, of course, talking about Lena Dunham. But isn’t everybody? For whatever reason you have for her being subject of opinion, she has caught everyone’s attention. As a fuller figured working woman in my early twenties, I can speak of no one else who represents the ‘real’ woman so well on the big screen. ‘Tiny Furniture’, the critically acclaimed feature film, portrays so well the women and men who we, as women, deal with on a daily basis. I screamed with laughter, and nodded along in absolute agreement as Dunham shows us a life of pleasantries and considerable normality. As for her T.V series ‘Girls’, well, the U.S.A has had the addiction to sneak into their spare moments and as of October 22nd, we in the U.K can begin to realise Dunham’s true potential. And I warn you now; you will not find it difficult to consume the entire series in one sitting. For it is deliciously, absolutely, terrifyingly spot on to what this generation has a dying thirst for. With female characters so instantly recognisable to reality, you have to wonder what Dunham does so right to be able to turn the norm into something you just can’t peel your eyes from. There are other shows on T.V which seemingly portray the female lead as someone you should be able to relate to, but aside from the rare awkwardness around boys, most of these characters are still wonderfully ‘naturally’ apt at the fashion game, have flawless skin and bodies to die for when you never see them work out on the show. Not exactly what I’d call close to home for many women.
Most of us are struggling to even think one positive thought about ourselves, and it really doesn’t help when you spy a beautiful Zooey Deschanel, for example, yes having the quirky factor that so many of us can claim, but not quite getting it right because of how damn adorable and forgiving she is, and how she can just seemingly roll out of bed in ‘New Girl ‘ and be instantly attractive. Dunham takes that factor and turns it on its beautiful, flawless head. She depicts a life so very immediate to most of ours and makes everyone believe in it. It would be easy to say that her show and film is ‘boring’ or ‘not Hollywood enough’, but that is exactly the reason why women like me adore the bloody cringeworthy heavens out of her. As a voice of the generation who can’t let go of beauty flaws and who concentrate on their ‘imperfect’ selves regardless of looks and slight quirk, she has the power to rule the world. And I, for one, would happily let her. I would cringe along with her all day long, and wear clothes that don’t flatter me in front of boys, and speak my mind and say ‘vagina’ out loud every day. But, the honest to god truth is, I already do those things. I’m foul mouthed sometimes, I don’t hold back with opinion and I sure as hell don’t look amazing when I roll out of bed. The difference now, is that Dunham has given me the confidence to know it’s okay. We’re not all in Hollywood, with millions of pounds to spend on our hair and nails, and maids galore to tidy our houses. We’re young, middle aged and old. Our hair is frizzy, our nails are dirty and our bra’s don’t fit. But we’re still running this world, and we have the time to read, write, see the people who we adore and share embarrassing movies with. We’re an untidy generation, but we’re becoming honest with ourselves in a way that was much too harsh before. Before Lena Dunham. So roll down those sleeves and pin your heart back on, for Dunham is about to give you the most honest fictional account of life to date. G
TINY FURNITURE a film by Lena Dunham text by Laura Crosby
This delectable indie movie had me at the title, but then as if ‘Tiny Furniture’ wasn’t enough, it also had me at the plot. Now, it seems to be a very similar plot to a lot of old and new movies, but this time with a difference. Lena Dunham has written and directed a feature, which not only stars her real Mum and sister as her Mum and sister, but is also loosely based on her own life. Aura (Dunham) is an Arts graduate. Immediately after finishing University, she heads to the one place she can rely on; home. Entering back into a world in which she has no rhythmic place among her family, you have to wonder if she ever did. Her Mum and sister seem to be dancing to a new tune, which she clearly hasn’t heard of. Trying to figure out her life and make it into the arts world with the smallest amount of effort possible, she attempts to put herself into life amongst those who would normally probably never acknowledge her. I’m talking a posh, sexy, potty-mouthed old school acquaintance and various males whom she has nothing in common with. There is a constant theme throughout this movie, of permanent female bonds, which stay strong and better themselves as they go through the motions of dispute and moral questioning. Aura’s sister, her Mum and Charlotte her intense childhood friend, all happen upon situations in which they could take or leave their relationship with Aura. 52
Through regressing back to her teenage years, Aura has the relentless sibling fights with incredibly clever sister Nadine that automatically become resolved after an apology has been traded. After ‘illegally reading’ her Professional Artist’s Mum’s diary from when she was Aura’s age, Aura begins to see similarities in the way these two women feel as they hit this difficult time in their lives. She uses this information and weaves it into her life, until eventually she admits the ‘illegal reading’ to her Mum, who not only forgives her but actually bonds with her over it. Charlotte is the daughter of Aura’s Mum’s old best friend. They grew up together, but Aura had attempted to phase her out of her life until she moved back after University and finds herself in need of Charlotte’s spontaneous ways of abusing life with men, alcohol and drugs, and finds herself heavily influenced by her bad ways, but to mere learning-curve consequences. As for the men of this movie? Well, I found no real surprises. Although in the same naïve way I and a lot of my female counterparts trust males, Aura finds herself at the bottom of the awkward pit, hopelessly giving herself to someone who wouldn’t touch her if you paid him, and to another who charms to use and abuse her, much like you’d expect. Jed is a YouTuber, known to many, liked by few. He ends up manipulating Aura into thinking it was her great idea to let him crash at her Mum’s whilst she and Nadine are away. Living with this man after one failed ‘date’ doesn’t ever seem to cross Aura’s mind as pathetic, at least not in the substantial way it should; though looking back, I have been victim to the very same scenario without reason, and definitely without self worth. With him outstaying his welcome and clearly pointing out that Aura’s hamster is in fact dead, the situation of him using her to eat, sleep and live a life of freedom without ever actually acknowledging her as a person with interests and talent, never actually hits the crescendo you would expect. Another example of how Dunham has created a world of realism without cliché. And another example of how Aura has never learnt to stop letting men walk all over her. Struggling to deal with this subtle rejection, Aura turns to a colleague at her new job of day hostess at a prime
restaurant around the corner. Keith, a chef and total arsehole, uses Aura’s desperate and needy ways against her, and essentially goes through stages of nonchalant dramatics by snubbing her, screwing her (in a pipe in the street, no less), needlessly hiding her from someone he may or may not know, snubbing her for a second time, and then finally leaving her. This becomes the third obvious example of how Aura should really grow a pair and tell men where they can get off, but because of the realism factor she actually just shrinks back into herself until Keith pays her attention once again, this time with apology. All of these relationships are so standard to real life, that it seems too easy to just film it and expect applause. But this isn’t the be all and end all of the movie. Yes, you can easily relate to all of the characters and can probably pick out the ones who brilliantly compare to people you know, but there’s something very hard going about it with themes of sexual tension and camaraderie that most movies of this genre just don’t master in the way that The Tiny Furniture did in all of its real and raw, non clichéd ways. When the credits roll, you can imagine that Aura is just continuing to plod through life, embarrassing herself and everyone she knows with unnerving honesty. This is the girl next door, but with bad honest lighting and cringe-worthy fleshy moments of candid camera work. Reality definitely strikes with the authentic ‘Tiny Furniture’. One of my favourite indie’s to date. G
Images source: http://tinyfurniture.com/#press 53
Elvira by Sky Nash
KARRIE FRANSMAN TALKS COMICS Interview by Sofia Hericson Illustrations by Karrie Fransman
SOFIA - Athough the comics industry remains male-dominated, the last few years have seen the rise of female graphic novelists including Marjane Satrapi, Alison Bechdel, Posy Simmonds, and Nicola Streeten, as well as yourself. Do you think the tables are finally turning? How is it being a woman in this industry? KARRIE - Well I guess Posy and Alison are different as Posy’s been doing comics since the 70s and Alison’s Dykes to Watch Out for started in the 80s. But you’re right, there has been a new wave of women who are now getting involved - often inspired by Manga or autobiographic novels. I’m a big fan of Nicola Streeten and Eleanor Davis, and artists like Kate Beaton are making a splash. I’d say most comic cons now attract 50/50 men and women, which certainly wasn’t the case when I started out eight years ago. It does seem to me, however, that even in the indie scene it’s the men who get most recognition - Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware etc - and publisher’s authors lists are still often dominated by blokes. But hopefully that will change! SOFIA - The stories created by female graphic novelists are considerably different from those written by men: there is a deep introspective aspect of human interaction, a rawness to the way the subjects are approached. Do you feel that graphic novels are a new platform for feminist women?
