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Let’s be real here: Katy Perry’s latest music has flopped.

I don’t remember the last time Katy Perry was in the top charts of the music world. It was probably around the time Left Shark stole all her thunder at the Super Bowl halftime show. I read somewhere that Katy Perry’s new song “Bon Appetite” is on a downward spiral on the radio charts.

Perry’s previous single “Chained to the Rhythm” dropped 13 spots on Billboards hot 100 from 74 to 87. “Bon Appetite” is currently 76 on Billboard.

This is terrible considering Perry usually kills on the charts. Not only that, but her older music would get the over play treatment on radio;  “Dark Horse” was number 1 on the charts for 4 weeks.

So with all that being said, Katy Perry has everything to gain by being on American Idol next fall. It’s a steady income that she might be losing with this new record. I don’t think that this record will do Perry and favors moving forward. But, I do think that being on Idol would be the perfect excuse for her not to go out on tour with terrible attendance. Idol doesn’t need Katy Perry, but Perry sure does need Idol. 

Shows like Idol and The Voice have re-energized careers or have helped skyrocket them. Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani all come to mind when it comes to re-energized careers and Blake Shelton’s career skyrocketed into mainstream super-stardom.

At the end of the day, if Perry is a good judge, she will help the show be entertaining. I truly think that she has a lot more to win than Idol does.

 

17 May, 2017 0 comment
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  • Review of Bawds Playhouse Creatures, ADC Theatre, Cambridge
  • Photos courtesy of D Stuart Photography
    Nell Gwyn was amongst the most famous of the restoration period actresses. Played here by Becky Gilbert.

    Nell Gwyn was amongst the most famous of the restoration period actresses. Played here by Becky Gilbert.

     

    To meet Chris Hudson, director of Bawds’ Playhouse Creatures, you meet a softly spoken, understated chap. The mental gymnastics required to see the link between the quiet wrestling geek in front of you and the person who could drive a schizophrenically emotional roller coaster such as tonight’s show are no mean feat.

    It is a rare thing to be belly-laughing one second at a raucous bawdy play on words and then seconds later to be moved to tears by a level of emotion and impact that takes you aback on a visceral, instinctive level. Set in 17th century London, Playhouse Creatures deals with the first actresses working after Charles II altered the law to allow women on stage.

    The clever relationship between the fictional actresses and audience and the real-life actresses and audience is a charm of the script but making it work as something other than breaking the 4th wall with a knowing wink is a credit to the ladies and gents involved in the production. The revolving set to transport us in and out of the backstage area gives a sense of professionalism in the production and also gives the audience a large-print cue as to what section of these people’s lives we are watching. The voyeurism of their highs and lows mirrored between the script attendees and the real ones was something to make you keep coming back, and I am sure this show will stay with me for some time.

    The cast is excellent without exception, with Becky Gilbert’s enchanting portrayal of folk heroine Nell Gwynn effervescently taking us from rags to…well, almost… you’ll have to watch the show. Other highlights are an amazingly powerful Sarah Ingram playing the actress within the actress flirting with Lady Macbeth’s madness and one of the first tastes of the darker impact behind the play comes from a passionate Helen Holgate. It’s a nightmarish task to pick highlights, as the whole cast was splendid, and the level of support from an excellent crew backstage and an inspired set was apparent even to us plebs in the cheap seats.

    These ladies and gentlemen have done wonders with their parts (cheap laugh, cheers.), contributing to an extremely enrapturing whole (cheap laugh, cheers.) and at the same time have shown us the best and worst of the arts and the audience. Very powerful, very evocative, riotous good fun. There’s nothing am about this amdram. You’d be bonkers to miss it.

    Tickets are available from the ADC Theatre website.

    Alex Page is a freelancer and unionist, and bank person and cross-dressing stage extra and soon-to-be-dad and wannabe standup from Cambridge, UK. See him write stuff and say stuff at multimediamouth.com, see him say stuff he’s been told to say onstage from 23rd – 26th July at the Corpus Christi Playrooms in Cambridge for Breakanegg Theatre.

16 July, 2014 0 comment
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I first discovered Fanfiction whilst trawling Lord of The Rings-related sites in the early 2000s. On most forums, there would be a section called “Fanfiction”. I dipped my toes in, read a few paragraphs, and quickly retreated: the idea of other people messing with Tolkien’s original work was blasphemy. What I did not realise was, that Fanfiction was actually a well-established, widely followed underground ‘pop’ genre.

Although the origins of any cultural phenomenon are often blurry, most sources agree that Fanfiction  first emerged in the 1960s within the Star Trek fandom; in those pre-World  Wide Web times, stories were circulated by means of home-produced fanzines which were swapped or sold at cost price at Sci-Fi and Comic Conventions. What was initially just a natural expansion of the Star Trek storylines, would soon, however, take a rather more interesting direction with the arrival of “slash” fiction. Slash, whose name originates from the use of the (/) symbol to refer to the “Kirk/Spock” pairing, focused on sexual relationships between (generally) male characters, such as those played by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. As you can imagine, this rather unconventional approach did not go down too well with a large part of the original fanbase, but no amount of geeky debate stopped the proliferation of slash, which soon began to cannibalise content from other highly popular TV shows of the time. A few decades later, Fanfiction is going stronger and stronger.


 Umm...Paola...we need to talk....

It’s not surprising; if such an amateur art form had managed to emerge at a time when home printed fanzines were the only vehicle of distribution, it seems inevitable that with the advent of the Internet, Fanfiction was just going to get even bigger with a multitude of online communities of writers and readers proliferating under every possible fandom. Now, with social networks and easily accessible blogging platforms, it has never been easier to read or, indeed, to publish Fanfiction. There is something for everyone: from “het(strictly heterosexual pairings) to “slash” (male/male), to femslash (female/female pairings), to the more controversial “RPF” – Real Person Fiction, written about famous people: actors, musicians, entire bands – if you can think of them, the chances are that somewhere in cyberspace they are the unwitting protagonists of their own Fanfiction.

