Bright Lights, Big City, Big Love

I can hear the rain washing the city down outside. It’s a familiar sound to Vancouver, and the one lullaby I can always count on to whisper me to sleep. I’ve missed it. My travels the past nine weeks have tossed my body back and forth over continental USA, to Australia, over to Ireland and back to Vancouver. Forever either burning road miles or else spending time in airports so often that my overactive imagination has begun to embroider on them being spaceports, as if I’m living some Anne McCaffery-meets-Alan Dean Foster space opera. I think it’s a coping mechanism that your body comes up with when you spend a great deal of time hanging above the planet at 30,000 feet and hurtling through narrow corridors of airspace hither and thither. At this point, my internal clock has just given up on me which makes me some kind of Time Lord. I think.

But now back in my snug Burrow in East Vancouver, I’m reshifting all of my internal gears in said clock from my planetary tango dance, and I’m settling in again. Part of that means listening to rain and the meditation from quiet places it brings. It’s just as well that I find it peaceful – because living in a coastal rainforest you tend to get a lot of it. But as the clouds let their weepy passions loose on our city, rather than rolling our eyes and trying to remember where we last left our umbrellas, I enjoy it for other reasons, such as the incidental art it brings. When the rain washes down over Vancouver, her streets becomes black and slick, shiny and hypersexual. Where dry drab streets offer no magic, when the rain soaks them, they become bright and spangled, reflecting the neon signs and headlights.

It’s this natural state that we have where the rain cascades down and gives us the double layer of beauty beyond that of the mountains and the ocean. It can take a a regular night walking through Chinatown and turn it into a scene from a Bladerunner cyberpunk fantasy. It can make the quietest of nights on Granville street lively. It can give an eerie fae quality to a wet walk around the seawall by False Creek. And to think that we once in Vancouver had some of the best neon in the world. This was prior to local pearl-clutchers rallying to have the neon taken down due to the way it made Vancouver ‘ugly’. But thankfully there are some bastions left of those glory days when roaming Terminal City would make you feel like you are prowling in a living pulp novel.

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The first of these is The Penthouse Nightclub. Owned and operated by the same family that bought that land in 1941, it is one of my two favourite Vancouver institutions for three reasons: it’s one of the few remaining businesses in Vancouver that has enjoyed success as the same business it was when it opened it’s doors to today. It also has a wonderful sign that adds to Vancouver’s colour and charm, especially on rainy nights. As well, I’m partial to it because I’ve performed on that stage in every capacity from pole jockey to sideshow magics. When The Penthouse comes alive at night, that old girl can smile into the glass and concrete around her with all the surety of a celebrated grande dame of the theatre grinning tolerantly at awkward starlets around her.

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Another one of these that hits all three of these marks (OG business, great front lights, and I’ve stripped on the stage) is the Rio Theatre. It’s close to my heart resting at the cross streets of Commercial Drive and Broadway. Built in the late 30s she has dodged the wrecking ball that has befallen almost every other single-screen theatre in Vancouver. Like our own East Van phoenix, she’s dusted the ashes off of herself after the management’s tangle with the LCLB in procuring the right to serve alcohol and show movies, she’s ushered in a high volume of amazing live shows, and she continues to show and make room for independent cinema. She’s come a long way from those days of men and women in fashionable hats and coats gathering under her awning to see the silver screen stars.

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However, like all of us, sometimes we don’t take care of ourselves the way we should. We get preoccupied and we let our looks go. And given that Vancouver is somewhat quick to point a finger and cry ‘wolf’ in the name of so-called eyesores, I’d prefer it not to be given a chance with a place like the Rio Theatre. This place is a safe haven and sacred space for so many artists, that giving her a little love back in return is a beautiful thing. After the long struggle with the LCLB, it dug a deep and nasty hole into the Rio’s pockets, which is shameful of the government doing this to a small business. The hit that the theatre took the old girl is struggling to keep up her appearance and they need to repair their iconic neon sign.

The front awning isn’t quite the same without the cheery art deco lights is sheds over Commercial and Broadway, but the folks at the Rio are doing an Indiegogo campaign to help raise the funds to restore her. While restorations can easily accept any and all money tossed it’s way, the breakdown they have on their profile shows where all the pennies go, so you KNOW every cent breathes fresh light and life into an East Vancouver institution.

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There are photos on the walls of both of the buildings from another time. They depict happy faces, creating warmth, joy and wonderful memories. In both The Penthouse and The Rio these are tokens of nostalgia where we sit and sigh and think wistfully about what it was to bear witness to those events. I like to think that when those halls are empty and no human heartbeat is in those places that old memories come alive, and that by continuing to perform and keep these places open as gathering places for people, that we can generate a similar sentimental longing for what we have now.

If you’d like to donate to the Light Up The Rio click here!

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xoxo

Little Miss Risk

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I’m Number 25!

Holy crow! I almost forgot to post… I was selected as one of Playboy’s Top 50 Sexiest Scream Queens of all time! I won’t lie, I kind of freaked out when I saw this and did the Snoopy Dance….

Check all 50 of us out here!

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Getting Down, Down Under…

Prep is happening! Monster Pictures is bringing in some Canadian imports for Monster Fest in Melbourne soon! These exotic delights include the boys of Astron-6, the Twisted Twins, Jessica Cameron and… me.

Read all about it HERE!

