Christeene @ Islington Mill: We Are All Going Through The Same Shit by H. Me

Paul Soileau, drag, queer, electro, punk, rap, butt plugABOUT halfway through this gig a friend called Antoine in his favourite Alien Sex Fiend tee was shown a red rectangular piece of cloth by a  tattooed woman. Dangling from the centre of the material was a ribbed three-inch piece of black rubber about as long my ring finger.

“I was near the back and it still managed to hit little old me in the face,” Barbara said amazed.

“That’s Christeene’s butt plug,” I yelled into Antoine’s ear and pointed to the band on stage, “she pulled it out and wenged it into the crowd during the opening song.”

Before he could say anything both our faces fish hooked as we caught a whiff of brown town causing us to flinch backwards. A moment later he flung the offending item back across the dancefloor.

“Mental,” he said as he absent-mindedly wiped his hands across the front his tee. I went to the loos to wash mine. Barbara followed and washed her face.

The tidy arse the butt plug came from belongs to Paul Soileau a drag artist currently residing and honing his electro-punk-rap-nuts music in Austin, Texas. Christeene Vale is his second creation and she is not your usual fayre. Noted for her weird looks, trampy black hair, a string vest and heavy smeared make-up around a mouth housing a gold front tooth – Christeene is more like homeless person having a bad hair day about to go all Texas Chainsaw Massacre on our asses.

“When Christeene came out of me,” he says on his Wikipedia page, “I was searching for something that had the action of a switchblade in my pocket – a character I could put on quickly but effect people in a much stronger way. There’s a lot of social and political commentary going on. It allows me to process and understand me, Paul, as a queer, as a southern boy.”

What comes out of Paul via Christeene would give Freud a field day. The box he ticks on his personality test is Drag Terrorist. On stage Christeene is backed by two well-oiled dancers, naked apart from thongs and harnesses occasionally auto-asphyxiating themselves with black ties. They’ve got moves too such as the elegant and seductive fisting the air in tandem either side of Christeene. In between songs they get a break while Christeene butters us up in her high-pitched twisted Texan drawl:

“I know you people have got something special in your hearts and in your assholes,” she compliments.

“Just keep doing what your doing. Keep being you. You don’t need me to tell you,” she urges.

“We are all going through the same shit,” she relates.

Let’s make no bones about it. We were all gone. Egos vanished into air, flimsily constructed personalities melted away as the relentless throbbing gristle of their sound gouged us into being.

“I’m so confused,” shouted a lesbian next to me, “I want to fuck him.”

Watching songs like Tears from My Pussy and African Mayonnaise, as provocative as they are on Youtube, doesn’t prepare you for the live club show. Like Peaches gone before Christeene manages to sculpt sex and pain into vicious beauty with a knowingness and honesty and depth you don’t normally get from drag acts unless you’re at a David Hoyle show. You could be forgiven for thinking this review is promulgating a notion that gay culture revolves around cock and arse. It’s not. Beneath the sexualised motifs of Christeene’s act hidden in the words and beats is a message that’s all heart. A black electronic heart maybe but one nevertheless delivered with devilish ironic wit and sheer grime.

The song slowly / easy is like making it through a carpet bombing and finding out your the only survivor.

I can find no better reaction than Bubble Shield’s comments on Youtube to explain the power of this song:

bubble shield 1 month ago

30 seconds in I had a che

(who quickly updates the comment to)

bubble shield 1 month ago

Ciezure I ment ciezure

(and then just decides to go the whole hog and let us all know the true impact )

bubble shield 1 month ago

And shit myself and Died

(you can’t make this stuff up)

In the mosh-pit bodies buzz and hum. Sharp fresh odour, the fruit of a committed dancefloor, stung my nostrils as vital nervous energy got a welcome release. It poured from the blinged up man who used to work at Kim-By-The-Sea with flesh tunnel ears; from Zsa Zsa Noir tottering on her to-die-for legs; from the Chinese Lala who kept slipping in her own spilt beer; from the literary gays in their cut-off rock tees; from the hipster gays in their tight trousers and soft shoes; from the academic gays in their clean tees; from the andros; from the straights; from the staff at the back; and me.