Unsurprisingly, RPF presents a whole new range of complications: if breach of copyright and occasionally atrocious prose are the main points of contention by Fanfiction’s detractors, consider an entire literary sub-genre built around the fictitious lives of real people.  These ‘real people’ become puppets in the hands of fans with a flair for story-telling and an extremely active imagination, their idols’ public personas providing instant, ready-made characters to be ‘paired up’ in a variety of ways – because ‘pairing’, of course, is central to most Fanfiction. Without sex, or at least romance, there would be very little to write about.

Free from the burden of having to stick to the truth, RPF allows fans’ most unlikely fantasies to co-exist with reality such as in the case of the hugely popular J2 slash based on the TV show ’Supernatural’. In J2 the two male lead actors, Jared Paladecki and Jensen Ackles, are not only a couple but are also frequently involved in BDSM and even cross over into other fandoms. Back in the real world, Jensen Ackles and Paladecki, are said to find the whole thing rather amusing. But if some of the ‘protagonists’ of RPF Slash are so good-natured about it,  things get more twisted when it comes to “cest”, a further spin on the genre which, taking creative liberties to a whole new level, features incestuous relationships between famous siblings.  “Cest” is often more popular than the original Fanfiction it spawns from and is even specifically named according to the fandom it belongs to. Take the case of Hanson; under the umbrella of “Hanfic”, the three brothers have been inspiration for both Het writing and the imaginatively named “Hancest”,  with its tales of more than just brotherly love between the three (in all their possible combinations). By comparison, the My Chemical Romance-inspired “Waycest”  – which pairs up My Chemical Romance’ brothers Gerard and Mikey Way,  seem so restrictive, with, after all, only two brothers available. Understandably, the bands in question aren’t too happy about being the objects of such fantasies.

 Of course neglecting every wrestling fan's favourite...Hardycest

One could be forgiven for thinking that only a certain kind of bands appeal to the consumers of Slash and RPF, but in the surreal world of fandom, nobody is safe, not even the members of heavy metal groups like Metallica and Megadeth. My suspension of disbelief was pushed to its limits when I discovered Metallica Slash featuring singer James Hetfield¹ ‘paired’ with former bassist Jason Newsted ² .  Forget multi-sibling incest, my reaction was, this kind of stuff is totally outrageous.  Why would Jason sleep with Hetfield?? I wonder if Metallica is aware of the fact that the Masters of Puppets are actually their own fans and what is stopping the notoriously litigious band from suing Fanfiction writers, Napster-style? The answer probably lies in the word ‘Disclaimer’ which inevitably precedes the opening paragraph of any RPF, and which basically says ‘Before you reach for your lawyer’s phone number: NONE OF THIS IS TRUE’.  And as Fanfiction (not just RPF) can never be commercially distributed, as it clearly infringes copyright and probably every intellectual property law, nobody makes any money from it ³.

 Surely Kirk Hammett was the 'pretty' one?

You can’t sell it, you can’t buy it, but thousands of people write it and an even larger number of people read it: there has to be something more to Fanfiction than just porn. Should it be dismissed as trash and placed at the bottom rung of the literary hierarchy, lower than even the worst self-published, straight-to-Kindle ‘indie’ writing? I am not so sure anymore.  Standards vary enormously and, granted there is some really bad, actually, diabolically  bad stuff out there, whose sole purpose is to give fans an opportunity for self-insertion in a fantasy involving their idols (this, in Fanfiction-speak, is called doing a Mary-Sue).  But there are also plenty of well-crafted stories, some of them successfully serialised across several months and even years, with believable characters, elegant prose and plausible dialogue. And more often than not, the authors are university-educated women⁴ who are using Fanfiction as practice towards original writing. They put out their raw, unedited work for others to read and comment on, and learn their craft in the process. If it wasn’t happening online, this ‘learning by peer review’ path wouldn’t be so different from what happens at a Writers’ Group.

That confirms my suspicions that Fanfiction, as a literary phenomenon, is really nothing new. Throughout the centuries, every conceivable art form has, at some stage, delved into existing sources, in a tradition which can be traced as far back as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey; the Greek poet most likely borrowed his famous heroes and heroines from the story tellers of the time.  Consider also the legend of Don Juan, which, since its first written appearance in the late XVII century, went through endless permutations, among which are Byron’s eponymous epic poem and Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni.  And shall we talk about Keats’ Hyperion and Endymion, whose subject matter is entirely lifted from classic mythology? In fact, my Fanfiction-o-meter is going into overdrive just at the mention of the Romantic poet, since Keats’ own life was indeed given the full RPF treatment in Dan Simmons’ sci-fi novels Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion: Simmons’ Keats is a cybrid who falls in love with a woman named  Brawne Lamia; Fanny Brawne was Keats’ real life fiancé and Lamia is the title of one of his poems. And if that wasn’t enough, Hyperion is also based on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, down to the frame story structure and the pilgrims’ stories.

 That Nickleby/Dodger fic can't be far off

Confused? Welcome to the world of Fanfiction, where everything is possible; a world in which characters from different TV shows intermingle and where Frodo and Sam go out on dates; a world which bears little resemblance to the original content and is actually more like an alternate universe of its own. And, ok, it is also a slightly warped dimension in which it is perfectly acceptable for brothers to sleep with each other, and where pretty much everyone is gay. But, as Bethany – one of the most prolific writers of Hancest – stresses in the disclaimer section of her website,  “absolutely no money is being made from this story; it’s all just good, angsty fun”.

