Interview: Behind the scenes of ‘She Walks in Beauty’

23 Nov

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We’ve all dreamt about being in the movies, right? Come on admit it, you’ve thought about your name up in lights starring in a fantastic success of a film. It’s a fun dream, but how about making it a reality? What if I told you a critically acclaimed director is on the hunt for a new star, that auditions were open to anyone however much acting experience you have; and on top of this the project is a great new film depicting lesbians in an innovative and exciting new way. Believe it or not this is actually happening. The film in question is ‘She Walks in Beauty’, to be directed by the award winning Nicole Conn. The audition process is a tried and tested formula that previously discovered Jessica Clark, who went on to star in ‘A Perfect Ending’ and vampire series ‘True Blood’. But auditions are only the beginning of what is shaping up to be a fantastic film that won’t be your average lesbian flick. She Walks in Beauty promises to be a bold statement in the world of LGBT and particularly lesbian movies, changing the way lesbians are depicted and taking us into the mainstream.

We wanted to find out more about this intriguing project and audition  process, so we caught up with the people behind it; Elaine Sturgess, executive producer of the film, and Juliette Prais, MD of Pink Lobster Dating, the fantastic ‘femme for femme’ dating site, and the only site where you can upload your video auditions for ‘She Walks in Beauty’.

 

What inspired you to get involved in this project with Nicole Conn to find a new actress for her movie?

 JP: When Elaine, the executive producer, got in touch about this project I was incredibly excited about getting involved. Elaine believes in the importance of working together as a community, and this is also our ethos at Pink Lobster Dating.  We love working with both individuals and organisations in order to promote LGBTQ causes and opportunities. For me it is vital that we work together to get lesbian movies more widespread. It is also wonderful to give women who would not otherwise get the opportunity, to audition for roles of this magnitude. The fact that I can help find the next big star through the means of video auditioning on Pink Lobster Dating is an added bonus!

 ES: I watched Elena Undone (2010, Directed by Nicole Conn) two years ago and it had a deep impact on me because it echoed my story with my partner – and so I got in touch with Nicole and ended up donating to the making of A Perfect Ending. After going to the premiers of the movie in San Francisco and LA and spending time with Nicole over the last year, we decided to join forces in the making of her new movie She Walks in Beauty.

What is ‘She Walks in Beauty’ about?

ES: It’s the tale of two women, whose stories are an echo of each other, set a century apart. Spencer is an ambitious driven woman who finds success in Hollywood and gets sucked into the hedonistic lifestyle, eventually losing everything in a whirl of sexual abandon, drink and drugs. She moves to a remote cottage on the East coast and reflects on her past to try to find out what drove her to the destruction in her life and in doing so, she returns to what she loves and knows best – writing. She pens the story of Byron, set in the louche world of 1920’s literary Paris – and in doing so reconnects with her life and soul.

So… anyone can audition??

 JP: I was amazed when I discovered how easy it is to audition. It still doesn’t seem real, but it is! All women of any age and sexuality can apply and it’s so wonderful that we can offer the chance for applicants to video audition on Pink Lobster Dating. There has been a lot of interest so far and women are genuinely excited about the incredible opportunities available. Still I think many don’t believe it…!

 ES: Literally anyone can apply, whether they have previous acting experience or not. Pink Lobster Dating have set up a great way to do that because they have the video upload facility – it’s great for us in casting terms to be able to see those who are wanting to have their chance in the spotlight. All submissions will also go through the www.shewalksnbeautymovie.com website and we will select around 100 to read for one of the roles at the iConn Movie Convention in Brighton on the weekend of 11th/12th January 2014. We’ll then call back around 30 for chemistry sessions (kissing!) and then a shortlist of 20 will be open to a vote online.

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What do you think of the lesbian movies that are around today?

JP: The biggest problem is the presumption that lesbian movies are either porn or made for men or both. Or they go the other way and can often become a political statement. We need more films showing women falling in love – simple. We also need lesbian movies to be accepted in the mainstream so that their budgets can increase thereby providing opportunities to make more high quality movies in this genre.  It’s also important that the LGBTQ community gains more role models as there are currently not enough in the UK.

