The Mark of Princess Hijab

Editor’s note: today marks the birth date of one of our most tireless and incisive contributors, Mr. David Forbes. For his birthday, David gave us a present: an interview with elusive street artist Princess Hijab. Thanks, David – happy birthday!

A spectre is haunting Paris. For five years, Metro-goers have rounded corners to find heavy, black marker strokes obscuring the idealized arcadia depicted in subway advertisements, the airbrushed bodies of the inhabitants — men and women — disappeared behind a heavy veil. Princess Hijab has struck again.

When she started her “reign” in 2006, observers initially couldn’t decide if it was the work of a modernity-hating zealot or some sort of rabble-rousing commentary. The year before Paris had destructive rioting. France has its own serious racial and ethnic issues, and culture wars are never a place for nuance. The hijab is now, controversially, banned in public.

But from her work, there is no hiding, Parisians still pour out of trains to find the mark of Princess Hijab.

She hasn’t exactly hidden from the media, either. But strangely, in an era craving constant revelation, her identity remains a closely guarded secret. She claims to be around 22 years old, poor, from an immigrant background, and not a Muslim. Those who meet her aren’t even sure if she’s female.

Via e-mail, Princess Hijab, the alias chosen to represent “a mixture of precarity and aristocracy,” has chosen to draw back the veil, just a bit, and tell us about how — and why — she chose her domain.


Black & White & Red All Over Ball Photo Booth Pictures by Steve Prue


Kat & Mason, attendees of the Black & White & Red All Over Ball at the Red Lotus Room in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. August 21st, 2011. ©Steve Prue.

Squeeeee!

Photographer Steve Prue’s huge collection of photo booth portraits from the Ball are now all up on our Flickr account! Flickrites, please feel free to go in there and tag or comment on photos. We’re eager to start putting names to all of those beautiful faces.

A massive “HOLY CRAP, WE DID IT!” thank-you post is imminent as well.

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Nyx of Asha Beta Industries, crew member/art donor for the Black & White & Red All Over Ball at the Red Lotus Room in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. August 21st, 2011. ©Steve Prue.

Wren Britton and PUREVILE Are Coming to San Francisco!

Designer Wren Britton revels in creating one-of-a-kind “Post Apocalyptic Victorian accessories” and “clothing for Time-Traveling Dandies and Femme Fatales of all ages {and genders!!!} and all those in-between.” Both the gentleman and his wares exude a winsome air of elegance, playfulness, and feral sensuality. Ooo la la!

Britton elliptically describes his aesthetic, and the PUREVILE line of accessories:

I have a background in fashion but I have always had a love for accessories…They really can make a simple outfit POP…or make an extreme outfit topple over with GLAMOUR….I think CoCo Chanel said something like “When you leave your house always turn around and look in the mirror and take off the first thing you see… {chuckle} …Me??? I turn around and the first SPACE I see I pin on something else!!!!!

All items are handmade…{With love}…All one of a kind…Made from antiques… Heirlooms… Bones… Doll parts… Keys… Lace… Oddities and Curiosities of all shapes and sizes….Things found in an attic…Things forgotten in a basement… Things behind glass in a museum… This is PUREVILE.

The New York-based bon-vivant will be holding a trunk sale of his gorgeously anachronistic finery at Five and Diamond in San Francisco this Thursday, the 28th of July, from 6-9pm. I’m definitely gonna be there, and a little bird told me Nadya might show up as well. If you’re in the neighborhood, please do drop in and say hello!

Also see:

“Why You’re Wearing Feathers Right Now” by Jenka Gurfinkel


Jocelyn Marsh wearing a headdress by Tiffa Novoa. Photo by Brion Topolski. 2005.

Recently, Jenka Gurfinkel –a longtime mover/shaker in the California indie cirque scene– wrote “Why You’re Wearing Feathers Right Now”, a fantastic personal essay that happens to dovetail nicely (pun intended) with the extensive Tiffa Novoa love fest we ran in Coilhouse Magazine last year. Gurfinkel’s unique take on the current exploding trend of plumage in both indie and mainstream fashion is a deft mix of memoir and cultural nodal point-mapping:

“In the summer of 2011, feathers have become a staple of every sartorial and tonsorial aspect imaginable. The other day I was asked my opinion as to where this current ubiquity of feathers has come from. But as it turns out, I happen to have something better than an opinion: I have an explanation.”


