Podcast #18: ‘A Real Rock ‘n’ Roll Cinema’: Talking cult film and cult spaces with Jane Giles of London’s former Scala Cinema

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In the latest Here’s Looking at You podcast Dr Ellen Wright talks with Jane Giles, programmer between 1988 and 1992 at the former doyenne of British repertory cinemas, The Scala cinema.

Located initially on the site of an old concert hall in Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, it moved later to its legendary second home in the heart of Kings Cross but very much retained its carnivalesque roots.

For those who are not familiar with this unique, anti-establishment institution, the Scala was THE British repertory cinema, specialising in midnight movie marathons and showing an eclectic range of classic and cult films during its all too brief existence, from high art to pure trash and all in between.

We talk about the cinema space itself, about the turbulent times through which this distinctive cinema existed and much more.

An excellent article in The Guardian, by former owner, Stephen Woolley, about the iconic cinema can be found here and further details about Jane’s book SCALA CINEMA 1978-1993 can be found here

*NOTE* Jane has asked me to point out that I made an error as to the names of the Scala cats. They were in fact called Huston and Roy NOT Huston and Lee! Thanks Jane and apologies!

Feel free to comment below on the podcast or the subjects it covers, ask questions, raise points or make suggestions for further podcasts and blogs. You can sign up to receive email notifications when subsequent podcasts and posts become available. Simply enter your email at the ‘Follow Blog’ notices at the foot or sidebar of the page. You can also access previous podcasts by clicking here or the ‘Podcast’ toggle at the top any page.

Music is by kind permission of The Shannon Reilly Trio. The full version of the song Trouble can be found along with its video here, and purchased on the Shannon Reilly Trio album also called Trouble.

The podcast was produced thanks to the post-production expertise of John Ashbrook of Radio Pictures.

The opinions expressed on this blog are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of the De Montfort University or any other employee thereof. Nor is De Montfort University responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied within this blog.

Cockettes Screening and director Q&A with David Weissman

It’s very exciting to hear that the University of East Anglia in Norwich are hosting a screening of the wonderful 2002 documentary ‘The Cockettes’ alongside an introduction and Q&A with it’s co-director David Weissman.   The film uses historic material alongside contemporary interviews with the surviving Cockettes to tell the story, and legacy, of this outrageous and idiosyncratic troupe of revolutionary transvestite performers and activists.

Their late night performances in San Francisco midnight movie theatres were drug-fuelled drag pantomimes of Hollywood Serials, B-Movies and Musicals, which prefigured (and out-did) the Rocky Horror Show; their films mobilised drag as a tool for political subversion, in a manner that was embraced and absorbed by the east coast ‘Dreamlanders’ Divine and John Waters whom the Cockettes gave both inspiration and support; the Kailflower commune they grew out of and the Free Press which operated alongside and to promote the Cockettes (and allied groups such as the Angels of Light) ran Free Food and social activist agendas comparable to the Black Panthers’ community programmes only with a healthy dose of LSD tinged neo-Situationism.  If that sounds like a heady 60s/70s brew, you’re beginning to get the idea.  

All the key players in the Cockettes – Hibiscus, Sylvester, Pam Tent, John Rothermel, Link Martin, Scrumbly Koldewyn, Irving Rosenthal, Rumi Missabu, Divine, Bambi Lake, Tomata du Plenty, Miss Harlow, Pristine Condition and others too numerous to mention, pop up as key footnotes in multiple countercultural movements over the following 50 years from hippies through Disco, Punk and Electro, the gay-rights and trans-rights movements, to Neo-burlesque and the new cabaret, while everyone who was anyone in the late 60s and early 70s wanted to be associated – or to distance themselves from – these lynch pins of the SF Haight Ashberry scene.

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https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-cockettes-qa-with-david-weissman-tickets-75671721155

Podcast #17:‘I have delusions of grandeur’: 45 minutes of loveliness with burlesque powerhouse Cece Sinclair.

In the latest HLAY podcast Dr Ellen Wright (and her friend Bobbie) talks with triple-threat burlesque powerhouse Cece Sinclair.

Cece has been on the British burlesque seen for a few years now and has a reputation for her professionalism, her polished performances and her sheer likeability.

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Podcast #14: ‘She’s a Woman!’: A conversation about gender, sexuality and performance with Miz Cracker

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image with kind permission of Miz Cracker

Yaaas Queen! After a short break Here’s looking at you returns and in this sickening podcast, Dr Ellen Wright has a discussion with thin, white and salty New York comedy queen and Ru Paul’s Drag Race alumni Miz Cracker.

