I once read Story of O on a crowded bus. It may have been a Wednesday, quarter to 9 in the morning, and I was cushioned by other heavily cloaked bodies all destined towards Liverpool St. Station. One hand wrapped tightly around a pole for balance while the other propped up the erotic novella. Its pages detailed O‚Äôs consent to a range of vicious sexual endeavours. The acts were astounding and revolting. The prose, clean and elegant.
Some may think it an odd choice to pass time on the bus. I thought, why not make an otherwise dull journey that much more strange and thrilling?
More recently, I pocketed a copy of Baron for my morning commute. It is a new erotic paperback magazine ‚Äúto be read in one hand.‚ÄĚ Indeed, Baron found its place in my left hand as easily as Story of O had.
The magazine says it is ‚Äúfor gentlemen and ladies who enjoy a cocktail, chit chatting about modern art, fine dressing and when the lights fade and the gin runs out, become connoisseurs at taking their companion to bed.‚ÄĚ
Baron isn‚Äôt blatant and one-dimensional like a Playboy spread yet it is explicit in its intent to be pornographic, stylish, and arousing.
Its debut issue reveals work by the ‚Äúfinest perverts‚ÄĚ like photographer Qiu Yang. His cover image attracts the wandering eyes of fellow passengers on route 26.
Other pages are dressed in Agent Provacateur, M.A.C. lipstick or Raoul. Rubenesque females are wrapped tightly in printed bondage suits. Elsewhere, items of the mundane are objectified.
No Love Lost, shot by Michael Grieve, features a couple of Roxannes of the evening. It is raw. The eczema on a man‚Äôs legs glows as red as the revealing top worn by the woman down on her knees.
Meanwhile, Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce delivers a series of photos with his tongue pressed forcibly against his cheek. I wondered if Blue Murder offended the suit peering over my shoulders.
Baron isn‚Äôt all for ogling. Essays and stories unfurl and arouse the mind. The Last Peepshow led me down Soho by the hand before shoving me into a booth. Prior to that, I studied how Playboy and Penthouse‚Äôs efforts in the 1970s climaxed into The Pubic Wars. The writing is intelligent and is as provoking as the neighbouring photographs.
Taking erotic literature along for a public journey can be a stirring excursion, and I‚Äôm delighted to add Baron to my, insofar, short reading list. No, I haven‚Äôt braved a lad‚Äôs mag out, but then again those don‚Äôt tickle my fancy‚Ä¶ To each her own, as they say.
Images provided by Baron. You can buy the erotic paperback magazine here.
by Erika Soliven
If you can‚Äôt manoeuvre your tongue to press firmly against your cheek, the creative industry will eat you alive. Take heed from Matthew Frost, and his delightful Fashion Film.
The short film, starring Lizzy Caplan, plays out like a popular re-bloggable Tumblr, but with a soft glow ‚Äď an indeterminable Instagram filter, perhaps. The starlet is clad in great threads. She‚Äôll look at you with lustrous eyes before returning to the pages of her vintage paperback, carefully spelled out for the audience. And her face? Earnest in show. All the while, Caplan‚Äôs perfume-advert voice lists her numerous talents: She‚Äôs a performer, writer and a DJ; she thinks to herself in French; she also collects things because she‚Äôs great at doing so.
It is so very splendidly self-indulgent, and there are no qualms about that. From the offset the opening credits‚Äô typography is not unlike Girls‚Äô ‚Äď an HBO programme about 20-somethings in New York who are notoriously insufferable (there are varied opinions and the internet is rife with articles. I shan‚Äôt divulge too much here).
It‚Äôs refreshing to have fashion inject humour every so oft. I hope the next time it happens Lizzy Caplan is right in there again.
by Erika Soliven
London Hidden Interiors is a thrill. The English Heritage book satiates a curiosity, instigates a hunt and strengthens a romance with London, my fair city.
I fancy a great deal of cities: Munich, my anchor. LA and Berlin, what raunchy playgrounds. Calgary, my perpetual white Christmas. Ah, and Paris, l‚Äôamour fou.
However, it is for London that I cross my heart. The reasons are endless but in its infiniteness I find it incredibly easy to lose sight of this city. That is until London gestures towards me offering subtle reminders.
It happened recently, during one of my more uninteresting routines, walking from the office to the bus stop.
