corset friday 15.10.2010


Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 7:35 am  Comments (33)  
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riding this one out

Most people know by now that Van Halen’s infamous “No brown M & Ms” stipulation in their rider was a way of checking that the promoter had taken note of safety requirements for their equipment. But there are still plenty of whimsical demands being made by other performers such as these ones tracked down by Danny Canak.


Iggy Pop once made a bizarre request for seven dwarves. To top it off, he also demanded American Spirit cigarettes (which he doesn’t smoke) and broccoli (which he hates). Questioned about this request, his response was that he wanted the broccoli so he could throw it in the bin – obviously to express his hatred for it. It’s anyone’s guess as to why he wanted the dwarves.


The diva award goes to Mariah “doesn’t do stairs” Carey. Some of her demands have included bunny rabbits, puppies, and kittens to keep her company backstage, Cristal champagne and a box of bendy straws to sip it with. She’s picky about the kind of water that may be kept in the dressing rooms. The rider states, “16-oz bottles of Evian are the only acceptable bottles of water.” There are many fascinating stories involving this diva. Once during a tour of China, she apparently needed four vehicles to carry her sixty pieces of luggage – including the 350 pairs of shoes that she brought with her. Another time she sent 20 assistants to redecorate the toilets in a music store before an album signing to ensure the toilet paper was in her preferred shade of pink.


Other memorable requests include: a monkey for the Bloodhound Gang, Flintstone vitamins for Christina Aguilera, “fresh ears of corn on the cob: cooked 3 minutes only” for Aerosmith, and a sea of alcohol for Queens Of The Stone Age. Then there’s the large supply of napkins for P Diddy with his name printed on all of them, corn starch for Nine Inch Nails, toilet seat covers for Live, two female dancers for “Weird Al” Yankovic to swivel with, and underwear for Moby and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even Modest Mouse ask for socks to be purchased for them as they “don’t do laundry” and throw them all out.


Britney Spears demands a private phone line in her dressing room for outgoing calls only and fines the promoter $5,000 for any unauthorised incoming calls. Hellbilly rocker Hank III has obviously taken a leaf out of the Van Halen book with his demands which include a monkey, a half-gallon of milk, cereal, Oreos, Lunchables, squeezable mustard and ketchup, and a great white shark. Limp Bizkit make a point about the lights in their dressing room having to be “dimmable” while the Beastie Boys demand mountains of condoms in assorted rainbow colours.


More riders found in Stuart Coupe’s book “The Promoters” include Sir Paul McCartney’s wine request which stipulate the vintage, order of service and temperature of his favourite tipple. The band Yes ordered six dozen cream pies for food fights backstage. The Police wanted a quality ping-pong table with spare paddles and balls of superior quality. Elton John demands large flower arrangements but NO chrysanthemums, lilies, carnations or daisies.


Slick 57 supplied Stuart with this rider:

2 cases of beer, 1 growler of chilled Tuaca, 6 burritos, 3 packs of Camel Light, 6 bottles of spring water, 1 each of the latest Maxim, Playboy, Blender, High Times and Rolling Stone, 1 pre-hung pinata with 120 ‘Truckers Love It’ brand ephedrine pills, 1 box 12 gauge shotgun shells, 1 full length mirror, 1 gross of 18 years+ local girls to hang out with (model types preferred), 2 couches and 1 big screen tv.


Stuart did get them the 2 cases of beer……..

Published in: on October 13, 2010 at 7:15 am  Comments (50)  
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when the hunter becomes the game

Back in the ’70s a young inexperienced promoter named Michael Roberts got the chance to bring Hunter S Thompson out to Australia.**


“Hunter was a chronic consumer of anything and everything, predominately fast drugs and Wild Turkey. From the moment he arrived in the country he didn’t hit the bed for five days. Thompson’s appearance at the National Press Club is now the stuff of legend. He sat at a table covered in a long white cloth beneath which he had placed multiple lines of white powder before the conference began. During the session he’d be asked a question, excuse himself, lean under the table then emerge, rub his nose for an embarrassingly long time then attempt to answer the question.


In another memorable incident, two medical students arrived at his hotel with a cylinder of laughing gas. They were both wearing white hospital smocks and the cylinder was almost as tall as they were. They just wheeled it into the foyer and went up in the lift to Hunter’s room as if it were the most natural thing in the world.


On day five Michael and Hunter were eating in the hotel restaurant. For Michael it was an early lunch but Hunter probably thought it was a late dinner. He ordered some soup and then, mid-conversation, collapsed head first into the bowl and passed out, not waking again for over 24 hours.


