Echopraxia

Good day,

For some time now I have been meaning to do an update about the Monster Hall. Since many of you wonderful people voted and helped directly contribute to my win I felt you needed some sort of debrief. There’s also lots of other really exciting business happening or just about to happen. So put your reading dress on, please. Ta.

Alright. Let’s do this thing.

About a month ago. Shaylen and I went to see Lady GaGa. But our story does not start there. Oh, no. Really, we should begin where I left off. In the week(s) following my phone call from Matt at Vodafone confirming that Soph and I were to be two of the lucky 140

The business.

Little Monsters chosen to attend the Sydney Monster Hall, we went real weird. Like all Warhol-trapped-in-the-factory-with-only-his-puppet-friends-to-play-with-and-ruin weird. Very early on Sophie and I decided that we wanted to hand-make our costumes in true Lil’ Monster style. Unfortunately for me (and Glenmores’ Meat, ‘cos God knows they need my hung over self negging all over their wares at 8am in the morning) the competition rules specified that there was to be NO wearing of any meat at the event. Or fake blood. I had a tantrum. Then I remembered a Vogue shoot with a Chanel matching his and her dress and tie combo. Soph really wanted to make a hair something, so we married the idea and came up with a tricoloured Chanel looking block coloured hair suit with matching hair tie (for those Opera Openings et al. that require you to make an important statement). This was really our first mistake/moment of genius. Sophie brought a skank bag (short singlet dress for those of you unversed in Christophersenspeak) from Supre or somewhere equally questionable (it was necessary, ok?) and more wigs than you could actually shake a drag queen at. No but really. Many.

Unpicking the weave(s).

After we began unpicking the weave in order to separate the strands so that they could be reattached to the skank bag, the carpet, myself, Sophie and in fact every fabric covered surface quickly became covered/coated/choked with fake hair. Pink, black and blonde nylon dreadlocks could be rolled from rubbing ones socked foot over the lounge room rug. Appalling, but fun. Sophie quickly turned into a Sewing Magician, master of running stitch and all things fine-needled and pointy. There were many ‘AH FUCKS’ from thimble related injuries and lots of ‘I’ll just finish [insert colour of wig] bit down the bottom and THEN I’ll have a cigarette’. There wasn’t much sleeping. I think we were so excited and nervous about actually winning that we just went really manic and

Sewing.

started to obsess about the quality of our fantasy garments. If I’d actually admitted to myself what was happening it was likely I would have suffered a small stroke.

Cut to the morning of the concert. Sophie has had approximately an hour’s sleep but has completed and created both 98% of her hair dress (it was so beautiful, we wept), my hair tie (brilliant) and a ‘Hilton pack’ consisting of alcohol, hairspray and emergency fake blood among other necessities (there may have been a couple of my ‘Disney’ stickers and gold plastic fake nails involved). We were relatively ready. I smashed my first Gin rather early whilst

Prep.

Sophie Sonic-The-Hedgehogged all over Pyrmont grabbing ‘back-up tulle’ and sewing supplies for the couple of hours we had to spare before the concert (in the dreaded non smoking Hilton room). At about 3pm we left, checked into the Hilton and then business really got strange. There were fans everywhere. And not just any kind of fans. Super-fans. Most of the hotel was taken over by 17-year-old catatonic competition winners (and their Mothers) who were actually just camped out at every entrance on George St. in order to catch an unlikely view of L.G. There was a really strange feel about it. There was this forced sort of unity that came about from lack of sleep and fumes from the hot glue gun(s). Sophie and I took one

The Hilton.

look at the denim and fish net clad teenagers and decided we didn’t really have the strength. Ever. We brought over priced salad and H+C toasty and retreated to room 1101. We used that Hotel room like a glorified dressing room. I felt like Minnie Driver. Within seconds I had bagged every free sample and assessed the bar fridge situation (damn you weight activated charging system – if I was a physicist I would have beat you) and then poured myself a large gin. We blasted ‘Born This Way’, along with EVERY other room on our floor – no, really – and used all our hairspray. Sophie took over the bathroom smoothing her hairs and I took lots of photos of myself in the floor length mirrors.Upon check in and

'And now I'm red-DAY'.

