Among the many illuminations offered by Grayson Perry in his Reith Lectures was that of the artist’s primary function to ‘notice things’. The implication being that unless an artwork leads us to notice something we had not before been aware of or considered it is not really art. It may be great décor or design, but it is not strictly speaking ‘art’. Grayson did not add that caveat but it surely follows that if we are not prompted to think about meaning, the artefact however skilfully contrived is essentially a piece of artisanal craftsmanship, however admirable.
Lady Alex served up Wam Bam Electric with a sort of elegantly disdainful panache. This is, musically at least, a fine tribute to the 80s, energetically performed and bathed in that trashy, flashy period’s disco glitter. But never mind the nostalgia, it’s a superbly balanced show, more cabaret than burlesque, perhaps, but none the worse for that.
Will wonders never cease? After several years of not greatly esteeming the brash mega-event that Erotica had become in its accustomed home of Olympia, I was pleasantly surprised by the somewhat more subdued, intimate, sex positive event that was Erotica 2013,over at Tobacco Dock. Whatever can be up?
This novel is not the work of a child. If the author could just slow down the chatter she might be a decent writer. As it is, the prose style and the heroine reminded me of Bridget Jones on speed. And overall this 456 page (including bonus chapter with male PoV) is pretty much the same sort of thing; except it has not been written by Helen Fielding.
At the risk of sounding like the beginning of the Madeline books – ‘in a small room in Carnaby Street all covered in vines’… Well, not quite, but stay with me. This October has witnessed the opening of The Other Club, created by journalists Joy Lo Dico and Katie Glass. It's a tiny, intimate space in Kingly Court: standing in the quad-like space below (it's on the first floor), the doorway is teeming with women: all chatting, laughing, drinking, and having a stonking good time.
Like most men, I suspect one’s support for the feminist cause, however unwavering, has its hot and cold moments. Hot when asked to consider the degree of oppression and disregard with which women’s history and present reality is still so sadly marred. Cooler when the nicely modulated tones of BBC presenters facilitate the plaints of middle class matrons about the lack of females on FTSE 100 company boards. Luckily there is a lot less of that nowadays, partly because of the attention being paid to the more serious matters of FGM and the wider issues of violence against women.
We love the We-Vibe. It’s a fine piece of kit, designed in Canada for couples. Trust those lovely Canadians to come up with the egalitarian concept of shared vibe. A visit to their site reveals that the We-Vibe is the world's No.1 vibrator for couples that is made from quality materials, so that while manufactured in China there is none of that toxic odour that occasionally emanates from some of the Land of the Sleeping Giant’s erotic products. Perhaps they’ve finally got the message and, using 100% medical grade silicon and being phthalate-free (go on, say it – phth! phth!) it just doesn’t smell. As something of a gadgeteer, I liked the USB-rechargeable We-Vibe’s Apple-esque, elegant packaging, instructions (clear enough, for once) and the clever little ‘egg’ it all fits into, but above all I liked its discretion.
In the early seventies I was doing research for a book on erotic art, the first serious study of the subject. Information was very difficult to find. An early port of call was the British Museum, where I was informed that there was no work of that nature in the collection. Further inquiries resulted in a request for references from distinguished art historians. After providing these, I was granted contact with the Director who agreed to put me in touch with each department of the museum where such material might possibly be held. Thus I gained access one day to the marvellous collection of Japanese erotica in the Department of Oriental Antiquities, which, I was informed, could not possibly be exhibited to the public, and which had never been catalogued. After some negotiations, I was allowed to reproduce some examples in my book which was first published by Secker and Warburg as The Erotic Arts in 1975. It was therefore with some wry déjà vu that I visited the British Museum’s major Shunga exhibition where their collection is proudly displayed alongside examples from museums and private collections from around the world. Clearly a great deal has happened in forty years.
There are some tasks that are outside one’s pay grade. To judge chick-lit is one of them. As a ‘mere male with a brain the size of a pea’ (as my builder’s wife describes him), I can only offer a masculine perspective. For a start, as I read on I became more and more convinced this book was indeed written by a woman – albeit probably not named Amy Aimee. I could be wrong. But this is not a blokey bit of sex writing. Rather, it is a bit like PornTube MILF meets (and loses to) Love Actually.
I feel like beginning with a ranty diatribe about how completely CRETINOUS Sex Box (Channel 4, last night, 9pm) was, but that would be wrong, because it wasn’t. From a marketing and ratings perspective it was genius. People will tune in from curiosity alone: an hour of watching Joe and Jane Blogs rutting like foxes on the big screen? Legit perving? Sex in a box? Who wouldn’t watch it?