ES: There aren’t enough (and most certainly not enough in the UK!)  and there’s a real mix of quality. Mainly because funding for these projects is so limited and resources generally are very thin on the ground. Standards are improving, slowly, but it’s essential that we start to expand beyond the lesbian niche into the mainstream to encourage more funding and support for this genre. Hopefully the exposure of movies like Blue is the Warmest Colour, despite all the contentious issues around it, will help to start addressing this.

What makes ‘She walks in beauty’ different??

 JP:  It’s set as both a modern and period piece. What makes Nicole Conn’s movies different in general is her way of highlighting that we can sometimes fall in love with the person regardless of our supposed sexualities. She therefore shows the reality of sexual fluidity amongst women. Importantly for us at Pink Lobster Dating she also shows women of all types and does not maintain age old stereotyping of lesbians. It also gives women in the UK a chance to feature in a Hollywood movie without having to live in LA and go through the gruelling processes over there!

ES: It’s the first transatlantic project for Nicole – and it’s an epic!

What direction would you like to see lesbian movies go?

JP: Ideally we would have movies with both lesbians and heterosexuals as the main characters. They would also not be labelled ‘lesbian’ and seen as ‘genre’ films. They would simply be romantic movies and be granted the same respect as heterosexual movies. Hopefully in the long term when lesbians stop being constantly seen as male fantasy figures, women falling in love in the movies will be able to be appreciated in the right way!

ES: Encouraging audiences to accept that they are compelling and interesting stories in their own right rather than focusing on the central characters being lesbian is the core challenge. It’s a long process and unfortunately with limited resources at our disposal, getting the message out is really tough. We have found that with A Perfect Ending and Elena Undone, once we are able to get the movies in front of mainstream audiences, they appreciate it for its story and Nicole has had letters from many people letting her know that it has changed their perceptions and attitudes. It’s a battle worth fighting.

 

What’s your goal for making She Walks in Beauty?

 ES: We want to make She Walks in Beauty the biggest selling lesbian movie ever and create ways to expand reach to have our stories heard to a wider audience. It’s a serious challenge to secure both mainstream media coverage and distribution for movies in this genre and our aim is break down some of the barriers.

JP: It is vital that we work to help bring lesbian movies to the mainstream. This unique concept of open auditions for anyone, enables a wider press angle and therefore hopefully the chance for everyone to learn about lesbian genre films and not simply lesbians. I watch romantic movies about heterosexuals and thoroughly enjoy them; why should this not be the other way around as well?!

* Juliette Prais has updated with the following announcement: ‘The casting and convention in the UK are being postponed due to Nicole Conn’s announcement about her son’s health issues.  All auditions on Pink Lobster Dating will continue to be forwarded onto Elaine, the Executive Producer.  Pink Lobster Dating will make an announcement on the site with more details once they have been released.’

http://www.girlguidelondon.co.uk

Chica Bonita – Review!

1 Nov

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This week saw the return of monthly night Chica Bonita, landing itself once again at Candy Bar with a bang for a Halloween special – and we were there to party with the CB girls!

Chica Bonita is a new take on the average girl night out. It has a definite identity and ethos, which is to celebrate femininity – and have fun while doing it! Modelled on a gentlemen’s club, Chica Bonita has tailored it’s night for women, whether they are gay, bisexual or curious.

The stand out feature that makes the Chica Bonita experience are the array of dancers who perform throughout the night. Wearing amazing costumes (which don’t stay on for long), the dancers salsa, twirl and acrobat their way through some top tunes, as well as doing things with a pole you wouldn’t think possible within the laws of gravity.

The performers are specially picked for the Chica Bonita night to appeal to an all female clientele, their acts being more than just a striptease. Dancer Domino is one example, her sexy androgynous style coupled with her ‘wow’ inducing dance moves is not something you’d see in Spearmint Rhino… The ladies were definitely falling for her, bit like a stack of – well – dominoes. (Sorry…)

Chica Bonita also employs some great live music acts, including singers, bands and this month, rap artist Elektric (Twitter- @E1ektric). At one point Elektric’s act was mingled with a dance performance to create an erotic rap act, something I’ve never come across before don’t think I’m likely to again!

