Shannon Tweed photographed by George Hurrell
pinup/rockabilly blog x
Originally published for FLUX Innovation Lounge & Engage Production on July 9, 2014: http://engageproduction.com/wearable-tech-celebration/
Wearable Tech Celebration
We recently had the pleasure of celebrating the summer with our FLUX Innovation Lounge partner’s, Heads Up Ventures at their Wearable Technology Summer Party – and it did not disappoint! Held at DigitasLBI and sponsored by Samsung, Salman Sadiq and Dave Slocombe played great hosts at the event which featured six wearable technology experts speaking about the latest innovations and apps being developed for these new formats.
Sam Yong of Kairos Smartwatches called in from Korea at 3am to give us an exclusive, first view of their transparent screen display, used to fuse the elegant style of a classic wristwatch with the option of the modern benefits of a smartwatch. Another call-in was Brandon Arnolds, a product and web designer in Silicon Valley from Zurb.com, who spoke with us about how websites are fast becoming web-apps, and the ‘death of the page’.
Amusing everyone with his ‘Burnt nipples’ story, Kwame Ferreira of Kwamecorp talked about the unique challenges wearables represent. He made the observation that single-purpose wearables have limited lifespans, and one of the big challenges to wearables is limited body real-estate. He also introduced the ‘Two-Second Rule’, articulating that if a wearbale takes two seconds too long, the user will revert to their phone. One of his early inventions, ‘Bond’, was a bracelet that allowed you to send and receive unique love vibrations on your wrist from lovers and mates around the world. His latest project aims to be more versatile, using multi-purpose modules that can be swapped in and out to make up an attractive – and useful – bit of tech jewelry.
It was really fascinating to hear from the people developing apps for these new technologies. Some of you may have already heard of the app ‘Race Yourself’, which is a motivational tool for runners that allows you to race your ghost or run from zombies. Originally it had been developed for Glass, but they have moved onto the smartwatch, declaring that it is a more accessible and universal wearable. We were particularly excited by Adriana Vecchioli’s useful and innovative app called ‘Find It’, which does what it says. Acting as a virtual memory, or a ‘back-up for the brain’, when you say ‘Remember this’ the app snaps a shot and the GPS location of things, like your keys or a perfect view in Hampstead Heath. Later you can ask the app to locate these items and places, and it will provide the snap along with a map of how to get there – so you’ll never have to struggle to remember where you parked your car again! Soon you’ll be able to share these locations with your friends, establishing secret hangout spots and sharing sexy street art locations… The possibilities are very exciting!
Representing the sponsor of the event, Alex Bowker introduced the Samsung Gear App Challenge, which is giving away over $1million in prizes to 200 winners for the creation of the best Gear Apps. The event also gave away two Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 watches, much to the delight of a winning member of the EPL team. More info on the challenge can be found here: http://gearapp.challengepost.com/. We are already looking forward to Heads Up’s next event.
Following a post I put up last week of a performance I did with The Countess back in NYC, I got a bit nostalgic for the good old days and dug up an unpublished interview I did with her from 2011. Since this was written she has continued to break new ground in the London art scene, performing prestigious shows including IggyFest and making films. I even had the privilege of performing with her again earlier this year at the famous Mayor Gallery in Mayfair.
While the following is a few years old, her vivacious spirit and wicked personality seep through. A true artist, she remains one to watch, envy, love and fear, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
June 4, 2011
Sexy People Interview
Amelia Kallman Interviews Real People in a Sexy Way,
and Sexy People in a Real Way
ONE WOMAN’S CUNT ROCK REVOLUTION:
Singer and film-maker, The Countess, founder of The C.U.N.T. Rock Revolution, talks about female genitalia, Plastic Spastic Love, Lady Gaga’s curiously familiar persona, and her reconciliation with life as a Fairytale Punk.
I’ve known The Countess (real name: Alex Zapak) for seven years now since meeting in the basement of a dive bar in New York City. She had seen me perform my rendition of ‘Romeo & Juliet in 3-Minutes’ as a showgirl and asked me to join her band ‘The C.U.N.T. Rock Revolution,’ on the spot. Raw, emotional, confrontational, and provoking, she is the enigma who has been likened to ‘The Female Iggy Pop’ for her creations of anthemic songs, bleeding lyrics, and soul alarming performances. She transcends her comically tragic and tragically comic life story, blurring the lines between Self and Art, exemplified profoundly in her current autobiographical cinematic performance art experience, ‘Fairytale Punk.’ Let’s talk…
You were the first person I had ever met back in 2004 to use the word ‘Cunt’ positively, and progressively. How did you come up for the idea to call your band The C.U.N.T. Rock Revolution?
