18th Century Picnic: Viona (above) makes it happen.
One thing I love about Belgian photographer/fairy princess Viona Ielegems is the extent to which she manages to make her outside world match her inner vision of what the world should be. How many times I’ve stared with longing at a sweaty dancefloor, closing my eyes and wishing the cheap satin I saw around me to turn into fine Indian silk, for the lace chokers to blossom into elaborate starched ruffs, and for the club itself to somehow morph from a sauna of cigarette butts and stale t-shirts into an elaborate pleasure den of opium, jasmine incense and free-range peacocks roaming from room to room. I open my eyes to someone spilling beer onto my own not-that-fancy corset, and the scene I envisioned evaporates faster than whatever the ending to Kubla Khan was supposed to be. Not our Viona! If she wants it, she makes it happen. In 2006, she threw her first ball at a neo-gothic chapel. I’d say “it’s like the Limelight used to be,” but no… this place is 10 times bigger. And the people dress 10 times better.
A picnic guest.
This year, Viona outdid herself by throwing a Victorian picnic around the time of WGT. Pictures have just been posted, so let’s break it down. Actual gramophone? Check. Exquisite china set that includes a bloody vampire bunny? Check. Good-looking dandies posing next to fresh strawberries, wine and chocolate éclairs? Check. How I wish I could’ve been there! You go, Viona. Congratulations on making your dreams – and some of our dreams – come true.
Pardon me, are you part shark? What I mean is, if you don’t constantly keep moving, exploring, and devouring, does it feel as though your organs might implode from sheer doldrums? Do unfamiliar smells and sounds intrigue rather than offend you? Are you an incorrigible know-it-all, scoffing openly at poor, unwitting souls who declare Mike Patton’s work to be the utmost pinnacle of musical wackiness?* Would you enjoy traveling to an exotic third world locale with nothing but a ukulele and a homemade shank?
Recently, Jesse started a podcast feed for the benefit of everyone who’s not living in Boston or near a computer each Wednesday from 6 pm to 8:00 pm E.S.T. So “tune into the sounds of the Finnish Underground, Tuvan Rock, Asian Psychedelic, Russian Lounge, and Inuit beat boxing” and be ready to shake your tuchus.
*Dear rabid Bunglers, please do not hurt me. I give mad props to Mr. Patton. But the world is vast and strange. I implore you: venture bravely beyond the Tzadik catalog on your next record-buying excursion.
Allow me, for a moment, to indulge my inner 14 year old. Set aside any prejudice you might have against models and guns to revel in this glorious anime-inspired spread by Chinese photographer Chen Zhun.
It’s unclear whether these specimens are genetically modified or touched by Photoshop magic, but, between their sky-high legs [unofficial leg day on Coilhouse?], skin tight gear and hilarious action faces I just don’t care. While I’d avoid putting flames on the motorcycle and add more interesting hairstyles to the shoot, overall this is the sort of thing that fills me with unabashed glee.
And the clothes! The cast of Æon Flux would approve. As realistic as clear milk-filled breast domes and riding motorcycles in heels & underpants can be – thus appropriately animé. The translucent boots, beige leather and strange eggish backpack which I now must acquire are my favorite. Forge onward through the jump for more antelope women, helmets and latex.
Cyd Charisse might be most remembered for her emerald gangster mole number in Singing In The Rain but it’s her serpentine performance with Fred Astaire in The Girl Hunt Ballet, a sequence from The Band Wagon, that has me floored this morning. Here they are, cutting the rug at Dem Bones Café like there’s no tomorrow.
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Coilfact: Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” video is based on this number.
By the time she was fourteen, Cyd (born in Texas Tula Ellice Finklea) was honing her moves under the pseudonym “Felia Sidorova” with the Ballet Russe. I don’t exactly envision Nizhinskaya secretly teaching her to loosen her hips and knees, but Cyd’s signature style certainly displays the precision of strict ballet training behind the fluid writhing and risqué kicks so loved by her fans. There is a power to this performer’s presence that transcends sexuality and grace, as if hinting at a playful sorceress, ever-threatening to reveal herself before a charmed audience.
Coilfact: Charisse made the 2001 Guiness Book of World Records as “Most Valuable Legs” after receiving a $5,000,000 insurance policy on her legs. And how!
Barnyard Dadaist Adrian Munsey and friends performing live, 1979.
