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December 2014

REVIEW: Spiegelicious at the Spiegel-Zelt Sorrento

Stars Shine in Sorrento Spiegel Spectacular

Yes, the alliteration was completely necessary! If ‘Spiegelicious’-the brainchild of Three Palms’ James McPherson and Aussie dance-deity Jason Coleman-engenders anything in its audiences, unabashed revelry and shameless self-indulgence is it. A night of Montmarte-era raucousness, modern-style musical passion and the classic cabaret delight that is Wayne Scott Kermond await you at the Sorrento Speigel-Zelt, a nice jaunt from the summery claustramania of Melbourne.

There’s something so extravagant about the almost 100-year old European Spiegel-Zelt perched alongside the beach shack style of Three Palms restaurant, a meeting of ancient charm and Australian cheek. Stepping through the adyton into that world sparks the first energy as we are treated to the cutting-edge vocal musing of Jude Perl, whose ethereal tones were made to be resonated in that space from an obscured part of the stage. Her reimagining of all things ‘-icious suffix’ blends much more familiarly into the Cabaret introduction of showbiz-shaman Wayne Scott Kermond.

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Coleman has curated here a true gem- although some moments tread the line of being expected or predictable, they are given just enough time to warm the cockles of your heart before Seann Miley Moore comes out to beat the burlesque shit out of them and take the audience to new planes (the styling of ‘Putting on the Ritz’ had us all checking iTunes). Moore’s is a reign we do not question as an audience, sporting the diva-command with utmost authority-which is no small feat considering the intimacy and reputed conservativeness of the audience- even through the most stunning rendition of ‘Beautiful’ I have ever heard, and mashed-up with ‘Nature Boy’ to boot.

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Now a word on Wayne Scott Kermond. Never mind this man is a stage-legend, and without wanting to spoil his ode to song-and-dance-men (real tears were going on here people), the comedy and energy Wayne brings to Spiegelicious gives the audience a truly personal experience with the performer. Being in his presence is something I’m sure many took for granted, but was truly special to witness. There are stacks of reasons to make the journey down the Victorian coast for this extravaganza, but seeing this performance-piece-du-resistance up close ranks pretty damn high. He’s magic in the role of Emcee, even more so as himself.

Before I get to the former Cirque du Soleil acrobats and the chameleonic vocals of Catherine Hancock, word must go Ministry of Dance’s fantastic ensemble. For all that Spiegel Zelt is an intimate cabaret space, and its stage having barely enough room for Wayne’s stage presence, let alone his person, Tim Barnes, Hara Papoulias, Anna Magrath and Romy Vuksan make it look like Broadway in there. Bringing the commercial flavour we’ve come to know and love Coleman for, these guys bring back the freshness with boundless energy from curtain up to down. Kudos.

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The Spiegel-Zelt is the smallest Spiegeltent on the circuit (for those of you who are familiar), but somehow Rachel Kmetko and Dan Power bring the same level of awe you’d see in a full circus. And all the better for us to see the actual technique of true cirque up close!

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Ok so if I haven’t managed to convince you of the absolute ball you’re going to have at Spiegelicious with stage legends, contemporary circus elite, and the nightclub dancehall divas, then let’s talk Catherine Hancock. This woman takes you right back to the Hollywood glamour we’ve missed since Monroe, hankered for since Hayworth, bereft of since Bacall. But our prayers for a modern-day Ekberg have been answered. Providing vocal grace and power to a plethora of characters, Hancock is all-class and all-the-more-talent. Needs close watching for her absolute character-prowess, combined with singing chops and a darling spirit.

For this Prahran-residing Adelaide expat, the actual trip to Sorrento added to the mystery and intrigue of the evening. The highlight was absolutely the Jurassic-Park-stomping Can Can, performed flawlessly by dancer and audience alike! Rustle up four friends and get down there while it lasts in such close quarters because this show has legs as long as Anna (got to be seen to be believed).

Spiegelicious is showing from Dec 27th-Jan 25th from 9.30pm at 154 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento 3943, about 1.5hrs drive from Melbourne. Contact Three Palms for dinner and show bookings. Book at Ticketmaster.

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credit to Belinda Stodder for images.

