I was shocked to find these drawings, hiding in a sketchbook I thought contained nothing of importance. (I also found an unfinished unterwegs that I genuinely don’t remember drawing!)
As you can see to left, the drawing of Le Pustra and Mama Ulita was mostly finished. The others were more scribbly, just pencil. But now that I have actually seen the live performance of the Kabarett, I felt I should try finishing them up.
Why had I abandoned them?
Was it frustration that I can never really capture the wild glamour of these performers, in their soft silk robes and stockings, with their immaculate white tie and tails?
I feel terrible frustration trying to convey exactly how it feels to see Mama Ulita perform. When she whips off her bob wig to reveal her own seal-slick black cap of hair, the audience gasps. I honestly want to be David Downton, at moments like that. This drawing doesn’t have a fraction of her elegance.
But it is a valid attempt, and it was worth finishing to see where it went, so I don’t know why that didn’t happen. Maybe these drawings just overtaken by events, as they say in the military? It’s been a tough year or two, healthwise.
I’m working hard to figure out how to add color to my drawings, but I am still so unsure. I used markers, pastels and a water reservoir brush to add color to several of them. Color is such an important part of the visual design of the Kabarett, with bright wigs by Nina Budden Hair and pale ostrich boas. I don’t really know how to convey these soft vintage shades alongside the graphic black and white tuxedoes.
Sometimes hints of color, little accents, are best.
Sometimes I try to do more and don’t feel I succeeded. The trouble is, even terrific photographers can’t capture everything the eye sees at a show like this. There are a thousand moments, each so beautiful, and I can’t show you them all.
Still, I do my best, and I hope you enjoy this tender moment with Le Pustra and Lars Schwuchow, above.
I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, who make it possible for me to document Berlin’s queer intersectional performance scene and release the artwork free to all.
The costumes and sets, by Le Pustra, are simply unbelievable, and everyone has such a unique look. I knew I would be spoilt for choice!!
My jaw fell off my face when I saw Charly Voodoo walk onstage.
As a corset-lover (some might say hardcore corset fetishist!) I am always thrilled when I see someone seriously corseted. Charly Voodoo‘s whole look was incredible, with a lace head mask, high heels and stockings. He is absolutely beautiful (as is his husband Pierre-Louis, a dancer and plant-lover who revealed so much more! Sadly, I did not have a chance to draw Pierre-Louis!)
Charly’s corset is by Maxim Blotin, a young corsetmaker in Paris. It looked like satin coutil to me but apparently is made of something called leather satin! It is either corded or quilted, with gores, and a near-pipestem cut. I did not draw the details accurately, which pains me, but I think I got the shaping right. His mask, by Kevin Jacotot, was a thrilling challenge. I was so excited I really couldn’t even see straight.
Next to Charly above, singer and violinist Shir-Ran Yinon, woman of exquisite profile and fabulous pipes.
And then Charly Voodoo started to play the piano!!
Amazingly!! He is FAB. And then, I got a special ringside seat for a spectacular vignette involving Julietta la Doll, one telephone, two glasses of water and no pants!! But I can’t share anything about that on this family-friendly blog, so here’s another drawing of Bridge Markland!
You can find out what wild theater and performance Bridge is up to right here, if you’re not too afraid of her wild soul!
Her staging of an 1890s “German screwball comedy” with puppets is coming up Nov. 29- Dec. 1, at another beautiful Berlin venue, the Theater im Delphi.
Legendary Berlin performing artistReverRso, who unrolled a strip of cutwork cotton from his mouth as he danced in a lace dress, then blindfolded himself.
That is producer and torch song singer Le Pustra above, limned in glitter.
Wigs for the show are done by hair artistNina Butkovich-Budden. They are devastating, characters in their own right. The suberb stage managing is by Lady White Rabbit, who I hadn’t seen in ages – she took very good care of me! I can’t imagine this immersive, improvisational show anywhere but at the historic and louche Ballhaus Berlin. This theater is a treasure, and I hope it will be preserved as a venue for some time.
Speaking of which, I gotta get to Clärchens Ballhaus before they shut it down. Should I draw tango or swing?
As always, I’m incredibly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. I couldn’t show up and tell these folx’ stories without the monthly financial support of my Patrons, especially as my health has declined this year. The subway was inexplicably just not working when I left Ballhaus tonight, and the fact that I could hail a taxi to go home means so much. I might otherwise have spent hours figuring out a sequence of trams, buses and trains to get home – I have before, and it’s brutal on my body and on my psyche.
I will be increasingly asking for disability accommodations at venues, as I simply can’t move, stand, or do the things I once could.
Le Pustra was kind enough to let me in the theater early to find a seat that was comfortable for me. Pure luck that I picked the one where Julietta was going to be making a very naughty phone call – my luck, that is! I was also very grateful to both Mayliss – stage manager Lady White Rabbit – and Julietta la Doll for warning me about the water in Julietta’s performance and making sure my art wasn’t damaged!
What glorious muses these Weimar angels of debauchery are!
I haven’t managed to see the theatrical performance of Berlin’s legendary Kabarett der Namenlosen yet, but I got to draw several of its wonderful characters. Above, Le Pustra and the sublime Mama Ulita.Le Pustra, the producer of Kabarett der Namenlosen, has also been co-producing Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin with LalaVox. So it was natural they would do a session featuring the styles and sensuality of the dark cabaret.