The venue plays no small part in this. There is something about Islington Mill that elevates events into nights where you know you’re going to come alive. It’s been a haven for the avant-garde and underground for so long now, the mill has become a sprawling feeling spread across the city, something warm that stirs the in the chest and loins like a promise waiting to be redeemed the moment you step across the threshold. In part a gay hacienda, in whole a springboard for artists to contribute something special to life. Izzy Mill Head Honcho Bill Campbell once told me that it was important that a space existed where people felt free for anything to happen because that’s where true creativity is born.

Get born. Go mental. Now wash your hands.

Christeene performed as part of Off With Their Heads and Tranarchy’s Bummer Camp at Islington Mill on the longest day of the year supported by Zsa Zsa Noir, Kurt Dirt and a bouncy castle.

A special shout-out goes to DJ Louie from Sapphic Traffic. His donky-wonky dance set made my eyes bulge like eggs. More of that please!


Save Alexandra Park Trees: A Love Letter by Teresa Green

RIP Red Sycamore Avenue

Dear Alexandra,

It’s been nearly three weeks since we started hacking trees off you left, right and centre. My heart breaks into a thousand pieces that we can’t fix the damage that has been done. Please forgive us. I owe you so much. Many a morning I’ve woken and been unable to get out of bed but the mere thought of running through the outstretched arms of Red Sycamore Avenue boughed heavy with green, yellow, orange and red leaves has motivated me to get up for years. You make me want to live! And all from trees that just stand there. But RIP Red Sycamore Avenue. You are no more. You have been felled nee murdered. And lie horizontal on your backs like lazy cheap whores instead of being my first true love of the day. On the second Saturday of protest I walked with Nev, a mountain of a man, in his grey towelyn hoodie and matching trackie b’s down Newly Decimated Avenue, we both had tears in our eyes and we almost held hands.

‘They’re heartless cunts,’ he said.

I couldn’t say anything. The sight of light brown discs of wood chainsawn open and scattered through the park like lost Connect 4 counters was too sad for words.

save alexandra Park, eco warriors, MCC, manchester city council,But for that moment as strangers we were brought together. Amongst the tree graveyard are some tattered tents. More strangers brought together. The strange brothers and sisters of Moss Side and Whalley Range and Trafford. They have been here since the felling began three weeks ago. I don’t know what they’d be doing normally if they weren’t trying to save the park trees. When you look at the destruction of 50 of the 400 trees already taken down to make way for tennis courts the situation seems hopeless. Yet the protestors have hope. This is the sign of first rate intelligence and compassion in human beings. Being able to find hope in a hopeless situation. Lots of them have become ill from their cold and wet vigil day after day and night after night in the park. Some days a bearded black leather jacketed protestor psychs out the police by filming them with his camcorder in their faces and on demo Saturdays when the community comes out in triple figures he rouses them with shouts of Whose trees? Our trees! Another protestor says let’s go to the homes of the council and start chopping trees down in their back gardens and see how they like that. A cop snickers at a woman who is shouting until she’s blue in the face that he should speak to his boss about quitting because it isn’t his job to kill birds it’s his job to save them.

Oh Alex I’m sorry your trees are being torn down and wildlife put at risk for tennis courts. Apart from the glaring fact that the park has tennis courts already albeit run down and in need of some TLC, and if we’re being honest, much like the rest of you. You are a big raggedy and do need a bit of a facelift. But tennis courts?! FFS. London creeps closer every day. We are not Manchester-upon-Thames. It is an urban park. It has an urban edge. Some days when I’m running through you and stare at the over-grown bushes I wonder if someone’s going to jump out and mug me. It makes me run faster. I am going to live longer. You are life-giving. So I’ve come to visit you again today on Valentine’s Day to show you some love. There are only two protestors left. A man and a woman. It feels like the end of the affair. A strange garden of Eden with not an apple tree in sight.

Grey Spotted WoodpeckerNo says the owl-like woman grabbing my arm earnestly we are not here to stop them we are here to make them question how they’ve done this. We are wholesome. We are right in what we are doing. As security dismantle the barricades she is worried they will now be arrested for camping in a public space. We move a tent backwards out of the swamp onto firmer drier land towards Claremont Road. She is right. In the end everything will be alright even if it isn’t alright. Mother Nature shall prevail and the trees shall all grow up and rise again. She is too powerful and does after all own all of the higher moral ground.

