Whimsy At The Neverland BurlesqueSaturday, December 08, 2012
|Blood Alley Quartet & Goldie Monroe|
Top, left David Olajide, bass, Gus Vassos guitar and vocals
Below, Randy Bowman drums, Goldie Monroe & Anthony Walker guitar & vocals
My first email address in the mid 90s was firstname.lastname@example.org. I remember that this dial-up service was spotty at best but I could call a techie on 4th Avenue which was where the wimsey headquarters were and he would say, “ Hi Alex, I know why you are calling. It's just pouring here on 4th and we have no lights. You are going to have to wait for the power to come back.” I would say goodbye and patiently wait for wimsey to come back.
Now there is definitely an h missing in that wimsy but with wimsey.com long gone I feel that what I would call Whimsical Vancouver is long gone, too.
In the mid 80s writer Les Wiseman, an ecdysiast enthusiast of note and I tried to figure how to sell Vancouver Magazine editor Mac (now known as Malcolm) Parry a story on Vancouver strippers. Wiseman came up with the idea of focusing on the money side and how these exotic dancers were loaded with cash. The bait was taken and we did the story. Parry did not throw all caution to the wind and instead of putting my photograph of a stripper in a champagne bucket shaped tub on the cover put a picture of my cat with the headline, “One Cat's Fight Against Cancer by Sean Rossiter”.
In the late 70s Wiseman had purchased an ill fitting and cheap suit and shown up at the Vancouver Magazine office. I was there. He asked receptionist Maja Grip if he could see the editor (Parry). Grip did not even ask if he had an appointment but indicated him to go up the stairs and turn right and go to the first office. I followed. From the outside of the office I heard Wiseman say, “Your magazine needs a column on rock music.” Parry answered, “Go and write it.” And that was the beginning of the legendary In One Ear in which Wiseman wrote about obscure local punk or alternative scene bands and of groups from abroad that were never mainstream. Borrowing from his idol Hunter S. Thompson, Wiseman dubbed me Lenso the Argentinian Lensman and often began sentences when he talked to me, “As your attorney…” One of the whimsical paradoxes of Parry’s Vancouver Magazine, was a cover article on Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips and inside there was a neat In One Ear on Johnny Thunders with my pictures.
Parry was not the only one to accept whimsy. There was Georgia Straight editor Charles Campbell who was cautious in always lawyering any investigative articles before publication but who often fell for stuff like writer John Lekich and I showing up at his office (no security, no reception, no closed doors) and saying, “We want to do a piece on a beautiful blonde who says she is going to be famous some day,” or, “We want to do a piece on a beautiful brunette who used to be in a famous local TV program called Nite Dreems.” Campbell would think for a few seconds, with lots of hem and hawing and then he would say, “I should not be doing this, but go and do it.” And we did.
I remember doing a story for Harvey Southam’s Vancouver business magazine Equity that was called Sex Sells (and yes, you guessed it, it was about strippers).
Later on I caught on that most local editors would go for any idea if it came in threes. An idea on a couple who collected toasters became a story on three collectors for the Straight.
I sold a story to Parry in which this was my pitch, “I am tired of reading about a set of twins, one living in Miami and the other in Prince George and both own by sheer accident pink Cadillacs. I want to do a story on twins in which my family doctor will write a short essay defining exactly what twins are and with all the relevant statistics.” I was out the door with the assignment.
During the height of Wiseman’s In One Ear column there was a young man called Mike who once told me that he would wait with pleasant expectation the delivery of Vancouver Magazine on his doorstep.
If I could go back to Mac Parry’s office today (Vancouver Magazine now specializes on lists of the best 25 restaurants of Vancouver and the 25 most important decision makers of our city) I would say, “There is this rock quartet that has musicians that have been playing for 30 years and one of them is the legendary virtuoso guitar player Tony Baloney. Another played drums for The Subhumans. Another was a lead singer for a punk band called the Actionauts and the fourth is a solid bass player whose brother is Michael Olajide, the boxer we once put on the cover of our magazine. And that is not all the quartet features a statuesque blonde, 6ft tall who belts out songs while taking most of her clothes off.” I have no doubt that Parry would have no reservations and he would assign me for the job. And Campbell after some he-hawing would do the same.
I have personally contacted the now not-so-young man who waited for his copy of Vancouver Magazine. He is now the popular music editor for a local arts weekly and directly asked him if the folks at the Blood Alley Quartet could contact him. He said yes, particularly since he remembered Tony Baloney and told me that the former Subhuman’s drummer had repaired his fridge. I stressed that this was solid sounding band with good original music. To date the quartet and their monthly Neverland Burlesque Show (next one December 15) at the Russian Hall on 4th Avenue, has yet to receive any mention (but they have still managed to have a full house).
I believe the reason for the non mention is that wimsey and whimsy are all but gone from this city.
But then today I noticed for the second time a quarterly magazine called
SAD MAG . It is full of whimsy, good photography and lively writing. Could things just be improving?
Blood Alley Quartet
A Newbie and a Seasoned Performer at the Neverland Burlesque
My iPhone 3G at the Neverland Burlesque
Neverland Burlesque at the Russian Hall
Neverland Burlesque - Cute, Dainty, Sexy, Twirly & Dirty
The Mason-Hamlin Organ at the Russian Hall