Category Archives: Berlin

From Gollum to Galadriel: When Winter Came to ACUD MACHT NEU.

Alexa Spread at Extravagant Shambles Nov 6 2019 Suzanne ForbesI was so excited when Cadbury Parfait told me she was producing a fantasy-themed Extravagant Shambles!

There is nothing I love like some dark fantasy and mythology – mix with burlesque and drag acts and you get pure entertainment mithril! (lil geek joke there for ya. Very little.) This Shambles was in the Club at Kunsthaus ACUD MACHT NEU, an epic Berlin queer art space. I don’t get to Mitte much, but I had been previously been to an art show there with artist and curator Suzanne Wegh – they are the source of all my art event hot tips. Above, Alan Lee (but not THAT Alan Lee) as Alexa Spread did a terrifying, grasping Gollum, then rose into a column of light and became Galadriel.

Darell Haynes at Extravagant Shambles Nov 8 2019 by Suzanne ForbesDarell Haynes, Louisiana born but now singing his heart out in Berlin, sang “I See Fire” from the second Hobbit flick.

He just filled the room; it was one of those moments that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. He is an actual trained professional opera singer, which is not what you are expecting in the club where the entrance always smells a little like piss. Darell was on German tv show Supertalent last year, with the group Mo’Voce! You can see them sing and get a standing ovation here.

Agata Dmon at Extravagant Shambles Nov 8 2019 by Suzanne ForbesShambles fave Agata D’Mon danced with a glowing moon.

I always love to draw her. My friend and Patron Daniel Paikov  was there taking pictures with his usual sang-froid, managing despite the fact that the ACUD Club is a dark cave of bloody light. We nightlife documenters find a way!

Marie Matthies at Extravagant Shambles Nov 8 2019 by Suzanne ForbesContortionist Marie Matthies was both fierce and so flexible!

Lexy Nightcat at Extravagant Shambles Nov 6 Suzanne ForbesLexy Nightcat did an incredible Ghostbusters number, wrangling green spirits to the classic banger theme.

More drawings coming soon with hostess Sarah Tonin, knockout Felicity Felicis, and producer Cadbury Parfait herself! I am finishing drawings very, very slowly at this point, as my autoimmune sypmtoms are severe, but thanks to my Patrons, I always finish them eventually!

This has been a terrible year for me healthwise as a disabled artist, and crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

Anyone can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me making my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

Barbara at The Ballery.

Barbara at The Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2019I was recently in a group show at Schöneberg gallery The Ballery.

The works shown included a beautiful series of portraits by photographer Eva Brunner. Barbara, above, was the model. During the finissage evening of the exhibit, Barbara performed some deft comic numbers.

This is an example of a drawing where I could take my time with the background and really work out the details. As all my dear ones know, I love to draw people playing music and have had far less chances to do so this year, since I’ve been ill so much. 
Barbara at The Ballery by Suzanne Forbes Oct 10 2019 detail

I added the color when I got home, based on memory and little scribbly notes on the drawings.

I swear to you that the colors appeared exactly as they do here: the glowing red light in the Ballery’s cloakroom, the oversize bottle of Campari, Barbara’s signature red/orange look, the red accent on her mike, and the red nailpolish in the portrait behind her. Other than that it was all grays and whites and blacks.

A marvelous scene I was lucky to capture, including Barbara’s gorgeous gams!! Thanks to my Patrons on Patreon, who make my documentary art possible <3

Bushwig Berlin 2019 – more incredible performers!

Amber Alert at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI was honored to be a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festival Bushwig this summer.

The lineup was astonishing, and I stayed in my stageside seat by the piano, supported by kind stranger Arthur, for a good six or seven hours. There was no way I was leaving before drawing Hungry and Betty Fvck!

Check out Amber Alert, above! What a stunner! Amber talks about the early days of Brooklyn’s innovative drag scene and her drag journey here on Huffpost.

Rhama at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesRhama is so lovely!

An elegant nonbinary singer and dancer, you can see them on youtube here. Their latex dress is by a designer named Florian Máthé.

Wanda Cookie at Bushwig Berlin Sept 17 2019 by Suzanne ForbesHere’s Wanda Cookie, having a spectacular tantrum!

I really appreciate all the performers who traveled to be here in Berlin.

And I don’t know this performer’s name or links but I’m working on it 🙂

Thanks to the chill-as-heck venue Festsaal Kreuzberg. And to Bushwig for having me! And to DJ Hannah Lou, an incredible professional who managed the music for a huge lineup impeccably.

As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!

In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

Scenes around town: In the Warteraum.

Lady in the waiting room Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThere’s nothing as convenient for us ladies of a certain age as a rack of pamphlets to fan ourselves with!

Perimenopause is a journey of arriving in rooms that are much hotter than you could possibly anticipate, like my GP’s office last Wednesday.