Thank you Alexandra for being my lungs of the city,

Love Teresa Green xx

It’s not over ’til it’s over. Keep supporting the campaign:

twitter: @saveAPTrees


Manchester Music with Matthew Duffy

Matthew DuffyFrom the kickstart of punk rock to the dizzy heights of acid house and all that exists inbetween, Manchester has been the UK’s pioneering city for musical innovation. Finding unlikely inspiriation in the post industrial gloom, songwriters, musicians, DJs and artists flourish in the city’s eclectic multicultural party-loving creative hub.

However, at least twenty years since producing a decent band or even a decent song, Manchester now desperately clutches to its past glories hopelessly denying the city’s return to the soulless wasteland it was in the 70s with almost all of its cultural landmarks bought up and converted into shoddy Urban Splash pads or Poundstretchers. One of the most historically important cities in the modern world is now culturally cold, crowded, loud and littered with lost expectations, Costa coffee cups and suspiciously looking human excretia.

As a stereotypical raincoat Mancunian I am going to take you on a sulky wander round the living musical museum of this city stopping off at the most significant spots to get mugged. So whether you want to terrorise Terry Christian by posting offal through his letterbox every night, or run your key down the side of Mick Hucknall’s car or just rifle through Peter Hooks wheelie bin, The Lost Ruined Guide To Manchester Music Tour is an essential part of any visit to the city.

Prestwich: Starting on the northside of the city, Prestwich is the longtime stomping ground of Fall frontman Mark E Smith. One of the more innovative songwriters of the post punk era, Sid James look-a-like Smith wrote and sang all the Fall’s songs using only vowels and performed all the live shows entirely in burp. Keep you eyes peeled as the toothless elderly yob can often be seen scurrying through the overspilling bins on Bury Old Road. And no serious music fan would want to miss out on the opportunity of being glassed by one of rock’s most prolific arseholes.

Collyhurst: While touring the US in the early 80s Granada TV star and entrepreneur Bernard Manning stumbled upon a Detroit house club. Entranced by the pulsating techno beat and immediately realising the potential audience Manning brought the new sound back home with him and opened the Embassy Club and the rest is as they say history. By the end of the decade Harpurhey had become the unlikely epicentre of a flourishing dance scene. World renowned DJs and racist work men club comedians flocked to perform for the flat-capped, gurning crowds downing Best bitter and Mandies and dancing for days on end. Although Manning died in 2007 the Embassy Club still stands with the proud portrait of his fat racist fucking face above the door. The club made household names of DJs such as Mike Pickering, Paul Oakenfold, James Stanions and Umberto.

Salford: Manchester’s tough cousin and Ewan McColl’s ‘Dirty Old Town’, Salford’s artistic influence has a traditionally darker edge. From the blocked kitchen sing of Sheila Delaney to the artless stolen-car-hardcore of Bowlers, their refreshing no nonsense attitude is the Salford brand. Just across the Irwell from the city is the iconic Salford Lads Club immortalised by photographer Stephen Wright  for the cover of Bill Tarmy’s ill-advised soul album ‘Jack Duckworth is Dead.’ Salford’s most famous sons were ‘Madchester’ heroes the Happy Mondays. Professional crackpot Shaun Ryder and his imaginary friend Bez were at the forefront of the dance / indie crossover marrying the paranoid migraine of acid house with the cidertinged B.O. of rock. Their reputation preceeded them and there are many Monday’s landmarks around the city particularly Oldham Street’s Dry Bar where Shaun Ryder fired a gun at band and Hacienda manager Anthony H. Wilson somehow missing his hugely swollen and over-inflated head.

The bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke, brought poetry and comedy to punk audiences with high velocity machine gun lyrics and became one of the country’s true cult figure. His distinctive ground-breaking style inspired so many loudmouthed Mancunian copy-cats that even he now wishes he hadn’t bothered.