KARRIE - Certainly! Comics and zines are underground art forms which provide a voice for alternative and minority groups. The low production costs and images for comics make them even more accessible to a wider audience. So the medium has socialist roots! And as feminists, a large part of the battle we face is providing alternative representations of women. What better way to morph and mould alternative bodies than with pen, paper and our imaginations? SOFIA - It’s extraordinary to see how you represent the body in your work. Every character’s story in The House that Groaned, for example, is directly related to their bodies or body phobias and fetishes. From Barbara, the beautiful makeup artist, to Matt the professional photograph-retoucher who is terrified of human touch; Janet, the tormented guru of a slimming programme; lonely Mrs Durbach who blends into every part of the house making herself almost invisible; Brian, with a fetish for sick, disfigured or dying women, and of course Marion, a hedonist who runs the Midnight Feast Front. You also thank Ruth Holiday for making you see bodies for more than their biological purpose. Why this fascination with the body, and do you think graphic novels can improve the way society and the media influence women and men? 61
KARRIE - I did a whole visual lecture on the influence on the book of the sociology of the body, which you can watch here: http://comicsforum. org/2012/02/24/the-body-as-a-canvas-in-comics-karrie-fransman-explores-the-influence-ofcorporal-studies-in-the-creation-of-her-graphic-novel-the-house-that-groaned/ But to sum it up: I’ve always been fascinated by bodies, from a young age where I’d collect fingernails, bits of hair, and blood in old Bodyshop tubs. I was sick a fair bit as a child, so I think this made me aware of the impermanence of our bodies. Then, as a student, I studied Psychology and Sociology and fell in love with corporal theorists like Judith Butler and Susan Bordo. So that explains my fascination. Do I think comics can improve society’s influence on men and women? Certainly! Anyone can make comics and anyone can read them, unlike tv or magazines, which allows for alternative images and ideas. Although the power of the medium can be used by either side - just look at the piles of propaganda comics or hypersexualised superheroes.
SOFIA - Speaking of bodies, I must confess I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan, but sometimes I wonder if I like her because she is an amazingly strong and interesting woman, a true symbol of feminism, or if I am being fed a patriarchal ideology of what a strong woman should be. How do you feel about the portrayal of the body - female and male - in mainstream comics such as DC and Marvel? KARRIE - Ha ha! Yes, always a difficult one. Nicola Streeten collects covers of Wonder Woman tied up while huge, phallic objects fly at her - missiles, snakes etc. And Kate Beaton did a very funny comic poking fun at Hollywood’s idea of the ‘Strong Female Lead’ (http://harkavagrant.com/ index.php?id=311). So I suppose more women and men are providing alternative representations of women to the superhero option. Although DC and Marvel are interesting - they also represent hypermasculine images of men as well. Perhaps they are just hotbeds of male anxiety and fantasy! Interestingly, there is evidence of how women can
use comics to express fantasies too: yaoi manga is hugely popular in Japan and is written by women for women. It depicts homosexual relationships between beautiful, effeminate men and allows Japanese women to embody the male characters and escape the restrictions of their role as women in Japan. Fascinating! SOFIA - Your stories seem to have a dreamy, even nightmarish feel. Where do you get your inspiration from? KARRIE - From my dreams and nightmares! No. Mostly I come up with ideas from normal, everyday waking life. I dreamt up Janet, the dietician tormented by midnight phone calls from the Midnight Feast Front, when I was writing adverts for a diet company which offered 24 hour advice by phone. Matt, the retoucher who cannot touch, developed after I went on a hike and my dad recounted the story of John Ruskin and his disgust at seeing his young wife’s pubic hair for the first time. It made me think about society’s inability to accept women as they really are. Marion was inspired by a grotesque version of Nigella Lawson and I used those food-porn M&S Ads - ‘This is not just pie...’ - to write her dialogue. So my inspiration comes from all over really!
more immersive, interactive narratives that really put the reader at the heart of the story. Whether that’s creating Disney Land rides that zoom you through a narrative or gaming stories that put you in the heart of a panel. All I need are the thousands of bucks that would let me do that! SOFIA– I’d like to finish with a little challenge. You created a very helpful guide to comics in London for Time Out. Could you give any advice to young graphic novelists on how to start or progress in a career in comics?
SOFIA - Your latest work for the Guardian, entitled ‘Big dreams, big problems: graduate stories’, is a fascinating and very touching study on the frustrating and difficult path that new graduates have to take to establish themselves in society. A great new approach to journalism, graphic journalism is an interactive way to tell personal stories to an ever growing and busy public. You like to work with different media and interact with your readers, whether through comic strips, graphic novels, or sequential narrative. What is the most fulfilling media for you, the one that reflects you best?
