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Brighton nudes are Britain's best

In a quiet corner of Bury Fair, back in the very early 1960s, amongst the more spectator-oriented attractions such as the Wall of Death, freak shows and boxing ring, was the Nude Show. For sixpence you got a few minutes in a tent listening to a foul-mouthed comedian introduce various tableaux of naked ladies (well, maybe there was just the one) striking artistic poses, standing absolutely still when the curtain opened. It was more than a poor boy could take, being brought up on glimpses of topless native women in National Geographic magazine or maybe a sneaky playground peek at the mummsy airbrushed photos in Spick or Span. It was how I imagined the Windmill Theatre was, before the Lord Chamberlain allowed nudes to move on stage. It was some time (1968) before I again saw a naked woman, at a life drawing class in Battersea.

So to last night's Still Life at the tiny Marlborough Theatre. Five 'stunners', as Dante Gabriel Rossetti called his models, presented re-enactments of famous paintings and photographs, from the Rokeby Venus (modelled by Francesca Cluney with Emma Sandham-Kings as Cupid) to Man Ray's Le Violon d'Ingres, with Kiki played by the multi-talented Kate Shields, who also played the saw whilst posing! Johanna Samuelson did Otto Dix's Sylvia von Harden, and Lucy Potts modelled as well, in Egon Schiele's Wally in red blouse. They were accompanied by a cute cellist and virtuoso pianist, recorded jazz and projections, and Francesca Cluney also did a beautiful Loie Fuller butterfly dance. On the door and by the side of the stage throughout were two delightful Pierettes and the whole evening was compered by the deadpan gorgeous Rosey Carrick, who joined in with the finale pose. Oh, and there was a performance poet, Dolores Luxedo (bloke), who knocked over my drink, but as I got accused of spilling a woman's drink at The Governess presents last week, I guess we're karma quits!

The night before I'd been privileged to attend the premiere of Beach Party Animal, directed by Joe Murray and Liz Aggiss. Joe, assisted by Max and Wolfie, put on an exemplary PV, with drinks carefully tailored to each guest (mine was a Bath Ales Dark Side), with a child's portion of fish and chips thown in! There were three performances of this beautifully paced 20-minute film that night - each audience (which included such Brighton faces as Louise Rennison and Tony Haas) got the same star treatment and (I heard later) each got rowdier as the night progressed. This too included nudity, but not the Two Wrongies, who managed to keep their clothes on for once. No, it was the naked arse of author and actor Tim Crouch, running into the English Channel for his all-weather morning dip!

It's events like these that make you glad to be alive and living in Brighton, the best of all possible towns. No moaning today...
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