And I, for one, am inclined to agree.

Notes

¹ Undoubtedly the most obnoxious rockstar of all times

² He can do better than Hetfield

³ With the notable exception of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy which originally started as a Twilight Fanfiction.

⁴  According to most sources, most Fanfiction writers are heterosexual women with university degrees.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ?

A Glossary of Fanfiction Terms

The biggest portal of Fanfiction in its latest, smut-free and RPF-free incarnation

RPF explained

Fancy reading some J2?

Some rockin’ Fanfic for those who like the heavier stuff

Send any feedback to paola@multimediamouth.com or in the comments below. You can follow Paola on twitter @asphodelia

16 June, 2012 6 comments
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I’m on my way to the UK smackdown taping, a date when I actually leave the house! I’m rocking loose fitting comfortable clothes just in case they ask me to join in. I will not be unprepared! (One of the first rules you learn, never be without your ring gear, just in case- Chris)

I choose to believe that's the only way this could have happened

I’m a huge nerd. I’ve got my Tiger Mask mask next to me and I’m bumping to ‘All American Boys‘ in my headphones. I’m pretty buzzed!

I do have some little things to point out to WWE before our date though:

WWE does some things in the UK that I do like and some that I don’t. I shall bring this to your attention using the management twaddle start/continue/stop method.

Stop!
Referencing cities and/or Soccer teams. Most big cities have more than one team, and we travel miles to get to your shows. I once saw a RAW taped in Manchester where poor Chris Jericho asked if anyone liked Man Utd. I know on paper that makes sense, but most Man Utd fans aren’t even English, let alone from Manchester. Also, no one here cheers at the mention of their hometown, in fact it’s usually greeted with a grimace.

Continue!
Using English swearwords. We giggle like schoolgirls (Big, hairy, creepy male schoolgirls- Chris) when you say ‘gobshite’ or ‘tosser’, especially when it’s on American TV!

Start!
Referencing our country’s rich and diverse wrestling past and present in promos. Reference our flaws, we like that. “Drink up England, I want you to die” Punk told us that years ago!

Okay, so the date! 

Wow, interesting to hear what non-fans think! I’m travelling down with some splendid chaps who won the tickets through a competition and shared with me. But…. they aren’t….aren’t…well….aren’t wrestling nerds (I refuse to believe such a thing exists, everybody is a wrestling nerd at heart- Chris)

“Last week John Cena had to fight some MMA guy, and they had to pay him extra to actually get punched in the face!” one tells me. So former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar is “some MMA guy” coming to wrestling? Wow, I bet he’d actually like that. It’s fascinating to see what non-nerds think of WWE.

A nice little bonus according to non-fans

I’ve explained who Daniel Bryan is. Non-fans seemed unimpressed until ‘Final Countdown was mentioned.

We’ve arrived at the O2 arena, and boy is there a LOT of John Cena merchandise around.

Preshow

LOTS of “Yes!” chants followed by duelling “Lets go Cena!”- “Cena sucks!” chants when he’s on the Titantron.

The show kicked off with a Wrestlemania highlight video. Undertaker got a round of applause.

Dark match:
Claudio Castagnoli (That’s Antonio Cesaro to you buddy!- Chris) def. The UK Kid via pinfall following a Front Face Cradle Piledriver (No Ricolaaaaa Bomb makes me a Sad wrestling Panda!- Chris)

NXT begins with a highlight package of Matt Striker being kidnapped and such.

Percy Watson def. Johnny Curtis via pinfall after a Percycution!

Maxine def. Kaitlyn by submission with a Dragon Sleeper/Body Scissors combo. Oh WWE Universe! Stop being such a bunch of pervy pervs over the women!

Regal talks and then forces Maxine to be Johnny’s manager, much to the chagrin of both of them. He then handcuffs them together. Ol’ Lord Regal explains having cuffs on him from last time he was arrested. He says the key is probably still in Blackpool CID to laughs from the crowd.

To be fair, that mullet did at least deserve a Public Nuisance Order

Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks chatter on for a short bit, but they speak too quickly. Diction, lads. Diction.

Striker comes over all serious and passionate referencing the WWE Universe accepting him and mentioning wrestlers he watched as a kid, naming several UK greats (And Owen Hart for some reason, sounded like he got carried away at Davey boy). He tried to use Brit slang and called the heels “Chavs” (kind of White Trash for our US cousins) but he spoiled it when he pronounced it “Charv” though. Silly boy.

Regal then announced Curt Hawkins vs. Tyler Reks with the stipulation that the loser is fired and Matt Striker is the ref! Reks def hawkins with a roll up.

Hawkins is fired, and gets a half hearted “Na Na Na Na, Goodbye” chant from the crowd.

Regal says he has changed his mind and that Reks is fired too for a moderate pop. NXT ends.

Superstars

Jinder Mahal def. Yoshi Tatsu by submission using a Camel Clutch, but loses points for failing to break Yoshi’s back, or indeed make him humble.

Smackdown:

Booker T is introduced to the biggest pop so far, Michael Cole comes out to many boos.

Lilian Garcia comes out and trips over the pyro setup with her high heels. Poor thing. The crowd laughs. Where are all our English Gentlemen?

Lillian proceeds to sing “God Save the Queen” after asking us to stand. Hmmm. This doesn’t feel quite right, it’s all a bit…American. I mean, my Wife’s a Yank and they’re generally lovely, but still.

Please, oh please tell me it was this version

Show starts:

Daniel Bryan out to cut a promo, receiving a big pop and “Yes!” chants.

DB promo, he is pretty unkind about Sheamus being a coward and then is jolly mean to AJ, and dumps her. No-one joins my “That seems reasonable!” *clap clap clapclapclap* chant.

