Gluttonous Maximus: Lone Taxidermist Get Wet & Messy In Manchester

Natalie Sharp, aka Lone Taxidermist, is bringing a hellish & surreal vision of cake sitting, giant cream squirting vaginas and luxurious pop to Manchester this weekend...

Trifle Trailer from Ross Blake on Vimeo.

Video, by Ross Blake, is NSFW

"Imagine you’re swaddling in a huge vat of trifle", Natalie Sharp, aka Lone Taxidermist, told me when I asked her to describe her latest multi-media venture.

Well, personally speaking I was fine just imagining the scenario of my naked buttocks crashing down into giant layers of custard, cream, fruit and jelly. But unfortunately now reality has intruded and I’ve seen the teaser video trailer for the show above (and had my eyes disrespected by Bovril the arse). I am both compelled by the idea of the strange, immersive, pudding and sex based performance in Manchester this coming weekend at Fat Out Festival, while admittedly feeling slightly queasy at the same time. And I don’t see why I should suffer alone.

Sharp – part conceptual maverick, part torch bearer for glamorous leftfield pop, part daft ‘apporth – has created a live stage show which is almost certainly unlike any other. Apart from the music provided by her band Lone Taxidermist, the show is an exploration into the world of WAM (Wet And Messy) fetishists – specifically sploshers and cake sitters. On Saturday afternoon the whole Caustic Coastal venue will be part of the performance and transformed into a PVC plastic container with a series of aerosol cream ‘Arse-onist’ women who will be violating the audience with cream, custard and jelly, as AV artist Ross Blake maps specially commissioned projections culled from fetishist YouTube clips. And that’s before we get to the giant, cream-squirting, custard vaginas.

Lone Taxidermist has been a major outlet for the caustic and cosmic Cumbrian for most of the last decade, helping her depict a chaotic urban realm of poisonous cocktails, thwarted romance and deserted dancehalls. A major outlet but not her sole outlet. Over the past year she has starred in the Kibbo Kift and Robert Ashley inspired "TV opera" Medea with Serafina Steer at Supernormal and the Manchester Jewish Museum; appeared as one of the two vocalists in Gazelle Twin’s Kingdom Come production which has played at numerous festivals including Re-Wire, CTM and Sonar; and dressed and painted Jenny Hval’s group for a show at Rich Mix, London.

So perhaps it’s not that surprising that Sharp (aided by Philip Winter of Wrangler/ Tunng and Will Kwerk) is only just now ready to release her joyous and inimitable debut album (also called Trifle) which is out on Memetune this Summer.

But first, obviously, comes the Mancunian cake sitting and the giant custard vaginas.

You’ve turned your debut album, Trifle into a live stage show in Manchester for Fat Out Festival this weekend – what are the logistics of this?

Natalie Sharp: Yes. Fat Out Festival is the first time Lone Taxidermist have done this kind of show which brings together elements of performance art, video projection, foley work and installation, not to mention the music. A big part of this new approach to our live shows has come in part from me being on tour with Gazelle Twin for the last year. Elizabeth Bernholz is one of the few people I’d still use the ‘G’ word about; getting to observe how she fuses characters with a story in a staged landscape with videos and props like treadmills really got me thinking about how I perform. I don’t want to just get up on stage in jeans and sing a song because that’s really boring. The performance has to be more like a world we invite audiences into. Myself and Fiona Fletcher approached Verity [Gardner, Fat Out Festival] with the idea of having seven foot tall giant plastic custard vaginas that squirt aerosol cream onto the audience. Her face lit up immediately and we knew she was game. It is a logistical hellhole as I’m now making six plastic costumes, stage dressing, making props, making videos with Ross Blake and rehearsing the tracks for live performances and bringing in an expanded team of performers or Aerosol Cream Arse-onists to give them their correct name. And it’s all done on a shoestring budget. We need time to prep the stage before the show so its like trying to install a gallery installation piece into a short festival slot. But Fat Out Festival is all about that kind of thing. Verity and Emma [Thompson] have been really accommodating and super down with what we’re doing.

I was going to wear my nice jeans and fancy jumper to the show, shall I switch them out for something wipe down instead?

NS: Wear what you like babes, as long as it’s not dry clean only. And if you’re lactose intolerant you’d better stand at the back…

Where did you first hear about sploshing and cake sitting and what actually are they?