registration we had been told to meet in the lobby at 5pm. At 2 minutes to, we stumbled (me, not Sophie) down to meet the cohort of Vodafone winners in the ‘VIP Bar’ that was really just a cordoned off room holding lots of excited gay people in some pretty eyebrow raising costumes. There was this one girl who was wearing a PERFECT lookalike ‘Telephone’ costume that everyone swooned over. Everyone was on edge and plastering GaGa preach over each other with hugs and support. The ‘sign-my-year-book’ GaGamites were gathering people’s names, where they were from, favourite songs etc. whilst assessing their costumes with this hostile kind of happy/bitchy thing. It was kinda like the Yr 12 formal. It felt a little hollow. I was glad for the Gin. I suggested the next round consist of a nondescript energy drink and

The Hall (Shaylen).

vodka, Sophie agreed. At about 6pm we were walked by tuff looking Kiwi guys in Vodafone fleeces to the town hall. It would have been hilarious stumbling upon this sight in the city. So many people looked rather perturbed.

The Town Hall looked beautiful but the outside was absolute chaos. The exterior was bathed in a crimson light which was indicative of the amount of shit everyone was about to lose. We were herded like cattle over to a branding station where over-foundationed Vodafone employees marked our wrists with plastic bands and demanded we stay ‘near the fence by the red The Hall (Gypsy).carpet’… And when I say demanded I should say shouted, many times. It didn’t matter because we just yelled back at them or completely ignored them. There were models dressed in absurd costumes who were hired to rev the crowd up. Over eager girls pressing themselves up against the steel barriers to the red carpet to lead the crowd in group ‘Born This Way’ singalongs. It was like the Easter Show on crack. At the peak of madness Dipper, yes, the cricketer, Dipped, ascended a small grassed island near a group of rubbish bins and with a large sceptre (which featured a disco’ed egg at the end) began to usher us through the gates of the holding pen yelling that we better ‘stop fu*king pushing each other’. He looked really wasted. His presence at this event was questionable to say the very very least. AND THEN THE CAMERAS CAME. Every TV station released Van-fuls of suit monkeys who descended on the concert-goers with clipboards and foam mikes. There were interviews, there were panning shots of get-ups, there were slow motion dissolves of screaming faces descending the stairs. I smoked a lot and kept my paw up. The red carpet was really like another holding pen, but this holding pen held more effective tormentors and flood lights. This time you were watched and prodded by onlookers and expected to act wacky for national television. I snarled appropriately and just absorbed the spectacle which reeked of corporate funds and event management diplomas. It was cool. But it was weird.

Outside the Monster Hall.

After what seemed like hours (it was about an hour and a half) we were let in. Soph and I were the first couple of people to get to the stairs. And guess who was there to greet  us? Mr.

Woof.

Fake-Tan-Now-I’m-Nice himself. Senior Hilton. I don’t know if it was the mixing of Gin and Vodka combined with the Dipper-as-Sheppard experience or just the fact that I had just been standing on a rep carpet waiting amongst over emotional screaming teenage girls but something snapped in us in that moment of laying eyes on Perez. Sophie’s face dropped (I can see it now) and she marched over to him with her hand outstretched. She was a lady on a mission and Perez was understandably reprehensible.

‘MY NAME’S SOPHIE!!’ she remarked, thrusting her outstretched hand even closer to his face. I danced around him serenading him in a horribly high, sing-song repetition of his Christian name. I sounded like a frightened Pokemon. His eyes glazed over and he gave us a look that I’ve only ever seen once since. On the face of Amy Winehouse in the Belgrave concert, half way through ‘Back To Black’ as she looks on with disgust at fans who scream the lyrics she has forgotten, mockingly, with hate and the utmost amount of disdain physically possible to a human being. The combination of me flouncing about screaming his name and Sophie standing statue-still posed with cheesy grin and outstretched hand was clearly too much for poor Perez. He shook Sophie’s hand timidly and then accepted our request to have a photo taken. We posed but before the random I could grab could touch the screen, activating the Hipstamatic App., we were ushered over to the other side of the red carpet by a Sydney-based Hilton PR loon. This really gave Perez the shits. We had the photo taken, he grabbed my ass (in a rather predatory fashion I must say), and I responded with a more violent ass grab. This moment is immortalised in digital film and never ceases in cracking me up. Is he meant to be Robin Hood? Oh, I hope so.

Inside, the town hall was decked out in faux-vintage fleur de lis wallpaper and elegantish mirrors. We had time to grab a Champagne Cocktail – complimentary of course and sit down to watch the various plasmas simultaneously displaying the bump in of the Monster Set, the winning photos and Vodafone propaganda in the form of ‘All Time Credit Ads’ featuring a blue monster (oh! I see what you did there).