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10 Things that ’10 Things I Hate About You’ taught me about Growing Up

NB: There are a stack of wicked and funny 10 Things Life Lessons posts. Check them out. There are no crossovers, and this one’s a little deeper. You’re welcome.

Knowing how to be self-aware is a lesson some people take until their forties and beyond to learn. Spending the formative part of our lives making every effort to suit to perceived expectations of those around us puts many in a hard place leaving teenage years behind (though not necessarily adolescence). In the interest of improving our growth as humans in the coming year, maybe consider how you’ve gone through the following and how are you making peace with it now? Time for changes?

So here’s a quick guide, delivered in a language any 1999 teenager can understand. Definitely a movie worth checking out:

1. Romance really trumps profit.

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Sometimes one of the most confusing things about being a teenager is how every “know better” figure in our lives is quite emphatic about the fact that we should be focusing on our futures, on prematurely delineating an entire career and professional goal pathway for ourselves. The benefits of this prioritising are evident in mid-life crises, quickie marriages and quickie divorces and lengthy divorce settlements, abrupt career changes, stockbroker suicides and Japanese men who leave for work but sit in park all day ‘cos they’d rather do that than admit being made redundant. To boot, entering teen years guarantees a complete download of sexual drivers and the shocking awareness of the sex we’re attracted to. And at the end of the day, we come across an individual who we let vomit all over our shoes, not because we’re getting money out of it, but because it’s freaken’ endearing!

2. Hurting someone once is more than enough. Second chances are for masochists.

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Now I completely endorse separating behaviour from person in the arena of child-rearing (calling your daughter a “bitch” because she broke something is not going to aid her developing self-worth, nor her decorum). However, when it comes to adults, who have all decision-making faculties at either their disposal or acquisition through education, I don’t believe hurtful behaviour should be allowed to continue if it cannot be understood or physically empathised with. Now sure she got back with the lying guy who was so-not-who-she-thought-he-was when he bought her a really extravagant gift (not sure what message THAT sends!), but I was happy that she maintained right to the very end that she wouldn’t be walked over or mistreated. It is the opinion of this blog that it is far better to be single and true to yourself, than married and destroyed. Don’t let it happen. Don’t let your friends do it. Tell your parents if you think it’s happening. Don’t do it to others. Just don’t.

3. Anger NEVER works alone.

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What I always loved about this film is how the vitriolic sidekick was actually a sweetheart and it was the combined angst that brought out the worst in these two friends. I mean it doesn’t take much to see how much more dangerous the gang is made by sheer numbers, we know when we cross the street to avoid the group of four or more youths, we know when we hush our voices talking about that particular high school clique. But remember that within the individual is always an angry voice taking over control from the past or the potential tense. If faced with anger, it’s usually unlikely it has anything whatsoever to do with you, and all to do with that inner voice of fear, retribution, confusion in the assailant. There’s a reason why in the face of trauma, the victims show far more compassion than the armchair activists. Because they’ve seen the real cause in the villain’s eyes. There’s no excuse for violence, but there’s none for withholding forgiveness either.

4. Parties are great if you don’t have an agenda.

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I shudder to think what would happen if there was a support group for people who’ve experience Blue Light Disco Crises. The teenage party is always the setting for serious drama to unfold, most people even anticipating that by waiting until a party to have a tender conversation or amping up to something drastic where the excuses of underage alcohol consumption or peer pressure serve to back us up. So go to the party, ask your parents permission so they can pick you up when ish goes down, wear the dress, but avoid expectations. Expectation breeds regret, Enjoyment breeds Memories.

5. People lie. Like sometimes even a lot.

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There’s not really much to elaborate on here. The beauty of high school is that within such an enclosed, developing community there is as much hegemony, civil conflict, corruption of authority and isolation from the outside world as we see in the more macroscopic developing communities worldwide. Except, you know, there’s no aid organisations to improve your corner of the education nation. You just get to suffer and hope your domestic life isn’t riddled with manipulation and omission of information, restrictions on your liberties, infighting, micromanagement and entirely conditional support of ventures. Oh wait…

6. It’s not innocence they’re being overprotective about, it’s the transformation of innocence to naivete.

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So this picture perfectly explains how I feel about being abandoned by my virginity. As per point 4, the most cruel dichotomy of being a teenager is the slut-prude binary system.

