Friday, June 20, 2008

6ix Quick Misfits...

Six Quick Chicks

Benito Di Fonzo
Sydney Morning Herald. June 19, 2008

Six Quick Chicks go where conventional cabaret fears to tread.

Lucy Suze Taylor (left) and Annabel Lines of Six Quick Chicks.

Lucy Suze Taylor (left) and Annabel Lines of Six Quick Chicks.




Riverside Theatres


Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta


4 July 2008 to 25 July 2008

Phone Bookings

(02) 8839 3399

Online Bookings

"We call it comedy cabaret," says Vashti Hughes of the eclectic mix of onion-enhanced burlesque, satire, song and vaudevillian comedy produced by the collective Six Quick Chicks.

Hughes created Six Quick Chicks after years hosting cabaret nights she felt needed more quality control. After touring her own show to Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, Hughes returned to Australia and put together a line-up she knew could come up with the goods.

After 18 months of performances, including a successful season at Adelaide Fringe Festival, Six Quick Chicks are heading for a return season at Parramatta's Riverside Theatres.

Hughes's character and long-time MC of Six Quick Chicks, the "repressed secretary extraordinaire" Mavis Brown, hopes to break her seven-year drought of sex and get lucky out west.

"When we started off it was as if it was [Mavis Brown's] living room and they were having a girls' night in, entertaining each other. [For this show] Mavis has decided she's going out west to find someone out there because here [in the inner city] she only finds gay guys and married men."

Among the melange of strange sisters keeping Mavis company will be her sibling Christa Hughes, formerly of Machine Gun Fellatio (MGF) and Circus Oz, and fellow comic-chanteuse Jackie Loeb. Other regulars of underground performance nights also appear, including Celia Curtis, who plays burnt-out Las Vegas showgirl Anita Douche, Liesel Badorrek as German vamp Iva Sveetvun, and Lucy Suze Taylor as Carmen.Taylor describes Carmen as "a fabulously bosomy opera singer" with a 10-minute, over-the-top operatic tale of "woe, tragedy and, finalmente, death". No doubt with tongue firmly in corset.

One reviewer particularly praised the bizarre Vladimira, played by Annabel Lines. The character is an Eastern European sensualist whose 10-minute act consists of doing strange things with the onions she fries on stage, the skins of which mirror the layers of leopard print she strips off to Japanese sexploitation soundtracks.

Lines, who worked as an aerialist, contortionist, razor-blade swallower and burlesque dancer with MGF as well as circuses including famed new-circus pioneers?Archaos, fears that burlesque is becoming too safe and predictable for performers such as herself.

"When it first got popular in Sydney you could do different things," she says. "Now it's very much like, the last burlesque I did at [club] 34B, six out of the eight acts used feather fans!"

Lines turned to the strange world of leopard-skin onion-stripping in an attempt to give her act a darker edge.

"It's all about layers. I wanted to cry, that's why I came up with onions, but I could never actually cry."

Will she be getting her produce locally? "Well, I'm actually very particular with my onions," Lines says.

"Do you have to connect with them?" Hughes asks.

"Yes," Lines admits, "they have to be exactly the right looseness of the outer skin."

Spanish or white? "I only use the brown onions. I did use a white one once but I didn't like that."

Surely the Spanish onion would be more burlesque? "Yes, but they don't have that good, loose skin."

Vegetables aside, the women admit they were at first wary of taking their bizarre show Parramatta way but felt the urge for new audiences.

"The thing is we are misfits because you can't slot us into anything that already exists," Hughes says.

"But anyone who comes to see us generally really likes us. It's interesting out at Parramatta because they weren't our mates. We don't have any of our normal support groups out there."

For one thing, audiences "weren't the people that go to those nights that are underground comedy-cabaret-burlesque nights that do happen [in the city]. We thought we might not get anyone."

However, their boldness - and the Riverside's - was rewarded with a return season. "I was sitting behind three little grey-haired old ladies and they were loving it, giggling the whole way through," says Hughes before breaking into an old-lady giggle. "I was so excited. I thought, 'If the old ladies like it, we're doing great.'"

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jabbernoir hits the airwaves, and stores!

Benito is happy to report that the first recorded (and written) piece of Jabbernoir (that blend of film noir and Lewis Caroll-like absurdism that permeates "Jabbernoir e Lychee Whine" has been released, with backing music by Andy Lane, on Going Down Swinging #26.

Furthermore, as well as local favourites 2SER FM, Jabbernoir e Lychee Whine has also been getting airplay on ABC Radio National, where Tim Richie talked glowingly of the way the authors 'play with words' on his show Sound Quality.

