Thursday, 14 December 2006

End of an era

In life we quickly get used to things staying the same. Unfortunately things have a bad habit of changing when you least want them to.

Last Sunday I went to the final sale day of an institution in the world of drag and TV's. Hayway Shoes finally closed its doors.

Hayway was the final manufacturer of large size, specially reinforced shoes especially tailored to the drag , TV and TS market in the UK. Located in Leicester, this family firm welcomed visitors to their factory with open arms and were more than happy to produce one-off customised shoes for those of us with a fertile imagination.

I, along with many others, will sorely miss being able to pop in and see the guys, have a coffee and design a new pair of stage shoes. I have been a regular customer of theirs for the last 10 years and, quite honestly, I am dreading having to make do with off-the-shelf, imported, boring shoes from now one.

Jackie, Pete, Debbie & Phil, we will miss you. Good luck in your next ventures

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Inappropriate bookings

This was going to be a rant about agents etc who book drag acts into the wrong venues. However, on reflection, I want to illustrate the pitfalls of jumping to premature conclusions about a venue/audience on a first viewing.

Recently I got booked to perform cabaret (as opposed to a Ladies' Night) at a Conservative Club. I had already been told that I would be sharing the bill with 'a musical act' and a Four Seasons tribute act. So far, so good. On arrival it was to find that the event was, apparently, quite posh as the room was set out like a classy cabaret room and no provision had been made for my quick changes (a localised changing area). Eventually we found a stairwell for me to change in (classy!!). Then the punters started to arrive - all beaded frocks and black ties! I thought, shit, this is way too posh for my act; how will they cope with my normal foul language and sexual innuendo? Added to this, I had two hours before I was due onstage; plenty of time for my nerves to flourish.

The first section of my act, the quick change mime routines, went well enough, if a little restrained. Then I started my patter, heavily cleaned up for what I took to be a posh, intelligent audience. It wasn't going anything like as well as I expected and I couldn't understand it. About halfway through I thought, f*** it, I am dying here, let's pull the stops out and shock them into laughing. So I reverted to my usual foul-language laden routines and all of a sudden the room came to life. They loved every F-word, sexual reference and abuse of audience members that I usually do and I ended the set to rapturous applause and a request from the Entertainment Secretary to come back for a future booking.

That night taught me that you should never judge a book by its cover. Do what you do best and stick to your guns.

I have done several bookings in the last few months where, on arrival, I have thought 'Why have they booked a drag act?' But once I get on stage and forget about preconceptions, it usually goes well.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Friday the 13th

I am not normally superstitious BUT I may have to reconsider after this weekend.

It started badly when my debit card started to play up. I wanted to credit my mobile and the automatic txt system wouldn't work. I called the bank (well, bloody India, actually) and on the third attempt I finally got through to someone who a) spoke recognisable English and b) knew which buttons to push so as not to cut me off! He (I think it was a he! How am I supposed to know if Mingita is a butch lesbian or a queen??) said my card had been locked because of a fault on the chip & pin terminal of my last transaction. He told me how to reactivate it on an ATM. No problem, I thought, I can do that now. When I got to the terminal the option wasn't where he told me it was. This meant I had to make an unnecessary trip into town on a day when I had little spare time.

The town centre was unusally busy for a Friday lunchtime with chavs and their sprogs cluttering up the rare spaces between roadworks and 'town centre improvements' to the pedestrian areas. I got to the bank and tried again to unlock my pin. To no avail. The option still wasn't where Mingita had said it was. I turned to the customer service woman in the bank and told her my tale of woe. She took me to the ATM and showed me how to unlock my PIN. It was not where bloody Mingita said it was. I remonstrated with the poor woman. 'Oh', she says, 'I sometimes forget where it is until I see it on screen' 'That is no excuse', I screamed, ' Bloody Mingita is sitting there with a f***ing script in front of him. He has no f***ing excuse beyond his inability to read English!' And stormed out. I cursed the day they replaced slammable doors with those automatic sliding ones.

Back home I packed my bags, loaded them and my PA system into the car and set out an hour early for the two hour drive to Garstang and a gig.

Previous trips up to the north west had regularly been delayed by the roadworks in Stoke and the congestion on the M6 between Stoke and Manchester during the rush hour. I decided to continue up the M1, cross country through Huddersfield, pick up the M62 and circumnavigate Manchester to the north. To hell with that smug voice on the SatNav! All went well until I got onto the M62 near Huddersfield where I found myself in the middle of a 30+ mile tailback. 1.5 hours later I passed the cause of the delay, a lorry had gone through the central barrier.

By this time it was about 8.30pm, my scheduled time onstage. I had twice tried to call the organiser and had to leave a voicemail message as she wasn't answering.

At 9.20 I called the stripper to tell him that I was 5 mins away.

On arrival I was very stressed. I hate letting people down by arriving late. Bless them, the organisers tried to be helpful but their fussing only served to wind me up and I snapped at them(very unusual for me). 'Get out of my f***ing dressing room and leave me to get ready!'

They had organised a room for me but it was too far from the stage for my quick changes so I decided to use a partitioned off section right beside the stage. Unfortunately it was only two panels against a wall. Hardly private.

