Saturday, June 29, 2019

Melbourne Cabaret Festival- What's Love Got To Do With It?

Melbourne Cabaret Festival
The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year and tonight Sean and I went to see a performance by American born and Melbourne based drag queen Nefertiti LaNegra (aka Mark Brown II) in the show What's Love Got To Do With It? at Chapel Off Chapel.

This show by the self-proclaimed Serena Williams of drag is about the complexities of love and contains vignettes about Nefertiti's experiences interspersed with songs. Accompanied by a pianist, Nefertiti sang different songs about love, ranging from a stripped back version of Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry On Their Own" to Beyonce's "Love On Top." The hour long show was engaging and uplifting, but also quite vulnerable and honest at points as it delved into the topics of race and domestic violence.

Friday, May 24, 2019

RVG- Alexandra Single Launch

Tonight Belinda and I headed to Howler for the sold out launch of RVG's new single "Alexandra." Opening the evening was four piece punk band Pinch Points, who had fast paced songs driven by a female rhythm section, and were also wearing matching band t-shirts. Next up was the indie quartet Terry, who songs have a mix of humor and politics that are sung in a more deadpan and monotone style.

RVG came out onto the stage and began with a cover of John Cale's "Dying On The Vine." Their set was captivating to watch as lead singer Romy Vager commanded the stage with her vocals and the rest of the band powered through each song. They played quite a few tracks off their debut album A Quality Of Mercy as well as some unreleased songs I'm assuming will be on an upcoming album. Highlights included "Vincent Van Gogh," "The Eggshell World" and new single "Alexandra." In the encore they started with another cover, Buzzcocks' "Something's Gone Wrong Again," and also played "Feral Beach" and an old track "Planet Earth" to finish. The band are off overseas for a June tour in the USA and Canada, so check them out if you get the opportunity as they are an amazing live band to experience in person.

Here's the video for "Alexandra"

Thursday, May 23, 2019

MTC- Heisenberg

Tonight Ebony invited me to join her for the opening night of the latest play by the Melbourne Theatre Company, English playwright Simon Stephens' Heisenberg. The play begins in a London train station as the outgoing Georgie (Kat Stewart), a 42-year-old American woman strikes up a conversation with the more introverted Alex (Peter Kowitz), a 75-year-old Irish butcher. Their relationship grows through other encounters, but there are underlying questions about Georgie's true motives and intentions.

Kat Stewart is amazing as Georgie and really brings the complexity of the character to life (although her American accent was a bit questionable at times). Both she and Peter are on stage for the entire 90 minutes of the play, even acting as their own stagehands to move props between scenes. It's an interesting exploration of what can happen when you open yourself up to the possibility of new adventures.

The play runs until 6 July 2019 at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio.

Friday, May 10, 2019

New Homeowner

Shortly after I returned from my Christmas holidays overseas, I got the not so pleasant phone call that my landlords were putting the apartment I've been living in up for sale. I had been toying with the idea of buying my own place for a while now, but the housing market here in Australia has been in major bubble territory for years. While it has finally started seeing more significant decreases since the price peak in 2017, I was hoping to be able to wait until later this year to start looking. However, with the impending sale I was forced into action earlier than anticipated.

I spent about a month looking around at places and going to open inspections to get a feel for what was available and prices in this market. Having never been to an auction before, I planned to go watch a couple in case I would have to bid on a property myself. One auction I went to was for a unit I had marked as having potential but hadn't had a chance to see. When I walked through the place I really liked it as it was open and had good sized bedrooms and closet space. Speaking to the agents I told them I was interested but not prepared to bid. We went outside for the auction, which turned out to be just me and another girl, who ended up leaving before they opened things. Since I wasn't bidding, the unit was passed in on a vendor's bid, and then got listed for private sale.

I spent the next week lining up a conveyancer to review the contract of sale, a pre-purchase property inspection, and getting a home loan from a mortgage broker so that I could make an offer on the unit. Thankfully a person I work with recently purchased a property, so she gave me some names of people which saved a lot of time. A week after the auction I put in an offer that was then accepted by the vendors. It was good that I managed to buy this place as the unit I was living in did sell to owner occupiers, so I would have had to move either way.

I settled on the property a few weeks ago so I am now officially a homeowner! As the building is relatively new it didn't require too many renovations or fixes. I did get it painted and replaced the beige carpets with laminate flooring and grey carpets in the bedrooms before moving in. I've been spending my time unpacking and getting settled, but overall I'm excited to finally have a place to call my own (even though I am now much more cash poor than I was a couple months ago).

Saturday, May 04, 2019

An Evening With Katya Zamolodchikova- Help Me I'm Dying

Tonight I ventured down to The Plenary in the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre to see beloved RuPaul's Drag Race Season 7 and All Stars 2 queen Katya Zamolodchikova in her new one-woman show Help Me I'm Dying. This title took on new meaning last year when Katya took the year off to go to rehab and deal with mental health issues. She has slowly been coming back into the public eye, first through her podcast with Craig MacNeil Whimsically Volatile, and then with Trixie Mattel as they resurrected their hilarious web series UNHhhh.