Natalya vs AJ goes to a no contest as AJ snaps and won’t stop using closed fists on Natalya in the corner. She went from wobbly lip to screaming psycho. Natalya helped to the back.

Brodus Clay & his little brother Hornswoggle def. Hunico & Camacho following a Big Splash. That is followed by a Tadpole Splash and dancing. Good for what it was.

During Hunico’s introduction Damien Sandow appeared on the big screen and offered to help us idiot masses appreciate culture using long words. I like long words, so I politely applauded, no one else did for some reason. (To get a better reaction, he should of announced he was “anispeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation”- Chris)

Winning gimmick right there!

Titus O’Neal and Darren young def. The Usos with a Spinebuster/2nd Rope Clothesline combo. The Usos did their cool Sivi Tau before the match.

Alberto Del Rio def. Big Show by pinfall following interference from Cody Rhodes and his Disaster Kick.

Ryback squashed a pale lad from Leicester who’s name I didn’t catch. Finished with a Fisherman Suplex into a Samoan Drop. The young English lad dedicated the match to his Mum for some ‘awww’ support beforehand. Crowd seemed indifferent to Ryback.

Brock Lesnar appeared with a taped promo intensely hyping his legitimacy and saying that John Cena is scared. So WWE, if you’re rubbing my nose in it that Brock is “legitimate” how am I supposed to enjoy our dates that aren’t about Brock? Are they all fake and meaningless? Don’t be too short sighted.

John Laurinaitis has Teddy long dressed as a Queens Guard and thus he can’t talk or flinch. William Regal taunts him, as does a debuting Antonio Cesaro.

Stoic, forceful, dead bear on his head

Main event time: 
Team of Sheamus, Big Show and Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan and Mark Henry.

Great Khali was scheduled but Cody chop blocked him as he got in the ring and he left selling leg injury. Big Show returned to replace him to a huge pop. Randy Orton was very over,  and won with a RKO on Mark Henry to an equally huge pop.

Show closed with the faces standing tall apparently .

Post-Show dark matches: 

Randy Orton def. Kane in a No DQ match following a RKO on a chair.

Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan to retain his title following a Brogue Kick. Bryan cut a promo before match saying an 18 second win would never happen again. It did to the delight of the kids.

Lillian thanked us for coming.

Biggest face pop: Orton or Big Show’s return

Biggest heat: Daniel Bryan by a country mile. WWE will do well to keep him heel, he’s got a Rock-like feel of “we want to cheer him even when he’s being a jerk”. He also got an American Dragon chant at one point, but not as loud as the Sexual Chocolate chant aimed at Mark Henry.

As hundreds of people file out of the O2 arena towards the Tube, someone starts a “Yes!” chant. It catches on as fans chant it walking through the car park.

2nd Date

Without a doubt, well worth the trip, but not THAT much more fun than supporting your local Indy Fed and jawing with the wrestlers up close.

Send any feedback to alex@multimediamouth.com or in the comments below!

18 April, 2012 9 comments
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GETTING READY:

I’m not a technophobe, but I do have a tendency to wait out new arrivals for a year or two before I become a convert. I was a couple of years behind MP3 players (I like my discman!) and a couple of years behind torrent sharing and any fashion trend you can name from the past two decades. So I come about 5 years late to something I feel nervous about in general, Second Life. If you’re like me you’ve heard a little about this alternative world but not really grasped the appeal. So we start where we start with everything we want to learn about now, we go to google and enter “Second Life”.

The top link tells me second life is a 3D virtual world where I can socialise by text or voice. Excellent. Clicking the link takes me to a big screenshot of digitised young cool people with snazzy hair and boobs with a banner welcoming me to my world and my imagination. I’m already reminded of The Sims, which I scoffed at (“Who wants to play a game where they have a nine to five and go home and play games, that’s silly.”) and then got addicted to it until I deleted it from my PC. It wants to recreate my life but better in a virtual world, where I can find friends, fashion, music videos and fun, membership, I am reassured, is free. I’m already a little concerned at this stage, because the last piece of technology that wanted to change my life scared me a lot, also the promise of fun fashion and videos makes me think of MTV, (Which I find pretty offensive.) I’m considering switching the computer off and going to lie down.

For you, dear reader, I plough on. For the record, this is a date I’m having from the comfort of my desk with only my monitor lighting the room, so aside from the tasteful black boxers and slight scent of Jasmine hair oil, I’m wearing nothing except some spilled cheap cider.

MultiMediaMouth encourages a casual working environment. We do not however, encourage tighty whities.

THE DATE:

OK, so I click JOIN and the first thing to do is pick an avatar. The avatar immediately becomes invisible and the site jumps to a screen claiming to have sent me an email. This seems unlikely since I didn’t enter an address, but I check anyway. Nope, lies. I press the back button and the screen shows me two thirds of the previous section of the joining instructions. Perhaps Second Life doesn’t care for Opera. Switch browsers.

Going better now, I am now a red-headed woman called mrmulluk, nevermind, I can change my appearance later. I’ve been telling myself that for years. It’s vaguely irritating that my security answer has to be 4 characters long. I was born in a city called Ely, and Second Life finds this unacceptable. It has a cathedral and everything. I wonder how many three-lettered cities I could recruit in a letter-writing campaign to the makers of this…what? Sorry, quite right. Not relevant.

Bastards.

SEE! PROOF!

I finish off registration by entering the email address I don’t mind receiving heaps and heaps of junk. That being Chris’s. (That explains the registration to Gorilla Fanciers Monthly E-mag then! Chris). I wait patiently for an hour and drink some more cider before I relent and enter my own address. I would register for a premium membership, but for some reason my MultimediaMouth expenses credit card appears to have stopped working. (You know why we stopped it. It’s the same reason you have to register your Gorilla mags to my dang email address! Chris) Free it is. Drink some more cider. While I wait for the download.

