The Caravan Rumbles Forth…

Hello there, lovers and sinners!

The time has come again for me to take to the road. I’ll be a professional gypsy this summer, working the carnival, performing at three festivals, and a number of gigs in-between (and I think there might even be a film in there somewhere…) But the summer of 2016 has been declared The Summer Of The Creeps. Myself and my paramour, Burns the Dragon and our blade-swallowing babe Vivianne Oblivion. Along with our albino boa, Miss Lavendar, we will be travelling back and forth across Western Canada. My plan is to keep this blog as a record of our travels and shenanigans as we live the carny life of circus and sideshow performers, mobile mermaids, and let our wanderlust run rampant.

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Photo by Shimona Henry, make up by Jennifer Little

Photo by Shimona Henry, make up by Jennifer Little

JUNE
Vernon, BC – Fri June 10th – The Farm – 5454 Maddock rd
https://www.facebook.com/events/132560747149830/

Nelson, BC – - Sat June 11th – The Royal on Baker - 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1005251716189981/

Winnipeg, MB – June 17 – 26, 2016 – Red River Ex
Winnipeg – June 18 – Zlatan – Club 3D – 3317 Portage Ave.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1130962993601116/

Calgary, AB – June 30th – Distortion
https://www.facebook.com/events/642988219200756/?notif_t=plan_user_invited&notif_id=1465023709150292

JULY
Calgary, AB – July 1st – Canada Day – Busking – watch for the silver statues!
Kelowna, BC – July 2nd – Co-motion @ the Mansion
Golden, BC – July 3rd – The Rockwater

Merritt, BC – July 7-11, – Bass Coast
https://www.facebook.com/events/1808327172599334/

Merritt, BC -Jully12 -Merrit Dessert Inn (Bass Coast Wind Down Party)
https://www.facebook.com/events/2042477909309655/

Enderby, BC – July 13th – Lorenzo’s Cafe-
https://www.facebook.com/events/860518564052839/

Calgary, AB – July 12–17, 2016 – Calgary Stampede

Edmonton, AB – July 22-27, 2016 – K – Days

Edmonton, AB – July 21nd – The Brixx
https://www.facebook.com/events/273678469651437/

Sylvan – July 28th – Hazzard County Bar

AUG:
Artsewells Festival – Penticton, BC July 29 to Aug 1st

Leave for burning man Aug 24th
Burning Man, NV- Aug 28th – Sept 5 – (potentially booked)
https://www.facebook.com/events/1496042783991014/

 

Be sure to follow us here, on our Instagrams ( @littlemissrisk) or search #CaravanOfCreeps

xoxo
Little Miss Risk

 

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The Happy Dance

I was searching through EDM mixes the other day on YouTube. Like flavours for the North American palate, we’ve become obsessed with combining things together. Our tastebuds are so used to getting assaulted with chemical combos that now there is such thing as honey dijon and poutine potato chips. Don’t take this for me complaining – far from it. But it extended into our music now, and I was dithering between ‘epic gaming glitch hop’ and ‘ultimate summer chill step 2016′. It was’t until I saw the Celtic gaming mixes that I saw my flavour of the day. I was pleasantly surprised.

I was practicing spinning my new fire fans in prep for Burning Man. I know that I’ve often said I’d never go, but I’m also fond of making a liar out of myself, and as a fire performer it’s the ONE PLACE you can go nuts and not have to worry about setting anything on fire unintentionally. This music was the perfect soundtrack to my practice and I almost start hopping around in a mock-Highland dance. Which got me to thinking about Highland dance and it’s origins, which bring me to the point of this post.

I took a lot of different dance classes in my formative years, but I seemed to escape tap and Highland dancing, whereas many of my friends did not. Highland dancing, if you’ve not seen it shows spritely young ladies dancing in formation over a pair of crossed sword. Modern Highland dance has many outside influences now – most notably ballet – but it is considered a sport, and is as competitive as gymnastics, skiing, and running. Like any other sport you train like crazy in your youth, do it as long as your body allows, and then are relegated, more or less, to teaching after your body can no long compete. The existential horrors of that aside, it’s the origins of Highland dance that got my wheels turning.

