Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Introducing Shay Hendrix

Shay Hendrix is an actress, model, and lapdancer. She is also the latest Welsh beauty to be making a name for herself in the adult entertainment industry.

As her moniker suggests the 24-year-old from north Wales is something of a rock-chick. Adorned with imaginatively positioned tattoos and piercings, her look is pitched somewhere between Lauren Laverne and one of those sixth formers gone bad who hang out with the local biker gang.

A quick scan of the internet reveals that Shay changes her hair colour more often than most people change their underwear. At the moment she's blonde.

The gorgeous gog made her debut last year for Killergram in a flick entitled Tattooed F**k Sluts. Since then she has gone on to do further video, magazine and online work, during which she has built up a reputation for being both extremely professional and fun to work with.

When she's not making great erotica Ms Hendrix gets her kicks from watching bands and driving too fast in her car. Top tip - if you intend winning this Welsh minx's heart by cooking her a slap-up meal avoid the following: tea, coffee, bananas, and worst of all, potatoes. She absolutely hates them. And if you want to impress her then for heaven's sake buy her a pair of stripey socks - she adores them!

Recently I asked Flintshire's finest, via email, whether she would ever consider making a Welsh-language porn film. This was her response:

"Sut mae? Dwi'n siarad Cymraeg tipyn bach... unfortunately that's about it. I can hold basic conversations that I still remember from school and little bits I've picked up along the way but sadly not enough to do a whole movie incorporating it. I did once say "I love big cocks" in Welsh, in a scene with Killergram, but have no idea if they'll edit it out when it's released. They thought it was funny at the time but maybe the editing guy won't! I'd love to be fluent and actually feel quite ashamed that I don't understand my native language. Belated New Year's resolution - learn Welsh!"

I don't know if S4C are currently running one of their regular learn how to speak Welsh TV progs featuring local celebrities, but they could do a lot worse than sign up Shay Hendrix for the gig. Viewing figures would go through the roof and I'm confident that the Flintshire fox would not only pass her oral with flying colours but spark a revival of our mother tongue.

*Special thanks to Shay for allowing me to use her quotes. She has a myspace site here - do check it out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Welsh Cult

I quite like the idea of the whole of Wales suddenly converting to a bizarre Welsh cult (and I'm not talking Methodism here). It'd be most amusing. Unfortunately the nearest one I can find is in Georgia, USA - the Association of Cymry Wicca. Or Welsh Witchcraft if you prefer.

The Association of Cymru Wicca is based upon the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg (the fairy folk) which apparently enjoys tax-free religious status in America.

As we all know most cults are primarily designed to help you part company with either your wallet or your underwear. Sometimes both. I'm not sure which of these categories Cymry Wicca falls into but there are a lot of naturist links on their website.

Fortunately the Association of Cymry Wicca has so far avoided the worst excesses of more notorious cults. There have been no mass suicides; no spectacular shoot-outs with law enforcement agencies; and no stockpiling of nerve gas. Which is encouraging.

Instead (judging by their website) you will be subjected to some fairly harmless New Age practices at their secluded mountain retreat (apparently called Camelot-of-the-woods) and no doubt have to endure plenty of spiritual hokum concerning the Old Religion (witchcraft). Sound suspiciously like a bunch of hippies to me.

Anyway if you're into Welsh witchcraft or even if you just enjoy getting naked in a woodland setting the Association of Cymry Wicca could be the cult for you. You certainly wouldn't be alone - they have over 15,000 followers worldwide.

*If you are genuinely interested in this kind of stuff then the best place to start would probably be Y Tylwyth Teg's online HQ.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Johnny Cash in Cardiff

1968 was a significant year for Johnny Cash: he gave up amphetamines and barbiturates; he found God; and he got hitched to June Carter. Just a few months after their wedding the happy couple wound up at the Capitol Theatre in Cardiff on tour.

Carter sang a few bluegrass numbers which went down well. Carl Perkins of Blue Suede Shoes fame was also on the bill. He played a rocking version of Mean Woman Blues which delighted the audience. And then Johnny Cash took to the stage.

Marriage had obviously mellowed him as his set consisted of a laid back mixture of country and r'n'b. The audience was apparently much taken by his Southern drawl and his just-got-out-of-bed demeanour. The highlight of the evening was his rendition of The Legend of John Henry's Hammer. For an encore Cash, Carter and Carl Perkins performed together.

It's worth noting that in 1968 Cash was generally considered unfashionable. Young music fans were into rock, psychedelia and soul rather than 'outdated' country and western. Consequently his Cardiff audience was largely made up of adults not teenagers.

At the bottom of the bill that night was a young pop singer called James Royal. The promoters had put him on the bill in an attempt to attract the younger generation. How did Cash's Welsh fans treat this representative of the modern era? Why they heckled, booed and shouted at him of course. Well, you wouldn't expect devotees of the ultimate outlaw performer to give the boy an easy ride would you?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

DIY '77-81 South Wales

I've spoken before of the cultural stock-take that seems to be going on in Wales at the moment. Here's another example (albeit comes out of America). Messthetics #104 DIY '77-81 South Wales revisits the post-punk scene in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, and the Valleys.

Back in those bleak days there was much less of a Welsh musical infrastructure in place than there is today. Certainly outside of the Welsh-language scene. Add to this a London-centric record industry and south Wales was pretty much left to its own devices.