The email tells me I can do some cool things in Second Life. I can rent an apartment, go to Japan and attend a job fair. I’ve done those things in another game I played recently. Something else…Life. It’ll come to me. I can also apparently fly a magic carpet, which is the only thing on the above list I haven’t already done. That’s it! REAL Life, that’s what I was thinking of. Not a bad game, but the difficutly curve seems to be broken. Like everyone else on the globe I may have just agreed to take part in brutal surgical experiments for the makers of this software, like you I didn’t read the Ts&Cs.

I appear and a pop up tells me “Your clothes are still downloading, you can proceed as normal and other users will see your avatar as normal.” I am SO using this as an excuse to go to work in my underwear. I am standing in a well lit room facing an identical clone of myself.

[13:05] mrmulluk: You.
[13:05] mrmulluk: Woman
[13:05] mrmulluk: Answer me this instant
[13:06] mrmulluk: i mean you no harm.
[13:06] SusieHaz: I need to find myself first.
[13:06] mrmulluk: That’s deep.

The woman runs off and into the next room. I follow her and she runs into a corner. I chase her into the corner and press the button that makes my avatar silently mime laughing. Repeatedly.

[13:09] mrmulluk: I’m writing an article for a website, what’s your impression of this life so far?
[13:10] SusieHaz: I’ve only been here for about 2 minutes. I’m curious.
[13:10] mrmulluk: Does it count as stalking someone if my strange woman with a handbag follows you around?
[13:10] SusieHaz: I was wondering about that handbag thing. What’s up with that? Is it a divining rod?
[13:11] mrmulluk: I thought it was a handbag. Perhaps it is some kind of weapon!
[13:11] SusieHaz: I don’t know how to walk.
[13:12] mrmulluk: Do you have that problem in your First Life?
[13:13] SusieHaz: No. I have walking down pretty well

More silent laughing and threatening people via the chat box with my handbag (Weapon) and people have stopped talking to me. This is like real life. I have now met a nice Parrott in another mostly white room full of what appear to be giant imacs. The bird strikes up a conversation.

[13:16] Chat Bird: I mostly repeat everything you say.
[13:16] Chat Bird: But if you ask nicely, I’ll give you a kiss.
[13:16] Chat Bird: Just say ‘please give me a kiss’.
[13:16] mrmulluk: give me a kiss or your death shall surely follow at the hands of this handbag.
[13:16] Chat Bird whispers: You didn’t say ‘please’.
[13:16] mrmulluk: please give me a kiss or i shall eviscerate you and spread your innards throughout this land.
[13:16] Chat Bird whispers: Since you asked so nicely, here you go!
[13:17] mrmulluk: how nice.
[13:17] Chat Bird whispers: how nice.

Any single readers who wish to use my chat-up lines can if they wish.

Flying is quite cool, sitting on a bench less so. I choose a different destination and leave beginners island, I am now quite the expert. I have now materialised on a beach, with dancy music playing at me and a stage off near the water. I can’t fly as well as I could previously, this my be something to do with my First Life cider.app.

[13:24] mrmulluk: You people look sinister and the music here is upsetting.
[13:24] BellaBionda96: WOOW
A naked man appears.
[13:24] mrmulluk: sir, you appear to be naked, if the game told you your clothes would appear normal it is lying to you. I suspected as much.
[13:25] mrmulluk: sir!

A woman in purple approaches me.

[13:26] ひさぎ らっくれす: hi
[13:26] mrmulluk: I’m writing an article for a website, I’m new to this place, what does one do
[13:26] MyANIMATION R&B DanceBall base: Starting dance animation.
[13:27] ひさぎ らっくれす: oh
[13:27] ひさぎ らっくれす: it is your 1st day
[13:28] ひさぎ らっくれす: welcome to secondlife 🙂
[13:29] mrmulluk: It is, My woman appears to be having some kind of fit.
[13:30] mrmulluk: So what is fun about this other than making the woman have a fit?
[13:31] ひさぎ らっくれす: it is difficult question
[13:32] ひさぎ らっくれす: but
[13:32] ひさぎ らっくれす: everything is up to you
[13:33] ひさぎ らっくれす: this is free world
[13:33] mrmulluk: How long have you been here?
[13:33] ひさぎ らっくれす: 2years lool
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: if you have any kind of skills
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: you can do anything
[13:34] mrmulluk: What kind of skills are required?
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: you can be anything
[13:34] mrmulluk: Anything at all?
[13:34] ひさぎ らっくれす: i have no skill XD
[13:35] mrmulluk: You seem to be skilled at making the women have fits. I’ve always wanted to be a pro wrestler.
[13:35] ひさぎ らっくれす: yes
[13:35] mrmulluk: How would I go about that?
[13:35] ひさぎ らっくれす: ah
[13:36] ひさぎ らっくれす: the english is too difficult for me

Dancing miles above the earth, I find the woman a little distressing. I can’t stop her dancing. Even as I return to the beach and try and walk around, she is dancing away. Tireless and eternal. It’s almost hypnotic.

I arrive at a new place, it seems cheerful and tranquil, and the music is replaced with American webcammy voices. I am still dancing. Despite me asking, they won’t help me stop dancing, in a panic I have the woman flee and run through the countryside, she finds a nice swing hanging from a beautiful tree. I tell her to sit on it, in the hope she will relax. She sits. She is still dancing. Her movements are stilted and jerky, her limbs flail and twist as if in pain.

I am finding this unspeakably distressing. She is still dancing. I look down at my cider-drenched form and relise that I too am sitting…and dancing. I click Second Life…Force Quit.

SECOND (Life) DATE:

I’m not sure I see the appeal. It’s like going to a really terrible bar full of posturing odd-looking people suffering from epileptic seizures. The music is terrible and there is nothing of substance to eat or drink. It’s like going out in Peterborough, only at home.