Ritualistic sword dances were all the rage in Europe back in the day. Earliest records of this preceded the 1500′s and was even used in assassination attempts when the killers insisted that the swords they danced over were part of their tradition, and when the time came they’d have their weapons close to dispatch their target. Not totally The Red Wedding of Game of Thrones, but you have to admire that kind of moxy. This was almost the case in 1573 when Scottish mercenaries were sent to slay Swedish King John III, but due to an agreement being signed, the hit never came to fruition. Most people know the legend of the origins of the dance from when Bonny Prince Charlie played his opponent, laid down is swords and did a victory dance over the body of his enemy.

This weekend is the Burlesque Hall Of Fame in Las Vegas. I just got word that our local homegrown crew, The Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society, who as been around as long as my own Sweet Soul Burlesque, won not only Best Large Group, but Most Comedic last night, further showing Vancouver’s homegrown talent is strong. As I reflect on the elements of striptease, the removal of layers, and laying them on the stage, I picture the laying down of swords. Ultimately, our victory dance comes not over the body of the enemy, but of the patriarchy. We do our naked victory dance over the death of body shaming, ageist thinking, and convention. Our audience applause is our war woops of joy on a battle long fought against the status quo.

We’ve still got a lot of battles ahead, but our sparkly army continues to grow.

xoxo

Little Miss Risk

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Making Mermaiding Memories

People have to take a minute to digest my words when I tell them I’m a mermaid. In the age of Millennial ‘I’m a unicorn/princess/snowflake’ it’s rather easy to take this with a grain of salt. However, far from a flight of entitled whimsy, I do, in fact, work as a mermaid, and incorporate it into my stage and event performances. This isn’t some new thing to me, that overtook me in the night. I didn’t wake up one morning, seized with the need to wear clam shells on my chest, and wash my hair with sea water. The roots of this drive to swim more often than walk goes back deep into my childhood, and has been nurtured by my exceptional parents, if in odd ways.

I actually didn’t like The Little Mermaid when it first came out. My long-suffering babysitter, Allison, had taken me to our little one-screen shoe box theatre on a hot summer day to watch the film that would more or less kick start the Disney animation studio back up into something that earned it’s corn. I wasn’t moved by it. I can’t put my finger on it, but I remember not enjoying it. It was likely due to the fact that I resented having a babysitter (even though I was eight and not yet quite old enough to be solo the whole summer while my mom worked) and I took exception to going to a ‘kid’ movie. But something shifted in my psyche and I had always loved and enjoyed the other Disney film with mermaids, Splash. Seeing a realistic mermaid sparked the imagination, and gradually  I made room in my heart for Ariel.

Halloween came that year, and I remember my mother asking me what my plans were for a costume with some trepidation, as I was given to major flights of fancy as far as costumes were concerned. It’s not terribly surprising that I’d later go into a life as a showgirl, really. But as my mother was not a seamstress, she WAS crafty. She always swallowed her fear of my requests bravely and did her best to accommodate. So when I asked to be a mermaid, she asked what I had in mind. I said a tail like Madison (Splash’s title mermaid), and that my friends would pull me in a wagon, house to house, to trick or treat. My mother was highly skeptical of this plan for two reasons. The first being, the best trick or treating to be had was up a VERY steep hill that most eight year olds would be unwilling to lug anyone up in a wagon, unless some very heavy bribery was going to happen. The second being that while there was a puff of life in her lungs, there was no WAY I was leaving the house in a clamshell bra and a spandex fish tail I was unable to walk in, and that was beyond the scope of her skills of construction.

We were at something of a stalemate.

I do remember she said that I could be a mermaid, but there were going to have to be some concessions. What I wanted and what I wound up with are two very different things. But I will say that my mother poured her heart and creative soul into making that costume. A far cry from my original idea, what the final product was likely why I felt so at home in later life at raves. The outfit was a neon green tube dress, with painted on scales and belly button, in dark green, puffy fabric paint. The fins were two pieces of cardboard, painted green, then covered with spray glue with dark green glitter thrown onto them. My seashells were glued to the chest of the dress. Because it was rainy late October Wet Coast weather, my mother INSISTED my arms and shoulders were covered so despite my protests to the contrary, I wore a red cape and dark green evening gloves up to my armpits. my short bobbed hair was hair sprayed into a Flock Of Seagulls creation (this was the late 80s, I should ask you to keep in mind) and I had racing stripes of eyeshadow and blush for make up. Not really what I had in mind. But the choice between being allowed out in that and not going trick or treating at all, I chose to wear the garment. I’m glad I did, because now, in my adult years, I know how hard my mom worked on it, and I would hate to think how the rejection of it would have made her feel.

