Sunday, 27 November 2011

An Interview with... Elsa Quarsell

The lovely Elsa took some time out of her busy schedule to have a few exchanges with me...

Tell me a little something about how you got into photography and the type of photography you do?

I started doing photography at school when I was 15. My dad was a photography enthusiast and had all the darkroom equipment so I set it all up at home. I had a very good teacher who encouraged me a lot and took me on as an apprentice after I finished school when I was 18. I won competitions and started exhibiting quite early and got a lot of praise which spurred me on even more. When I first started out I did a lot of reportage style work, then I got into fashion photography which wasn't really encouraged in Art College so there I did a lot of portrait work which is what I do most of now, but it's all quite 'fashiony' I guess... I love it all!

When did you first discover Burlesque?

About 3.5-4 years ago at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, I used to go there a lot.

How did you come to realise you wanted to put such a big project together on this subject and to spend over two years on it?

It started as a little project and it grew bigger and bigger and BIGGER! I wanted to have an exhibition and after doing about 30 shoots here in London I did. People seemed to like the pictures a lot and I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to carry on and to go to a few other cities to shoot and maybe make a book.

Were there at any point during the project did you want to give it up, change it or was it full on all the way?

No it was pretty much full on all the way. I’m pretty determined and if I’ve decided to do something I’ll do it, however much work it takes!

I guess there was no real plan from the beginning, everything just happened as the project grew…like the interviews were all done after by email and I started shooting the detail pictures quite late on in the project. I had to go back to quite a a few peoples houses.

What was the biggest challenge you came up against during the making of The Domestic Burlesque book?

Hm… I guess doing all this whilst being pregnant and finishing it with a baby in my arms!

I did my last shoot just one week before giving birth! But it went pretty well, must have been a pretty funny sight though….shame no one took a picture!

What was involved with publishing your own work? How hard was it?

It’s definitely hard work publishing your own book! Raising the money, doing all the PR, distribution….the list is long. It’s been hard but also a lot of fun and it’s good to be completely in control. I’ve learnt a lot. And I’m very lucky to have such a lovely, helpful husband!

Did you receive any burlesque lessons in exchange?

I got married 1.5 ago and had a burlesque lesson for my hen do with the lovely Miss Violet Crumble. It was a lot of fun!

Did you meet any divas along the way?

You would have thought so after doing 104 shoots but no, I actually didn’t. Everyone was really nice and welcoming. It's been such a fun project to do and I've met so many amazing people

Were you tempted at any point to transform yourself into a burlesque goddess?

I think I was before I started the project but after seeing so many brilliant performances I gave up the idea…better to leave it to the professionals!

Where can we get hold of a copy of The Domestic Burlesque?

On the website, The Domestic Burlesque, and in London you can buy it in Artwords, American Retro, Soho Original Books, The Society Club, Rough Trade East, Bordello London….and more to be added to the list soon.

What is next for Elsa?

Promoting the book! I have a few book events in London before Christmas and I’m off to Stockholm to launch it over there next week. I’ll be in Dallas for Christmas so I'm having a launch there too, then Berlin in January. And I can’t wait to start a new project!

Thank you to Elsa for her project, her book and the interview.  It has been fun! xxx

Here are a few pages from the book... Go buy it!

Here I am!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

An Unusual Job - Styling for a Video Games promo

It was all very last minute and I had just one evening to pull it together!  Lucky for me my dinner date turned pa for the evening was on hand to run around the shops with me.  So between, borrowing some pieces, buying some and using my own collections I managed to have the wardrobe ready for the shoot the very next morning.

This was over a week ago now and I wasn't able to write about it until after the launch.  The game I speak of is Saints Row.  It's a pretty big game as for someone who doesn't actually play anything other than Professor Layton on the DS I had heard of it.  The new release was Saints Row: The Third published by THQ and the shoot I worked on consisted of a series of events using one of their infamous weapons as a prop.  Bring on The D-Bat!

You might have been mistaken by just looking at the images or if you had stumbled across our shoot by accident that something unsavoury might have been happening.  But I can assure you that it was all very above board and well, rather funny to be honest.  It was hard to keep a straight face!  The concept was "Things you can do around the house with a D-Bat".  The idea of a 50s housewife using The D-Bat gave it a tongue in cheek feel and it was all very innocent!  Why would you not use The D-Bat to stir a cup of tea??

This is a very photo based post as of course you probably want to see for yourself what I got up to and with it being a styling job.  All the pics are ones I took behind the scenes since it was a video promo.

 My doggies also got a shot at fame!
Introducing Bella and Dottie... Ones to watch ;)

Look at Bella go!  Those agility lessons came in handy.

The D-Bat as used on the game

 More of a 'Bad Gal' look

Just hosing the garden... as you do.

Getting those hard to reach spots.

Egg whisking like you've never seen before.

Bathing Beauty

 Where a hammer just isn't good enough...

...whack it with a D-Bat!

A look you would most certainly see me sporting.

A very versatile rolling pin

I'm sure you saw this one coming...

 ...but probably wasn't expecting this.
Don't worry, the toilet plunging shot was the last of the whole shoot.