I think for the first time in the MFD series, there will be no Second Date for Second Life.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

BONUS Track:

My first date with my wife.

This is a bonus track by way of apology for my absence and thanks to the editorial team here for their very real patience and support for the human behind the First Date character.

It was my third wedding-anniversary a couple of weeks ago, and we celebrated it together on the island of Lanzarote. It was nice to leave England and be somewhere a bit more exotic for a week, despite it being very anglicised. Good to get out and relax though.

My First Date with my wife was nothing like any of the first dates I write about, thankfully. I don’t even remember what underwear I wore. We both lived in Japan, near Kobe and we went to an Izikaya, like a Japanese cross between a family restaurant and a sports bar. Rather than getting meals as such, you just order a selection of starter-sized dishes and share at the table. I like this a lot, we should do it in the UK too. We talked a lot. About university, and home life. We both seemed pretty exotic to each other, and we knew things the other didn’t. You don’t need much else, truth be known. We didn’t dance, we had a lovely evening and connected. She’s been by my side to this day, and she’s a blessing i couldn’t be without.

Despite the ups and downs that life throws at us that caused my absence, and punctuate life in ways you don’t expect; I am very grateful. I think I’ve been dealt a very good hand in life and sometimes you have to just take a little time to see it. Thanks for taking the time to let me acknowledge it.

You can visit Second Life here

Send any feedback to alex@multimediamouth.com

13 July, 2011 7 comments
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Today it’s portrayed as the ultimate fantasy; being whisked away by a rich powerful, Richard Gere type man to be wined, dined, spoilt ….and paid. But while there are a small minority of women actually lead lives such as these, the rest lead lives of unspeakable horror. As the recession intensifies, so does the number of women drawn into selling themselves for money, and risking their lives. The question is what is being done about it?

After nearly 15 years of being an expensive escort earning up to $1,350 an hour, author of ’Sex Secrets of Escorts: Tips from a Pro’ and certified Sex Educator, Veronica Monet looks back on how she was inexplicably lured into the obscure world of high-class escorting.

“I had fallen in lust with a beautiful escort and her life defied all the stereotypes. She was married, had three kids, drove a Mercedes and lived in a huge house. I quickly went from feeling sorry for her to being jealous.”

By the time she was 30 she had been escorting for two years on a healthy six figure income. It wasn’t long before Veronica was travelling the world, eating in the finest restaurants and shopping at expensive boutiques. “The money was wonderful. It was every bit as glamorous as I thought it would be. The clients I chose to work with were amazing men: powerful, wealthy, generous, educated, kind and intelligent. I was spoiled with day spas and my own private hotel suites. The sex only accounted for a couple hours out of several days.”

After retiring five years ago Veronica is still pained by her encounters with others in the profession and how her career was laced with glitz, glamour, power and money while others faced a dark reality of violence, brutality, drugs and rape. But still she speaks of how satisfying and pleasurable her career as an escort was. “I would much rather catch a plane to a beautiful resort and sit on some bored business executive’s face than do any other job.”


This doesn’t mean that the average street prostitute shares her sentiments. The reality is some women can’t escape. 87% of women in street based prostitution use heroin and 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape. Some are hopeless and in desperate need of an income, not everyone can be as satisfied and wealthy as Veronica Monet.

There are estimated to be around 80,000 people involved in prostitution in the UK. Research by the Poppy project identified 1500 establishments involved in the off-street sex industry in London alone. The prostitution market in the UK is calculated to be worth up to £1bn; in such dark economic times it’s easy to see how the falsely promoted image of the ‘happy hooker’ could lure desperate women into the profession.

Scientific studies show only about 2% of all those in prostitution are like Veronica. 38% of women need the money and may face an emergency situation such as escaping a violent partner. Around 60% of women in prostitution are the poorest women that have been physically coerced into prostitution.

Bianca Albarracin yo-yoed with the profession for two years but saw the violent, shady side and eventually wanted out.

“I picked up a copy of the New York Press and I saw ads in the back for adult employment. It said: Looking for pretty Hispanic ladies, Brunettes preferred. I called the number and spoke to the woman who called herself Elle. My first night I was almost arrested and had to run down a hotel stairwell. One time this girl was robbed and held at knife point at a call that was meant for me. I will never forget the look on her face as she came in through the door. During my time I met lots of unfortunate girls with violent pimps. You might see girls selling themselves on the streets but what you don’t see is the man around the corner ready to smash her head in if she doesn’t do what she is told. I had a lucky escape and stopped when I was almost arrested again.”

So it is wrong to assume that all prostitutes are like Julia Roberts Character in Pretty Woman, street prostitutes lead completely different lives to the small minority of high-class escorts.


Independent Researcher in men’s violence against women, Jennifer Drew believes this media portrayal is leading women in need astray, down a false path where they will ultimately come face to face with a cruel reality.

“There are numerous myths concerning prostitution which is promoted by the sex industry, the media and popular culture where we constantly read stories and see programmes such as ‘secret diary of a call girl’. It is not surprising so many women and single mothers actively consider this as a way of lifting themselves out of the poverty trap.”

The media has immense influence over society and whilst not all individuals actively accept the media as reflecting the truth representations certainly reinforce ingrained beliefs concerning men’s pseudo sex right to women as and when they demand. “Given the dire economic circumstances women, in particular single mothers have no choice whatsoever. Bills still have to be paid and the Government penalises single mothers by reducing their benefits if they have not found work within a certain time scale. The Government need to start doing something to stop the rising number of women turning to selling themselves for money.”
66% of young people learn about sex and relationships through the media; this has been recognised by the United Nations Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which calls on States to take decisive action to tackle objectification.
In 2008 the UN CEDAW Committee found that the UK had still not enacted any relevant policies and strongly called for action to be taken by the UK Government.