My commute home starts with a swift exit from the office building followed by purposeful strides on River Thames‚Äôs northern bank, past the Fishmongers‚Äô Hall and past my sweaty gym until I‚Äôm directly beneath London Bridge ‚Äď an illustrious name often mistakenly given to neighbouring Tower Bridge. I hear the river slap against concrete slabs when I climb the secluded stairwell leading to the bridge‚Äôs surface. There I'm greeted by the hustle of rush hour, a slew of City workers dashing every which way. Always in haste. Everyone seems desperate to escape the cold, wet and dreary for warm homes and cosy pubs.
Normally I charge on towards Liverpool Street station where, like clockwork, I hop on the bus, hop off bus and walk into my house. The end. But that evening, atop the northern side of London Bridge, an imposing structure interrupted my post-work drill. I stopped. Fellow Londoners glared and pushed past me.
The Fishmongers‚Äô Hall had always stood there ‚Äď since 1671 to be precise (though its older site had been destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666) ‚Äď and on first encounter, its distinguished pillars and large windows had enthralled me. And as it is with several objects of desire, my eyes glazed over with each daily encounter.
That evening, the building on its own accord stole my attention. The Fish Hall‚Äôs windows shone brightly; I‚Äôve never seen its insides lit up for passersby to see. Ornate gold frames cradled grandeur paintings. Green iridescent walls boasted a rich tenor. The interior was made all the more vivid against a backdrop of winter‚Äôs dark night. While I yearned to know more of its prosperous history, I was perfectly happy to study its extravagance a bit longer. It was a moment of serenity amidst the hectic city buzz.
I learned later it was the Banquet Room that had me transfixed. A quick internet search led to a wealth of British history related to one fine building. As entertaining as it was to regard it online, I treasured being able to physically see its interior, if only from across the street; a secret moment no one else but the building and I seemed privy to.
I'm afraid I can be terribly sentimental.
To say that I experienced a similar 'Fish Hall' spell with London Hidden Interiors would be‚Ä¶ hypersentimental. Nonetheless, over 400 glossy pages provide a fascinating expedition of London‚Äôs select buildings and its inner core, some of which are closed to the public. The book divulges what lies inside famed prestigious icons, infamous structures and lesser-known frames. There are pubs, hotels, libraries and even a prison. The photo spreads are revealing and brilliantly shot while its accompanying commentary is detailed and compelling.
Flipping through London Hidden Interiors is like strolling through your favourite locale, taking cursory glances through windows to see how the neighbours have fixed up their front rooms ‚Äď except the book allows you to linger inside the house for much longer, scrutinising every fine detail as it pleases you. And, as it is in a gallery, you may choose to read notes explaining the history, context and materials used to create the masterpiece.
I have revisited my copy of the book for second and third (and more) helpings, discovering something new each time. It has become a daunting task choosing a favourite.
Do I consider my affections for libraries and appoint St. Paul‚Äôs Cathedral Library ‚Äď a mouthwatering chamber for any casual bibliophile?
But what about Drapers‚Äô Hall, a Victorian livery hall whose ‚Äúgrandiloquent suite of rooms‚Ä¶make Buckingham Palace seem homely‚ÄĚ?
Or perhaps I favour something urban. Take Battersea Power Station, notorious for its silhouette and uncertain future. London Hidden Interiors savours its post-war Control rooms before the building (potentially) ceases to be.
No. I think it must be 18 Folgate Street ‚Äď a building I had often passed by, utterly oblivious to the curiosities that are scattered within.
What of The Wolseley‚Äôs handsome layout? Or Gordon‚Äôs Wine Bar‚Äôs intimate cellar? Both have fed and watered me in the past - dare I be biased?
Maybe I prefer the piece on the Old Operating Theater due to its medicinal (and mildly macabre) history. It's another of the book's few that I've had the pleasure of visiting years back, when I was still green to London-living. I had attended a creative writing workshop in the theatre. How wonderful it was to be served a dose of warm nostalgia (albeit, with a side of cringe) from a single image.
Or, could my favoured interior be the one that tops my to-do list? Like South London‚Äôs Rivoli Ballroom?
The book showcases over 200 reasons why I‚Äôve promised myself to London. Readers less-emotionally attached to London will undoubtedly find the book entertaining. It is the architectural history version of a bare-it-all photo spread and it's every bit as tantalising.
I am determined to breathe in more of London, likely using London Hidden Interiors to guide my quest. There are various locations open to the public, and London hosts open house days once a year for some of the book‚Äôs more private selections.