Stretford: Connecting Salford to Trafford side of south Manchester is Stretford. A Mecca for many Manchester music fans, 384 Kings Road, was the childhood home of Steven Patrick Morrissey. It was here in his bedroom, crying and wanking, that Morrissey honed his lyrical art on subject matter as profound as missing the bus, having to do his homework when he didn’t want to, burning his last crumpet and cutting his fingernails too short. Life’s a bitch. And so is Morrissey. The previous owner would allow fans a guided tour of the house. We contacted the current owners to see if this was possible but we were told, “It’s not their home, it’s my house and you’re welcome no more”. It was the tough streets of Stretford that bullied Morrissey into the middle-aged mard arse he is today. But newcomers to the city maybe surprised to find Stretford isn’t really all that bad. Had he grown  up on the Moss Side end of Kings Road, Morrissey would surely have topped himself before he hit puberty.

Timperly: Heading deeper into Trafford we come to Timperly. Born in Warrington, swaggering chimpoid Ian Brown moved to Timperly as a young man and attended Altrincham Grammar School for Posh Boys. Threre he teamed up with organ grinder John Squire and co to form The Stone Roses. With his mumbling inaudible lyrics, their inability to perform live, the fact they only produced 45 minutes of decent music throughout their entire career and Ian’s morbid fetish for air hostesses hands means The Roses will quite rightly top many Best Bands in the World lists for years to come.

Also from Timperly were The Inspiring Frank Sidebottom and sidekick Little Frank, who despite their severe disabilities (Frank suffered from elephantitus and Little Frank was only one and a half feet tall) still achieved fame and a special place in the nation’s heart. Tragically, they both died on the same day! A statue is to be built in Timperly centre to commemorate the brave duo next year.

Stockport: If Salford is Manchester’s tough cousin, then Stockport is our cross-eyed cousin that keeps trying to kiss us. Home to the legendary Strawberry Studios – the Abbey Road of the North – session have been recorded by 10cc, The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Happy Mondays, John Cooper Clarke, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and even Sir Paul McCartney. However, despite the outstanding musical heritage, don’t go to Stockport!!

Burnage: Hastily leaving Stockport brings us to Burnage home of comedy musical duo the Gallagher Brothers. Their hilarious slapstick covers of the Beatles and T-Rex made Paul and Barry’s ‘To Me…To You’ album the smash hit of the 90s. Just as entertaining was their off stage rivalry with shandy-pants southern band Blur, who’s cartoon frontman Scrappy-Doo confronted the Gallagher Brothers at the Top of the Pops ‘Brit Pop Special’ in 1997, resulting in a huge Bugsy Malone style custard pie fight during which Charlatans keyboardist Rob Collins was crushed to death and presenter Andy Peters lost an arm.

Moss Side: Dubbed ‘Gunchester’ by the tabloids in the early 90s, back then the life expectancy of a Mancunian gang member was 21, which means there are a lot fewer of these moody party-poopers around than there could have been. Despite the overhanging intimidation of the gang culture many artists such as 808 State and MC Tunes, The Ruthless Rap Assassins and A Guy Called Gerald kept Moss Side as their creative base and the strong community worked hard to shake off its bad reputation. Yet this positive example of the Mancunian Spirit has since become lost in the sulky murk of UK Hip Hop and now everyone round here talks like Plan B for some fucking reason.

Hulme: 6th January 1979 and photographer Kevin Cummins captures several shots of the band Joy Division as they try and talk frontman Ian Curtis out of throwing himself off the Hulme bridge. After eight long hours Steven Morris managed to coax Curtis down with a packet of Rolos. Unfortunately the Rolos eventually ran out and Ian Curtis hung himself the following year but the shot went on to become one of the defining images of that chapter of Manchester music.

Hulme was also home to the notorious Bull Ring flat blocks. Demolished a decade ago the doomed slums  were owned by ruthless Mancunian landlords The Bee Gees. The billionaire disco ghosts bought up vast areas of land in the Manchester for cheap in the 1970s. They still keep their tenants trapped in squalid stinking poverty hassling them for rent from beyond the grave.