Thompson hated the city of Melbourne and was determined to leave it as soon as possible. There was a problem with his flight booking so a small private plane was chartered instead. He had to be dissuaded from smoking marijuana before boarding as the pilot would be able to smell it so he took LSD tabs instead. Checking that he had enough cocaine for the journey (3 grams was deemed sufficient) he stopped at the nearest bottle shop for two large bottles of tequila, 2 dozen bottles of Carlton Draught, glasses and ice.


The 6 seater took off with the party in full swing in the back seats. Thompson demonstrated how to urinate into a vomit bag as the plane had no toilets – then cautioned his fellow passengers to “make sure you tie the bag up tight and put the bastard somewhere where it can’t be ruptured.”

**from Stuart Coupe’s book The Promoters

Published in: on October 12, 2010 at 7:28 am  Comments (37)  
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mutton chops for me

When I was growing up in New Zealand we ate a lot of lamb roasts and mutton was considered suitable only for stews. You may remember Colonel D’Alton Mann thought they were a delicacy best paired with a bottle of champagne. Here’s another newspaperman who thought they made a worthy meal.

JGB and the first motor car in Granada

James Gordon Bennett and his son published the New York Herald. Gordon Bennett Jr., while devoted to the paper was also an avid sportsman and playboy, who, like Colonel Mann, liked to dine at Delmonico’s. One night while drinking there, a fire alarm went off nearby. Totally inebriated, he dashed outside in his evening clothes and made such a nuisance of himself trying to direct the firefighting operations that one of the firemen turned the hose upon him and sent him sprawling down the block. The next day when he sobered up he ordered rubber overcoats for all firefighters as he’d “never been so wet in all his life”.


He considered his income of a million dollars a year to be almost inexhaustible and once threw a large roll of bills into the fire because it interfered with the use of his pocket and spoiled the line of his pants. Occasionally he moved through restaurants pulling the cloths off tables and crunching crockery beneath his feet, telling the maitre’d to send the bill to his office.

Gordon Bennett was a dog fancier who sometimes judged the men in his office by how his dogs responded to them. Staff who were out of favour were known to secret portions of meat about their person to gain acceptance from the various Cocker Spaniels, Pomeranians and Pekinese who accompanied their master to work each day.


A keen sailor, he also practiced the gentlemanly sports of auto racing, pugilism and ballooning. He was a master of the lost art of coaching and was often seen riding his coach and four naked at midnight, destroying the formal gardens of his neighbours in the process and paying for repairs later.


One of the many incidents for which he was well known was the fighting of the last duel in New York. The ludicrous affair began when he arrived at the home of his fiancée, Caroline, in a partying mood. After consuming prodigious amounts of wine he proceeded to relieve himself in the astonished lady’s fireplace. He was flung out in the street and the next day Caroline’s brother waylaid him outside the Union Club and attacked him with a horsewhip. Bennett challenged him to a formal duel two days later with a retinue of surgeons at Slaughter Gap. No one was hurt as both men, who were excellent shots, settled the matter by firing in the air.


Bennett was always the master of the grand gesture. On a bet, he once coaxed a cavalry officer to ride his horse into the library of Newport’s most distinguished men’s club. When the board of directors chastised him he bought a huge plot of land nearby and built the Newport Casino, a far more extravagantly elegant club. When his favourite mutton chop-serving restaurant was too full to accept his booking he promptly bought it on the spot for $40,000. As the new owner, he had a table cleared and sat down to lunch. When he left he tipped the waiter most generously by handing him the deed to the restaurant with the proviso that there must always be a table reserved for him and that mutton chops would always be on the menu.

not these mutton chops

Published in: on October 11, 2010 at 8:33 am  Comments (35)  
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corset friday 8.10.2010

The brooch in the photo on the left of the middle row was given to me by my favourite uncle after he visited Fiji in 1970. It’s hard to see, but the blue background is made of butterfly wings . You can see a better example here

Today’s corset friday post is dedicated to alonewithcats, one of the funniest female bloggers around. Happy Birthday for yesterday AWC xx

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 7:33 am  Comments (35)  
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lucky lord dexter

“Lord” Timothy Dexter (1748-1806)  was an eccentric colonial merchant who had little in the way of formal schooling.

Not this eccentric Tim

“Because he was basically uneducated, his business sense was peculiar but extremely lucky. Somebody inspired him to send warming pans for sale to West Indies, a tropical area. His captain sold them as ladles for local molasses industry and made a good profit. Next Dexter sent wool mittens to the same place. Asian merchants bought them for export to Siberia.


His next venture was selling coal to Newcastle, which should have been a sure failure. His ships happened to arrive in the time of a coalminer’s strike and potential customers were actually desperate.

He exported bibles to East Indies and stray cats to Caribbean islands and again made a profit. He also hoarded whalebone by mistake, but ended up selling them profitably as a support material for corsets.