Doesn't she look glamorous?

What did you think of the outfits?  I have to say that wasn't a bad days work at all.  Quite enjoyable if I should say so myself.  More of this would be great!

I should probably take this chance to plug my styling services really.  I am available for photo shoots, one on one personal styling, projects - long or short term, events, fashion shows.  You name it I can do it.  I am also an experienced hair stylist and am in the process of studying make-up so soon I can do the whole package.  You can email  me here for all enquiries.

I have to say a big thank you to my friend Miss Honey Bare of Heyday Honey for her last minute help too.  There was no way I would have had enough time to do the whole package.  Thank you for your Make-Up and Hair styling skills lady!  Together we really transformed those girls!

Un-tamed hair was kept in their place with this giant tong!

The D-Bats were sent out to various people like Jonathan Ross on the release date of Saints Row: The Third along with the video.  I hope they had as much fun with it as we did on the shoot!  I shall post the video on here at some point for your delectation.

You know the funny thing is, I thought when they told me the prop was a D-Bat it was a bat as in the animal.  Glad I looked it up before the day.  Otherwise I would have had a shock.

Till next time,
Alison xxx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Domestic Burlesque Book Launch

It must be around two years ago now that I opened the doors to my home and welcomed Elsa Quarsell in.

Since then, there has been more clicks of her camera, a couple of exhibitions and now the launch of the book - The Domestic Burlesque.  A couple of Thursdays ago I popped up to North London to Angel to a cute little antique book store which was the venue for the launch.

It went with a bang - a successful launch and book.

A cheesy pic of book and I - it had to be done  :)
There I am in the book.  Look me up.

I did my first impromptu book signing which was unexpected; I didn't even have a pen or knew what to write.  We all went around to collect signatures on the night.  Now I feel like I should try and get my whole book signed!  It would take me to Japan and the US which I wouldn't complain about.  I personally think you should all go out there and pick up a copy to support Elsa and the burlesque scene.  Of course it's also a damn fine coffee table book to have laying around.

Here are a few links from press etc...

Enjoyment and laughter was had by all!

The lovely Elsa and I
She's not actually that short, pretty tall in fact.

Busy in and out!

Cover Art

An interview with Elsa will follow soon.  Lastly I would like to say a huge congratulations to Elsa for her amazing work and for letting me be involved! xxx

A little out-take
Do you like my pen?  :P

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Busy Buzzzz....

I seem to have a lot going on recently and forth coming.  Some really fun things, events and launches which I will write all about on here very very soon....

~ A book launch which I make a feature in... my début in print :)

~ A video shoot for a games promo which I styled - A computer game of all things! It's all hushhush until it launches so I cannot write about it yet.

~ A photo shoot this weekend with a fab photographer for an exciting project which may also turn into a book or possibly an exhibition.

~ A bar launch this Friday - The bar where I shall once again dip my tootsies into for events. Keep an eye out as I shall plug it like hell!

I can't wait to catch up with everyone on these things.

Oh and Christmas is a-coming :D  I do love Christmas! xxx

The Adverts are starting - I adore this one.
It's too cute!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Bye Bye Birdie

Sunday previous I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with my friend Kate at the NFT to catch the screening of Bye Bye Birdie as part of the 55th BFI London Film Festival.  I try and attend at least one showing as part of the festival each year and have never been disappointed.  The choices are wide and there is always without fail something that catches my eye.

Bye Bye Birdie was inspired by Elvis when he was famously drafted into the army; no doubt with girls screaming Noooooo the world over when the news was announced.  It's a musical based on the idolizing of the rock 'n' roll figure and the effects it has to ones young life.  Which hasn't changed too much years down the line really?

Made in 1963 and directed by George Sidney with a star cast of Janet Leigh as Rosie DeLeon, Dick Van Dyke as Albert F.Peterson, Ann-Margret as Kim McAfee, Maureen Stapleton as Mama Mae Peterson and Bobby Rydell as Hugo Peabody.  Kim and Hugo being the High School steadies whose lives are then complicated by one rock 'n' roll star Conrad Birdie and those around him.

The showing was to showcase the digital restoring of this wonderful film as part of their Treasures from the Archives collection.  The colours was vibrant, vivid and the sound glorious.  A job definitely worth doing and a job well done.  I would recommend the buying/renting of a dvd since this showing was a one-off.  Maybe there will be a re-release version with the restoration.  That would be an idea!  It was surprisingly funny and very fun to watch.  Lots of laughing out loud.

Telephone Hour - one of my favourite scenes from the film :)

Here's a few of the film stills worth sharing...

I loved this outfit of Kims.
It was in a bright bubblegum pink and it looked fab on the big screen.

Do you remember the episode in Mad Men where they used this as an inspiration for a Patio Cola advertisement?  I couldn't embed the video but have a look at this comparison of the Ann-Margret version against the remake in Mad Men - YouTube Link

Bye Bye Birdie opener and closing theme song

This is the Mad Men cast & crew version... Hehe

I leave you with this photograph of Ann-Margret.  Isn't she a sight to behold! xxx