Monday, 5 November 2012

Ringside


Regular readers will remember my time hanging out and interviewing the great William Regal a few months ago (and if you haven't seen that post, you can read it and download the interview podcast here). We keep in touch, and last week he let me know that WWE was swinging through London on one of their crazy European tours, so on a freezing but sunny Sunday, off we went to Wembley Arena to see the show and hang out with one of the best old pros in the business.

It was a fun show, but the best match for my money was the one Regal was in. How can you not love a man who cheats his way through a match, does an old Catweazle gag (Seen here at about 8.30), and then finds a reason to do the Morecambe and Wise dance? Put that together with some of the best technical skills anywhere, and the absolute greatest facial expressions bar none, and frankly, if you're not a fan, then you're no friend of mine!

Chatting to him afterwards is a lesson for anyone involved in the entertainment business. There's no swagger. Nothing is taken for granted. he's soft-spoken, and thoughtful about the art form and his place in it. And he's very aware of the financial sacrifice that families have to make to come to one of these shows - he knows times are tough, and he knows that wrestling has always had a predominately working class fan base, so he makes sure to deliver the absolute best performance he can. I'm not sure I've ever met a performer for whom giving the audience value for money is so important. There's a few out there who could learn from that.

It was interesting to hear him talk about how he finds performing on home turf tricky. He's usually a heel - that's wrestling speak for a bad guy - but when he's working in his home country, the audience won't let him be - they just refuse to boo him - so he has to be a good guy (a "face"), which he finds a little challenging. You wouldn't know that from watching though, and by god, the love in that arena for him was a beautiful thing. As his entrance music hit, the guy behind me in the audience literally shouted to himself "Wait..that's regal's music..is he? IT'S REGALLLL!"

So the combination of good seats and a smuggled in zoom lens, meant that I could do a little shooting, which are the images that accompany this post. Hope you like.








The last time I was at Wembley Arena was last year, when I was asked to shoot a few portraits of some of the TNA wrestlers - if you're interested, you can see the results of that shoot here.

Oh, and finally, don't forget to mark Feb 28th in your diary. Announcement soon. Promise.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Stories from the Pitch, and other places



Had a lovely afternoon shooting some promo images for the very funny Ria Lina. Had the pleasure of sharing a venue with her at this years Edinburgh fringe, and it was a great watching her show get tighter and tighter every night until I sat there in the back row on the final night of the fringe and watched her just kill from start to finish. Nice.


Had an interesting weekend of gigs - did a show for an entirely Christian audience. I initially felt a little unsure about doing this one - I'm an atheist, and worried about the correct-ness of me doing the gig, both from my perspective and from theirs. I decided that if I'm wanting the more evangelical Christians to be tolerant of others, then the least I could do would be to be tolerant of them, so I took the gig. Turned out that on a weekend full of gigs, most of them to at venues that would be considered much cooler, they were by far the nicest audience, and I was glad I did the show.

Although, it wasn't entirely without amusing incident. It was a circus themed show, so during the evening they had video projectors showing a looped montage of circus and variety acts on the walls of the function room. They left these videos running while I was performing, which meant that halfway through my act, I look up to see my old pal Piff staring down at me..


In other news, I did an interview for the Busker Hall Of Fame podcast, with excellent fellow Mike Wood. I see my days as a working full-time street performer to be probably over, although it's always there if the gigs dry up, and that's not in any way a joke. Having said that, I look back on my years street performing with a mix of fond nostalgia and gratefulness not to be doing it any more. Throughout the ups and downs of that life, though, it taught me a hell of a lot of the things I use most nights when I step onto a stage. I had a lot of fun doing the interview, and if you want to listen to it, click below.


Finally, some of you have been asking if I plan to do any more Mat Ricardo's London Varieties next year. The answer is yes, I certainly do. I'll have some very exciting news to announce in the next couple of weeks, but until then, I'll say this - mark out February 28th in your diary. :)