Warteraum paperwork filler outer Sept 7 2019 Suzanne ForbesDoctor’s offices mean paperwork everywhere, particularly in Germany!

In our orthopedist’s Thursday I had to sign a stack of papers for my upcoming knee surgery. Including a prescription for crutches – the co-pay is 5 euros, and some Germans find this outrageous!!!! Our orthopedist is a hilariously brusque guy. When I told him I didn’t want a prescription for opiate painkillers, he was like, “HA HA we don’t give you those! Live with it! Use ice!!” Which is fine. My pain level after my previous surgery here was negligible.

Warteraum reader Sept 7 2019 Suzanne ForbesThis guy!

What a character, right? Always bring a book!

In the 80s my boyfriend Paul and I had this thing, not a joke thing, about always carrying a paperback. In case you were arrested copping and stuck in the Tombs for a 72-hour hold. When I did get popped during a sweep in January of 1989, just two weeks before I got sober, I was so glad to have that paperback in my pocket. I read it three times over as I detoxed cold turkey in the jammed cell. It was either Larry Niven or Norman Spinrad, and it was not very good. For decades I remembered the exact title, even though I never read it again, but I have now finally forgotten it.

My documentary drawings of everyday Berlin life are courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available

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Bushwig Berlin, Baby!!

Hungry at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne ForbesWhat a glorious thrill ride of drag magic!

I was so excited to be a guest of international NY/Berlin drag festival Bushwig this summer. I knew superstar drag performer and makeup artist Hungry would be performing; I’ve been dreaming of drawing her for years. And I knew I’d get to see and draw a whole armada of international drag talents for the first time.

That is Hungry at the top; the crowd went WILD.

I got to speak to her briefly and show her my drawing after, and I have to admit I was a gibbering fangirl.

Hungry at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes face detailYou just can’t imagine how beautiful, how ethereal, how meta-human and naiad-like and perfumed with colors she is.

Her makeup is painterly perfection, her skin glows, her brocade corset by Misty Couture has an extraordinary pipestem waist, her smooth bone-tattooed chest is flecked with gold leaf and petals. Her nail gloves were made by Vie of Unicorns Poop Glitter and they waved like undersea fronds in the air!

Hungry is simply a living orchid, a baroque marvel, and the kind of talent you meet only a few times in a lifetime. And she was so sweet and kind!

Read about the development of her style and her collaboration with Björk here.

Betty Fvck at Bushwig Berlin Aug 29 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI got to draw Europe’s Cheekbone Queen, the beautiful Betty Fvck, twice in one week!

Always a thrill to see this beauty work it. Drawing her at both Bushwig and Extravagant Shambles “Pride, Not Prejudice” was a total drawing Lotto win! Betty is so elegant!!

I was seated right up against the stage, and had such a great view of everyone. The venue, Festsaal Kreuzberg, is really lovely, a kind of industrial/tiki forbidden island on the river.

Dirt the drag goblin at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

The variety and diversity of talent was marvelous.

This angel bby drag goblin is Dirt from the Ground. You can see them perform here!

I was very charmed by Frida Pussy, who was assigned acts of contrition for unsafe acts: “Repeat, ‘I’m on PREP it’s fine’ fifteen times”.

Nun to devil transformation is a classic for a reason, baby!

Frida Pussy at Bushwig Berlin Sept 4 2019 by Suzanne Forbes devil style

I loved Donna Trump, a sass queen from Manchester’s thriving drag scene.

She has a new weekly cabaret happening! You can get her goodies on DragQueenMerch here.Donna Trump at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Sookie Sterling at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAnd check out Sookie Sterling of the Sterling Sisters, a full-on legend.

You can see her on her Insta here.Tyler Ashley at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Tyler Ashley, a trained dancer, hit the stage like a comet.

She is like a divine blend of Liquid Sky and Xanadu and is known as the dauphine of Bushwig! DJ Hannah Lou at Bushwig Berlin Sept 6 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

DJ Hannah Lou is an incredible professional who managed the music for a huge lineup impeccably.

She was in an amazing silver space angel look.

As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!

In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose.

As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. 

You can join my Patreon Patrons, for as little as a dollar/euro a month, to keep me working and releasing my documentary art of Queer Berlin as Free Art.

I was pretty damn wobbly near the end of this show, as I have been sick on and off all summer and it was very, very hot in the venue.

I was lucky enough to have a kind stranger be my support team – basically as my health has deteriorated this past couple years the type of embedded, in-the-splash-zone, eight-hours-nonstop drawing I do has become much harder.

A stranger (or friend!) showing appreciation for the value of my work, offering to get me a non-alcoholic drink, helping to buffer my drawing hand against surging crowds, fanning me with a flyer, holding my seat while I hit the loo, giving me a Euro or two to help my crowd-funding – all matter so much. Thank you, Arthur!

