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Monstershroom and the Bugs

7 June 2017

Properganda June 2 – a Properganda night at The Others, Stoke Newington – was the occasion of Estelle Riviere Monsterlune and her assorted ludicrous caricatures crawling forth, for one night only, in the extraordinary manifestation-cum-infestation of Monstershroom and the bugs. And on this variety night of music, film, performance, dance and poetry, I was to be… their “sexy flower”.

I arrived at 8pm, pretty much as the doors opened, and found the venue already busy with performers. Unusually, it seemed I was last to arrive, but I wouldn’t be needed till gone 9pm so I settled onto a sofa with a glass of wine and witnessed the early action. This included short Super 8mm cinema by Thomas Eikrem and a quirkily entrancing piece of live soundscaping by the boldly spectacled Julie Rose Bower.


Julie Rose Bower – © Zac Zenza

The room was full of strange yet friendly faces; and masks. Next projected on the wall was The Secret Video Diary of a Fetishist by Zac Zenza. Zac was present and, as ever, lovely company. During an interval that followed, I slipped into my flower dress for the first time and Estelle trimmed it for length. Meanwhile, Akimbo Moonchild was a giant peach and Mai Nguyen Tri performed butoh dance – sadly I missed both.


‘The Secret Video Diary of a Fetishist by Zac Zenza’


© Zac Zenza


Getting flowered up backstage


Akimbo Moonchild – © Zac Zenza

Mai Butoh Dance – © Zac Zenza


Mai Butoh Dance – © Elodie Gonnard

The Bugs

Come twenty past ten, it was time for Monstershroom and the bugs to be oh-so weird and wonderful. The bugs first: Ben Hell was the black-masked, stripey jumper-wearing meta-musical master orchestrator at keyboards; Joe Newton, the silver soundsmith at his side; Takatsuna Mukai, the technicolour caterpillar technically on violin. If they had music in mind, it emerged magically as a strange skittering insect symphony.


© Elodie Gonnard


© Zac Zenza


© Antonia Penia


© Zac Zenza

Monstershroom

All costumes were Estelle’s very own handmade creations, and greatest of these was her astonishing Monsterlune mushroom apparel. Before revealing it, however, she first lingered out of view and added vocal accompaniment to the bugs’ bizarre buzz. When eventually she appeared before her audience, I could hear a boom of approval from my backstage seclusion. Voice and vibrations lilted and lunged in husky harmony.


© Zac Zenza


© Zac Zenza


© Antonia Penia


© Zac Zenza

Sexy flower

I had been given just three instructions by Estelle for my own participation in the work. First, I was to wait three minutes before following her out onto stage. As a life model, I am accustomed to counting down minutes, but to be extra certain I watched the clock on my phone. Time barely seemed to pass. When the third minute elapsed, a six foot four bloom sashayed elegantly into view.


© Zac Zenza


© Zac Zenza


© Zac Zenza


© Zac Zenza

My second instruction had been to contrive special movements like a flower. Not as in swaying whilst rooted to one spot, but… well, Estelle figured I would know what to do. I reckoned graceful and lithe was the way to go. And go I did; my third instruction was to rove about and get amongst the audience, weaving barefoot between sofas, rows of glamorous knees and the occasional trailing cable. Cameras flashed all around.


© Elodie Gonnard


© Elodie Gonnard


© Elodie Gonnard


© Elodie Gonnard

Together, the five of us were Monstershroom and the bugs – two boggle-eyed insects, one dazzling caterpillar, one exotic fungal chanteuse, and a rangy dancing luneflower. Our public loved us, and why wouldn’t they? Such refined buggery is a precious treat, even on a Friday night in Stoke Newington. This surreal indulgent hedonism lasted for an intense quarter of an hour.


© Antonia Penia


© Zac Zenza


© Zac Zenza


© Antonia Penia


© Zac Zenza

Applause at the end was profound. Estelle and Ben had created yet another exquisite visual and aural banquet of performance art cabaret. Happiness was shared and many photographs taken as we unravelled ourselves to the sounds of the last acts: Madame Sex Art poetry of Anne Pigalle and a closing outburst of radical folk from Corneilius Crowley. It had been a special gathering. Misfit perfection personified.

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