The atmosphere on the night was relaxed and fun as well as pretty sensual with the dancers floating around the dance floor after each of their performances. A refreshingly varied mix of women made up the night ranging from all ages. The music – this week provided by the fab Izzy Trixx – also varied from top 40 pop and RnB to some dark gothic rock that blended with the performances on stage.

I had a great night, meeting new people, watching some fantastic acts and even getting to chat up not one, but two gorgeous dancers! Mind you, this is a usual night out for me, I’m always beset with beautiful performers to chat up. Ok maybe not – but this was made possible at Chica Bonita! So get down there next time it’s on and enjoy the experience!

Top 5 mid-week nights out!

12 Oct

This post originally appeared on the Dattch website – Dattch is the social app for lesbians – Check it out!

The Girl Guide London team have taken over this week’s Top 5 and are telling us about the best mid-week nights out, because Tuesdays are the new Fridays, right?

We’ve all had that Sunday night feeling; it’s  been a blast, you’ve had a couple of fab nights out  and survived the hangover, but now the weekend’s over – and you’ve got a full five working days until it’s back again.  But why wait for the weekend? There are some great nights out just for us girls pretty much every day of the week! If you’ve got the stamina, here’s the Girl Guide London list of top 5 mid week parties.

chick habit

Chick Habit  (Thursdays at Candy Bar) -Long running indie and live music night, Chick Habit at Candy Bar is a fun night out and a great warm-up to the weekend. Boasting some amazingly talented singers and DJs, Chick Habit is refreshingly different to the usual lesbian party offerings. A combination of cool music, drinks and of course girls, makes this the perfect party – and not on a weekend!

 

bar wotever

Bar Wotever (Tuesdays Royal Vauxhall Tavern) –  Queer night Bar Wotever from Woteverworld is a fun fuelled night where anything goes. Filled with cabaret acts, performance, dance and music you are guaranteed to be entertained. Woteverworld have cultivated a budding community of performers and guests making this night relaxed and fun. Don’t miss their queer film fests too!

 

chica bonita

Chica Bonita (Monthly, Wednesday at Candy Bar) – This is a fairly new night to London but it has burst onto the scene with a bang. Modelling itself as an exclusive ladies club this is a sexy, sensual night out complete with beautiful dancers, live music, and a sophisticated but relaxed atmosphere. A great location for dates and intimate drinks, check out CB – we’re keeping our eye on this one!

 

blue monday

Blue Mondays (Monthly, Mondays at The Boogaloo) – Cheer up your Mondays with this excellent live music night. Let yourself relax in the cool atmosphere of The Boogaloo and listen to the sultry sounds of Miri Hersh, Rosered, Vans and guests. Chilled out, fun and boasting some excellent music, Blue Mondays is a great night to look forward to when feeling those Sunday blues!

 

ruby tuesdays

Ruby Tuesdays  (Tuesdays at Ku Bar) – This list just wouldn’t be complete without Ruby! A staple and firm favourite, Ruby Tuesdays is the perfect party to liven up your week. With DJs Sandra D and Izzy Trixx playing the best top 40 and RnB, plus hot women taking up every inch of the dance floor, you can rely on Ruby for a fun-filled night. So throw caution to the wind, down that shot and resign yourself to the hangover at work – it’ll be worth it!

Review – Chvrches DJ set @ Chick Habit

28 Sep

Thursday was a fab night at Chick Habit as they managed to secure a DJ set from Chvrches, or more accurately Lauren Mayberry the lead singer of the band. Chick Habit is a great night out every Thursday at Candy Bar, hosting live acts and DJs spinning some top indie and pop tunes – so I was really excited when they announced this DJ set only a week before.

Chvrches have been going from strength to strength this year, performing at festivals, TV appearances on Jools Holland and nominees for BBC’s Sound of 2013. Their infectious, electro-pop sound has a wide appeal. Lauren’s simple yet soaring vocals perfectly compliment samples and synths, creating brilliant and uplifting songs that you just can’t help but dance to. Their new album The Bones of What you Believe is out now with fantastic reviews!