 

The Picture of Lady Barbara: I drew at a play for the first time!

Achim Kraemer Robert Farrar and Tom Eggert in The Picture of Lady Barbara July 12 2019 Suzanne ForbesI went to Stammtisch in Neukölln to catch a gothic comedy from Farrar Krämer Komedi.

I am not much of a play-goer, but Robert Farrar is one of the cleverest lyricists I know, so I was confident his drawing-room comedy would entertain! The set for the play was ingeniously designed and the venue was as old-school Berlin as it gets, full of character – the house dog has his own chair.

Drawing the actors was wonderful. I loved the range of expressions and the luxurious amount of time I had to draw everyone, especially after Berlin Burlesque Week when I had an average of four minutes to capture each performer! Above, left to right, Achim Krämer, Robert Farrar and Tom Eggert.

Robert Farrar and Zofia Huddon in The Picture of Lady Barbara July 12 2019 Suzanne ForbesI had a marvelous time!

Above, Robert Farrar and Zofia Huddon. Working on these I felt great freedom from my usual pressure of perfectionism. There is a giddy spirit in them usually absent from my work. My art is increasingly political (all art is political) as I have more spoons available to be furious and horrified about much of the world. So it was nice to take a break and draw some comedy.

Achim Kraemer in The Picture of Lady Barbara July 12 2019 by Suzanne ForbesAbove, Achim Krämer in final costume, or nearly final.

There was so much quick change gender-blender dressplay towards the end, it was hard to keep track!

It’s the monthly financial support of my gorgeous Patrons that allows me to make documentary art of Queer Berlin and distribute it for free.

If you can help to crowdfund me, by joining my Patreon or just by buying me an alcohol-free beverage or passing a hat when you see me out at a club, I will love you even more!

Book release party for “As You wish, my Lady”, with Jo Pollux, Sadie Lune, Finn Peaks and more!

Jo Pollux and Sadie Lune at Ludwig July 9 2019 by Suzanne ForbesSUCH a beautiful party for the official release of the gorgeous coffee table book of photographs by Jo Pollux and text by Sadie Lune.

It was held at cherished all-inclusive queer art gallery/bar/clubhouse Ludwig Berlin  in Neukölln, and featured the artist and her muses! The book showcases Jo’s Film Noir aesthetic and Sadie’s dark prose. In attendance were models from the book, including Sadie, Bishop Black, Manon, Finn Peaks, and more.

Mamas AfroDisiac and Axel Karlsson Rixon at Ludwig June 20 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThere was a wonderful crowd of queer Berliners, plus visitors from all over.

Above, visiting Mama’s Afrodisiac and European local Axel Karlsson Rixon, a supernaturally attractive pair!

Finn Peaks at Ludwig June 20 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThere were performances, including this one by Finn Peaks.

Finn had pink eye makeup on making him look even more like Anne Carlisle in Liquid Sky!

And afterwards the crowd retired to the back room to witness à la carte acts of dominant play by Sadie, always a huge hit.

My live-drawing of queer Berlin’s art scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available! You can help for as little as a dollar/euro a month.

I’m working on some more drawings from the back room, but since they are sensual and involve passionate interactive I am not creating them for my Patreon. You will be able to find them on my other website, the one with my name, soon 🙂

Portrait of Cadbury Parfait, first sitting!

Portrait of Cadbury Parfait work in process June 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThe minute I met Berlin burlesque producer and performer Cadbury Parfait, I wanted to paint her picture.

She is exceptionally beautiful, and she has fantastic personal style, grace and power. She performs and produces wonderfully naughty, sexy, political, intersectional burlesque shows. Plus, she’s funny!

So we scheduled a sitting, which is challenging because she’s one of the busiest people in the Berlin burlesque scene, and got started. I had a fine large canvas given to me by one of my Patrons, and it is thrilling to be working large again.

I really prefer to paint on the biggest canvas possible for a home studio, so the subject’s figure is one third to one half life-size. We settled on her 1930s style Voodoo Vixen gown in sapphire blue velvet for Cadbury’s outfit, and kept everything else simple and natural.

As sometimes happen, I lost the thread during the process – I made good headway to capturing her likeness and proportions, then screwed it up. This is an almost inevitable part of the portrait painting process; there’s generally at least one point where I almost have it and then lose it, either by accident or design.

So while much of the structure you see is a good foundation, the essential spirit and humor of Cadbury’s personality is currently AWOL. Working back in forth in that uncertainty of recovering the good bit, tolerating the fact that you’ve fucked it up, is part of the process. Keats called our ability to tolerate uncertainty the “negative capacity”.

Whistler used to wipe down the canvas to a shadow after every sitting, then start over.