KARRIE - Well, the UK comics industry is still small compared to France, Japan, or America, so all creators are very much doing it for the love of the medium rather than the moolah. So I’d start by getting involved with the friendly, lovely comics community! Paul Gravett’s site is fantastic for listing all the events going on in the UK and beyond: http://www.paulgravett.com/index.php/ events/event_listings. I’d advise you to go down to a comics convention, a graphic novel reading group, or an exhibition, and start chatting to people there. Once you’ve had the space to experiment with the medium, you could try doing some shorter stories for some fantastic anthologies - The Strumpet, Ink and Paper, Solipsistic Pop, The Comix Reader to name a few. Then I’d recommend getting entrepreneurial. How can you use the medium to talk to people in a new way? Can you re-draw NHS health pamphlets in comic form? Can you do cookery comics? What about interviewing people in comic form? Get your idea, find the website, newspaper, magazine or company who may be interested in paying you for it, and go pitch it to them. The Writers and Artists Yearbook has a lot of contacts for these people. The UK is still becoming comic literate, but it means there is a world of potential out there for how we can use this fantastic medium! Good luck! G
KARRIE - Yes, I do like to hop through different mediums to tell different stories. I’ve done strips, 200 page graphic novels, comic journalism, digital comics, and comics built in dolls houses and jewellery boxes. I’m not sure which is the most fulfilling, as each new medium inspires new ideas and narratives - and frustrations as I struggle to get to grips with each!. I guess I’d like to do
Porn is like Pot Noodle
Text by Sarah Hilary Illustrations by Gavin Read 72
Porn is like Pot Noodle. There’s really nothing to it, no substance, until you fetch up with the boiling water. I’ve tried explaining this to my husband, who prides himself on his tolerance for my chosen career, but secretly wishes his wife didn’t earn her keep writing screenplays for people with names like Victor Stallion or Stormy Blue. I’d be more impressed by his tolerance if he didn’t keep distracting me, mid-flow, with village gossip. I’m typing, “CLOSE-UP SHOT of Stormy’s nipple –” when, ‘Joanna’s invited you a coffee morning, Kate.’ ‘What..?’ ‘Joanna. Two doors down? Lady with the retriever.’ Oh… balls. I backspace, deleting the accidental intrusion of Joanna’s dog into the intimate moment between Stormy and his Stallion. Multi-tasking’s all very well but you try writing banging hardcore action when your neighbour’s baking a sponge-cake. I can see my next blockbusters now: Tea with Pussolini; Lay Her Cake. Or… FADE IN: EXT. COTTAGE – DAY The door is opened by JOANNA, a sprightly 50-something with a face like a King Charles spaniel. She smiles at her visitor. JOANNA: Kate! How lovely to see you! KATE: Lovely of you to ask me. CUT TO: INT. COTTAGE – DAY KATE’s P.O.V. The sitting-room is chintzy. A dog is lying on the hearth-rug – retriever, golden, obese. There’s a coffee-table in the centre of the room, spread with a linen cloth embroidered with a fringe of flowers. Seated around the room are six women of a certain age, well-dressed, sensibly-shod. WOMEN (in chorus): Hello! KATE: Hello. CUT TO: WOMEN’s P.O.V. as KATE approaches and finds her place in an empty armchair. KATE sits and sneezes, reaching into her handbag for a tissue. CUT TO: CLOSE-UP SHOT: KATE rummages through the bag, removing items and placing them on the corner of the coffee-table: a Mason Pearson hairbrush; a Rain Jayne; an old-fashioned enameled powder compact; a large neon-blue translucent latex phallus complete with ‘realistic head’. ZOOM TO: CLOSE-UP SHOT: KATE’s hand as she stands the DILDO on the table next to the fairy-cakes and Royal Worcester. Being latex, it wobbles a little until it finds its balance. KATE withdraws her hand and delves into her handbag. Sounds of delving. Otherwise, complete silence in the room. CLOSE-UP SHOT: KATE retrieves a tissue and blows her nose, loudly. Focus pulls back to DILDO which is catching the sun and shining, filtering the light to a blue tincture which stains the doilies and ginger-loaf. CUT TO: LONG SHOT: the room of women all sipping coffee. The sound of gulping. The dog gets up and walks arthritically towards the table, where it sniffs at the DILDO, wrinkling its nose. Chink-chink of bone china as cups meet saucers, unsteadily. Blue shadow of DILDO being drawn by sunlight, like an obscene sundial, across the linen table-cloth into the neat laps of the seated ladies. FADE OUT. ENDS.
CyberCandy text by Sarah Hilary illustration by Gavin Read
CyberCandy sells Twinkies, and Rainbow Twizzlers. It has Hostess Ding Dongs in boxes of 24, good for up to a fortnight past the sell-by date if they’re stored in cool dark conditions. ‘Cool dark conditions.’ I love that. If I had a computer, I’d never leave the house; CyberCandy’s online, ships direct to your door. I’ve lived in London all my life, was raised on sherbet fountains and dib dabs, liquorice shoelaces, blackjacks and jelly wellies. These days I’d rather a Ding Dong than just about anything else. I shop at CyberCandy in Covent Garden. It gets me out of the house. The sight of me scares off the skinny school-girls standing by the boilings, but Ben-behind-thecounter doesn’t mind. I may not be the best advert for candy but he knows I’ll spend more than the pair of them put together. I work the aisles sideways like a crab, filling my red bucket. I get what I want but there’s a hollow space that gnaws, until Jolly Rancher rides to the rescue. Ben empties the bucket into a brown paper bag, the kind they use for pornography or prohibition gin. I take the bag to the carousel by the side of the Opera House and watch the painted horses going round. It’s years since they let me ride. The afternoon’s brown-and-grey, but the lights on the carousel are bright, jolly as the Ranchers that rattle in my fist. I make my way down to the Embankment and sit on my favourite bench. I nearly fill it, hip to hip. From here, I see the slow turning of the London Eye, empty and unblinking above me. A couple on the next bench neck with noisy relish. I watch the boats on the water, chugging away. If I had a lover, I should come to him with cherry lips, sticky and sweet. He’d hold between his teeth not a red rose but a raspberry Chupa Chup, wrapper off. I’d let him nibble iced gems from my breasts, and dress my toes and fingers in gummy rings. I’d lie with a single jelly bean marking out my belly button, pina colada flavour, and I’d tremble from head to toe like a pink blancmange bride. He’d exult in my doughy flesh, its lumps and bumps, would dust me with kisses and watch me rise, golden and feathery-light, to burst with starry flavour on his tongue. 75
TEXT BY GEORGIA BUTLER ILLUSTRATIONS BY MICKEY ELLIOTT
Rollerderby has been getting a hell of a lot of
press here in the UK over the last couple of years. The Independent, Empire, Grazia, Women’s Fitness, even *shudder* the Daily Express have dedicated column inches to this high-octane, full-contact, female-only sport. BBC Radio 4, not usually a bastion of the hip and now, took notice last year, running interesting interviews with Rollergirls themselves in which they discussed the positive impact the sport has had on their lives. Founded in 2006, the London Rollergirls was one of the first Rollerderby leagues to spring up outside its North American homeland. Competitive roller-skating has a long history in the US, with endurance racing becoming popular in the 1880s (a six-day endurance race at New York’s Madison Square Gardens, where over 30 racers competed for $500 prize money, resulted in the deaths of two competitors, including the winner). Quickly developing a reputation as a dangerous pursuit, due both due to its endurance element and to the often brutal tactics of desperate competitors, competitive roller-skating continued to evolve and to gain popularity, with the Rollerderby coming to resemble its contemporary incarnation in 1939. The derby consists of two teams of five people on the track at the same time, winning points when they manage to lap a member of the opposing side. A mixed gender sport from the beginning, Rollerderby gained a huge following, with bouts being reported via radio and then on television, with a peak of 15 million viewers per week in 1969. Over the decades it evolved from a straightforward endurance race to a sport where ‘jams’ (dramatic contact, elbows, tripping up, slamming the opponent, etc.) were encouraged. The audience lapped up the violent edge and it soon became something akin to wrestling, with staged falls, tumbles and altercations on the track. By the mid-seventies, however, increasing overheads, and perhaps the increasingly staged nature of the contests, made Rollerderby unprofitable. Despite several attempts to reinvigorate the sport over the succeeding decades, it had all but died out by the early 2000s. Then, some wacked-out dude in Austin, Texas, had an idea. Why not get a bunch of feisty, rockabilly girls with tattoos and Betty Page haircuts to smash each other to bits while racing on roller-skates as part of a circus-like event to delight
fellow wacked-out dudes like himself? So Daniel ‘Devil Dan’ Policarpo set about fleering local rock joints and invited a bunch of likely ladies to an ‘organisation’ meeting. What happened next is the stuff of Rollerderby rumour and legend, but the jist of it seems to be that money was raised, meetings were had, venues were booked, money disappeared, venues were unbooked, and ladies were pissed off. They decided to kick ‘Devil Dan’ to the curb and set about founding their own company, Bad Girl Good Woman Productions. The rest, as they say, is history. Modern day Rollerderby was born. The sport as it exists today is fast, exciting, full-contact, intensely competitive, and immense fun to watch. My first Rollerderby match (as a spectator, I stress) was the London Rollergirls final at Brompton Hall. In the huge empty hall, a track had been marked out on the concrete floor, with seating for several hundred people set out in a rectangle behind it. A sound system had been set up and was blaring out a mix of rock, metal, hip-hop and generally good music. With ten minutes or so before the play-off for third place began, there were already a good two hundred spectators. While this is a sport played by women, it is by no means only for women.