There was a great atmosphere at Candy Bar as DJs AmyB, Phoebe & Chloe warmed up the crowd. Just after 11 pm and armed with a can of Strongbow the Scottish beauty – or Lauren – arrived taking over the decks. The set was a mixture of fun and dancey tunes, perfect for a night out. There was some crowd pleasers and some songs that took us all by surprise; everyone got dancing to Azealia Banks’ 212, there was a bit of Katy Perry, Hole, as well as some 80’s classics. To be honest I was supposed to be making notes of what she played for this review but I instantly forgot about that once the songs started up – sorry guys. My note taking went out the window as I danced happily to pop and indie tunes – the rest of the crowd dancing too – us all soaking up the laid-back and friendly atmosphere.

Hunched over the laptop, cute and pixie-like Lauren seemed nervous at first but soon got into the set. She was very sociable, having no problems saying hello to fans, taking pictures with people and having mini conversations in between lining up tunes. I nervously went up to her to shake her hand and she was all smiles and conversation. After telling her how great Chvrches were at Field Day festival this summer she thanked me graciously and said she preferred small gigs and meeting people, which I thought was charming.

The set ended too soon with a blast of Madonna – again taking the crowd by surprise but not stopping the dancing. There wasn’t much in the way of the synthy electro I was expecting but everyone was happy and buzzing during the set and I couldn’t hear any complaints.

Well done Chick Habit! Fantastic night with one fantastic DJ. Maybe she could get a permanent slot at Candy..? Now there’s a thought!

Girl Guide London – www.girlguidelondon.co.uk

Halbwelt Kultur – Review!

31 Aug

Halbwelt Kultur is a cabaret show with a difference. Boasting a host of great songs, evocative acting and dancing with just the right amount of history and politics thrown in – it certainly delivers on so many levels.

Based in 1920’s Berlin during the decedent time of the Weimar Republic, Halbwelt Kultur is made up of 7 vignettes, giving us a glimpse into the lives of women from the era. Through music, dance and performance we are introduced to each woman, including cabaret icons and political revolutionaries. There’s Valeska Gert, boundary-pushing expressionist dancer, Claire Waldorff, openly gay entertainer, (with a fantastic drag cabaret performance), and Rosa Luxembourg, communist activist, shot dead during a political uprising.

As we explore the different facets of the women of Berlin the audience is treated to some excellent cabaret songs and dance, energetically performed by the Halbwelt girls in some rather sexy period lingerie! In swinging wildly from burlesque performances to political motifs Halbwelt Kultur runs the risk of demeaning the more serious themes; however the show handles this masterfully. The audience are transported seamlessly between vignettes, the music and performances allowing the atmosphere to change effortlessly, with none of the characters or stories losing their integrity. One notable example of this was the vignette featuring Anita Berberm, alcoholic and drug addicted dancer. Here the provocative and emotionally charged performance perfectly depicted Berberm’s character and culminated in a fantastically choreographed dance piece, respectfully paying homage to an icon.

Halbwelt Kultur transports the audience into the seedy, dark but creative and vibrant Berlin of the 1920’s. It also gives us an enlightening portrait of these cultural female icons. In this way I felt the show was certainly relevant today, the feminist themes and brazen sexuality resonate with the surge in action for gender equality and gay rights issues we’ve seen in recent times.

But enough of the social/political talk! Yes you can meditate on the various themes Halbwelt Kultur throws up, but also go for the fantastic, fun cabaret show it is – the great live music and performances, dancing and singing, that make this show one of the hottest tickets around!

GGL
www.girlguidelondon.co.uk

Play Time!

27 Aug

Lately, I’ve noticed a few more theatre listings than normal on our site, so I thought I’d mention them in a bit more detail:

Sappho, the Halbwelt Kultur musical and Springtide are all coming to a theatre near you!

Sappho

Sappho

Sappho is described as a ‘lesbians Midsummers Nights Dream’.

Directed by Victor Sobchak and hosted at the Theatre Collection in Camden, “Saphho is a riotous romp across the slippery terrain of lesbian romance, as the goddesses on Olympus come down to earth to recruit among Sappho and her followers.