C.U.N.T. stands for Can’t Understand Normal Thinking.
If the worst word in a culture’s language is a slang word for female genitalia what does that indicate about that society? It tells you that it’s culture is inherently sexist and misogamist, the words ‘dick’ or ‘cock’ are nothing, barely even swear words. I wanted to decriminalize the word and open a discussion, it’s about time don’t you think? The worst word in the English language should be the word ‘soul –less.’ (Or McDonalds.)
People said the mainstream press would never embrace us, even though we had a huge following of stars, stylists, models, photographers, and editors coming loyally week after week to sold out shows in New York, but I didn’t want to lose the word CUNT. I wanted to claim it literally as ART because a cunt is ART in the truest sense. Nature and creation speak through cunts, and men hate that about females. I truly believe that is the roots of misogyny, it’s fear and distrust of the female connection to nature, the same nature that man has always sought to control.
How would you describe The Countess and the C.U.N.T. Rock Revolution experience to someone who’s never seen it live?
At some shows you can feel a communal, emotional temperature rise like a current. It’s a viral thing. Passion is a virus. My job as a performer is to give the people something that takes them out of themselves and makes them automatically emotionally involved. Some of my best shows were in New York at the height of our thing, when Brian Ermanski would be in the front row going crazy and dancing next to Vogue supermodels wearing C.u.n.t. Rock shirts, and Peter Beard screaming ‘Living work of art’ at a packed out midnight show on a rain-soaked Tuesday in a downtown dive club. We became a surreal dream family to them. The Countess was as an infinite Barbie character, playing the coolest girls at school, only with better style, and wearing hairstyles from the eighties that I never had the guts to wear back then. Then Miss Amelia would walk on stage in a clown nose and showgirl costume, joining two drummers, a bass player, and guitarist Knox Chandler (from Siouxsie and the Banshees and Dépêche Mode) on stage, and I’d hear this electric roar of excitement in anticipation of my entrance.
The Countess and the C.U.N.T Rock Revolution really picked up momentum, and soon we were performing every week, making shows out of nothing, with a totally radical physical transformation from night to night. I was taking the piss out of contemporary culture in a series of shows based on made-up slogans, like ‘The Future is Stupid,’ ‘Plastic Spastic Love,’ and ‘I Am Fejus the Female Jesus,’ where I came on stage naked, tied to a crucifix, singing opera, carried by four shirtless guys I’d recruited off the street earlier that night. Then there was ‘Star Child and the Infinite Barbie,’ when I hired eleven-year-old Ivy Lively to play the drums with us in a transvestite club.
In one show, I was a ‘Mad Molecule Doll’ from the future when all women are supposed to be the same. What’s ironic is that contemporary culture became increasingly more stupid and facile than my satire and it was hard to tell the difference by the end. Lindsey Lohan and all her friends would be at these clubs trying to party with our crowd of misfits and sleep with our boys. We were headlining sold out shows at The Knitting Factory, but I was homeless, burning out, and struggling just to survive. I ended up moving to Berlin where I turned Cunt into Cun$t, the old German word for ART, a visual pun too because I was so broke.
My latest creation ‘Fairytale Punk’ came about after I had a bunch of visions. I had a weird dream about my childhood horse, and in one day I’d written the story ‘Girl With a Horse in her Hair,’ and about fifty pages of poetry, ideas, and slogans. I realised that all my songs, all the Cunt Rock Revolution shows, all the themes, footage, and photos, told the story that I was now writing.
Does your stage persona as a self-made, sex-positive, rock star make it easier or harder to get laid? Do you find that the impression people have of you from your onstage persona is who you really are or is it a character you play?
I’m the opposite of The Countess really. I’m scared of everything, I’ve been in complete terror most of my life, and it’s just been in the last few years working on ‘Fairytale Punk’ that I’ve achieved a sense of belonging to the world. I guess I must be very confusing to men. All I want is someone to be nice to me, but that has rarely happened, as I tend to go for difficult, cruel men. I seem extremely strong when in fact I have raging, ‘Daddy never loved me issues.’ The Countess on stage is a character I wish I could be more like, she doesn’t give a fuck if you love her or not, whereas I care much too much.
I (and those who have known you for years) often refer to you or describe you as ‘The original, or Real, Lady Gaga,’ and we’ve discussed privately the evidence that her, or her people at least, came to see us perform in New York, perhaps with notepads in hand. I think it’s safe to say that you actually were ‘Born this Way,’ though. Can you tell us a bit about these similarities, our conspiracy theory, and why your music kicks Stefani Germanotta’s Long island ass?