But when anyone asks me why I became a raver, I will forever reference the photos taken of me that year at Halloween.

Fast forward to Christmas time and my mother asking me what I wanted. The obvious answer being an Ariel doll. Back before Disney really had grasped the gold mine of marketing, there wasn’t a line of dolls ready to go with the release of the film. There were no mermaid dolls, period. No Esty, nothing of the sort. And of course the ONLY thing that now nine year old me wanted for Christmas was a Little Mermaid doll. My mother, bless her heart, had a friend who was going to Disneyland and taking her children, whom she begged to bring back an Ariel doll for me. Apparently, they were pretty hard to locate, and there was a modest display of Little Mermaid merchandise to help promote the new film. On that Christmas morning, every other thing fell away and paled in comparison to the doll which, by today’s standards wouldn’t have made it out of the prototype marketing meeting. But holy shit, did I ever love that I had a mermaid doll at that point. Major Mom points, right there.

I later got a few gigs in my early 20s in my really ghetto tail. It was made of one leg of an old pair of black tights, sewn into one piece with a silver lame fin, and silver scales spray painted onto it. It wasn’t such a far cry from the Halloween costume my Mom made for me, except that it was sans cape and evening gloves, and my hair was down to my waist. I wore it for a few events I was booked at for at the Vancouver Aquarium where I’d lounge on rocks in the Pacific Gallery, over the fish native to my own coastal habitat. I’ve been slowly upgrading since then, and continue to collect and curate tails with which to swim and perform in.

Nature and nurture both played a part here. My mother and father have always been so good to me in regards of support for my odd ideas. Despite never walking the safe road, they have not only been there and encouraged me, but delight to see the success that I’ve had over the years. I like to think that they share in those successes, because I couldn’t have done it a lot of the time without the love that they’ve offered me. It might take a village to raise a child, but this mermaid applauds the two people who levelled up to raise this weirdo.

xoxo

Little Miss Risk

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Beauty Is In The Eye…

When on set, and indeed living away from the comforts of one’s own hearth and home, there are certain rituals one establishes. We put these in place to help give ourselves a sense of routine and grounding, which helps give a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic time. Times spent shooting out of town when I can’t sleep in my own bed seems to be the norm for me, with time passed in a series of rented accommodations.

I tend to bring little pieces of home with me that act as little luck charms. My double spider opal pendant crafted for me by Tessa Rand‘s loving hands on my Happy Place on the Sunshine Coast. My wire-wrapped heart made of a piece of sea glass, scavenged from the beach while on a walk with my lover and crafted by his hands. My favourite bandana from Puff that reminds me of Commercial Drive, East Vancouver and always kindles excitement for travel. These elements of juju calm my otherwise homesick mind when I am not close to my cats, serpents, and dragon.

But I have managed to establish a routine within our cast house. We have dubbed the living room ‘The Nook’. It’s where we gather with hot beverages, personal communication devices, and watch a collection of shark movies on Netflix. I’m uncertain how it was that we started with the film ‘Sharknado’, which if you aren’t au fait with the franchise, enters around a series of bizarre meteorological events that sucks up sharks and deposits them in urban centres. When viewing, reality needs to take a walk and it usually takes suspension of disbelief along with it for these films.  We followed the trilogy (yes, there’s three) up with the film Three Headed Shark, and then the film Shark Week. The latter has the dubious honour of being our least favourite on a technical basis, but has thus become the yardstick by which all terrible shark films are measured. I never thought I’d say I saw a shark film that made the production value of Sharknado shine brightly, but there you are. My judgement is as harsh as was the lighting.

Mindless escapism aside, it troubles me. Not the movies themselves, but the sentiment. I’m old enough to remember people being terrified of Jaws as a child. To even hum the refrain from the score was enough to make my friend’s younger siblings whine until they hit a fever pitch and would exit the kiddie pool, shrieking for their mother. I have no defence: I’m an only child and was intolerant of younger kids and a water hog at that. I very much doubt any kid can scare anyone by saying “Sharknado” and doing jazz hands these days. But the standard has become, once again, that sharks are reduced again to mindless killing machines, that relentlessly stalk and devour humans. As amusing as it is in film, I find it ultimately depressing.