For men, this manifests as the pressure to know what you’re doing by having sex as prematurely as possible (made all the easier by mobile-phone-access to pornography), but not being a wanker so you will have no idea what your body is doing the first time you orgasm-here’s a tip, it’s getting someone pregnant or afraid of sitting down. Thankfully, almost all men ignore the peer pressure and masturbate quite freely and frequently, so all they have to fear is the illegitimate and pervading size-based ridicule.

For women, this binary hits them harder because preservation of virginity is pressed on them more harshly than men so they’re afraid to express their burgeoning sexuality with their increasingly-frustrated contemporaries (ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the cougar’s opportunity). For those of you long enough into adulthood to have forgotten, there are NO cues in high school society to inform a young woman if the decision she makes when propositioned for sex, or if she’s gutsy enough to approach an appealing male, whether she will fall on the side of the slut-prude divide that won’t denigrate her. A tragic some-of-the-time she’ll just say yes so she won’t have said no and risk being labelled a prude, or being raped. She’s probably caught on that even if she does say no, her accomplice will say she did it anyway for their own posterity.

For transsexual teenagers, homo- or multi-sexual teenagers, older than average students or exchange students from European cultures? You don’t actually get to choose, you’ll be viewed through the lens of your sexual activity and labelled a slut from the get-go. But it’s probably for the best, you’ll need to get used to it because adult society hasn’t worked this one out yet either.

7. Teachers are people. Students are people. These people treat one another like crap a lot. That should stop, and stuff.

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Like is there any way to secure secondary schools against being the most mentally unsafe places to be? How do we discourage students from ostracising, victimising, assaulting and vandalising each other when it’s so apparent that teachers are a huge part of the process. I went to a school were teachers physically abused students, and each other. Upper management at the school emotionally and mentally abused teachers in front of students and students themselves. Students certainly aren’t unlikely to have started it. I was socially abused by a teacher in primary school because I deprecated a joke he told in class. Now sure, adults should know better not to use adult tactics or nuances to hurt children. But just in general, all of these people in a school setting need to be continually, systemically educated in garden-variety kindness, value of community and given practical skills in mental health aid. Including the parents, oh god when parents put their hand in the pie, everything goes to crap. This is why your kids don’t want you to drop them off, not because they’re embarrassed by you, but because they’re genuinely concerned for what damage you can do to the citizens and culture of the school culture, being an ignorant, unwitting tourist who “means well”.

8. Literacy is sexy. Also, someone’s intellectual appeal will always win out over their looks, good or bad.

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I’ve always understood “cool” to mean “adj. acting in disregard or disinterest of other individual’s thoughts, real or perceived”. People get ugly, but there’s nothing uglier than fearing ugliness. You can never keep up with trends, and those who do find it very exhausting and distressing. If teenagers who go onto being successful early-adults seem to demonstrate anything, it’s usually that they’ve managed to detach their egos well enough to be themselves. It’s a far less taxing process to curate our actual self when operating in the big wide world, than spending our twenties making all the unproductive mistakes just so we can establish enough evidence for a regression into our authentic characters to look like a “I love being thirty, you can just forget all the bullshit” stage of growth. You can forget all the bullshit before you’re 21 if you have the grace, gall, guts, and some god-forsaken self-awareness. Here’s to no more midlife crises, just be your damn self! Unless you’ve coded up an entirely new person by the time you graduate, in which case, here’s to therapists become the fastest-growing profession worldwide.

9. Eroticism shouldn’t be suppressed. Responsibility and Health come from honest, even frank, education.

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I wonder if 50 Shades of Grey would have sold so well if we’d actually bothered to tell kids and teenagers what sex even was. Legit, what kind of farce is sexual education. I don’t have enough space to express my diatribe, nor to refer to other bang-on diatribes out there, nor services working their liberal butts off to fix the cause of these diatribes. So I’ll make it quick: TELL KIDS WHAT SEX IS SO THEY DO IT WITHOUT HURTING EACH OTHER.

