Monday, 28 March 2011
Lovely day in Brighton mooching around, shopping and eating, topped off by a quick shoot with the frankly delightful Jenny Eclair back stage at the Komedia. We'd never really met before, although I have a sneaking suspicion we may have shared a comedy club bill somewhere in the late 80's, but she was ridiculously friendly, enthusiastic and open to my stupid idea of getting her to hold a childs toy purse I had bought in Forest Hill.
At one point she peered at the screen on the back of the camera to see what the shots looked like and said "oh look, I'm sweet". She certainly is.
Friday, 25 March 2011
Delightful afternoon in East London being fed champagne, listening to vintage rockabilly and shooting images of burlesque performer Emerald Fontaine for her Marie Antoinette act. Excellent makeup and nail work by Hula Nails.
Really fun, relaxed shoot. Miss Fontaine takes her stuff seriously, as everyone should, and had planned everything to down to the last cupcake, which meant that I could relax and concentrate on the images - which I'm really happy with.
Monday, 21 March 2011
Another in my ongoing project "Showgirls in mundane locations" brings us the mighty Beatrix Von Bourbon in a second hand bookshop.
The more I work on this project, the more it seems to mutate slightly. It started as a jokey way to put glamourous performers in dull places for simple witty shots, and almost immediately became a commentary on how performers see themselves, and how being cool, sexy and in a spotlight sits with the more boring aspects of life that everyone does on a daily basis.
But now it's changing again - the more I start to think about matching performers to locations, the more those locations seem to be fitting the performer and showing a little bit more of them. Beatrix, for example, is very well read and prides herself - correctly - on being able to get all academic on your ass about a variety of topics. Pity the fool who engages her about the gender politics of her chosen profession. So Housemans bookshop - "London's premier radical bookshop" - with it's shelves heaving under the weight of dog-eared old copies of Greer, Dworkin, et al, seemed perfect. Lovely people too.
bunny ears and copy of Satre: Model's own.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Studio shoot with Alex and Jim to create some promotional images for their double act "the Others".. Got this shot of Alex doing his umbrella/moustache schtick. He's been doing it for years, but never seen what it actually looked like. When I showed him he giggled for ages. Win.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Bunch of half naked women in my studio, and they brought cake!
Fun shoot for some promo images for the mighty Night of the Blue Stockings with Tricity Vogue, Abi Collins, Audacity Chutzpah and Rhiann Kennedy. Fine and crazy women, all.
For the top shot, we wanted to pastiche Polly Rae's Hurly Burly show poster which is all over the underground here in London at the moment. Hope she doesn't mind.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Quick collection of the reviews for my March 2011 London run.
"There aren't many jugglers around who'd warrant a whole show of their own but Mat Ricardo is a bit special. With technical skills out the wazoo, Ricardo can make you gasp - but more than that, he's got wit, charm and genuine personal engagement. Catch him."
Critics Choice Time Out London
"Audiences have learned to see juggling as a peripheral circus attraction – the fringe of the fringe, the crud of cabaret, the side of the sideshow. It takes more than dexterity to bring this timeless art to the forefront. It takes dazzling showmanship, spot-on comic timing and bucket loads of style. It takes Mat Ricardo.
The self-styled “gentleman juggler” has revised and updated his five-star one-man-act Fringe hit into a relentless hour of hilarious, jaw-dropping fun. Ricardo both revives and revamps the all-but-forgotten music hall genre of gentleman jugglers, the turn-of-the-century vaudevillians who set themselves apart from their gaudy circus counterparts by dressing up and using goblets, bottles and other assorted bar paraphernalia as props.
Like magic, fire-eating or any other physical stunt, juggling is seldom about the acrobatic feats. It’s how you dress it that makes the act seductive, and Three Balls and a Good Suit fully excels in that respect. Ricardo’s smooth wit drives the show at full speed, teasing the audience with swift anecdotes of a two-decade career spanning from street performances in Covent Garden to transatlantic cruise gigs. If you’ve ever wondered how jugglers get their death-defying arsenals past airport security checks, what upgrades the Internet has introduced to the art of heckling or why jugglers have never won Britain’s Got Talent, you’ll be both amused and outraged by the answers.
The actual tricks are as stunning for their mastery as for their ingenious conception. The only number with a soundtrack in the show (a nimble routine whose intimate subtlety “wouldn’t last five minutes on the streets”) sees Ricardo launching into an effortless, mesmerizing dance with a walking stick, his hat and an oversized cartoonish cigar to the suave crooner jazz of Tom Waits’s New Coat of Paint. Other times, the artist masterfully builds up the crowd’s anticipation with comic faux-blunders, as in the juggling-stripping routine where he proves taking off your coat can be more difficult than keeping three balls in the air. One of the most inventive gags of the show features Ricardo simulating a hidden magnet at the base of metal trays and kettles, playing on audience expectations with teasing simplicity. The spirited inversion is pure post-modern prestidigitation.
The show’s climax couldn’t possibly be other than his already classic cigar box-balancing act, where Ricardo defies gravity (“effectively overwrites it” would be more accurate) by piling up a glass of wine and said boxes on his trademark fat cigar. The mindboggling stunt is a feat of no less than perfect symmetry, of the sort that makes the impossible look easy, and has become a common fixture in cabaret bills throughout London. Combining straightforward, no-frills mechanics with his insouciant presentation, the number is a surefire popular favorite, eliciting uproarious applause with every performance.
