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Monsterlune moments at Loudest Whispers 2016

13 February 2016

First it was the turn of dancing Jesus. He emerged from Estelle’s bedroom clothed in bluey-violety tiger-striped stockings, orange patterned hot pants, a black embellished silk top, shimmering pink cape, turquoise mask with wig, and a silvery spiky cap. All of us assembled in the living room had seen drawings of the design but nothing could be so striking as the real thing.

OK, who wants to go next?” asked Estelle. “Go on, Steve,” urged Esther.

Part 1 – a fitting

We were at the home of Estelle Riviere Monsterlune – artist, designer, maker of costumes, specialist in masks and hoods – for a fitting of outfits. It was the Sunday before her Friday fashion show. Eleven of us would be modelling with Estelle on an extravagant catwalk at opening night of the 2016 Loudest Whispers art exhibition for Camden and Islington LGBT history month. I stepped up to try on my garments.

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Upon re-emerging, I was resplendent in a shin-length figure-hugging sleeveless purple dress, furry-orange fringed and heavily adorned. I wore purple gloves up to my biceps, a purple mask with elephant trunk and tusks, and a pink beret with badges and silver spikes. I was comfortable, more mobile than anticipated, and definitely in the spirit of my transformation. The outfit was greeted with universal approval.

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Erika and Nico were next – both lithe and elegant – followed by Zoe and Esther. Zoe’s accessories concealed a hidden surprise, while Esther was most flexible in her slinky black bondage catsuit with its startlingly enhanced nipple-chained breasts – a perfect ensemble for Esther’s sleekly supple poise and movement. Other colourful characters followed. We knew we would have a lot of fun with this.

Part 2 – room 6

Come the big day, I met Esther outside King’s Cross station and together we walked to St. Pancras Hospital carrying our outfits in plastic bags. Our venue for the evening was to be the hospital’s conference rooms. “Do you know the way in?” asked Esther. “Let’s follow that person with pink hair,” I suggested. “Roz!!” cried Esther. By chance we had arrived at the same time as Estelle’s partner.

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© Estelle Riviere Monsterlune
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© Estelle Riviere Monsterlune

We followed Roz into the building, through the doors to the art exhibition, and swiftly detoured upstairs to conference room 6. Here we found Estelle together with models who’d arrived early, plus some mutual friends – including wonderful creative fetishist, Zac Zenza – and other extraordinary characters. In the middle of the room was a big table laden with drink and snacks; Esther added popcorn and wine.

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© Estelle Riviere Monsterlune
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© Estelle Riviere Monsterlune

We popped downstairs again for a look around the bustling colourful exhibition before getting changed. Among the artworks, I was flabbergasted to find a triptych of me by Luis Ruocco, created when I’d modelled at the Beehive last summer. All around us were glamorous folk, photographers, video interviews with the glitterati – it would have been nice to linger a little longer, but we were due back upstairs.

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Models in the conference room were beginning to put on their finery, so we returned to our designated spaces at the table and followed suit. For the first time we were seeing everyone dressed up in the same place. Drawings of our outfits were stuck to the wall in the order we would take to the catwalk. Estelle flitted amongst us, smiling serenely as she made small adjustments to her works.

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© Charlotte Erika

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© Charlotte Erika

Part 3 – the catwalk

Our original intention was to be discrete and pass unobserved through the exhibition crowds to where the catwalk would begin. Ha! No chance. Without covering coats or robes, we strode brazenly through the whooping throng and crammed in as best we could behind inadequate screens to await a grand Monsterlune introduction from our compère, Mzz Kimberley.

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Estelle © Zac Zenza
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Delphine © Zac Zenza
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Nico © Zac Zenza
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Esther © Zac Zenza

Zarah‘ by Nina Hagen played and Estelle made her entrance, swanning about with magnificent affected grace while the audience adored her. At the moment in the song where glass breaks and a beat kicks in, we were all to follow, one after another, with Roz timing us to make our entrance at 22-second intervals. If I was ever going to feel nervous then this was the moment, but I was loving it too much.

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Steve © Zac Zenza
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Pauline © Zac Zenza
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Joe © Zac Zenza
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Psyche © Zac Zenza

After Estelle came Delphine, then Nico, and then it was Esther’s turn. How frustrating to be without my glasses and hidden out of sight when I would have loved to watch her in full provocative erotic swing. After 22 seconds, I followed her out and we indulged in an embrace, en passant as she returned. I now had the catwalk to myself; suddenly I felt clunky and inelegant. But, hey, I was a purple bondage elephant. Go me!

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Zoe © Zac Zenza
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Patrick © Zac Zenza
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Erika © Zac Zenza
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Jesus © Zac Zenza

Last to emerge were a splendidly poised, graceful Erika, and finally our dancer, Jesus. They entered to the sounds of ‘Heroes‘ by David Bowie – very much appreciated by the audience, so soon after the great man’s demise. We all returned to the catwalk for a wild group celebration at the close, and then Estelle took her bow in the company of anyone who could find room enough to join her. Wonderful moments.

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Monsterlune © Zac Zenza

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Esther, Nico, Delphine, Zoe, Estelle, Erika, Jesus © Zac Zenza

Part 4 – after show

Back among the mad throng we were the centre of noise and attention. Many wanted photos taken with, or of, us. We revelled in our fleeting celebrity. Esther and I tried to kiss but the best we could manage was to touch tongue-tips through our masks. She was eventually whisked away for a video interview while I hung back, pushing popcorn and marshmallows through the narrow opening into my mouth. Classy.

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Esther © Sue Kreitzman
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Steve © Sue Kreitzman

We were surrounded by familiar faces. There was Zac Zenza, of course, and Loulou Reloulou, who I’d shared a life art booking with in Herne Hill, and Amazing Mouse Amanda Hull, and we later found out that Jenny of Leytonstone life drawing was somewhere in the building, masked like us. Esther had wanted me to meet more of her magical friends, to immerse further into this scene, and I loved her for it.

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Nawashi Murakawa © Alys Alice
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Zac Zenza © Looby Love

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Erika, Estelle, Steve © Amanda Hull

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Esther
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Steve

Despite all the fun, inevitably the crowds started to thin out, both upstairs and down. We reluctantly changed out of our gorgeous Monsterlune clothes. Most of our group would be heading up the road to The Constitution pub, and we were up for that. At the bar I got us a bottle of wine, and we mingled around as even more familiar faces poured in through the doors.

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Jesus, Esther, Steve © Sue Kreitzman

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Steve and Esther

Since I began nude modelling and art performance more than six years ago, I’ve been to extraordinary places and taken part in astonishing events. Esther had modelled for her good friend Estelle many times before, so through her I was offered the chance to savour this whole new experience. It was a privilege to work with such talented people, and a deep joy to share it with Esther.

Thank you, Esther. Merci, Estelle Riviere Monsterlune!

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