El Circo performer at Burning Man, 2005. Photo by Siouxzen Kang.

“Just two years out of college, I stumbled into the role of production manager for a newly-formed, L.A.-based vaudeville cirque troupe called, Lucent Dossier. Through that initial involvement with Lucent I would meet many other circus groups, including El Circo, who were by then based in San Francisco along with The Yard Dogs Road Show and Vau De Vire Society. There was also March Fourth Marching Band in Portland, Clan Destino in Santa Barbara, and Cirque Berzerk, and Mutaytor in L.A. As these acts grew, the I-5 Freeway became a central artery of culture, pumping a distinct combination of art, music, fashion, and performance up and down the west coast. A social scene evolved around these circus troupes the same way the punk subculture sprang up around the bands that defined it.”


Full page Issue 05 Coilhouse spread of performer Joshua David wearing a Ernte feather headdress by Tiffa Novoa. Photo by Spencer Hansen.

“In the early to mid-aughts (when the photos above were taken) the feather was as de rigueur a cultural signifier within the circus scene as the safety pin was for punks in the late 1970s and early 80s. In fact, back before it was so commonplace as to lose meaning (or induce a national feather shortage), condescending terms for those sporting the look sprang up within the subculture: “Feather mafia,” was one I heard thrown around; ‘Trustafarian peacock‘ even made it into UrbanDictionary.com. And then, something else began to happen…”

View the full essay at Social Creature dot com.

As far as this ubiquitous trend of wearing feathers goes– if you adorn with birdie bits, please consider researching where they come from! Buying ethically and responsibly is beautiful. Here are some great resources:

BTC: Hans Reichel’s Daxophone

One of the more unique looking, and easily one of the most unique sounding musical instruments ever invented, Hans Reichel’s daxophone is sure to put some spring in your step and some giggles in your face this fine morning:

A bowed musical instrument that falls into the category of “friction idiophones“, the daxophone consists of a long, thin wooden blade notched into a wooden block containing one or more contact (piezo) mics, often attached to a tripod. In addition to being bowed, daxophones can be plucked or struck, conducting sounds the same way “a struck ruler halfway off a table does”, with each vibration moving through a “tongue” of wood into the instrument’s wood block base, which acts as a resonator for the contact mics contained inside.

Depending on the shape and grain of each wooden tongue, and how they are manipulated, all manner of uncanny (and often hilarious) warbling, moaning, grumbling, yodeling, spluttering, rasping, growling, yowling sounds can be coaxed from these oddly human-sounding pieces of wood. (The daxophone’s name comes from the use of a stopper block of wood called the “dax”, which is fretted on one side to produce fixed pitches, while the other side is curved and smooth, allowing a performer to shift more fluidly from one note into the next.)


A variety of daxophone tongues. (Via oddmusic.com.)

Generously, Reichel offers extensive downloadable plans for his invention on his website so that other woodworkers can create daxophones of their very own.

Visit oddmusic.com to find out more about this, and countless other experimental instruments and musicians. Also worth checking out:

Moe! Staiano and Surplus 1980


Click the image to visit Moe!’s Kickstarter.

Surplus 1980 – Relapse In Response by moestaiano1

Moe! Staiano has been briefly mentioned on da ‘Haus before (most memorably in this post celebrating Viggie and other EPIC DRUMMERS). My description:

“Dada Percussionist” Moe! Staiano is that proverbial storm-in-teacup; a spring-loaded, anarchic sprite whose wildly improvisational style summons the spirits of Einsturzende Neubauten and Raymond Scott in equal measure. Spontaneous, mischievous, and always in earnest, Moe! is one of the most delightful live performers around. You’re never quite sure what’s coming next, but you know it’s going to be FUN.