Segregating boys from girls for sex education is not only counterproductive, counter-intuitive and counteractive, it’s godawful stupid, especially when we give them access to pornography on a daily basis (yes I think music videos and NSFW buzzfeed articles count). Also, there is a lot more to sex than reproductivity; teaching us what our reproductive systems look like and what they do in the event of a heterosexual emergency is super-valid but completely useless information in lieu of any context. Putting condoms on bananas has no transferable skills for students to learn how to help each other with female condoms. By the time they sent a timid, tight-collared educator to tell my student class what lubricant was, half of us already knew and used through trial and error! Oh and making us do a project on a particular STI didn’t serve as deterrent either, but seemed to increase the instances of anal sex-yet another thing no-one was prepared to engage in (see earlier point on use of lubricant). Anyway, my high horse needs some water. Taking a break.

10. The sacrifice of your pride is the first step to EVERYTHING.

No need to elaborate. See the movie. Work it out.

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Oh and also. If I can throw an eleventh in at the last minute? It’s never Nigel with the brie. Ever.

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A wise Filipino woman once told me…

She called me darling in that exotic way and said ‘You know, when you catch (throwing out her hand and grasping) a butterfly and hold it in your hand, it will take one year in your clasped hand for it to stay when you open it. However, when they open their fingers, darling, you aren’t so magic anymore and what do they do?’ and she blew onto her hand. ‘So when he treats you badly, you remind him that you are not his butterfly, you are not his little girl, and you tell him to go back to his mama until he learns it right. We are adventurers, my darling, like wild dogs roaming waiting for our masters to arrive’.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this as she discussed her infidelities between a man of means, and one of youth and passion. The former have her a ring worth approximately $3000 and she pawned it the next week to pay for groceries and a nice weekend together. When he asked her where the ring was, he went and bought it off the pawnbroker and told her if she pawned it again he would leave here. She told me ‘Daaarling, I told him to go find another woman, and that I would sell it again if I wanted to, because $3000, $5000, $10,000 it doesn’t matter because I love you, I care for you, I make you happy, I am worth every cent you possess. When you love someone, darling, you must hold them by the love, two loves holding together. So I say, if I am, if my love is holding his love by the heart while he holds my love in his pocket, then it is nothing, and it belongs to nobody.

She told me ‘I use my own name for a reason, because it is a code for who I am! So whenever they call me ‘pussycat’ or ‘baby’ or any of that other bullshit, I tell them go back to your girlfriend whatever idiot she is because you must be blind you can’t see who you’re talking to. Darling, it is very sweet, but they are trying to make you forget who you are, so that you really do become a baby, or a cat or whatever bullshit, darling. You be careful, you remind them the only thing they can call you is their Queen.’

Funny how a woman I was sure to be a nut, was also a pearl…

The Great Dim Sim Experiment or What I Learned on a Game Show

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Well that was the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to me. Like seriously.

I have just finished watching myself compete on a general knowledge game show against two other deserving, wonderful individuals for the ultimate goal of $1M and making my Nonna tear up. I didn’t make it to the ultimate as some very kindly enthused to me, but I certainly did not embarrass myself as I think some people secretly wondered.

My brainwave to try my hand at being on a game show came the same way I’m sure it comes to most: I was watching Million Dollar Minute and decided that my at-home play was sufficient to warrant serious thought into contending. Usually I cast this impulse aside because I’ve lived in Adelaide where not much of anything is filmed. But this time, they even screened an email to contact. So I did. And I got an audition. I told almost no-one, so afraid of how mocked I would be if I was so bold as to big-note myself.

I arrived at the audition to see approximately 120 people milling around, gathering for a chance at the Million Dollar Minute. Fresh-faced, virile young men in suits, deadly-endearing older ladies, mums, couples with matching mullets, entrepreneur-looking millenials with clipboards on conference calls while we waited. One guy without any shoes on, one young woman reciting facts to herself alongside an apparent boyfriend with poor body language and facial expression playing with his phone (I suspected a Trivia app. Or Tinder). All of them had clipboards, and seemed infinitely more qualified and deserving than me. I considered going home. I phoned a friend and asked whether I should.

