Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Proud to be different?

Here's a somewhat sensitive subject for people.

I'm an aspiring alternative model. And despite my love for all things fetish, latex, gore, horror, metal music, dark, gothic and the likes, I will never be accepted as a true member of the alt community.


Because I'm neither heavily inked or pierced. I have a few subtle piercings and a few tattoos that aren't immediately visible. This is instantly met with disdain by a lot of people, which is a terrible shame for several reasons.

The alternative community "pride" themselves on being more accepting than other social groups. The attitude of some people contradicts this. I've had more than one snide comment from people about my lack of sleeve/leg/full body tattoos.

Firstly, there is no way around it. Good tattoos by a reputable artist are expensive. VERY expensive. Artists whose work I admire usually start at around £80 per hour, and for large pieces you could be looking at 12 hours work for example. I don't have access to that kind of money, even if I was to save. It's a lot of money for someone like me that struggles to get by as it is.

Which leads me neatly onto work. Sure, I'll always be on the campaign bandwagon that is waving the flag to accept alternative types in the workplace. But to be honest, in 25 years of living, I've not seen much progress with regards to this in a lot of career paths. I'm not naive enough to expect this to do a massive u-turn anytime soon. As such, I can't help but be aware that if I don't make enough to survive by modelling, or when this chapter of my life is over I must get a day job. Unless I can wangle a lottery win this is inevitable. I'm a trained journalist, so the majority of jobs I go for will end up being office-based. While I'd love to walk in with a beautifully colourful and imagination inked body, chances are that my interviewers are going to judge early on. And while of course that's a shitty fact, it's a fact nonetheless. And I can't expect any different.

Likewise, with my hair colour. I love having tomato-red hair. It's bright, I feel sexy and it works very well in pictures. But I wouldn't kick up a fuss about going back to a natural shade if it meant getting a steady job with an income that means I can live comfortably.

I don't want to start yet another campaign bearing the slogan "Accept me! This is who I am!". But I would like to see elitism take a step down once in a while. Yes, I appreciate that the whole point of having heavily modded girls in commercial magazines is the point, that you don't see these girls in say, FHM. But why can't being alternative be about attitude and state of mind? In my natural form, I'm a 5'6 average-looking blonde. This doesn't mean that I don't listen to heavy metal. Nor does it mean I don't spend hours looking at pictures of amazing tattoos, wishing I had the money to get something more elaborate than I already have.

But isn't that part of the beauty of the contradiction here? If I could afford it, I'd reach a compromise. But for now, I shall continue to live as I choose.

Viva la individuality...

Tales from the City: Part Two

My Mother has always been into musicals. Mostly Andre Lloyd Webber's work, but not limited to his only. As such I grew up on this kinda thing (as well as my Dad's love for country and rock). Naturally, I fell in love with theatre and always felt a bit gutted that I never got the chance to go and see some of my favourite musicals. That is, until I moved to London and was in reach of London's world-renowned West End - Theatreland.

I know there's a "loser" stigma" that goes with a lot of musical-lovers but to be honest, I don't care, I'm going to share my experiences of those that stuck in my memory ;-)

Wicked - Victoria Apollo
Having been an avid Wizard of Oz fan as a child, I was naturally intrigued that there was going to be a musical based on the early lives of the two witches, Glinda the Good, and the wicked Witch of the West. Having not been a huge fan of the book by Gregory Maguire, I finally got to see the musical with an open mind - I am pleased to report that the musical is only VERY loosely based on the book. While maintaining its edginess, it also eliminates the whimsy that is an ongoing theme in the book.

Anyway, while the musical is enchanting, funny, touching and pure escapism it was the performance by Elphaba (the green witch) that led to a far more intoxicating love for the show. A one Miss Kerry Ellis (no longer performing as Elphaba sadly) is quite simply a tremendous performer, and her heart clearly leaps into every note she sings. I'll always remember the shows I saw her in very fondly. It's extraordinary when a performer captures an audience in this way.

The Phantom of the Opera - Her Majesty's Theatre
This was the big one for me. I first heard the original cast recording at a very young age, and was, like my mother, mesmerised. While I never really got into opera music (though later I would learn to love opera/metal) this musical-opera really did strike that balance. It's a beautiful story, really. I know, the lead is a borderline nutter with a penchant for casual violence and murder. But don't let that deter you.

While the first time I saw this musical will stay in my mind forever as a standalone memory, the second time was the one that seared through my body and pulled me into the music from start to finish. Partly, I think, because I had a much better view of the stage, partly because I was seeing it with my Mum - the originator of my love for the musical. But the performers had something that makes a show worth seeing. Chemistry. Ramin Karimloo as Phantom and Robyn North as Christine were perfect together. I mean perfect. When Christine faints into Phantom's arms towards the end of "Music of the Night" I actually almost gasped, right there, feeling every last tingle of Phantom's astonishment that the woman he loved was there, in his arms.

Still, there are some musicals that I haven't had the pleasure of seeing yet and would love to do so before I die:

Les Mis
My Fair Lady
Love Never Dies
Cats (highly unlikely, sadly)

Also recommended:
Blood Brothers, Avenue Q

Friday, 19 March 2010

Tales from the City: Part One

I don't remember when I first visited London.