photo by nearthecoast A good proportion of the audience were male, be they spouses, partners, fathers, friends, well-wishers or just curious onlookers. The crowd had a great buzz to it: you got the feeling it was a real community sport. While the majority of spectators were in the 16-35 demographic, and could loosely be described as ‘alternative’, there were also a number of families present with young children, and it felt incredibly welcoming. There was good banter at the bar, and young women walked around selling American-style donuts for charity. As the teams performed their introductory lap around the track, the commentators announced their noms-de-guerre. A remnant of the sport’s previous incarnation as pseudo-choreographed entertainment, most Rollerderby players assume stage names. Given that these women come from all walks of life, the adoption of a moniker has been explained by some participants as allowing them to become different people on the track. In an interview for BBC Radio 4 last year, one young woman claimed that she would never be able to be so ruthless on the track if she were doing so in her ‘civilian’ persona. Usually humorous, these names add an important element of theatre to the sport, 78
allowing often brutal physical tactics to be performed in an atmosphere almost entirely devoid of the testosterone-fuelled aggression associated with typically male sports. As an avid sports fan, I’ve grown up attending football, rugby and cricket matches with my dad and younger sister. I’ve always enjoyed the different vibes you get with each different sports crowd: leisurely fun at test matches; rowdy but generally good-natured at a rugby match; and the incredibly intense, highly-charged feeling of belonging and tribalism at a premier league football match. Once the Rollerderby match had got started, with each team competing in a different tight-fitting kit complete with decorated helmets, pads and spangly short-shorts, there was clearly an intensely competitive element. The initial shock of watching women ruthlessly slam into one another to stop them overtaking was quite pronounced: the falls were hard, the crowd groaned in sympathy, but I soon realised that it was unlike any other sports match I had watched. These women meant business for sure, but there was no malice, no anger, no nasty sharp edge. Within minutes I was shouting along with the rest of
the crowd, commiserating with those who’d been outdone, and cheering for those who’d outpaced the rest. What I’d taken to be hardcore-stop-atnothing, free-for-all tactics were actually closely monitored, and those who the referee felt to have broken the strict rules of allowable contact were swiftly penalised. The action was fast, furious, and absolutely mesmerising. I was hooked, and only the appearance of a Wookie, Darth Vader, and several Stormtroopers in the crowd could persuade me from taking my eyes off the action for a split second (apparently, a Star Wars convention had been taking place downstairs). With the battle for third place decided, there was interval entertainment: a troop of neon tutu-ed cheerleaders of mixed gender performed an amateur, but none the less very entertaining routine. I can barely remember anything of the final: the speed, stamina and strength of the women on the track was so impressive, and the action so enthralling, that it seemed to fly by in a few minutes. Despite having been on my feet for nearly three hours, after the match was over I felt exhilarated, buoyed up by what I had seen and by the smiles, humour and banter of my fellow spectators. There are so many inspiring things about the sport of Rollerderby. It has a real home-grown,
photo by Derek Bremner DIY, community feel to it, but it also manages to be well-organised with clear rules of conduct. As is typical of female sport, these women compete in their spare time for little or no financial gain, but display high levels of professionalism, commitment and sportsmanship. One could argue that this is because the sport is played and organised by women, who are somehow evolutionarily and genetically predisposed to be good at cooperative pursuits. That, I don’t buy - anyone who knows the hellish fury of an all-girl school hockey match or netball game (or indeed, local WI meeting) knows that just because all the participants have vaginas doesn’t mean that the game will be well-organised or friendly. Besides, there is plenty of male involvement, with male team coaches, referees, cheerleaders and commentators. What is clear is that everybody involved feels a great deal of respect and fondness for each other, for their sport, and for the fans. There was no pressure to ‘perform’, to please sponsors, or to maintain an image, just a drive to have fun and kick ass. I will always love watching traditionally male competitive sports, and have always made a point of attending matches, in spite of their often aggressive and macho atmospheres: as a fellow fan, I always felt I had a place on the stands, and 99% of my experiences at these events have been positive. But watching Rollerderby for the first time felt like a home-coming: a bunch of like-minded, funny and enthusiastic people getting together to enjoy skill, speed, falls, giggles, and awesome music, over a few beers and a donut. G
photo by thelondonrollergirls 79
Growing up in the United States, the children of
a Libyan father and American mother, my sisters and I had only sporadic contact with our Libyan family. We hardly even knew the names of all our many relatives, and we spoke even less Arabic. We weren’t Libyan, not very much. But we did eat, almost daily, the staples of traditional Libyan cuisine: pasta, couscous, lamb stews. One of our only connections to my father’s homeland, therefore, was through his food. I used to think that my father cooked Libyan food so often because he wanted to eat it and my mother didn’t know how to cook it. To be sure, that was partly true. But what I didn’t understand was why he knew so much about traditional Libyan cuisine - or more importantly, that his knowledge of and capacity for Libyan cooking was unique. See, in Libya, the kitchen is solely the domain of women. It’s not just that Libyan women have the responsibility of everything pertaining to meals, from the preparation of food to the cleaning of dishes, it’s that the kitchen is the only space over which they alone are masters. Men hardly ever enter that space outside of mealtimes; indeed, they practically need a woman’s explicit invitation. In most households, both men and women rise early. The men go to work, the women to the kitchen. The morning’s tasks are geared towards preparing lunch; eaten after the noon prayer, lunch is so important that it breaks the day in two. The preparation might start with the butchering of larger cuts of meat, cleaning and cooking raw vegetables, making fresh dough, or simmering sauces. If there is a guest for lunch, or a family member has requested a particular traditional dish, making lunch – something which to us is as simple as throwing together a sandwich – can easily take hours. Then after lunch, there’s the dishwashing, cleaning, and general restoration of order in the kitchen. All these tasks are performed exclusively by women. Furthermore, traditional knowledge, in this case culinary, can also be segregated. Libyan men are typically involved so minimally in food preparation that they often end up knowing hardly anything about the delicious traditional dishes they consume daily. Cook complicated dishes like
bazeen, stuffed intestines, or stuffed grape leaves? They hardly know the staples of Libyan food, much less how to fend for themselves given a kitchen full of raw materials. Oh sure, Libyan men can make some things. Three things, in fact, all doable on camping trips when there are no women around: traditional Libyan pasta, grilled meat, and meat baked under hot coals. (This range of culinary skill sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). But if a Libyan man is helpless when it comes to preparing food for himself or his family, it almost doesn’t matter. He’ll probably marry a Libyan woman who knows how to cook and keep a kitchen (she’ll have learned from her mother), and will be able to count on rarely having to face a situation that demands he have any traditional culinary ability. Of course I didn’t know any of this growing up. I didn’t begin visiting Libya until after I finished university. In our home in the United States, in complete contrast to the standard practice of his homeland, my father claimed the kitchen as his own. He came to prepare practically everything: breakfasts, weekend lunches, and our nightly dinners after coming home from work. In the early mornings, in between rising early to go to the nearby mosque and returning to sleep on his recliner before work, he made our packed lunches for school. So I first learned about the kitchen and Libyan cuisine through the man of our American house. But during my stays in Libya, though many things felt new to me, my extended family treated me as just another one of them. That meant I was expected, to a large extent, to behave just like any other male in the family. And in Libya, that meant participation in kitchen activities, with the exception of eating, was not on the list.