We look much calmer than we were, I assure you.

We posed for a nice looking, appearing-more-decent-than-we-were photo and the doors of the hall creaked open. And then all hell broke loose. Like a field of foxes, 200 glittered, glossed and painted heads turned in unison and people RAN for the doors. I saw this happen a couple of nano seconds before Soph and gracefully, exhibiting my one year of ballet training, smashed my way through the latex jungle, tipping 80% of my drink all over me and forcing Sophie to do the same. We got to the front though. Just. And just in time to see Charli from High 5 and Blonde-Guy-Off-Getaway recording takes for the televised edit. Now, this was something else. For starters, poor Charli had been given a bum steer by wardrobe and was dressed in a ‘vintage’ (broken) sequined dress which I’m sure looked a million bucks on film (ugh). Unfortunately for her a couple of things were working against her in the flesh, so to speak. For starters the costume mistress had disregarded the negative space cut into the back of the dress, which showed off the Target bra label and size as well as the fake tan streaks. The hem at the bottom was sagging and she kind of look like Courtney Love had styled her with a beating. Now this is fine when you’re in front of a group of confused 3 year olds who just want to nail the clapping choreography for the Channel 9 cameras HOWEVER, when you’re in front of a Hall full of half-drunk-over-excited Gay men you better actually duck for cover motherducker. Vicious (and sometimes painfully hilarious) verbal abuse was hurtled through the crowd and there were some red faces and many vicious bray-like peels of laughter. The poor woman. At least it made the time go faster.  The Channel V presenter (straight cones much??) got up next and hacked his way through his intros and back-from-a-commercial-segways and then we were plunged into darkness and told to ‘be excited’ by Kyle Sandinhispants who looked like he had been free-basing PCP in a bunker somewhere near Liverpool. It was ironic. The gay guys behind us (Tom and Alex – in fabulous home-made McQueen) gushed over Jackie and ripped the mean, blonde, fat one a new one. And then it all happened.

‘It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M. Just put your paws up Sydney, ‘cos you were born this way’.

And just like that, the crowd of once compassionate, bouncy, smiling GaGaqueers turned. You could smell the fury. Heels were stomped, hair was pulled and giant paper mache monster claws were used as defense shields against near fatal pit slammings. Every single person in the hall focussed on getting closer to Mother Monster, who was pre-set, perched upon a giant black perspex slippery dip, back-lit from the massive spot-focus lights rigged to the Town Hall Organ, which spanned the entirety of the back wall of the Hall. Epic. She was a tornado of teal and Versace one-offs. She played:

  1. Born This Way
  2. Just Dance
  3. Poker Face
  4. Telephone
  5. Alejandro
  6. You & I
  7. Hair
  8. Bad Romance
  9. Edge of Glory
  10. Judas
She thrust her way around the 20 metre deep stage whilst her dancers eye-balled the crowd with enough sexual tension to make Hilary Duff shit her pants. I was suspended in a state of hot-coture and press-studed ecstasy. In ‘Just Dance’ I screamed so loudly and pushed myself so far over the barrier that GaGa eyeballed me, smiled and pointed out my costume. I died one gazillionty times. Mark – the sexiest back up dancer dropped some chorry because I was having eye fellatio with him. You can be jealous, it’s ok. I haven’t washed the clothes yet if you want to sniff ’em. There were a few choice lines from the Lady including one about her ‘precious pussy hair’ which (was edited from the televised concert and) was followed by her slurring at the front row, ‘How’s that for a little Monster Hall mmmmemmorrryyy’. Amazing. ‘Hair’ and ‘Just Dance’ went off. People broke heels and fell on their facejewels, only to pick themselves up to dance, injury ridden and all, even harder and more violently. I actually turned to my left at one stage to see a group of four twelve-year olds clutching each other and sobbing hysterically into their gay pride flags. GaGa had every single person in the room eating out of her hand. But she looked a little tired. God knows she hasn’t slept in about 4 years and I hope she was as trashed as the crowd because she deserved a holiday that night. Everyone else certainly lost it in a Biblical way. Sneaky Sound System and Brian McFadden could be seen grinding their pelvises in the balcony which I appreciated thoroughly. Concluding the night, L.G. chucked herself of the suspended steel bridge conjoining her two island-like mini stages into the orchestra pit below her. Then she dragged herself back on stage to smash out ‘Judas’ with an Australian flag one of the Haus minions ditched at her head in a well-timed lapse in the double-timed dance moves. There was more than a million bucks worth of sound and film equipment EVERYWHERE and quite frankly I almost was brained a few times by fast-moving, swooping dolly cams which were clearly not being operated at a safe tall people height. My blurred head and monster claw hand is in almost every scene shot (ha ha). After she left the stage everyone screamed the remainder of their voices out and started to leave. Sophie and I both had sex hair, were drenched in sweat and couldn’t speak in words. Communication could only happen through a series of low moans corresponding our satisfaction with what we had just been through. The cameras grabbed a few brightly coloured shell shocked fans who were on their way back to the Hotel, for extremely cheesy, jump cut material and interviews for the news. We returned to the front of the Hilton and smoked furiously, chatting to Nikki from ‘umm.. PR and Marketing’ about how fabulous everything was. The ‘Exclusive VIP After Party’ we were given access to with our Vodafone win ended up being the same room we had been in pre-concert, only with big gold thrones and more