In my time alone, I enjoy watching documentaries on a variety of topics. The ones featuring sharks are a personal favourite. Over the years I’ve amassed a sort of armchair education on the topic of shark behaviour as more and more research has begun to reveal, in complex habits. Michael Rutzen, an inspiration, frequently studies sharks, and does so without a cage. His reasoning being that you can’t learn and observe from the deck of a boat on the surface, or from behind the confines of a cage’s bars. He instead opts to swim in open ocean with one of the most feared organisms on the planet. My respect for him is as infinite as his experiences with these animals intimate. He has frequently been referred to as ‘Sharkman’, and his conservationist work to help preserve this apex predator has helped to act as field support for the Department of South African Environmental Affairs.

What all this has done is with a series of documentaries is expanded people’s perceptions of these fascinating animals. My own interest with sharks has been with me a lifetime, having spent a great deal of time sailing with my family throughout my childhood and teens. Some of my own experiences include observing a tiger shark in Fiji in 1999 on New Years Eve (talk about auspicious) and swimming in the presence of black-tipped reef sharks in Hawaii as a child at Molokini. In frequent visits to the Vancouver Aquarium, I’d spend half of the visit in the shark gallery, watching them swim in lazy circles. I wondered if they knew how close they were to an ocean on the peninsula point of Stanley Park, and the open ocean. Knowing now that these creatures are beyond a mouth and digestive tract,   I often speculate if with so many regular visits that they recognized and remembered me. I remembered them. To the point of being really excited watching the Canadian show The Beachcombers where an episode that took place in the Aquarium and shark tank. It was exciting as seeing an old friend guest star on a favourite show and feeling a strange secondhand pride at the fact, despite it having nothing to actually do with me personally. Our sharks were FAMOUS and starring alongside Bruno Gerussi, which before Vancouver became Hollywood North, was pretty damn cool.

The Sharkman and I aren’t alone in our adoration of our finned friends. I recently came across a photographer that shares our sentiment. George Probst has spent as much time photographing Great White sharks as Michael Rutzen has swimming with them. After his first trip to the Isla de Guadalupe in Mexico, he too broke free of the cage’s confines to better illustrate the true personality of these animals beyond automated predator. He was able to take note of details that gave the animals character, such as blue eyes, that meet your own when they pass by, and open jaw shots that while popular amongst people are about as threatening to his eye as the open mouth of a dog catching a ball or biscuit in midair. Like any and all large predatory animals, they have the ability to be dangerous, but also endearing as wolves, tigers, and bears, who are have YouTube videos of behaviour that causes a flurry of ‘awww’s and social media postings.

I wanted to post some of his works here to share, and to see some of these animals in all their glory. Hopefully an open mind looks to these creatures a hosting Cheshire cat grins rather than deadly grimaces. All photos taken by George Probst, and you can find more of his work at sharkpix.com

xoxo

Little Miss Risk

Happy face

Happy face

Blue eyes

Blue eyes

Oh hai!

Oh hai!

Slender beauty

Slender beauty

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It’s A Risk Double Creature Feature!

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Happy Tentacle Tuesday lovers and sinners! It’s a double Risk feature next week in Kansas City! They are screening Harvest Lake by Scott Schirmer and short film INNSMOUTH by Izzy Lee at their next showcase Monday, April 4th.

It’s going to be a sexy night.

Poster design by the talented Erica Kauffman of Atomic Cotton. Love the design? You can order your own HERE

Can’t make it to the screening and hate leaving the comforts of your home? Want to see what all the flap is about and have a fear of crowds? Well, you can order your copy of HARVEST LAKE on limited edition blu-Ray HERE

Still not convinced? Well, HARVEST LAKE just screened at the Fright Night Film Festival and swept up numerous awards, including one for yours truly for Best Supporting Actress! Because, like a well-crafted bra, I give good support…

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Till next time, lovers and sinners, from the set of Ayla…

xoxoxo

Little Miss Risk

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Harvest Lake, Innsmouth | Leave a comment