Category: Puppet art

Larger than life, ‘more wicked and more supple’

Puppet artist and creator Megan Harris is hard at work creating the puppets who will cavort, disport, and otherwise make the Poppy brothel unlike any other place of pleasure in the world.

Judging from the patrons’ reactions at “The Alchemy of Desire,” and a private affair that took place shortly after, the Chevalier has many fans already, even at his petite preview size. When he looms over a lady or gent in full regalia, well  . . . .  And the sophisticated charms of Miss Lucinda, that lady of the road, will be on abundant display.

 

As the great puppeteer Bil Baird notes, “A puppet must always be more than his live counterpart—simpler, sadder, more wicked, more supple … an essence and an emphasis.” The Chevalier and Miss Lucinda most emphatically agree.   [Sketch photos courtesy Megan Harris. Chevalier and Miss Lucinda portrait by Rick Lieder.]

How the work gets done

From dear friend and colleague Sarah Miller comes this lovely reminder: the world of our stories, the world of the Poppy was and is created moment by moment, words stitched one to another with patience and pleasure and the belief that there are those who will want to share this world, when it finds its way into the greater one. Beautiful hooks of bone, keys on a keyboard, stitch to stitch and word by word.

Making the puppets real

We’re extremely pleased and excited to announce that Stan and Robin Mendenhall are now the official puppet patrons of the brothel, sponsoring Megan Harris’ creation of the full-size versions of the Chevalier and Miss Lucinda. 

Megan and I very much enjoyed working with the Mendenhalls for “Bottom’s Folly”, an event that demonstrated how energizing, streamlined, and simply fun this kind of one-on-one sponsorship can be. So it’s a special pleasure to welcome them now as patrons of the Poppy.

Those who attended the patrons’ event saw these small versions of les mecs. Thanks to the great generosity of Stan and Robin, those who attend the full performance event will see them as Istvan does:

“And this one?” Guillame lifts a louche blonde puppet, lips painted primly pink, wire threading its blue brocade skirt and “That’s Miss Lucinda,” Istvan says.  “She sings. And cries real tears,” milking a tiny secret bulb so a drop of glycerin oozes from her eye socket and rolls, slow glass, down her cheek. “Although I try not to make her.”

Lucy claps her hands. “Lucinda! That’s my name, almost.” She fingers the bright brocade. “This is so lovely.”

Now he points to the largest puppet, horse’s head and man’s body, standing tall as a man in the corner: “Now who is this gentleman?”

“That’s the Chevalier. He is French, I believe. His favorite is riding, but he can do all manner of things.”

“I’ll bet he can,” says Omar, parting the Chevalier’s black morning coat ….

 

The pleasures of patronage, or Who let the horse in!

The mini-puppets of the Chevalier and Miss Lucinda made a surprise visit to Zita Gillis’ recent soiree . . .

. . . chaperoned by myself, of course.

Zita has been a partisan and generous friend to the brothel since its inception, and we thank her for yet another contribution made to keep the lights on and the knickers down! Thank you, Zita Gillis!

[Photos courtesy Mike Gould.]

Venue, vidi, vici!

We are beyond thrilled to announce that Under the Poppy has found its new home, via actor/writer Donavan Darius, the proud owner of this gorgeous Detroit residence: the Bernard Ginsburg House in Brush Park, designed by Albert Kahn, and now host to Under the Poppy’s full performance, slated for April 2013.

   

To say we are delighted is a wild understatement – we’ve been on the fainting couch furiously fanning ourselves in between taking photographs to entice you. And then Curbed Detroit went and did it, too . . . Their mention of the “red velvet and metallic gold poppy wall paper” proves that it was, indeed, meant all along to house our floozies, puppets, and endless romance. [All photos courtesy Diane Cheklich.]

 

 

 

Here in the sweet spot

Last night at the Knight Foundation event announcing its new Detroit arts initiative, I spoke to a lot of people professionally active in the arts, in theater, in restoration, in media, and found that our Victorian brothel was right at home, itself existing at a nexus of all those things: a narrative in words and in performance, not only site-specific but site-dependent, with Detroit’s landmarks and neighborhoods as its playground . . . Exhilarating, to be right where you need to be, doing what wants to be done.

[Photo of Jordan Whalen courtesy Jarod Lew.]

An alchemical thank you from the brothel . . .

. . . to all who made our event, “The Alchemy of Desire,” a one-of-a-kind affair: among the guests were Erica and Laurent Chappuis, Larry Baranski, Michael Kitchen, Cynthia Grieg, Sarah Miller and her distinguished parents, Thomas Sherman, Stan and Robin Mendenhall . . .

Many thanks to our delightful sponsors The Peacock Room, Cyberoptix Tie Lab, and James Gregory and the mighty DYE Salon – and Pan Loudermilk offers a personal thank you to It’s Your Window for the settee upon which he reclined. Many thanks to Sandy Levine and The Oakland for the amazing hospitality. A special thank you to Torri Ashford and Vanessa Hentschel, floozies extraordinaire, and James Taylor Jr. for his vocal artistry as he premiered a Joe Stacey composition, written for the Poppy show, “Is It Real”, which we will share here shortly. And great thanks as always to Diane Cheklich and Rick Lieder.

And Miss Lucinda and the Chevalier, along with myself, offer their special gratitude to puppet creator Megan Harris. Herewith, the versions of same that cavorted with the patrons at “Alchemy.” Cavorters, you know who you are.

 

 

The Alchemy of Desire, part one

One part floozies, one part puppets – oh, that Chevalier! – one part drinks created to our readers’ recipes; songs of love and wry philosophy offered by a handsome young performer; incense and chandeliers . . . Alchemy is an art best practiced in the dark.

[All photos: Rick Lieder.]

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