Manchester: The Twisted Wheel, The Electric Circus, The International One, Jilly’s, The Hacienda. the list of legendary Manchester night clubs and venues turned into flats or just flattened is the shame of the city. Now a fancy tea shop on Peter Street, the Free Trade Hall was the exact spot where the Manchester music revolution began. It was not only the venue where Dylan turned electric to the cries of ‘Judas’ and started a riot of his own in 1966, ten years later on 4 June 1976 The Buzzcocks invited the Sex Pistols to play the Lesser Free Trade Hall. All the events of the locations we’ve covered can be directly traced back to this one inspirational night. Everyone present at that gig embraced the raw energy and DIY attitude of the Sex Pistols performance and they all went on to become architects and aristocracy of the future of Manchester music. Thousands of Mancunian musicians and fans claim to have witnessed the gig yet only forty tickets were sold. The truth of who was actually there and who’s lying was investigated by David Nolen in his book ‘I Swear I Was There’ and the audience did prove to be a list of legends. Mick Hucknall, Cressa, M. People, Candy Flip, The Seahorses, John Shuttleworth, Crispy Ambulance, Beady Eye, Solstis, Embrace, Northern Uproar, Gary Barlow and David Jones from The Monkeys all went on to produce music so bad they made Sid Vicious sound like he could actually play.

So now we’ve come a full circle (missing out Droylsden, Wythenshawe and Oldham and quite a few other places you really wouldn’t want to go to, believe me). Night has fallen and you’re ready for a drink so why not head to one of the many overpriced charmless bars where a student from London is probably the DJ. You drink heavily as the audioly patronises you with his set of plinky plonky minimalist electro of no distinctive origin mixed with ironic 80s singalong shite. Depressed, you stagger vomitting into Piccadilly shaking your fist at the passing trams cursing. You sit at a bus stop to rest a while and soak up the atmosphere and wake up two hours later to find someone’s stolen your shoes. So you decide to call it a day and wrap up your evening in true Mancunian style by driving a stolen motorbike into a group of doormen for not allowing you into one of the city’s many shite clubs.

For a personal two hour guided tour with Matthew please bring your own umbrella and a £50. Price includes a drink of Best bitter, a meal somewhere and a dayrider bus ticket.

Born in Southern California, Matthew Duffy aka Thick Richard was diagnosed at birth with arpats, a rare skin condition meaning he suffers a deadly allergic reaction to sunlight. Following medical advice his family moved to Manchester where Matthew has been able to live a perfectly normal life beneath the impenetrable black thunder cloud that covers the city. He studied music snobbery at the Royal Northern College of Music for four years while working as an aloof and fickle store manager for Fat City Records. He now spends most of his time sat outside Chorlton ‘restaurants’ talking loudly about how much better ecstasy was twenty years ago.


Kraak Club the Best Refuge for Free Spirits…

On the rare occasions when I’m not playing the card game Shithead and I fancy a stroll out into the vulgar world of fun, the place I like to frequent chat, drink, smoke rollie fags and dance is the converted textile building-cum-club called Kraak. Don’t be fooled by hip high handwritten whiteboard with the word KRAAK and an arrow underneath pointing to a brick alley behind the Police Museum of Stevenson Square that this is a double-bluff public crack den, it is of course Manchester’s most authentic city centre hangout for people who’ve fallen through the cracks of society. It took its name from the Dutch word to crack something open. In a city succumbing to regenerationitis where the Cornerhouse is moving to become a multiplex on the newly unveiled First Street opposite the Hacienda apartments, club owners Jayne Compton and Dom O’Grady keep the lone flag flying across the city for D-I-Y independent unbranded good times.

In the last two years avant-garde hungry audiences have made their way down the crack in the alley, up the stairs and through the doors into the two hundred capacity main space to see the likes of JD Samson’s band MEN, Demdike Stare, Mark Fell, DJ Boogie Blind, David Hoyle, Womb and regular Filmonik screenings to name but the tip of the iceberg. The space has also become a staple for local and national cool-hunters to launch their albums and magazines, plus individual hedonists celebrate birthdays while the more adventurous of the city’s organizations encourage staff to let their hair down longer and wilder in its anything goes late curfew atmosphere.

Jayne showed me the up and coming gigs on her iPhone Google calendar and said, ‘We’re pretty much booked every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the next few months.’ She reeled off a few names, ‘There’s Wet Play presents Magic Touch, Jan Krueger, Manatees and Wode, Black Bee Soul Club, MCR Scenewipe, Richard Youngs and Dylan Carlson.’ She added that the venue’s draw to both artist and audience has made the place a creative hub and art scene.