Messthetics #104 successfully conveys a flavour of those times. Some of these cuts are so basic and impoverished they end up sounding peculiarly avant-garde. It's no surprise then to discover that art colleges and the dole queue were the twin laboratories in which these musical experiments were incubated.

I'd like to say that you will find some lost classics on this CD but quite frankly you won't. Even allowing for crude recording techniques and basic instrumentation there is little evidence here of any outstanding songwriting talent. But let's be honest creating the perfect pop masterpiece was never really the point.

That said Messthetics #104 is well worth getting hold of. There are plenty of curiosities and wonderfully oddball moments to be enjoyed. And as a piece of pop cultural history it is excellent. Whoever is responsible for compiling, writing and presenting the sleeve notes deserves enormous credit. It's amusing too to see such luminaries as Green Gartside, John Williams, Jon Langford, and Carlton B Morgan popping up here in various guises.

Messthetics #104 DIY '77-81 South Wales is out now on Hyped 2 Death records. A must for ageing punks; collectors of Welsh esoterica; and DIY enthusiasts everywhere.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Weegee in Cardiff

In 1963 Weegee, creator of Naked City (1945), came to Cardiff to give a talk on his photographic technique. His lecture which was free to the public was held at the Royal Hotel on St Mary Street. At 7pm Weegee (real name Arthur Fellig) greeted his Welsh audience wearing a furry Russian hat. He had just returned from Moscow where he had been on an extensive lecture tour.

Although famed for documenting life on New York's tough lower East Side Weegee had by this stage of his career completely changed his photographic style. His work had become more consciously artful and he now specialised in creating distorted portraits of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali and Liz Taylor. He also did prismatic shots including one of Shirley Bassey which showed her face repeated 8 times in a circle.

Smoking a cigar the 62-year-old legend explained how he achieved these effects and kept his audience amused with wisecracks delivered in his heavy Brooklyn accent. He modestly told them he could do things with a camera that nobody else alive could do. He spoke for over half an hour. It must have been wonderful for his Welsh fans to have been in the presence of one of the best street photographers of all time.

Recently I was flicking through the online portfolio of one of today's finest exponents of the art of street photography - Cardiff-based Maciej Dakowicz. Amidst his incredible snapshots of Cardiff's white hot night life, I came across this atmospheric picture of the Royal Hotel where Weegee once gave his talk.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Laugharne Weekend 2008

It seems like only yesterday that I climbed the stone steps in Cardiff indoor market to Kelly's second-hand vinyl emporium and clapped eyes on Horses by Patti Smith. Seduced by the Mapplethorpe cover and the promise of some arty New York punk I bought it. Life was never quite the same again. But that's enough wistful nostalgia because the legend that is Patti Smith will be here in the flesh at the Laugharne Weekend (March 28-30)!

Organisers of this year's event have surpassed themselves with the line-up. On the literary front there will be appearances by the superbly cheekboned Will Self; Booker Prize-winner DBC Pierre; We Need To Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver; and the always amusing Jon Ronson. Robert Lewis, Willy Vlautin, Niall Griffiths, Helen Walsh, and Nikita Lalwani, amongst others, will also be doing their thing.

As far as music is concerned the aforementioned Patti Smith will perform a few songs and read some of her poetry. Mike Joyce ex-drummer with The Smiths will be showing a new dvd of the band called Inside The Smiths before hosting a Q & A session. There will be musical contributions from Richard James, Jack Henderson, Patrick Wolf and Edward Larrikin. For the full line-up, plus info on accomodation and tickets you need to visit the website.

So, if you are looking for an alternative to overpriced mainstream festivals get yourself down to Laugharne on March 28-30 where you can rub shoulders with a few cool literary types, hear some great music and get joyfully muntered into the bargain.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Peg Entwistle Topless

Ok, we all know the tragic tale of Port Talbot's Peg Entwistle who went to America to find fame and fortune as an actress, only to end up throwing herself off the H of the HOLLYWOOD (actually it was HOLLYWOODLAND back in those days) sign.

Entwistle was just 24-years-old when she killed herself in 1932. On her corpse was found a suicide note that read: I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain. P.E.
Apparently all acting work had completely dried up for her and because of this she was suffering from severe depression. Ironically, the day after her suicide, a letter arrived in the post offering her a part in a play. Doh! The story is now a part of Hollywood folklore and there is even a legend that her ghost haunts the scrubland at the base of the Hollywood sign itself.

During the period when she struggled to find employment Peg did some nude modelling work to make ends meet. For those with a taste for the morbid here is one of those nude shots done by photographer Bruno of Hollywood (Bruno Bernard).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

James Brown in Barry?

Did the Godfather of Soul James Brown really perform at Barry Memorial Hall in 1968? This advert would suggest he did but I can find no confirmation that the gig actually went ahead. This is mainly due to the fact that on the morning after the advertised concert news broke that Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated in Los Angeles.

Naturally newspapers were preoccupied with the tragic events in America and many local stories were just dropped from editions. If anyone did attend this concert do please send me an email and let me know how it went. It would be amazing if Soul Brother Number One really was in Barry at such a significant moment in his country's history.

UPDATE: I've since had it confirmed that James Brown did play Barry in 1968 and that support act Gene Latter was from Cardiff Docks.