His and Hers.

expensive drinks … and less people (lame and weird). So we sat outside with our new Faux McQueen friends, who informed us that the Lady herself was really UPstairs (not DOWNstairs where our After Party was) at the real shin-dig chatting to the ‘celebrity guests’. Charli came out, costumed-changed, in a long blue number which I’m sure was provoked by the Homosexual Devil Fantasia her wardrobe malfunction earlier in the night had whipped up. We then decided that the box like non smoking hotel room, although free and lovely, wasn’t really for us and we bounced back to Pyrmont where we discoursed over the night and everything that had happened. It was great. Seeing the Lady strutting her shit a metre in front of your face in the flesh is something that my brain took at least 4 songs to comprehend. My shoes fell to bits somewhere between the BTW rap and ‘use your muscle carve it up, work it, hustle’. My hair tie got props and many a wide eyed Monster approached Sophie’s gown and petter her like a rare Alpaca. We did good. We did real good. It’s only now that I can listen to some songs (remixes) of hers though. We definitely got GaGa’ed. And it’s taken me a little while to process. But goodness gracious me, what fun. You can see the concert in its entirety below courtesy of my lovely friends at YouTube.

Since that memorable eve heaps of other shiznit has been going down. Firstly, Machine

One of the 4 Machine Atlas Marketing Images designed by myself and Tom Phillipson in Berlin.

 Atlas is fast approaching us! ONE WEEK LEFT!? Our stalls are almost all complete and we bump into the space in a couple of days! Things are looking incredible. And you’d be a fool to miss out on this incredible interactive night market. Designed by a group of quite incredible young people, the work in Machine Atlas has been created by over a hundred young people from a plethora of racial and economic backgrounds and is a very special piece of installation and performance theatre. Sarah Emery, Shopfront’s Outreach Officer and I have been running workshops at the Kogarah PCYC making work for the show. These workshops are some of many that are happening all over Kogarah, Hurstville and the neighbouring suburbs which aim at getting the community involved with the work and the project. The marketing images and banners which are being flown down the street holding the piazza, which will be cordoned off for the show, look absolutely beautiful.

 

Also, in very exciting Atlas related news, I will be interviewed on FBi Radio‘s ‘Out Of The Box‘ program by Kara Kidman this week. I’ll be talking about music, art and the Atlas. The show gets emerging artists to rip apart their music collection and play songs that influence/excite/move them. I’ll be programming 10 songs feat. some very special tracks from the Machine Atlas soundtrack, created by the wonderful Meem (Michael Moebus) in conjunction with workshop groups from the ‘burbs. There may even be a very special Queen of Fucking Everything tune in there for good measure. You’ll have to tune in! Here’s the details for youse:


Tom on FBi’s ‘Out of The Box’ with Kara Kidma
WHEN: Thursday 18th August from 12pm – 1pm
WHERE: Tune in on ya soundbox on 94.5fm or you can stream the show HERE live on the day.
SPREAD THE WORD: Use the tag #OutofTomsBox and mention @fbiradio to tell your friends and promote the heck out of the whole debacle.
Featuring The Pixies, original tracks from Machine Atlas’ Outreach workshops and The Queen of Fucking Everything.
Yum.