NS: Ross Blake our video artist is a brilliant weirdo. We were looking at ‘crush fetish’ which comes under the WAM (Wet And Messy) umbrella. There are so many specialist kinks out there; crush fetishists, for example, like to watch people wearing new trainers squashing fruit. I ended up going down a bit of a YouTube wormhole and found loads of users uploading videos of (mainly) women sitting on cakes. And these users are getting millions of hits. I have no idea why Anchor or Birds Eye aren’t sponsoring these users…

Is it a sexual thing for the participants?

NS: Yes I believe so. They really get off on the wet sensation of the desert. But if you sit on tiramisu it does look like a terrible shitty disaster.

Have you ever talked to any cake sitters or sploshers? Do you think they’d want to come to the show or would they simply get a cob on because you’re appropriating their authentic, outsider, black-forest-gateau-up-the-arse subculture?

NS: I have not because most of them seem to be in America but I should and that’s a very good idea John. I have subverted the sploshers somewhat by using hairy man bums, mouth stretchers and lots of body paint in the visuals though. If they get a cob on I’ll invite them to be part of the show.

Have you told me everything about the show and the films projections?

NS: Other than giant squirting custard vaginas, no. Partly because I want it to be a surprise and partly because we’re making it up as we go along. I worked with Jenny Hval recently and she made me realise that making it up as you go is not only ok but you end up making magic. My arse-onist women will be given a character, motivation, props and costume on the day – the rest is up to them. I have to learn that I don’t need to control absolutely everything. But I will say that the videos that me and Ross made are fucking hilarious. One of them features Serafina Steer painted entirely pink wearing the mouth stretcher whilst shaving her legs using custard.

Trifle, your first album has been a long time coming. Did you ever think it would see the light of day?

NS: Yes I always knew it would see the light of day, I’ve just been heavily constipated for five years with it. My mate Bovril [the hairy, pink bum in video above] says you can’t really call yourself a musician unless you release some music. I stand by that.

Why is it called Trifle?

NS: It went through many awful and embarrassing names before it became Trifle. The trick is not to overthink it. The word just popped into my head, but then I started attaching meaning to it, the more I thought about it the more relevant it seemed. Because it’s our debut it’s the amalgamation of songs I’ve been writing since 2008. Soundwise I’ve thrown everything into it, a bit like a trifle… which also happens to be my favourite desert. It makes me think of my mam making it for us when we were kids and how I used to hide under the dining table so I wouldn’t get caught eating a full packet of Rowntrees gelatin jelly cubes. But Its also about the greedy and disposable throwaway culture we live in and my own gluttony. Poly-Styrene hit the nail on the head with ‘Germfree Adolescents’ thirty years ago.

You have a lot of songs under your belt, which ones made the final cut and why?

NS: ‘Home’, ‘Knicker Elastic’, ‘Bijoux Boy’, ‘Shame’, ‘Nowhere’, ‘Mr Coral’, ‘Hammered In Homebase’, ‘Cornflakes’, ‘Dribble Wizard’ and ‘When The Water’s Cold’. Because they are all about living in London, the characters I have come across, fictional or otherwise. Despite there being four year gaps between some of them, there seems to be a story that threads them together.

Portrait by Jon Baker

The cover art is very ‘strong’… what’s going on here then?

NS: I’m being fed aerosol cream by a detached hand, my mouth is wedged open with a device known as a Japanese mouth stretcher. I look artificial and I’ve intentionally over-photoshopped myself as a demonstration against the way women are presented in media and advertising. I fucking stunk of old dairy for the next week. I wanted it to look plastic and saccharine and I wanted to have face paint in there as thats my world.

I heard through the grapevine that the sleeve was originally a naked couple vacuum packed in a plastic bag – how did that work and what happened to it?

NS: It’s on the back of the sleeve, but I cropped it so much that you can’t really tell its my mates Kev and Sarah. I prefer the ambiguity of it that way. But if you look close enough you can see some naked body parts in there. Kev is a giant so despite him being super game for being vacuum packed, so much so that as soon as he walked through my front door he got his kit off we tried to force him into the vacuum bag but he just wouldn’t go.

What should the ideal trifle contain?

NS: Mam used to soak these bready sugary fingers in sherry for ages, they go at the bottom, then Strawberries, Rasberry jelly, custard, double cream whipped, and multicoloured sprinkles. It has to be full fat and it has to look plastic.

Lone Taxidermist perform Trifle at 3.20pm this Saturday, April 15, as part of Fat Out Festival, Manchester

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