Architecture, design and rich history surround me, whether I‚Äôm acquainted with it or not. I‚Äôm all the more enamoured when London brings it to my attention but just as ecstatic when literature about London spells it out for me.
London Hidden Interiors -- written by Phillip Davies and photographs by Derek Kendall -- is available here. Images are provided by Atlantic Publishing.
I eye up the jacket, front to back. I study its weight. If permitting, I run my fingers across a textured front, responding to each dent or bulge. Then, I feel its pages using a swift and expert flick of the thumb. Perhaps I open the cover to hear the crisp crack in its spine.
I literally judge books by their covers. And it is no matter if I‚Äôve already read the book.
Imagine then my delight when I saw that Penguin Books have released a series of George Orwell's work with brand new covers designed by David Pearson; how cheeky of them to seduce readers like this:
I have fallen hard for Pearson‚Äôs take on Nineteen Eighty-Four, and I've not even laid a hand on it on it yet.
Both title and author are concealed by two bold black strips. This blatant censorship is highly fitting as what lies beneath is undoubtedly a thoughtcrime.
While the ever watchful Big Brother eye of past covers have similar implications, I can't think of anything more enticing to a reader than material that is visibly forbidden. It could take a practiced caress of the debossed letters ‚Äď a luxury unavailable online ‚Äď to determine the book's title.
Meanwhile, other newly designed covers in the series include Animal Farm (worthy of another blog post on its own), Homage to Catalonia, Down and Out in Paris and London, and Politics and the English Language.
The Great Orwell series is now available on Penguin.co.uk.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs beginning to look a lot like Christmas,‚ÄĚ sings the retro jukebox inside the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel.
The new addition is an old-fashioned piece stocked with plenty of Christmas cheer. Guests of the hotel may cosy up to the jukebox and choose their favourite festive melody. The Andaz jukebox can belt out Bing Crosby's classic Little Drummer, Mariah Carey's saccharine All I Want For Christmas Is You, the bittersweet Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and many more classic favourites. Each song is ¬£0.50 a piece and all proceeds from the jukebox go to Providence Row, a charity supporting London's homeless. So eat, drink and sing your socks off for a good cause this Christmas.
The vintage jukebox will be stationed in the hotel's lounge until 28th December. Meanwhile, afternoon tea and cocktails will reflect the merriest of seasons in 1901.
For more information, visit: www.andaz.com
Croatia has pulled me in by the hips, ran her hands up my back and tilted my face towards hers. She used Hideout Festival to lure me in and I was hopelessly seduced.
It was the perfect premise: a relaxing beach holiday cushioned with ample dancing at the hands of Ricardo Villalobos, Jamie Jones, Four Tet and Caribou, Soul Clap and ohsomuchmore. Set on the Isle of Pag, Hideout ran from Friday, June 29 until Sunday, July.
My friends and I packed in a few more days allowing a full week of hedonism on the Adriatic coast. Like pilgrims we persevered from London towards our dance mecca joining 10,000 other revellers on the notorious Zrńáe Beach where there was no escaping the Croatian heat. Her smothering warmth reached over the balcony, past the wooden shutters and into our un-air-conditioned rooms. But, a blessing in disguise: High temperatures demanded the sweat of last night‚Äôs debaucheries, drawing out any dreaded hangovers. Coupled with an omelette and fresh orange juice? We‚Äôd be as right as rain.
Hideout had set the pace with several warm-up parties ahead of Friday‚Äôs official start. It was easy to succumb to Thursday‚Äôs taste of the festival. On our first traipse down Zrńáe Beach (Ibiza‚Äôs worthy opponent) we visited the white washed Aquarius. It stands boldly in the centre and is colossal in size but divided in half (aptly named ‚Äú1‚ÄĚ & ‚Äú2‚ÄĚ). We ignored the left sweep of the beach to pop into the second of the three major open-air clubs. Papaya, the handsomest and largest of the three, greeted us with glowing pools. We walked past them delving deeper and deeper into the rabble of ravers. Our beacon ‚Äď Heidi.
She induced great verve from the dance floor. The crowd‚Äôs energy surged beyond Papaya and rippled through the Adriatic Sea. It satisfied an evening‚Äôs desires while tomorrow‚Äôs fancies revolved around a boat. Party vessels drifted out to sea and back during the Hideout affair. Our ride, the Phantasy Sound boat, sailed off early Friday evening with its precious cargo ‚Äď Erol Alkan, Jackmaster, Stopmakingme and People Get Real. Aeroplane, though not scheduled, was smuggled onto the boat too.