Having met on the afternoon of Cracker’s last date on her sell-out UK It’s Time tour, Cracker wowed Ellen with her charisma, uniqueness, never and talent, not to mention just how sweet and frank she was.

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What makes a classic Christmas film?

A couple of weeks ago the lovely Jade, who works for the Phoenix cinema in Leicester approached me about recording a ‘Phoenix Talks’ podcast about why the film-going public loves a Christmas film, about nostalgia and what makes for a good Christmas film, and specifically about why the 1946, Frank Capra classic, It’s a Wonderful Life has, for many, become the ultimate Christmas film.

We talked about the film itself and why its so enjoyable but also the film’ broader context, how it was actually slow to take on a cultish following and why.

Every year, rather wonderfully, the Phoenix runs a fundraising screening of this Christmas stalwart, in aid of Leicester homeless charities. Hence Jade and myself chatting about the film.

I will say though, whilst Its a Wonderful Life is Wonderful, its not *quite* as wonderful a Christmas film as another Capra classic, Meet John Doe. If you haven’t seen it, I’d heartily recommend it, with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.

If you want a taster of Its a Wonderful Life, check out the trailer:

 

 

You can access the podcast via this link:

https://www.phoenix.org.uk/blog/what-makes-a-christmas-classic/

or on Soundcloud:

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast#13: Conversation with Pawlet Brooks about Leicester Black History Month

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In this podcast Dr Ellen Wright talks with Pawlet Brooks of the social enterprise Serendipity, who facilitate and coordinate Leicester’s annual Black History Month provision.


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The pair got together in the days immediately prior to the beginning of BHM so the mood was electric. They discuss Pawlet’s role at Serendipity, and the political function and the history of the BHM provision. Other topics broached include the politics of programming, the importance of giving a platform to minorities,  plugging Continue reading

Podcast #12: ‘There is just one word to describe her and that is fierce’: A Conversation about the BFI Joan Crawford retrospective with Anna Bogutskaya

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In this podcast, Dr Ellen Wright has a discussion with film programmer at the BFI Southbank, Anna Bogutskaya.
The pair discuss the current Joan Crawford retrospective, ‘Fierce: the untameable Joan Crawford’ and associated public talk that Anna programmed.

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Podcast#11: ‘I’m no Mary Whitehouse’: Jill Greenfield on calling out alleged sexual harassment and assault in the entertainment industry.

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As part of the Women in Hollywood symposium I talked with lawyer Jill Greenfield of FieldFisher solicitors, who is currently pursuing the civil case against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for alleged sexual assaults.

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An Afternoon With Joan Crawford

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Last week I got my finger nails painted ‘Jungle Red’ and headed down to the BFI Southbank to an afternoon of talks about the ultimate Hollywood star, subject of a major BFI retrospective and star of The Women (where her character Crystal wears the eponymous shade of polish) and Mildred Pierce – two Hollywood classics which will be on nationwide re-release next month – Joan Crawford.
The event was part of Fierce: The Untameable Joan Crawford, a two-month season ‘revelling in the formidable and versatile Hollywood star’ which runs between August and October and featured three female speakers (look mum, no mans!) Sight and Sound critic Pamela Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London Lucy Bolton and journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed. The three speakers all talked about their affection for Crawford and about various aspects of her stardom and performances. As I am just putting the finishing touches to a journal article about film star fan club magazines and invisible film star labour, which uses Crawford as a case study, I was keen to hear what these three experts had to say.

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Doing Women’s Film History and Practicing What We Preach in the Post-#MeToo Era.

I love the Doing Women’s Film History conference.  This year’s, held at Southampton and organised by Shelley Cobb, Linda Ruth Williams and Natalie Wreyford, is the fourth. I’ve been to the last three.

I love the conference’s atmosphere and whilst male scholars are great, to be frank, I like the fact that 98% of attendees are women. It makes for a very unique conference experience.

At This year’s DWFTH though, that atmosphere, which has always been special, was all the more so.
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Podcast#10 How to Get Ahead in Hollywood: Women’s Exploitation in the US Film Industry

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Inspired by the upcoming Women in Hollywood symposium and by broader current events in the US film industry, in this podcast I talk with American scholar and invited speaker at the symposium, Kerry McElroy. Kerry is an interdisciplinary scholar currently based at Concordia University in Montreal, who researches and writes on women’s exploitation in Hollywood. She has written on the casting couch, on ethnicity in Hollywood and much more.

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