She’s right of course, artists are the lifeblood to any event space and so are the piss-artists who watch them. And Kraak likes to treat them in equal measure. The cheap honed-down choice of drinks in a stand-alone fridge that wouldn’t look out of place in a house is ideal for the addled mind. A round of five black sambucas costs between 8 and 13ish quid depending on who serves you. I’d recommend you ask for The Doctor for the former price or muso-extraordinaire Magic Arm, who’s second album Images Rolling is about to be released, for the latter. Or is it the other way round? Either way the staff’s friendly uber-laid back chatty devil-may-care service style is endemic to the place. The latest addition to the team is a state-of-the-art blue Kentucky mop and bucket with detachable ringer so different mop heads can be attached a la Wurzel Gummage depending on which part of the club is being cleaned.  ‘Toilets are the pulse of any club so they’ve got to be regularly cleaned with the right tool for the job,’ added Jayne.

*Please Drink Reprehensibly*

Nikki Wordsmith flumps around the city in a big wooly hat looking for people and places and things to write about.


The Lovely Eggs – Sponsored by Greggs

Roadhouse. Manchester, Lancaster, The Lovely Eggs Dave Holly, BBC, musicIt’s now fourteen hours since I’ve seen married mop top couple Holly Ross and Dave Blackwell and The Unborn Bump perform at the Roadhouse, Manchester and I’m still up and I’m sure everyone else who was the gig has hit the hay. Just had a text from my gig-going partner in crime Bunny who told me they are faux-naive in their musical style. (Think that’s a posh way of saying they sound reet northern but are actually quite clever.) Three punks were in the mosh pit area backed up by old indie-heads. Things are still all well with the world when I see at least one punk and it was a good job they were there. Initially they danced like Morris pole people to Bad Grammar (the support band) but when The Lovely Eggs bulleted out the opening lines of Wildlife ‘there are five flies in this yard there are eighteen flies in this yard there are forty-nine flies in this yard’ a loose kind of hell broke through the crowd led by none other than the punks. It was nice to see and even better to feel. I saw the Eggs a while a go with my friend Lowri at a tea and cake do downstairs at Ruby Lounge run by Clint Boon’s missus. That was plain odd. It’s not every day you see the former Angelica front-woman and all her punk feminist shenanigans playing to the mother and baby crowd. But that’s somehow perfect too don’t you think? They also did a cameo as part of the Twin Peaks night at Islington Mill in 2009 as James and Donna but a lot has changed since then. In another parallel pop universe they had had a string of No 1 hits with Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion?, People Are Twats and the new Lancaster and Manchester national anthem Fuck It. In reality each album release new finds them little armies of fans including a guest apprearance by John Shuttleworth as the man with a sausage roll thumb in the vid for Don’t Look At Me I Don’t Like It.

The Lovely Eggs, Manchester Roadhouse, Holly, MusicWith their latest and third album Wildlife something is stirring. Everytime I turn 6Music on one of their songs seems to be on and lots of people I know from all different walks of life keep asking me if I’ve heard of The Lovely Eggs? Songs on their youtube hits regularly get into five figures and along with the John Shuttleworth patronage they’re reaching that status that other more fickle people than myself might accuse them of: Being Professional Northeners. You know the kind, Mark and Lard, Sara Cox, Liz and Andy Kershaw, Vernon Kaye and that other woman with blonde hair who’s name I can’t remember but is a stand up comedian with a deep voice and I think she’s called Jenny Eclair. Anyway you know the type I mean. There are loads more. And Jenny Eclair has the brilliant line that no-one with a northern mum can get depressed. That is what seeing The Lovely Eggs is like. The music is top. But their ace up their sleeve is lyrically and live they are a bloody good laugh and have not forgot the best part of having a sense of humour is to take the piss out of yourself. They happily fuck up songs. Laugh off missing verses. Have a great in-joke for all women in music with the song Dave’s Turn and at one point in between songs Holly patted the bump protruding from her stomach saying ‘sponsored by Greggs’. But best parting shot of night for me was going up to the merch stall and seeing a hand-written sign in big black marker which outlined the words that said: Shit Fer Sale.

 The Lovely Eggs are on tour now.

Nikki Wordsmith bumbled about in her big wooly hat with Bunny and some punks and had rather a lovely time.


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