Completely unaccustomed to not helping out in the kitchen in some way, I found myself trying to sneak small helpful things in, here and there, while the women of the house repeatedly rebuffed my attempts to at least wash dishes, for instance. Once, sitting around my uncle’s kitchen table at night for a light dinner and green tea, my cousins and I began talking about that day’s big event on the family farm: four of my aunts had teamed up to clean out and reorganize the massive walk-in pantry in the old house where all the huge trays and cooking pots were kept. Some of the pots were so massive that a child could easily curl up inside, and I asked what they were used for. My uncle answered first: “The biggest one, that’s called a gidr, and the next one down is a...” he started to say. “No, the biggest is hilla and the medium one is a gidr,” my aunt corrected, jumping in. “No way,” my uncle replied, “It’s definitely the other way around.” 82
My aunt raised an eyebrow. “How would you know?” she asked, half-teasing, “you’ve never used one!” It occurred to me that my uncle was probably a bit out of his depth when it came to subtleties such as the names for rarely-used massive pots of only slightly differing sizes, all large enough to stew an entire goat. It wouldn’t be too hyperbolic to say that the range of culinary implements which a Libyan woman uses daily can be unknown and perplexing to her husbands and sons. In some respects that was discouraging, because I was only beginning to discover what a fascinating space the Libyan kitchen was! In larger households, a number of women would gather to help prepare meals, and there one could be privy to the conversations of older women. This included - besides the intricate detailing of marital relations, family histories, social goings-on, and the city’s news and gossip - the recitation of now-rare folk tales and stories to pass the time. These were some of the things I was interested in learning, and which I had had little success in finding among the men of the family.
Trying to ask my male cousins about family history elicited expressions as blank as if I had been speaking to them in English. And if, during large family gatherings, I went off to the kitchen to spend time listening to the women, that only perplexed both sides: the male cousins would come and insist that I spend time with the men, while the women would be confused as to why a Libyan man would want to spend his time listening to them. (I could only in honesty tell one of these groups that their conversation was the more interesting!). Regardless of how atypical this was for a man, I started not only asking after the recipes for different dishes, but also requesting to help out preparing lunch, so that I might learn hands-on. The initial responses of the women in my family took me aback. Why did I want to learn, they would ask, when I would, or could, just marry a Libyan woman in a few years’ time and not have to worry about it? Initially, I didn’t realize that, for them, it wasn’t simply about learning a new culture to bring home, but about a way of life. I hit upon a change of tactic: when asked why I wanted to learn to cook (for surely a Libyan wife would preclude that need), I would respond: “Well, I’m not going to be getting married for another couple of years, and until I do I want to be able to eat good Libyan food, even when I’m not in Libya. So I’ve got to cook it myself!” They conceded that point. But it still didn’t really motivate anyone to, for example, inform me before food preparations began, in case I wanted to observe. I would still wander down to the kitchen mid-morning, only to discover that some interesting dish I wanted to learn was halfway cooked and no one had bothered to tell me! Learning how to prepare traditional Libyan food was, for me, a piecemeal process. Everyone involved will agree that some of the first steps were pretty unsure , but after a slow couple of months, more and more tasks began to come my way during preparations for lunch. It was a somewhat arduous way to learn: rather than have a recipe explained to me in a neat order, as we might find in our cookbooks, I participated in the different steps themselves. I would do two different parts of the preparation
of a particular dish nonconsecutively, sometimes even weeks apart. During this process, I began to wonder, if it was so drawn-out and painstakingly slow at times, how it was that my father came to cook so well. Surely, in his day, it would have been even more difficult for a young Libyan man to spend his time in a kitchen, and productively at that? But he did. Whether he, decades ago, went through a learning process similar to mine, I’m not sure. In any case, he ended up with a body of knowledge – traditional cuisine – and a level of cooking ability that men typically do not have. Spending time in kitchens, able to hear women’s kitchen-talk, was an extra benefit. In the large household in which he grew up, many women participated in food preparation, and so amidst the preparation of food he heard stories of his ancestors: his great-grandmother who came from the Caucasus and rode horses even in Libya; his grandfather imprisoned twice by the Italians during the colonial occupation. And my father remembers them, because he spent enough time with women in their kitchens. The point for me isn’t necessarily that this all passed straight from my father to me. In fact, it didn’t - I had to make the pilgrimage, so to speak, to Libyan women themselves. But for me it is more about recognizing that women possess a unique body of culturally important knowledge which is absolutely central to Libyan life. That said, if it weren’t for my father’s somewhat atypical behavior back in Libya when he was younger, my sisters and I would barely have this particular connection to our heritage. G 83
libyan stuffed vegetables (mehshi) By Adam Benkato illustration by Lianne Harrison
One of the dishes my father made most frequently at home was stuffed peppers.