Considering who he is and what he’s trying to achieve artistically, Moe! has long deserved a more fully fledged writeup here. With mere days left on a wonderful Kickstarter project that hasn’t quite reached its funding goal, now’s the time.

The first blip of Moe! appeared on my radar around 2001: he was touring through NYC as a member Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and his frenetic energy and feral performance instincts were a revelation to watch. Over the past decade, the Oakland-based experimental drummer, percussionist and composer has continued to enrapture audiences worldwide with his strange and beautiful approach to noisemaking.

As his Wiki states, Moe! works in a “variety of found sounds and prepared trap set as well as massive orchestra conductions of his own scored compositions.” Here’s some footage of one of his huge group pieces, “Death of a Piano”:

…SICK, right?

Over the past year, Moe! has been working feverishly on his Surplus 1980 recordings.

“[A project that] rose from the ashes of my old former band, Mute Socialite, which split up in 2009. It is a collection of songs that were former ideas that were meant to be used for Mute Socialite, but never really made it, as well as three cover songs.”

“Surplus 1980 is a post-punk band of a rotating line up of some fine musicians*, many extending from great bands to be heard on this project including members from the Ex, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and Faun Fables, among others, including Mute Socialite. The album in its entirety has been recorded by Dan Rathbun and is completed and ready to be pressed for a limited edition vinyl LP and CD run. The funds to complete the release are the only thing needed to get it done.”

Surplus 1980 – Excellent Girl (Bogshed cover) by moestaiano1

The funds raised for Surplus 1980 will be used to press the LP (a gorgeously designed limited run of 250 copies, with 100 on colored vinyl) and additionally be pressed on CD (“I still believe in CDs”, insists Moe) as well as a download coupon. All funds will go 100% into this pressing. Any additional funds raised will be used for studio time for recording the next album.

*Full disclosure: along with a gobsmackingly awesome roster of other musicians, I am featured on this record. It would really thrill me to see this unique, inspired material get the lavish DIY print run it so richly deserves. Please make with the Kickstarter clickies if you love frenzied, toe-tapping post-punk joyfulness as much as I do.

Help Fund “The Cicada Princess”

This looks incredible:

An overview of the project, courtesy of creator Mauricio Baiocchi’s website:

Cicada Princess is a short film based on a children’s book by the same title, both written and produced by Mauricio Baiocchi with illustrations and character designs by Steve Ferrera.

The book is a series of images based on miniatures and sculptures that follow the life cycle of the Cicadas and the party they attend at the end of their lives. When the idea to expand it to moving pictures came about, it was decided the best way to move forward would be through live action puppetry. Steve and Mauricio have worked on numerous creative projects over the years in different mediums and were very intrigued by the possibility of merging current imaging technology with strings and springs.

The film will run approximately five minutes, and is being shot in IMAX format, slated to be completed in 2011. As an independent production, both the film and the studio are self financed.

As of today, they’re already almost halfway to their ambitious (by Kickstarter standards) goal of raising 40K, with about a month to go. Got five bucks to spare? Ten? Twenty? An independent, handcrafted stop-motion pictures of this caliber seems well worth subsidizing! The Kickstarter page is here.

Revisiting The House of Collection


Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

Two urban faery friends of ours in Williamsburg, ladies who have cultivated one of the most unique and enchanting domiciles you’ll ever see, are attracting a lot of attention, lately! Coilhouse first posted about Paige Stevenson and her Brooklyn loft, now called The House of Collection, in Feb of 2008. Since that time, the ever-inspiring Paige and her consummately luminous domestic partner, Ms. Ahnika Meyer-Delirium, have been working (and playing) toward making their wondrous 2000 square-foot loft more vibrant than ever.

Paige’s interview with All That We’ve Met last month is sure to inspire. Even more recently, the New York Times’ in-depth coverage of the House of Collection, –which features both Paige and Ahnika discussing their kindhearted philosophies of life and decor–  offers a gorgeous tour of their abode. An excerpt from that article, titled “In Williamsburg, a Live-In Cabinet of Curiosities“:

It’s the way objects are deployed — all over the place, in large quantities and with a sense of play — that makes for something unexpected. A mounted deer’s head is one thing. A deer’s head with a pink brocade eye patch, false eyelashes and a glittery nose is another.