I have patchy memories of various school or family trips, but none that really stand out as my "first" London experience. Again, a few odd visits as a teenager, nothing strikingly notable.

The first and lasting impression came with my selection of University. Although my campus lies on the outskirts of London/Middlesex in Harrow, at the time it still seemed very cityish to me. Especially the pace of things there. The attitude of people is what stuck with me though. I come from a very small village in North Essex. Very civilised, countryside corner of the county. My high school (while a horrid experience for me) had very little in the way of culture diversity, and anybody remotely different came up against a wall of hatred from most people.

But here? Different races, nationalities, genders, ages were going about their studies, laughing at units. I should mention that I've never been adverse to any culture groups of any nature, but up until that point I hadn't been exposed to anything like that, so I suppose I was quite naive.

I think that helped me choose that uni to be honest. The country lass in me wanted to learn the city way of life, and with most things that burn brightly, I was drawn to it. Eventually though, it burned my fingers and I'm ready to turn my back on the fire for the time being. Naturally, this leads me to reminisce some of my favourite memories from living/studying in the capital of England. I'll probably share these sporadically in the two weeks before we move to Peterborough.

Starting with a fairly recent(ish) memory. New Year's Eve 2008. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as being in London goes. But the company really was fantastic. Having been signed off work a few weeks previously, I was a bit of a black hole. But these guys brought me out of it to enjoy New Year's. My oldest friend and my boyfriend. There are so, SO many good nights to choose from with these guys, but this one stood out, because it epitomised what people will do for you when they care about you. :-)

Monday, 15 March 2010

A quick few thoughts...

Things that bug me, Monday edition:

Bad hair extensions. There's just no excuse for it if you have the money to spend on making yourself orange. I'm talking mis-matched blondes, plasticy, nasty looking wefted hair that's just been slopped in. Not pleasant.

On that same topic, bleach blondes that have random splodges of brown or back on their head. No, you don't look edgy, you look like a spaniel. (I'm a fine one to talk with my fake dreads, but please... at least they're one colour that match my real hair).

Blogger. It won't let me change my primary email address. Seriously... what's the point in limiting your functionality in this day and age?

IBS. Speaks for itself. It's messy, painful and debilitating.

The end.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Soundtrack to my Today

Those that know me will already know that my music taste knows no boundaries and I refuse to apologise for this fact. While my main passions will always be rooted in rock/metal, there is so much out there that sails through me and inspires me, so why the hell not enjoy it.

As such, there is an eclectic mix of stuff that makes its way onto my playlists these days, thought I'd share some of these songs, and maybe introduce someone that might stop by to something new. I really do encourage people to try listening to an artist they never would have thought of choosing before. You never know what you might find buried inside you.

Them Crooked Vultures - Gunman
Infectious, soul-lifting beat. Listen to it when feeling sluggish, it's nigh on impossible to sit still. Rest of the album is pretty damn great too, given the supergroup credentials, it's hardly surprising.

Lady Gaga - Dance in the Dark
Anyone seen Party Monster? This track sounds pretty much like it's straight out of that film. 80s beats smoothly mixed with that unmistakable Gaga sound, plus the lyrics are actually quite lovely.

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
Apparently this is one of the most covered songs of all time. Naturally one must go to the original track to find the root of why it was covered. In this case, it's pretty damned obvious that the velvety smooth voice of Cohen tells the story of the song perfectly. Also, check out "I'm your man" by the same artist. Intensely sexy tune.

KMFDM - Hau Ruck
Heard this live for the first time last year and quite frankly I was blown away by the onstage presence of KMFDM, this song in particular takes on a new persona when played - it not only remains one of my favourite industrial track beats - it also becomes sleazily sexy.

Motley Crue - Animal In Me
My "new" favourite band. I say new, because they replaced a band that was in my heart for a very long time. Their music inspires me in so, SO many ways these days, and it was bloody hard to pick a track, but I can't ignore the passion of this song. Written by Sixx, detailing the early days of his relationship with Kat Von D, it's a rock ballad with edge.

Pete Yorn - Lose You
It makes me cry, which this kind of soft indie-ish music NEVER does. Enough said, really.

Sixx A.M - Life is Beautiful
This song is currently my "pick-me-up" tune. It has Nikki Sixx's handiwork all over it. Catchy pop-undertoned hook, with a sleazy rock beat and thought-provoking lyrics. It takes some getting used to hearing him lyrics/bass beats with a vocalist that isn't Vince Neil, but persevere. I think it's worth it.

Dolly Parton - Jolene
Shut up, those now on the floor laughing. I can't ever forget my first foray into music, courtesy of my Dad and his unrelenting love of country music. While I still favour Johnny Cash over most country artists, who can deny the buxom-blondes take on every typical country "don't steal my man" formula isn't catchy as hell?


Anyone who has a similarly mixed playlist at the moment, comment, message me, add me to twitter (@paran0ir). Would love to keep on discovering new tunes that make life that little more enjoyable.