They’re filled with good herbs and spices, and, when topped off with a good greek-style yoghurt, fill your mouth with a wonderful hot-cool-tart-spicy savouriness (though, the addition of yoghurt isn’t very Libyan). In Libya, though, this dish, mehshi, which just means ‘stuffed’, is made with aubergines and courgettes, too. In fact, it was the first thing I learned and was trusted to make on my own when I lived with my relatives in Benghazi. Important, that first dish someone trusts you to make without generating a huge mess! Anyhow, it’s not difficult to make, but looks just complicated enough to impress your friends. What you need: 8 medium-size vegetables for stuffing (green bell peppers are standard, but I prefer red or yellow ones, as they’re sweeter): say 4 peppers and 4 courgettes or small aubergines 800g minced beef (from a local, grass-fed, happy cow) 1 onion, chopped very fine 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 small cup of uncooked rice 1 tbsp each of turmeric and paprika a fist-sized bundle of parsley, chopped very fine (but feel free to add your favorite fresh herbs) 1 large tomato, diced 2 tbsp tomato paste olive oil and s+ p to taste
What you do: Preheat the oven to 200 C Cut off the tops of the peppers (and other vegetables, if using). For the peppers, clean out the interiors. For courgettes and aubergines, hollow out the interiors, leaving a reasonably thin shell. In a large bowl, throw all the ingredients together. Then, mix it all really well. Use your hands, preferably! (Seriously, raw minced meat is cold and slimy and fun!). Once it’s thoroughly mixed, stuff each vegetable completely full, but don’t pack the stuffing down too much. Put the tops back on the peppers, and use a small knife to poke a slit in the bottoms of the other vegetables (you know, so they don’t explode in the oven). Arrange them in a deep-ish baking dish, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. If the dish isn’t sealed tightly, the rice won’t cook. Bake in the oven until the peppers are soft enough that a fork goes through with no effort (about 1 hour, but maybe even up to 1.5 hours). Done! Didn’t say it was complicated. Serve with Greek-style yoghurt topped with olive oil, and a small salad like tabouleh! The yoghurt isn’t a very Libyan addition, but like I say, is a nice touch. 85
Bluebe rry sour cream coffee cake with a pecan streusel topping By Alison Gorman
This is coffee cake in the North American sense – not the classic afternoon tea treat
laced with Camp Coffee as we have here, but rather a damp vanilla sponge, kept extra moist with the addition of sour cream and the pop of fresh blueberries. The streusel provides a bit of spice and crunch for a pleasantly contrasting texture. Perfect with a strong cup of good coffee. Ingredients: 125g butter, softened 225g caster sugar 2 eggs 1tsp vanilla extract 250g plain flour 1tsp baking soda ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt
250ml sour cream 200g punnet of blueberries Streusel topping: 50g butter, softened 50g brown sugar 50g plain flour 50g pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped 1tsp cinnamon
First, make the streusel topping: Combine butter, sugar, flour, pecan nuts and cinnamon in a bowl and mix with your hands to form a soft, crumb-like mixture. Break up any clumps into smaller pieces. Set aside. For the cake: 1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a 23cm cake tin with a springform base, and line the base with baking paper. 2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, if you have a handheld whisk or stand mixer to do it with, all the better. 3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 4. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time, making sure that each one gets fully incorporated. Add a spoonful of the flour mixture with each egg. Add the vanilla and beat for another minute. 5. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating them with the sour cream, making sure to scrape the bowl down as necessary. 6. Fold in the blueberries carefully using a large metal spoon. If you have washed the blueberries, try to make sure they are dry again, as otherwise they may sink in the cake. 7. Tip the cake mixture into your prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with the back of a metal spoon. Scatter over the streusel topping. 8. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45-55 minutes – the top of the cake should feel firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. If the streusel topping is becoming brown before the cake is fully cooked, loosely cover the top of the tin with tin foil. 9. When the cake is cooked, let it cool in the tin before carefully releasing it and removing the baking paper. Dust with icing sugar, if wished.
Winte r Lasagne With Rosemary And Thyme Cashew “Cheese” By Francesca Wetherilt
mum makes this delicious lasagne which consists of three layers; butternut squash, creamy mushrooms and lightly wilted spinach. It quickly became a firm favourite with my sister and I and we three used to make it together when friends and family came over for dinner. It was one of those dishes which I knew I had to “veganise” as not only is it mind-blowingly amazing, it reminds me of some really lovely dinners with my mum and sis, which is what good food should do. It takes a bit of time but it’s totally worth it.
Prep time: 45 minutes - Cook time: 40 minutes - Serves: 6 portions Ingredients NB. when I refer to anything that sounds like/may contain a dairy product (example, single cream) I’m using a vegan alternative, all of which can be find in most supermarkets or health food shops For the lasagne: 1 box of lasagne sheets – be careful not to buy egg pasta! I find the cheaper brands often don’t use egg at all, just 100% durum wheat 1 medium butternut squash 500g mushrooms 1 bag of baby leaf spinach 250ml carton single cream 2 tbsp pesto 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tsp nutmeg Olive oil Salt and pepper For the Rosemary and Thyme Cashew “Cheese”: 140g raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes 250ml vegetable stock Juice of 1 lemon 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped 1 tbsp of fresh thyme, coarsely chopped 3 cloves garlic 2 tbsp nutritional yeast – this can be found in health food shops and gives adds to the cheesy flavour of this topping. Also packed full of vitamin B12! Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C or Gas Mark 7. Put the cashews into a bowl of water to soak. Layer One: Pesto butternut squash Peel and slice the squash into thin slices, size and shape of your choosing as long as they are all similar. Pop into the dish you’ll use for the lasagne and drizzle over olive oil, rubbing it in with your hands so each slice is generously coated. Put it in the oven to roast whilst you make the rest of the dish. Layer Two: Garlic and cream mushrooms Slice the mushrooms to the same thickness and finely chop/press the garlic cloves. Add to a large pan or wok and gently fry with some olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add half of the carton of single cream (125ml). Simmer for a further 5 minutes, adding the soy sauce before you remove from the heat and season. Set aside in a bowl. Layer Three: Wilted nutmeg spiced spinach Finely dice an onion and using the same pan you used for the mushrooms, cook the onions until translucent, approximately 4 minutes. Add a splash more olive oil if required. Rinse the spinach and squeeze out the excess water, then add to the pan, a bit at a time if necessary. Pour in the remaining cream and add the nutmeg and season. You want to cook the spinach until it is lightly wilted but still retains a bit of bite. Remove from the heat and set aside. Rosemary and Thyme Cashew “Cheese” Add the garlic to a blender and whizz up until the cloves are finely chopped. Add the rosemary, thyme and lemon juice and blend, again, so the herbs become more finely chopped. Drain the cashews and add them to the blender, along with the vegetable stock and nutritional yeast. Blend until combined, the consistency should be quite thick but wet. Season with salt and pepper. Constructing the lasagne Remove the butternut squash from the oven and stir in the pesto. Using some form of mashing utensil, lightly mash the squash, but not so it becomes puréed! Remove just under a third of the semi-mashed squash and set aside. Layer on lasagne sheets until covered. Next, take the mushrooms and pour over the first set of lasagne sheets, again, saving a third and set aside. Repeat with lasagne sheets. Then comes the spinach, again setting aside a third and covering with lasagne sheets. Use the remaining mixtures of all three fillings to spread across the lasagne. Pour on the cashew cheese mixture and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the cashew cheese topping has turned that ever-appealing shade of golden brown. Serve with a rocket and balsamic salad as this will cut through the richness of the lasagne.
FOOD RULES! ZINE Text by FRANCESCA WETHERILT Illustration by CHARLIE CAMERON
The idea for Food Rules! was born out of a really successful all vegan barbecue a
group of friends and I had in June. It was overcast and drizzly but we were so determined to feast our faces off that it just didnâ€™t matter. We had tofu teriyaki skewers, potato salad, barbecue baked beans, peanut butter tofu burgers, a tonne of homemade dips and a peanut butter, chocolate and coconut cheesecake for desert. All the while we were huddled under a gazebo feeling thoroughly smug about how much effort we had all made and it turning out so great. Later that day, a bit bevved up on Cheeky Vimto and still brilliantly full of food, I had what I guess you could call an epiphany. I could never recall an occasion where every person present had contributed homemade food to such a high standard. More than that, not everyone who came was vegan, but everything we ate was, which meant so much to me as I felt, more than ever, that our choices to abstain from animal products were respected, normalised and celebrated.