We were eventually filed in, and that’s when I noticed it. I noticed what was making me feel really unbalanced. As we started sitting down, countless people started calling out greetings to each other, ‘oh my god, Terry?! Haven’t seen you since Temptation in 2010!’, ‘Saw you on the Feud! Goes to show you can’t pick ’em hey?!’, ‘Dave, hard luck on Hot Seat mate, I never asked you, how sweaty was Eddie at your filming?! God he was reeking at mine…’

They all knew each other, this phenomenal community of game-show-gurus. I was entranced by this concept, even though I have a competition-crazy cousin (shout out). I sat down next to a lovely woman named Betty (not even kidding) who was up to her fourth attempt on the show, and had already been on Hot Seat, Temptation AND Contest which she found to be a lucrative way to supplement her retirement- “it’s great, you know you get to go out for the day, get your hair and makeup done, meet some new people and sometimes walk away with a stack of money. Beats sitting at home making jack!”. I couldn’t fault her, although if she hadn’t got in, I mightn’t have Buckleys. I’m embargoed from talking about the ways we get in, but somehow I made it through (Betty sadly did not). We were warned time and time again that we may not be called, we may need to try again, and it was at solely the producer’s discretion if we were M$M material. As it turned out, it would be only a matter of weeks before I was deemed so. FIRST LESSON: personality is not always trumped by genius.

Betty’s advice was that I make statements about myself that would look hilarious on television. Oddly enough they decided not to go with my moniker of “Hip-Hop Dancer for Jesus. Reformed.” nonetheless I arrived with my fancy blue shirts (OK they were mostly purple) and waited to be called up to play. We we warned again that depending on how things went we may not play all day, we may have taken time off work for naught. Which was OK by me, this was my first rodeo and I was giggling and getting involved like a modern-day Muriel Heslop “I’m going to be on a game show, and I’m going to be a success!”. And then I got called up first. To boot, they decided they liked the outfit I turned up in, scarf and all (“This looks more you, am I right?”-very astute dressing-room-maybe-producer-person). SECOND LESSON: be yourself. You’ll be more recognisable that way.

We had some preamble and dorky promo bits to do…..

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Then they sat us down to get to business. Three trivia rounds, cash prizes along the way. Now here’s the important bit of this whole journey.

There is no clarity like casting off your competitive instinct when in the midst of a competition.

I repeat, there is no clarity like casting off your competitive instinct when in the midst of a competition. Just before the first question was asked on film, I realised that I liked the champion I was against, and the young woman between us, likely had her own reasons for being in the room. I realised that the purpose of the show was not for me to win, but for me to enjoy myself, be real and honest, learn a few things and above all things, choose humility over personal gain. As it turned out, I believe this led to the episode being called “really good television” by the carryover champ, host, producers and friends who watched. I have no regrets about the outcome of the show because for the first time in my anything-but-athletic-twig-legged-life I was credited with “good sportsmanship”. And that was the real win for me.

Some will choose to take advantage of my small success, some others will choose to look at my experience as nothing more than win, lose, or could’ve done better. I made a conscious decision at the beginning of the show to just make peace and have fun with the two people on the journey. At the final round I decided to put myself first, and go for my own interest alone. And it was at this point that I lost. For whatever reason: maybe I wasn’t smart enough, maybe I panicked, perhaps they asked questions I was bound not to know, or the universe conspired for me to only win that much. Either way, I believe the outcome directly relates to the choices I made. And I’ve seen other people make the choice for glory over namaste and the character value of humility come to rub them on the back.

Check out this amazing kid, Jacob Williamson a spelling bee rain-man. He was born to win it, but he made a choice. And learned. And took it really well. And was made a better person, a better competitor, a better study, a stronger contender in all fields for it.

I love this other story from a more high-profile individual about what an early loss in her career has meant for her strength, her risk-taking, her ability to inspire, and her thirst for success. Not to mention the pseudo-feminist-anthem it has engendered thanks to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her TED-du-force.

When I first considered going on a game show, I aspired no higher than Fran Fine. This episode of jewel-of-my-childhood sitcom The Nanny, was about when she went on Jeopardy and although it pokes fun at her intellect, really you never know what can happen in that environment, and it was her own knowledge and simple desire to have a chance that got it for her in the end. Give the episode a watch. For old times’ sake. Franny and the Professor [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfUQARsegw8].

So there’s the action plan. Compete, compete, compete but let the outcome go because the success really is in how present you are as you campaign for whatever success comes your way. And keep close the tools for being humble, you’ll never know when you’ll need to be. Good luck!!

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