Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Should auld aquaintence be forgot etc

As the end of the year fast approaches I find myself reflecting on the past 12 months.

Phew, what a great year!!

More bookings than ever; more rebookings than ever. The expected backlash from the smoking ban doesn't seem to have appeared at all. Most venues have reported that it has made no impact at all. However, with more work for us artistes, perhaps it is because they are trying harder to pull punters in. Also, this good news doesn't seem to cover the whole country. Friends down south report that Ladies' Nights are well down on last year but cabaret nights are the same. Up here in the North I would say, from personal experience, that we are busier than ever.

This year my work has been further afield than before; a spate of bookings in South Wales pushed my average through the roof and there were more bookings further North than I would normally go. However, with the fees for these bookings proportionately higher, I didn't mind.

So, all in all, a very good year.

See you all in 2008

Monday, 15 October 2007

A Tale of Two Gigs

Isn't it funny how two gigs just a few miles from each other on the same weekend can be so different?
This weekend I was booked to do two Ladies' Nights in Cambridgeshire. The first one on Friday had already been postponed from August and I told the Agent that I wouldn't accept another postponement (I had heard from a friend that ticket sales were slow to non-existent). The Agent phoned the organiser and was assured that ticket sales were brisk and it would not be cancelled under any circumstances this time. As it turned out there were just 20 girls in a venue that could hold 200+!! Very disappointing.
Saturday was the complete opposite. 100+ screaming women in a capacity venue with great facilities, very cheap alcohol and a good attitude. It was one of those nights when I was being applauded merely for walking onstage. They clapped every routine and laughed at all my jokes. What more can an ageing drag queen ask for? Thank you, St Neots xxx

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Another eventful weekend!

OMG I do have to put some miles in to keep you girls happy!
This weekend I was in Walsall (NOT Birmingham, as the locals were at pains to point out! I don't blame them trying to distance themselves) entertaining a group of deaf girls! Well, me and a couple of strippers (Black Xctasy and Billy Ecstasy) approached it with an open mind and, it has to be said, had a great time. It was a little disconcerting doing my live patter and having to wait for the Signer to catch up but we managed.
Then it was down the M1, round the M25 and on to the south coast for a Hen Night just outside Brighton. Many years ago I used to live in brighton and was curious to see how it had changed. Changed? It was like a different place! I didn't recognise any of the route down.
However, the pub were were booked into was great (with two different strippers - I am so lucky working with new cocks ... errr boys every night! Thanks to Taurus and Devon). The girls were well up for a good night and made us all feel very welcome.
Having left home at 2.30pm I finally staggered home at 3am. Who says showbiz is glamorous?

Monday, 4 June 2007

Wot a weekend!!!

It all started so well .....

Thursday I was booked to do some meet-and-greet in Preston for the council.

I drove up north on Wednesday and stayed, a la Alan Partridge, in a Travel Lodge - and very comfortable it was. Thursday morning I was up bright and early for the 10 miles drive to Preston. The sat nav let me down and I couldn't find the town hall; even the three people I asked didn't know where it was!! However, a couple of phone calls and I was guided through the one-way system to a nice parking spot close by. The rest of the morning passed with much hilarity in the company of Claire Chanel and Etienne as we terrorised the locals heading for Qwik Save.

Thursday evening I was booked to do a Ladies' Night in Stockport, some 45 miles away. Finishing in Preston at 2.30pm I had an afternoon to kill. I drove into Manchester and decided to go and see the renowned Trafford Centre, a huge shopping mall which, on first sight, reminded me of the V & A in Cape Town. Very nice but way too big to spend on my feet for long.

I arrived in Stockport at about 5pm, found a convenient McD, ordered coffee and settled down with a book.

The venue at Stockport was very welcoming and we soon settled in for what promised to be a good show. Well, it was a good show for me; the poor strippers came off rather the worse for wear. The dressing room resembled a field hospital as the boys patched up the scratches, bites and bruises from the mob of girls in the audience.