I felt so awed by the talent and compassion on show that I knew I needed to document and share it. A zine felt like the perfect medium to encapsulate this spirit, as this format has an amazing heritage of showcasing passion and creativity, from football to feminism and everything in between. I hope to translate the compassion, open-mindedness, tolerance and amazing sense of community that veganism means to me, to anyone who wants to experience it too. Part of that means making it as affordable as the recipes themselves. My friend Charlie, who is contributing the illustrations and InDesign-ing the hell out of the content, suggested we print the zine using a Risograph machine, a method he is already familiar with from his sterling work at Camberwell College of Art. By using a printing method that is vegan, environmentally friendly and cheap to make (and therefore to sell!), we are able to do so without making any compromises. The way the Riso is able to champion all these excellent components is that it doesn’t have heated rollers or require warm-up time, and it prints super fast, which contributes to it being highly energy efficient. The ink is made with soy oil, which is ethically sourced and therefore also vegan. Charlie has been integral in our working towards creating something beautiful and substantial, with his illustrations and guidance on everything from paper stock to whether or not to use endpapers. That, coupled with contributions, encouragement and support from friends, makes me believe we have managed to put together something worthwhile and hopefully useful! I also believe the way zines are discovered and distributed helps to both complement and galvanise the spirit of what ethical veganism means to me. Having worked in a bookshop for four years, I really cherish and value the physical book, and zines are just an extension of that love. Blogs are a really important and useful source of information for the vegan community, which makes finding new recipes particularly easy, especially since they are almost always peer reviewed. There are plenty of really excellent blogs and other online sources of information, but I find that stumbling across a recipe in a zine or cookery book feels like you’ve uncovered a treasure, a snapshot of time, immortalised in print. I think this is true of zines generally, too. They play a huge part in capturing specific moments of single or collective thought, or documenting a sub-culture or genre, in a manner unrivalled by other formats since they can be printed and distributed cheaply and quickly. It’s important to keep this type of social documentary alive! I was so chuffed when Sofia asked me if I would like to contribute something to the first issue of GEEKED. It is so important to keep writing and talking and thinking and expressing what matters to us and questioning the bullshit that gets thrown our way for being ourselves and believing or behaving a certain way. I was once asked whether I honestly thought that my veganism would make any substantial difference to what it is I purport to care about. I’d like to think that creating a zine, and, by extension, a platform to distribute a collection of delicious recipes and reach people who may not have considered veganism as a viable diet and lifestyle, will be corporeal proof that yes, I do think one person can make a difference and we should categorically never give up trying to. G
You can find out more about Food Rules! on http://veganfoodrules.tumblr.com/ 91
A Little Piece of Home Right in the Middle of Fitzrovia: Wahaca on Charlotte St. by Samantha Langsdale
My partner and I spent the better part of August
eating pasta with courgette or courgette with pasta, whichever combo was cheapest that week. Because we’re both research students, we rely heavily on student loans and by that point our finances felt a bit ‘like butter scraped over too much bread’ (LOTR hollaaa!). Then magically the Loan Fairy visited our bank accounts and we had one magnificent Saturday before my partner went off on fieldwork wherein cost was of no concern. Both of us being Texans, the choice location for a long, luxurious lunch seemed fairly obvious. The new Wahaca on Charlotte Street? Yeah, daddy!
tenner. I stole sips from the Michelada but stuck to the tamer Chelada (cerveza with lime and salt). Pedro also deftly talked us into guacamole and tortilla chips while we waited for our ‘market food’ and god bless him! The homemade guac is so fresh and so balanced—just the right amount of citrus, salt, and heat—that you will never again be able to consider buying one of those pre-packaged pots of slime at the supermarket. The tortilla chips were crisp, still warm and dusted with just enough salt that we needed extra big gulps of our beers.
The outside of the building is like an oasis in the grey desert that is London. Its beautiful muted turquoise and coral awning says, ‘Hey amigo, thirsty? Come on in, relax, stay all year if you want’. The interior is much the same in that the highlights of color do not scream, ‘I AM A MEXICAN MARKET BUILT BY BRITISH PEOPLE!!’; instead they support the gorgeous wood accents, reflect the (little bits of) natural light and give warmth to the dining area. We sat down and were promptly greeted by our waiter, Pedro, who helpfully scribbled his name on our paper table mats so that were we ever left wanting (we weren’t), we could address him like a friend, rather than snap at him like hired help. This definitely felt like home. Pedro gave us a few minutes to decide on drinks and when my partner ordered a Michelada, he was kind enough to clarify that the drink was not to everyone’s tastes. Again, being Texans, we thought the sound of salty, limey, spicy beer was nothing short of gourmet but upon the drink’s arrival, I could absolutely appreciate Pedro’s caution. To be honest, the drink LOOKS a little like Thames water but I promise it is the best eye-watering, mouth-dancing, knockyou-on-your-ass drink you can have for under a
Before long our food started arriving. We chose to share the Wahaca Selection which includes 3 Pork Pibil Tacos, 1 Large Broad Bean Quesadilla, 3 Chicken Tingar Tacos, 2 Black Bean Tostadas, 2 New Potato Taquitos and Wahaca Slaw. Pedro explained to us that because these are ‘street snacks’ and therefore, traditionally composed on the spot, our dishes would come out as they were ready. Not a problem. Not only could we not chow down fast enough to make room for the incoming plates—we were far too busy having mouthgasms and exclaiming to each other that this was possibly better than food from home—but we were becoming increasingly full with each bite. The fantastic part was that this kind of full was not of the ‘ugh, why did I eat that grease-bomb’ variety. The fresh ingredients packed SUCH a punch you couldn’t help but feel satisfied. Crispy cilantro, queso fresco, tender chicken and pork (both of which are locally sourced), Wahaca’s own amazing sauces, white corn tortillas… I have to stop, I feel as though I could weep just talking about it. After finishing every last morsel, and coming dangerously close to licking the plates, we ordered another round of beers. My only regret about this choice is that it left us feeling so stuffed that we couldn’t try the churros (which come out hot, accompanied with their own paddling pool of Mexican chocolate). Even Pedro, who is probably so sick of the smell of Wahaca food he undoubtedly eats sushi for every meal, lamented our decision and gave us pitying looks as he cleared the table. We vowed to return for churros and to salvage our eating reputations.
Mexico, they have elected to join forces with EDNICA to support children whose parents live and work on the street. For every ‘streetfood special’ Wahaca sells, 20p will be donated to this UNESCO backed charity.
There are so many great things about Wahaca on Charlotte Street, not least of which are their charitable efforts. Because Wahaca, as a business, has benefitted so thoroughly from the experience of Mexican cooks and vendors in the markets of
Visit their website for opening hours and menus (www.wahaca.co.uk/html/1_restaurant8.html) or stop in and see them at 19-23 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RL. G
If you’re not up for a meal, but want a cozy, spacious, and friendly place to knock a few back, the Mezcal Bar upstairs is another Wahaca gem. Its combination of comfy chairs, tables, benches, barstools and human birdcages mean that even the pickiest bum will find the right place to land. The bar staff are plentiful and efficient. There is a tantalizing array of cocktails but the margaritas, which come in flavors like hibiscus and tamarind, are not to be missed. If you want the full Wahaca experience, ask the bartender for a tequila recommendation. Wahaca serves 100% blue agave tequila and if you try to shoot it you may find every member of the staff running at you, slow-mo-movie-style, shouting, ‘Nooooo!’ and then dog piling you to the ground before you can disrespect their bar. I do like a group of people who take their booze seriously. For this Texan-in-London, Wahaca on Charlotte Street has my vote and they will have my money many times over, of this I’m sure.