His process was the process of seeing the sitter and painting the sitter, and he stopped when he did it enough times to hit the sweet spot, know it and call it. I often have to explain this to my sitters, who may be startled that what looked like a really promising portrait has turned weird, or awkward, or lost an arm. Cadbury, who has a striking way with words, got it instantly and phrased it this way: “It’s like the Rubik’s Cube – you have to destroy it in order to fix it! You almost have it except that one orange square – but you have to break the whole thing to get that part right.”

That’s exactly, exactly how it is. I’m used to it, so I trust the process.

Cadbury’s next production is the all-queer-performer

Extravagant Shambles Presents: Pride, Not Prejudice on July 25 at Monster Ronsons!

and all profits from this show are going to an LGBTQ+ cause! And it’s at beloved East Berlin queer clubhouse Monster Ronsons, which has some shitty A/C, which is 200% better than 99% of Berlin venues! Some of my very fave local performers will be onstage, like Noeline la Bouche, as well as breathtakingly gorg out-of-towners like Betty Fvck and Lily Lustre, both of whom I’ve drawn once and been simply CRAVING to draw again!

This is a can’t-miss Pride event, and I’m so excited!

Cabaret of Curiositease at Berlin Burlesque Week 2019!

Fifi Fantôme & La Viola Vixen presented Cabaret of Curiositease as part of Berlin Burlesque Week 2019!

This night circus was a Bizarre World of Wonder! The most gothic show of the week, it featured circus, neo-burlesque and dark cabaret. Above is MisSa Blue in glittering gold. She is an amazing performer and swallowed a flaming sword!
There was Dunja Von K, who I’ve drawn often, doing a spooky uncanny Valley routine! I knew she wouldn’t mind my doing a kinda creepy take on this routine.

Seymour Bottoms, a creepy yet sexy yet creepy clown!
Hedoluxe was very uncanny, and yet so seductive!

MC Elsie Marley had several fabulous costume changes!

Black Swan performer at Berlin Burlesque Week June 29 2019 by Suzanne ForbesI gotta get the name of this Black Swan style gothic performer.

She was amazing and her costume fabulous; I was just so delirious at the end of a week of some six separate drawing events that I didn’t catch her name.

La Viola Vixen at Ballhaus Berlin by Suzanne Forbes July 12 2019Here is Shimmy Shake School mâitresse La Viola Vixen.

Gorgeous performer, teacher and co-producer of this show, proudly watching the performances in custom Berlin-made Lupae Latex.

My live-drawing at Berlin’s queer, intersectional burlesque scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!

Jews!Jews!Jews! at Berlin Burlesque Week 2019!

Misty Lotus at Jews Jews Jews Berlin Burlesque Week by Suzanne Forbes June 25 2019Jews! Jews! Jews! is a Jewish, QTPOC, and minority-focused cabaret presented by Lolita Va Voom and hosted by Nana Schewitz.

Misty Lotus, doyenne of the Swiss Burlesque Academy, is above, a vision in gold. That’s Nana below, in self-made “Kosher Pig” latex!
Nana Schewitz at JewJewsJews Berlin Burlesque Week May 31 2019 by Suzanne Forbes

Kim Khaos at Jews Jews Jews Berlin Burlesque Week by Suzanne Forbes June 25 2019Kim Khaos performed so elegantly, and so gothically!

She is a beautiful stone goth, and you know how I love goths 🙂 She also had a table with her gorgeous pasties.

Miss Knock Out Noire, Norway’s Brown Sugah Bombshell, peeled like a banana!

She has such movie-star glamour.

Lolita VaVoom at JewsJewsJews May 31 2019 v2 by Suzanne ForbesHere’s Jews!Jews!Jew! producer and doyenne of Berlin Burlesque Week Lolita Vavoom!

You genuinely cannot imagine how hard she worked this whole week. And how beautifully the events focused on embracing diversity, creating safe spaces, and representation.

Johnny Porkpie at JewsJewsJews Berlin Burlesque Week May 31 2019 by Suzanne ForbesThis is Jonny Porkpie, who is apparently the (self-proclaimed) Burlesque Mayor!

His act involved a strip down with flasks, vials and bottles of liquor concealed in ever-more ingenious places. Not very relevant to my interests as a recovering alcoholic but it was a charming performance!

Little Miss Piss at JewsJewsJews Berlin Burlesque Week May 31 2019 by Suzanne ForbesLittle Miss Piss did an act that was very different at the end than at its beginning.

It was PACKED with surprises! I cannot show you the drawing of the end here, sadly. You will have to find it on my not-safe-for-puritans erotic art channel and site 🙂 Perhaps you can find it by googling.

My live-drawing at Berlin’s queer, intersectional burlesque scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available!

Audience Member at JewsJewsJews Berlin Burlesque Week May 31 2019 by Suzanne ForbesEdit to add: this lovely audience member! Sometimes I draw the audience to warm up 🙂