22 Jan 2009

Tonight I rendezvoused with my amigo querido Javier De Frutos at Century Club. Century is Javier's Soho sanctuary and casa de casa. When he enters the club everyone welcomes him like a scene from Cheers- directed by Pedro Almodóvar. This evening he's accompanied by satirical composer Richard Thomas and musician-come-viking-come-cook Lore Lixenberg.

When Lore sleeps she dreams of food. On waking she writes down the recipes and then cooks them- with some considerable success!


Richard is best known for penning the score for 'Jerry Springer the Opera.' Last year he collaborated with Javier on 'Cattle Call' (a culled classic) and now they were cooking up another feast.

Conversation journeyed the four corners of absurdity and on the strike of 12 I slipped away- my pumpkin was due to depart from platform fifteen.

The unremittingly fabulous
Patricia Lima set her trap. Could a show she was spinning prick my creative epidermis? The bait was the latest offering from Harry Lewiston's cadaverous contemporary - Gunther von Hagens. Dissect the anatomist and you'll find a pathological showman coursing the veins.


 The Beuys parodying-persona-snatcher was back with Body Worlds and a mission to 'encourage people to strive to live with inspiration'.
Inside the O2 we're plunged into black and funneled past glass coffins and spot lit displays. For our edification we are infotained by corpses painstakingly contrived into bathetic metaphors. Flayed gymnasts, apocalyptic equestrians and slam-dunking carcasses make learning real easy. The asinine posturing of the 'plastinates' strips away dignity and washes it down with a caustic soda.

The 'incredible marvel of engineering' of the brain display takes it's cue from Hannibal. A man sits at a chessboard with his brain exposed like a thousand-year egg. Has the Lecterer lost it? Body Worlds poses the question- where does exhibition end and sideshow begin?


 I have no qualms about consensual, ethically sourced cadavers on public display. Like the other 25 million visitors to Body Worlds, I too am seduced by an innate morbid curiosity. I've tried to out-stare the myriad of eyeballs on display at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. The ironic fate of body-snatcher-come-specimen William Burke, his sectioned head decaying in a glass tank, drew a dark chuckle. I have stood in the cool of the whitewashed galleries and contemplated the prematurely ejaculated lives of the babies- expressed from the amniotic fluid into preserve jars of formaldehyde. Their dead eye's, bonded to the glass , begged the question 'what are you looking at?' I'd have the answer, if I were a surgeon. I was looking for a freak show but I was in the wrong venue. 

 Later a friend confessed that he was moved to becoming a pro-lifer when he encountered the embryos and newborn at Body Worlds. Was this an own goal or part of Gunther's game plan?

Carlos at Costa's

A Costa cafe was the nearest place to steal a moment. Carlos's punishing schedule never lets up and whenever a blue moon rises we seize the moment and shoot the breeze.
 When I first met Carlos Acosta 3 years ago all I knew was he was Cuban and Principal at the Royal Ballet-punto. Enlightenment came when we were locked together in a makeshift studio the size of a freight container. Over 2 days he taught me the difference between the Russian and French techniques and how the combination of disciplines gave him the competitive edge. I was privileged to a private performance of his ballet, folk, salsa and street moves. He danced with such carnal grace it was as if he'd made a pact with the devil, or a contract with Chang√≥.
 Back in the cafe conversation turned to current issues: the political machinations in Cuba, his performance as Spartacus and his ambitious plan to present, for the first time, the Royal Ballet in Cuba. Carlos recommended several books in an effort to educate me on the Cuban condition. One revelation was the account of a 103 year old cimarron- 'Biography of a Runaway Slave' by anthropologist Miguel Barnet. Was this a subconscious reference to his life of cultural servitude?
 We're keeping an eye on the lunar diary. It looks like our next encounter will be in another blue moon.

14 Jan 2009

touch 02

Then came Vladimir the bodyguard and Yevgenij, a student who took my hand and blew on it.

12 Jan 2009

touch 01


This entry introduces a theme that will reoccur throughout Auto Focus:

Irina was the first touched. We met in 2005 on a hypothermic October morning in St.Petersburg.


 In flawless English she introduced herself as my guide and translator. Emissary and face of modern Russia, Irina was the consummate professional. Earnest and polite, to the point of prim, she never let her personality colour the facts.

Irina lit the touch paper.