Once upon a time, I was at a party and I met a lady named Kitty Kane, who I knew as one of the UK’s most prolific and successful burlesque dancers. After speaking to me for a few minutes, the poor deluded woman said “You know, Foxy. One day, I’m going to get you on stage, I am.” She was a little drunk, so I thought she was kidding. I was more than a little drunk, so I agreed. This is why I thought she was deluded: I had zero experience of being on stage. Two months later, I became her regular host and compere, doing gigs, festivals, one-off shows, dressed in cumbersome costumes and ceiling-scraping headdresses. Apparently a sharp tongue gets you everywhere. When I moved back to London, I found that I missed hosting a great deal. I got carried away into the world of fashion and witchcraft, which left little time for anything else.
Ironic then, that with the second night of C O V EN, London’s only monthly occult-themed cabaret and performance night, I should be granted my wish to take to the stage once again.
Only this time, it’s personal. This time, it isn’t something I can put down along with the microphone after the show. This time, I have all the experience and energy I need at my pointed fingertips to help C O V EN become what it should be.
It’s turned into a collaborative effort now, between my boyfriend Lucius and I. He conceived it, birthed it and now it’s being imbued, together, with all of our loves and hates, our fears and joys, our experience and our energy. It is at once ice cold to your soul and burning fire to your senses. This isn’t the place for my personal life, but you can be assured that both of us together, with all the powers of the abyss and all the electrified energy of the people involved, from the bar manager and our lovely last-minute doorman, to the owner of Resistance Gallery and the twisted acts Lucius and I book, that C O V E N is here, If you’re not hiding under you’re bed, you’d better be sat in the audience being splattered with viscera.
I make no secret of the fact that I love being on stage. It bequeaths me an opportunity to show my humour, my confidence and, let’s face it, my costumes. I also make it no secret that the behaviour of some people involved in other nights affects greater attention and praise than is actually deserved, that the preening, posturing and pretence at the expense of newer, less experienced performers is something which makes me so angry I could just spit glass. I loathe injustice. I swore that if ever an arena presented itself to me where I could make that known, I would shout it from the rooftops. So there it is. Signed, sealed and suck on it.
All of the above may sound antagonistic. If so, good. There is a great deal to shake up right now, both on the occult scene and the club scene. But remember, even though it is not infinite, my love and positivity is abundant and I herby grant it to C O V E N, all those involved and all of the paying customers who come to see it. My aim is always to better myself and those who get pulled into my orbit.
So what did they see last saturday? Stream of consciousness time.
C O V EN: Spellbound began with me. Of course. The host sets the mood and I was feeling frisky. Nicoletta Wylde and I took to the stage to a song about being Gothic. There were candles. There was a choreographed dance. I removed a cloak to reveal the tiniest outfit and the biggest pair extendable wings I have ever made and despite wearing weeny pants, there was not a testicle in sight. The first act was Aurora from House of Health, performing IMPURE. Aurora frequently appears to me to be neither male nor female, but beyond such mundane confines of gender. With a slight, white, bare frame and an obsidian black face, he seems to melt out of the darkness and onto the stage, guzzles a bowl of something which might be wine, possibly blood and, amidst a haze of incense and low, atmospheric music, takes a huge rock and smashes the bowl to shards. Water is poured and there is, as often the case, bewildered applause. While the glass is being cleared up, I tell a joke about Princess Diana which goes down much better than I thought. And then Joana Glitz, resplendent in rubber horns and a ruff, produces fire from about her person and, with an understated ease many fire performers lack, moulds and shapes it, tastes it even. It isn’t long before the famously hilarious Joe Black reveals himself, serene and splendid, draped and decadent. This wonderful performer seems to have been born with a microphone in his hand and his eyebrows drawn on. After dropping so many names we had to send someone on to clear the stage, he launches into a rendition of the Cruella De Vil song and leaves, as easily and beautifully as he came, to applause. After the interval, Ryan Darling sticks the knife in with a visual display, crouched on the stage like a coiled cobra, inserting, with disturbing effortlessness, needle after needle into his skin, face and tongue. His boyish face contorts and twists, the whites of his eyes expand, leaving his pupils like the needle marks which now punctuate his arms. Nina Russ and Sophia Mindus are up now, winding shibari rope in a haunting, unhurried display of bondage and submission, tethered to an imposing chunk of bamboo, suspended from above. The profound hypnotism of shibari is never lost on me; the length of the performance alone was an opera of intimacy. The epicentre of the night exploded in one final orgasm with The Naked Grace Missionaries, a band reminiscent of Charles Manson’s singing career, replete with more than a visual nod and a wink to 1960s cult indoctrination and a full on acid trip orgy, set in post-flower power, pre-Cold War freedom and mindfuckery. Mine’s a KoolAid, girls.
After the applause finished, everyone took to the stage for one last dance to I Am Gothic. Petals were thrown. Gin was consumed.
And I was left with a taste in my mouth that meant anticipation. It was a craving for the future and a nostalgia for the past. A longing for more of that, yes please.
But this time, I will be needle sharp and rock hard ready.
Courtesy of Haste Malaise Photography, here are some pictures of the carnage.
- You can follow C O V EN on Facebook here
- Haste Malaise here
- Find Aurora from House of Health here
- Find Ryan Darling here
- Joana Glitz here
- Joe Black here
- Nina and Sophia here and here
- The Naked Grace Missionaries here