The show began with clips of Drag Race winners Bianca Del Rio and Alaska Thunderfuck amusingly congratulating Katya and welcoming us to the show. Katya did one of her trademark introductions from the podcast to bring herself out onto the stage. She opened the show with a Russian themed section in full Katya character that included "playing" violin and lip syncing to Russian language versions of different songs, including Ariana Grande’s "Thank U, Next," M.I.A.’s "Paper Planes," and Whitney Houston’s "I Will Always Love You." While she was lip syncing there were photoshopped photos of her and Trixie's faces in various scenes projected on the background screen. Katya spoke about her life growing up in Russia and coming to America and also did a lip sync to Peggy Lee's "Is That All Their Is?" with some historical footage of 50s/60s women in the background.

The next section was themed around her Boston dumpster dwelling character Trish. It started with a funny extended clip of Katya and Trixie out of drag at a Hamburger Mary’s (with a Courtney Act cameo as a waitress) as Katya talked about a horrifying dream, and then Trish came out onto the stage in a stretch denim catsuit that matched the stage furniture. Trish spoke about her life and then invited a male audience member onstage in order to do a seductive dance for him. She was quite funny with Trish's mannerisms and Boston accent.

We were then treated to a surreal video about shame, which was a mix of Game of Thrones and Twin Peaks and included cameos from Fena Barbitall, Devon Green and Jinkx Monsoon. It started with Katya in a dungeon and then she was forced to walk through the streets in shame for doing half rate drag wearing a red bra and panties. I think the crowd were even throwing mini hands at her. Then she teleported into the Red Room of Twin Peaks where she spoke with Jinkx. It was such a Katya clip and was my favorite bit in the show.

Katya then came out onto the stage as herself and told funny stories, including what her dream gender reveal party would entail. She also showed us a clip of one of her first audition tapes for Drag Race, which was very her. For the finale she changed into a lace bodysuit and did a lip sync medley of some of her greatest bits, including Tamara Lowe's Jesus sermon, Lady’s "Pussy," the Katya verse from "Read U Wrote U," and Tatianna’s "The Same Parts" from All Stars 2. The performance also included full jumping splits and pussy pounding the floor both forward and back and in a circle.

Katya is once of my absolute favorite queens and it was so amazing to finally get to see her perform in person. As expected she put on a very unique and on brand one-woman show with beautiful costumes and a running list of references to things from all her previous works. If you like performances that are surreal and non-linear, go check out her show.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tim Minchin- Back


Tim Minchin has returned to Australia and is currently on tour with his new show Back, which has been billed as "old songs, new songs, fuck you songs." Belinda, Sally and I met up tonight at the Palais Theatre where he has been doing a huge run of sold out shows. It's been eight years since I last saw Tim live, and his career has skyrocketed mainly due to his work on the play Matilda the Musical.

Tim started his set playing solo on piano and then revealed his full band a few songs in. His voice sounded amazing as he played a wide range of tracks from throughout his career. It was good to see him with his trademark wild hair, black clothes and bare feet. Along with a few rants he also provided explanations for some of his songs and what was happening in his life at the time. There was early material like "Mitsubishi Colt" and "F Sharp," and a bunch of my favorite later 2000s/early 2010s songs such as "Rock n Roll Nerd," "Prejudice," "If I Didn't Have You," "Thank You God" and "Woody Allen Jesus."

The newer songs fit right in with his previous work, which included the new single "15 Minutes," "If This Plane Goes Down," "Leaving L.A." and "Fuck," which was a huge rant against nearly everyone and everything. For the encore he played "When I Grow Up" from Matilda the Musical, and then finished the evening by gathering with the band around a single microphone to sing a brand new song. I'm glad Tim is back playing live and look forward to these new songs being released.

Here's the video for "15 Minutes"

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Rone- Empire

Rone Empire
I was fortunate enough to spend my Easter afternoon in the Dandenong Ranges to check out the latest exhibition by Rone titled Empire. For this installation he and his collaborators spent a year transforming the deserted Art Deco mansion Burnham Beeches into an immersive multi-sensory experience across the ground floor and upper level rooms.

The rooms were themed around different seasons, with the dusty Art Deco furniture and dried plants making it feel like you were walking through a bygone era. Rone painted his trademark female portraits in each room, this time using actor Lily Sullivan as his muse. The whole exhibition was so inspiring as you wandered through and experienced the beautiful rooms. I hope that when the building is turned into a luxury hotel that it retains the majority of its Art Deco charm.






Here's the trailer for the exhibition:

RONE EMPIRE - 4K full edit from Common State on Vimeo.
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