The Nine Worlds celebration was held in the same venue as the launch – a friendly warehouse crammed with sofas, mattresses, and rope lights, with table of donated drinks and snacks. The Kickstarter aimed to raise £10,000 – it ended up with over £23,000! I’m so excited about attending Nine Worlds, and it looks like I’ll be speaking about early science fiction there on one of the panels. I loved the convivial atmosphere, and left feeling like I’d made a lot of new friends – which is always a sign of a good evening. We were treated to a double-set from Oxford-based ‘space folk’ band The Mechanisms. The Mechanisms have a very special place in my heart – they played their last gig as ‘Dr. Carmilla and the Mechanisms’ at the first Transpose. After Dr. Carmilla left to pursue her solo career, they played their first gig as ‘The Mechanisms’ at the first ever Cutlery Drawer event, Moulin Rage. I’ve followed them with adoration and interest for a long while, and I’ve been proud to book them or share the stage with them at various events. At the Nine Worlds gig, they played a full run-through of their album Once Upon A Time (In Space) – which I’ve actually discussed at length in an essay about queerness and orality in modern fairytales – before playing the second ever run-through of their new album, Ulysses Dies At Dawn. They’re currently raising money via IndieGogo to produce a studio version, but you can have a listen on their website to the recording from the first live performance (which I was also at – and yes, it was fantastic). Where Once Upon A Time situates a number of altered fairy tales in an intergalactic war in the futuristic dystopian world of the Mechs, Ulysses Dies At Down revisions Greek myths and places them on a single planet, which has been taken over by a single sprawling city. I recommend both very highly.
On Sunday, there was Transpose: Cinematic Edition. It was absolutely incredible. I spent most of the evening either smiling so widely it was almost painful, or on the edge of crying, or both. It was held in the atmospheric Cinema Museum, which is fast establishing itself as a new hub of trans and queer culture, having hosted the album launch of night organiser CN Lester’s project ‘Dark Angels‘ and initiated a series of ‘Transculture‘ arts events. As befitting the venue, the ‘cinematic’ theme of the night meant that rather than the usual mix of music and spoken word, it was instead music and film. Jason Elvis Barker opened with two of his short films: one comparing his trans puberty with that of a younger cis male relative; one documenting his partner’s struggle with cancer and their attempts to conceive a baby. Both were raw, tender, and funny. Next up was a film from The Devotion Project – ‘a series of short films celebrating LGBTQ love ‘ – presented by Neil Young (who answered questions afterwards). It was a portrait of a heterosexual-appearing couple and their young child: only once their personalities and the loving, stable nature of their family had been established did we learn that the man was trans, the woman was bisexual, and both continued to consider themselves part of the queer community. It was incredibly sweet: and as I said at the time, it was wonderful to see documentary representations of trans people living their lives happily, and presented without sensationalism or fetishising. Finally, we saw three pieces created and presented by Fox and Lewis, who made their names on Channel 4 documentary ‘My Transsexual Summer’: firstly, the first two short episodes of a ‘catch-up’ show about the stars of MTS, and secondly, the first episode of their exciting new project ‘My Genderation‘. It was joyous and sad and beautiful and amazing – in particular the first episode of My Genderation, looking at the life of a trans guy in Brighton, was at once heartwrenching and hopeful.
And then there was the music. The immensely talented CN Lester played a set combining requests, classics from debut album Ashes, and two songs from the in-progress album Aether. I was honoured that the set commenced with my request – a slow, sad rendition of the wistful song ‘Between Us There Is Nothing‘, as written by Clive James and released by Pete Atkin. (Incidentally, I sometimes fear I am the only fan of Pete Atkin under 40: so please, check out his albums, they are pure lyrical brilliance.) The Ashes songs were beautiful as always, and the two new ones from Aether – well, I was almost in tears. The last act of the night was singer-songwriter Wild, who treated us to guitar music in the tradition of folk and blues: I’d never heard Wild sing before, but I was instantly converted into a fan.
Both Saturday and Sunday daytimes were spent working – rehearsing, writing, and plotting with Lashings of Ginger Beer Time, and writing and submitting an abstract and performance pitch for an academic conference. On the second note, I found out just this evening that they’ve both been accepted – so if you happen to be at the Troubling Gender conference in Sheffield, you’ll be able to hear me talking about Virginia Woolf and androgyny, and singing with Lashings of Ginger Beer Time about our usual range of queer-feminist topics. (I’ve just made an Academia page for this blog in celebration, as I’ve now got four conference papers to my name!)
So that was my weekend. It was bloody brilliant. And in the process of just describing the things that were on stage, believe me that I haven’t properly captured the warmth and friendliness and general wondrousness of both events: old friends, new friends, friends I’d not seen in years, people I’d heard of, people who’d heard of me (?!), all in a dreamy melting-pot of camaraderie. I do love socialising in London. Stay tuned for more on my incredibly busy week – attending NUS Women’s Conference and giving a talk on the history of the interaction between trans and feminist discourse at Sussex University…