Sunday, April 20, 2014

[Live] Songs of Lily and Willy: an evening of erotic songs and stories

My beloved and one of her visiting singing friends were going to this event, which was part of the Five Lamps Festival. It was suggested that I could come to. Initially I thought this was crazy talk, but the event sounded so bizarre that I thought, what the hell, I am broadminded and willing to give anything a go. So I went. The venue (the In-spire Galerie on Lower Gardiner Street) was rather hard to find but I got there in the end.

The event was presented by a man and a woman, Andrew Ilsey and Fiona Dowling. She told the stories and he sang the songs (with Ms Dowling assisting on some of them). The stories varied between ones that were genuinely a bit saucy to ones that were more notable for having sexual content but being more based on humour or bizarre situations. Of the latter category there was an interesting tale of the Lakota Indians about the recurring legendary character Iktomi. In this one he finds himself in a village of women and has to teach them the arts of male-female copulation, but rather than being a tale of one man who can't believe his luck, the one-man-many-women situation leads to Iktomi fleeing lest the arduous women wear him out. Another French story featured a knight who, in an unlikely sequence of events, becomes able to talk to the vaginas of women (or any animal that has one) and have them answer him back. Apart from talking vaginas this story features almost no smutty content.

The songs were pretty much of the fnarr fnarr school of double or single entendre folk tunes. They feature many women having their meadows ploughed by obliging farm hands and so forth. The funniest was perhaps the first, because the singer kept forgetting his lines, just as it was reaching the saucy bits, making him a bit of a song tease. With the tunes generally I was curious as to whether any I recognised would show up, with the 'Bonny Black Hare' being an obvious candidate. In the end, the only song I knew was 'Gently Johnny', in the version set to music by Paul Giovanni in The Wicker Man.

My overall view of this event - well it was a bit strange. The erotic is something we are conditioned to experience in private. Or perhaps in semi-private public spaces, like darkened cinemas. Society has something of a taboo against public sexual arousal, so at an event like this there is a strong social pressure to swim against the erotic tide of the performers' material and make it something that is interesting or amusing but as unerotic as possible. Which is kind of missing the point. Or maybe this dialectic is the point.

It turned out that there were a lot of my beloved's Georgian singing friends at this event. After it was over they milled around and I suddenly realised that they were about to have one of their impromptu "polyphonic sing-songs", which would leave me feeling like a bit of a spare wheel. So I made my excuses and left, walking home in the rain.


An inuit panda production

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