And how beautifully the 1930s dance hall setting of Ballhaus Berlin frames them. It’s heartbreaking to feel the spirit of Weimar Berlin right now, as LGBTQIA rights are under attack in places where so much progress had been made.
The Weimar era’s freedom of sexual and gender expression is so fucking poignant right now.
We must not go back, we must protect everyone’s right to be and love who they are, and wear whatever they want.
Marijn was the narrator, reading a spooky fairy tale in a voice that filled the room like smoke.
I have drawn Marijn before at Dr. Sketchy’s and was pleased to be able to do so again. Having a narrator really added to the experience of the show! Marijn is an illustrator herself, and you can follow her on the Instas here or check out her website here.
I also drew some of the artists this time!
I wound up sitting right next to the organizer of Berlin Museum Crew, artistSamantha Stover, (her mane of 60s movie star hair was covering her face alas!) and several other young woman artists. That’s LucilleLehr with the two-colored hair! Plus my dear friend, artist and art teacher Giulia Caruso, was just a few seats away! That’s her with the fuschia streak and tattoos 🙂
Another amazing edition, the sixty-somethingth, of Berlin’s superb Dr. Sketchy’s.
Once again at beautiful Ballhaus Berlin, with the theme of Victorian Spiritualists, two days before Halloween. Fantastic models, fabulous theme, gorgeous venue. Does it get any better?
Yes, cause lots of my very talented badass-drawing colleagues from ESDIP Berlin were on hand and we set up at a table and just blew the roof off the place with our drawing powers.
Not gonna lie, my goal when I go to an event like this is to draw better, faster and more confidently than any man there, including my valued colleagues.
Here in Berlin, where many people who attend drawing events can draw like hell, it’s the kind of challenge I can set my teeth into.
In San Francisco I was always the best draftsman in the room; here I gotta fight hard for that, and it is food for my soul. I locked into pure flow state very early on and spent the whole session riding the armature of my training and abilities. When this happens I watch myself work effortlessly, the only challenge being to trust what’s happening. I really hit the mainline at the end.
Look at this straight up Leyendecker shit. I drew it in ten minutes.
Lots more drawings coming soon. Check my insta for previews and the Dr. Sketchys Berlin insta for lotsa cool art!
Thank you LaLaVox and Le Pustra for another incredible night! What a gift you give us!
And thanks to my Patrons on Patreon whose financial support makes it possible for me to go to events like this and draw like hell!
Wow, I have made SO MUCH ART this month! Thank you, amazing Patreon Patrons, for making this possible.
Here are some more drawings from the Anita Berber Salon Session of Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin. Above, Bridge Markland portraying Anita Berber amid a group of young women drawing. The life drawing scene in Berlin is absolutely being taken over by women!
For this one I pulled out my Winsor & Newton Series 7 Sable No. #7, which I have kept and cared for since I bought it when I was a student at Parsons in 1984. It is beat to shit but still shakes out to a nice point and holds a wash like nobody’s business. I haven’t done a wash drawing in decades and have no ink, so I used a bit of black acrylic (bad! don’t use acrylic on a sable brush!). It came out lovely I think! The craft paper isn’t sturdy enough to hold up to a wash so I had to press the drawing under a bunch of my doorstop Rose Levy Beranbaum cookbooks after.
Here’s another drawing of the amazing Bridge, illuminating beautiful Cafe Kalwil with her classic art modelling chops.
Droste was Anita Berber’s gay husband, a figure of crafted intrigue, tweaked out cocaine addict ferocity, and wild Expressionist talent.
Together they created a kind of Smut Dada that exhilarated and appalled the world, exactly as they intended. Lustmord, Sex and Death.
“Here as elsewhere, Droste materializes as a liminal figure, both male and female, human and god. In this and other scenarios of sacrifice, the accent falls not on redemption, but on sheer eroticism of self-extinction, the ecstasy of Lustmord.”
The session was in the very elegant salon setting of queer space Cafe Kalwil on Berlin’s historic gay boulevard Motzstraße.
Since we did not want to damage the silk satin and devoré velvet furniture, we used only graphite and pencils. I added some pastel and ink later, at home.
On Monday I went to my favorite art supply store near Winterfeldplatz specifically to get an oil pastel in a deep labial/glanz pink to accent the Sebastian drawings. It seemed like the right thing to do!
Both Le Pustra and Bridge have made a deep dive into the Berlin of the 20s and 30s.
They captured the feel of the time so beautifully, lounging in their silk robes on devore velvet furniture and sniping at each other. When they fought over a fox stole I almost died of happiness!
Since we were working in a very elegant salon setting, we used only graphite and pencils. I added some pastel and ink later, at home.
The exquisite setting was queer space Cafe Kalwil on Berlin’s historic gay boulevard Motzstraße.
So much gratitude and thanks to LaLaVox and Le Pustra for organizing such a dream event for artists! Thanks so much to Bridge Markland for bringing Anita to life in all her rage, sensitivity and passion! More drawings here! You can see my drawings from the previous Dr. Sketchy’s Berlin here, and here’s the Instagram for Dr Sketchy’s Berlin.