I have to be careful of what I say because otherwise I just sound like some bitter sad cow whinging. After all, people only love the winners, they love the fantasy. No one really wants to see the mechanisms of the toy factory, they just want the toys to play with. The light of the media is bought. Simple as that. I worked at all the clubs on the quote “New York City Underground.” Cunt Rock was the New York City underground, and we never once saw her perform or heard her name.
(I point out to Alex that we used to open for the band Semi Precious Weapons, the band that Lady Gaga now has opening for her, calling them her favourite band, in yet another parallel that all seems somehow suspicious.)
So why London now? What’s next for you?
After being deported from LA on my return from organising and performing at the UK premier of the movie ‘Dirty Old Town,’ they slammed me in jail for 75 hours in handcuffs and sent me back to London with a 5 year ban from American soil. After months, the shock finally wore off, and I’m back. It’s been like being slapped alive. So now I’m busy creating and updating the film part of my show with the help of Portobello Road residents, filming a lot of it on my cellphone. My little room has become my stage and film set. Today Mick Jones from The Clash walked by and stopped to give me a big hug and kiss outside the Tabernacle and said ‘Good to see you’re back.’ I couldn’t believe he remembered me, it was surreal. I thought, ‘Yeah, there is magic right here, right now. My life is a fairytale, it truly is.’
When I’m tired of narrating my life, I’m going to be narrating other people’s. I finally know what I will be doing for the rest of my life, there are just so many stories to tell, in so many ways. I am a storyteller.
The Countess and the C.U.N.T. Rock Revolution
Don’t Dare to Love Me Music Video
THIS! How much fun were we having?! This one features me as an interpreting showgirl/angel(?), with Knox Chandler of Siouxsie and the Banchees, Kristin FM, JTR3, and of course the incredible Countess, Alex Zapak! This was good times! Also featuring that sexy artist, Brian Ermanski!
i am fejus the female jesus show
THE COUNTESS AND THE CUN$T ROCK REVOLUTION AT THE DELANCEY LOUNGE NYC
THE COUNTESS ALEX ZAPAK ART PUNK FEMINIST OPERA PERFORMANCE ART
KNOX CHANDLER ON GUITAR
Before the recession hit, Marc Jacobs used to throw the party of the year in New York - an annual, exclusive Christmas party that was absolutely the hottest ticket in town. For showgirls and performers hired to attend, it also meant ringing in the New Year in the black, with the fattest paycheck for one night of swanning around in fancy dress going.
I was 22, 23 maybe at the time, and had just started my illegal speakeasy, The Blushing Diamond, which featured nightly performances by some of the biggest names in burlesque, including Peekaboo Pointe, Harvest Moon, Ms.Tickle, Melody Sweets and The Maine Attraction. While we were pulling in celebrity audiences, like Bjork and Matthew Barney, Frank Miller and Matt Dillon, and turning people like Britney Spears away at the door, I still had to fight to get my invite to Marc Jacob’s Venetian-themed Masquerade.
What the job actually consisted of was this: Make a beautiful, extravagant costume on the cheap that looked like a million bucks, and then mingle, flirt and have an amazing time. We could eat, drink, dance - behave like every other party guest – but we were the best-dressed ones, and paid to be there. Not too shabby, huh?
They had too many chicks, so I was asked to go in drag, which is sort of ironic considering there is no denying, (or tapping down or camouflaging for that matter) my 30G tits. So I kept my best features on prominent display, but developed the rest of the costume to look like a cross between a Spanish matador and a member of the three musketeers, set against a Canaletto painting. My date was the gorgeous chanteuse Miss Melody Sweets, dressed to impress, and with her on my arm, I felt like the luckiest guy in the room.
From behind our masks we flirted with a who’s-who of the fashion and celebrity worlds. One of these famous actors took quite a shining to me, when his wife wasn’t looking, and followed me around most of the night trying to corner me here and there for my phone number. Me being me, I thought I recognized him from somewhere, but couldn’t place him. Either way, I wasn’t about to give it up. From a quick Google search I can see he’s been married practically as long as I’ve been alive, so I’m not going to say who it is here… (Wait for the book though!)
Like every good Cinderella story, the ball must come to an end, and usually all too soon. The highlight of the night was when Marc stood next to me at the chocolate fondue fountain and said, ‘You look amazing, just amazing!’ Nights don’t get much better than that.
Here’s the New York Times article on it: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/fashion/17marc.html?_r=0