In November last year the Government published a review tackling the demand for prostitution and recommended measures should be targeted at reducing areas of sex market. The Act of paying for sex not illegal for either party, but there are a number of offences related to it. It is an offence to cause or incite prostitution or to control for financial gain or to run a brothel. Kerb crawling is also illegal. There are a number of issues the Government has been considering – focusing on those who pay for sex and their harmful impact on the community rather than those selling it. Jacqui smith, home secretary has looked at ways to make it easier to prosecute those involved in it.

John Butterfill, MP believes prostitution is a serious issue which demands a thoughtful and measured approach.”I believe the Government should as priority focus on enforcing the laws that already exist to tackle this problem. But legislation alone will not end the practice, we must address the reasons why so many women find themselves trapped into a life of prostitution.”

Celia Barlow, MP has campaigned extensively for areas that normalise sex work such as for lap dancing clubs to be illegal. “I myself am very concerned that desperate people may turn to prostitution to supplement their income in difficult economic times, the proposed legislation to make it easier to prosecute those involved in prostitution should help reduce the number of vulnerable women lured into the profession.”

At present the Government are still contending laws on what to do about the oldest industry that’s so clouded in secrecy and lies.


Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes opposes the Governments attempts to slowly burn out the sex industry. “As the economic recession hits, many more women are likely to resort to prostitution to feed themselves and their families; if prostitution is forced further underground by these measures the risks they are forced to take will be greater. Unwaged and low-waged work is the reality of most women worldwide, and prostitution is a job that enables millions to feed our children and pay the rent. ”

Genesis is an organisation that offers women support and alternatives to sex work. Jane Glover believes instead of the Government attempted to crack down on the people paying for sex and trying to eliminate it completely, they should focus on preventing helpless women turning to this profession. “A lot of women can’t cope with children, have a drug addiction or are facing domestic abuse. The Government should work more closely with social and health services to provide women in these situations a way out. We help by providing counselling, support and health advice, but women shouldn’t be continuously in these situations. I want to see more done for women.”

The Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution agree. “Most women want to leave immediately if they could survive financially some other way. It is not a career choice we should be promoting to our young women. We should be looking at why a man is able to pick up the phone and order a woman like a take away pizza.”

So while a small minority of women are catapulted into the world of high-flying escorts and delve into the life of a happy hooker, the sad reality is there are desperate women that are being manipulated by this alluring, exciting lifestyle image, when the truth that lies behind the wooden image of the ‘happy hooker’ is much darker.

Instead of focusing on eliminating the profession, the Government should divert their attention to eliminating the situations that trap women in to this lifestyle that we can see, isn’t so pretty.

 

12 July, 2011 1 comment
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In one of the most refreshing,well balanced and pioneering concerts of 2011 so far, Steve Reich’s Tehillim displayed the raw joyfulness that makes it still sound contemporary twenty years after its composition. The ethereal ringings of chattering female voices and the tireless canons of the scaled-down London Sinfonietta made for a huge, rapturous conclusion to a work that somehow manages to feel complete and open-ended.

Its Old Testament text draws from The Book of Genesis but it is not, Reich claims, an overly religious piece despite using psalms as its text.
The eerily childlike dancing of the Synergy Vocals quartet gave the work a spiritual quality that intensified with a coda based entirely on ‘Hallelujah’. Their strength, precision and technical accomplishment shone through. The piece seemed to end on the dominant – was this a ‘harmonic conclusion’ as Reich’s own programme note claims, or deliberate, tantalising ambiguity pointing the way towards spiritual and musical eternity? Whatever stance one takes, the ending was true to the character of the whole work; suffused with a combination of consciousness of life’s precariousness and heartfelt thanks for living. The delivery of the performers and Thomas Ades conducting made it absorbing and eminently satisfying to listen to despite the fragmentary nature of the vocal score. This is among Reich’s best works and it was brought out by top-notch string playing and fantastically energetic percussion.

Commissioned jointly by the Southbank Centre and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Thomas Ades and Tal Rosner’s In Seven Days was with no doubt the stand-out piece of the evening. Its driving minimalism, symphonic proportions and hypnotic metamorphosis give this an anxiety which reflects the eternity and precariousness of the life-force itself. The London Sinfonietta rose to the magnificent scale of the work brilliantly and held the audience’s rapt attention.

An interesting question posed by this work is whether the two outstanding feats of modern art presented can exist as one coherent interdisciplinary piece without detracting from the individuality and impact of each component. There are two outstanding works of two different genres here. Rosner’s accompanying filmic piece (rather like a visual narrator) was so absorbing that at times the music seemed to reflect its progress rather than the other way around. Fortunately Ades’ minimalism posesses a permeating rhythmic urgency and a spectrum of timbre colours which afford it dominating personality and quality. The London Sinfonietta, on form and bolstered by impressive percussion playing, were masterfully directed through In Seven Days’ sonic sequences by Ades himself at the helm, exact and all raw emotion at the same time. The fullness of emotion was there in ebullient string playing, as was the clarity and resonance required to make French Horns sing in their most poignant tones.

Mimicking the art of creation itself, Tal Rosner took water, life’s most fundamental compound, and made of it myriad beautiful things. As it morphed from juxtaposed blocks of film and block colour to
kaleidoscopic visions mimicking infinitesimal nature, this masterful exploration of the world through graphic art was hypnotic but never seemed repetitive. Drawn across six blocks, his was a vision of wonder
and which seemed to imply, yet not to exhaust, the infinite visual properties of life in its eternal cycles.