Some of Ricardo’s autobiographical soliloquies attempt to provide a dramatic counterpoint to his otherwise uninterrupted acerbic frolicking, labouring on his difficult choices when balancing an essentially itinerant trade with family life. Those, however, are neither lengthy nor developed enough to produce striking poignancy. A much more moving pathos arises from his heartfelt defense of street theatre as the most honest art form he knows (“an international industry of self-employed, taxpaying professionals”). Defending with unregretful nostalgia the merciless arena where he made his bones, the vaudevillian draws upon his own experiences as well as the biography of past greats of the genre like W.C. Fields or the legendary Enrico Rastelli, arguably the only juggler to ever have been honoured with a public statue and a Vanity Fair obituary.
You’ll struggle to find an hour more tightly packed with cunning humour and spellbinding amusement. Three Balls and a Good Suit is more fun than most comedy shows, and certainly smells better than any circus I’ve been to. Mat Ricardo reportedly aims to show audiences something they’ve never seen before, but what does he know – this concise tour de force in spectacle is irrefutably best suited for repeated viewing."
Erotic Review Magazine
"Mat Ricardo is a world-class gentleman juggler. He has performed on three continents, he has headlined variety shows and he spent a month hanging out in Tokyo with the man who played Monkey in Monkey.
For a few nights at the Etcetera Theatre, Ricardo is presenting his one-man show, Three Balls And A Good Suit (Tales From The Life Of A Jaded Novelty Act). He starts by taking us back to his schooldays in Enfield where, given the career choice of being a social worker or an undertaker, Ricardo went with a third option: busking. He describes the life of a busker, seeing it an amazing business model which shouldn’t work but it does; if it was pitched on Dragon’s Den, “they would literally be queuing up to punch you in the cock.”
There’s no doubting Ricardo’s talent as a juggler or a comedian. Like famed juggler Enrico Rastelli, Ricardo concentrates his well-honed skills on only a few props – balls, cigar boxes, throwing knives – but conjures some fantastic entertainment from them. If you think this is hyperbole, consider this -every year, Britain’s Got Talent writes to him inviting him on and every year he declines gracefully: “I have no desire to be fodder in your shiny-floored light entertainment slaughterhouse.”
Even when a trick goes slightly wrong, Ricardo covers with a ready gag and a smile – damn it, this man is more likeable than an unexpected lottery win. And that’s his forte: whether he is describing sexual escapades on a cruise ship, the ultimate heckle or a case of mistaken identity with a Department of Homeland Security officer, he carries us with him as assuredly as any stand-up we’ve seen. Through this show, Ricardo wants to be able to give up the variety shows, the cruise ships and the travel and spend more time with his wife, his home and his cat. We wish him all the best with that."
Shot these portraits of the great and mighty Lisa Carrodus, with brilliant airbrush make-up by Bellviso. Wanted to update the classic "Rosie The Riveter" shot, and after struggling with the right flash set-up, we just used natural light and I think it came out pretty good.
Lisa is, of course, completely awesome and delightful. Fun fact: Google her name, and the first auto-suggest you get is "Lisa Carrodus Biceps". That's all you need to know, right there!
Well that was a hectic few weeks.
A few weeks ago, after a session with my therapist in which we talked about how best to handle the inevitable unpredictability of life, I came home to find a letter from our landlords telling us they wanted us out so they could sell our flat. I also had, on my desk, barely a half page of written notes that made up all I could remember from last years Edinburgh show, that I had agreed to re-write and put on in London. Fast forward to now, and the weekend in which I played my one man show to full houses was the same weekend in which we finally managed to buy the flat they tried to throw us out of. Epic win, as the kids say.
So, I need to thank some people.
Obviously, Lesley, for doing most of the heavy mental lifting mortgage-wise, while I held onto my head with both hands shouting "it's full of bees!", and for being, y'know, generally great, and making killer soups and roast dinners and not going mad.
Kirsty, who was technically my sound and lights lady, but also very quickly filled the role of sidekick. I spend most of time working alone, so it was great to have someone around to annoy and buy cakes for. Also, her Lady Di act is going to slay you.
CJ, Franco, Ben at Time Out, and everyone who gave me nice reviews and helped bring people's attention to the show - it means a lot. As a juggler, it's hard enough to get taken seriously or noticed at all, but you've all been very generous with your praise. Expect to see every last drop wrung out of your quotes!
And, everyone else.. It strikes me that the best part about doing a London run of one's own show is having a reason to invite a bunch of friends to drink downstairs in the pub with you afterwards. Every night I looked around and saw pockets of my friends from the various little worlds in which I live - there's a bunch of street performers I've known since the 80s, over there are some crazy cool burlesquers, here's a RADA trained writer/director/genius etc. A certain very well-known TV writer also came, which meant an awful lot. Nice to be able to do something that makes him laugh rather than the usual other way around.
I've had a bunch of conversations with the lonely teenage me (see pic at top of page) over the last few weeks. He'd be amazed at what my life has become, and so am I.
So, thanks everyone. I take none of this for granted, and enjoy every moment.