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter

Members of the New England high society could hardly contain their dislike for this ignorant but newly-rich upstart, and refused to socialize with him. His relationships with his “nagging” wife, daughter, and son were not particularly good, either. This became evident when he started telling visitors that his wife had died (despite the fact that she was still very much alive) and that the “drunken nagging woman” who frequented the building was simply her ghost.

Punishment for nagging wives

He bought a new house in Newburyport and decorated it with minarets, a golden eagle on the top of the cupola, a mausoleum for himself and a garden of 40 wooden statues of famous men, including George Washington, William Pitt, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson and of course, himself. People flocked to gawk at this collection.


Dexter also had his own way with household staff. He had a protective black housekeeper named Lucy, whom he claimed to be a daughter of an African prince. Other servants included a large idiot, a fortune teller and his  own poet laureate.


At the age of 50 he decided to write a book – A Pickle for the Knowing Ones or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress. He wrote about himself and complained about politicians, clergy and his wife. The book contained 8,847 words and 33,864 letters, but absolutely no punctuation, and capital letters were sprinkled about at random.

One day he began to wonder what people would say about him after he died. He proceeded to announce his death and to prepare for a burial. About 3,000 people appeared for the wake. However, Dexter’s wife refused to cry for his passing, for which he later caned her, and so he decided not to appear to his guests at all. Timothy Dexter actually died in 1806.


Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 7:37 am  Comments (32)  
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unfettered hurls are common

Because not everyone is going to read Mary Roach’s “Packing for Mars” (but everyone should – she is the funniest science writer around), I’ll tell you what she taught me about vomiting in space


“With motion space sickness, the impulse to vomit can hit with unusual suddenness. Launch-pad workers stuff extra vomit bags in rookies’ pockets before lift-off, but even then, unfettered hurls are common. So what happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space-walk?


US space helmets have air channels directing flow down over the face at 17 cubic centimetres per minute so the vomit is blown down away from the face and into the body of the suit. There is an extremely remote potential for barf to get into the oxygen return duct. If it somehow did the crew member could shut down the fan and go on ‘purge’ while continuing to get fresh oxygen via his pressurised tank.


Vomit is a dangerous material to inhale for many reasons not least of which is that stomach acid is capable of digesting the lining of your lungs. so imagine getting it in your eyes. Barf bouncing off the helmet and back into your eyes would be really debilitating. That’s the more realistic danger with in-helmet regurgitation. That and the vision-obstructing visor splatter. Visor glop is a serious astronautical downer.


Some 50 to 70% of astronauts have suffered symptoms of space motion sickness. “That’s why you don’t see much shuttle news footage the first day or two. They’re all, like, throwing up in a corner somewhere.” says Mike Zolensky, NASA’s curator of cosmic dust. Zolensky himself was epically sick on a parabolic flight. The only passenger worse off was the one helping astronauts practice drawing blood in zero gravity. Since his arms were strapped down someone else had to hold the bag to his face.


Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 7:25 am  Comments (47)  
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Berry Wall (1860-1940) was known as King of the Dudes.

His father and grandfather each left him more than $1 million between his 18th and 22nd birthdays, which enabled a certain grandeur. Thereafter, Wall never drank water – only champagne – and sported a walrus mustache, gleaming monocle, and high, stiff collars encircled by one of his 5,000 flamboyant neckties. Wall eventually owned a wardrobe of 500 outfits, useful for someone who completely changed his clothing at least six times daily.

Unlike the classic dandy Beau Brummell, who aspired to quiet sartorial perfection, Wall liked color, in not only his neckties but his waistcoats of tropical pattern, loud checked suits, lavender spats, and at least one outfit described as “an amazement of tweeds.” His justification: “People should wear what suits them.”


One sultry August evening in Saratoga, Wall escorted a pretty girl to a ball at the Grand Union Hotel while wearing what was the first dinner jacket publicly seen in the Americas. An incandescent manager immediately ordered him off the floor. He was only readmitted after he went to his room and changed into an acceptable evening coat with tails.

how to fold a dinner jacket napkin

Wall became famous after meeting Blakely Hall, a reporter hungry for good copy. Thereafter, every week or so, Hall’s articles publicizing Wall’s adventures in clothing appeared in newspapers across the country. Then one of Hall’s competitors set up a rival, actor Robert “Bob” Hilliard, another flashy dresser. Thus began the Battle of the Dudes, in which each sought to eclipse the other in sartorial extremes. According to the Times, Wall finally won when, during the Great Blizzard of 1888, he strode into the Hoffman House bar clad in gleaming boots of black patent leather that went to his hips.


Wall won another contest in Saratoga when daredevil financier John “Bet-A-Million” Gates wagered that he could not wear 40 changes of clothes between breakfast and dinner. On the appointed day, Wall repeatedly appeared at the racetrack in one flashy ensemble after another until, exhausted but victorious, he at last entered the ballroom of the United States Hotel in faultless evening attire to wild applause.