Friday night and things got steadily more bizarre. I was in Scunthorpe in a club that has a monthly gay night. The show started on time but 4 minutes in and I had to call a halt while a rowdy element was removed. At the door the police were called and one drunken woman starting screaming assault. To be honest, if I HAD assaulted her then they would have seen the stilletoe sticking out of her head! So, there I am, sitting in the dressing room waiting for it all to calm down when I had to be interviewed by the police sitting in my tights and shoes. How embarrassing! Eventually it all calmed down and I carried on with the show. Unfortunately half the audience had left but it all turned out OK.

After all that I thought that the weekend could only improve so it was back up the M6 to Liverpool for another Ladies' Night. Well, what can I say about the venue? It adhered to every stereotype of scally scousers. It was rough, neglected and dirty. The punters were all staples of Bread or Harry Enfield. The walls were filthy, the ceiling ingrained with decades of cigarette smoke, the windows were more dirt than glass. In this atmosphere we were expecting to be slaughtered, chewed up and spat out. How wrong can you be. It was by far the best gig of the weekend. We had a great time with only a very small audience.

In the early hours of Sunday I staggered back down the M6, along the well worn path of the A500 and down the final 20 miles of the M1 to my bed.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Another good thing ....

I was working in Wolverhampton last week. Not the most salubrious of places but, in my experience, the type of place where I go down well.
A small but enthusiastic audience made us very welcome and we had a good time.
My evening was made when one of the girls, laughing hysterically at my jokes, admitted that she had just wet herself with laughing.


A good thing ....

On the subject of misconceptions ... again

This afternoon, the sun was shining and I, unusually, felt in need of some exercise so walked into town, a 35 minute stroll that takes me past the local cemetary.
As I walked along the boundary wall, some 12 feet high, I spotted a baby rabbit. Obviously having fallen from the top of the wall, it was desperately trying to find its way back and was dangerously straying close to the roadway.
I tried to catch it but, having one hand full, made no headway. My efforts chased it round the corner where a young scally-looking lad on a bike blocked its way. Between us we cornered it and he picked it up and deposited it back in the undergrowth of the grave yard with a huge grin.
His wasn't the only big grin. Everyone watching walked on with a soppy look on their faces.

Ain't life grand?

Bad Things ....

Time for another rant!!

Supermarket queues. Why is it that some women, usually stood in front of me, suddenly decide they have forgotten to put something in their basket/trolley and go wandering off round the store to find it leaving their basket/trolley in the queue? Why the hell can't they do what the rest of us do and write a list? Or if they have forgotten something take their trolley/basket with them to go get it? Damned inconsideration, that's why!! Grrrr

Motorway driving. We drag acts, more than most, have to endure hour upon hour each week swerving to avoid the appalling drivers that inhabit our roads. You would think that driving to and from gigs at odd hours we would avoid the worst. But, oh no, leaving home at 4/5/6pm we drive straight into the rush hour; all those frustrated guys (yeah, usually guys) trying to find a hole in the traffic to squeeze through in an effort to get home 5 minutes early. Then, late at night, when we are driving home in, one would have thought, relative solitude we have to be constantly alert for drunk drivers and those falling asleep at the wheel. You would expect that at least we could expect impeccable road manners from fellow professional drivers, HGV drivers. But no, in their own way they are the worst. The number of times I have had to follow 2 HGV's side by side for miles because they can't overtake each other. FFS they have their gearboxes restricted to 60 mph so how the hell can they expect to overtake each other? One section of the A14 has the right idea and during the hours of 8am-8pm they are not allowed to use the outside lane if over 7.5 tonnes. How sensible.

Right, rant over. Have a nice day!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Sometimes it is a pleasure to go to work

So many times in this blog I have been complaining about all sorts; travel, venues, agents, audiences etc. This time, for once, I would love to praise an audience; OK, I shall have a word about the venue but ....

I got booked ages ago to do a Ladies Night in a Social Club nr Leeds. When I got there it was a huge, old-fashioned social club on three floors. Oh, oh, I thought, I am gonna have to lug all my stuff up to the top floor. They are always on the top floor. When I went in it was to find that the stage door (yes, they actually had a stage door) was round the back and on ground level.

Also, they had their own PA system .... not that it did me any good. They hadn't bothered to arrange for someone to operate it and, as it was opposite the stage, at the other end of the room, was of no use to me. Looking at the size of the room (capacity 200-300) I had serious doubts as to whether my PA System was powerful enough. However, once I was set up and tested it, it was ample. Fortunately the venue had a slow ceiling so the sound filled the room with ease.