Likewise, grouping all the plants in the living room, even when it’s a room as large as theirs, makes an impact. “People sort of melt open,” Ms. Meyer said. “They feel as though they’re in a magical fairyland. But they also feel at home.”

The House of Collection is rich in such contrasts, a place cozy and vast, one that is urban but, thanks to the greenery, the farm tools and animal forms, has a country feel. It’s fitting for a couple who are both very domestic and deeply unconventional.


Photo by Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

New York City can sometimes feel like an especially cold and aloof realm… yet the HoC is as warm, welcoming and accepting a place as you are ever likely to observe.

Ah, you beauties! Well done.

“The funkiest UFO in the galaxy is about to land in Chocolate City.”


News vis M. S. le Despencer, thanks!

Best lead to a new article EVER, right?

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will open its doors at in 2015, has acquired Parliament’s Funkadelic Mothership (the second incarnation, that is — the first having long-since departed for other galaxies).

The legendary stage prop will serve as a crucial building block of the museum’s permanent display permanent music exhibition. Via Funk Music News:

When the band lowered the Mothership from the rafters of the Capital Centre in Landover in 1977, the response was rapturous. Not only was it instantly stunning — it felt like a cosmic metaphor for the sense of possibility that followed the civil rights movement.

That symbolism isn’t lost on the Smithsonian.

“With large iconic objects like this, we can tap into . . . themes of movement and liberation that are a constant in African-American culture,” says Dwandalyn R. Reece, curator of music and performing arts for the museum. “The Mothership as this mode of transport really fits into this musical trope in African American culture about travel and transit.”

It will be exhibited alongside other artifacts from American music history — Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, James Brown’s stage costumes, Lena Horne’s evening gowns. But it will be the only spaceship.

YES!! “Free your mind and come fly with me… it’s hip! On the Mothership. Swing down, sweet chariot, stop, and let me ride…”

“NERVOUS96″ by Bill Domonkos (Original Music by Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer)

Happy Friday the 13th! A lucky day for us, to be sure– in addition to Ross’s regular installment of the FAM, Coilhouse is proud to present NERVOUS96, a new, suspenseful, next-to-silent retro sci-fi short by director Bill Domonkos.

Inspired by original musical seance recordings by longtime ‘Haus favorite Jill Tracy, and the deliciously spooky violin of Paul Mercer, Domonkos has taken vintage footage and repurposed it to present the tale of a frantic, lonely woman, increasingly overwhelmed by debt and uncertainty in a world where technology has become increasingly invasive, even menacing. His “complex chiaroscuro style marks a marriage between silent-era special effects master George Méliès and the digital age.”


“Single white female. Lonely, Seeking soul mate. Humanoid preferred…”

From the NERVOUS96 press release:

Known for his distinctive craft of manipulated archival footage combined with 2D and 3D computer animation, special effects, and photography, Jill Tracy fans best know Bay Area filmmaker Bill Domonkos for the multiple award-winning “The Fine Art of Poisoning,” and his collection of acclaimed videos for legendary masked band The Residents.

The Fine Art of Poisoning,” (set to Jill Tracy’s seminal song) has become a cult favorite, garnering praise from Clive Barker, Guy Maddin, writer Warren Ellis, and well-over 100,000 views on YouTube, and a recent screening at London’s famed National Gallery.

Domonkos was completely inspired by pianist Jill Tracy and violinist Paul Mercer’s “Musical Séance,” a poignant live project that employs the duo’s astonishing channeled improvisations. Domonkos meticulously crafted excerpts from actual séance recordings to create the emotional voice of the “NERVOUS96″ character.

Here ’tis:

NERVOUS96 from Bill Domonkos on Vimeo.

(Click those arrows on the right to watch it full screen.) The musical score for NERVOUS96 is also available for download on Bandcamp. Congratulations to Domonkos/Tracy/Mercer on this sharp and toothsome indie triumph.