Talking Toxic: Hear no evil, Speak no evil, SEE EVIL! With Catherine Ingram and Michael Goes Click Photography

Welcome back!!! A brand new year has rolled out it’s shiny uncertain face to be plastered in stockings, make-up and mayhem… It feels good to be alive… Did you miss me? (Ooh I felt like Courtney Love then, quick grab me a handful of prescription meds and a bottle of Champale).

Shortly before last years end, I was asked to take part in a photoshoot with the wonderful, Michael Goes Click photography. I jumped at the chance to work with this young talent for two reasons; 1, because Michael asked and he’s amazing, 2 – the shoot was designed to represent the hear no evil, see no evil, see evil concept relating to budget cuts effecting mental health service users in Derbyshire that are effectively cutting off a lifeline known as Derbyshire Voice. I’m sure that anyone reading this will either have suffered from the blight of mental illness or at the very least know someone who has. I’m sure that you also will know how debilitating whatever form it takes, can be to an individual as well as those around them and that institutions designed to support those affected are currently being badly hit by the recession as are many charitable and third sector institutions. This is is further exasperated by local governing bodies who slash budgets in favour of pet projects and frivolous spending options

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Today I’m talking to Catherine Ingram (C), chief executive of Derbyshire Voice and Michael Hill (M) of Michael Goes Click photography about exactly what is happening up north and behind closed council doors…

Dis) The Derbyshire Voice provides a life line to mental health service users in the community. How is its survival being threatened?

(C) The charity is funded by 4 partner NHS and local authority organisations. The fact that one funder wishes to leave this partnership is de-stabalising and we wanted to create a very public awareness as a reminder of how important the charity is to people. If the money is taken away I will have to make some hard decisions but it will inevitably mean that we can support less people from the City and that the council can do anything to their mental health services without involving or consulting us. The council employ the social workers who section people under the Mental Health Act and our work with them to improve the situation will inevitably have to stop which means even less support for people detained against their will. Mental heath is the only area of “care” where you can receive treatment against your will and its a terrifying experience for many who can just not naturally follow white male western defined standards of “normality”.

Dis) You’ve been running a number of peaceful protests in the city – how has the public responded to these events?

The public has been amazing!!!! We have been so touched by the support from the public and have been amazed by the level of support we have received. Ive never been on a demonstration where strangers have believe in the cause so much they have taken up a placard and walked the streets with us! The large mental health charities and the media bang on about this huge stigma there is about mental ill health but in reality we question if that is the reality – what better way to control a group of people than spread the myth that everyone thinks they are “mad, bad and dangerous” ? Its something to reflect upon! The greatest realisation we had after speaking to the public was that nearly everyone has had their lives touched personally by mental health and that they had a particularly awful treatment or hadnt been able to receive any help at all – this is what makes us determined to carry on our work.

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Dis) Michael, you had some very clear themes that ran through the shoot but before we discuss these, what was your hope for these images?

(M) My general hopes for the images would be that they would communicate a level of anger, while still maintaining being trapped, and masked. There had to be a satirical undertone to the photos as well (considering the circumstances under which the money has been taken from Derbyshire Voice, I chose the Guy Fawkes mask for this as it already has a pre-existing meaning).

Dis) symbols of political revolution, death as well as the infamous see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil maxim were clearly defined within the context of the images produced. Why did you choose to utilise this particular set of themes?

(M) I was given a lot of leeway with what the pictures were actually supposed to be – I changed the topic in my pictures from “hear no evil, Speak no evil, see no evil” to “Hear No Evil, Speak no evil, see evil” as it seemed to fit more with the situation –
Hear no evil – people with mental health problems in Derby face losing the only service that listen.
Speak no evil – we were being stopped at every turn trying to arrange the protest, so in the end we just went and did it.
(Also, the name of the campaign was “No Voice, No Hope”, so this fitted in nicely).
See evil – The closure of such an important service, and the lack of care and support from the council / social services etc. Seeing the council waste £32m on a renovation that wasn’t even needed.

(C) I gave Michael the brief – “Speak your truth even if your voice shakes”  and he ran with it and interpreted it in his own wonderful way! I believe that there are many ways and mediums to communicate our message and that visual communication is often more affective than verbal diatribes – images have a power that often exceed words and have an ambiguity that can be personally interpreted by the viewer and stimulate a reaction in a very different way. The images will be printed in our next magazine and I am so proud and thankful for the two creative people that spent time and energy to work with us to achieve this.

Dis) Catherine, can you explain a little more about the importance of DV and what it’s continued future means to mental health service users in the area?