Below this graph you can find all the useful links, an invite and a couple of the mentions we’ve had in the press in the last couple of weeks for Machine Atlas. A reminder that this a completely 100% FREE event, all you have to do is call Shopfront and register the night you will be attending. Opening night is sold out, but you still have three opportunities to come along and support brand-spanking-new, high calibre, exciting Australian theatre.
Shortly after the Atlas with Shopfront, The New What Next and Left of Centre is going to

Send this to your friends who you KNOW need to lose some dollars.

smash down the doors of The Sydney Fringe Festival with Mark Ravenhill’s ‘Product’. Dan, Jen, Soph, Jess, Tim and I have been working extremely hard and to tell you the truth the rehearsal process for this project has been one of the most challenging and rewarding of my performing career. The most amazing work is coming out from the amazing people who feature on this incredibly talented and exciting team. I am so proud of the work that we are creating in the wacky rehearsal spaces we have been taking over. This show is really going to be something amazing, something to remember for a long time. There were real fake tears of blood the other day… Just sayin’. Our Pozible page is still chugging along which is fantastic, but really, we are all sick of plugging it and clogging up news streams around the FaceCult network. So if you haven’t pledged yet. This is your last reminder. We have about 15 days left and are still just under $700 short. Do your bit. Push us closer to the finish line. We’ll love you and you’ll love the show, so it’s worth your while, sailor. Here’s some business (locations, times, ticketing) for y’all regarding this unmissable and mega-fabulous theatre event that’ll leave you with a funny taste in your hat and a wet patch (or if you’re old school you can disregard my hyperlinks and pick up a Fringe guide yo!) 

Moving on to recent artists endeavours, on Sunday I had the privilege to work with Machine Atlas designer Robin Whitmore (Duckie, UK) to create, with one other Queer artist and our lovely tech guy Jamie (ooh and Shopfront AD Howard), a massive wall sized drawing installation/Mardi Gras float. The workshop was suitably titled ‘Queer Draw‘ and was run in conjunction with Performance Space. Robin got us to use a Brian Eno devised system of random inspirational, thought inducing cards. These cards denoted the subject of a drawing/painting and what techniques must be employed to create the image. All the cards asked you to create work around notions of gender, sexuality and identity as well as referencing your own personal experiences and ideas of your own sexuality. There were permanent markers, OHP’s, transparencies, masking tape, paint, water, brushes, cardboard, paper and a wall. We were asked to bring in reference pictures and quotes from Queer artists/philosophers/thinkers that had influenced the way we had formed and think about our sexuality. I had images from La Chapelle, Bacon, Beardsley, Scheile, Jean, Warhol and McQueen. I had quotes from Largerfeld, Plato, Wilde and Cho. The results were great and after the 6 hour session I felt creatively recharged and exhausted. It was grouse. Check out what we did in the Dungeon at Shopfront below ( the Beth Ditto, ‘cock’ head is obviously mine).

 

 

 

 

Switching mediums now, you should also check out the image we (the Shaylen and I, of course) created for the Black Milk Facebook Page. I got a black super-villian cape from their online store – which is mega kick ass and I wanted to get in on this new cult which has begun on their FB Page. This happens to be: taking VICE-like self-portraits modelling the BM gear. The shots turned out rather well. Damn, Hipstamatic. You’re almost too good. Cast your eyes on her, she’s a beauty.

esCAPadE, 2011. Tom wears wears COLAB sunglasses with singlet by Design Against Culture, hooded cape by Black Milk Clothing and jeans by Cheap Mondays.

And finally, Soph and I had another shoot (the last for a little while until after the shows) the other night for my submission for ‘Fur’. A group exhibition at Monstrosity Gallery around the theme of, exactly that, fur. I’m going to leave you with the photos and the preview of the composition that I pitched to the Gallery, sans rationale – because I think the images speak for themselves. I will tell you this much though, the title of the series is called ‘Echopraxia‘. Hopefully the work is accepted for the exhibition and I’m telling you all to get your asses down to the gallery in the next blog.

I know this was a lot of writings, thank you for sticking with me thus far. I hope I can see you at one of the shows coming up. We need more people like you in the audience. I also hope we can have a drink soon. On you, of course.

Echopraxia, 2011.

Love, jewels, nipples and beehives to you all,

Tom x

About T o m C h r i s t o p h e r s e n

Actor. Artist. Atrocity.
This entry was posted in Fringe 2011, Music, Photoshoots, Shopfront Arts, Theatre, Visual Art, Workshops and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Echopraxia

  1. dolar says:

    reading your blog is like talking to you when youre in ultimate faggot power hilarity mode xxx

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