John Bet-a-Million Gates

Wall and his wife were famous members of the French social elite, with a society that included the Duchess of Windsor, the Grand Duke Dimitri, the Aga Khan and ex-king Nicholas of Montenegro, whom Wall called a “magnificent old darling”.

Magnificent Old Darling

They lived with their chow dog Chi-Chi in the Hotel Meurice, where he had his signature “spread eagle” collar shirts and cravats custom-made for both himself and his dog: Wall always dined at the Ritz with his dog, whose collars and ties were made by Charvet in the same style and fabric as his master’s.


Wall ascribed his longevity to having nothing to do with physicians, claiming: “There are more old drunkards than there are old doctors.” His self-indulgent life brought him great happiness, and he remained a fixture of fashionable life, whether in Paris, Deauville, Biarritz, or Aix-les-Bains, until his death in Monte Carlo on May 5, 1940. Wall’s timing was impeccable: He left only $12,608, having squandered nearly every cent on pleasure.

Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 7:12 am  Comments (39)  
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that most charming of despots

Her Highness Sylvia Brooke (1885-1971) was the last Ranee of Sarawak

The Brookes ruled their jungle kingdom on the island of Borneo for just over a century. They were the only English family ever to have occupied an Oriental throne and seem to have been remarkably popular with their subjects.


The whimsical Rajah, his Rasputin-like private secretary and the ham-fisted British government all bore their share of responsibility for the clumsy way in which the Raj was brought to an end. But in many people’s eyes a bigger villain was Ranee Sylvia, the extravagantly dressed author of 11 books who was submissive consort one moment, outrageous self-dramatist the next, described by the press as ‘that most charming of despots’, and by her brother as ‘a female Iago’.


Sylvia’s elder sister Dorothy (later better known as the Bloomsbury painter ‘Brett’ and the third in DH Lawrence’s ménage à trois in New Mexico) recalled being wheeled in a double pram with Sylvia by their nurse in Hyde Park one day and being told to wave to their father, Reginald Brett, who was out walking with a friend. Reggie wondered to his friend why those children were waving at him. ‘Perhaps they are yours,’ the friend ventured.

Sylvia’s sister, the painter Dorothy Brett

Sylvia’s lack of restraint as Ranee shocked serious-minded members of the Sarawak service – in 1930 the chief justice complained about the ‘unbelievable amount of smut in Her Highness’s conversation’. In 1946, after observing the Ranee dancing with two prostitutes in a nightclub and taking them back to the palace to paint their portraits, a visiting MP from Westminster concluded that ‘a more undignified woman would be hard to find’. Despite not enjoying sex she managed to give birth three times, always to girls.


Sylvia’s daughters grew up with little in the way of boundaries. The ‘dangerously beautiful’ Brooke girls eventually married eight times between them; their various husbands included the 2nd Earl of Inchcape (Princess Gold) and the bandleader Harry Roy (Princess Pearl).

When, in 1937, Valerie, (Princess Baba) the wildest of the three, fell into the clutches of the European middleweight wrestling champion Bob Gregory, her wedding was attended by a blaze of publicity which they eagerly fanned by driving around in a white open car with ‘Baba and Bob‘ painted on the back, and Valerie carrying a toy monkey, larger than she was, wherever she went. They later announced they were going to buy an island in the East Indies to be called ‘Babaland‘. ‘We’re going to have a democracy,’ Valerie declared, ‘but with a court and things – maybe an aristocratic democracy. I think a country without lots of uniforms and braids is no fun.’

Princess Baba and Bob

In December 1941 Sarawak was overrun and occupied by the Japanese while the Rajah and Ranee were – conveniently, it was muttered – out of the country. After the war Rajah Vyner controversially returned to meet with his people and abdicate, ceding Sarawak to Britain as its last colonial acquisition.

During this final visit, Dyak chiefs came to the palace to tell of their wartime experiences.  In Sarawak as a whole it was estimated that 1,500 Japanese had lost their heads – which were particularly prized by the Dyaks for being ‘nice round heads with good hair and gold teeth‘. Pride of place went to the skull of the Japanese director of education, who had once worn glasses. Every day the Dyaks removed the director’s spectacles and gave them a good polish before reverently replacing them on his increasingly withered nose.

Vyner and Sylvia spent their last night morning inspecting a collection of Japanese heads, which had been smoked and hung in a special corner of a longhouse. The Dyaks explained that they had sent their prettiest daughters down to a pool in the jungle to bathe, and when the Japanese had crept up to stare at them ‘they had simply lopped off their heads as they went by‘……

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm  Comments (38)  
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corset friday 1.10.2010

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 7:54 am  Comments (35)  
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