(C) Derbyshire Voice is more important to people than we realised! Almost anyone that has sought mental health support or received treatment against their will in a psychiatric unit will tell you that the services are abusive and often very damaging. I was personally treated against my will and still live with the trauma of that experience. We try to work in partnership with those who run services to help them to understand the support people need and to improve the quality of what they provide so that it helps rather than damages people. As the recession hits mental ill health and emotional distress are on the rise yet the services available are being cut at the time more people need them – we believe that the work we do is more important than it has ever been.

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Dis) How have Derbyshire council responded to the wave of protests in the area – have they discussed the issues surrounding the budget cuts and provided any plausible reasons for these cuts to be made?
(C) Derby City council have not yet responded to any of my communications! We have however secured over 4000 signatures on our petition and the council must now have a debate about Derbyshire Voice on the 30th January. This is only the second time ever that a group has achieved this and I am hoping that the strength of feeling will go some way to make the council realise that we are important and they must continue to invest. I dont believe the proposal has been thought through as they dont even have our name correct in their budget proposal report and describe as a youth service!

Dis) Have they addressed the issues of funding related to their new build council house costing them an estimated 30 million pounds?

(C) No the issues relating to their 30 million quids council offices have not been addressed – they are now planning a velodrome for the city!

(M) The main justification for the cost of the council houses was a “Hydro Power Plant” that uses the river on the other side of the building, and the rental space they now had in there. “Modernizing” the site seemed to be the key to making their money back. But I haven’t heard anything else.

Dis) is there anything our readers can do?

(C) Im sure many of your readers have already helped by signing the petition (and thank you heaps Bristol lovelies!) but if people want to offer more support they can write to the council leader (Paul Bayliss) or any of the councillors prior to the meeting on the 30th January to express their support for Derbyshire Voice and the importance of mental health funding at this difficult time.

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me and for giving me the opportunity to work on this project with you guys, I hope we can help and bring as much attention to this issue as possible. And to anyone reading this, please write in to Councillor Bayliss and make your opinion count!!!

The Derby County Council website is as follows: http://www.derby.gov.uk/

For more information regarding Derbyshire Voice, the work that they do and for regular updates please visit:

www.Derbyshire-voice.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/DerbyshireVoice

Bile and Bruises

Dis-Charge

xxx

X-RAY SPEKZ

Sooooooooooooooo many of you will know that over the past 3 months I have been working my leopard-print ass to the bone putting together an EXTRAVAGANZA now known as X-RAY SPEKZ. An evening of burlesque celebrating B-Movie and sci-fi culture in association with Nice ‘n’ Naughty Bristol, Psycho:Drama and Alias-X MUA with proceeds from the door going to the SAFE foundation.

Producing pop-up nights to fit with a specific theme needs a great deal of planning and the perfect team. Luckily I have worked with a number of performers, Dj’s, photographers and very supportive friends over the years who I could count on to help me bring this idea from inception to completion. This was also the case when we put together our first event earlier this year, Speakeasy in February.

Let’s talk performers. Initially, we had 8 performers (1 of which would not be revealed until the show started) Screaming Keating, Lou Leigh Blue (both veterans of Speakeasy) Ruby Roseblade, Tiger Tiger, Penny Bizarre, Pariah Circus and Venus Noir and a wonderful fire breather; Janey Hayes. Due to circumstances beyond their control, unfortunately Pariah Circus and Ruby Roseblade were unable to perform but still came along to support the event.

Before I go further, it is worth note that Ruby Roseblade is the reason this event truly came together – she was the inspiration for the whole thing! Ruby, AKA Sophie Mangham, earlier this year did something amazing – she flew all the way out to India with the SAFE Foundation to support their wonderful work as a volunteer. When she arrived back we talked for a long time about her experiences and decided then and there that our beneficiaries for any future event would have to be SAFE.

I have worked for the past three years with two amazing men, DeadPunkBoy and Dj ANT who run Psycho:Drama. Tini Von Doom; alt. model extraordinaire, MUA (Alias-X) and now Dj also recently joined their ranks after the departure of the wonderful DJ STR8 who is having a little’un! It was a natural choice to work with them all on X-RAY SPEKZ. DeadPunkBoy is not only a fantastic DJ, he is also an incredible photographer and it was his shots of Ruby Roseblade used for the all the promotional material; flyers, posters and FB/Venue event listings. These guys are great – professional, wonderful to work with and partners in toxic crime! They were with me every step of the way, re-blogging the event, flyering and of course playing the music that kept our patrons dancing all night. ANT even drove my colleague and I down to the venue on the night with our stock and decorating materials and Tini, whilst also DJ’ing, was beating face for the performers. Not at the same time I should point out, that could lead to some unusual accidents :p Bristol resident and DJ for the now sadly passed Dystopia, Frozen Napalm also joined our DJ line-up. Fantastic! He even played an old favourite of mine, Olive’s ‘You’re not Alone’. He and his lovely partner Bridge were instrumental in the set-up of the night, lending a hand to decoration and balloon preparation along with the wonderful Michael Hill and Rich Barakat (who were AMAZING!!!! I couldn’t have done this without you guys!!!!!)

