Maestra is hotly tipped to be the next Fifty Shades of Grey but with the merciful addendum that it’s been written by L.S.Hilton who can write brilliantly. And with Amy Pascal’s production company handling the film adaptation, you can be sure that this’ll be a proper blockbuster. Move over Anastasia, there’s a new Queen of kink in town… and she knows what a butt plug is.
Ex-girlfriends are creepy enough without being dead. But if you're going to run with the metaphor of the end of a relationship being death, make the ex properly dead. Make them look like the Corpse Bride as in Nina Forever. Over-emphasise the weirdness of the physical presence of exes by having them take part in an awkward threesome with their ex-partner and said partner's new boo, as they do in Nina Forever. Highlight the pain of finding the old flame's stuff by having them appear and smear blood everywhere, as they do in Nina Forever. And make it sexy as hell, as they do in Nina Forever.
Some might call it an unusual choice for a Valentine’s day date: a one-man naked performance of The Tempest. Shakespeare’s last play is not renowned for its romance: critics tend to focus on the usurped Duke Prospero, who manipulates the various traitorous family members and friends who have washed up on his island; his daughter, Miranda’s eventual union with Fernando (his nephew) is just another strand in a plot concerned with reconciliations and renunciations. So Theatre North’s decision to treat the play as a love story in Mirando: The Gay Tempest, had me intrigued. My date was game; we went.
Pornography is going mainstream. From the titillating advertising of Poldark to the release of KNKI, the “kinky Tinder”, and Gaspar Noe’s Love using actors performing real sex (in 3D no less), the stiff upper lip of the British public is being teased into submitting. The third wave of feminism has taken sexual liberation by the balls and globally spawned a revolution in pornography and the objectification of women in adult cinema. And shining brightly in the Feminist porn movement is Erika Lust.
One of the many perks of life at Erotic Review is the occasionally atypical things one receives in the post. On returning home last week my front door was stoppered by a heavy package: this’ll be something tax-y, I thought gloomily, as the paper came off. Underneath lay a smart blue cover, bare except for one word that, in my haste to see what was inside, I didn’t spot. Turning to the first page there’s a print of Adam and Eve, all flora and fauna and Eden and bliss. Except that curled around Eve’s neck is what on first glance appears to be the serpent, but is – of course – a double-ended penis the size of a piece of construction tubing. There are 40 items included in the rare-book collector Simon Finch’s catalogue. It’s called Eroticism, and all pieces have been taken from a collection of over 300 works squirrelled away lovingly over the years. Finch tells the story of arriving at an old bookseller’s while at university and noticing the enormous stacks of erotica, which the seller didn’t want to catalogue and which Finch subsequently took home in two creaking vans…
After getting lost amongst the hipsters of Shoreditch and wrongly asking directions to “The Glory Hole”, Erotic Review stumbled across Baby Lame’s Shit Show downstairs at The Glory pub. Entering through a staircase plastered in shiny gold foil, we were greeted by the “PUNK-HORROR-DRAG cabaret monstrosity” that is Baby Lame, and various others in genderless, trashtastic costumes. Perching against a wall amongst a throng of young hip people, No Doubt blasting the speakers, we were treated to a collection of weirdly wondrous and straight up crude cabaret.
Adapted from Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, The Big Short is an education in what caused the 2008 financial crisis. It’s informative about without being patronising, and unveils the moral realities of the financial world without being preachy. The flashes of genius in the soundtrack and editing are slicker than the most expensive suits on Wall Street. It is a boisterous, irreverent and intelligent romp.
What if I told you an inconvenient truth; that a flourishing, unwavering feminist movement was an unanticipated consequence of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. This is the starting point of Jewels of Allah, the Untold Story of Women in Iran, a book recently published by Nina Ansary. It is inspired by Ansary’s academic work, researching the feminist movement in post-revolutionary Iran for a PhD in Columbia University. She lists a series of misconceptions about Iranian women in the first chapter and goes after them one by one, trying to rectify the stereotypical assumptions. It was her book trailer video that I saw first, a very emotive film that made me choke (watch here).
Based on Ewan Morrison’s first novel, Swung follows David and Alice as they deal with erectile dysfunction and its causes. Areas of blame are evident; David, who has recently been made redundant is a father going through a divorce. While trying to sign up for the dole, he is distracted by a swingers site. When his new girlfriend, Alice, finds the offending page up on his laptop, she begins to research the underground world of swinging in a bid to find something that will sustain David’s hard-on.
The tricky thing about burlesque is that one never knows if it's going to be terrible. It's gathered new audiences in the past decade, and has become more widespread as a style of performance. It's relatively new (not to ER, of course, fnar) but to theatrical companies who might have cottoned onto a winner and started to dabble the proverbial toe. So yes, a blossoming industry – helped along by a renewed interest in cabaret and variety shows – but a spit and shoe polish enterprise nonetheless, which in my book makes it that much more impressive when it's pulled off. And this is – Chic Bonbons is entertaining, it's sexy and it's fun.