Contributors - for First Issue and Mini Mag Agnė Bagočiūtė soooo, fifty shades of me: I did: immigrated to UK from Lithuania, attempted a degree in philosophy, was a goth, worked in a factory. I do: write songs and sing in a band, study Tibetan and Religion, have six younger siblings. I am: a queer, a lesbian, anarcho-feminist, an amateur and a poser. Lily-Rose Beardshaw Studied Illustration at the University of Gloucestershire and Bande-Dessinee at the Institut St-Luc in Brussels. Her work can be found in comics anthologies Sing, Unicorn. Dance!; Parallel Lives; Eat Me!; Science Fiction: Octuple Feature and in the illustrated indie feminist ‘zine What’s The Time Mrs. Woolf? http://www.lilyrosebea.tumblr.com/ Adam Benkato is a Libyan/American living in London. When not fuming at American politics, running around Libyan revolutions, or distracted by completely unrelated side projects, he is a PhD student of languages and religions at SOAS. His contributions to GEEKED are inspired by the histories of the incredible women around him. Sara Bivigou is a writer from London. You can follow her work at sarabivigou.com Frances Brown You can contact Frances via email: email@example.com Georgia Butler is an atypical Essex girl, who’s lived on and off in London for the last six years. Currently juggling a masters in religion and gender with working for a soulless corporation, she loves tattoos, music involving loud noises and incoherent screaming and expressing embittered cynicism. Charlie Cameron London based Illustrator/burrito lover firstname.lastname@example.org cargocollective.com/charliecameron Laura Crosby Short story writer, music video pretender, believer that tea and cake make everything better, snorts when laughing, interested in the abnormal, architecture admirer, film lover and critic, coo’s at pigeons, pretends to fly at discos, obsessed with all things vintage and cracking, wants to be a superhero, absolute fool. Twitter: @ontheceiling Email: email@example.com Himali Dave studied Music at Durham University and currently works as a bookseller in the music department of Foyles Bookshop as well as studying for a Masters in
Latin American Politics. As such, her interests currently seem to revolve around Latin America, namely the music, the food and the politics, although in reality she is fairly egalitarian regarding most music and nearly all food! Mickey Elliott I am an analyst by day, a designer and illustrator by night, and the two make surprisingly good bedfellows. I believe some of the most functional design is the most beautiful. I enjoy eating my dessert first, excitement, adventure and really wild things. Come and take a peek! www.geekarilla.com/design @mrs_elliott Mark D. Evans doesn’t write for any one particular genre but does enjoy working with material found on the darker side of life. Short stories are available from online ebook retailers and his first novel is on the way. He currently lives in London. Find out more at markdevans.com Jessi Finn lives and works in Bloomington, Indiana, USA. More of Jessi’s work can be seen in her Etsy shop www. etsy.com/shop/paperfinn or you can contact her for commissions. Mohara Gill all round culture-addict into art, photography, film and literature. When she’s not practising music she dabbles in experimental cookery. Amber Goodwin-Figes is a university student, tea drinker, literature harlot and flag-waving lesbian. She spends her day-to-day immersed in lecture notes, books, the seaside, zombie movies, pint glasses, and good company. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@goodwinfiges), and occasionally makes a note of books worth reading at: www.bookgirltotherescue.tumblr.com Alison Gorman Avid baker Alison Gorman is an Irish girl living in London. When not stretching her small kitchen to it’s limits, she can be found reading anything from classic novels to political philosophy, watching films, or out and about in the city, looking for new ingredients and culinary inspiration Lianne Harrison is an illustrator born in the Malvern Hills and currently working from her London studio. Her favourite tools include paper, scissors, glue (and plenty of tea). Her vast collection of papers old and new allow her to create detailed collage illustrations for magazines, books and more. website: www.lianneharrison.com twitter: @lianneharrison
Jess Hawke if you want more information about Heptagrin Girl designs, or to contact Jess regarding future projects, you can reach her by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter: @JessHawke92 Sofia Hericson (Editor-in-Chief / Art Director) is a multi-media artist based in London. She works as a Visual Merchandiser and Graphic Designer at one of the coolest bookshops in the world! Her favourite colour is orange. www.sofiahericson.com Contact her at email@example.com Sarah Hilary is an award-winning short story writer, based in Bristol, UK, who is currently working on a novel. Her agent is Jane Gregory. Sarah reviews, interviews and blogs at: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.com/ Rhian E. Jones writes on music, history, politics and popular culture. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, McSweeneys, Wears the Trousers, New Left Project, the New Welsh Review and the Morning Star. She blogs at Velvet Coalmine (http://velvetcoalmine.wordpress.com) Samantha Langsdale (Managing Editor / PR) is in the writing-up stages of her PhD at SOAS, in London. Though she hails from the southern US, she is a longtime resident of the Big Smoke. Sam is a fierce feminist, loves profanity, and is constantly trying to convince her partner to have, ‘just one more pint’. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org Dennis Mabry is an editor and motion designer based in London. www.dennismabry.com Anna Malzy is on a Masters in Gender, Media and Culture, which is finally allowing her to pursue her passion for looking at how gender is perceived and created within society, particularly on the stage. She is a Shakespeare nut, is happiest by the sea and wants a pet tortoise. Ashley Middleton has been exploring her surroundings through photographic practice for the past six years. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally on topics such as gender, image production, and the performance of self. She lives and works in New York City, pursuing the boundaries of artistic and cultural development. email: email@example.com
Rosa Middleton is a cartoonist and illustrator who focuses mainly on producing single page narratives- pictures that tell multiple stories. View their online portfolio at www.rosamiddleton.com Sky Nash I’m a London based illustrator, I make books and tell stories. I have a degree in Book Arts and Design. I like to observe the world around me and then retell it in my own strange way. I am also interested in drawing whimsical madness and monsters. Website: www.skynash.co.uk Twitter: @skynash Gavin Read is a London-based artist and bookseller. He generally hangs out at: www.axisofornament.wordpress.com and on Twitter: @axisofornament Gisela Rocha is a microbiologist who spends her day preparing diseased body parts/organs for analyses. A nerd by nature who happens to photograph well. Nuno Rocha is your typical fixes-stuff-guy, at work and at home. He designed GEEKED’s website to stop listening to Sofia moan and he spends most of his weekends watching F1 or playing F1 on his Playstation 3. Sina Sparrow is a gay male cartoonist and illustrator, who has been creating comics since the early 90s queer zine explosion. Sina’s work focuses on issues of sexuality, relationships, personal identity and experience. See more of his work at www.boycrazyboy.com and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org Ilse Toro Name is Ilse, that is; i - l - s- e. It’s German, but I’m not German. I am a 22 years young, Mexican-American Mutt. I dislike having to turn down the volume of my brain just so I could “function” in society. Honestly, it takes a lot of damn courage to have an opinion, but it takes even more courage to accept people with opinions. Talking realistically. Francesca Wetherilt Francesca lives in London and spends most of her time looking at books, cats and recipes. You can find Food Rules! on tumblr http://veganfoodrules.tumblr.com/ Or you can contact Francesca via email email@example.com
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STAY TUNED www.geekedmagazine.com (website) www.wegeekedthis.com (blog) www.issuu.com/geekedmagazine (online versions) COVER ILLUSTRATION BY SOFIA HERICSON ÂŠ Copyright 2012 GEEKED Ltd and the individual contributors Disclaimer: GEEKED Magazine contains strictly opinion-based information. The content of the magazine is fact-checked to the best of our abilities.
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