As the land faded behind us, hot beats caused us to sway while fervent sunbeams forced us to glisten. It was a scorcher of a party on so many levels. But lo! The sun, poised like a maiden, blushed until the heavens reddened in kind. We watched with mirth until she graciously bowed out. It was nearly 9 pm when the boat docked and Hideout opened in only a few hours‚Äô time. We freshened up (and snoozed briefly) before reaching Zrńáe Beach. Once there we sauntered from Four Tet and Caribou to Aeroplane to Kerri Chandler ... My man and I stepped out of Chandler‚Äôs set and plopped down on the beach. We didn‚Äôt feel the need to hasten. We were too transfixed by the sun‚Äôs rise up to the skies.
The next day‚Äôs return to Zrńáe Beach (after a standard omelette and orange juice fare) affirmed the rumours whispered ‚Äď the beach presents herself differently beneath a glowing sun. Waters of azure stretched towards the silhouettes of faraway land. Soft waves glided up to the pebbly coast. Sun-kissed bodies, locals and guests alike, were draped lazily over sun loungers. Papaya held the choice pool-party that afternoon: Hot Creations bash featuring a favourite, Jamie Jones. We gingerly stepped in. The reverberating sounds dominated. Everywhere you turned, bikini bods danced. It was a strange sight to behold in daylight; I couldn‚Äôt stomach the crowded swimming pools where I witnessed a few tangerine Barbie and Ken dolls festering. As good as the music was I wasn‚Äôt interested in being poolside. I longed for the sea and left as gingerly as I had entered.
In a matter of moments I was afloat the Adriatic, eyeing the cloudless sky.
Ashore, we lounged closest to Papaya where we heard the DJ sets perfectly. Further ahead, people swam. To the right, a daredevil bungee-jumped. On our left, a grandmother tapped her feet to Jamie Jones‚Äô set. Bliss. And then nightfall once more. The beach changed attire for the evening festivities. Glowing tents decorated her shore, soft light flickered from food vendors and clubs radiated against the dark sky.
We travelled through one dance floor to another. Maya Jane Coles reigned over Papaya, Shy FX had Aquarius 2 thumping, and Claude Von Stroke commanded our bodies in Aquarius 1. We manoeuvered through the throngs and planted our feet upstairs for a bird‚Äôs-eye look of Jack Beats and the stomping mass. We moved in unison until the sun woke up. In another fluid moment, we exchanged one club for another. It was Scuba's turn on the decks at Kalypso ‚Äď the third of Zrńáe‚Äôs finest. While Aquarius (1 & 2) and Papaya were phenomenal, it was here that I grooved easiest. Though less swish, Kalypso dared to be more colourful than her neighbours ‚Äď I had met my Zrńáe Beach match.
And on the Sabbath, a new day, we reassembled by yesterday‚Äôs lazy spot. To our aural delights, Papaya hosted the Mulletover pool party starring Nina Kraviz, Geddes and a tardy Seth Troxler. It being our last day, we vowed to gobble up as much of Hideout‚Äôs finale. This included a slight curiosity: Skrillex...We lasted two minutes, tops. Where Jack Beats had stormed through, Skrillex was quiet and weak. There really wasn‚Äôt much to hold our interest so we moved to Kalypso and SBTRKT restored loss vigour. Then, a migration to Papaya, where we remained for the majority of Ricardo Villalobos' set.
There is no mistaking Villalobos. He moves with a lazy gracefulness. After a drop at the decks, he‚Äôll ease his arms up, swaying them to the track, or maybe he‚Äôll carelessly alternate one shoulder for the other. And he is always sweaty, his dark hair matted against his forehead. It was infectious. I was sweaty too. My hair, scrunched, spilled over the right side of my face. My shoulders, loose, felt like they fell apart at the seams.
When day broke, we bid the Chilean-German DJ adieu and retreated to the opposite end of the beach.
Pearson Sound‚Äôs sunrise set complemented Kalypso's scene perfectly. We considered leaving Hideout on that high note when we spied a large basin being carried out. It was filled with bottles of vodka, whiskey, mixers, and ice ‚Äď preparation for a long haul. To our delights, Seth Troxler, Damian Lazarus and Subb-an all came out to play for Monday morning‚Äôs after party. I felt the bubbling excitement of a child who had just received a gift, the day after her birthday bash.