Dirty Filthy Sexy, Nottinghams legendary gay alt. night were also booked to travel down and work with us on X-RAY SPEKZ, but due to factors beyond their control, were unable to make the journey – personally I blame Kathy Griffin, I don’t know why, I just do!

Camrakaze AKA Chris Banfield AKA Daddy Dis-Charge played paparazzo for the evening, he took all the shots for Speakeasy and did a wonderful job – this time around was no exception (look at the bottom of this post for links). The lovely Michael also took some incredible shots during the course of the evening whilst running around to help me out (seriously I may rename the guy super Michael especially after he dashed out into town with Barakat to find drawing pins… which I already had but misplaced only to be found shortly after they arrived back at the venue… my bad! Sorry!)

Now, let’s talk about Machete Rose! The girl kicks ass, she’s got pins for days, is an amazing performer and one hell of a compere – she did all the emcee’ing for Speakeasy. This time around she took up duties with myself introducing the acts and was a bit of a rock for me up there (if I haven’t thanked you properly yet I send you massive hugs and lipstick kisses!!!!) She’s also going to be performing with Screaming Keating for a bloody halloween performance in the coming weeks. We were even accessorised accordingly – black and silver, so hot I was gushing, I nearly flooded the top floor!!!!

And now to the performances…. Kicking off with Screaming Keating’s Bela Lugosi’s Not Dead a macabre, sexy and sizzling strip-tease featuring church bells and Bauhaus, the house… fell… DOWN!!!! It was AMAZING!!!! Last time, he performed this incredible tap routine to Putting on the Ritz, it was so good – if you missed it, where were you??? Lou Leigh Blue was next up, unfortunately she had died in the backstage area so we had to rely on the power of crowd sourced voodoo to resurrect her from the grave! SHE’S A MUMMY!!!! Bandages everywhere, dust and dervish spins, hip movements that no corpse should perform and gyrations that its said, woke further creatures from the dead. Blue NAILED IT! What else could you expect though, she’s a bit of a legend in these parts, recently she was event part of an exhibition, rendered in oils for People Like Us on Park street. Tiger Tiger, curator of Burning Brightly events is an ANIMAL! I had recently run a stall at her Jungle Fever event in Trinity, she’s such a doll to work with and hell, can the girl rock a trench coat monkey mouth ensemble!!!! I’ve never seen a planet of the apes strip-tease before, HOW COOL IS THAT!!!! The show was nuts, it had everything, Banana pasties, pictures of apes, prosthetics!!! Seriously, if you missed this I bet you’re kicking yourself now, better get yourself down to her BB show in November then. Penny Bizarre graced our stage next and after a problem with our decks (handled expertly by ANT) and handled like a pro by Miss Bizarre, we were set to go with her homage to Blaxploitation – referencing Coffy, Cleopatra Jones and all those phenomenal films from the seventies where flares were stylish and ‘fros were big enough to count as cloud cover! OUTSTANDING! Our headliner, Venus Noir, is a knock-out! (BTW: Turn this post into a drinking game – each time I use an exclaimation mark or capital letters have a drink – you may need a stomach pump by the end of this) A fetish model, and runner up in the Burlesque games earlier this year, she represented a dark glamour this evening – a true MISTRESS OF THE DARK (Drink up now). That’s right, Venus performed a soon to be legendary Elvira routine, I COULD HAVE DIED!!!! So amazing!

Once the stage was cleared we did our curtain call and a tearful Miss Roseblade was brought up for a tearful bow for inspiring the event. I couldn’t have been happier, such an amazing evening, despite little technical hitches. We had torrential rain to contend with as well, still managing to raise a nice chunk of money for SAFE – I still need to count through it but if I remember correctly by our lovely doorman, Psycho-Andy’s count, it came to just over £180! It was now announced that our lovely fire performer Janey Hayes would be breathing fire outside – ready to light your cigarettes and set fire to the unnattractive!

The night was fantastic, and my head-dress was GORGEOUS! You know it!! After we danced and drank for a couple of hours with our performers and patrons at the Hatchet, it was time for the after-party so we headed over to the Queenshilling. Time to unwind, dance around to songs from Grease with Sharon and talk taking over the world!

Thank you guys for doing such an amazing job on X-RAY SPEKZ and for all your support!

Here’s an excellent teaser video my gorgeous partner Luke made of the performances:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ivj2m01rBXg

Open sores and gutter mouthes

Dis-Charge

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