With this collaboration Ades seemed to have reimagined not only, as Tom Service succinctly put it, ‘the stuff of music’ but the stuff of the performance itself. This concert highlighted, yet again, the but it also highlighted the ever-greater thirst of the modern audience for work that stimulates every sense at once like never before. As the Antonioni Project – the multimedia piece the Barbican defined as a Stage Show – combined film with theatre, In Seven Days combined music with film. But unlike the dance-led Rite of Spring reimagining Rites, which will feature 3-D glasses (one wonders what Stravinsky would have made of it all) in the same venue on Saturday 23 April this year, its performance created not so much a musical show as an all-enveloping musical experience. Done properly by the best of them at the Royal Festival Hall, this experience was nothing short of mesmerising, pioneering brilliance.

Developing this interdisciplinary style without sacrificing the integrity and standard of composition presents a challenge that the generation of composers – who, fortunately, have Reich and Ades for inspiration –must live up to bearing in mind that today’s audience surely expect more innovation from artists and composers than ever before.

22 February, 2011 0 comment
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We all know those adverts online and on television. The cute couple being playful and looking lovingly in to each other’s eyes, and then bam! The message is beamed to all the singletons saying join this wonderful dating site and find everlasting love. The fairytale of finding our one true love is still heavily embraced in society. This dream is living strong in the world of online dating.

As a single twenty something woman in London I have found meeting decent gentleman rather difficult. Yes I have had the pep talk from friends who are happily coupled up, in love and married with children about how best to go about meeting a decent man for myself. Going out a lot more is the top suggestion but is harder to do when most of my friends are not single and free to go out often. Taking up a hobby, meeting someone at work or university has not thrown me in to the great vision known as my romantic destiny.

A new chapter to the dating scene has opened up online. This could be the answer for many single people out there who have not for various reasons met the right person for them. As much as we hear of success stories from dating sites via adverts, I personally have come across more people who complain about them. Many sites present a notion that love is only a few clicks away. Can this be true? I wonder what percentage of subscribers report finding their true love? I have never come across a successful couple who met online.

This hype is being forced on single people’s dating logic to play on our human instincts for companionship. Curiosity gets us to have a look at a dating site and maybe get the courage to create a profile that in hope dazzles the perfect partner for us. Our bank accounts also get involved in the process rather intensively with a lot of the top dating sites being expensive too; with one particular site offering a love guarantee or your money back. This seems far too good to be true, unfortunately it turns out that it is for most of us.

Dating sites get us socialising through instant messaging, the odd wink from time to time and exchanging emails with people from all different walks of life. These sites give us the chance to meet people we may not meet in everyday life. Then you get people who make the process a bit tedious at times due to them not reading your profile or remembering what you told them in a conversation. There are people who present a false sense of themselves by adding buzz words such as, honest and open-minded, but then become very judgmental as soon as someone open-minded approaches them. Photographs are often the only factor judged upon by some users. It detracts from all the effort someone has made to write about themselves to give a brief taster of their personality. I often think what is the point in making an effort online? There is a positive side to it that makes the effort worth it, with interesting chats online with nice people who can exchange advice.

From the perspective of a young woman, the quality of the dates from these sites seem different, there is a mechanical nature to them, like people are picked from a production line. The process lacks understanding of people’s feelings. This in turn has led to people not fully understanding what each other wants’ out of a date, leading to unsuccessful dates. It then begins again you go back to messaging another potential date online.

As almost everything can be made a commodity these days, love has fallen head over heels to the fiscal hand of big business. The free dating site still exists but we assume a pay site will have more people who are serious about finding a relationship.

From gathering my own and other people’s experience of dating sites, there are lots of people who do not know what they want. Maybe these people get caught up in the advertising of love and companionship. It could also be a popular twenty first century quick fix, when in reality it often takes time and effort to find that right person. The key to the whole online dating experience is to be light hearted about it. Fill in your profile, except that you will come across daft messages and overall enjoy it. Keep seeking that special companionship and do not shut down. We should take pleasure from our single status, it can be lots of fun, and so try to enjoy the dating scene be it online or offline.

16 June, 2010 1 comment
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Ever since I was 14 years old, I’ve wanted to get my belly button pierced. Not just because celebrities and everyone else had them, but because I don’t like my stomach that much and wanted something to make it look more feminine. Weird I know.

But I have very strict African parents who would have happily ripped it out if they ever found out. It doesn’t help that my mum is a nurse who has to deal with the people who don’t take care of their piercings and then run to her with infections and all sorts of horror stories.

That then got me thinking, what if I did get some horrible infection that messed me up forever? Maybe it was best that I gave up this silly dream and keep my belly button away from any needles. But despite my best efforts, I found myself still wanting to get it done

So I told myself that I would get it when I got to university. In my second term as a first year to be precise, because after spending all that time at home for Christmas I would be in no rush to go back and so my piercing could heal nicely by Easter.

But Easter has come and gone and my belly button is yet to be pierced. I admit that it is partly due to the fact that my parents would probably make my life hell if they ever found out but it is also because once again I have started to question whether I really want to get it done anymore. I’m not worried about the risk of infections anymore. I’m worried about the views of society.

It seems to me that getting your belly button pierced has become a thing that little teenage girls do, not mature young women. That could be a problem because surely I need to grow up and put all things teenage behind me.

So is belly button piercing becoming a teenage fad, with tweens getting it done because Miley Cyrus has one? Or are belly button piercings still nice regardless of what age you get it done.

Summer is fast approaching and I have a feeling I will finally give in to temptation, if i figure out how to hide it from my parents. Or will seeing so many other girls with thier piercings just put me off joining such a popular trend.

All I know is that I’m going get mine done someday, even if I end up taking it out an hour later. It is just something I have to do; I just hope it’ll still be socially acceptable when I eventually go through with it.

22 March, 2010 8 comments
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