I remember Troxler dropping Si e spento il sole. The track was a refreshing break, a shower of smoother beats in anticipation of the dirtier and heavier sounds to come. There were a few glitches but it wasn‚Äôt long until all was sultry, sweaty and summery.
Now, at home in rainy London, I‚Äôm a lovesick teenager.
This Croatian summer fling was a treat; Hideout was unlike any other. There were boats, pools, pebbles and the sea. The people, gorgeous. The artists, stellar. They played club nights as opposed to a restrained 45-minute set. I appreciated the ease I had in floating in and out, from the party to solitude where I, vulnerable to the Balkan beauty, didn't stand a chance against her romances.
Photographs courtesy of Hideout Festival.
Follow the trail to Farr Festival for the weekend of the 27th-28th July. The countdown is on: ‚ÄúFour stages. Three days. Two nights. One unforgettable experience of getting lost in the woods...‚ÄĚ
I have this romantic notion of the woods: My imagination, dressed in a velvet riding cape, runs wild from tree to tree. The back of the gown trails swiftly over twigs, over stone, over soil. The sound of rustling tulle is the only thing heard until a curious echo resonates from far, far away. This sound repeats itself, in a hypnotic manner, and lures my imagination deeper into the forest.
In real life, I'll be stripped of the gown ‚Äď shorts are better suited although a baroque cape for the evening sounds divine. I know I‚Äôll be spellbound by the music at Farr ‚Äď that‚Äôs the blessed curse bestowed upon the party guests. There‚Äôll be fair maidens, prince charmings, and every gorgeous creature in between. I vow to dance with them all.
The Ransom Note vs Society Stage (JD Twitch (Optimo), Bicep, Hannah Holland, Terry Farley, Dan Beaumont, Trevor Fung (Balearic Sunset set), Thunder DJs) is where I‚Äôll likely stay. It is described as ‚Äúa summer‚Äôs day and late night love-in of house music and Balearic bliss‚ÄĚ ‚Äď a dreamy setting for a fairytale ending, no?
For tickets, click here.
Visit FarrFestival.co.uk for more information.
Langham Place is more than just a place to rest one‚Äôs head. There is a fitness studio for healthy living, several restaurants for wining and dining, ballrooms for celebrating and‚Ä¶a lobby for experiencing a space-time hiccup.
Hong Kong‚Äôs Langham Place is about to unveil an interactive new media art piece within its lobby. The piece, titled ‚ÄúBackstage: On Screen,‚ÄĚ checks in on 18th July for a private viewing, and will be open to the public from 19th July through to 30th August.
Created by award-winning Indian artist Sumakshi Singh, ‚ÄúBackstage: On Screen‚ÄĚ is a journey through a realm, within another realm.
The viewer is invited to step through a space created to look like the artist‚Äôs studio. Pieces of this installation are painted to look as though they belong to a skewed version of our reality. Furthermore, the viewers, now a part of the installation, will be projected onto a live screen ‚Äď the angle from which they are filmed offers yet another dimension of the complex art installation.
It is a strange journey ‚Äď one that asks for reflection on time, space and a hyper-reality. ‚ÄúBackstage: On Screen‚ÄĚ first showcased in the city‚Äôs art fair, Art HK 2012, and now travels to Langham Place to take part in the hotel‚Äôs Art-in-Residence programme.
‚ÄúEngaging our guests through new art is a Langham Place specialty,‚ÄĚ says Shaun Campbell, General Manager for the hotel. "By combining our iconic, contemporary art alongside creative masterminds such as Sumakshi Singh and embracing new innovations in art, keeps our guests stimulated and inspired."
Images courtesy of Langham Place Hotel. *
For more information, click here.
London‚Äôs Darkroom has released a slash in prices against all coveted items, including products already on sale. Shoppers strolling through Bloomsbury or surfing through the site will find the 25% discount automatically applied when they are at the checkout stage.
The sale is a real treat. Darkroom‚Äôs collection includes pieces of artwork disguised as functional items, or functional items disguised as artwork. A necklace is gorgeous clasped around a neck and handsome hung up on wall; the cushion is a stand-alone piece on the sofa, but serves comfort to a tired back. There are items which are reminiscent of exotic terrain: bold print and exciting textures, while sleek and straightforward products juxtapose.
And all these items are vulnerable to the limited-time sale going on now.
To shop, visit darkroomlondon.com.
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