I slapped my makeup on and was ready to go onstage at 10pm (by some miracle). That was when the real 'fun' started.

I have never, in all my career, come across such rude, pig-ignorant, disrespectful members of an audience (not the whole audience, just an uncultured 50% sitting on the left). First off one of them walked into my changing room during my act to change her clothes!! I only saw it when I went to do my first quick change and, I am ashamed to say, I threw her across the stage screaming abuse at her.

Then, as I launched into the live section of my act, several of the slags insisted on having loud conversations, thus disrupting the whole event. Even after I remonstrated with them (OK, I called them ignorant f***ing c**ts!) they continued. Unusually for me my entire first half turned into a foul mouthed rant about everything that had gone wrong during the day, right up to and including the section of the audience who were straight from the gutter and did not deserve to be entertained by a live act who they couldn't pause while they discussed important issues in their lives like what was on special in Lidl this week and how they'd got caught shoplifting in the Poundshop.

During the interval I chatted to the strippers, wondering if the bad time I was having onstage was merely down to the fact I was stressed after a bad day. They said that they were hating the evening, that the girls (no way could you call them Ladies) were ignorant and disrespectful.

Suffice to say we were all glad when the evening was over. The organisers agreed that the unruly element were out of order and apologised for their behaviour.

By the time we left all I wanted to do was put my foot down and get the 2 hour journey home done as quickly as possible. Doing 100 mph down the M1 was probably not a wise descision but, happily, it was after midnight and Friday 13th was rapidly becoming a distant memory as I crawled into bed some time after 4am on Saturday 14th.

Monday, 17 April 2006


From time to time I get phone calls, usually from Agents, asking if I can fill a booking at the last minute (sometimes even on the day). Usually it is because the drag act booked has either gone sick or has car problems (that excuse I take with a pinch of salt!). But sometimes it is because a drag act has pulled out of a booking. This I think is very unprofessional. If I accept a booking then, as far as I am concerned, it is written in stone.

Some acts seem to think it is OK to accept a booking and then, if a higher priced one comes in, dump the original booking and go where the money is. This is something I would never do.

If the money offered is too low then I wouldn't accept it. I would rather be sitting at home than working for less than I think I am worth. But I feel that once I have accepted the booking then I am morally obliged to see it through. If only all venues always felt the same!!

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Lack of promotion

Why oh why do some venue owners/managers think that just putting an A4 poster up in the bar a week before a cabaret booking ensures that the venue will be rammed with punters on the night?

When I was an Agent I used to advise venues to book the acts at least 3 months before the event and then spend the next 12 weeks promoting by word of mouth, plastering posters up on every square inch of spare wall space, distributing posters and tickets to the local factories, shops and any other place women gather. Then they should be flogging tickets over the bar every night. Finally, and this is the most important thing to remember, never, ever rely on people turning up on the night and paying at the door. They won't!! The ladies that make up the audience have to arrange baby sitters; bribe the husband to let them out; book a hair appointment; buy a new dress. All these things take time to organise.
The Ladies who come to Hen Nights are not 'ladies-who-lunch'; they are busy working mums with demanding schedules to arrange and dopey men to placate. Venue owners, give them the chance to organise an evening out with a load of their mates and a stage crammed with hunks dressed only in baby oil and they will flood your bar with drinks orders.

Cancelled bookings

Over the years I have been lucky enough to have had very few bookings cancelled. However, in the last year or so, it seems that cancellations are becoming more frequent. Speaking to other acts I am gratified to find that this is not just something that happens to me.
I can understand a venue cancelling/postponing because they haven't sold enough tickets to pay the act/s (lack of promotion is another gripe, but that's for another blog entry). But why do they have to lie about it and feed you some bullshit excuse. The latest I had was when a venue returned an unsigned contract with 'cancelled due to sickness' across it TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT!!! I know bird flu is moving inexorably across the world but how does the dozy bint know she is going to go down with it a fortnight in advance??? Another time a venue cancelled a hen night 3 days before the event with the excuse that the local council had threatened to revoke their licence if they had naked males on stage.

Anyone got any barmier excuses given them??

Sunday, 19 February 2006


Normally hecklers are welcomed by me with open arms - they give me something to play against. But last night I came across a, thankfully, rare occurrance. A disruptive 'heckler'. This woman wasn't saying anything creative, nor funny. Needless to say she was very drunk. I used all my usual anti-heckler lines and nothing would shut her up. The management of the venue was out of the room at the time so wasn't available to eject her. In the end I walked off stage (something I have never done before) because the rest of the audiencee couldn't hear what I was saying. When I came back on a couple of minutes later the management was there and telling her to shut up or leave. She shut up but left soon after.
Although it all ended OK I was left with a feeling of professional inadequacy; I should have been able to control her. I keep thinking was there something else I could have done to shut her up? Afterwards several people came up to me and congratulated me on not belting her LOL
The management told me that they had had trouble wiith her previously, but that was no consolation to me on the night.

Monday, 13 February 2006

13 Feb 2006

This is my first entry and, to be honest, I am not entirely sure what will go here.