I must say, I feared I was hallucinating when I first switched on ABC RN late one Friday night after stumbling home from the Allen & Unwin party at The Sydney Writers' Festival. However, as Mr Richie said when I told him that tale,

"I really like the way you came across the playing of it on air.... that's about my dream scenario for someone who makes something and then finding it on the airwaves"

You can read Jabbernoir e Lychee Whine here.

And you can hear the track in the mp3 player on the right, or here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

"Celebrity Terrorist Makeover" (in conversation with Van Badham)


“I don’t do worthy,” says playwright Van Badham, “and [director] James [Beach] doesn’t do worthy. We had to hang out with those worthy people. At one stage in our political development the two of us were sitting in a room full of people who only ate fruit that had fallen from trees.”

So it is that for Poster Girl, the controversial playwright’s return to the Australian stage, Badham has camouflaged her political agenda in a day-glow-pink coat of black comedy.

“Essentially I followed the story of Patty Hearst’s abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 70s and recast it with what would happen if a similar organisation abducted a celebutante heiress of the likes of Paris Hilton,” says Badham.

“I’m fascinated with celebrity culture of the contemporary period because celebrity has reached new heights since the advent of reality-TV and internet porn. In previous years celebrities were at least actors, singers, dancers or politicians. We now have celebrities who are just celebrities. What would happen if we snatched a celebrity like that and put her in a revolutionary context?”

What happens is celebutante Mindy Xyloine (Shannon Dooley) gives her abductors a lesson in how to work the media. Like Hearst, who assisted her abductors in realising their demands, Mindy gives the Army of Revolutionary Struggle (ARS) a celebrity makeover, teaching them how to stay ‘on message,’ the art of ‘branding,’ and the craft of public relations coups. In this sense Poster Girl comments as much on radical-Leftists’ inability to use the media as on celebutantes’ cynical manipulation of it.

“I think that a lot of the Left fails to compete with these guys like Lindsay Lohan, etc. They are the poster girls of neo-liberalism, the absolute symbols of everything the Right-wing free-market lunatics who’ve totally f*cked-up this planet believe.”

Surely they’re just harmless entertainment?

“No they’re symbols, brands, and they are sending a message – ‘consume, consume, consume,’ because neo-liberalism doesn’t function without consumption. There’s no Market theory if there’s no Market.”

It was Badham’s passionate politics that drove her to “flee” Australia in 2001.

“I’m not a violent person, but five years of Howard was really pushing my boundaries. There are only so many demos a day you can go to. I needed some ‘me’ time so I went to another country.”

Van went to several, working as a playwright in London, Edinburgh, Europe and the US, controversy her only hand-luggage. The US Embassy in Britain even issued a travel warning to American tourists about her play Capital, which foretold Abu Ghraib’s atrocities and how spin-doctors might deal with it. Likewise her play Camarilla predicted a London bombing during a G8 summit two years before it happened. Her musical Ca$h In Christ provoked 7,000 Christian websites to condemn her within 24 hours of it’s London premiere, and got her the front pages of both The Baptist Times and Islam Online. For Glastonbury Festival she staged a musical adaptation of Waiting For Godot performed by a cast of rabbits.

Upon returning to Australia she received a commission from her hometown Wollongong, submitting a play predicting the recent political scandal there, which the commissioning authority refused to stage.

Badham, who claims to read eight newspapers a day, says her Cassandra-like talent to foretell the future is no mystery.

“If you read news media, consume information, you can make predictions about events. That’s what I try to do.”

She believes it’s important to couch those bleak insights in humour.

“First and foremost I’m in the entertainment business, and I don’t think it’s worth mobilising everybody you know and the great unwashed to come and see a show to bore the shit out of them.”

If her predictions are consistent Al Qaeda will soon abduct Nicole Richie for a celebrity makeover. How will that go?

“I think they’d be better dressed. One of the reasons Al Qaeda has stayed very much a fringe operation is because they’re not very stylin’”

Badham believes the theatre should be the one place she can say anything she wants without fearing the consequences.

“That’s the point of going to the theatre. If you want to have a bland evening stay at home and talk to your partner.”

“Poster Girl”

By Van Badham.

Directed by James Beach.

Starring; Shannon Dooley, Fayssal Bazzi, Sam Haft, Susie Lindeman, Peter East, Marika Aubrey, Lucinda Gleeson, Andy Lees, Simon Corfield.

Old Fitzroy Theatre.

$28/$20 ($34 for beer, laksa & show)

Bookings 1300 GET TIX