Adrian Munsey, you’re my kind of alt. It takes a brave and strange fellow to combine field recordings of sheep with elegiac chamber music; an even braver, stranger fellow to appear on nationwide telly with sheep and elegiac chamber musicians, straight faced and bleating in tune/time. I salute you.
Cover of original Lost Sheep 7inch. (Just so’s ya know, my birthday is coming up…)
Traveling on business usually leaves no time to explore your surroundings. Spare moments are generally dedicated to little more than sleep and maybe a bath. However, should you have a few hours between meetings, what better way to spend them than exploring some industrial areas around town! Especially if that town happens to be Denver, Colorado, which was the case with this particular excursion.
Who knew that within a few driving minutes we’d be greeted with the foreboding towers of a power plant, intricate and doomy enough to echo the painting of our beloved Yakov Chernikov! Photographer James Stolzenbach and I swiftly snapped as much as we could before being kindly asked to leave by a burly trucker. He came completely out of nowhere, truck and all, and I suspect dark powers were at work. That and video cameras.
Dress: Crystal Candy at Common Era, Denver Fingerless gloves: random sock shop in Tokyo Striped socks: Target Boots: Luichiny on Melrose, LA
Make up by Breanna and Sally of Beauty Box, lips by me*
*I used MAC Liquidlast liner on my lips. Please, do not do this unless you have a powerful make up remover within reach. This stuff does not come off otherwise. At all. I had to use my fingernails.
This is the Environment Transformer, an appliance created in 1968 by Austrian art/architecture collective Haus-Rucker-Co. I find myself incredibly drawn to this image because it reminds me of the sci-fi tech I saw in Soviet movies as I was growing up. The device is part of a series called Splendid Blend, which also included the Mind Expander, the Ideal Museum, and many other conceptual projects that demonstrate the group’s utopian outlook on living space and technology. I want one!
Although the Haus-Rucker establishment is long gone, an elegant website exists to catalogue all their creations that never got built, and some that did.
“Are those stills from a movie?” That’s the comment I hear most regarding Eugenio Recuenco’s beautiful fashion photography, in which no detail is ignored. Recuenco has just updated his site to include some new images. In general, the site is now much easier to navigate than it was a couple of months ago, with all the images being completely accessible the moment you enter the main page. No Flash, no non-user-initiated tacky dance music (why, fashion photographers?), and thumbnails in which you can actually see the picture; just how I like a photography site to be!
I’m convinced that The Steve Allen Theater is some sort of shadowy government secret, which must the reason we hadn’t heard about the David Cronenberg retrospective they’ve been running for the past few weeks until recently. As a drooling fan of everything from Spider to The Fly, I think this is fantastic and, at $8/ticket, a great deal.
I did a little reconnaissance work and found ample parking, good sound and a pleasant audience, despite lack of a concession stand – bringing own snacks next time. Though the retrospective is now drawing to an end, you still have the chance to watch Existenz on May 24th, which is this Saturday and Spider on May 31st which will be shown with Cronenberg’s latest short film.
Beautiful front & back cover art for the spring program booklet.
Page through the entire thing here.
Located at The Center For Inquiry in Hollywood, the theater has a abundantly promising spring/summer line-up of cartoons, performances, mystery movies including Soylent Green on June 1, and so much more. Go forth, consume, and tell us what you think!
Photo of the annual Phi Ta Khon festival in Dan Sai, Thailand, from phuketguidebook.com.
If the all of the superstitions are to be believed, there are ghosts and demons lurking behind every banana tree in Thailand. After that catastrophic tsunami a couple years back, international news was full of bone-chilling accounts from Thai volunteers who’d been spooked by sightings of “dead foreigners [who didn't] know what happened and all think they are still on the beach… on holiday.” Many families and businesses keep a spirit house where daily offerings of fruit, milk and trinkets are offered to supplicate potentially malevolent spirits who might be lingering nearby. Every June, in their equivalent to El Dia de los Muertos or Halloween, Thais rub elbows with naughty ghosts at the sumptuous Phi Ta Khon festival in Dan Sai.
I’m fascinated by Thai culture and folklore, and perhaps a bit guilty of taking it all a bit too seriously in an outside-looking-in kind of way, so this commercial slayed me:
Lightbulb ad spot from Jeh United and director Thanonchai Sornsrivichai for Sylvania.