Dates:

28 August to 15 September (Wednesday to Saturday 7.30pm, and on Sundays at 6 PM). 

Venue: Theatre Collection, 51 Camden Park Road, London NW1 9BH

 Get tickets.  Sappho on Facebook


Halbrelt Kultur

The Halbrelt Kultur is a new musical cabaret presenting snapshot vignettes of seven highly influential Weimar Republic women, including inspiring gay cabaret artiste Claire Waldoff, set against the sound of the period’s finest songs and the backdrop of the rise of World War II. image taken from Halbrelt Kultur FB page

Join the cast of beautiful women for a decadent evening of music, story telling and dancing in the beautiful surroundings of the Battersea Mess & Music Hall in Clapham Junction.

This Cabaret conjures,  re-creates and pays homage to seven legendary women from the intriguing tantalizing and scandalous Wiemar Republic. “Featuring a live band and seven beautiful women, the show immerses the audience in Weimar history and culture, both artistic and political. It narrates stories of the actresses, singers, writers and revolutionaries who became the icons of their various fields, and stitches monologue with some of the best cabaret songs of all time to form a rich tapestry of Weimar life. Tap into the life of courtroom journalist Gabriele Tergit as she recounts the trial of Adolf Hitler; pay a visit to Marlene Dietrich as you discover things you never knew about this Hollywood icon; salute socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg as she rallies the troops and indulge in a provocative performance by the alcoholic drug addict Anita Berber.”

Dates:  
Thursday 29th August, 8pm-10.30pm show
Friday 30th August, 8pm-10.30pm show + Live Music & Vintage DJ set until 1am

Venue: Battersea Mess & Music Hall, 51 Lavender Gardens, London, SW11 1DJ

£12 Early bird tickets: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/directory/?q=halbwelt+kultur&loc&slat=51.45&slng=0.15&spellcheck=1

 

The Spring Tide

SpringTide

Also running throughout September 3 to the 21 is spring tide by Carl vine And  directed by Graham Hubbard.  ‘A gripping love story about Suzy’s struggle with her sexuality’

“Suzy has loved Lan her whole life, or so it seems. A world without Lan in it would be unimaginable. But the strongest feelings are also the most dangerous, and Suzy is afraid.  Instead of Lan, she opts for a life of safety, convincing herself over the years that this is the right path.

But even as life’s circumstances pull them apart, still they are drawn to one another by a deep and irresistible bond that is inevitable as the tide. After years apart, Lan’s final return shatters everything Suzy has made her own – a home, a husband, a son.  As her world begins to unravel, Suzy must confront her fears and her desire. A decision must be made, whatever the cost.”

Dates:
3-21st September | Tues-Sat 7:30pm  | Sat&Sun 3:00pm
Tickets £15/£12

The Spring Tide – read more..

Indie Night at Bite

21 Mar

What can I say about Bite. Well it’s a club night falling on the grim day that is Monday brightening it up with the best selection of indie music, a cool collection of sexy people and so many offers on drinks you’ll be sipping on the house cocktail without the need to scrape together the sticky change in the bottom of your bag. So really what I’m saying is get yourselves there.

 Set in MIABELLA on Greek Street, the music is none of your overplayed chart pop but a selection of old and new indie tunes played by DJ Lydia Butler and a whole host of glammed up glittered up guests. Featuring artists like the Pixies, Boys Noize, AlunaGeorge, Daft Punk, Bart B More, Crystal Casles Rustie, Phoenix, M83, and YYYs making you all excited and giving you eargasms. If you haven’t heard of any of these wonderfully glorious musicians it’s time to don the sexy dress and get down to this night.

 I went this Monday and swanned  into a room playing disclosure’s White Noise before shotting a tequila for three pounds,  then having to shot another one because I forgot it was two-for-one drinks before eleven, and then being twirled around by a woman in checked trousers who said she’d actually met The Cure.  Such is Bite and its wacky dancing twirly crowd.