Posted in American Mary, Guest blogs / Interviews, Moving Pictures, The Editor | Leave a comment

STARBURT Magazine’s Interview With The Witch

I love print magazines. There was a time not too long ago when I was looking at the lavish styles of church mice, and I lived the dream of the starving artist. However, just because you are broke as shit, doesn’t mean that you can’t live well, and one indulgence I gave myself was fresh magazines. A fine example of one that I’d have eaten brown rice for a week to buy is STARBURST Magazine from the UK.

So it’s with no little pleasure that now I find myself in a position to be interviewed about them by said art, and also knowing that I did not, in fact, starve to death to become the artist I am. They kindly sat down and asked me questions about life, love, and my distain for Michael Bay’s rape of my childhood nostalgia.

Clicky HERE for the read!

 

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Midwest Love

 

I have spent, for someone who doesn’t live in it, a great deal of time in the Midwest of the USA. I can recall the words of dear departed Vancouver country swing legend Ray Condo, ‘If you get the hearts of the Midwesterners, you’ll have them for life.” And it’s true. Most of my touring career centred on and around the Canadian west and the USA Midwest, and I’ve never been disappointed by the populace there. Friendly, kind, and enthusiastic as you’d ever want an audience to be, they have also proven to be die hard loyalists to their genre films. This is displayed in the majority of social intercourse I’ve had with them throughout the years, and always left me thinking that I was, perhaps, in Canada South, and it has always made me feel like a home away from home when I find myself drawn away from my coastal habitat to the heart of our continent.

To be fair, it’s not just the people (though that is a large contributing factor) that makes this region so great. I’ve always found the landscape to be charming. From the wooded areas of Minnesota to the rolling gum drop hills in Wisconsin, there is a sort of poetry to the way the landscape doesn’t have the stark contrast of my own native British Columbia. It kind of sighs and shifts thus easing you along rather then having mountains rear up under you abruptly, or the stark change from arid desert surroundings to major urban cityscapes as I find in Nevada or California. The scenery of the Midwest is as polite and accommodating as it’s denizens which lulls you into it’s sensibilities. Even the chain stores and and retail outlets which cling to it’s arterial highways like remoras to shark’s bellies don’t bother me the way they do in other spaces that intrude on the personality of the major cities and larger towns. It’s a strange thing.

I think the strongest picture I have in my mind about these places is from a tour I was on a number of years ago. The other dancer on this particular sojourn was Bloody Betty, of whom I had a great deal of fun with, and who’s company was the highlight of the journey for me. She and I left a wake of empty whiskey bottles, glitter and sticky faux blood all across the USA as we tore it up onstage night after night. One night, we had a show in a town called Grand Rapids, in Michigan. It was a few weeks before Halloween and I recall we had loaded in and set up our gear. Our fire performance stuff was soaking in it’s fuel, our pasties has been pre-taped up and I think the band had done their soundcheck. Betty and I had wandered off from the rest of the group in search off food that didn’t come in small plastic containers from a fast food monolith, and the early light had begun to fade at that time.

As we fed and watered ourselves, we stopped to pick up some fun Halloween items that we could incorporate into our show, and failing that, have on general stock in the case that we got home and all the good Halloween shit had been bought out and encroaching Christmas decor had replaced it. With out spooky booty, we began the walk back to the venue in order to paint our faces with our stage war paint. We passed by long streets lined with older style Midwest houses that likely would sell for over a million dollars in Vancouver. From their porches, jack-o-lanterns perched and fun throwback Halloween decor moved with small pockets wind that gave the impression that the streets themselves were sighing. The roads were not paved with asphalt, but had cobblestones, which no doubt were fun for small kids riding bikes who had places cards in the spokes in of their bikes to make an interesting staccato beat. Laid over this, snaking out from the bushes and the trees was a carpet of mist that clung to the vegetation. The porch lights were cheery yellow will-o-the-wisps and I could imagine the inhabitants eating pumpkin pies, talking about football, and drinking Blue Moon beer.

I am fairly sure that if you placed me anywhere in the world during my favourite season, I’d be crushing on the geography, but here I was utterly enchanted. For a moment I forgot about the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and just soaked it in. I had a brief but intense fantasy of getting married and mating with someone of this place and settling here in one of these old houses, and raising a small and strange family. But then Betty lit a firecracker and I was brought back to my senses and realized that although I enjoy the surroundings, I’d likely get restless rooted in one spot so far from any ocean. But for one moment, I was ready to pack my glitter and gore and become a full on Cheesehead.

I currently pen this blog from Ohio. It’s November. The leaves have turned and are dropping off of the trees. Our crew are in the throes of filming and much like the hot desert landscape that we spent our first week in, I’m thrilled and happy to be doing this again. Not just passing through, but documenting it to later revisit along with my memories of these places which I am beginning to think of strangely sacred to to me. Beyond just enjoying the conviviality of the others I’m with and getting to know them better and having brief glimpses into their lives, but also when these products have been chopped, sliced and spliced together to tell their stories, these will show others who have not travelled to these places the strange and beguiling poetry of our path and maybe encourage others to seek out these places for themselves.

So as inspiration to other blithe spirits and gypsy souls, should you get a chance, answer that call. For those of you lucky enough to already inhabit these places, hopefully you see your homes the way I see them.

PS: It just started snowing – it’s very pretty, but very cold. Time to head back to the West Coast soon so I don’t freeze my fins!

XOXO

 

Little Miss Risk

 

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