Next to the stage, in the time-honoured way, were the dressing rooms; well, one dressing room, the other was full of stored stuff.

So, there we were, me and two strippers crammed into a room on the side of the stage.
At the appointed time we started the show. Now, I invariably judge an audience by how they respond to the music I play leading up to the show starting. If they sing along to stuff like 'I'm every woman' and 'Gimme, gimme, gimme' then I know it will be a good show.

This audience were singing along to everything I played.

Walking onstage for my first number I was overwhelmed by the response. A wall of applause, shouts and whistles greeted me and kept up for the entire evening.

Rarely have I played to such an appreciative and well-behaved crowd of girls. At the end of the night I said (and meant) that, as a southerner, I love travelling up north because I always have a good time. Once again the girls of Leeds confirmed that northern audiences are the best in the world.

Thank you girls for making it a pleasure to go to work.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Festive Bookings

Public holidays seem, for some reason, to throw up the often bizarre bookings.

This Christmas/New Year was no different. On the 28th December I was booked to do cabaret at a Sports Club in Birmingham. They were paying a good fee and asked that I expanded my act to fill two full cabaret spots (not something I usually do). I stressed about this gig for about 6 weeks beforehand. I had to drag out several old routines that I hadn't done for a while simply to fill the time.

As I have said before, quite often your worst fears are never realised and a booking that you dread turns out to be near perfect. So it was at this one. The audience were the shop floor workers from a local company on their Staff Christmas Party. I couldn't have asked for a better audience; they applauded in all the right places; they laughed in all the right places; they joined in when told to and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. All that worrying for nothing.

Now, New Year's Eve was a completely different kettle of fish! Booked into a different sports hall in a different area of Birmingham for an equally exorbitant fee (thanks to the Agent!), the Agent asked me to call the organiser beforehand and confirm everything, especially as the contract said onstage at 9pm New Year's Eve. Two days beforehand I called and spoke to the guy in charge. After having arranged all the basics like PA system, changing room, fee in used fivers etc he casually dropped into the conversation that they were expecting SIXTY children to be in the audience!! I said I was a blue, adult act not suitable for children. Oh, never mind, he says, the parents have been told it is adult. I said I was not prepared to tone my act down, was he sure he wanted me to do the booking. He was insistent.
New Year's Eve dawned and I arrived at the venue about 45 mins before I needed to. I chatted to the DJ and made sure he had the equipment for my act, gave him a running order for the CD's and asked him to make an announcement that my act was not suitable for children and any parents should remove children now if they didn't want them to be in the room while I was onstage.
In the preamble leading up to my going onstage the DJ, as instructed, made the announcement about the adult nature of my act. Not a single child was removed. When I walked onstage for my first segment there were about a dozen kids under 10 to my left. The rest were scattered about the audience.
Part way through my routine I paused to do some live patter. I thought do I tone it down or ramp it up? I reasoned that they had had ample warning and, if the truth be known, I was annoyed at the irresponsibility of the parents letting their progeny stay in the room. Suffice to say I was an awful lot bluer than my normal act.
One 8 year old sitting beside the stage piped up and said 'Why do you swear so much?' My answer was 'Because it is what I am paid for so shut your f**king mouth!!' I went to a table of about 4 teenage boys of about 12/13 and asked the audience to bet on how long it would take for me to make one of the teenage boys blush. It took about 5 seconds! As I walked away one of them called out something so I turned back and said 'You can f**k off. Come back when you hit puberty!' One 6 yr old called out that he knew I was a transvestite. I told him he was very clever to know that word but how did he know that word. Was there something about his Father he wanted to share with the room?
As I came offstage the DJ's partner was in my dressing room waiting to present a prize to someone. I told her I would be surprised if they got less than 10 complaints. She agreed that if they did complain it was their own fault because they had been warned often enough about the content.
The postscript to this night is that when I spoke to the Agent afterwards and asked if he had received any complaints from the venue he said he had spoken to the organiser who thought I was brilliant. It just shows, you can never tell how things are going until they are done.
Happy New Year xxx