 MIABELLA is a cute little basement club with enough room for a dance floor for stomping, swaying, shuffling  and shingaling and enough seats for meets and greets or kisses with the mrs.  The night isn’t a lesbian one and it’s not on the scene but if you came in dressed as a unicorn smooching your girl, no one will bat an eyelid. They’ll probably just want to try the costume.

 If you get on the Mailing list you can get free entry before 11pm and of course you get there in time for the two for one drinks, otherwise it’s five pounds afterwards or three with one of the beautiful flyers or student ID.

http://www.Fisforr.com
@EffiMai

One Love – Review! by Eff-Mai

22 Feb

The One Love night finally arrived. A party full of lesbians from all scenes thrown together with vodka and music celebrating the launch of the FindHrr app.  

The party was held in the huge nightclub Area which has impressive dance floors, two VIP sections and bars galore. You had the lesbians shimmying in the pop and chart room, grinding in the RnB room and jumping and swishing their hair like they just didn’t care in the House room.

Playing alongside the headliner Maya Jane Coles was Hannah Holland and whole range of glorious DJing talent. DJ Lady Lola from Girls Next Door and Elma Wolf from Twat Boutique were popular with the girls as well as DJ Philly from Bootylicious and DJ Izzy Trizz who most recently has been tearing up Candy Bar on a Saturday night.  

The drinks were actually reasonable. I was expecting to pay what my dress was worth for one drink but I was drinking the vodka and sodas away at five pounds each. In London that’s practically getting them for free. The bar service was a little slow but the pole dancers right next you made up for waiting.

As well as the music there were other things keeping you entertained throughout the night. Circus acts performed, you had girls doing handstands (professionals, not just drunk girls proving they can still do one) and there were magicians tricking you with cards. There were also fireworks and an unexplained bath in the VIP room.

So all in all, a bizarre but wonderful night. I spent way too much time dancing and shotting and annoying the bar staff because the pole dancer was just a bit too much for me to take my eyes off. It was weird seeing scenes mix together and celebrate with free Smirnoff drinks. What a way to spend Valentines weekend.

www.Fisforr.com
@EffiMai

Pink Drinks & Lipstick Galore! The Pink Lobster Dating Launch – by Effi Mai

11 Feb

As a femme, the Pink Lobster Launch couldn’t have come quick enough. It’s a dating website for femmes to meet other femmes but not only that, it stands to change the way the lesbian world sees ladylike women. You can be girly, and you can be gay.

The party was held in the sensational nightclub The Shadow Lounge which has an impressive dance floor that looks like a moving Rubik cube and cute little cubby holes where you can talk or kiss or…kiss some more.  The place was full of women from all scenes and places ready to see what the whole thing was about.

The music was incredible. Opening was Nicolette Street who had the girls tapping their feet to the relatable lyrics, ‘All those little things I do, there’s just no getting over you.’ You can tell she really enjoys singing. There’s nothing worse than watching a performer stand up who looks like they just lost their hamster in a horrible accident involving a vacuum cleaner.

Bashema was as absurdly good as I thought she’d be, her voice sounding a cross between Eva Cassidy and Aretha Franklin. JOANovARC headlined filling the stage with their glam outfits, stylish hair and looking every bit rock and roll with their guitars and drums. Among the originals from their live album, they did a very apt cover of Katy Perry’s I kissed a girl which of course had the ladies swishing their dresses about on the dance floor.

The LGBT charity the Lproject finished off the performers with the proceeds from the night going straight to them. Everyone also sang happy birthday to Sophia Antone Malone, the Project Coordinator and singer. Sipping on a vodka and cranberry I met a lot of women who also thought the site would be a success and looked forward to getting on it and swapping details.

There was a few on the guest list from the people supporting Juliette on her venture and the bloggers and advice columnists on the site. You got a free lipgloss with your £11.50 ticket drumming the whole femme theme in even more then the pink drinks and lipstick.

Juliette and her partner Nickki were the perfect couple in their floor length gowns and showed that you can be proud to a femme. It was an amazing atmosphere, it had some marvellous music, it had skyscraper heels and it was a place you could dress up in your glitter and skirts and meet a sexy woman doing the same thing. A brilliant party and a start to something huge happening this year.

www.Fisforr.com
@EffiMai

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